Tofino B.C. - Pacific Rim Sport fishing Outlook 2010
Capt. Adam Watson
January 24, 2010
Vancouver Island - Saltwater Fishing Report
Very limited opportunity for Salmon fishing lately with prime Storm watching season upon us.
Between Weather systems, there have been very healthy Chinook Salmon up to the low 20 lb range.
Halibut opens Feb 1st.
Vancouver Island Fishing Forecast:
Following the last few seasons of extremely consistent sport fishing along Vancouver Island's Pacific Rim region, and considering the 2009 season unfolded to likely be the strongest in the last decade, many would not have thought that the best is yet to come.
Recent indicators* for the 2010 fishing season on Vancouver Island's west coast are pointing towards yet another banner year for Chinook and Coho Salmon numbers that travel and feed along the nutrient rich waters of Vancouver Island's outer coastline. Without question, the strength and consistency of this area's excellent fishing opportunities are due to the combined multitudes of Salmon stocks destined to various rivers and tributaries outside of the area, many of which are hatchery augmented runs. The runs that support such consistent fisheries for local and visiting anglers are primarily Chinook and Coho Salmon destined for the Fraser River, the Columbia River and enhanced stocks from Washington state, as well as Robertson Creek near Port Alberni. These transient salmon find the habitat and abundant food source along Tofino and Ucluelet's offshore banks a prime setting for the juvenile stage of their life cycle, as well as the final adult stage, when they feed hard in preparation for the final journey to natal streams. This scenario is one that anglers anticipate each season, and fortunately it happens in our local waters as much or more than most areas of the B.C. coast.
For the 2010 season, the spring runs of Chinook salmon should appear along Tofino's outer coastline earlier than recent years, with mid April through early May to see the first "wave" of southern migrating spring Chinook salmon. The waters that average 145-160 feet deep, approximately 4-8 miles offshore near Portland Pt., Three Humps and the Heisen Bank will be the go-to area for the Tofino area anglers. Trolling near the bottom with Anchovies or Needlefish hoochies as well as thin Needlefish style spoons are preferred methods to ensure success. A little further south towards Ucluelet and offshore on La Perouse Bank, some tolling depths are deeper in the gully areas, but a similar gear approach is often used. As the abundant schools of Sardines reappear in the area as a staple food source for the maturing Salmon, the preferred gear size increases with larger spoons and plugs becoming as popular as ever for this fishery. With a very similar timing and area outlined for early season Salmon success has also been extremely popular for Halibut fishing along the Island's Pacific Rim. Over recent years, fishing has been very consistent for Halibut of various sizes, but catch opportunities may decrease with changes to fisheries regulations in 2010. Please consult local postings for updated information regarding Halibut fishing.
As a highlight, the peak of the salmon season may very well be earlier this year as well, with June looking to be excellent for a mix of Chinook and Coho, but all indications are leading towards July as the peak month for 2010. July has always been considered part of the peak summer season for Tofino and Ucluelet Fishing, but for 2010, the bulk of the Columbia River Chinook and Coho salmon present during that time should provide unrivalled fishing opportunities for the year.
In years past, the salmon fishery was focused closer to the coastline, and often by late summer, the majority of anglers would fish for the largest Chinook and Coho of the season within the protected inshore waters of Clayoquot and Barkley Sounds. The late season terminal area fishery in these areas has become much more conservative over the past 10 years, with the majority of the recreational fleet now fishing the offshore waters. While protecting the fragile local Chinook stocks inside Clayoquot Sound, the strength of the area's inshore Coho fishery has rebounded to rival past years that helped label Clayoquot Sound as B.C.'s premier Saltwater Fly fishing destination. Schools of hungry Coho Salmon arrive in late May and early June, and thrive among the myriad of Islands, Reefs and Kelp Forests, foraging on abundant schools of Needlefish. Likely due in part to the beneficial conditions of the base stage of marine survival, these aggressive Coho have been reaching amazing size proportions by mid to late summer, and returning through the fall well past the end of October. This area and fishery has been favoured by many smaller vessel anglers, and has become extremely popular again, most notably for those that enjoy catching hard fighting Coho Salmon on a Fly Rod in the shallow, protected waters of the sound.
As in any fishing season, regardless of your location there can be highs and lows, but for 2010 we are looking forward to once again experience why Vancouver Island's Pacific Rim area has been considered one of B.C.'s most reliable Sport Fishing destinations by many.
* Many of the most accurate predictions of fisheries researchers are based on the preceding year's return of Juvenile male Salmon, also known as "Jacks", which returned in strength to many rivers, but primarily to the Columbia River in 2009, arriving in numbers that smashed records back to the early 1960's.
Jay Mohl operates Clayoquot Ventures, a Tofino Sport fishing company and Fly & Tackle Shop. Starting their 15th season in 2010, Clayoquot Ventures will be open in their new location at 561 Campbell Street, directly across from their original Storefront. See them online at www.tofinofishing.com or call 1-888-534-7422 for updated fishing and charter information.
Chinook and Coho Salmon Halibut Cutthroat and Rainbow Trout
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