Island Fishing: Vast area around Port Alberni provides salmon aplenty
Sep 12 2012
Summarizing sport fishing opportunities in Alberni Inlet and Barkley Sound is difficult because four of five species of salmon are aiming for a dozen rivers and natal streams from as early as May until as late as November. But as noted in last week's column, Lloyd Erickson is mostly interested in Chinook fishing and that narrows things considerably.
Alberni Inlet is 50 kilometres long and so a run to Barkley Sound takes an hour just to turn the corner at Ecoole and an extra half hour to hit Cape Beale past Bamfield or Cree Island short of Ucluelet. The springs in the Sound are just hitting the rocky islands, including Folger, King Edward, Whittlestone, Brady's Beach, Bamfield Harbour mouth, Diplock, Pill Point, Kirby Point, Swale Rock, Mear's Bluff and Ecoole. Fish these springs as you would any exposed, surfline rock pile: 30-to 50-feet deep, using anchovy in a teaserhead or six inches Banana Apex (white with a yellow stripe). The latter can be fished fast to cover ground, along with six-inch plugs, the 602 and 158 being good ones to try. At fast speed these spoons and plugs have an erratic darting motion that mesmerizes a spring into biting.
Do remember this is "stick and stay and make it pay" fishing because the girthy springs tend to sit until a light switch goes off and then they feed, resulting in many boats having fish on at the same side. Get to know the structure of the rocks as this is the key to finding Chinook. They sit on the downstream side of the current, or in "Vs" of structure, or they hang near kelp.
But, if you are fishing plugs and spoons, for example, four inches green/glow, blue/silver Coyotes, the latter some four feet behind a flasher in glow-green, plaid or purple haze, you will be fishing faster than other boats and so you pull into deeper water, from 50-to 150-feet deep. In hootchies, try the old standy white, then Green Ghost (green and white) or combinations of green and blue. Some of the Sacramento/Klamath fish dip through the sound into September, this year's run being a staggering plus three million fish.
Kirby Point and Austin have been good this year, and the winter spot of Vernon Bay has also been good. Then they mosey over to Pill and Chup Points where they hang up waiting for a flood tide to push the Stamp, Nahmint and Henderson springs home into Alberni Inlet. Needless to say, you fish the back eddy on the outside of these points as this is where the springs build in numbers for as much as six hours before the push.
Remember that with hootchies, you fish with a flasher, not a dodger, and are looking for about 34 inches behind that Betsy, glow green, purple haze flashers. This transmits flasher snap to the hootchy. With bait on the other hand, use four to six feet leader so flasher action is not transmitted to the lure which has its own action resulting from the teaser head. Army Truck, glow green, and bloody nose are patterns to try first.