April 23, 2024

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Ucluelet Fishery: The Complete Guide

Reading Time: 9 minutes

In “Ukee,” small-town charm and warm hospitality combine with incredible angling opportunities to give every visitor a trip to remember. Fishing in Ucluelet ignites a sense of belonging in everyone, even if you’ve never held a fishing rod in your hands before. Anglers from all corners of Vancouver Island and beyond are drawn to the shimmering local waters. And for good reason.

Local fishing charters are united by a shared passion – seeking their next unforgettable encounter with Halibut and Salmon. And the good news is, it’s not just about these two species. Fishing in Ucluelet is so much more.

If you’re looking to delve into the magic of this place, this guide is for you. We’ll talk about all the Salmon you catch in the local waters, along with other interesting catches. Plus, you’ll learn about the most productive techniques, spots, and seasonality. Let’s dive in!

What can I catch while fishing in Ucluelet?

All of British Columbia’s favorites bite in Ucluelet. You just need to have a knowledgeable guide by your side to pick the right spot. Here, you can come across anything from three species of mighty Salmon to Halibut and even Prawns and Dungeness Crab. Let’s talk about the most popular catches – in no particular order.

Chinook Salmon

Photo taken by Slacktide Sportfishing

Chinook Salmon is the king among its kin. That’s probably why they’re affectionately known as “King” Salmon. Ucluelet’s Kings reign throughout the year, although the biggest – we’re talking 30+ lb “Tyees” – come in summer.

To catch these delicious fish, consider heading to Barkley Sound and Mara Rock. Trolling is among the most popular methods to get the fish to bite, especially with downriggers and mooching rigs. Chinook Salmon are the largest of their family, so get ready for a good fight. The reward will be well worth it, making the Kings a highly sought-after prize.

Sockeye Salmon

An elderly angler with a woolly hat and a grey beard holding a Sockeye Salmon on a boat on a river in Ucluelet, on a cloudy day
Photo taken by West Coast River Charters

If you’re fishing with a guide, you could come across Sockeye Salmon in July and August. These gorgeous fish aren’t frequent visitors, so locals say that each catch is especially meaningful. If you’re lucky, you can catch each Salmon Ucluelet has to offer, although this might require more than one trip.

Sockeye journey from the ocean to rivers, transforming into a display of red and green during the spawning season. If you’re willing to use the small window of opportunity, consider exploring the waters of Barkley Sound with small hoochies or spinners.

Coho Salmon

An angler in sunglasses, a baseball cap, and blue t-shirt holds a sizeable Coho Salmon aboard a fishing boat in Ucluelet with the water behind him on a sunny day
Photo taken by Peninsula Charters

Just as Tyees grace the local waters in summer, Coho “Silver” Salmon arrive in the local waters at the same time. These fish are smaller, ranging from 5–15 lbs. But they’re energetic fish, who’ll patrol the waters of La Perouse Bank and Barkley Sound, but not only. With an experienced guide, you can target both Coho and Chinook Salmon on the same trip.

Plan your adventure anytime from late summer to fall. Silvers can test your trolling skills, so you might want to add hoochies, spoons, and flashers to your arsenal. They weigh up to 20 pounds, but that doesn’t make them any less feisty.


A man and a woman crouch behind two large Halibuts on a boat, caught while fishing in Ucluelet on a sunny day with the water behind them
Photo taken by Oceans West Sportfishing

The peak Ucluelet Halibut season lasts from April through September. If you can’t make it, then, there’s no need to worry. You can spot these powerful Flatfish throughout the year. You’re likely to catch Halis in the 15–35 lb range on most days – and these catches are called “chickens.” Larger Halibut – we’re talking over 200 pounds – hang out in the offshore waters.

Embrace the thrill of bottom fishing with circle hooks and large baits like herring or squid and head to the best Halibut grounds. Depending on the size you’re after, you can find them anywhere from La Perouse Bank to Rat’s Nose.


An elderly angler in a baseball cap, sunglasses, and a bright blue raincoat holds up a bright orange Rockfish on a fishing boat in Ucluelet, with the wake of the boat visible behind him
Photo taken by Westcoast Fish Expeditions

The rugged underwater landscape of Sail Rock and the Beg Islands offer the ideal sanctuary for Rockfish. There are over 30 species of Rockfish available in the local waters, although you can only actively target a few of them. In Ucluelet, common species include Copper, Quillback, and Ducky Rockfish, to name a few.

