2019 Fishing Outlook
With all the recent news about Chinook Salmon closures across southern BC to protect early run Fraser River stocks, it’s easy to think that the Tofino and Ucluelet areas are apart of those closures. However, thanks to the hard work of the Sport Fishing Institute (SFI), the Sport Fishing Advisory Committee (SFAC) and the West Coast Fishing Guides Association (WCFGA) they were able to determine through DNA sampling over the last 5 years, that we catch zero early run Fraser River fish within a 1NM offshore corridor of the surf line in offshore areas 123 and 124. That means some of the best spots like WilfRock and Wya Point will remain open and status quo to Chinook fishing until July 14, when it then opens offshore for normal retention limits of 2 Chinook Salmon per day and 4 in your total possession.
That being said, Salmon fishing is expected to be excellent once again this year on the west coast of Vancouver Island despite what you may hear on the news. Most of our fish we catch within that 1NM corridor are from rivers doing extremely well in southern BC and the southern US. In fact, some rivers are at near record returns. Robertson Creek Hatchery in Port Alberni, which produces a lot of the fish we catch, saw a return of approx. 80,000 Chinook Salmon last year and it was one of the best season’s we’ve had in a long time. Talking to the old timers about how good it was, they said “it’s like we’re fishing in the 90’s again. Just incredible.” This year’s forecasted Chinook return at Robertson creek is approx. 130,000. Numerous hatcheries across the coast are expecting increased returns this year as well. Needless to say, I’m excited for what lies ahead.
The offshore fishing grounds from Tofino and Ucluelet are still open to some of the best halibut and lingcod fishing on the west coast of Vancouver Island. Halibut stocks are doing well and the retention limits have increased from last year and moved towards a hybrid system. Your 1 fish daily allowance has increased in size, to a maximum length of 126cm (roughly 55-60lbs). If you are going to keep a 2-day possession limit, then both fish in your possession must be under 90cm (roughly 20lbs).
Bottom fishing for Lingcod and Rockfish provides consistent rod bending action and is a great way to mix things up between salmon and halibut fishing. Lingcod average 10-15lbs while rockfish average in the 3-8lb range. Daily retention limits allow for 2 lingcod and 3 rockfish (no yelloweye or bocaccio retention and not more than 1 china, quillback or tiger in your possession). The main species we see are Copper, Vermillion and Black Rockfish. My favourite thing about this type of fishing is you never really know what you have on your line until its near the surface, every fish is a surprise. Regardless, all of them make delicious fish tacos!
Fishing trips can be rounded out with the pulling of the crab and prawn traps upon request. Dungeness Crab and Spot Prawns are best cooked fresh within a day or two of harvest. If you have a place to cook, great. If not, several restaurants offer a “Cook Your Catch” option.
Marine wildlife in the area is doing extremely well and encounters are very common. We see a variety of animals like bald eagles, harbour seals, sea lions, otters, porpoises, grey whales, humpback whales, orca (killer whales), coastal wolves, black bears and a wide range of both pelagic and near shore birds. Designated time spent wildlife viewing or a trip to the natural hot springs can be incorporated into any trip. Combining either option with fishing is a fantastic way to experience everything Tofino and Ucluelet have to offer on the water in one trip. The opportunities for adventure here are endless, so what are you waiting for? Book your Tofino fishing trip today!