I always find that April is the month that really flips the Saltwater switch on in the Tofino area. Salmon, Halibut, Inshore, Offshore, it all starts to happen and only gets better. Opening things up with a great Outlook for the season ahead, followed by updated reports...
Tofino’s “Rival” Fishing Outlook 2012
With labels like “Phenomenal” “Outstanding” and “Best Salmon fishing in decades!”, there is no doubt that the memorable 2011 Sport fishing season will be a tough act to follow. Fortunately for Tofino B.C. fishing enthusiasts, 2012 looks to be the Rival, with Salmon numbers forecasted to feed and travel along our local coastline in staggering numbers again. While the whole B.C. coast enjoyed better than average fishing for Chinook and Coho salmon throughout 2011, Tofino’s outer coast waters were labelled as the most consistent fishing location in 2011, with the highest catch rate of Chinook salmon anywhere in B.C. The Tofino and Ucluelet area fisheries have proudly worn this “label” for the past 4 years with huge Thanks to the Salmon Hatchery outputs from Washington, Oregon and California states, which provide literally Millions of salmon to catch along Vancouver Island’s West Coast.
Chinook and Coho Salmon numbers can be expected to follow the similar reliable pattern to the previous season, with good numbers of Spring Chinook showing up on the docks by mid April through early May. These bright Silver and Purple hued “feeder” Chinook are great sport on light tackle and exceptional table fare, actually favoured by many as the best Salmon you can eat for both flavor and health benefits! These abundant “Spring Chinook” can be caught inshore and offshore from Tofino throughout April and May, with a key element is finding the baitfish they are following and feeding on continuously. Mid May through early June will provide the season’s first wave of summer Chinook, with common sizes in the high teens to mid twenty pound range. Blueback Coho Salmon in the 3-6 pound range arrive during this time as well, making the Tofino area’s inshore kelp beds and sand bars a regular feeding area for the summer months, providing a prime habitat for both fish and anglers.
July has become the highlighted month of the season for most local species, providing Lights Out - Full Speed Action for Chinook and Coho salmon. During this time, anglers enjoy their best success with various techniques of choice. Trolling deep in the offshore waters garners the majority of energy and success, with Clayoquot’s inshore areas also seeing many fishers travel short distances from the harbour to fish with light gear, cast flies and trolled “Bucktail” flies on the surface. July through August is a prime time for these varied size crafts to fish safely and successfully in local protected waters, with abundant Coho Salmon providing unforgettable light tackle fishing experiences for young and old. August is still the month for the season’s largest Chinook salmon offshore, with some pushing the 50 lb range, while Coho continue to grow through August and September. This latter part of the season is still a very reliable bet for big fish and great conditions, with the theory of big bait-big fish being as true as any time of the year. Large Spoons and Plugs fished fairly shallow in the offshore waters will help anglers connect with those memorable “Fish of a Lifetime”. Saltwater Fly anglers arrive in search of tackle testing Coho Salmon, with common patterns also on the larger size in comparison to the early season months.
For the many anglers interested in the great Halibut fishing available near Tofino, the early season should be the focus a short distance outside of Lennard Island lighthouse. The months of May June and July will likely provide the season’s best Halibut fishing in 140-160 feet of water, with natural and artificial baits working well with a little patience. Halibut numbers in the area are forecasted to be strong again in 2012, with the average sizes often weighing in at 18-45 lbs. There has been an increase of larger Halibut near Tofino over the last 2 years, and anglers might consider releasing some of the largest Halibut as they contribute to the future of a healthy biomass coast wide. New size restrictions are in place for the 2012 Halibut season, so become familiar with the details of the 1 per day any size and your second in possession having to be a smaller size. The numbers of Ling Cod and Rockfish in the Tofino offshore areas continue to provide not only an exceptionally reliable fishery, but a variety of fascinating colors and sizes of these amazingly tasty bottom dwellers. With average depths in the 80 to 140 ft range, Tofino’s bottom fishing options are best along the rocky reefs and contours within 45 minutes of travel west of town. For all offshore fishing excursions, knowing the area, the weather, vessel preparedness and safety are your first steps to a successful trip.
Freshwater anglers will be happy to see a slight increase in Wild Steelhead populations on the small to medium west draining rivers of Clayoquot Sound this season. With very limited access, many of these small rivers and streams provide prime habitat for native Steelhead and Trout as well as the returning fall Salmon. With a total catch and release stream fishery in the area, couple with very limited angling activity, Tofino area freshwater fishing opportunities are a great option for the adventurous types using Flies or artificial baits. Tofino Fly & Tackle can be relied upon for information and the seasonal gear or flies of choice.
Overall, an exceptional Sport fishing season is expected again for 2012, supported by natural conditions like the cold water currents that have helped increase ocean survival, as well as Hatchery augmented stocks originating from the U.S.A. Southern watersheds like the Klamath and Sacramento Rivers expect to see well over 2 Million Chinook Salmon returning, coupled with strong runs to the Columbia and Puget Sound as well, Tofino should be a summer long Salmon fest!!! For more information regarding Tofino’s exceptional fishing opportunities, see us at Clayoquot Ventures -Tofino Fishing 561 Campbell Street on your way into Tofino, just look for the big Cedar Salmon.