Nootka Marine Adventures operates three incredible fishing resorts on the spectacular west coast of Vancouver Island, Canada.
Kicking Off The Summer Fishing Season
It’s been a long, cold winter on Vancouver Island, but in the words of George Harrison, “Here comes the sun!” Goodbye, freezing fog and snow! Hello fishing season!
As warmer weather approaches, we’re all starting to think about getting back out on the water and hooking into some fish. Nootka Sound kicks off the summer fishing season in May with steady Chinook salmon action and excellent bottom fishing opportunities.
Spring Means Action In Nootka Sound
Starting in April, Nootka Sound sees the first southbound migratory Chinook salmon passing by and heading into cold, clear local waters to feed. These fish are hungry and ready for action. Early Chinook are targeting abundant spring herring populations. These weeks mark both the tail-end of the spawn as well as the start of the juvenile hatch.
As a result, we see both large numbers of Chinook salmon and a high diversity of other fish species following tight to the shorelines and feeding voraciously.
The Best Time Of The Year For Chinook Salmon Fishing
Opportunities abound during spring months in Nootka Sound, and many anglers consider it the best time of the year for angling on the West Coast. Expect to reel in plenty of Chinook in the 12- to 17-lb range; they’re on the smaller size compared to later runs but are nice keepers and great eating.
And don’t be mistaken – the fishery isn’t restricted to outside areas like Bajo Reef. There’s no need to work any harder than on a normal summer day to catch your limits. Many anglers load up the boat with salmon in May, all caught off the inside Nootka hot spots and as far inside as the Wall near Nootka Sound Resort.
Bottom Fishing Without The Crowds
Another benefit to springtime angling is a distinct lack of boat traffic and fishing pressure. Less noise and disturbance keep the fish un-spooked and happy in their preferred holding spots. At the same time, anglers who are new to the sport or just new to Nootka Sound are offered an early season opportunity to learn how to fish popular hot spots like Wash Rock, Beano Creek and Maquinna Point without the stress of the crowds. Anglers also don’t need to head out as far for halibut and lingcod during these spring months. The fish tend to move in closer to the shoreline to feed on herring and remain there until mid-June when they move back out to the shelves.
You’ll find that halibut, lingcod and rockfish stick around rocky outcroppings and the leeward side of underwater humps, feeding on herring. Give bottom fishing a try at Wash Rock and outwards. You can always troll, but this is a great time of year to try jigging, because the bait is concentrated—so you can hook into multiple species in one spot.
Tips From The Pros
After a long, dark night, the first sign of light means it’s time for fish to eat. You need to be out on the water early for the best action. In May, this will be around 6 a.m.
Focus on depths of 100′ or less. The thick herring presence lends itself to a shallow, condensed fishery and a chance to target all species in the same area. You’ll find that halibut, lingcod, and Chinook are all biting around the 50′ mark.
And of course, this is the time of year for bait. Herring and anchovies are a great approach; otherwise, try out bigger spoons in the 5″-6″ range, trolled on a 5 1⁄2′ leader.
The Dock Shack at Moutcha Bay Resort has an outstanding selection of tackle, hand-picked for fishing Nootka Sound, as well as lots of high-grade herring and anchovies. Be sure to stop by for quality gear, bait, and fishing advice from the dock staff.
“The afternoon knows what the morning never suspected,” goes the saying. As always, anglers should plan for fair and foul weather. Although we typically experience the hottest day of the year in May in Nootka Sound, the spring months can be unpredictable. Create a checklist for all of your essentials and safety equipment so you can drop your lines knowing you’re prepared, and enjoy a productive spring fishery!
No matter how experienced you are, there’s always something new to learn. Nootka Marine Adventures is keen to educate people and help to grow a new generation of angers who love the sport. This year, we will be announcing a new “learn to fish” program available to all levels of anglers at our properties. Stay tuned to our website for more information.
The spring fishery is best experienced on a full-day guided fishing trip in May and early June. Nootka Marine Adventures operates three resorts on the west coast of Vancouver Island. Drive in to Moutcha Bay Resort (only 2 hours west of Campbell River) in May and experience everything this highly rated resort has to offer!