Nothing puts a bounce into the step of a coastal British Columbia community more than the first sunny day of March when the thermometer climbs over ten degrees and the sky turns that promising hue of blue that can only mean one thing - winter has officially left the building.
I counted no less than seven high-fives as Andrea and I walked Jenny Mustard down a sun-drenched and balmy Mackenzie Beach this morning. Granted, I gave most of these out myself to friends and unsuspecting tourists who happened to cross our path as we frolicked from one end of the beach to the other on what I’m officially claiming as the first bonafide day of spring.
Making it through a long winter season here on the coast is no laughing matter. Nature has a way of thinning the herd during the winter months and typically only the strong tend to survive. The animal kingdom knows this, and rewards those that have endured the trials of natural selection with a prolonged and rewarding spring mating season. To the victor go the spoils so to speak.
Of course I’m taking about steelhead season, which peaks this month in advance of the spawn. These large, powerful ocean-run rainbow trout return to their natal rivers in prolific numbers during March. They provide exceptional sport on fly and light tackle, eager to take flies or lures with aggressive strikes and long, heart-stopping runs that will test both tackle and angler during the fight.
We are fortunate to have some of Vancouver Island’s finest steelhead rivers here in Clayoquot Sound and, while they are not easy to access, they do offer an exceptional angling adventure for both resident and visiting anglers.
My favourite combination for spring steelhead here in the Tofino area is a 7wt switch rod with a 425 grain Scandi line, a short 2 meter section of T-8 sink tip, and a brightly coloured fly. Switch rods capable of making accurate presentations with little or no room for a more traditional single-hand backcast are critical for most fishing situations on our local rivers and streams.
If fly fishing isn’t your thing, then an 8’ light to medium action spinning rod with a small 2500 style spinning reel loaded with 20# braided line and an assortment of small spinners or spoons is a deadly combination for almost any March steelhead fishing situation.
The fish that inhabit our local watersheds see very little angling pressure, so if you know where and when to find them they are typically very aggressive and eager to bite. The trick is knowing what rivers have strong steelhead runs in March, and more importantly how to access them. We offer a variety of itineraries for steelhead fishing so it’s a great idea to stop by our office at 368 Main Street and ask us more about these exciting adventures to some of the most incredible wilderness areas in all of Clayoquot Sound.
Trout fishing is also a great option in March. Fly-in trips to the remote lakes or walk and wade adventures both offer excellent opportunities for great trout fishing for rainbow, cutthroat, and cut-bow trout. Again, knowing where to go and when is key to success so ask us about the trout fishing opportunities in March as well.
Saltwater fishing begins to ramp up this month as well. Local opportunities include chinook salmon in both offshore and inshore waters and some real quality fish can be caught for anglers taking advantage of the tides. Keying in on prime herring spawning areas during March will be a key component for success in catching all manner of species this month, again local knowledge is key so if you are visiting from out of town I strongly suggest hiring a guide.
We have a ton of amazing adventures available for both visitors and locals alike, so come by the office and learn more about how you can take advantage of this turn in the weather. Get out there and enjoy Clayoquot Sound this spring!
– Captain Josh Temple