Tofino fishing outlook for 2008
by Jay Mohl, Tofino
Following a season that dubbed Vancouver Island's Tofino and Ucluelet areas likely the most consistent sport fisheries on the BC coast, 2008 fishing opportunities might have a hard act to follow.
For fishing near Tofino and Ucluelet, the 2007 season was not unlike being at an action packed nhl playoff game with a line-up of star players that you anticipate seeing all winter, and the "game" unfolds to be as exhilarating as you anticipated. The experience finds you not only satisfied with the time you have committed, but feeds your passion and heightens your interest for the next time you are in the front row seat.
A combination of factors have been building up against the 2008 season's line-up of Salmon stocks, with fair to poor early stages of marine survival likely creating the biggest challenge. Predation, along with unpredictable water currents and temperatures that effect "normal" food sources during the early stages of local Salmonid life cycle have not been overly favourable. Due to these various challenges effecting various salmon stocks coast wide, we can anticipate a more conservative approach by dfo for some areas of the coast, in an attempt to protect stocks of concern. The Pacific Halibut Commission is recommending a reduction in the total allowable catch for the bc coast spread between all sectors, and are in discussion with dfo on how to achieve this goal. Keep in mind that this potential temporary reduction is not based on conservation concerns, but is due to the allocation process of Halibut catch within different sectors on the bc coast.
Through the Sport Fish Advisory process with dfo, recreational angling opportunities will be protected and provided following necessary conservation, likely being announced by mid spring in 2008.
Though returning numbers have fluctuated recently, run timing for most local Salmon stocks has been quite consistent the last couple years, so this part of your planning should not be in question. Early spring offshore action for Chinook salmon and Halibut is normally a standby, with late spring and early summer seeing more inshore action for Chinook and Coho. The peak months of July, August and early September should again provide the best fishing inshore and offshore for Chinook and Coho, with Halibut and Bottom fish being a great option.
The 2008 season will likely see some of the most reliable fishing opportunities supported by enhanced Salmon stocks such as Robertson Creek Chinook and Coho, as opposed to smaller wild stock systems of Clayoquot and Barkley Sounds. Fortunately the work done over the years by hatcheries has helped provide a variety of fishing opportunities, in both approach and terminal areas. This is proof once again that Salmon Enhancement cutbacks are not only a very poor decision, but detrimental to years of past enhancement work that requires continual "maintenance" to be successful.
Anglers needing moorage while fishing the Tofino area might want to check out the 4th street harbour upgrades, with a new office building complete with two new washrooms, showers and laundry. Plans for expanded parking for vehicles and boat trailers are also in the works for 2008. Make sure to check with local regulations, as well as in-season variation orders for the area you plan to fish. This can be done by visiting the local dfo office, tackle shops or postings at launches and docks.
Remember, if you have a chance to volunteer personal time, or contribute financially to local Salmon Enhancement programs, pleased do your part. Community based enhancement programs and related support are a big part of the future, so get involved where you can to help keep the "game on" for future angling opportunities.
Jay Mohl operates Clayoquot Ventures, a Tofino fishing charter company. Visit his website at www.tofinofishing.com or call him at 1-888-534-7422.