West Coast Vancouver Island firing on all cylinders
The month of May kicked off the Tofino B.C. Saltwater fishing season in a big way, and it should only get better as we roll through June. After commercial and sport fishing the waters off the west coast of Vancouver Island for almost 30 years now, and I don’t remember many seasons when the first wave of transient Chinook Salmon have showed up in such force, with very strong numbers and so large on average!!
With local Saltwater and Freshwater fisheries in full swing, the angling opportunities in the Tofino area are primed for another great season. June is undoubtedly one of the finest months in the Clayoquot region to target some of British Columbia’s finest game fish.
For the Tofino B.C. area to see so many Tyee class (30 lbs and over) Chinook Salmon is not uncommon, but this normally happens in the peak of mature salmon migration in August, not at the beginning of the migration in mid May and through June...man are we in for it this year!! There is no doubt that the size and strength of these early season Chrome, Prime and Tasty Chinook salmon will rival the fight of a mature late season fish regardless of size. There have been accounts of Chinook Salmon hitting the gear and not stopping until they almost spool the reel or bust off while heading south. Some of these long distance releases may be the relation of the 40 lb. Chinook already caught in the Tofino area this past month. Anglers can expect fantastic Chinook salmon and Halibut fishing in the offshore banks from Tofino throughout the month, with the abundant bait fish stocks encouraging these fish to feed in the area for extended periods of time.
Both species can be caught while trolling deep along these underwater contours, but to ensure the best success for Halibut in the Tofino area, consider bottom bouncing fresh baits such as Octopus, Sardines or Herring. Anglers should note that retention of Halibut is set at one per day, with a possible change to 2 in season, and though we catch very few of the famous “Barn Door” sized fish in the Tofino area, we encourage the larger Halibut to be released in support of future stocks.
Chinook Salmon prefer Anchovies trolled with a tight roll, as well as a variety of Spoons. If you encounter schools of Sardines during this time, look towards the larger variety of spoons like the #6 and #7 Wonders or Oki Titans. With the presence of large bait fish in the area, don’t hesitate to match your gear size accordingly.
Coho Salmon are starting to show up as well, and looking very healthy as predicted. Saltwater Fly fisherman are experiencing the start of another great season in Clayoquot Sound, with numerous “Blueback” Coho readily taking small Shrimp, Clouser Minnows in pink or orange, and various small streamer patterns. These 3-6 lb. Salmon feed aggressively and grow fast throughout the remainder of the season.
With the strong presence of Coho and Chinook, we will see more boats fishing the near shore area and protected waters of the sound over the next few months. With an extremely strong presence of Pacific Sandlance (aka Needlefish) it is likely that the transient runs of Salmon will feed for extended periods in the Clayoquot area, before traveling further south. The Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada has predicted increased returns to many coastal rivers this season, along with highlighted forecasts of U.S. bound Chinook and Coho Salmon, and it sure is great to see that this part of their forecasting has come true so far, supporting a great outlook for the West coast of Vancouver Island.
Freshwater options are fantastic during this time, with prime timing for the downstream migration of Salmon fry, which attracts hungry Sea-Run Cutthroat to the lower rivers and estuary areas of local watersheds.
The pristine local lakes create another great option during this time, with Rainbow and Cutthroat Trout enjoying the warmer waters that have instigated the bug life that they have waited for all winter. Chironomids, Caddis, Olive Damsels, Leeches and Scuds are all “must have” bugs for the spring time lake fishery. Small spoons and spinners work great with light tackle as well.
We look forward to helping with further questions about fishing yet this season, and will be back soon to share more good news about Tofino’s great Sport Fishing opportunities.
Clayoquot Ventures Guide Service
Tofino B.C.'s most Recommended Fishing Outfitter