Located on Vancouver Island, British Columbia, 357 km north
Victoria on highways 1, 19 and 28,
Gold River is the staging area for a 30 mile run down Muchalat
Inlet to Nootka Sound fishing grounds. Nootka Island has the
distinction of being the first land upon which Europeans set
foot - Perez for the Spanish in 1774. The more-well-known Captains
Cook and Vancouver came ashore in 1778 at Friendly Cove, reclaiming
the land for England.
In addition to Muchalet Inlet,
Tahsis and Tlupana Inlets also converge on Nootka Sound
near Bligh Island. Another local spot of interest includes Hotsprings
Cove. Natural hotsprings in sheltered moorage east of the Escalante
Lighthouse soak weariness away prior to an inspection of the
local aboriginal village. Friendly Cove has interesting ancient
Adventure Members serving this area:
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Winter fishing is influenced by severe and unpredictable weather
conditions with wind velocities reaching 100 miles per hour.
In addition, fuel is not available and, accordingly, the very
solid fishery for Friendly Cove Lighthouse chinook and halibut
is one for knowledgeable locals only.
Summer fishing is influenced by onshore winds as well as convection
winds in the Inlets. Offshore fishing is attempted only first
thing in the morning with afternoon fishing concentrating in
more protected locations. Extended high pressure systems facilitate
travel to outside fishing spots. Nootka Sound may support the
best fishing on the entire coast.
Annual Cycle of Runs
Two species of salmon may be found in Nootka Sound waters in
chinook. With few blueback available, coho appear only as
migratory mature animals in summer months en route to local
rivers: Gold, Tsowwin and Leiner. Chinook destined for Barkley
Sound and Nitinat and other areas provide solid winter action
as do summer chinook bound for local rivers.
During November to March, 5 - 20 lb winter feeder chinook stay
near abundant herring, anchovy and needlefish schools in outside
waters. Fish 100 - 150' deep in the Friendly Cove - Maquinna
Halibut move onto Nootka Sound shoals in April - June fanning
out over the flat sandy bottoms. Drifting the 300' depths, fishermen
target only this species until summer arrives.
Summer chinook arrive in waves: July 15 - 30 the 25 lb Barkley
Sound fish inhabit the Sound; August 1 - 15 is the best summer
fishing, for gigantic 30 - 50 lb Tahsis, Gold and Burman River
chinook. (The Conuma Hatchery has proved a spectacular success.);
and, spawners bound for Vancouver Island rivers nose across
the mouth of Nootka Sound August 21 - September 7.
In late August the coho show. September and October is the traditional
time for local northern coho, averaging 14 - 20 lbs.
Unlike other areas, Fraser bound
pink salmon migrate offshore and are seldom caught in Nootka
Sound. Local rivers support few chum.
Lures on an Annual Basis Bait:
Green, glow in the dark and white Krippled anchovy on a 36 -
48" leader to a Hotspot flasher is the year-round favourite.
Strip and 7" cutplug herring are distant seconds. Winter fishing
depths are 100 - 150' on the down rigger while in summer, fish
swim higher in the water column, resulting in 20 - 40' fishing
For halibut, the usual rig is herring in a spreader bar, or
Lucky Jigs and Mudrakers in 18 - 24 oz sizes. Orange and black,
yellow and red, green and white and other bright colours are
favoured. Alternatively, drop down rigger balls to the bottom
with herring as bait and drift Sound waters between Friendly
Cove and Burdwood Point.
seldom used, Army Truck, green and white and white on 36 - 40"
leaders are the hootchies of choice. Utilize pink hootchies
for the few sockeye and pink encountered.
As with other Pacific Ocean facing areas, large, 5 - 7" plugs
in brighter colours are preferred: 602, 300 and 500.
Spoons find infrequent use, however, switch to them when mackerel
and dogfish present themselves: silver and copper or green in
Krippled Ks, Tom Macks, McNight and Diamond Lance.
Northern coho zap virtually any colour bucktail (the brighter
ones catch seagulls!), however, the standby Grey Ghost and purple
find common use
Drift Fishing: Seldom
attempted due to congestion in popular spots. Try Riptide Strikers
in less- frequented spots.
Overall Strategy and Specific Fishing Areas
The local fishing tip is: fish chinook early or late. A typical
day includes a run to Friendly Cove at 5:30 am and, weather
permitting, passing outside to Maquinna Point and Beano Creek,
then to the extremely rocky, but bottom-fish-loaded inner and
outer Bajo Reefs. Fish offshore early as swells can reach 15'
and return to protected spots by 1 pm, finishing the day at
Hoiss Point or Camel Rock.
The Department of Fisheries and Oceans institutes various closures
and the angler is advised to check the Sport Fishing Regulations
for fishing boundaries designed to protect Tahsis, Gold, Leiner
and Burman Rivers. Conuma hatchery may be found near the head
of Tlupana Inlet.
There are essentially three fisheries in Nootka Sound: offshore
banks at 8, 10, and 12 miles out for halibut. These should be
attempted only in large boats over 30' with 10' of beam and
full equipment, as weather deteriorates rapidly; Pacific shore
fisheries at Maquinna Point and Friendly Cove for halibut and
chinook; and, more protected spots around Bligh Island for summer
chinook and coho.
This is a Krippled anchovy fishery and most success comes close
to shore and rocky cliffs.
Fuel availability is a problem in the Nootka Sound. In winter,
fuel may be purchased only in Gold River. Critter Cove near
Hoiss Point services the Sound during the July to August period.