The animatronic voice of the weather radio is unmistakably female, though not at all what I would consider soothing or sexy. Her monotonous tone warns of yet another Southeasterly gale, complete with dangerous winds and deadly seven-meter seas. Judging by the shakes that are flying off of the roof and crashing onto the deck, the forecast is right on the money. November has arrived with it’s typical flourish to the west coast.
The massive cedar tree that stands outside next to my house is whipping back and forth in violent fashion, looking rather menacing. If I strain what’s left of my hearing I can pick up the sound of the giant swells crashing on the rocks by Tonquin Beach, the distant rumbling a steady reminder that there will be no offshore salmon fishing today. Or tomorrow. Or until April for that matter. Even the dog stares out the window into the deluge and seems to wonder where summer has gone.
I can’t say that I’m a huge fan of November. I can fake it, sure, but let’s be honest - I miss warm summer days and long, lazy evenings. I miss sunrises in the marina, boats filled with wide-eyed visitors, and the feel of a large salmon or halibut ripping line from the reel. I miss Ultimate Adventures and trips to the hot springs, wildlife safaris, and calm, protected water fishing.
It’s hard to say goodbye to this past summer, for no other reason than it was a really good one. Great salmon and halibut action buoyed our spirits and filled the docks with throngs of happy anglers. Cleaning tables brimmed with a plethora of catches and camp fires smoked with tasty fillets roasted over open coals. Good fishing brings visitors and locals together in coastal communities and we had our fair share of wonderful camaraderie this year. I shall hold on to those memories during these winter months, when the storms parade by and I yearn for the days when our entire community gathered outdoors.
November does hold promise for outdoor adventure, though it doesn’t come easy. Freshwater fishing for steelhead and trout on the heels of the salmon run often offers fantastic action to those anglers willing to brave the lacklustre weather. Wool, Goretex and rubber are the mainstays of winter fashion here in Tofino and any angler venturing out to the rivers in search of steelhead at this time of year should have a full wardrobe of weatherproof layers.
The nuances of winter steelheading in Clayoquot Sound are best learned from a local and experienced guide. Local knowledge is a key factor to success in the rivers at this time of year and hiring a guide will ensure you enjoy a productive day on the water and not a fruitless, frustrating excursion. Fly or light tackle fishing for steelhead in the Tofino area can offer exceptional fun if you know where to go, and what to do when you get there.
Saltwater fishing opportunities are limited in November, but there are winter salmon options in calm, inshore waters. The best winter salmon fishing begins in December, but that’s not to say that it isn’t worth a shot around the tide changes at dependable spots like Clifford Point or Dick and Jane’s. Winter salmon fishing means fishing deep, and slow. UV and glow flashers and baits or lures are critical for winter salmon success. Most winter salmon travel in the lower portion of the water column just above the bottom, so concentrate your efforts in that zone for the best chance of success.
Setting traps for prawns, shrimp, and crabs is an excellent option in November, and is your best bet for guaranteed results. Utilizing the opportunities in the protected inlet waterways throughout Clayoquot Sound at this time of year is a great way to avoid dangerous open ocean swells while still getting out on the water. Booking a 6 hour saltwater fishing trip ensures you have ample time to set prawn and crab traps, catch a tide change for salmon, and then haul in your traps at the end of the trip for a winter seafood feast. This is a great option for winter fishing here in Tofino and the only option for taking some fresh seafood back for dinner at this time of year.
We may miss the easy bounty of summer over the winter months, but that doesn’t mean that we have to sit inside and pout during the storms. Do yourself a favour and get out there and enjoy some of the winter adventures available here in Tofino. Grab the rain gear and wool sweaters, pack a hot lunch and a steaming thermos of coffee, and push the dog out the door - he or she will thank you for it later.
- Captain Josh Temple