Bamfield fishing. One trip and I’m hooked.
Bamfield is located inside Barclay Sound, on the South West Coast of Vancouver Island. It has long been popular with hikers, kayakers, and outdoor types. My interest in Bamfield, though, is in the fishing. Bamfield offers some of the best salmon fishing opportunities in the Pacific Northwest.
I had recently purchased a boat suitable for fishing the chuck and was eager to get into some great saltwater salmon fishing. My boat had only seen action around the Vancouver Harbour. Anyone that’s salmon fished the salt around Vancouver knows there are more days without fish, than days with.
My first fishing trip to Bamfield was in July 2005. A few buddies and I had the bunkhouse booked at Poett Nook Marina, about a 5Km run up the inlet from the town of Bamfield. It was a long weekend and we had 3 days to experience the area.
The first day and a half of our trip was spent fishing the inside of Barclay Sound. Not knowing much about the area, we did what fisherman typically do – looked for groups of boats, got in line, dropped our gear, and hoped for the best. We did okay. Our tally for the first 12 hours on the water was a few Chinook salmon, one around 25#s, two Coho, and a number of bottom fish. It was a lot better salmon fishing than Vancouver, but hardly spectacular. Our luck was about to change.
The evening of the second day we got to talking with another group that was staying at Poett Nook. They had been having phenomenal fishing offshore. The water was big out there, they said, but they couldn’t keep the gear down, it was fish after fish.
The next morning we decided to give offshore a shot. My boat is small; a 17’ fiberglass with a 90 Mercury 4 stroke. I have all the electronics though (GPS, VHF) so we felt going offshore was worth a try.. We decided we would get as far outside of Barclay Sound as we could and look for groups of boats. If at anytime we didn’t feel comfortable, we would turn back in.
As we approached Cape Beale, the swells grew larger. We crawed at 10 knots past the Cape, and began looking for boats. The swells were 6-8’ but there was only a small chop so they were manageable. We eventually found a group of boats, most of them 4-6’ bigger than ours, and began fishing. It took a while to set up the gear bobbing around in the waves, but eventually we dropped the gear and within 2 minutes we were fast into a Chinook! The fish was landed quickly and the process was repeated. For the next hour we couldn’t get the second rod down – the first rod would go off the clip and we were fighting a fish. We had our 6 Chinooks in the boat in a few hours, a bunch more Coho and we headed in, not sure of what the weather would do.
The last day was a repeat of the first…big water and fish after fish. All the fish were 18# clones with the odd one over 20#s. If you haven’t fished in big swells there is nothing like it. At times it was a challenge staying in the boat, and the mayhem of fast fishing adds to the excitement. So does one of your buddies turning green, puking over the side of the boat. Good times!
Gear is pretty straightforward. After day one we ditched the flashers and fished spoons, plugs and large Apex’s straight of the downriggers. We didn’t find any need to fish deep either – most of our fish were caught in the top 70 feet.
Logistics: Bamfield can be reached by road from Port Alberni or Duncan. The road is rough and a lot of people, like me, choose to run their boat up the Alberni Inlet instead. It is about a 30 mile run up the Inlet to Bamfield. Bamfield itself is a sleepy little town and it is a good bet to have your accommodations lined up in advance. If you are looking for good accommodations send me an email and I can make a recommendation.