2016 will be a great Chinook (King) salmon fishing year for Ucluelet BC Canada with a higher than average expected Chinook return to Barkley Sound. Salmon Enhancement has been working in the Barkley Sound area the past few years and the trend should be larger Chinook salmon returning in future years. Starting in 2016. Chinook from Barkley Sound migrate to northern BC and southeast Alaska waters where they mature for up to 7 years and grow at amazing rates. Generally 2-3% head back as immature 2 year olds called jacks, 15% as 3 year olds, 55% as 4 year olds, 25% as 5 year olds and less than 2% at 6 years.
During 2015 there were almost 60,000 Chinook that returned to the Stamp river system, almost twice what was expected and above the trend the past few years. The good news for all fishing in 2016 is that the majority of the Chinook that spawned were 3 year olds. Since only 15% generally head back as 3 year olds, the greatest part of the fish are still out there from the 1 year old juvenile salmon entering in 2013. So why were the 2012 smolts more abundant than the year previous? There are many factors into numbers of Chinook returns and most have to do with ocean survival at entry and during the Chinook salmon’s life.
Return numbers are very hard to predict from year to year. Swimmers will work the rivers and estuaries to count numbers of Chinook entering and in the ocean. If numbers of entering smolts are good, usually that is a good start and is one of the factors into coming predictions. 2nd year Chinook are counted and factored into the prediction. Once a cycle reaches year 3, it is easier to predict what year 4 holds for the larger Chinook everyone wants to catch.
So why should you pick 2016 as the year to come fishing instead of waiting another year? With fishing it is always good to set your line when fish returns are high and you never know what the future brings. 2014 and 2015 entry years are not supposed to be near as good as 2013, so get the salmon while they are hot. Ucluelet doesn’t just depend on the Barkley Sound run for good fishing. Many of the southern rivers such as the Columbia are big contributors to the many thousands of Chinook salmon that pass through the largest area of feeding grounds on the west coast.
For all of you who are not familiar with Ucluelet it was traditionally a small fishing and logging village that is now been transformed into a quiet tourist destination. You can walk downtown in the middle of August and wonder where all the people are. This article was written by Sam Vandervalk of Salmon Eye Charters www.salmoneye.net who runs 6 boats from Ucluelet.