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Spring Fishing in Tofino

by Jay Mohl, Tofino


For those of us that live on the West Coast of Vancouver Island, we can almost expect the early spring time fishing conditions to be very good, but the weather conditions can be somewhat unpredictable. The fishing opportunities can be far more predictable than the marine weather conditions that we rely on to provide access and opportunities to some of British Columbia's finest early season saltwater fishing.

Tofino and has been known for great Salmon and Halibut fishing for many years, and more so each season, the great springtime opportunities get more and more attention, attracting anglers from around the globe. Though the protected inlet waters of Clayoquot Sound do provide access to good salmon fishing virtually any day of the week, the offshore waters from Tofino are the desired area to focus on aggressively feeding Chinook Salmon averaging 12-20 lbs, and for Halibut in 20-60 lb. average. On an annual basis, mid March thru early April is the time when Pacific Halibut start to ascend from the vast ocean depths and their yearly spawning ritual, up to the shallower coastline shelf that borders the west coast of Vancouver Island. This near shore bank system just outside of the Tofino and Ucluelet areas provides the prime habitat and nutrient rich tidal waters for prolific baitfish stocks such as Needlefish, Herring and Pacific Sardines, also known as Pilchards. With water depths that average 140 -200 ft., and the various bottom contours that create different aspects of tidal currents, the baitfish schools find these small canyons and contours desirable enough to stay for extended periods of time, if not the whole season. Especially true during the early season, where there is baitfish, there is other predator species that rely on these ample bait stocks, such as Chinook Salmon, Pacific Halibut, Ling Cod, Rockfish as well as Orca and Humpback Whales. I have purposely left out the less desirable, but sometimes present species; Seals and Sea Lions. Fishing methods during this time are quite common to the tactics of many other areas of Vancouver Island's coastline. Trolling for Chinook salmon very near the bottom is often most productive, aside from when the Baitfish becomes suspended in mid water depths during tide changes. Numerous incidental Halibut are caught during this time, compounding action and opportunity. Gear of choice for trolling early season salmon often starts with Anchovies on a 6-7 ft. leader, as well as Spoons and Hoochies with some hints of glow green are common. Halibut fishing tactics are quite straight forward. Focus fishing efforts on tides that are not great in change between highs and lows, study charts and if possible, utilize your chart plotter to locate and stay near bottom contours or known Halibut beds. Always have sharp hooks and fresh bait such as Herring, Sardines, Octopus or Salmon bellies. Don't rule out the option of artificial jigs, and especially the 8 inch Power Baits made by Berkeley.

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

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