Tofino BC Fishing - A Brighter Spring Forecast
Capt. Adam Watson
April 19, 2012
Tofino - Saltwater Fishing Report
-Having done a dozen or more charters this spring, and all have fallen on days that have kept us in protected waters, often limiting where we fish and how productive and comfortable the experience has been. We've had some decent days on the Salmon, with nothing breaking 20 lbs so far, but for late March-early April its far better than being on the computer writing about it..
April 1st was a great day, with a new guest from Edmonton. Overall we had approx. 20 Salmon encounters of various sizes, with some Long Distance Releases and a few nice fish to the boat. Coho were a great surprise that day as well.
Offshore conditions were pushing 4-5 meters, so we were content to stay in protected waters, which ended up being a great option.
Wet and Windy conditions plagued us for most of the week after, until the past weekend which was beautiful and calm. I passed on a couple trips as I was committed to be away from the coast for the weekend with my son, while my Wife and Daughter went to the Canucks/Oilers game on Saturday.
Some decent Cold water Trout fishing for my Son and I, with a great Chironomid hatch that had some fat Rainbows active..
Finally a break in the weather to get offshore to search for some Spring Chinook and maybe a Halibut or two...
The Weather Forecast was for some SE wind and a little rain, but a spread out swell so it looked easily fishable on the computer at least. My 3 guests for the day normally fish with us in August, so I prepped them on early Spring fishing and how fishing can be fair to good and the weather nice to nasty...they were game for a good time regardless of fish. Once we travelled past the outer coastline and the first couple of deeper water contours, the tide slop and ground swell mellowed out to be very comfortable. Traveling another 15 minutes and we found our offshore destination Sunny and calm with less than 5 knots of wind...sweet!
Before I could get the gear down on both sides, the guys counted almost a dozen Grey Whales steaming past us heading north. We trolled right down on the carpet with a Spoon and a Needlefish Hoochie for almost and hour before getting hit by something that didn't stick.. Not seeing much bait on the screen due to the tides pushing hard, we stayed persistent as I felt there would be Chinook passing through this area heading to southern rivers and we should bump into one or two..Another hour and a couple gear changes later, we hit a good Salmon that peeled line like it was a 30 lb'r but I knew these ealry season fish are deceiving, as they battle hard for their size.
10-15 minutes later, a nice 12 lb Chinook in the boat and high fives from the boys...They were just starting to grab the camera, while I dumped one side back down to 145 feet and bumped my cannonballs on the bottom a few times. Perfect.
I was just about to grab the other rod to set it down to the same depth when the first one goes off again, hit off the DR clip and peeling line heading south. Perfect. 10 minutes and a bit of give and take at the boat, another 14 lbs of Chrome is in the boat. Now with two fish on deck and the bite on, I tell the guys to wait for the photo ops and ask them to stand back while I dump the gear quick..Both back down to the bottom this time, a quick turn to the head back to my contour line and just as we are straightening out, my inside rod goes off. Head shakes and then peels off 30-40 yards and gone...not quite perfect but comes with the territory. We all laughed at the same time because all at once, 8 eyes were fixed on the one rod still in the water, and we all say it get pounded. Next was even funnier..I wasn't grabbing the rod, so I am waiting for one of the guys to make their move..no one budged..then they all started to move for it at once, looked at each other laughed and then held off in courtesy. Almost like the three stooges with me having a hard time watching this rod pump away and start to peel line while it sits in the rod holder. Finally combatent #3 was on it, and he did a great job on the hardest fight of the day for the Smallest Salmon. Good times and high fives, three nice fish in the boat within 30 minutes, Calm seas and Sunshine..
We fished for another couple hours for another Long Distance release on a Salmon and one Chicken Halibut on the Spoon I was testing for Oki Tackle. When we decided to pull the gear and switch to Halibut, we missed another Salmon that hit half way up, almost a bonus last minute Chinook..
We travelled 10 minutes back towards the beach and dropped the spreader bars down on one of my common Halibut Spots. One Whole Herring, one half Herring and a White Power Bait was on the menu...We fished for almost about half an hour before we found another Chicken Halibut that preferred the whole Herring. Re-bait and re-set the gear to the bottom and no more than 10 minutes later, the half herring enticed a hard hit that drove the Rod tip in the water and 100 lb braided line peeling towards the bottom. One of the guys grabbed the rod after a bit of a struggle out of the holder, and tried to set the hook home, but the third Halibut of the day swam away.....After a couple of "Oh Well, Too bads.." we noticed one of the other rods thumping away with a tell tale sign of another Chicken Halibut. Number three Halibut joined us onboard after a short battle.
After a good deck cleaning to deal with Halibut blood and slime, we head for the harbour as the guys have a ferry to catch yet that night.
A couple quick pics on the dock and off to the procesor for a quick Vac Pac job..
We've seen bigger fish and we've seen better weather, but for this early in the season, we are happy to get on the water and feel the rod bend...not to mention some great eating. First fresh fish of the season always seems to taste the best...
Fishing only gets better from here....
