The salmon sport fishing season near West Coast Vancouver Island for 2023 is closing in on us very quickly. April to date has been very cool and wet with little sunshine. April on the rugged but scenic West Coast is most often looked at by a variety of sport anglers as the true beginning of saltwater fishing opportunities. The 2023 season according to most pre-season indicators and forecasts for Chinook and Coho will be very much like the last two years which provided “excellent” sport fishing. Many areas inside the surf line close to Ucluelet and Barkley Sound should have some great fishing for feeder Chinook and then the early summer run of Chinook salmon migrating to the big watersheds to the south will begin to show up in April, May, and June. Migrating salmon to the vast Columbia River system and even Puget Sound come into the islands close to the Ucluelet Harbor mouth and much of Barkley Sound and feed on the very rich resources of bait fish. As the spring months move forward into summer returns of Coho migrating to the Big Southern Watersheds add to sport fishing opportunities for most West Coast Vancouver Island fishing locations. Barkley Sound is one of the primary areas. In late July and the full month of August forecasts of returning salmon to West Coast Vancouver Island are forecast to be very “GOOD”. The return of Chinook in the high teens and into the twenty-five-pound range is considered the average weight class of returning Chinook to West Coast Vancouver Island. The 2023 sport fishing season in Barkley Sound and Pacific Rim areas will rely on the waves of transient salmon headed to the large southerly watersheds and the strong returns of salmon expected in August and September to West Coast Vancouver Island rivers, creeks, and streams. Barkley Sound and the Alberni Inlet will reap the benefits of the salmon returns to West Coast Vancouver Island providing some terrific sport fishing. August will have wonderful salmon sport fishing opportunities in 2023 for those that enjoy fishing in calm, pristine and relatively scenic water. Anglers will be treated to some world class salmon fishing along Vancouver Island’s West Coast and Inlet areas. The Port Alberni Inlet, inshore areas of Ucluelet and Tofino and Barkley Sound will be wonderful areas for sport fishing in the many so called “hotspots”.
The first salmon fishing derby of the season took place during the weekend of March 4th and 5th. The annual March Sproat Loggers Winter Spring Derby held out of Poett Nook took place with many entrants taking part in a weekend which provided some very good salmon fishing. The top three fish came in at 18.4, 18.2, and 17.6 lbs with Justin Kumagai, Jody Thompson, and Dan Nadokas in order being the first, second and third place finishers. These were good sized fish but definitely did not beat out some past years when winning derby salmon weighed in at the mid-twenty- pound range. Local organizer Don Deforest was once again pleased with the number of people who entered the derby and also thanked the many sponsors. The top prizes were awarded by local Port Alberni businesses in Port Boat House, Gone Fishing, W Berry Trucking and Breakers Marine Port Alberni and Bamfield. Many would say this early season derby is the start of the local sport fishing season.
Those avid anglers fishing the month of April and May will find that successful fishing trips often occur by finding the fish where one finds the bait. Using Anchovy in a variety of teaser heads and also needle fish hootchies in blue and green, silver hordes, and a variety of small three to four-inch spoons also work well. When fishing in Barkley Sound during April and May the best fishing can often be along the Bamfield Wall, Scotch Bay, Brady’s Beach, the Whistle Bouy, Vernon Bay, Fleming Island and Sanford, and also Swale Rock. Areas just outside the Ucluelet Harbor with good salmon fishing are Sail Rock, Mara Rock, Big Bear, The Alley, and Beg Island. The fish in most areas can be in water of ninety feet to one hundred and sixty feet. Currently some of the best fishing has been between the tides. There have been a good number of residential salmon and the migratory salmon are showing as they continue their long journey to the watersheds of the Pacific North West.
The spring and the summer months of 2023 should definitely be a year when all anglers will have an opportunity to land a beautiful salmon in one of the most wonderful and scenic places in the world which is the West Coast of Vancouver Island.