Sonora’s Fishing Report – June 29, 2018

Salmon fishing at Sonora has been awesome so far this spring! Sonora has set records for the total catch weight in the months of May and June compared to the past 10+ years! The salmon fishing continues to be quite good, though there are many smaller “undersize” fish present in many of our fishing holes as well. We have spent a fair bit of time fly fishing in the Phillips River with mixed results, but those guests who put their time in have been rewarded with some beautiful trout. And Sonora’s eco tours are always so great at this time of year with tons of eagles feeding on the hake fish in the big tides and humpback whales hanging about just south of the Resort.

 

Saltwater Salmon Fishing

Sonora guide, Tommy Thompson with his guests and their Tyee Chinook salmon!

Salmon fishing has been off to an excellent start for the 2018 season. We have been keeping track of each fish that comes to our dock at Sonora, and our records show that we have had more fish for June 2018 than any other June in past seasons! On June 1st 2018, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans announced changes to the Chinook Salmon limits for our fishing area. From June 1st until September 30th the daily limit for Chinook is one per person and the total limit for your trip is 2 Chinook salmon in possession. Despite these changes, we have still had great numbers of fish on our dock, and many guests are going home with their limit of 2 Chinook per person for their trip. We will be able to keep Hatchery Coho, Pink and Chum salmon as well, when they show up later this summer.

In June we have been fishing in Bute Inlet, but especially in some of our fishing holes to the South of the resort, including Ramsay Arm, The Greek Wall, Toba Inlet and Whale Passage. In some of these spots we are also catching several smaller “undersize” salmon which must be carefully released. The minimum size for Chinook is 24.5 inches in this area. On average most fish coming to our dock are about 8-14 pounds, but we have had some big fish as well, including two Tyee (Chinook Salmon over 30 pounds) in the month of June! We suspect this is going to be a great fishing season and cant’ wait to see what the summer months have in store for us.

 

Freshwater Fishing on the Phillips River

A beautiful bull trout – photo by Sonora fly-fishing guide, Evan Busby

The Phillips River is a very special spot and a very finicky river at times. In the month of June each year, the river can be quite unpredictable as the water levels fluctuate drastically with the winter snow melt and the occasional heavy rains. Our guides watch the water levels closely and hope for the perfect conditions, when the river is dropping back into normal levels after high water flows. The changing conditions can make for tough fishing, as the trout often move around as the water levels change, and it can be hard to find them in the river system. Recently we have been fishing a couple spots in the upper Phillips River above the lake, as well as our usual spots in the lower river.

On a recent trip, our guests had a long day of hiking and fishing hard through the various runs to find the fish. Towards the end of the day they were rewarded with this beautiful big bull trout caught on a muddler minnow fly. We have also had some productive fishing days using spin casting rods and small spoons – when the water is high, this can be a great option to find those aggressive bull trout and larger rainbow trout. 2018 is a “Pink Salmon” year, which means that this is the year where the larger run of pink salmon will be returning to the river. Catching pink salmon on a fly rod or light tackle is an absolute blast, and we are looking forward to this fishery starting up sometime in July. All fishing on the Phillips river is strictly catch-and-release.

 

 

Eco Tours & Local Wildlife

Amazing photo of a breaching humpback, taken by Santiago Senderos on a recent June Eco tour! 

The past few weeks have been wonderful for eco tours! Hake fish continue to be pushed up in the strong tidal currents and we still have dozens, if not hundreds of bald eagles hanging around to feed on this free buffet of easy prey. We can pretty much guarantee that you will see at least a handful of bald eagles and harbor seals on our eco tours in June! Most eagles will hang around through July before they head up the rivers, following the salmon runs, to feed on the salmon carcasses after spawning.  

We have been starting to see the occasional pod of pacific white sided dolphins or Dall’s porpoises on some of our tours! These curious marine mammals are incredible to watch in the wild, and we are lucky to often see them up quite close as they come to check out the boat. 

Humpback whales have been abundant in our local waters lately as well – they have been making a great come back in the Campbell River and Sonora Island area, where they come to feed on herring and other small bait fish in our cold nutrient-dense waters. Most of the humpbacks migrate to Hawaii or Mexico to warmer waters and breeding grounds in the winter, though there are a few individual whales who have been hanging around year-round. We’ve been very lucky to have some great encounters with the humpbacks on our June eco tours - One tour watched one humpback whale breach over 40 times!