Barkley Sound, BC
Barkley Sound is located on the Western shore of Vancouver Island. Stretching from Ucluth Peninsula in the north to Cape Beale in the south, Barkley Sound offers some of the most spectacular fishing for salmon, halibut and bottomfish on the entire North American continent.
Whether youre fishing in the sheltered waters of Barkley Sound or on the banks off-shore, youre in the migration path of millions of salmon. Salmon migrating south from Southeast Alaska, the Queen Charlotte Islands and northern British Columbia all pass these shores and many return to Barkley Sound itself to spawn in the local rivers and streams.
All five species of salmon are here: Chinook, Coho, Humpies, Chum and Sockeye will migrate through this area from early spring until late fall. These salmon are returning to Northern California, Oregon and Washington rivers as well as the mighty Fraser River and many local British Columbia streams.
While Barkley Sound is widely recognized for its excellent summer fishery, it really offers year round opportunity as the sound and offshore waters serve as a nursery for salmon and halibut.
January through April Feeder Chinook (Blackmouth) are the dominate fishery in this area. Weather allowing, you can fish the banks offshore but, if the weather doesnt cooperate, anglers fishing from the port town of Ucluelet can usually find sheltered water that allows them to go out. Blackmouth (especially in April and May) can be taken that top thirty pounds.
May and June Chinook begin to migrate south and are very active feeders. Many Chinook are in the 25 to 35 pound range. Because these Chinook are preparing for their spawning runs, they are voracious in attacking herring, spawning candlefish and your fishing lures. Also, Halibut show up in big numbers to feed on the same bait fish, both in Barkley Sound and the offshore rock piles.
July While the offshore runs continue to move south wave after wave, local salmon and dip-ins begin to show in ever increasing numbers in Barkley Sound. Sockeye return to Alberni Inlet and an outstanding fishery is available directly in front of Port Alberni itself. Some halibut will remain in Barkley Sound, but most will move to the offshore banks and rock piles.
August and September Salmon fishing explodes as Coho in good size and great numbers join the mix. Humpies will also be present in great numbers, as will sockeye and Chum.
October Everyone has gone home except for some of the largest Chinook and Coho of the year. October weather is often mild and Chinook in the fifty and Coho in the twenty pound range are still coming through. Chums, perhaps pound for pound, are going to be your hardest fighting salmon, ocean fresh and in great numbers.
November to December The weather can be the main factor as the first of the great winter storms roll in off the ocean. Bottomfish and Halibut will be available and the first of the Blackmouth will begin to arrive.
The angler who wishes to fish in smaller groups will find charters available at Island West Fishing Resort. Island West has 12 charter boats with guides that take out groups of three to four anglers at a time. For those anglers who are towing their own boats, Island West also has moorage available for up to eighty boats. Theres also ample moorage available at the public docks.
In addition to its other amenities, Island West also has an RV Park with hook-ups, a campground, public showers and a nice boat launch.
The second port is Bamfield. Bamfield has many of the same facilities as Ucluelet but is a much smaller town which is divided by an inlet. Its a long, rough drive towing a boat to Bamfield and is usually easier to launch at Port Alberni or China Creek campground and run your boat out. This is a trip of about twenty-five to thirty miles, depending on where you start. The early morning water in Alberni Inlet is usually calm, but as the weather heats up in the summer, the winds are sucked down between the mountains and the water can become quite rough. As you reach Barkley Sound the water will usually lay down.
The third port is Port Alberni. A town of about 25,000, it offers a full range of services, dock, motels and nearby China Creek campground. Port Alberni is aggressively pursuing tourist trade, especially sportsfishermen. The Somass River enters Alberni Inlet here, so all salmon returning to the state-of-the-art Robinson Creek Hatchery are literally under your feet when youre on the water. Its at Port Alberni that most of the sports sockeye fishery takes place.
Area 4B Sechart Channel: Fish the 60 to 100 foot water depths for Chinook.
Area 5B Howard Point: Good for Chinook in August and September.
Special Notes: The off shore fishery
that starts in May for salmon and halibut will be added to this chart. The
areas you may wish to fish off-shore are as follows: South Bank is
approximately seven miles due south of the light as you leave Ucluelet.
On the offshore banks, trolling on the bottom and letting your downrigger ball bounce occasionally will help attract both salmon and halibut. The more scents you use, such as Smelly Jelly, the more likely youll be able to pick-up halibut while trolling. And, of course, this will also help you attract salmon.
The July/August/September Chinook and Coho run isnt always a drag-your-lure-on-the-bottom fishery. They will often suspend and, if you have good electronics (such as the Lowrance X-19), youll be able to spot both the fish and the bait and target your downrigger fishing to this depth.
Very often you need to fish no deeper than thirty-five feet below the surface. Moochers and jiggers can work the surflines quite close to shore and trollers should stay close to the edges of kelp beds for the really big Chinook. Coho will also feed along the edge of these kelp beds.
Artificial lures work exceptionally well and some of them you might want to have in your tackle box or, more importantly, in the water would include:
1. The Silver Horde Coho killer, an especially deadly lure on the outer banks. Army truck and glow colors are both excellent to use.
2. The Sonic Edge spoon in copper/watermelon color #323 works well both behind a Hot Spot flasher or trolled by itself. Fish this lure in the top sixty feet of water.
3. The #4 Kingfisher spoon in Cop Car color #911 is a great spoon to fish either behind a flasher or by itself.
4. Last, but not least, the new Pro-Troll Roto Chip with herring, or herring strip, can be deadly in this area. The Roto Chip lure contains the newly marketed E-Chip which, when being tested, showed an increased catch rate compared against like lures.