April 12th, 2011
This post is a listing of tackle that has worked for me consistently when fishing Bamfield, Ucluelet, & Barkley Sound. However, the great thing about fishing is that there is always more than one way to skin a cat! Even within our little group of anglers we have some differing opinions about what tackle we should be running. So take this post with a grain of salt, but I think it should give you a pretty good start.
We almost always troll with an 11″ hot spot flasher. We usually run them inline, but have been known to use a false flasher clipped onto the downrigger cable when running spoons. Most locals seem to run green or red. I’m not totally convinced that the color of the flasher is really THAT important (although I do own many different colors so maybe I’m a hypocrite?), but I do know that the glow and UV flashers seem to work best when trolling deep out on the banks.
A lot of sport fisherman run anchovies in teaser heads approximately 5-6′ behind an 11″ flasher. We’ve had good success with all the different colors of teasers, but we seem to come back to the clear, glow, and purple haze ones. However, feel free to throw down chrome or anything else for that matter. The guides don’t seem to be quite as keen on running bait, but that could be because spoons and hoochies can be just as effective and don’t require the additional hassle of dealing with bait. If you like running bait, then go for it. You certainly won’t be alone! We used to run anchovies almost exclusively, but a trip with a guide in Ucluelet cured us after we saw how effective Coyote spoons could be…
2007 was the year of the hoochie for us (much to the chagrin of one of my fishing partners who is addicted to Coyote spoons!). Our best producers were glow and UV patterns (particularly when fishing deep out on the banks) with our favorites being Purple Haze, Glow Below, Army Truck, and Green Splatter Back. We generally fish them on a 30″ leader behind an 11″ flasher. However, we had one trip in 2006 when the only way to catch fish was on a 6-8′ leader! The favourite squid pattern on my boat the last couple of years has been the 5″ UV purple haze B2 squid. It catches fish like crazy.
The biggest Chinook we landed in 2007 was 38 pounds and was caught trolling the bottom about 6 miles SW of Cape Beale (near Bamfield) with a green glow 4″ Coyote spoon. We’ve had great success with Coyotes over the years and our favourite patterns are Army Truck, the Grey Ghost (its just bare metal), Cop Car, Watermelon, and Green Glow. We generally fish them on 6′ leaders behind an 11″ flasher. The quality of Coyote spoons has diminished since this was first published so we now predominantly use Tomic Spoons now. They are made on Vancouver Island and are commercial quality lures. Pilchards (BIG sardines) are back in a big way in local waters, which means that 6-7″ spoons are often the best thing to have on the end of your line. See this blog post for more info on the return of the Pilchard and what it means for you.
Tomic Plugs can be deadly. We’ve recently started running them more frequently now that the big Pilchards are so common. I really like to run plugs because you can’t use an inline flasher which results in a much better fight. We sometimes run a false flasher off the cannonball, or run them without a flasher if the action is fast and furious.
Don’t fish too slow! If you’re fishing with flashers then you need to go at least 2 MPH to ensure the proper action. We’ve had many days in Barkley Sound where we have outfished the fleet and been lapping the other boats around us. The only difference was our faster trolling speed!
The salmon are usually in the top 60 feet when fishing in Barkley Sound or along the surf-line during the summer. Offshore, you can pickup salmon anywhere from 20 to 250 feet down! We usually vary our depths until we find the fish and then stay there until they stop biting. It is not uncommon to pickup 8-10 fish in an hour from all over the water column. The advantage of having one “deep” rod down in the mud is the possibility of picking up a Halibut while you’re down there. We frequently pickup up Chinook salmon and Halibut when running spoons or hoochies down on the bottom.
I also recommend dropping by Gone Fishin’ in Port Alberni on your way through. They will know what is currently hot for Alberni Inlet, Barkley Sound, Bamfield, and Ucluelet and they have great selection. They will have what you need.
Finally, ask around on the dock when you first arrive. Some fishermen are very secretive, but we’ve found that most other sport fishermen are quite glad to share what and where has been working for them.