tofino fishing forecast 2003 photo:jacqueline windh visit the photographer's website

Tofino Fishing Forecast 2003

by Jay Mohl, Tofino

V Vancouver Island's Pacific Rim region around Tofino has a long history of fishing, with exciting sport fisheries available all along our western coastline.

From the rugged and remote northern areas of Quatsino, Kyuquot and Nootka Sounds, to the more accessible but equally pristine and abundant, Clayoquot and Barclay Sound areas to the south.

For the small coastal communities of Tofino and Ucluelet, fishing has always been a major attraction, with fish and seafood stocks creating the backbone for their growth many years ago.

These rich aquatic resources continue to attract sport fishermen from all over the world, with the 2003 pre-season forecasts showing strong returns for all species of Salmon. Expect excellent early season action for Chinook Salmon and Halibut among the baitfish rich banks offshore from Tofino and Ucluelet.

The mixed stocks of "transient" Chinook Salmon are the mainstay of Tofino's springtime fishery. This season's upper Fraser stocks, along with numerous others, are showing very promising numbers. The gear list for these heavy feeding-hard fighting "springs" is more diverse than their late season counterparts. Anchovies and Cut-Plug Herring will work all season, but the early fish will often be fooled by Plugs in the #602, #158 and #700 patterns, or spoons like the Diamond Lance, Gibbs Gypsy, #5 Wonder and 3-4 inch Coyotes.

This is probably the best time of the season in Tofino to fish your favorite hoochy down deep, 39-42 inches behind a flasher. Fishing at Tofino's Portland or Raphael pts. in 140-160 ft. of water, as well as Ucluelet's South bank and La Perouse bank in the 180-300 ft range, your efforts should be rewarded.

Halibut are consistently found along these same banks, attracted by the vast schools of Needlefish and Sardines that have slowed the Chinook Salmon from their migration. Halibut are best targeted with fresh baits like large Herring, Sardines, Octopus or Salmon Belly fished with a Gibbs spreader bar. Sharp hooks are a must, and the 9/0 Gamakatsu Octopus model is a good standby. Anticipated to be significantly better than last season, this combination fishery continues to provide great action through late July.

The month of August in Tofino sees the return of "local" Chinook Salmon in numbers and intensity that has given this fishery in Clayoquot and Barkley Sound world-class status. The islands and reefs that scatter along the outer coastline are the traveling and feeding corridors for these maturing Salmon en-route to their natal streams. Anchovies, medium Herring or large cut-plug Herring on long leaders are a must. This year's return of 4-5 year old Chinook is anticipated to be very strong, especially runs from the larger hatchery systems like Robertson Creek, Conuma River and the Nitinat River. Any potential conservation for WCVI Chinook stocks in 2003 will likely focus on the smaller "wild" systems due to a weak brood year in 2000.

This years Coho forecast is strong, with returns possibly 40% stronger than that of 2000-2001, which was a very impressive year. With various light tackle options and protected waters to comfortably fish, along with promising returns, this season provides great opportunities for anglers of all ages.

The rapidly expanding sport of fly fishing the saltwater has labeled the Tofino / Clayoquot Sound area, British Columbia's premier destination. This exciting, low impact fishery is expected to experience continued growth in conjunction with the fantastic increase of Coho Salmon along the coast. Flies to consider are the Clayoquot Clouser, Krystal Shrimp, Clayoquot Deceiver, Epoxy Needlefish as well as medium sized Bucktails in Pink, Orange, Purple or the Coronation pattern. Light tackle methods for Coho include small spoons and mini flashers, Needlefish Hoochies, small jigs and even spinners like the Bolo or Silvex.

Mid June is the start of this near shore fishery, with the action intensifying in July through mid October. As the season progresses into early fall, the usually stable weather patterns don't often limit boating activities, in turn, promoting great conditions for bottom-fishing the offshore waters for Halibut, Lingcod and Red Snapper. Among the inshore waters of Clayoquot and Barclay sounds, this is the prime time to fish for returning local stocks of salmon in protected waters.

Come out and see for yourself why the Tofino/Ucluelet areas continue to prosper with sport fishing and tourism.

Jason Mohl operates Clayoquot Ventures in Tofino. Visit his company online at or contact him by email at
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