Fishing Report (May 5th, 2012)
FISHING REPORT: PORT ALBERNI INLET, BARKLEY SOUND, WEST COAST
(UCLUELET) SOMASS-STAMP RIVER SYSTEM
May 5th 2012
Slivers Charters Salmon Sport Fishing
The 2012 saltwater salmon fishing season is here with forecasts along the inner and outer coastline of Vancouver Island British Columbia's west coast look extremely favorable for sport saltwater salmon fishing. Many considered the 2009, 2010, and 2011 season as fantastic but 2012 looks extremely phenomenal with big returns of Chinook salmon migrating to the big watersheds to the south. These big river systems located in Washington, Oregon, and California are expecting some of the biggest returns of Chinook and Coho salmon since counts began in the mid 1970s. The three biggest predicted Pacific North-West salmon returns are to the Columbia River system, the Klamath River and the Sacremento River. Some of the indicators include returns of the previous year Jack salmon. Last year the Klamath system had a record high ninety thousand Jacks return. U.S. biologists are suggesting that Chinook returns to the Klamath River will be over 1.6 million. The exciting thing about all of this is that these fish migrate right outside the back door of the Ucluelet Harbour, the Bamfield Harbour and the majestic, pristine, and scenic waters of Barkley Sound. Barkley Sound has huge quantities of rich bait fish that these migrating salmon will feed on during their long summer migration. Salmon fishing in the out and inner portion of the sound should be very good through the late spring and all of the summer months as these waves of salmon make their way to their natal river system. To date a low number of early Chinook coming from these big runs have been landed by a couple of sport fishermen and guides but the first real big waves really do not occur outside the Ucluelet Harbour and Barkley Sound until mid May. The salmon usually migrate fairly close to the beach in May and then along the various sandy banks off the coast in the summer months.
Sockeye Salmon returns to the Aberni Inlet are also forecast to be one of the biggest returns in decades. The early season forecast is at 700,000 to one million but it is suggested that by mid season due to many indicators that the run size could easily be upgraded to double the current predictions. The sport fishery for Sockeye in the Alberni Inlet is a fabulous opportunity for families and all avid sport fishermen.
The summer of 2012 looks absolutely phenomenal in terms of sport fishing opportunities. Those fisher persons that prefer open water or for those that enjoy areas that have protection from prevailing wind patterns the saltwater salmon fishing no matter where individuals decide their destination on Vancouver Islands west coast the opportunity to land a Pacific salmon from six pounds to thirty-five pounds should be a dream come true.
Port Alberni Inlet
The Port Alberni Inlet is currently very quiet as anglers are definitely not out in big numbers searching for the first Sockeye salmon swimming towards the Somass River mouth. The Sockeye numbers in terms of returns are once again very good with authorities saying that the 2012 Somass River Sockeye migration is expected to be one of the largest in decades. Sockeye fishing for the sport angler most years gets underway by mid June. Of course water conditions and river flow play a big part on the migration of these salmon. The Somass river and two predominant lakes are currently very high and the river water is quite cold. Any sockeye coming into the system will be in the top twenty to thirty feet of water and will swim right through to the Somass River. When the Somass River warms up to seventeen or eighteen degrees celsius and the Inlet water warms up the Sockeye migration will slow down and the salmon will move into deeper and cooler water in the Port Alberni Inlet. Mid June most years is the time that this occurs and the salmon begin to school in big numbers which opens the way for the sport fishery. With Sockeye salmon return forecast to be very high and if things, nature wise, are normal then this very exciting sport fishery can often continue right into the end of July and first week of August. Sockeye fishing is a lot of fun and is a great time for families to get out on the water and take part in one of British Columbias best sport fisheries. Sockeye like a slow troll and are attracted to the boats with lots of color in the water fairly close to the boat. Most experienced Sockeye fishermen will have six to eight flashers in the water. Most of the lures are on a short leader from eighteen to twenty-eight inches in length behind a red or green glow hotspot flasher. Sharp hooks are very important as the gum structure of these best tasting salmon are very soft.
