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Ucluelet Fishing Report

Find out what’s working and what’s not when fishing in the Ucluelet 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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Ucluelet Marine Weather Forecast


Ucluelet Fishing Report

Click Here for Area 23/123 Current Fishing Regulations

September 2023

As the leaves begin to turn on the alders, the coast lets out a collective sigh and sets its sights on the winter ahead. For many, that means the excitement and energy of summer recedes, leaving only schoolwork and snow on the horizon, but for those who love all things autumn, September can be glorious.

Many of the Chinook in the area will already be squabbling over riverbed real estate at this time, leaving the multitudes of ever-growing coho to entertain Ucluelet anglers still working the saltwater tacks. Trolling bright- coloured hoochies or spoons closer to the surface at a slightly higher speed than you would for Chinook (3+ mph) will often result in a successful hookup with one of these acrobatic fish.

The ability of coho to spin and shake off hooks is legendary, but at the same time they can become twisted in line and will inevitably lose many scales in a net. Taking care while sorting marked and unmarked wild fish for release where required is key.

Looking further out to sea in the fall, you are likely to find calm waters and abundant offshore opportunities for halibut and other bottom fish, like sablefish, if you are prepared to undertake the 30-mile journey out to get them. Albacore tuna also will be in that range, pushing closer to Ucluelet around now, and the commercial fleet will be joined by well-equipped sport boats in the deep blue waters off the shelf.

Fall is a great time to mix and match adventures in Ucluelet, and in addition to the saltwater activities we have an abundance of shoreside pursuits including bikes, hikes, and foraging that can entertain the whole family.

As always, be safe out there—check the weather and check your gear!

James Costello
MaxFish Charters
[email protected]
www.maxcoast.ca
604-704-2220


August 2023

The rainforests covering the hills around Ucluelet may be misty, but they hide no gorillas. Instead, under the waves off the rocky shores, we just might find “Hogs in the Fog.”

August in Ucluelet brings action right to your doorstep—and your rod tip tight to the rocks! The locals are making their way home now, and these large mature Chinook will be cruising the coastline doing some last-minute snacking while sniffing out their home rivers. These primarily piscivorous parental units are often keyed in on anchovies or herring this time of year, so rolling it right is essential in coaxing a strike out of these burly fish. You are not likely to get dainty takes from them. The smash-and-grab method seems to be par for the course, with the majority of fish being caught in the top half of the water column while they search out that freshwater signal.

Everything is bigger in August, “Hogust,” “Fogust,” or whatever you want to call it, and that goes for gear, too. Larger 4″+ spoons and plugs mimicking mature herring or pilchard will be a wise choice, as well as darker gold, red, and purple flashers to match the outward changes the fish are going through as the shine comes off these mature Chinook.

Offshore there is an abundance of krill and mature herring sustaining fish, whales, and birds—and although you may not be able to see anything through the fog, you will surely hear the action around you!

Sea conditions in August can be very favourable for bottom fishing, with high-pressure systems setting up calm seas and warm temperatures. As the month progresses, the waters off Ucluelet can lay flatter than a pancake and allow easy travel for adventurous anglers. And while fishing pressure may have reduced the number of potential halibut and lingcod out there, your chances of finding the right spot are good!

James Costello
MaxFish Charters
[email protected]
www.maxcoast.ca
604-704-2220


July 2023

As we cruise into our peak season in Ucluelet, we are lucky to be joined by groups of migratory salmon which are hanging around and feeding on this year’s fresh batch of forage fish and squid. As the season progresses, we generally see a larger average weight in Chinook salmon caught—due to a combination of both sampling “larger” runs going by and seeing the results of the abundance of feed available. Because of the variability in habitat for Chinook, some fish are simply built bigger! Bigger rivers can accommodate bigger fish, and bigger tails can move bigger rocks to lay eggs. If you’re lucky enough to meet one of these on your trip to the west coast, it will be a memorable experience!

As the fish get larger, we look a little deeper in the tackle box for larger (4″ to 5″) spoons representing mature herring or sardines, or we roll an anchovy in a teaser setup. As summer swells you will find Chinook and coho feeding along the rocky shorelines, and you’ll often find yourself trolling mere feet from the rocks. Some fish will always be feeding on the bottom, so I try to keep one line deep with an eye on the sounder, while also watching for bait balls and working the other line up or down throughout the water column.

