Pacific Rim region has a long history of fabulous fishing, along with
a bright future that holds much optimism and thorough diversity in
the growing recreation and tourism industries.
and Konrad Rupp (right) from Germany
For the small coastal communities of Tofino,
Ucluelet and Bamfield
to further south, fishing has always been a major attraction, with
fish and seafood stocks creating the backbone of their economy and
growth for many years.
Open-ocean fishing occurs far offshore from Ucluelet and Tofino. The
continental shelf runs west of the two ports for almost 20 miles (30
km) to La Perouse Bank, an undersea plateau that forms the leading
edge of British Columbia's coastline. This is where the action happens,
where the currents, swells, and weather combine. It will take you
almost two hours of bucking the swells to reach the nutrient-rich
waters, so prepare yourself with warm clothing and antinausea protection.
These rich aquatic resources can change, as many things do over time.
Fortunately, the waters of Clayoquot and Barkley Sounds still host
a strong marine ecosystem, with most local salmon stocks, halibut,
bottom fish, steelhead and Sea-Run Cutthroat numbers staying very
stable. The changes of time have shown some very positive effects
on these communities, as the facilities and recreational opportunities
continue to advance with both diversity and professionalism, attracting
and successfully catering to a worldwide clientele.
recreational opportunities are seemingly endless, there are very
focused individuals that are lured by Vancouver Island's REEL Pacific
Rim TREASURES. They come from far and wide in search of the SILVER
bright Chinook Salmon, the DIAMOND shaped Pacific Halibut, the YELLOW-GOLD
bellies of the Sea-Run Cutthroat and the absolute PRICELESS exhilaration
of releasing a native steelhead, all in some of nature's most pristine
fisheries are available all along our beautiful western coastline,
from the more rugged and remote northern areas of Quatsino
Sound , Kyoquot Sound
and Nootka Sounds, to the
more accessible but equally pristine and abundant, Clayoquot
Sound and Barkley Sound
areas to the south.
Inlet on Vancouver Island is a long, narrow flute that leads
25 miles (40 km) inland from the open ocean of Barkley Sound and
the Pacific Ocean. In general, the Alberni Inlet and Barkley Sound
offer year-round fishing. Salmon school in the inlet before ascending
to the spawning grounds. Timing is crucial if you wish to take advantage
of their presence. One day they're here; the next, they're gone,
so plan ahead. At the head of Alberni Inlet is Port
Alberni, where visitors on fishing vacations base themselves
and take trips to a variety of surrounding locations.
fishing on the west coast of Vancouver Island starts off with great
opportunities for aggressive feeder Chinook Salmon in the 6-15 lb
range. This early fishery starts soon after the New Year, with the
size and strength of these juvenile fish increasing through the
spring. Most of the early saltwater fishing is limited to the inshore
islands and inlets while the offshore fishing opportunities increase
as the weather starts to stabilize in March.
offshore areas from Tofino, Raphael and Portland point, as well
as Ucluelet's main offshore areas, South Bank and La Perouse or
'Big Bank' start to consistently produce larger salmon and halibut
by early April. The preferred methods are trolling for salmon with
spoons, hoochies or bait and still fishing spreader bars with bait
By mid-June the first runs of Coho Salmon start to show up, both
offshore and in the more shallow protected waters of Clayoquot and
Barkley Sounds. These feisty 4-8 lb fish are a welcome sight for
the light tackle enthusiasts, especially for the growing ranks of
saltwater fly-fishermen. Along with the ever-acrobatic coho, numerous
Sea-Run Cutthroat help create the bounty of the early season fly-fisherman,
with numerous species of cod and a variety of salmon to mix up the
catch later in the season. This booming new fly fishery has labelled
the Tofino/Clayoquot Sound area as British Columbia's premier sport
guest Robert Rubin from Washington DC with his first Chinook
August sees salmon fishing increase along the near-shore areas of
Clayoquot and Barkley Sounds. The maturing Chinook Salmon at this
time of the year reach weights of over 30 lbs, with many over 40
lbs, and some trophy-class fish breaking the 50 lb mark. Abundant
numbers of coho feed hard in these same areas, often providing non-stop
As the season
progresses into early fall, fishing for local maturing Chinook Salmon
tapers off after the second week of September. During this same
period, strong runs of maturing Coho Salmon in the 8-14 lb range
return through Clayoquot and Barkley Sounds en route to their home
streams to spawn. This is a fantastic time of the year for fly fishing,
light tackle and bucktailing.
By late October,
the tail end of the saltwater season sees strong returns of Chum
Salmon mixed in with the late coho runs. There is little fishing
pressure at this time of the year, but opportunities to catch these
powerful fish are excellent.
