2016 Outlook for Nootka Sound & Esperanza Inlet

2016 Outlook for Nootka Sound & Esperanza Inlet – Area’s 25 and 26

Salt Water

Both the Canadian DFO and US predictions are very similar to the predictions we received for 2015. Our local rivers received an above average percentage of Jack and three year old Chinooks. We are told that this is a strong indicator that there should be a return of larger than average mature fish in 2016.

2015 Hatchery release statistics:


• Columbia River = 10,000,000
• Puget Sound = 86,000,000
• Lower Fraser River = 15,000,000
• Nitinat River = 3,500,000
• Robertson Creek = 6,000,000
• Conuma River = 3,500,000

Total Chinook fry released = 124,000,000

Nootka Sound and Esperanza Inlet are ideally located in the centre of the major Canadian and US salmon migration routes affording us the Pacific coast’s most consistent angling.

Starting in early May the focus is on fish working down our coast and aggressively feeding on schools of herring, needlefish, and squid.

As the season progresses these fish continue to show up in large numbers. Rolled bait as well as a variety of hootchies and spoons all work well. As with the rest of our season, the strategy is simple, locate the bait and you’ll find the fish. This time of year, due to colder inshore water temperatures, you don’t have to venture very far to find both! By late June, while on the hunt for Chinook, we start to encounter decent sized Coho with more regularity providing consistent action all day long.

Prime time shellfish opportunities are also best at the beginning of our season with outstanding prawning starting as early as April 1st. Oysters and crabs are also the best eating from spring into early summer while the sea water temperatures remain cold and we have yet to experience any plankton blooms to raise any safety concerns; however, please check local regulations and DFO postings for shellfish before harvesting and consuming.

As we move into July and August we begin to see an increase in the number in offshore Columbia Chinook. Mature fish heading for the Conuma, Burman and Gold rivers begin to enter our interior waters. These fish stop feeding as soon as they leave the open ocean and we induce them to bite by annoying them with our lures and taking advantage of their latent feeding instinct.

Later in August the Coho have become ferocious feeders and are increasing in size as they put on the necessary weight and fat for the staging process, waiting to journey up rivers to their home spawning grounds. This behavior continues until the final months of summer and into early fall.

The bottom fishing in our area is outstanding from the very first day we open on May Long Weekend until the day we close in late September. Halibut, Lingcod, Yelloweye and all the other species of Rockfish are readily available. Areas 25 and 26 provide the finest bottom fishery on the West Coast of Vancouver Island.

Through our salmon derbies and other fund drives we raise money for salmon enhancement on the Conuma River and work very closely with the Nootka Sound Watershed Society. Our current goal is to increase the Coho fry released from 70,000 this year to 250,000 next year.

Nootka Marine Adventures also targets the large schools of Albacore tuna that migrate through our offshore waters. This short but action packed opportunity usually commences in early August and continues until mid-September. School locations are dependent upon offshore temperature conditions; food supply and of course weather. If you haven’t tried this fishery yet, you have no idea what you’re missing!!

Tight lines, good luck, and safe fishing.
Gibran White & James Fisher
Nootka Martine Adventures Ltd.