Fishing Report (Jan 18, 2012)
This is the time of year when many good weather fishermen are thinking of the summer ahead and the possibilities of some great fishing in warmer weather conditions. The spring and summer saltwater fishing in 2011 was phenomenal and very much a memorable year. We are expecting the same if not better results this summer. However we are currently in the dead of winter and the weather is below freezing on the west coast of Vancouver Island British Columbia as arctic air has invaded the coast. Of course many realize that there is opportunity to fish twelve months of the year in this area of scenic Vancouver Island. Many anglers are currently enjoying the clear sunny but chilled weather on the Stamp River where they are fishing in a fresh water body for Winter Steelhead. The fishing has been relatively consistent over the last three months for Fall and Winter Steelhead. Just two weeks ago the area had the biggest rains of the fall and winter and the water levels came up extremely high which slowed the fishing but with little precipitation since, the fishing is once again improving with new Steelhead entering the system daily. Of course Barkley Sound which is predominately protected water and the open waters outside the Ucluelet Harbor have opportunity during the winter for hearty anglers to fish for Winter Chinook. These Chinook could also be referred to as residential fish average eight to twelve pounds and can often get up and over twenty pounds,feed on the hearty and abundant rich resources of bait fish that are found close to the surf line and the many small islands and large island chains of the Sound and also the many large sandy banks outside the Ucluelet Harbor. The pristine water of Barkley Sound and the inshore and offshore water off of Ucluelet are perhaps a couple of the only areas along British Columbia majestic coastline where one could fish twelve months of the year and have opportunity to land a twenty plus pound salmon.
Port Alberni Inlet
Most anglers think that the Port Alberni Inlet only has salmon fishing from mid June through mid September. This is true as the Sockeye, Chinook and Coho do return in big numbers to the Somass-Stamp River System right into November. But one must remember that the Port Alberni Inlet stretches from the Port Alberni Harbor beyond Nahmint and Bilton Point which is quite a stretch of water. Few people realize that feeder Chinook do swim up into the Franklin-Nahmint area and feed on the big bait balls that school up during the winter in this area. During the winter high pressure systems that we are now experiencing move into the region and the feeder Chinook can really turn on and feed in frenzies. The few people that do fish the area on an on going basis during the winter do have some success in 100 to 140 feet of water using anchovy or coyote spoons. Hootchies also can be very productive but leader length can be a little longer than what is used in the summer. Hootchie leaders of 44 to 46 inches seem to be more productive in the Inlet and also in Barkley Sound behind hotspot green glow flashers and also purple haze and chartreuse flashers during the winter. Barkley Sound has had some bright spots over the last month. The Bamfield Harbor has had some nice fishing with the feeder Chinook averaging eight to ten pounds. The stretch of water from the harbor mouth down to Poetts Nook has also had some good fishing when the bait has been in the area.
Anchovy in a Chartreuse Rhys Davis Teaser Head has been working very well around Swale Rock and Vernon Bay. The fish around Swale have been in 140 feet of water. The Pill Point, Ecoole and Rainy Bay areas have also had a few winter feeders in very deep water. We expect the winter Chinook fishing to really pickup in February and March.
The late spring and summer fishing in 2012 in both the Port Alberni Inlet and Barkley Sound looks unbelievably promising. In 2011 well over 1.4 million sockeye swam through the Alberni Inlet waters to the Somass River. The Chinook and Coho returns were also remarkably high. The La Nina weather pattern is continuing to influence the weather patterns over the Pacific North-West and the northern waters of the Pacific Ocean. This pattern has definitely played a major role on ocean conditions which over the last few years has produced higher salmon returns to many of the large watersheds in the Pacific north-west on both sides of the Canadian and U.S.border. The La Nina pattern has produced a much lower salmon mortality rate as the salmon food resources have been increasingly better and ocean conditions for salmon survival pretty well perfect for all five salmon species to survive in Northern Pacific waters before returning to their streams, creeks and rivers.
Ucluelet is one of those west coast British Columbia locations that anglers have opportunity to land a twenty pound salmon twelvemonths of the year. Of course weather plays a huge role on getting out onto the water but there are days during the winter months that are fishable close to the Ucluelet Harbor. Of course the summer months create different weather patterns and much of the fishing occurs on the rich bait resource sandy banks which begin at three miles to twenty-six miles and further offshore from the Ucluelet Harbor. Those hearty winter anglers fishing close to Ucluelet have been treating themselves to not only some of those hearty fat feeder Chinook but also to some wonderful crab and prawn resources found close to the Harbor basin. Anglers must beware of closure to sport crab and prawn fishing and continuously check the DFO regulations for sport shell seafood and when closures occur.
January has already produced some spectacular winter days out on the west coast of Vancouver Island, B.C. This past week has had some much colder air temperatures but the afternoons have warmed up. The month of December was very similar with some great winter weather. The good weather patterns have also permitted opportunity for local anglers and the odd guide boat to get out on the water. Mara Rock, Beg Island,Great Bear, Sail Rock, and The Alley have all been fishable on some of these great weather days. These areas are all relatively close to the Ucluelet Harbor and those fisher persons going out onto the water can easily get back to the Harbor if the weather happens to quickly change. The feeder Chinook like any other area on the west coast will basically be found wherever the bait are. There have been some good sized bait balls in the said locations but in much deeper water than what one would find perhaps during the summer. Coyote spoons in the three and a half inch have been working. Green-glo, cop car, and any chartreuse color seem to be working well behind a hotspot flasher. The feeder Chinook are feisty and seem to bite a little better when the high pressure systems move in and also in the mid-day. The winter Chinook that have been landed are averaging nine and ten pounds but there are some bigger fish out there. As we get into February, March and April the fishing will get better. By April we will also see the beginning of the migratory flow to southern watersheds begin. These early Chinook are often fourteen to twenty pound and are extremely feisty. There will always be some fairly decent winter fishing on the west coast. Always take precaution just like the summer regarding weather conditions. The summers however have been phenomena land the summer of 2012 should be no different out of Ucluelet.
The fishing for Steelhead since the early fall on the Stamp River can easily be termed as being very consistent. The Upper River has been very good most of the year and in the last few weeks the lower portions of the river have improved for winter Steelhead. The river over the past week has come down which has made it a little easier for those on foot. For those walking the Falls Pool, Slide Pool, and Store Pool are all accessible on both sides of the river. These areas have been very busy on most weekends but during the week quite quiet. The Sproat River has also been good for those on foot. There seems to be a lot more fishin the Sproat this year than in the past. Those fishing with guides in boats have continued to be successful. This is not to say that there are not a few days that are mediocre in terms of the fishing. If the fishermen are patient usually there is opportunity during the day to find biting fish. The last few days the fishing in the morning has been soso but with warmer afternoons the Steelhead fishing seems to improve. On average daily hookups over the past week have been eight. There have been days with up to twelve and fifteen hookups and also some days with less. Those fishing either in boats or on foot below “the bucket” are being successful using roe and roe bags. If using artificial four inch rubber worms in pink or white have been good as have rocket red spin-n-glos. The Steel head in the Lower River have been averaging seven to nine pounds. There have been some very fresh fish. In fact some of the fish landed as of late have still had sea lice which often means they just came into the system. Most of these fish have come in off a high tide. Those fishing above “the bucket” can only fish with artificials. Jigs have been good as have small gooey bobs, rubber worms and spin-n-glos. We are expecting some great fishing throughout the winter. The winter Steelhead fishing can often continue right into April. The salmon fishing which begins in September of each year is very popular. Those individuals wishing to fish the river in the fall should organize very soon.