Salmon and Halibut Fishing OverviewUcluelet offers the best Salmon and Halibut fishing available on Vancouver Island. Its unique location is accessible by highway and offers some of the best and most consistent fishing on the West Coast of BC. May 1 to September 30 is considered prime time for Salmon and Halibut sports fishing here on the West Coast of Vancouver Island.
Halibut are both migratory and a resident species. These are targeted only during an 8 hour charter due to the extra travel time. We often catch Halibut while trolling offshore for Salmon but our primary methods are drifting and vertical jigging off the bottom with a 16 to 24 ounce weight. We use quality rods and reels that maximize the feel and fight. Along with sonar and GPS, we use chart plotters, and c-maps to locate our hot spots.
There is abundance of Halibut that live on the offshore shoals locally known as "the big bank". Halibut come from the deep (600 to 1000ft) to feed on the large schools of Herring and Pilchard (sardines) that have migrated onto the shoal. Most of these Halibut average between 20 to 40 pounds, which are termed "chickens", and are the best size and quality for eating. Occasionally, there are 50 - 100+lb monsters that are caught.
We can be fishing anywhere from 175' to 325', so be prepared to have sore arms by the end of the day. Halibut numbers on the offshore banks are so plentiful that double, triple and even quadruple headers are common at times. Of course there's always the chance of hooking other tasty species of bottom fish like lingcod, black cod, snapper, rockfish, or even an octopus, to mention a few. An abundance of rockfish and lingcod have accumulated over the winter amongst gray whales, sea lions, and eagles.
The main Salmon targeted are the Chinook and Coho along with some Sockeye, Pink and Chum opportunities. There's lots of action trolling for Salmon offshore as well as the inshore areas. In the summer the Chinook average around 20lbs with many 30lb plus (tyees). Every year 40 - 50lb plus "slabs" are caught. This is the time when the weather starts to cooperate and the Salmon and Halibut start showing up in large numbers. Ucluelets' location allows us to fish for Salmon and Halibut on the offshore banks, and the protected islands, bays and shore lines of Barkley Sound, just a short ride away from Ucluelet harbour.
The Salmon use solar navigation, scent, daylight, and rainfall to help guide them to the spawning grounds on their home river. While on route, massive schools of Chinook and Coho find their way to the large shoals located off of Ucluelet during the middle of spring following thick balls of feed such as herring, pilchards (sardines), needlefish, squid, and krill that have also migrated to the area. Chinook and Coho hold in large schools feeding and bulking up on their final year before spawning. All ages of Salmon and Halibut are in the area, creating non-stop action at times.
Chinook start showing in good numbers around the first week of May, and will continue until the end of September. Early fish weigh between 8 and 15 pounds, with a few in the twenties. As the 3rd week of May approaches the fish start getting bigger by the day with the numbers of fish heading south starting to increase. This is when we start to see the first mature Chinook of the year. During the month of June the Ucluelet area is populated with fish that are heading to the Fraser, Columbia and Sacramento Rivers. Mixed runs of both U.S. and Canadian chinook usually stick around for a while as they aggressively feast on bait fish.
We target the areas that are producing the best quality and quantity of fish. These decisions are made daily depending on preferences and weather conditions.