It is a new year and hopefully some new and wonderful sport fishing opportunities will fall upon us in 2018. The Spring, summer and fall of 2018 are looking very favorable for Chinook, Coho, and Sockeye Fishing in the Alberni Inlet and Barkley Sound. Chinook and Coho numbers in 2018 returning to West Coast Vancouver Island Rivers and Streams should resemble the fantastic returns that we witnessed in 2017. Sockeye salmon returns to the Somass River should be better than average. Approximately 300,000 Sockeye returned to the Somass system in 2017. This was a very low return of what is termed the “Number 1” salmon of the five salmon species. The early season forecast for Sockeye is approximately 600,000 or better which historically is an average return. More data will be provided as we get closer to mid-April.
The winter weather on the West Coast and inland Vancouver Island has been “stormy”. Big winds and rain has battered the coast and inland areas especially in November and January. Spring will be welcomed by many. We can expect weather conditions to change in late March and April and allow opportunity for some warmer air temperatures which should allow for some productive fishing days out on the water of Barkley Sound and the various islands outside the Ucluelet Harbor mouth. March provides the first of many salmon fishing derby’s in this area. The first March weekend is the annual Sproat Loggers Derby. This Derby is hosted out of Poett Nook located at the bottom end of the Bamfield Wall in Sarita Bay. This Early season derby has had Winter Chinook in the mid-twenty pound range weighed in as derby winners. The Sproat Lake Winter Chinook Derby has been attracting well over four hundred entrants over the last few years. This derby usually marks the beginning of the salt water angling season in the Barkley Sound area. The derby has many outstanding prizes for those many entrants that travel from afar to take part. There will be plenty of information online regarding the derby. Entrant tickets are usually available at the Gone Fishing store locations.
Winter Chinook fishing has been slow through late January and early February. That being said the weather has not cooperated for anglers except for those local anglers in Bamfield and Ucluelet to get out on a nice winter afternoon or morning. The feeder Chinook fishing should improve dramatically if the herring spawn is as fantastic as it was the last two years. For those fisher people getting out on the water there have been a few afternoons where there are some feeders in deep water right in the Bamfield Harbor mouth, Scotch Bay, the Bamfield Wall, Whistle Buoy, and the stretch of water from Kirby to Edward King. The front side of Fleming Island and Sandford across from Bamfield has also provided some nice salmon up to ten and eleven pounds. The fish are in very deep water up to one hundred and fifty feet. March, April and the first half of May can also be excellent for avid anglers outside the Ucluelet Harbour. Many will troll right alongside Beg Island and to the Red Can. Sail Rock, Great Bear, Mara Rock, right back to Mayne Bay and over to Swale Rock can also provide some great winter Chinook opportunities. In the early spring many anglers will fish very close to the bottom. Coyote spoons, or spoons in Irish Cream, Cookies and Cream or other various spoons in the three and three and a half inch size. If there are not a lot of undersize Chinook in the various sport fishing areas anchovy will often out fish spoons. Chartreuse, Cop Car, green or blue nickel, and green haze are often good anchovy teaser head colors. Those who prefer trolling with hootchies purple haze, green spatterback, and various glow whites tend to work well behind green and blue flashers.
Early Season fishing in late April, May, June and July often will rely on returns of Chinook and Coho to the very large watersheds to the south. The biggest watersheds are the Columbia, the Kalama, Willamette and Sacramento. The Salmon often travel along West Coast Vancouver Island as if travelling on a hi-way. The sandy banks off the west coast out to twenty miles provide rich resources of bait fish. The salmon will stop and gorge themselves for days before moving on in large schools. Barkley Sound also has huge amounts of rich nutrient filled bait fish that these migrating salmon will come in and feed on. For anglers the fishing for Chinook up to thirty pounds can be first class sport fishing. The West Vancouver Chinook and Coho will begin to show in early August and begin to peak later in the month and into September. The 2012, 2013 and “2014” that went to sea have had a few years with a La Nina weather system in place. This has provided for relatively excellent salmon survival which should provide for good returns to West Coast Vancouver Island Rivers, Streams, and Creeks.
Trout fishing on the lakes has been slow. Some have fished Dog Mountain and just up from the Ski Club but success rates have been minimal. Great Central Lake has had a few anglers have a little success fishing from shore using power bait and even worms.
Over the last few weeks Stamp River conditions have been very poor due to very high water. When the water is low and clear anglers in the river have been on average hitting a few fish per day. Steelhead fishing has been in both the upper and lower river. There are Winter and Fall Steelhead in the system. These fish will spawn in the spring. Hopefully when conditions warm up so will the Stamp River fishing.