Tofino Fishing Report


Find out what’s working and what’s not when fishing in the Tofino area on Vancouver Island’s Pacific Rim. Tips, best practices, places and the go-to lures are just a sample of what you’ll find in our fishing report.

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Tofino Fishing Report

August 2018

The month of August has long been eagerly anticipated by Tofino anglers, as the Chinook salmon are returning in good numbers, plus schools of coho salmon are showing up.

We have great offshore fishing for feeding Chinooks and hatchery cohos in areas like Raphael Point, Cleland Island, Portland Point, and Long Beach, depending on where the baitfish are congregating. Our go-to setups are anchovies or herring in clear and green teaser heads, spoons, and the Brown Turd. If the bait is large herring, we like to use 5- to 6-inch Tomic plugs and Superior spoons with no flasher.

We also find the shore-hugging Chinooks heading for the Nitinat and Somass rivers. Popular spots are Wilf Rock, Gowland Rocks, and Schooner Cove. Large anchovies, medium herring, and the Brown Turd are great choices to target these good-sized fish.

We also have a great inside fishery for local unmarked coho in shallow protected waters using needlefish hoochies and Coho Killers. There are many restrictions to protect Clayoquot Sound Chinooks, so anglers must do their homework to avoid having a negative encounter with our local DFO officers.

At this time of year, we start fishing farther out in the deeper waters for halibut, as they move out from shore. The Chicken Ranch and humps on the 40-fathom edge get lots of effort in August.

Be prepared for eighth month of the year, which many of us call ‘Fogust’!

Shawn Hillier
Owner and Senior Guide
Ospray Fishing Charters
Tofino’s finest fishing since 1987
www.ospray.com
(888) 286-3466
The only guide banned from fishing in a Tofino derby because we won too many times

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As we embrace July, with its runs of migrating mature Chinook and sprinklings of coho, we Tofino anglers are a happy lot. We can find Chinooks migrating and feeding along the surfline at places like Bartlett Island, La Croix group, Blunden Island, and Wilf Rock. Some of these areas may be influenced by the tides, but can be rewarding if you’re at the right place at the right time.

I prefer anchovies and green pack herring (approx. 6- 7-inch, small size) in UV and Chartreuse teaser heads using either in-line or dummy flashers. I have also been having good success using AP needlefish spoons as well as needlefish hoochies in blue and green tones.

The offshore banks such as Portland Point, Raphael Point, 3 Humps, Cleland Island, and Long Beach will be holding small herring, anchovies, or needlefish, which will provide feeding stations for migrating Chinook. Wherever the bait is concentrated should provide good action fishing around the bait balls using glow or non-glow needlefish hoochies, a variety of spoons, and anchovies in a variety of teaser heads.

Halibut fishing is in full swing. They generally prefer salmon bellies this time of year, but large herring are always a good option. We can find them from the 20 fathom line right out to 60 fathom line of off any bottom structure. The big challenge will be to find the fish that aren’t over the max size of 115 cm.

Bottom fishing is very popular here as well, with good populations of offshore lingcod as well as rockfish. It’s important to use a good descending device to carefully release any yelloweye rockfish you catch while bottom fishing.

Always be sure to watch the weather and be a courteous boater, respecting the other boaters and anglers by not ‘waking’ them or crowding them when they are fishing.

Shawn Hillier
Owner and Senior Guide
Ospray Fishing Charters
Tofino’s finest fishing since 1987
www.ospray.com
1-888-286-3466
The only guide banned from fishing in a Tofino derby because we won too many times

June is an exciting time for fishing in the Tofino/Clayoquot Sound area. That’s when the Chinook runs heading for their natal rivers start to traverse our area.

The sandlance are usually in good concentrations on the offshore banks, as well as along the surf line. Also, there are a variety of sizes of herring in smaller schools in unpredictable areas.

Popular areas like Raphael Point, Cleland Island, Portland Point, and Long Beach should be holding bait and hungry fish.

Offshore, needlefish hootchies and Coho Killer spoons are a staple this time of year behind flashers fishing the bottom third of the water column.

Of course, small anchovies work now too but usually aren’t necessary.

Along the shallow surf line, spots like Tibbs, Blunden Island, and Wilf Rock are where nice migrating Chinooks can be intercepted. I usually have an anchovy setup (often without a flasher) on one rod when fishing these areas and a Flash Fly or some other bucktail fly behind a flasher on the other side.

Coho usually are open for hatchery-clipped fish June 1, but we don’t see a lot of them until later in the month.

Halibut fishing is in full swing. There are still a few fish inshore, but there are even more farther out in the 30-fathom edges. Salmon bellies and herring on anchor are my staples in this fishery.

