Alberni Inlet / Barkley Sound / Ucluelet
Fishing Report - Port Alberni Inlet, Barkley Sound, West Coast (Ucluelet), Somass-Stamp River System, April 21nd 2015
by Doug Lindores - Slivers Charters Salmon Sport Fishing
The West Coast of Vancouver Island is a wonderful area to visit and spend valued time for many people worldwide when on vacation. Known for its unique settings and rugged coastlines, Vancouver Islands west coast also better known as the Pacific Rim, not only offers world class salmon fishing but also offers other adventures and unique cultural activities. The whole of Vancouver Island is located only twenty miles off of British Columbia’s mainland. On this vast island there exists a majestic geographical area of tall coniferous forests and breath-taking scenic views of rugged terrain and coastlines that have been battered by winter storms. There is also a display of wonderful exquisite and secluded white sandy beaches located in areas of pristine and calm water. Those visiting Vancouver Island during the late spring and summer months must take in not only a “fishing adventure” but also explore the great rainforests, beaches, and lakes. When fishing out in scenic Barkley Sound or offshore one can view wildlife and also whale watch. When on land and visiting the many local communities, visitors can seek out west coast culture, spa retreats, and of course take in some great west coast cuisine.
Vancouver Islands West Coast has had superb salmon fishing over the years. Salmon fishing in many of the so called “hot spots” has been nothing better than world class. The West Coast is also one of the only spots on Canada’s West Coast where one has opportunity of hooking into a twenty pound salmon twelve months of the year. Of course every year is not entirely the same because predicted run sizes returning to many of the natal rivers, creeks and streams to West Vancouver Island are not as good as other years. When fishing the Pacific Rim and many parts of Vancouver Island’s West Coast the opportunities for landing a Chinook or Coho salmon during the late spring or the summer months are very probable. In the Pacific Rim area we have the opportunity during these fair weather sport fishing months to target the vast quantities of migratory or transient salmon headed for the big watersheds to the south. The 2015 sport salmon fishing season is expected to be “Very” good on the west coast surf line and offshore. Scenic Barkley Sound during the months of June and July and the early part of August should be fabulous. The expectation of high numbers of transient salmon headed to distant southern watersheds is already looking fantastic. Salmon fishing around Ucluelet and a few areas of Barkley Sound has been successful for a few avid fishermen. A few Chinook salmon in the high teens and low twenties have been landed by guides and their guests and also sport anglers fishing in their private boats. Salmon fishing in Barkley Sound, along the surf line, and also offshore waters will continue from now through mid September or longer. There will be great opportunities to fish for Chinook and Coho in the waters of Barkley Sound during the months of May, June, and July. Coho salmon will become predominant in Barkley Sound in August and September with opportunity for Chinook in offshore waters. Look for another banner sport salmon fishing year on British Columbia’s West Coast ---Vancouver Island.
Port Alberni, Barkley Sound
The month of April and May is often quiet in the Alberni Inlet except for those individuals fishing for prawns if and when the opportunity for this sport fishing is available. The Prawn fishing in the Alberni Inlet during the year when open has been very slow. Barkley Sound on the other hand has had some good areas for prawn fishing. Guide boats in the early spring often include in their salmon fishing trips to Barkley Sound, prawn fishing. Usually the prawn traps are dropped before fishing and then after fishing the traps are picked up to find the great prize coming up from the ocean floor. Barkley Sound fishing has been fairly consistent over the last few months although one would have to sum up the fishing as being very mediocre. When fishing for feeder or winter Chinook the rule is often where one finds bait there will be Chinook salmon. Swale Rock, Vernon Bay, and Alan Point have all produced some nice salmon in the eleven to fifteen pound range. Austin and Cree Island have also had the odd salmon up to twenty pounds. The Bamfield Wall and the Harbor Mouth have also produced some good salmon fishing. Some of the Chinook as of late have been clipped and the thought is that many of these Chinook are the early run of salmon migrating to rivers to the south. The salmon have been relatively deep from 85 to 150 feet. A variety of coyote spoons have been working. Green glow has been a favorite in the three and a half and four inch size as has the green and blue nickel. White spoons and white hootchies have also been on and off. Green glow, chartreuse, and purple glow hotspot flashers seem to be ideal when using spoons. Needle fish hootchies in army truck and mint tulip have also been working very well. Fishermen trolling with anchovy have had their best success using a chartreuse Rhys Davis teaser head with a six foot tail behind either a Chartreuse or green glow hotspot flasher. There are a good number of undersize salmon so at times it is best to fish with spoons, needlefish and hootchies.
We are expecting the fishing during June and July to be terrific. The mid- summer run of Chinook and Coho which are migrating to the big southerly watersheds historically begins in mid June and runs into mid July followed by the fall or “late run” with expected large numbers of these transient salmon headed to the Columbia, Sacremento, and Willamette systems to the south. Many of the salmon migrating down the Vancouver Island West Coast are forecasted to be four and five year olds which often means some good sized Chinook over thirty pounds. The surf line areas of Barkley Sound and out to offshore area at three to seven miles should have some great fishing as the rich resources of bait fish come into these areas which bring in the bigger Chinook.
