Located on Vancouver Island, 246 km from
Victoria, BC, on paved and gravel roads, Bamfield is a
very pretty small town that serves as good, sheltered moorage
on the south side of Barkley Sound.
built in 1859, Bamfield gained worldwide prominence at the
turn of the century serving as the western terminus of the
first trans-Pacific telegraph cable. The West Coast Trail
ends in Bamfield and the Broken Island Group in Barkley Sound
is a kayaker's haven.
Adventure Members serving this area:
fishing at Bamfield is influenced by southeast gales and these
blow directly on the leading edge Pacific shores, necessitating
fishing close to the harbour mouth. Herring gather in large
numbers for a February-March spawn on Barkley Sound's northern
shore, particularly Vernon Bay, drawing resident feeder chinook
into deep-water holding areas.
Summer fishing at Bamfield is influenced by proximity to the
Alberni Inlet. Large runs of sockeye from the Stamp/Somass
River system and Henderson Lake and chinook from the Robertson
Creek hatchery swim by Bamfield on their way to Alberni Inlet
rivers. Fishing occurs close to many rocky, island hotspots
and success depends entirely on finding bait.
In recent years, pilchards have begun breeding in the area
once again and evidence suggests that mackerel, with on-going
El Nino weather patterns, have initiated spawning activity
Cycle of Runs All five species of salmon may be found in Bamfield waters:
pink . As with other areas, the latter three species are
mature, migratory fish encountered in summer months. This
is an especially good area for sockeye, combining Alberni
Inlet runs with Fraser River runs. Chinook provide winter
fishing for resident, feeder salmon.
Although some winter feeder chinook salmon come in earlier,
Pacific gales often prevent fishing until February - March.
These fish are feeding on large, spawning herring. Fish to
30 lbs are recorded annually, making this a fishery for larger
than average feeders.
May brings calm enough weather to venture out to Swiftsure
Bank. There, excellent trolling for early, 20-30 lb. Columbians
may be found. Halibut move onto the Bank at this time and
also to inshore areas.
By the end of May the first summer coho arrive followed by
Port Alberni sockeye salmon. Sockeye hold until early July
when successive waves pour down the Alberni Inlet bound for
Henderson Lake and the Somass River. Coho size peaks in mid-September
at 15 - 19 lbs.
June, 20 lb feeder chinook salmon appear in onshore locales.
After the action wanes by the end of the month, chinook action
picks up for summer migratory Robertson Creek chinook at the
end of July. August is the hot month for chinook to 40 lbs,
which generally move from Cape Beale to Diplock and the Rainy
In August - September, chum for the Sarita River Carnation
Creek hatchery and the Nitinat River move through.
Chinook and coho fishing tails off by mid-October when rain
washes fish to their natal rivers in the Alberni Inlet.
Weather then prevents fishing until late January when winter
fishing for feeder chinook begins the cycle once again.
on an Annual Basis
herring or anchovies at 180 - 200' in green or clear teaserheads
without flashers is the winter feeder preference. Utilize
a slow roll and 5 - 6' leader when employing flashers.
Army Truck, Red Army, Tiger Prawn squirts for summer chinoook
due to presence of needlefish. Use white, white pearl, green
and white, or Army Truck hootchies for May feeders, with a
44" leader to a dodger. A glow Gatorback in green and white
with a 5 - 6' leader to a flasher is a winter favourite. Pink
plankton squirts, or orange hootchies on 18-20" leaders to
a slow-trolled red Hotspot flasher is the sockeye gear of
4-6" models, particularly the 301, as well as: 500, 602, 158,
156 and 700. Winter favourites include the 264 and 242. Use
larger plugs in summer when mackerel abound.
Large Tom Macks, also Wobblers. Bamfield is not noted as a
7" white and white with a yellow stripe (trolled fast without
a flasher), also silver. Use longer models when mackerel present
Grey Ghost, white, green and white, and purple and white with
abalone spinners for fall coho. Speed up and troll the lure
right in the prop wash, 25' from the transom. The red and
purple bucktail can be particularly effective.
For late spring chinook fishing, 60 gm MacDeeps, Pirkin and
Stingsilda in white or white pearl with purple, green or black
edging. Also pink pearl Zzingers. Home made 1-1 ½ lb pipe
bombs with green, pink and clear striped hootchie skirts take
halibut on Swiftsure Bank. Commercially available lures include
Norwegian Jigs, Lucky Jigs and 'But Slammers.
Strategy and Specific Fishing Areas
Another remote trophy area, Bamfield provides both onshore
and offshore fisheries: Barkley Sound; Nitinat Lake; and,
Winter fishing concentrates at Swale Rock and in Vernon Bay,
as the chinook follow the spawning herring. The presence of
large bait necessitates large lures, trolled deep. Barkley
Sound provides a major summer fishery for all five species
of salmon. In Bamfield, fish concentrate close to very rocky
shores where needlefish crash in the surf. Try King Edward,
Folger, and Bordelaise Islands and off Cape Beale. Look for
good lingcod and rockfish off Seabird Rock. Diplock Island
presents a very tricky rock-engorged channel for the adventurous
seeking big chinook in August.
Summer sockeye school in midchannel and move through to the
entrance to the Alberni Inlet. Fishing depth is 45 - 75'.
Add extra flashers to the downrigger line, ie., stack rods
Swiftsure bank is 25 miles from Bamfield harbour or 22.5 miles
from Cape Beale. Nitinat bar and lake lie 13 miles south east
of Bamfield and support a major tyee chinook fishery in late
August. In due course, both areas will be reviewed in this
series of hotspots. Note that the angler is strongly recommended
to take a guide to these remote and potentially dangerous
spots. Do not venture offshore without a full complement of
electronics: depthsounder, radar, VHF and global positioning
system. Keep the weather channel on.