Tofino Fishing outlook for 2006

by Jay Mohl, Tofino


The early season months are always welcomed on the West Coast of Vancouver Island, when there are often numerous reminders of the wet coastal winter loosening its grasp, promoting more spring-like conditions and activities.
Many people will be preparing their boats and gear for the season ahead, while there are some keen local anglers that have done these preparations during the quieter winter months, and have been out on the water enjoying some great early season fishing opportunities. Currently, fishing for Chinook salmon in the Tofino area waters has been quite limited to breaks in the weather. The protected waters of Sydney inlet near Hot Springs Cove is a great early season consideration. The close proximity to the open ocean helps influence bait-fish, and the following Salmon and Halibut to arrive, but not always depart with tidal flows. This is just one area in the Tofino-Clayoquot Sound area that provides good inshore fishing for Chinook and Halibut from January through late May. Trolling 90-110 feet deep with anchovies or medium Herring is the gear of choice for both species.

As an outlook for the 2006 fishing season in the Tofino-Clayoquot Sound area, anglers can expect good early season action for Chinook salmon and Halibut among the baitfish rich banks offshore from Tofino. This same bank system extends along our outer coastline, well past Ucluelet. It has been very common over the past few years for anglers from Tofino and Ucluelet to congregate in the same locations on this prolific bank system. Fishing at Tofino's Portland or Raphael pts, in 140-160 ft. of water, your efforts are often rewarded. Chinook Salmon in the 14-25 lb. range are most often enticed by Anchovies, Herring, Hoochies or large spoons and plugs. Halibut are consistently found along these same banks, attracted by the vast schools of Needlefish and Sardines that have helped slow the Chinook salmon from their migration. Halibut fishing success is often attributed to reading tides and charts, and fresh bait such as Octopus, Sardines, Salmon belly or the artificial Berkley power Grub.

As the 2006 season progresses to early summer, the Tofino area will once again see a strong return of Chinook and Coho Salmon to both inshore, and open offshore waters. This time of the season always provides reliable Bottom fishing, as well as inshore Fly fishing opportunities that continue through late September. Clayoquot Sound has been the main stage for the growing sport of catching ocean salmon on the fly, and is a great option for all. Whether you are a beginner, or an ardent angler, this exciting fishery allows ample space and enjoyment in one of the most pristine locales for a popular fishery.

The last stretch of the summer season will provide the best opportunities for Chinook in the "Tyee" class, with the 2006 outlook for hatchery origin Springs forecast to be abundant. The islands and reefs that scatter along the outer coastline are the traveling and feeding corridors for these maturing Salmon. Consider trying the Tofino area Hot Spots like Wilf Rock, Blundan Island or Tree Island. During the past few years, the offshore areas have consistently produced the "Slabs" as well.
Anchovies or Medium Herring 6-7 ft. behind a flasher will often be the gear of choice. Many anglers have also been relying on 7 inch Tomic plugs, and spoons like Oki's Titan, or Gibb's Gator in glow patterns.

The late season months of September thru November deserves consideration, as there are great opportunities for the largest Coho Salmon of the season. Anglers visiting the area to experience this great fishery do not require a large boat or to travel great distances. You should consider that this time of the year still provides great offshore action for Halibut and Bottom fish, as well as a strong outlook for Chum Salmon, usually starting in October.

Jason Mohl operates Clayoquot Ventures in Tofino. Visit his company online at www.tofinofishing.com or contact him by email at jay@tofinofishing.com

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