Fishing is a favourite pastime on Vancouver Island, and it’s hard to find anyone that lives here who has never been. It also means that seafood is a staple, and most families look forward to filling their freezers each summer with healthy stocks of tasty fish. That being said, the Island is also filled with all different kinds of fishermen. Many will have only been fly fishing, while others have stuck to the open ocean. Then, there are always those that prefer to try their luck at shore casting on the coast, or merely trolling lakes in their kayaks, canoes or small boats. Whatever their preferred brand of fishing, there’s likely a spot to do it on Vancouver Island. With the exception of ice fishing, Vancouver Island pretty well has it all.
Vancouver Island is laced with lakes, rivers and waterways that entice all kinds of fly fishermen of all experience levels. The running salmon are a huge draw, and there’s also a steady supply of different kinds of trout like steelhead, cutthroat and rainbow. Nearly any spot on the Island will have a great river for fishing in, and there are tons of areas that see a stead run of pink and sockeye salmon, as well as coho. This produces challenging catches for the more master fishermen, as well as some easier fish for young, or beginner anglers. Some of the top rivers to fly fish in on Vancouver Island include the Stamp River, the Puntledge and numerous other locations. Of course, most fishermen also have their secret spots, but those ones they’ll keep to themselves.
Catching a trophy salmon is the goal of many travelers that come to Vancouver Island. In fact, it’s a goal of plenty of Vancouver Islanders, too! Luckily, there are a number of places to achieve exactly that, and you can catch all five types of Pacific salmon on Vancouver Island. While you can also catch salmon by fly fishing, an offshore endeavor can be much more enticing. To catch the biggest chinook and coho, anglers head to the west coast of Vancouver Island to Ucluelet, Bamfield, or Tofino. For Sockeye, Port Alberni is the destination. On the east side of the Island, fishermen try their luck out of Campbell River, where all five types can be found during the summer season. Up north is another chinook destination, with a shorter time period than the west, and the South Island is great for winter fishing. All in all, there is a large focus on catching salmon on Vancouver Island and a good charter can be a fisherman’s dream trip. Speaking of dream trips, check out www.salmoneye.net. They’re a charter in Ucluelet that aims to provide just that – for both salmon and halibut daydreams!
For those who really appreciate patience as a virtue, shore casting can be rewarding, especially on the west coast off of Ucluelet later in the season. Not only to larger salmon move in closer to the shore as they begin to head back to the rivers to spawn, the rocks are a prime place for different types of cod, like the tasty, mean-looking lingcod. There are great spots to shore cast all over Vancouver Island, and if you ask around in the various fishing shops, someone should be able to point you somewhere productive. Just remember to keep an eye on the tide!
After salmon, halibut are very much in demand – partially for their size, and partially for their tasty, white meat! The halibut fishing on Vancouver Island is great in the early season, and they can be caught mostly off of the North Island and West Coast of Vancouver Island. While some halibut are caught trolling for salmon, most prefer to anchor up for them. This can be challenging in poor weather, but patience is rewarded. Some halibut are larger than 70lbs!
Up in the mountains, or in the valleys, there are some great lakes to cast a line in on the Island. Whether you have a small boat you want to tow to your destination of choice, or are more of a canoe, or kayak fisherman, there’s the perfect lake, stocked with fish, waiting for you. Plenty of lakes have campgrounds too, so if you’re confident in your skills, you can even cook dinner back at the site. Large lakes can be fun and productive at times, while the smaller lakes offer more consistent fishing, plus they require less boating skills as the larger areas are more subject to weather. Depending on where you go, you can expect to try your hand at reeling in trout, bass and even kokanee salmon. In some locations, you can even fish from shore.
During the summer, it’s common for the squid to arrive and that means it’s time for plenty of fun. Last year in Ucluelet they were available for fishing for about a week at the end of July! Jigging for squid is a blast, and attempting to make your homemade calamari can be a tasty bonus. Plus, using live squid to catch chinook means you are in for a good fight. Just be aware that squid have dark ink that they are not afraid to squirt when pulled from the water. Although squid are only available at certain times of the year, when they’re there, you’re in for a lot of fun.
Plenty of charters love to drop some crab traps on their way out of the harbour and pick them up at the end of your day for an added jackpot. Numerous areas on Vancouver Island are fantastic for crab fishing, and some even try their luck of the pier in Sidney, or the Whiskey Dock in Ucluelet! Picking up a couple traps and filling them with various bait while you’re out and about for your day can leave you with an extra special dinner. Just be aware that some people do steal traps, so have a recognizable bob with your name and number on it! Also, make sure you know all the regulations for sizes and do your research on the area beforehand.
Check out FishingBC.net for even more about the different kinds of fishing you can enjoy on Vancouver Island, and across the province. You can also check out www.Ucluelet-Info.com/fishing-charters-ucluelet-bc/ if you’re searching for the big one!