There will be opportunities later in the month to retain Chinook offshore, as anglers join humpback whales, ocean sunfish, and blue sharks 10 to 20 miles from the breaking waves on the beach.

Many species will congregate on the banks and sport fishers can target salmon and halibut simultaneously while trolling the tops of these submerged plateaus.

As always, be safe out there—check the weather and check your gear!

James Costello
MaxFish Charters
[email protected]
www.maxcoast.ca
604-704-2220


June 2023

Everything is in full swing on the west coast this month!

After the springtime awakening brought light and warmth, triggering the abundance of the herring spawn pouring out of Barkley Sound, Ucluelet fishing is set for action. The juvenile herring are a welcome sight for many species, with Chinook being one of our favourites. Downsizing your gear to match this offering means running spoons 3″ or less or small needlefish-style hoochies. Leaders for spoons should be as long and as light as you are comfortable with, since clear water and picky fish can be a tough combo. Inshore, trolling close to the bottom at Great Bear or around the Red Can will always be good bets. Consistent opportunity for smaller resident fish inshore is one of the things that make Ucluelet great year-round, and the local hatchery has an annual production target of 100,000 Chinook that join their wild counterparts in the smorgasbord that is the Pacific.

Bottom fishing in June can yield some great results on the coast, with smaller baitfish drawing rockfish and lingcod into feeding frenzies that can see black rockfish jump clear of the water, and lingcod follow hooked fish right to the boat. Lead jigs and swimbait-style lures in either natural or contrasting colours work well for these feisty species—bright and natural for clear days, dark and contrasting for murky ones.

As the weather improves, offshore halibut fishing really gets into gear. Anchoring for these tasty beasts can be the best tactic, and a combination of attractant and bait will ensure you bring them in. Herring is a go-to in the first half of the season for halibut. Try using an elastic band wrapped around the bait and leader to secure it (rather than something like Spider Wire). Small fish won’t be able to pull it off the hook, and it will still be there when the keeper comes looking. As always, take care with larger fish to keep both you and the fish safe when releasing.

Book your trip now. Let’s go have some fun!

James Costello
MaxFish Charters
info @ maxcoast.ca
www.maxcoast.ca
604-704-2220


May 2023

As the steely grip of winter loses its hold, splashes of colour begin to appear on the coast. The brighter greens of fresh spruce growth join the magenta hues of the salmonberry’s topside, and in the seas around Ucluelet the action starts to pick up.

A good abundance of “feeder” springs, or resident Chinook, can be found working the nearshore areas around Ucluelet and Barkley Sound. As these great tasting fish build their stores up eating recently spawned juvenile herring, they also build their ratios of fats stored in their meat—making for excellent table fare. While local anglers patiently wait for the offshore opportunities of migrating monsters, these 10 to 12 lb bullets will provide both a fun fight and a tasty meal. Small, narrow spoons trolled close to the bottom around the slack tide will often get results by mimicking another of the salmon’s favourite meals—the needlefish, or pacific sand lance. Keep in mind these small fish seek refuge in the sandy bottom, so a close watch on your sounder and gear depth is key as you troll just above the hard deck.

Your chances of encountering a lingcod while trolling close to the bottom are very good, and many a keeper-sized fish has been tricked by what might seem like a snack. If these toothy predators are your target, you can definitely improve your odds by switching to a trolled swimbait and using much the same technique as you would for salmon. There are many different versions available today, with the “Paddle Tail” and “Burbot” styles being most popular.

With summer on the horizon the seas have been calming substantially, and opportunities for halibut on the banks outside of Ucluelet will begin to present themselves more and more often. Herring is a preferred bait as the abundance of other migratory and seasonal prey items have yet to appear in numbers, but that usually means the spiny dogfish have yet to show up too!

Keep in touch if you’d like to talk fishing!

James Costello
MaxFish Charters
info @ maxcoast.ca
www.maxcoast.ca
604-704-2220

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