Sonora’s Fishing Report – June 1, 2018

The first few weeks at Sonora Resort have been off to a great start with tons of sunshine (hardly any rain!), consistent Chinook salmon fishing, and good river fishing conditions. May was a stellar month for salmon fishing, with more fish on our dock than any other year in May! The Phillips River was in great shape with consistent water levels, and we found some really nice trout this month. The eco tours have been incredible with lots of eagles feeding in the rapids, humpback whales cruising through, and the occasional grizzly bear in the Phillips estuary.

 

Saltwater Salmon Fishing

A couple of beautiful chrome Chinook Salmon

 

For several years, we have been keeping track of how many fish come to Sonora’s dock each season and May 2018 broke the record for the highest total catch, over all previous years’ May catch! We are currently catching Chinook salmon, though a few guests have decided to jig up a lingcod as well. We have been fishing predominantly in Bute Inlet, where the scenery is stunning and the waters are a milky turquoise green color from the river run-off further up the inlet. Some of the hot spots have been Billy Goat bay and Paradise falls (the falls are beautiful!) or on the opposite side of the inlet by Freddie’s beach and Fawn Bluff. It’s not uncommon to see wildlife in Bute Inlet, and many of our guests report seeing Grizzly bears, black bears and even one cougar during the month of May!

Most salmon have been caught in the 80-100 foot deep range, and guides are using mostly spoons, and hootchies. Anchovies are also a good option and have been working well. Most of the salmon we are catching have been in the 8lbs – 15lbs range, but we have had a couple 25lbs and one 27lbs fish here so far! We hope that this month is a good indicator of what is to come this season for salmon fishing…

 

Freshwater Fishing on the Phillips River

A beautiful Dolly Varden (or Bull Trout) caught on the fly and about to be released

The Phillips River has been in great shape this month, with consistent water flows and just the right amount of sediment to color up the water. Our guides have been exploring new parts of the upper Phillips River this spring, in hopes that we can find a few new fishing holes for our guests to try during the summer months. The Phillips River has a beautiful long lake about 5 km above the ocean and typically we find the lower section of the river to be the most productive. Our guides were very happy to report that they found some beautiful big bull trout and rainbow trout in the upper river earlier in May though! 

The river has been dropping in the last few days now that the weather has cooled and the winter snow pack melt has slowed down. The lower river levels mean that we cannot use the jet boat to travel up river, so guests should be prepared to hike into our fishing holes. Hopefully once the weather warms up again the river level will come up and travel by jet boat will be possible soon. Check with our guides for the most recent report. 

At this time of year it is most common to catch rainbow trout, cutthroat trout and bull trout. All fly fishing on the Phillips River is catch and release.

 

Eco Tours & Local Wildlife

A Grizzly bear scavenging for crustaceans in the Phillips River Estuary

We have had the best weather so far this season, with lots of sunshine and very few cool rainy days! The sunshine makes for great photography on all of our eco tours and boat cruises. Spring is primetime for wildlife viewing at Sonora ; the bears are coming down to the shorelines to feed after their long winter slumber, the steller sea lions are still hanging around the Gillard islands, and the bald eagles are here in huge numbers to feed on hake fish. 

We always try to time our eco tours with the maximum flood tide, which is when the tidal rapids are at their peak. This creates big whirlpools and boils, which push hake fish up in the currents. The hake are unable to control their swim bladder and are stuck floating at the surface, making an easy meal for seals, sea lions and eagles. We’ve spotted literally hundreds of eagles feeding when the tides are at their peak! It’s quite a spectacular show and totally worth getting out on the water to see!

The Phillips River grizzly bear populations seems to be doing very well this year, and we have spotted several bears on our fly fishing trips, and also just in the estuary on low tide. In the spring the grizzlies are feeding on long grasses, sedge and small crustaceans at low tide along the beaches – this makes for excellent photo opportunities as they are so focused on their next meal, and not bothered by us.