For the freshwater enthusiasts, there are fantastic trout fishing
opportunities year-round. Sea-Run Cutthroat can be found in any
of the many river estuaries or nearby beaches at any time of the
year, with the downstream migration of salmon fry in the spring
creating a feeding frenzy that makes them especially susceptible
to anglers. Any well presented minnow type fly, small spinner or
spoon should entice one of these hungry 'yellow-bellies'.
There are numerous mountain lakes that hold great populations of
cutthroat and Rainbow Trout, providing some fantastic action to
those that venture into these pristine spots. Some of these lakes
have vehicle access, with most requiring a short flight in a float
plane. Small boats, float tubes or pontoon boats are perfect craft
to help you fish the majority of lakes in our area. May through
October provides the best fishing conditions and cooperative weather.
The west Coast of Vancouver Island is undoubtedly one of the best
places on earth to fish for steelhead. These elusive Sea-Run Rainbow
Trout have an addictive quality that mystifies many and consumes
even more in an ongoing quest of the almighty 'chromer'. With world
famous rivers like the Gold River and
the Stamp River, and the lesser known
but no less productive remote river systems in the area, steelhead
fishermen are situated in Angler's Eden.
During the winter months of December through March, the Gold provides
chances to catch and release average sized ironheads, while the
Stamp gives anglers the option to keep one of the hatchery supplemented
steelhead. In March, April and early May, the smaller remote rivers
scattered along the coast have an unbeatable combination of true
native steelhead in some of nature's most pristine surroundings.
There are a number of these west-draining systems that hold Summer
Steelhead between May and November, with these fish more likely
than their winter cousins to take a well presented fly.
Come and see for yourself what many others have already experienced
- just why the West Coast of Vancouver Island continues to prosper
with sport fishing and tourism.
Alberni's harbour district is thick with tackle shops, boat
rentals, and fishing charters. This is definitely one of the major
hubs for angling on Vancouver Island and is the best resource centre
for information on fishing locally in both saltwater and freshwater.
The Alberni Inlet is a long, narrow flute that leads 25 miles
(40 km) inland from the open ocean of Barkley Sound. Salmon school
in the inlet before ascending to the spawning grounds. Timing is
crucial if you wish to take advantage of their presence. One day
they're here; the next, they're gone, so plan ahead. In general,
the Alberni Inlet and Barkley Sound offer year-round fishing.
Salmon is the prize catch in these waters but so too are halibut.
Actively feeding spring salmon (also called blackmouths) begin appearing
in March as they follow the bountiful herring and anchovy spawning
runs. Springs linger into May, when they are replaced by early-run
tyee (chinook) salmon migrating in the Alberni Inlet. Sockeye salmon
succeed the early-run tyee in late June and are joined by late-run
tyee, the largest of all salmon, in July and August. Call the Alberni
Valley Chamber of Commerce for details; (250) 724-6535.
One of the chief staging areas for fishing the Alberni Inlet is
China Creek, 9 miles (14 km) south of Port Alberni on the
road to Bamfield. You'll find a marina, a private campground, a
boat launch, and quite possibly a salmon or two. China Creek is
now designated as a provincial park. Primary fish runs in China
Creek include cutthroat trout from January to March, and steelhead
from October to December. Call (250) 954-4600 for a salmon update.
For information on privately operated China Creek Provincial Park
marina and campground, call (250) 723-9812.
Port Alberni has a freshwater side that would be the envy of any
fishing town anywhere. The Somas River runs through the heart
of town. Bank casting is possible from a number of locations beside
Hwy 4 and along Hector Road off Hwy 4 west of Port Alberni, including
the privately operated Arrowvale Campground (30 vehicle/tent sites),
5955 Hector Road, (250) 723-7948. Just north of Port Alberni, the
Stamp River would probably make every chinook and steelhead
angler's Top Ten.
Beginning in January and lasting through March, a winter run of
steelhead occurs in the Stamp, while April and May are good months
for steelhead in Sproat Lake. In late summer, upwards of
a half-million salmon make their way to the spawning grounds near
the Stamp River Hatchery. Bank casting is permitted downstream from
the hatchery. Follow Beaver Creek Rd about 7.5 miles (12 km) north
from Hwy 4 to Stamp River Provincial Park, (250) 954-4600. Watch
for pullouts beside the river along the way.
Nearby Sproat Lake also has a solid reputation for rainbow-trout
angling, particularly June through September. Use the boat launch
here to head out for some trolling or casting. For more information
on freshwater angling here, call the Wildlife Conservation Officer
in Port Alberni, (250) 724-9290.
For any further information on the Pacific Rim and its limitless
options, or for fishing and booking inquiries, don't hesitate to
call toll free @ 1-888-5FISHBC or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Visit us at www.vancouverislandfishing.com.