Seasonality-wise, certain Rockfish bite all year round. However, you might want to plan your trip for the spring and fall months for the most bountiful opportunities. Bear in mind, you could come across a 100-year-old Rockfish. Landing a species that old will sure give you a story to tell!

Dungeness Crab

A crab trap full of Crabs, caught while fishing in Ucluelet on a boat, with netting and some sea grass visible among the netting
Photo taken by Lance’s Sportfishing Adventures

Dungeness Crab thrive in the Broken Group Islands. The world of crabbing is open for enthusiasts between April and November, although you can target them whenever you want – just pay attention to the closed seasons and restrictions.

So, how do locals coax Crab from the sandy or muddy seafloor? One of the most popular methods is employing Crab pots or traps, filled with fish carcasses or chicken. Some crabs can grow up to 9 inches and weigh up to 3 pounds. You’re guaranteed a tasty treat with those monsters!

Where can I go fishing in Ucluelet?

A view across a green landscape towards a short lighthouse with a red top, with the ocean in the distance on a sunny day in Ucluelet

So, you might have an idea of which fish species you want to target first. Your next step is picking the right spot. While there are various honey holes in and around Ucluelet, you might also want to consider something a little more exclusive. Check with your guide if they offer a special Vancouver Island experience with lodging, fishing, and more in the same package. But that doesn’t mean you should discount these spots:

  • La Perouse Bank (Big Bank). This is a thriving hub for Halibut and Salmon, located some 25 miles offshore. It’s never a bad idea to fish La Perouse Bank in late summer or fall when Coho bite like crazy.
  • Rat’s Nose and The Wreck. These are two prolific spots that a lot of anglers choose when looking for consistent action. When the season is right, you can come across a good number of Halibut, as well as Coho and Chinook Salmon.
  • Great Bear Lake. The Great Bear is the largest lake in Canada and an amazing Lake Trout destination during the summer. Plus, you can target Whitefish in the winter and Pike from late spring to early fall.
  • The Southwest Corner. This spot is perfect for a summer trip. The Southwest Corner is located just southwest of Ucluelet, and its underwater ledges are home to Halibut and Salmon.
  • Barkley Sound. These sheltered waters are known for their exceptional Salmon fishing, especially when Chinook and Coho make their way to Alberni Inlet.
  • The Broken Group Islands. There are over a hundred islands within Barkley Sound, where you can enjoy whatever the season offers. Salmon and Halibut aside, you can also spot whales and porpoises here!
  • Beg Islands. This secluded fishing destination is located at the southernmost tip of Ucluelet. It attracts anglers for good action when you can catch Rockfish, Salmon, and more.
  • Kennedy Lake. Freshwater and Trout enthusiasts, especially fly anglers, head to Kennedy Lake Provincial Park to fish the largest body of freshwater on Vancouver Island.
  • Amphitrite Bank. Amphitrite Bank is an excellent offshore fishing ground located southeast of Ucluelet. Both visiting anglers and locals know the area for its Halibut and Salmon fishing opportunities.

Ucluelet Fishing Seasons

A view towards the back of a fishing boat with a lone trolling rod and fishing net perched towards the water and the sun setting in the distance in Ucluelet
Photo taken by Coastal Connection Sportfishing

So we’ve already mentioned some of the best times to visit Ucluelet, but let’s take a closer look. Firstly, if you happen to plan a Ucluelet fishing trip for the beginning of the year, head straight to Barkley Sound for a healthy dose of Chinook Salmon. The sheltered waters of the sound offer solid action from January through March.

As spring arrives, so do Halibut. From April to June, hit the offshore banks, such as Big Bank and La Pérouse, to lure these Flatfish from the ocean floor. The period from July through September sees the peak of the Ucluelet fishing season, marked by the arrival of Coho Salmon. These fish bite best around Amphitrite Point and Long Beach. And you can also catch Chinook Salmon during these months.

Finally, fall is all about Chinook Salmon, especially in Barkley Sound and the protected waters surrounding the Broken Group Islands.

How to Go Fishing in Ucluelet

Going through the ins and outs of planning your Ucluelet fishing trip, from choosing the right charter to understanding local seasons and regulations (more on that later) is a challenging experience for novice anglers. The best way to make sure you have a successful trip is to book a charter with a local captain or guide. They’ll take care of everything, from the fishing gear to the spot you’ll be casting a line in, to the bag and size limits you need to follow.

