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It has been a relatively long and very wet winter season in Central and West Coast Vancouver Island.  Some big winter storms with wind have battered the coast in inland areas especially in December and January.  Spring and Summer are just around the corner and we can hopefully expect weather conditions to improve and allow for some productive fishing days out on the water.  2019 looks to provide good opportunity for sport fisher people targeting Chinook, Coho, Sockeye, and it being an odd year, pink salmon.  The Chinook numbers should remain stable with some of our area streams and rivers improving in returns.  The Coho mortality rates are down and they are increasing in return numbers to local water systems in late August and September.  Sockeye returns to the Somass River system should be average and much better than what occurred in 2018.

Amberlee of the Cowichan Valley on Vancouver Island fished with slivers Charters and landed this salmon using anchovy close to Gilbraltor Island.
Amberlee of the Cowichan Valley on Vancouver Island fished with slivers Charters and landed this salmon using anchovy close to Gilbraltor Island. We are expecting the salmon fishing in Barkley Sound in 2019 to be exceptional.

           It is a new year and hopefully some new and wonderful sport fishing opportunities will fall upon us in 2019.   As previously remarked the Spring, summer and fall of 2019 are looking very favorable for Chinook, Coho, and Sockeye Fishing in the Alberni Inlet and Barkley Sound.  These two areas of the West Coast will provide for ongoing sport fishing with reasonable retention limits.  Chinook and Coho numbers in 2019 returning to West Coast Vancouver Island Rivers and Streams should resemble the fantastic returns that we witnessed in 2017 and 2018.   Sockeye salmon returns to the Somass River should be average or perhaps just a little better than average.  Approximately 200,000 Sockeye returned to the Somass River system in 2018.   This was a very low return of what is termed the “Number 1” salmon of the five salmon species.  This did not provide for much of a sport fishery.   The early season forecast for Sockeye is not yet established.   More data will be provided as we get closer to late April.

             The horrific stormy winter weather on the West Coast and inland Vancouver Island has prevented a lot of winter Chinook fishing in Barkley Sound.  The sport fishing during most of the winter in 2019 can be described as “slow”.   Weather conditions will abruptly change in March and April and allow opportunity for some warmer air temperatures which should allow for some productive fishing days out on the water of the Sound and the various islands outside the Ucluelet Harbor mouth.  March provides the first of many salmon fishing derby’s in this area.  The first weekend of March in 2019 is the annual Sproat Loggers Derby.  This Derby is hosted out of Poett Nook located at the bottom end of the Bamfield Wall in Sarita Bay.  This early season derby has had Winter Chinook in the mid twenty-pound range weighed in as derby winners.  The Sproat Lake Winter Chinook Derby has been attracting well over four hundred entrants over the last few years.  This derby usually marks the beginning of the salt water angling season in this Vancouver Island area.  The derby has many outstanding prizes for those many entrants that travel from afar to take part.  There will be plenty of information online regarding the derby.  Entrant tickets are usually available at the Gone Fishing store locations.

Amberlee of the Cowichan Valley on Vancouver Island fished with slivers Charters and landed this salmon using anchovy close to Gilbraltor Island.
Local Alberni Valley sport angler Jeannette shows her six pound rainbow trout landed in Great Central Lake using a flat fish.

Winter Chinook fishing has been slow through the winter months.   That being said the weather has not cooperated.   Some local anglers in Bamfield and Ucluelet do get out on the water on a nice winter afternoon or morning.  The feeder Chinook fishing should improve dramatically if the herring spawn is as fantastic as it has been over the last few years.  For those sport angling people getting out on the water there have been a few afternoons where there are some feeders in deep water right in the Bamfield Harbor mouth, Scotch Bay, the Bamfield Wall, Whistle Buoy, and the stretch of water from Kirby to Edward King.   The front side of Fleming Island and Sandford across from Bamfield has also provided some nice salmon up to ten and eleven pounds.  The fish are in very deep water up to one hundred and fifty feet.  March, April and the first half of May can provide excellent fishing for avid anglers outside the Ucluelet Harbor.   Many will troll right alongside Beg Island and to the Red Can.  Sail Rock, Great Bear, Mara Rock, right back to Mayne Bay and over to Swale Rock can also provide some great winter Chinook opportunities.  In the early spring many anglers will fish very close to the bottom.  Coyote spoons, or spoons in Irish Cream, Cookies and Cream, green and blue nickel and other various spoons and colors in the three and three-and-a-half inch size work very well.   If there are not a lot of undersize Chinook in the various angling spots anchovy will often out fish spoons.  Chartreuse, Cop Car, army truck, and green haze are often good anchovy teaser head colors.  A six foot leader or better when trolling anchovy is a wise decision.  Those who prefer trolling with hootchies purple haze, green spatterback, and various glow whites tend to work well behind green and blue flashers.

Jan of Portland Oregon fished with John of Slivers Charters Salmon Sport Fishing and landed this 30 lb Chinook at Sail Rock using Anchovy.

            Early Season fishing in late April, May, June and July often will rely on returns of Chinook and Coho to the very large watersheds to the south.  The biggest watersheds are the Columbia, the Kalama, Willamette and Sacramento.   The Salmon often travel along West Coast Vancouver Island as if travelling on a hi-way.  The sandy banks off the west coast out to twenty miles provide rich resources of bait fish.  The salmon will stop and gorge themselves for days before moving on in large schools.  Barkley Sound also has huge amounts of rich nutrient filled bait fish that these migrating salmon will come in and feed on.  For anglers the fishing for Chinook up to thirty pounds can be very eventful and provide for what can be termed “first class sport fishing”.  The West Vancouver Chinook and Coho will begin to show in early August and begin to peak later in the month and into September.

Trout fishing on the lakes has been up and down.   Some Sproat Lake fresh water fisher people have fished Dog Mountain and also an area just up from the Ski Club but success rates have been minimal.  Great Central Lake has had anglers have a little success fishing from shore using power bait and even worms.  The best fishing has been on the troll.  The fall fishing on Great Central was spectacular.  The fishing during Christmas and the early part of January was a bit slower likely due to the heavy rains.  Cut throat and rainbow during the winter months usually weigh two to four pounds.  Flat fish in darker patterns with a trailing dew worm works very well.   Gang trolls also are a good choice.

Former Cincinatti Reds Back catcher fished with Slivers Charters and had a remarkable fishing day.
Former Cincinatti Reds Back catcher fished with Slivers Charters and had a remarkable fishing day.

         During the winter the Stamp River conditions can vary.  Steelhead fishing will be rather poor when there is high water.   When the water is low and clear anglers in the river will on average hit a few fish per day.   Steelhead fishing has been okay in both the upper and lower river.  There have been Winter and Fall Steelhead in the system.  These fish will spawn in the spring.   Hopefully when conditions warm up so will the Stamp River fishing.

Doug Lindores
Slivers Charters Salmon Sport Fishing
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