Driving in to Port Alberni, it’s impossible to miss the billboards and carvings claiming the town to be one of the top fishing spots on Vancouver Island. In fact, Port Alberni is famous for its sockeye salmon fishing in the summer. The tastiest of the Pacific salmon, sockeye’s bright pink meat is packed with flavor and nutrients. The town also sees runs of Coho and Chinook salmon, although most serious anglers looking for those types head straight through Port Alberni to the west coast of Vancouver Island to try their luck in Ucluelet. Port Alberni brands itself in healthy competition with Campbell River to be the Salmon Capital of the World, and its annual derby gives it fair running for the title. The Labour Day Tyee Derby is one of the largest in the province.
Another bonus to fishing in Port Alberni is that the Alberni Inlet offers plenty of shelter during the winter months. That means you can get out into the calm inlet to fish year-round. While the fishing is generally quite slow at that time of year, and the winter chinook are about half the size of what you can catch in the summer, it still satisfies the cravings of any dedicated angler. Fishing the Alberni Inlet is a great option for those that get seasick and can’t go into the big swell on the coast. Its long, narrow shape and the surrounding mountains ensure calm seas.
Port Alberni’s time to shine is in May when the sockeye make their way to the inlet well into September. When the weather gets colder, the sockeye even give the fly fishermen a challenge, as they move into the rivers and provide plenty of freshwater action. In general, summer is the best time to catch multiple kinds of salmon and to fill your freezer when fishing in Port Alberni.
Some favorite lures for sockeye salmon are the hot pink mini hoochie, mp16 mini, 3″ pink coyote spoon along with either a green or red hotspot or O’ki flasher. Sockeye seem to have different tastes from year to year some years one is hotter than the other. You can also use darker pink minis or try just pink hooks by themselves.
For Chinook, there are so many differnt lures that will trigger hits. One of the most common lures is the MP 2 mini hoochie behind a green flasher. Length of leader will depend on the speed in which you like to go. Other hoocies include MP 16 mini, glow with green or white spots (early in the morning), or a dark pink(less common). Some favorite Tomic plugs are the 158, 600 or 602. If you are new to the area, make sure you take along some anchovies along with teasers. If you unsure about which color or lure is working, anchovies can be the answer. Anchovies can also be good for getting the bigger fish.