Tofino Fishing Forecast:
Tofino BC Fishing – A Brighter Spring Forecast
With a fantastic seasonal Sport fishing forecast released earlier this year, it is very welcome news to Tofino area anglers that good things can become even better, and in the case of Salmon numbers and related fishing opportunities, much better. Since compiling the 2012 Seasonal Outlook early in the New Year, I have monitored the forecasts for Salmon returns to many of the primary Watersheds on B.C.'s South Coast, with highlighted attention paid to the abundant southern migrating stocks to U.S. Rivers in Washington, Oregon and California. Alike the Canadian Fisheries process, preliminary data is released in the U.S. with "cautious" return forecast numbers being made public using an autoregressive model. As more data becomes available with in-season catch, or different modeling processes are applied, the Salmon numbers can change. Considering that the abundant and diverse Salmon stocks of the U.S. Pacific Northwest augment Tofino and Ucluelet Sport fishing opportunities by approximately 85% of the catch, this is where things have become really interesting over the last couple months.
For Oregon's Klamath River, biologists are forecasting four times more salmon than last year – and an astounding 15 times more than in 2006. The ocean salmon population is estimated to be 1.6 million adult Klamath River fall Chinook, compared to last year's forecast of 371,100. This estimate is based largely on the 85,840 two-year-old salmon (jacks) that returned to the Klamath in 2011. This is the highest number of jacks to return since at least 1978, when recordkeeping began. A little further north, Washington State and Columbia River Chinook and Coho will also contribute well over 1 Million Salmon to the mix.
California's Sacramento stocks are also looking better; with a conservative forecast of ocean abundance of 819,400 Sacramento River fall Chinook, up from 729,000 last year. Sacramento fall Chinook are known to be a genetically "robust" species, so combining the average size and strength of these Salmon with prime Ocean survival conditions should equate to over three quarters of a Million healthy Sacramento Chinook salmon feeding along southern Vancouver Island this spring and early summer. With nearly 2.5 Million Chinook Salmon for these two rivers alone, and numbers compounded by over one hundred other runs that feed and travel past Tofino, the Salmon forecast has become much brighter.
Some other positive aspects to the local Salmon Fishery for 2012 are related to returning 5 year old Chinook salmon to Robertson Creek hatchery in Port Alberni. While Chinook returns to RCH in 2011 were higher than forecasted, the anticipated 4 year old component of the run size was not there. It is speculated that due to high quality ocean conditions, this portion of the run stayed at sea, and could very likely return as larger 5 year old Chinook in 2012. Coho Salmon numbers are also anticipated to be good to strong for many systems again this season, which has contributed to the consideration by DFO to potentially remove an inner boundary line which has been deemed redundant to management of stocks and enforcement. This potential change would truly enhance Tofino's inshore and near-shore Coho Salmon fishing opportunities for the many local anglers who cherish the great summer action with lighter tackle, within a safe proximity to Tofino's harbour.
The recreational Halibut Fishing season in B.C. has received attention and change by DFO since the New Year, with changes to the overall allocation of Halibut within Canada to a split of 85% Commercial and 15% Recreational. These changes alter the management of the allowable catch for the user groups, as well as new size and possession limits for sport fishing on the B.C. coast. With 2012 being a year of low abundance of the "Exploitable Biomass" of Pacific Halibut, the amount of Canada's harvestable Halibut has further decreased from 2011, which saw an in-season closure by the first week of September. In efforts to allow for a full season for sport anglers, new regulations will allow a catch limit of 1 Halibut per day of any size, with a possession limit of 2 for anglers fishing more than one day away from their primary residence. One of the Halibut in possession will have a maximum size limit of approximately 15 pounds, which will help reduce and "stretch" the seasonal catch poundage out through the main summer fishing season. With a strong overall biomass of Pacific Halibut, it is anticipated that B.C. Halibut fishing will cycle back to "normal" regulations and allowable catch limits within a couple years.
With the enhancement of the Salmon Fishing forecast, and the current stability of Halibut fishing opportunities, Tofino and Ucluelet's fundraising fishing derbies have an excellent landscape for success. Numerous grassroots fundraising initiatives have been success stories along the BC coast, most of which help Salmon Enhancement and Habitat by leveraging funds and co-operative efforts of groups large and small. Everything from Derby's to individual donations compound positive $$ for Salmon. Some people are still of the mind-set that it is the responsibility of the Federal Government to foot the bill for all of these types of programs. We will be waiting a long time for that to happen as budgets are slashed and manpower is reduced, so stakeholder involvement is crucial to say the least. Tofino and Ucluelet Salmon Enhancement sees benefit from three main Fishing Derbies during the summer months, as well as other smaller aspects of fundraising and donations. We encourage you to consider involvement in either or all of the following; Tofino Saltwater Classic Derby, Tofino Legion Derby or the Ucluelet Salmon ladder Derby. Fun, Fishing and Fundraising, a great combination to be involved with.
With great numbers of Chinook salmon already present in the Tofino area, and spring-like conditions looking even better on the horizon, 2012 looks to be a season that will provide many great Fishing opportunities for most species.
Fishing Charter and Package options are still available for a number of shoulder and high season dates for groups large and small, and Clayoquot Ventures Tofino Fishing is eager to help with all options.
Call or e-mail for more info - Don't miss out on this exceptional season!
Chinook Salmon and Halibut
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