Ucluelet is one of those spots where it is possible to land a twenty pound salmon every month of the year. Of course weather plays an important role in terms of getting out onto the water. During the winter months it seems there are breaks in the weather patterns which make it possible for keen anglers to get out on the water. Some nice quality fish up to twenty pounds have been landed during the latter part of March and the month of April. The Chinook have been feeding on sand lance and needle fish. Great Bear has been relatively good. The Alley, Forbes, Sail Rock and Beg Island have all produced some nice feeder Chinook. Most of the feeders are averaging seven to twelve pounds. With the weather pattern changing and becoming more favorable over the last few weeks guided trips and sports anglers have been periodically able to get further offshore. April 17th to 20th were wonderful days on the Pacific with no wind and little swell. The Inner South Bank as example was perfect with some feeder Chinook and halibut sitting on the bottom feeding on sand lance and needle fish. Sport Fishermen and a few guided trips have at times had some great fishing with a few Chinook weighing up to seventeen and eighteen pounds. As mentioned the Inner South has been most favorable for those fishing close to the bottom at 135 to 150 feet. Some fisher people have had success using purple haze and army truck glow hootchies. However the white Turd and the T-Rex hootchie have been very good for some sport fishermen with both of these lures producing the best catches. The past few weeks has also produced some of the first halibut of the season. The five mile (inside south) and the seven mile (outside south) for those offshore have produced relatively well. Halibut fishing has been best on the ebb tides and using a spreader bar with six inch white grubs. The Halis have been migrating back to the deep after their spawn and by the third week of May will have migrated back to the shallows. The white turd for three sport anglers was good for two perfect sized halibut while fishing the Inner South. May, June, and July should prove to be three very good fishing months with some nice Coho coming into the mix in late June when the big migratory flow of the mid-summer run begins. Look for some salmon in the mid to high thirties this summer.
The winter Steelhead season is all but over. Many of the spawned out fish are heading back down the river and making their way out to the waters of the vast Pacific. The Fall of 2015 is once expected to be very good with plenty of early Coho and summer Steelhead in the mix. Those keen on fly fishing should look at booking trips from the 10th of October into the first ten days of November.
Port Alberni Salmon Festival
The Port Alberni Salmon festival and Derby takes place during the three days of the Labour Day weekend.
The West Coast of Vancouver Island, British Columbia has much to offer. The West Coast is a beautiful area of the world with its rugged but scenic coastline outlined by snowcapped mountains in the background. Ucluelet and Tofino both found on Vancouver Islands coast are located south of Clayoquot Sound, which is full of beaches, islands and rainforests. The Pacific Rim National Park (Long Beach) is located in the area and has grown into a very popular tourist destination with oceanfront resorts, hotels, motels, lodges, campgrounds, quaint cafes and restaurants and even art galleries. The Pacific Rim National Park is a paradise for surfers and beachcombers. There are large rolling waves and miles of pristine beaches.
Ucluelet is nestled in a small harbor, which is dominated by surf and sandy beaches on the west and rainforests on the east. The area has fantastic walking and hiking trails. The Rainforest Trail, Lighthouse Trail and the sands of Big Beach are areas people can roam for hours. Hi-Tin-Kis Park has spectacular views that people worldwide come to admire.
During the winter Ucluelet and Tofino offer spectacular Storm Watch opportunities. Many of the luxurious resorts, which are scattered along the coastline, offer this as part of their packages from November until early March. March and April often finds visitors watching the migration of Gray Whales, which are passing along the coastline making their way to the Beaufort Sea. The Whale Festival begins this year on the 17th of March is featured by the “Chowder Chow Down.” The festival continues into mid April.
Ucluelet and Tofino provide some of the best salmon and halibut fishing in the world. The coastline between Ucluelet and Tofino is a feeding and spawning destination of some of the West Coast of British Columbia’s largest runs of chinook and coho. The months of May, June July August and September are considered prime time for sport fishing inshore and offshore. The sport fishing industry is provided with vast amounts of coho, chinook, pink salmon and halibut that are migrating outside the doorstep of Ucluelet.. All of the fish follow the thick balls of bait which most often are herring, sardines, needlefish, squid and krill.
