June is a wonderful month for salmon sport fishing in Barkley Sound and “most” years the Alberni Inlet. Many anglers enjoy fishing the areas of Barkley Sound not only because of the wonderful salmon fishing opportunity but also because of the breath-taking scenic views of rugged coastline. June is a month unlike July and August when there are fewer fisher people on the water making fishing conditions much more relaxing. The Alberni Inlet can be quite the opposite in June when most years there are large gatherings of sport boats fishing for Sockeye Salmon. The 2021 sport fishing season will see boat traffic in the Alberni Inlet as Sockeye migrating back to the Somass River system are expected to be moderate in number. Pre-Season forecasts are predicting about 350,000 returning Somass River Sockeye. Until the 14th of June 2021 sport fishermen fishing tidal waters are able to retain two Sockeye salmon per day. There will be many test fisheries with detailed reports regarding any change in returning numbers. Later in June the retention number may increase if the return looks stronger than anticipated. The Sockeye will move through the fish ways and sit in either Sproat or Great Central Lake for the summer months before moving into the various streams to spawn in the fall.
The West Coast Vancouver Island 2021 Chinook return looks relatively strong. The 2021 forecast return for Stamp River Chinook to the terminal areas of Barkley Sound and the Alberni Inlet is approximately 133,000 pieces. The age class of the returning salmon are age three at 23%, age four at 62% and age five at 15%. The West Coast returns usually begin to show in numbers along the surf line of Barkley Sound close to the end of July. With a very healthy age class return the sport fishing in Barkley Sound and the Alberni Inlet should be “first class” with some very nice sized salmon in the mix.
Salmon fishing during the spring months in Barkley Sound and the area close to the Ucluelet Harbor has been consistent. Anglers have targeted transient Chinook salmon headed to the big watersheds to the south and also local feeder Chinook. Barkley Sound has ample rich nutrient bait fish which bring the fish migrating down the coastline into rest and feed heavily before continuing their lengthy journey. June is also a time when the first migrating Coho are in the Sound and surf line locations. Coho at this time of year feed aggressively and often gain a pound per week before reaching their natal streams in the early fall. Coho salmon limits in Barkley Sound are currently two per day in which one Coho can be unmarked. Beginning on August 1st 2021 Coho limits in Barkley Sound and the Alberni Inlet will become four in which one Coho can be unmarked.
Often the best salmon fishing during June is along the many surf line areas. Cree and Austin Islands, Sail Rock, Great Bear, Meares, Swale Rock, Edward King, the Bamfield Wall and Beale can produce some excellent Chinook weighing from the mid teens to the mid twenty-pound range. The Bamfield Wall, Swale Rock and even as far in as the Pill Point area can have fantastic fishing opportunities for Chinook Salmon and also Coho that can often average six to eight pounds. Some of the current years best sport salmon fishing has been around Austin, Meares and Swale Rock. The salmon in June are feeding heavily as they do have a long journey in their migration to their natal streams, rivers and creeks. Many Anglers will use anchovy in a variety of different colored teaser heads. The best teaser head colors are usually chartreuse, green haze, army truck glow, cop car, and purple haze. Needle fish hootchies, octopus and cuttlefish hootchies in green, white and even blue and white colors are excellent choices. The salmon close to Bamfield have been feeding heavily on squid and bigger herring. White hootchies in Octopus or cuttlefish have worked well. Spoons in a variety of colors (cookies and cream and herring aid) in the three to four-inch size are also a wonderful choice. Many anglers who have been fishing Meares, Austin and Cree have found a variety of spoons as the best lure. For some the Coho Killers in Cookies and Cream have worked well for salmon in the eight to twelve-pound range and fishing from sixty-five to ninety feet. Others have done well on skinny G spoons and also spoons as small as the two-inch Silver Night Herring Aid. Those who have had great success around Swale Rock have been fishing on the front side of the rock from 100 to 135 feet.
Halibut fishing in June can be very productive. Fisher persons anchoring out will use Octopus, salmon bellies, and sardines. Others will back-drift and use Berkley Grubs.
2021 will be a great sport fishing year in Pacific Rim Areas. Sockeye, Chinook and Coho opportunities with the predicted returns make for the possibilities of a fantastic sport fishing year.