Good numbers of lingcod should be available to us anglers, but we need to be conscious of the zero retention of yelloweye rockfish. This is now the time every angler should be in possession of a descending device for safe release of rockfish. I have used the SeaQualizer for two years and have had great results with it. I had been using a different product for four years before that, but the results weren’t nearly as good.

Please remember: If you are fishing the unpredictable west coast waters, be sure to double-check all your safety equipment and marine radio, and leave a sailing plan with ETA before you leave the dock.

Shawn Hillier
Owner and Senior Guide
Ospray Fishing Charters
Tofino’s finest fishing since 1987
www.ospray.com
1-888-286-3466
The only guide banned from fishing in a Tofino derby because we won too many times

May in Clayoquot Sound brings warmer weather and increased angling opportunities for the adventurous spirit.

The key to successful outings this time of year is to find the migratory offshore herring coming into our bays and inlets to spawn during March and April. These spots can be unpredictable and changeable from year to year.

Chinooks can be found in some of the more traditional offshore areas such as Portland Point to the south of town, as well as up to the west in the Raphael Point areas, but if you find the herring you will find the nicer early run Willamette fish. I have found them in areas protected from the weather such as Calmus Passage, Brabant, Russell and Father Charles Channels.

When probing the offshore areas looking for the bait and fish, I usually use anchovies in glow or chartreuse teaser heads and glo and blue or green octopus hoochies. If I find some salmon I try and clean them as soon as possible to see what they are feeding on and then try to match the bait size.

If I’m fishing the bays and inlets looking for salmon feeding on the herring I use a little bigger sized gear; green or blue pack herring in green or UV teaser heads as well as four inch chrome spoons. Once I do find this situation I like to switch to 5- to 6-inch Tomic plugs in 157, 232 or 700 series colours to target the larger sized Chinooks.

With the promise of a smaller maximum size this year, I will be using mostly circle hooks for easy release of oversized halis. I like to target these fish at this time of year using, of course, large herring as well as some salmon belly hanging off a white power bait grub. I usually don’t fish farther offshore than two miles for halibut in May.

The lingcod season is now open in area 24 and should be in decent numbers on offshore pinnacles. This is a weather-dependent but fun fishery.

The big thing is to make sure your boat and its safety equipment are up-to-date and watch the weather as it can be very unpredictable in the spring.

Shawn Hillier
Owner and Senior Guide
Ospray Fishing Charters
Tofino’s finest fishing since 1987
www.ospray.com
1-888-286-3466
The only guide banned from fishing in a Tofino derby because we won too many times

Fishing deep is the key in the early season, the water clarity is pristine, using your downriggers just off the bottom at depths averaging 42 to 50 meters. Fishing on the banks located offshore you will find great action for feeder Chinooks and halibut in some reliable spots like Portland Point, Clifford Point, and Rafael Point. When you can locate the fish, simply stop and switch to using drift-jigs of the same size and colour as the bait. An anchovy or herring in a teaser head, with or without a flasher for early-season baits can make your trip a trip to remember.

Another dependable method for both species is glow or translucent hoochies, and 6- to 7-inch spoons, 6 to 8 feet behind your favourite flasher.

Leader lengths vary from 5 to 7 feet for natural baits, 38 to 42 inches for hoochies, and between 4 and 5 feet for the right spoon action. Don’t forget to try a Tomic plug # 602, 500, or 232.

Watch for large schools of pilchards. When they are present, spoons and plugs often out fish other gear types, and you will be rewarded with fantastic action for Chinook in the 10- to 25-pound range. Time your outing around a tide change. Fish are feeding aggressively in the hours before, during, and after a tide change, so for best results be sure to schedule a fishing trip to take advantage of at least one tide swing.

Halibut that started their inward migration during February should continue increasing in numbers throughout the summer. They typically range in size from chickens (15 to 30 pounds). For halibut, rig a spreader bar with a single no. 16/0 circle hook or two no. 8/0 to 10/0 J-hooks in tandem. Try fresh bait like a strip of salmon belly, herring, pilchard, chunk of octopus, or a shish kebab of two or more baits. Also worth a try are Berkley Power Bait Saltwater Grubs in white or glow.

Following the last few seasons of extremely consistent sport fishing along Vancouver Island’s Pacific Rim region, and considering the 2015 season unfolded to likely be the strongest in the last decade, many would not have thought that the best is yet to come.

The DFO-developed forecasts for Chinook, coho, sockeye and chum salmon marking the starting point for developing 2015 salmon-fishing seasons. “It’s early in the process, but these forecasts point to an exciting summer of salmon fishing.” This year’s forecasts include a return of more than 1.6 million Chinook salmon–which would be the largest since record-keeping began in 1938.

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