However, you might be wondering about the technical part of your fishing adventure. Which fishing methods and techniques should you try to land Salmon, Halibut, and other Ucluelet species? Let’s find out.

Trolling for Salmon

A closeup of the reels and handles of several trolling rods set up on a fishing boat in Ucluelet
Photo taken by Fish On Tofino

In general, Salmon fishing in Ucluelet is all about trolling. Anglers throughout British Columbia rely on this method, although there are slight variations depending on the season, the exact species, and the depth of the water.

Chinook Salmon react well to trolling with anchovies. In the cooler months, they also take well to hoochies, which are lures that resemble octopuses. Hoochies are usually trolled in roughly 120–150 feet of water. Spoons of 3 inches or smaller are also quite effective for Chinook, 20–60 feet off the bottom.

When it comes to Coho Salmon, they normally feed near the surface of deep water. Similar to Chinook, hoochies and spoons have proven to be pretty effective. And you can also come across the odd Sockeye Salmon with this method.

In addition to trolling, there’s a local technique called “mooching,” which is essentially slow trolling with a weighted line and rigged bait at a 45-degree angle.

Trolling for Halibut

If you’re lucky, you can accidentally hook Halibut when trolling for Salmon. In fact, a lot of Ucluelet anglers do that (and vice versa) when fishing exclusively for either of the species.

The most productive Halibut trolling method is to find sandy or gravelly seafloors up to 200 feet deep. Then, you’ll troll across or with the tide at a speed of 1.7 to 2 knots. If you’re fishing at slack tide, you can also power jig or “back troll” for these Flatfish.

Power jigging isn’t actually jigging. Instead, you simply maintain the line in a vertical position. To set up for this approach, use a spreader bar and attach a 2 lb lead to a 2′ piece of 200 lb twine at the weighted end, which helps keep your bait elevated from the ocean floor. Opt for a tandem hook arrangement and a white grub as bait. To increase the chances of success, some anglers choose to coat their bait with scent gel. You’re welcome to experiment!

Bottom Fishing for Halibut

A rearview image of an angler in a hat bottom fishing aboard a fishing charter in Ucluelet at dusk on a sunny day
Photo taken by Oceans West Sportfishing

Bottom fishing is another popular method to catch Halibut in Ucluelet. This isn’t surprising at all. This technique allows you to drop the bait or lure all the way to the bottom floor where the Flatfish hang out. All you need to do is get Hali to take the bait.

When bottom fishing, you’ll want to use strong rods with a 70–90 lb test line. As for bait, the majority of local anglers use octopus, although you can also go for herring and even plain jigs.

Ucluelet Fishing Regulations

An infographic featuring the flag of British Columbia and a text that says "Ucluelet Fishing Regulations What You Need to Know" on a dark blue background along with a FishingBooker logo

Don’t think about booking your trip just yet. As we already said, you’ll want to keep up to date with the latest regulations. First of all, both salt and freshwater anglers need to get a fishing permit to fish in Ucluelet. This rule applies to everyone aged 16 and older. You can buy both your tidal (saltwater) and British Columbia freshwater fishing licenses online.

In addition to that, if you want to catch and keep any species of Salmon, you’ll need a special Salmon Conservation Stamp that you can attach to your fishing license. But that’s not all. Most species are regulated by size and bag limits. Plus, some species, such as Halibut, are closed to harvest during some months. Check out the British Columbia government website for all the latest info.

Fishing in Ucluelet: A Pacific Playground for All Fishers

An aerial view of Ucluelet at sunset, with green trees visible on land and the waters of the Pacific working their way around it

It’s hard to not be in awe of the breathtaking beauty of British Columbia when fishing in Ucluelet. This Pacific gem is home to various species of Salmon, the tenacious Halibut, and many other interesting species that can sometimes get overlooked. However, it’s not just about catching fish. Ucluelet is home to a wonderful community of people, unforgettable sunsets, and authentic culture. We’re sure that you won’t visit just once!

Have you ever been fishing in Ucluelet? What’s your favorite fish species to catch? Do you have any fish stories to share? Let us know in the comments below!

The post Ucluelet Fishing: The Complete Guide appeared first on FishingBooker Blog.

By: Lisa
Title: Ucluelet Fishing: The Complete Guide
Sourced From: fishingbooker.com/blog/ucluelet-fishing-the-complete-guide/
Published Date: Sun, 28 May 2023 08:41:33 +0000

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