West Coast Vancouver Island Spring
By Jason Mohl
Breaking free from the grasp of another West Coast winter has many
positive effects on the people that inhabit and enjoy "life on
the edge" The surrounding environment continuously reminds us
of the seasonal changes, currently showing marked advances into more
spring like conditions. For many of us, these natural reminders automatically
turn our thoughts to the different fishing opportunities once again
available for us to enjoy.
The winter months do provide anglers limited chances to "get
their fix" of some of Mother Nature's finest, but on the West
Coast of Vancouver Island, April is the true start to another fantastic
and diverse season of freshwater fishing opportunities.
Your efforts should be rewarded with the three main Species that inhabit
the waters of the West Coast. Steelhead, Cutthroat and Rainbow Trout
provide excellent quarry for the early season angler.
Aside from the strong runs of winter Steelhead that return to the
Stamp-Somass and Gold Rivers, the majority of West Coast Steelhead
are spring-run fish. Warming temperatures and the ensuing spring run-off
encourages these true Native Gems to ascend the small to medium sized
rivers along the coastal inlets. To target these elusive sea-run Rainbows,
your timing is very important as the rise and fall of the river will
move them quickly within the system, here today gone tomorrow often
describes it well. Gear anglers should down size their presentation
to small B.C. orange gooey bobs, 4 inch pink worms and single Jensen
or wool eggs. Marabou Jigs are dynamite on spring Steelhead, so give
them a try. Remember to check the regulations as most waters on the
West Coast have a bait ban.
Fly Fishermen have excellent opportunities to hook up with well presented
Wet Flies at this time of the year. Along with 7-9 wt. rods, be prepared
with a variety of sinking tips, enabling you to effectively fish all
the different types of holding water common to coastal rivers. Weighted
flies will help you stay in the "zone", undoubtedly promoting
increased hook-ups. Don't leave home without some Marabou patterns,
Lead-Eye Leeches, Single eggs and a few Shrimp imitations like the
There are numerous streams to concentrate your efforts, with many
of these systems being somewhat remote. Studying local maps and charts
will show the many drainages scattered throughout the West Coast inlets.
As the spring progresses through May and into June, water temperatures
start to rise in most coastal lakes, encouraging the feeding habits
of the resident Rainbow and Cutthroat Trout to kick into high gear.
The aquatic life starts to flourish at this time, so watching the
different hatches of both insects and small baitfish, can be beneficial
to all lake anglers.
Most trout will go for the standard bobber and worm technique, but
try and challenge your angling abilities with the more interactive
methods like fly fishing or working structure with small spoons and
spinners. Using light spinning gear or fly rods in the 5-6 wt. range,
Rainbows prefer offerings like small Egg-Sucking Leeches, Half Back
Nymphs, Chironomids, Gammarus Shrimp and Carey Specials. Bolo Spinners
are a favorite that has brought many fish to hand.
Cutthroat Trout focus on the insects as well, but have a definite
liking for any available baitfish that are known to make up their
diet. Minnow type flies are good producers for these aggressive trout.
Sticklebacks, Rolled Muddlers, various fry patterns as well as some
brighter attractors like the Mickey Finn . Hardware to strongly consider
are items like Panther Martin spinners, Flatfish and Crocodile spoons,
remembering that black, yellow and red are popular Cutthroat colors.
This time of the season also finds the lower portion of most river
systems in the area a prime target for great Sea-Run Cutthroat action.
These anadromous trout are encouraged to frequent the lower stretches
of coastal streams and their estuaries due to the downstream migration
of small Salmon fry. During this vulnerable stage of the Salmon life
cycle, the fry rely on safety in numbers, and these numbers can turn
the Sea-Run Cutthroat into a voracious eating machine. Watch for rolling
fish or underwater flashes, indicating feeding activity, then try
small silver spoons or spinners, or fry patterns like the Egg-n-eye
to connect to one of these feisty Yellow-Bellies.
If you haven't realized already, Vancouver Island provides some of
the World's finest outdoor opportunities, so get out and experience
for yourself just why we have become such a popular destination.
With a limitless amount of pristine areas and waters to explore, and
the rewards of some fantastic freshwater fishing, this is one type
of "Spring Fever" that you will look forward to for years
Jay Mohl-Clayoquot Ventures
Tofino, B.C. Canada
Contact me with your questions or comments at