August 2014

August 2014
August 2014
August 2014
August 2014

Larry E.Stefanyk

While studying a map of Vancouver Island, it was noted that the silhouette of Barkley Sound and Alberni Inlet resembles the funnel used to pour oil into our old van -- one of those wide-mouthed efforts with a long, flexible spout. Not a bad analogy, either, for migrating salmon funnel through the wide mouth of Barkley Sound into Alberni Inlet, a channel some 40 kilometres long, yet averaging scarcely one to two kilometres in width. Some home in on the Franklin or Nahmint rivers, others for various creeks, but most head for the Somass River flowing into the inlet at Port Alberni. Long a popular destination for anglers intent on big Chinooks, Alberni Inlet's reputation has reached worldwide renown in recent years due to the success of the Robertson Creek Hatchery and various lake fertilization projects.

Migratory Chinooks start arriving along the outskirts of Barkley Sound during June, then move inland as the season progresses. By mid-July, vanguards have entered Alberni Inlet as far as Lone Tree Point, which starts a summer-long fishery that continues right through until September rains raise and cool the Somass River.

High mountains on each side of the inlet offer summer-long protection from winds until weather patterns change in mid to late September. During July, August and early September, water conditions are fairly stable, but it can get lumpy on summer afternoons when warm air moves up the inlet and creates thermal drafts. With no reefs, back eddies, tide rips or whirlpools to create hazardous conditions, Alberni Inlet is classic small boat water. One encounters everything from tiny dinghies to ocean-going cruisers, but 14-footers with suitable sized outboards are most common. They provide a good margin of safety and comfort, and are easy to manoeuvre when conditions get crowded.

Before moving into Alberni Inlet, Chinooks feed primarily on anchovies, and to a somewhat lesser degree on herring. Tactics that produce well in Barkley Sound continue to work as the fish move into and along the inlet. Popular setups are Krippled Minnow and Anchovy Specials with either green or clear heads, trolled behind orange and green Hot Spot flashers. Leader lengths are critical. Start at 42 inches, then keep increasing the length until you find what turns on the fish. At times this means going as long as can be manage while permitting fish to be netted -- up to nine feet or so.Alberni Inlet anglers favour medium to heavy action rods ranging from 9 to 10 1/2 feet, with single-action reels, lines average 25- to 35-pound-test.

Trolled plugs account for a lot of Alberni Inlet Chinooks, light-coloured models like the six-inch 203 Tomic, which has been a derby winner over the years. Others are six- or seven-inch 158 Tomics, which are white with a rainbow overlay, 602 Tomics that glow when flashed with a light, Broken-back Tomics, they generally run at depths of 15 to 20 feet during the morning, but might lower down to 65 feet as the day progresses. To ensure maximum action of a plug, leave a minimum of 20-feet of line between it and the cannonball - the further the better. Depending on how much room there is to manoeuvre, some anglers occasionally run plugs up to 100-feet behind their downriggers. "They float to the surface on the turns, but they dive back down when the line straightens. This also creates frequent changes in the plugs' swimming speed and depth."

No matter which species is your target, "you can fish lots of rods by 'stacking' at various levels. You can easily use four or five lines out of an 18-foot boat without getting tangled.

Generally, August is the best all round month for sockeye and Chinook, but some dedicated Chinook enthusiasts wait until September before hitting the inlet. Crowds have thinned and the Chinooks are fully matured, some to well over 50- pounds. Fishing usually remains good during the first two weeks of September.

Clutesi Haven Marina is situated on the tidal fresh waters of the Somass River. The marina features a two four-lane launch ramp and ample parking which ensures quick and organized access to the salmon rich waters of the Alberni Inlet, all-tides launch ramps suitable for all sizes of

China Creek Marina and Campground is located approximately eight kilometers south of the inner harbour, includes a four lane launch ramp, washrooms, shower and laundry facilities, small general store, a café and a children's playground. Fishing licenses and fuel are also available on site.

There is a free launch ramp at Alberni Harbour Key, but it is somewhat steeper and more suitable for smaller boats. Other than Labour Day weekend, it usually has ample parking.

Port Alberni Visitors Centre
2533 Port Alberni Highway
Port Alberni, BC, V9Y 8P2

Alberni Inlet Nautical Chart 3668

Huxley’s Run: 

This, hopefully, will be my last piece on Weanus. I’m sure you agree.

This one I find enjoyable, actually, because comeuppance for a deserving soul makes us all feel better.
We last left Weanus bemoaning the conflagration that was his socks — set alight by either being too close to the camp fire or being pushed too close to the camp fire by those wanting comeuppance for the ‘Weanus’ that had so plagued their fishing trip.

Weanus had managed to salvage his socks from the fire, a pair he insisted he had specially made by Sherpa guides from the wool found on the rare Mount Everest Mongolian marmot whose Latin name is Genghis Con-artist.

He had pulled them on with a snarl and had he been a heartier man (i.e. not shortish and paunchy) we might have been worried. As it was the camp chuckled aloud.
Weanus followed us down the river and to our allotted stations. By allotted that means that the first one to hook a fish would have Weanus’s elbows in his face with the cry of “Make way, make way!” crashing about their ears.

I don’t know whether I liked Weanus honestly and openly or pitied him for the rude little pissant he could become at times. Okay most of the time. No, basically, all the time.

Regardless, I watched him lay out a good line and grimaced as his “Fish on!” echoed about the canyons for miles around, probably reaching into Alberta. The fish, a good one, swirled in a healthy rush and Weanus hailed all again, “And it’s a monster! Lines up gentlemen, watch a master land his fish!”

It didn’t matter that the closest angler to him was a football field away, his admonition continued. “Heh you!” he barked. “This lunker could run back to the ocean in the blink of an eye. Now reel up and get out of the river like a good man.”

Even though all ignored him, none could ignore his eventual capture of the fish. “Call me Ishmael,” he cried, holding the glistening fish aloft. And then, “I do not understand these things. But it is good that we do not have to try to kill the sun or the moon or the stars. It is enough to live on the sea and kill our true brothers.”
It was a nice fish, but I thought quoting from both Moby Dick and The Old Man and the Sea was a little much. Then, again, it was Weanus.

Then the most horrible thing happened. Weanus was into them. Again and again “Fish on!” rang about the canyons. Again and again queer quotes from various fishing related journals punctuated his landings. It was time to do something.

One of the bravest of souls decided to pry Weanus from his pool and take him across the river and up to the Camp Pool run — away from us. He would do that transport with a Boson Whaler and earplugs. We watched as Weanus accepted the offer, strode to the bow of the boat and appeared to throw a loonie towards the opposite shore.

The boat landed well across the river, and the two proceeded up the river to the Camp Pool. Even from there we could hear Weanus whoop with every “Fish on!” We were, as a group, vastly depressed. We knew the talk around the camp that night would be unbearable. We were all planning an early departure into our sleeping bags as we watched Weanus getting into the boat across the river to come back to our shore. And then it happened.

As he was pushing the boat off the river bank, something happened and Weanus lost his balance. We watched as he fell, stopping a full splash into the river by wrapping his right arm and right leg around the gunnel of the whaler, his left appendages dangled in the river. He looked very much like a paunchy crab in waders.

It was, no other words were appropriate, a real dangling Weanus.

We held our collective breaths, frightfully worried that he would lose his grip. And then he did and went in, almost getting rolled under the boat. We cheered.

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