Most of Canada begrudgingly feeds their wood stoves, scrapes their windshields free of ice, and chews Robaxacet for breakfast after long mornings of shoveling snow in February. I pity my fellow countrymen for having to endure such an inhospitable existence at this time of year. The promise of fishing in most places across our northern homeland in the dead of winter means slogging through knee-deep snow drifts and chiseling the door open on an ice fishing shack to auger through seven inches of snow and ice. Brrrrrrr…you can have it I say.
Here in Tofino we’re pretty fortunate (some would say lucky) to have more milder winter temperatures to enjoy. It might be wet and windy, but it’s a rare day indeed when I can’t pull on my rain gear and head out to enjoy one of the many winter fisheries that we have available within striking distance of town.
Most visitors are surprised when I tell them that our saltwater salmon fishing is fantastic during February. One look offshore from one of our many beaches towards tumultuous, white-capped seas often raises an eyebrow or two, but once I tell them that all of our winter salmon fishing happens in calm, protected inshore waters free from open ocean swells their faces usually brighten.
Widely popular in the summer season, more and more visitors are discovering that winter salmon fishing can produce fantastic action with fish from five to twenty five pounds snapping on the tide changes and filling fish boxes with delicious fresh salmon fillets. Most fish are caught trolling a combination of UV and glow flashers combined with baits, spoons, or hoochies near the bottom in depths of 30 - 150’. Tried and true winter fishing grounds like Clifford Point and various locations around Vargas Island are dependable bets before, during, and after the tide change.
Combination saltwater trips in February usually entail a few hours of salmon fishing, and a few hours of pulling prawn and crab traps to round out a winter seafood feast. A six hour saltwater charter is a great way for couples and families to discover more of what Tofino has to offer in the winter months and the fishing happens in waters so calm you would swear you were in a lake.
For more dedicated anglers, February marks the first peak month of winter steelhead season in Clayoquot Sound. Helicopter or walk and wade trips to many of the rivers in our area promise exceptional fishing for large, native fish that many consider the greatest gamefish in British Columbia.
I often say that steelhead fishing will take you to some of them most stunning locations on Vancouver Island, and the rivers in Clayoquot Sound where steelhead are found are no exception. Standing knee deep in waders in an emerald pool casting to a school of chrome bright steelhead while snow capped mountains and giant old-growth cedars keep watch over the action is a quintessential experience that defines fishing in British Columbia. If you have not enjoyed this experience then you need to do yourself a favour and get out there and try it.
Hiring a guide is always strongly advised for visitors and beginners as it would take a lifetime to figure out the myriad intricate details that make for a successful outing. If you’d like some help with some suggestions, or an up to the minute update on current conditions and fishing reports feel free to come by our office at 368 Main street and I’ll be happy to fill you in. We offer great options for both saltwater and freshwater fishing in February and I promise you’ll thank me for suggesting a fishing trip while you’re visiting town. Tofino boasts incredible year-round fishing and we specialize in making your time on the water safe, productive, and most of all fun!
– Captain Josh Temple