The Ucluelet Sport Fishing season gets underway when the wather changes into early spring. The winter often displays battering storms and huge surf, which makes it most difficult and of course dangerous for guides and sport anglers to get out to the fishing grounds. However, during the winter there are some days that one can fish for winter or feeder springs close the Ucluelet Harbor and Barkley sound. The winter season is also a time when individuals have opportunity to fish for Dungeness Crabs, prawns, oysters, clams, and some rock fish. Late February, all of March, and the early part of April often have feeder chinook close to the Ucluelet Harbor and inner surfline of Barkley Sound. Slivers Charters Salmon sport Fishing and other guide services will normally fish Begg Island, Mara Rock, Great Bear, the Red Can, Sail Rock and even South Bank during this time of year. Most of the salmon are feeder springs and can range from 8 to 25 pounds. Most guides and local anglers use a variety of lures. Anchovy is often he best bait choice all year and is rolled behind a Rhys Davis Teaser Head in white, green, purple haze, or pearl. Hootchie choices are often glow whites, purple haze, or various blue green white colors and army truck. Various Coyote and Titan Spoons work well also. This year watermelon has been very good along the whole coast as have silver spoons. During the year there is some bottom or rock fishing. The lingcod season opens April 15th. Halibut fishing most years become more fishable in May and can be combined when fishing for the various salmon species migrating down the coast. During the summer months some guides will troll for Halibut and Salmon at the same time. The Halibut are found at the bottom hiding in the sand and the salmon are found in mid water.
During the summer months Ucluelet provides some of the best salmon and halibut fishing in the world. The area has continuous and very consistent fishing due to the migration of salmon which are headed to their spawning grounds. Whatever summer month one decides to fish there will not be disappointment as there is always fish inshore or offshore.
People often ask “what should I bring if I am coming to Canada’s West Coast to fish and explore. Of course bring a camera to take all kinds of pictures. Binoculars are also a great idea. Bring Rain Gear and rubber boots. Most of the guide boats have extra rain gear on board but this is not provided when hiking in a rainforest or walking the beach on an early drizzly foggy morning. Be prepared for sunshine and warm days especially later in the morning and the afternoons. The West Coast is a place to be totally prepared for all weather. Dress in layers. There is a saying “Its easy to dress down but not up”. If you do not have the correct warm clothing ones day can be miserable to start. It is important to have coolers to take catches home. If flying most airlines now want people to have a correct airline container, which are available on the coast. People can also be prepared to have their catch sent directly to their home as St. Jeans located in Ucluelet will ship directly after our guides have prepared your catch for shipping.
Canada’s West Coast of Vancouver Island is a fantastic area to visit. Those who live in the area take it for granted. This area of the world has a lot to offer and is still undiscovered by many. It is part of super natural B.C. Take some time and come to visit and yes come fishing as this is the place to be in the summer of 2007.
Salmon Returns November 8th, 2006
Port Alberni is fortunate enough to have a very healthy river system and hatchery (Roberson Creek Hatchery). Chinook and Coho return to the Hatchery and Sockeye return naturally to the river and then to Sproat and Great Central Lake. From the lakes the sockeye move out to tributary streams and then spawn.
- Chinook 43,000 return as of October 15th. Numbers may have reached 55 to 60,000 by now as many late fish have arrived.
- Jack chinook 1,000 This number is low and will probably see a low return in three year olds in 2007. Four, Five and Six year olds should be strong in numbers.
- Adult Coho 11,000 Low in return but enough for hatchery program.
- Jack Coho 6,142 Great numbers which should give us a very healthy return of adult coho in 2007. These Adult returns should be back to normal in 2007.
- Adult Sockeye 137,000 return through the counters. Not a strong return as the early prediction was almost 800,000.
Sport fishing for salmon
The Alberni Inlet and the Barkley Sound offer year round fishing at its best. Springs, often referred to as
Black Mouths, start showing up in the Barkley Sound in the middle of March. These feisty fish stay and
feed in the Sound on the bountiful herring and anchovy that are spawning in the area. These fish range
from 5 to 25 pounds and as active feeders provide action filled days for the fishermen.
SPRING AND SUMMER
This season offers a great opportunity for fishing for many different species of salmon. In May, the
Springs are still in the Barkley Sound and the early running Tyees are beginning to appear as they begin
their migration up the Alberni Inlet. This season provides excellent fishing for Springs, Tyee and also the
famous Sockeye. The Sockeye are the best eating salmon and run in our area is huge. In late June and
July, the Sockeye start running up the Alberni Inlet in huge quantities. In 1987, there were an estimated
750,000 Sockeye that came up the Alberni Inlet. You can imagine the success rate for anglers! The
Sockeye run continues through August.
SUMMER AND FALL
The months of July, August and September yield the largest fish of them all - the magnificent Tyee or
Chinook Salmon. These fish range from 15 to 70 pounds on average size. At this time of year, the salmon
are within 15 minutes of the inner harbour and the Coho are running as well.
FRESH WATER FISHING
January, February and March is the winter run of Steelhead in the Ash, Stamp and Nahmint Rivers and of
the Cutthroat in China Creek. April and May are good months for Steelhead and Cutthroat in Nahmint and
Sproat Lake and for Rainbow Trout in Great Central and Loon Lake. June is the start of the best months
for the middle of resident runs of coastal Cutthroat in most lakes including Sproat and Great Central Lake.
October, November, and December, Rainbow and Cutthroat season ends. The Steelhead season begins in
china Creek. All year Trout can be caught in McBride and View Lakes, Brown Trout in Cameron Lake and
Rainbow and Cutthroat in Cameron Lake.
Port Alberni Tourism