2019 Alberni Valley Labor Day Salmon FESTIVAL
Labor Day weekend is upon us and that means it is Salmon Festival weekend in Port Alberni. The Derby takes place on Saturday, Sunday, and Monday with fishing beginning each day at 6 am. The derby will close on Labor Day Monday at 3 pm with final weigh-in at this time. Derby Headquarters for the 2019 Derby and the official weigh-in center will be at Tyee Landing which is very close to Harbor Quay and Fishermen’s Wharf.
There is a total of $55,000 in prizes for those anglers participating in the Salmon Derby. The largest salmon landed is valued at $15,000. The largest salmon during the derby is $10,000. Daily prizes each day are $5,000 for first prize, $2,000 for second prize and
$1,000 for third prize. All contending derby fish are to be weighed in at Tyee Landing. Other weigh in centers for qualifying hidden weight prizes are China Creek Marina and Mckay Bay Lodge in Bamfield. The cost per Rod this year is $50.00. From this $50 there is a donation of $10 given to local enhancement. The Derby for 2019 should be a great success. Returns for Chinook and Coho salmon are above average. Last year’s winning Chinook salmon landed by Chris Blace of Crofton B.C. weighed in at 38.9 pounds. Over the past few years the largest salmon landed was by Dan Weatherby in 2016 and weighed 53.2 pounds.
The Alberni Valley and all of Barkley Sound has experienced relatively warm weather conditions during the summer months. This past summer has had rain which has helped with some salmon migration. The Chinook and Coho will need fresh water before entering some of the smaller streams and creeks. There has been some migration of Chinook and Coho into the Somass system. Water on occasion has been released to help the migration for this year’s spawning fish. Fresh Chinook and Coho are moving into Barkley Sound daily. These salmon that have recently reached the waters of the Sound will migrate up into the Alberni Inlet or they will hold outside various streams and creeks in the Sound. The fresh Chinook and Coho will continue to be eager to bite the variety of lures put out by many anglers in the sound. There are currently plenty of Chinook and Coho Salmon in the system.
The best salmon fishing currently is in Barkley Sound. The Alberni Inlet over the last TEN DAYS has also had some very good days of sport salmon fishing. There has been some commercial fishing at the beginning of this current week which has slightly slowed the sport fishing opportunity. The Alberni Inlet should fill with fresh salmon in the coming days. Weather conditions are forecast to continue to be warm but there is a chance of a bit of rainfall. Warmer air is in the immediate forecast which will continue to slow the salmon migration. This will also be very true of the salmon down in Barkley Sound locations. The ample Chinook and Coho at Swale Rock, Harbor Entrance, Pill Point, and the Bamfield Wall should continue as new salmon come in from the ocean. The Bamfield Wall has been consistent for the last week. Pill Point, Swale Rock, Meares, Cree and Austin Island and Harbor Entrance have all had very consistent sport fishing over the past two or three weeks. The salmon in the sound have been feeding very hard around tide changes. The Chinook and Coho have also been active between tides. The same scenario has been true for those anglers sport fishing in the inlet. The salmon are in fairly shallow water in Barkley Sound and also the Alberni Inlet. Fishing between thirty and fifty feet has not been uncommon. The best lures in the Alberni Inlet are the O-2, 0-15, 0-16, spatter-back and AORL 12 hootchies. Anchovy in the Inlet is also working very well. In Barkley Sound anchovy in a variety of Teaser Heads seem ideal and for many is working the best. Cop Car, green haze, purple haze, army truck glow and bloody nose have all been working. Leader lengths from five and a half to six feet behind gold, green, or burgundy flashers with a gold or mirror face are working the best. The AORL 12 hootchie and the spatter back and purple haze hootchies with 38 to 42 inches of leader behind a burgundy and gold flasher or a kinetic flasher is ideal for Coho in Barkley Sound and the Alberni Inlet.
Entries for this year’s Salmon Festival Derby have been very encouraging. There will be many boaters on the water. Safety precautions are always of importance.