Tofino Fishing: Coho & Pink Salmon - Mother nature's stimulus package
by Jay Mohl, Tofino
There is no disputing that Chinook Salmon, specifically Tyee Chinook over 30 lbs have been a focal point of many sports fishermens' dreams. With Chinook being the largest and most powerful on average, nature's "King" of all Salmon often holds the spotlight in comparison to its four Pacific cousins; Chum, Sockeye, Coho and Pink. Where the other four species may not dominate in size and strength, they do help make up for the Chinooks salmon's shortcomings in sheer numbers for their run size returning to natal streams.
For the 2009 Sports Fishing season in the Tofino area, Coho and Pink are two sub-species of Salmon that will undoubtedly help not only local sports fishing and sustenance opportunities, but the river ecosystems of their origin. With much discussion about ocean survival conditions and habitat being key factors in salmon survival, combining the two factors can have a very positive effect. Though the Tofino region doesn't experience local salmon returns in the millions, or even the hundreds of thousands to our small to medium sized rivers of Clayoquot, the strength in numbers of salmon returning to spawn is obviously vital for many that benefit, including the riparian ecosystems.
Less discussed, but equally important is the decaying salmon carcasses and subsequent fertilization of stream bed areas in the way of enriched nitrogen to the ecosystem. Research has indicated that trees and shrubs near spawning streams derive approximately 24% of their foliar nitrogen from spawning salmon. With the aid of this nutrient subsidy, growth rates are significantly increased in spawning streams. Riparian forests affect the quality of in-stream habitat through shading, sediment and nutrient filtration, this fertilization process serves not only to enhance riparian production, but may also improve spawning and rearing habitat for subsequent salmon generations and maintain the long-term productivity of rivers along the Pacific coast. It really is a simple equation, strong runs of salmon equals a healthier ecosystem.
Local Coho Salmon numbers are anticipated to experience a fair increase again in 2009, following a pretty solid return last season with remarkably large fish on average. The biggest news comes from south of the border, where the Columbia River Coho salmon forecasted return has been upgraded to 1.3 Million, which rivals peak numbers from the early 90's. The strength of Columbia River Coho run is a very strong component in supporting Tofino and Ucluelet area sport fishing opportunities, most specifically the inshore action for Fly and light tackle anglers. Very strong numbers of Coho grilse were present along the West Coast of Vancouver Island late last season, which is a great indicator for future stocks, as well as the state of the ocean off the west coast of the island.
The Tofino Area Rivers and streams historically hosted large runs of Pink salmon, but we do benefit from transient Fraser River Pink salmon that are forecasted to arrive approximately 2 million fish over the historic average, with likely numbers in around 14 million salmon. This season will be a prime opportunity to help expose someone new to recreational fishing in the saltwater, as well as benefit from Mother Nature's version of stimulus to support angling opportunities and the health of rivers and their tributaries along the coast.
We hope to hear from you in 2009 and get you out on the water.
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.
Tofino fishing guide Jay Mohl writes about the importance of coho and pink salmon for the ecosystem of Clayoquot Sound.