The Winter or feeder Chinook fishing in Barkley Sound has been off and on during the last month. The feeder chinook will always be found wherever the bait is found. Feeders are just what they are termed as these hearty salmon feed heavily especially on tides changes. Austin Island, Village Reef, Vernon Bay and Swale Rock have had some good days with Chinook up to seventeen and twenty pounds but on average coming in at ten to twelve pounds. This past weekend Vernon Bay was on fire especially on Saturday with winter Chinook up to twenty pounds being landed and found in eighty to one hundred and forty feet. Anchovy in Rhys Davis green glow and chartreuse teaser head holders were working as were a variety of coyote spoons with the three and three and a half inch Irish Cream being by far the most productive. Meares and Austin on Saturday were fairly decent but on the tide change and when the bait came in on the change. Needle fish hootchies and anchovy were working fairly well. On the Bamfield side Cape Beale, Whittlestone and the west side of Edward King down to Kirby Point has been very consistent for those out on the water. However like the west side of Barkley Sound an area can be hot one day and completely dead the next. The salmon have been in 140 feet of water but up against the rocks closer to Edward King the feeders have been in twenty-five and thirty-five feet of water. Bait is important if fisher persons are to find the salmon. Army Truck Hootchie has been working well and also an Irish Cream and Army Truck spoon in smaller sizes. Cape Beale and the protected side of Folger Island has also had some relatively decent Halibut fishing. When the weather has been good the three and seven mile and an area called the chair has produced some salmon and halibut catches off the bottom.
The summer fishing opportunities look more than fabulous for Barkley Sound and the surfline and of course offshore waters. The big numbers of Chinook and Coho that will migrate down the Vancouver Island coastline will produce some very good fishing opportunities for local fishermen and of course guides and their guests. Safety is always an important concern and those days that are of poor weather on the offshore waters do not usually affect the protected waters of the sound or the Port Alberni Inlet. There will always be a good spot to fish in the summer months ahead.
Ucluelet offers magical salmon sport fishing and it is one of those places that one can have opportunity to land a twenty pound salmon twelve months of the year. The salmon fishing continues to be relatively consistent close to the Ucluelet Harbor Mouth. Most of the Chinook salmon that have been landed by sport fishermen to date have been Winter Chinook. This is not to say that there have not been some clipped fish bound for distant rivers. The first big wave of migratory fish will appear soon as the middle of May is often the time when the early summer run of fish begin to show up. We are expecting some great fishing out on the various banks. Usually in May the fishing will be closer to the Harbor with good spots being the alley, Beg Island, Great Bear, Mara Rock and the Red Can to name a few. As we get into June however the hotspots will become the Turtle Head, Inner and Outer South Bank, the Wreck and perhaps for some out as far as Laperouse Bank. Recently the Red Can and Great Bear have provided some good fishing
With limits being taken on Chinook Salmon. The Red Can had some great fishing from 60 feet to the bottom just recently. The Spatter Back Hootchie and needle fish hootchie in blue, green and a bit of silver was working very well. But not only did the various fishermen know there were plenty of salmon from eight to fourteen pounds in the area but a pod of killer whales knew this also scattered the fish which slowed things down dramatically. There have been a few nice fish taken at South Bank that are migrating and these fish have been in the mid teens and have been taking smaller coyote spoons. Green Nickel and Knight Rider have been working fairly well behind a green or red glow hotspot flasher. Needle fish hootchies and army truck hootchies have also been working well with 42 inches of leader behind a flasher. By the middle of this month we should really start seeing the migratory push and by June there will be plenty of tales about the numbers of salmon in the nearby waters and the big one that got away. This will definitely be the year that anyone that desires to land a Pacific salmon will have a genuine opportunity to have this dream occur.
The Ucluelet ladder derby got under way on the first of May. Cost is $50 for the year or $10 per ticket. Cash awards are given monthly for the biggest three salmon per month. The fish off will be the weekend after the labor Day weekend.