Ucluelet Fishing vs AlaskaThanks to TV shows such as Deadliest Catch, Palin’s Alaska, Alaska Wing Men, and many Discovery Channel features, Alaska has received a lot of publicity over the years.
Being part of a country with three hundred million people, it’s natural that Alaska would get more press than any fishing towns in Canada. Of course, all that extreme weather helps get press too! But the fishing isn’t necessarily better in places that get more press. You may be surprised to learn that quiet, little Ucluelet, BC may just have some of the best ocean Chinook (King) salmon fishing in world. Here’s why…
Chinook (King salmon) by the NumbersThe largest river runs in Alaska come from the Yukon River which fluctuates from 100K-200K Chinook. The world famous Kenai River has been steadily dropping for 3 decades and is down to less than 15K Chinook. Compare that to the rivers supporting Ucluelet like the Columbia, with numbers averaging 300-800K, the Fraser with about 150-200K and the local Stamp from 120K-150K. The local Stamp river returns have steadily been increasing since 2019 and are at 20 year highs.
When you add the Fraser River, (reports haven’t been filed yet, but are likely around 200,000), and all the rivers around Vancouver Island, you have over one million Chinook heading past Ucluelet during the summer. This number far exceeds any place in Alaska. As well, numbers of returning Chinook have been declining in Alaska, and are currently at about 50% of what they were in 2002 for many rivers. In contrast, the Columbia River Chinook numbers are as strong as any time since 1950.
FeedOne of the reasons Ucluelet attracts so many fish is the large amounts of feed that frequent the area. Directly out front of Ucluelet, there are a few major banks that hold bait fish, including herring, krill, pilchards, anchovies and squid. Chinook won’t stop unless there is food to attract them.
Length of SeasonOne more reason so many sport fisherman prefer Ucluelet is the length of the fishing season. Unlike other areas, where peak fishing is limited to a two week window, in Ucluelet there is good Chinook fishing from March to September. Because we don’t rely on just one river source for our Chinook, you can catch salmon all through the summer.
Don’t just take my word for it, check out our picture blog with dates of our Chinook catches. At Salmon Eye, we believe good fishing, experienced guides, and great weather make Ucluelet the best salmon fishing destination in the world.
Coho FishingAlthough Chinook are most often the prized catch, Ucluelet also has fantastic Coho fishing. These fighting fish are fun to catch and great eating!
Time to fishing groundsThere are a few other differences as well. Alaska Chinook generally hang out offshore, away from the normal fishing grounds where Alaskan boats are also fishing Halibut. The trend has been the opposite in Ucluelet with many Chinook close to shore which makes the boat ride time more like 15 minutes instead of Alaska where its often 1.5 to 2 hours.
The ride to catching halibut in Homer which advertised at every US show is normally from 1-1.5 hours. During 2023 our boats spent about 30-40 minutes running most days to catch halibut.
When you are on a trip, the time to fishing grounds is important to some people. The more time you spend running, the less time your lines are in the water.