2018 Outlook for Nootka Sound

2018 Outlook for Nootka Sound & Esperanza Inlet – Areas 25 and 26

Thank you to all of our guests that stayed with Nootka Marine Adventures during 2017. The season can only be summed up as superb! Between our three resorts, we hosted in excess of 7,000 clients. At the time of writing, we have yet to receive forecasts from DFO, but based on last year’s returns, the continued colder temperatures and resultant snow pack, here is the NMA Outlook for 2018.

 Saltwater – Salmon

We recorded more Chinook (King) salmon over 30 pounds in 2017 than we have in the last three years combined. A testament that enhancement efforts are having a beneficial effect on the size and numbers of returning fish to our local rivers and streams. With the colder water conditions due to continue, the outlook is for a similar and potentially slightly better 2018 season. 2018 is also the year we expect to reap the rewards of four years of Coho (silver) salmon enhancement efforts. We are hopeful that returns of these chrome bullets will more than double in the Conuma and surrounding river systems next season!

It is not by chance that our three resorts are located in prime positions to intercept the migrating salmon populations. Nootka Sound and Esperanza Inlet are strategically located to intercept the US bound salmon heading for Washington and Oregon, fish heading for rivers in southern BC and our local stocks returning to the Conuma, Gold, Burman, Tahsis Canton and Leiner rivers. As a result, we are afforded the Pacific coast’s most consistent angling.

We are often asked what techniques are most frequently deployed, so here is a summary of the most effective techniques used during the months of May and June. Please check our regular in season fishing reports for a detailed insight into what is working throughout the season:

Nootka Sound & Esperanza Inlet – May & June


Nootka Sound – At this time of year, the fish have yet to enter the Sound, so our focus is on the salmon migrating south. The strategy is simple, locate the bait and you’ll find the fish. Hot spots include Bajo Reef, Beano Creek, Maquinna Point and Escalante as well as the off-shore salmon highway found at the 300’ mark. If fishing closer to shore, focus on depths between 30 to 70 feet, If off-shore, fish on or near the bottom.

Esperanza Inlet – This is when Ferrer Point can start to heat up and it is also one of the best places to access the off-shore salmon on “the highway”, the Guitar and the Pinnacles. Again, focus on locating the bait which will likely be on or very near the bottom.

Bait: A mixture of needle fish, immature rock fish, anchovies, herring and squid

Gear: Run small spoons in blue and silver, green and white hoochies and teaser heads with anchovies at 2 to 3 mph behind a flasher. If the lure has its own action the leader should be a minimum of 5 feet behind the flasher. If fishing with hoochies 32” to 36” works best.

As we approach the end of June, be on the look out for the first returns on Coho (Silvers) as they often start to show up at this time.

Bottom Fish: From May to September, the bottom fishing in our area is outstanding. Halibut, Lingcod, Yellow eye 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.

Tactics: Nootka Sound and Esperanza Inlets are host some of the best bottom fishing structure on the West Coast. The area is riddled with reefs, shoals and rock piles, the majority of which are located a short distance from shore. Time your fish an hour before a tide change and fish for at lease an hour after. Anchoring for bottom fish works best as it allows you to set up a scent trail.

Gear: A 1 to 2 lb. weight with herring, salmon, squid, octopus or mackerel heads. If bait isn’t working try lead heads, Zzingers and Point Wilson Darts.

Shellfish: 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. Please check local regulations and DFO postings for shellfish before harvesting or consuming.

Freshwater:  The majority of the surrounding streams and rivers should hold rainbow and cutthroat trout that are feeding on the emerging salmon fry. All of the lakes in our area have good trout populations. Casting from shore with small spoons and spinners will work well. Both Fly fisherman and trolling anglers will also enjoy early season success.

 As a result of the fund raising activities through our derbies over the the past four years we have been able to work with the Nootka Sound Watershed Society to release an average of 250,000 Coho (silver) salmon a year into Nootka Sound. These first large run of these mature Coho are due to return in the fall this year so fishing on the Conuma River is expected to be nothing short of fantastic!

Tight lines!

Nootka Marine Adventures Ltd.