Forecast 2024 Ucluelet Salmon and Halibut fishing

One of our jobs as fishing professionals is to report what is happening both favorable and not favorable.

Fortunately the overall Ucluelet has been one of the best places on the coast to consistently get your limits of salmon and halibut.

It is our task to report what we are seeing here since often what is reported on the news is often not that accurate.

While Alaskan rivers continue to show decline in numbers there is some good news for BC rivers including the Stamp/Somass close to Ucluelet. In total Chinook (King) salmon return coming into Barkley Sound  was estimated over 200K.

This is twice the normal return.

In comparison about 15 years ago the Kenai was getting 50K+ Chinook back. Now its less than 15K.

Over the past 15 years there has been a large decline in Chinook to the most notable rivers in Alaska the Kenai and Yukon as well as some rivers in BC including the Skeena, Fraser and other rivers along the north coast.

But there have been some really good signs that things may be on an upward swing.

Of course we hope that all rivers recover. Our thoughts about the decline in Chinook returns in northern BC and Alaska rivers to have to do with the Alaskan commercial fishery more than the river conditions which are in the mostly wild areas.

Since 2019 ocean conditions have been improving for salmon survival.

There were some other BC rivers that drastically exceeded expectations in 2023 including the Harrison, Sushwap and Cowichan.  The Cowichan is a wild salmon  river and had over 21K Chinook return.

A normal good year in Barkley Sound is in the range of 80-90K Chinook passing through the waters.


The Cowichan River which is in southern Vancouver Island had an expected return of 6500 and ended up with more than 21K in 2023.

The Harison River is a large system that had expected 75K Chinook to return and ended up with a whopping 150K+ in 2023.

The Stamp/Somass river system had a historic return of Chinook salmon in 2023. The returns have been at 20 year highs the past 4 years but 2023 was the year that blew the past 4 right out of the water.

Ucluelet is probably the biggest benefactor of a large stamp run as many of those fish come past our shores.

A normal year in Barkley Sound is in the range of 80-90K Chinook passing through the waters. The last 3 years have seen about a 50% plus increase.

Then around 200K+ Chinook come through Barkley Sound in 2023. It is why we at Salmon Eye Fishing Charters had so many double hookups during mid to late August. As much as we all like to pride ourselves as being exceptional fisherman, we had some good fortune too with huge fish numbersl.

If you do the math, for 2 weeks in August there were anywhere from 5-10K Chinook salmon hanging around the Ucluelet shoreline on a daily basis. That’s insane fishing!

The Stamp/Somass started doing net pen releases a few yeas back and that could be paying huge dividends.

Seal predation of fry and smolts in the rivers has been a large problem, especially as seal populations exploded during the 1980’s. Net pen releases were a way of getting the small newly released salmon out into deeper water making it much harder for seals to gorge themselves on salmon smolts entering their new ocean life.

When is the best place in the world to catch Chinook (King) salmon?

I wrote a post about the best place to catch salmon in BC and I really believe BC is the best place in the world for ocean Chinook (King) salmon fishing which is generally when you get the salmon before they have drastically changed color.


What is expected for Ucluelet in 2024?

We are expecting a slightly larger return to Barkley Sound and area compared to 2023 which was off the charts.

Most of the Barkley Sound run comes through in August and early September. Both morning and afternoon can be good.

The afternoon fishing has significantly less boats working the near spots we normally fish. The wind is less predictable in the afternoon, however August generally has the least wind of all months on the west coast.

Near shore trend

La Nina has taken over southern waters and is projected to bring cold water up along the coast of BC. This may change some of the patterns and keep more fish offshore. We have quite gotten used to catching salmon right outside the harbour so we may have to travel more.

During 2023 one reason given for good fishing right next to shore is that the water was warmer offshore and colder in close to shore. Since salmon are a cold water species, they will normally go where the coldest water is.

For number of Chinook salmon expected for 2024, we expect a similar year for numbers to 2024. The Columbia River numbers may tick down about 5% but should come in close to half a million. This should hopefully nean good fishing throughout May, June and July. Late July we start seeing some of the Stamp River fish come through.

The BC rivers have been getting better since 2019 as ocean conditions have improved. There is good Chinook fishing inside Georgia Strait (inside Vancouver Island) right now though unfortunately that shuts down April 1. The SFI has been fighting the closures around some areas as they appear to be largely political at this point, especially with return numbers drastically improving.

When is the best time to come salmon fishing and halibut fishing?

For the best times to come fishing in Ucluelet you can check out

We start fishing in May and finish in later September. There can be very good fishing in May and early June, especially during the past few years.

What makes Ucluelet extra special?

Besides being a premier hot spot for both Chinook (King) salmon, Coho (Silver) salmon and halibut, Ucluelet is unique for its calm water options. Yes do often fish offshore for maximum results but for calm water fishing Barkley Sound can produce good numbers like it did in 2023.

During May, June and early July (last year all summer), the fishing in protected water can be the best fishing and even if not, is often very good.

Its hard for me to leave you without some photos of salmon so here are some below. All of these trips were very short because the double hookups were happening just outside the harbour.

You can check out the areas visit or get one of our fishing packages available at if you are intere We have very little ocean view accommodation but still have some cabins available.

We just purchased a 31’ Northwest Aluminum boat which can take up to 7 people so we have larger group capacity now.

Below, some pictures from the past summer.

Tight lines,
Sam Vandervalk
Salmon Eye Fishing Charters

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