July is a wonderful month for sport fishing in the Alberni Inlet and Barkley Sound. The area begins to fill with travelers and various eager and keen anglers world-wide. West Coast Vancouver Island and the Pacific Rim is a wonderful place to visit and one of the world’s majestic and scenic areas. The Alberni Inlet was to be an area where perhaps during July there would some great Sockeye sport fishing opportunity. Sockeye Salmon numbers returning to the Somass River are currently forecast to be at three hundred thousand. This is definitely a much lower number than what was previously forecast. The Sockeye headed to the Somass system are not schooling out in the inlet and are moving to the river system very quickly. If the air temperature rises to daily temperatures in the thirties the water will warm and this may slow the migration down. This very well could lead to a few weeks of Sockeye sport fishing. The current retention limit is two and will likely hold there through the month.
Barkley Sound has had some fairly good Chinook fishing in May and especially the last two weeks of June. The “early” and mid- summer run of migratory Chinook headed to the big watersheds to the south have been relatively decent. Barkley Sound has had ample amounts of rich nutrient bait fish which are bringing the salmon in from offshore waters to feed. The surf line areas and inshore areas along the Bamfield Wall, Austin, and Cree Island and Swale Rock are excellent locations for some of those chrome Chinook which are making their long journey to their natal rivers and streams. There have also been a good number of Coho up to seven pounds in many of the areas.
Port Alberni Inlet
Anglers have the best opportunity to land Sockeye when they school in big numbers. This historically occurs when the water temperature in the Somass River and Alberni Inlet hits eighteen degrees Celsius. The Sockeye school from Cous Creek out to the Nahmint Franklin area. With the projected outlook for Sockeye returns to be relatively low, as mentioned, the fishing for sport to date has been very slow.
The Sockeye in the Alberni Inlet are currently sitting in the top thirty-five feet of water and are migrating right to the Somass River. As the water in the Alberni Inlet warms they will swim down into deeper and cooler water. Sockeye hit short leader lengths from eighteen to twenty-five inches in length behind a variety of hotspot flashers. The mp2, mp15, pink and blue, pink and black, and the pink with either the green or white head hootchies all seem to work very well for most sport anglers. Sockeye are attracted to the boat by color. Many sport fishermen will often have eight flashers behind their boat. Four are often dummy flashers and the other four with hootchies of choice. The Sockeye will average four to eight pounds. Sockeye are the number one commercial salmon. They are wonderful for summer barbeques and when vacuum packed properly last the winter for those special occasions.
Barkley Sound and Ucluelet
The salmon fishing in Barkley Sound and close to Ucluelet over the past week has been very good. The best fishing has been out on surf line areas and up coast from the Ucluelet Harbor. Fishermen have had opportunity to fish up to one mile offshore and have a retention of two Chinook and Two Coho. The islands close to the Ucluelet Harbor Mouth, Meares, Austin, Cree Island, Kirby Point, Edward King and the Bamfield Wall To Cape Beale have all had times during the past few weeks with some hot Chinook and Coho sport fishing. Areas close to the Ucluelet Harbor that have had a few fantastic fishing days are Florencia, Great Bear and Sail Rock. The salmon in the Sound or inside waters have been hitting anchovy in green glow, army truck, and green haze Teaser Heads. Needle fish hootchies and hootchies in green (spatterback), blue and white have worked well. The cuttlefish in Pistachio, various whites, and even for some anglers army truck have been fabulous. A variety of Skinny G’s, Big Eye and coyote spoons in the three and four-inch sizes have been working very well. Herring Aide, sardine, no bananas, and cookies and cream have all been excellent choices. The fish in Barkley Sound have been from sixty-five to one hundred feet. We are looking forward to some great sport fishing opportunities during the full month of July and August in Barkley Sound, the Alberni Inlet and offshore. Offshore fishing opens on the 15th of July 2019. The numbers of transient Chinook and Coho headed to the big watersheds to the south are forecast to be average which should provide some very excellent sport salmon fishing. In August returns of Chinook and Coho to West Vancouver Island river systems and hatcheries are forecast to be one of the highest yearly returns in decades.