Where to Fish on Vancouver Island

Vancouver Island is a hotspot for those seeking to explore the outdoors. It offers nearly every activity you could want. More importantly, it also offers fantastic fishing. Whether you’re an avid fly fisherman, or are aiming for salmon in the open ocean, there is great fishing waiting for you on Vancouver Island. Not sure where on the Island suits what you’re looking for? Check out this guide on where to fish on Vancouver Island to make sure you find the fish you want.



North Vancouver Island

Through the Queen Charlotte Strait, all five types of Pacific salmon migrate during the year. While spawning grounds reside farther south on Vancouver Island, there are plenty of fantastic fish to be caught up north.

The towns in northern Vancouver Island are quaint, quiet and perfect for a peaceful escape. They include destinations like Telegraph Cove (most famous for its whale watching), Port Hardy, Port McNeill, Port Alice and Winter Harbour.

From about June, right through until October, you’ll have the opportunity to catch different types of salmon. However, they’re not there all at once, so if you have a particular type in mind, be sure to know when they arrive and leave. That way you can pick a date that fits your schedule, and the salmon’s schedule.

In Northern Vancouver Island, Chinook arrive in early June and stick around for the entire season. They are followed by Pink Salmon in July, and then Sockeye, which are late in the summer. Coho arrive around the same time in August, although they aren’t joined by the bigger Coho until September rolls around. The last to arrive are the Chum salmon, which stick around until about the middle of October. Besides salmon, there are plenty of other ocean fish to go for during the season. Halibut and lingcod are very sought after, and there are tons of different Rock fish available, as well as black cod.

For fly fishermen, the North Island’s rivers are a haven for spending your days casting. You’ll be able to try your luck at catching pink, Coho and sockeye salmon.



Central Vancouver Island

Central Vancouver Island offers the most variety when it comes to fishing on Vancouver Island. From saltwater, to freshwater, rivers and oceans, any style of fishing can be tried and challenged here.

More populated and with plenty of things to do for those that aren’t coming along just to fish, the central towns are more ideal for a family, or more well-rounded vacation. The self-proclaimed, “Salmon Capital of the World,” Campbell River is one of the top destinations for salmon fishing on Vancouver Island. It also has plenty of surrounding rivers, so catching the different runs before they hit the ocean is a great option. Other spots include the Cowichan Valley for fly fishing, Qualicum and Deep Bay and Courtenay/Comox. Trout in the rivers here include rainbow and steelhead, cutthroat and plenty of others.



South Vancouver Island

Thanks to a mild climate, fishing in southern Vancouver Island can happen year-round, and there are plenty of fish that cruise through the Juan de Fuca strait. In fact, there’s a chance to catch all five types of salmon depending on when you go.

The destinations include the capital of British Columbia, Victoria, meaning you aren’t secluded to a small fishing town for your trip. In fact, there’s even big mall shopping and boutiques if that’s your thing, or what someone else you’re traveling with desires! It’s a great way to do classic sightseeing, plus catching some great fish. Other places are Sidney, just outside of Victoria, Sooke and Port Renfrew, which gives more of that small, fishing town vibe, but offers plenty of other wonderful outdoor finds.

Chinook salmon run by the South Island pretty much every month of the year, although the largest are available during the summer and fall. Either way, having something to fish for over the winter makes it a fisherman’s paradise! Throughout the year and hitting the water at the same time as the chinook, are runs of pink, sockeye, chum and Coho, which keeps the area loaded with fish and means you’re in for all sorts of fun angling. Halibut fishing Is also an option, which is challenging, but satisfying when you haul the massive bottom-fish onto the boat.

Aside from the saltwater stuff, the southern Vancouver Island is a great fly fishing destination, with rivers producing running salmon and trout.



West Coast Vancouver Island

The west coast of Vancouver Island is one of the most unique destinations it has to offer. Endless beaches for when you’re done on the water are an enticing bonus and activities like hiking, surfing and kayaking make for a busy vacation. Most importantly, fishing here is on fire and often gives Alaska a run for its money when it comes to chinook.

Destinations on the coast include Tofino, Ucluelet and Bamfield, with Port Alberni along the way. Fishing runs in the veins of each of these towns, as the fishing industry and lifestyle has been around the coast for ages. It’s been a major contribution to their growth and was the main drive for the economy before tourism picked up.

The season starts early here with plenty of Chinook coming stable in March, and continuing straight through until about October. Mid-June sees the arrival of the Coho, which are fun for light tackle and for the elusive saltwater fly fisherman. By mid-late summer, the large chinook have arrived, and boats see plenty of Tyees coming in. Because they arrive with the Coho, the action can be non-stop on good days. Moving inshore by August, and fizzling out by September, the salmon fishing slows down. However, bottom fish are still around, and late season anglers find themselves going for lingcod and halibut. Later in October, the chum salmon rotate through, although the rougher fall weather can be discouraging. In Port Alberni, the Sockeye run is the main draw and June and July are a great time to catch this tasty, red fish.

Aside from salmon, the cutthroat, rainbow and steelhead show up in good numbers. In fact, catching those hardly heard of sea-run rainbow trout can be accomplished on the coast, and it is one of the top places in the world for steelhead.


No matter what kind of fishing trip experience you’re after, Vancouver Island has the destination and the fish for you. To learn more, pay a visit to www.discovervancouverisland.com/things-to-do/fishing/. For more about the west coast in particular, Salmon Eye Charters is a great company to book with in Ucluelet and has plenty of information, as well as fishing reports, on their website. Check it out here: www.salmoneye.net.

Types of Fish to Catch in Ucluelet

The West Coast of Vancouver Island is a paradise for fishermen, whether as a safe harbour for commercial boats, or a fun destination for recreational fishing. Saltwater fishing is the name of the game, whether inshore or offshore. While salmon are the first that come to mind, there are plenty of other types of fish to catch as well. Read on to find the types of fish to catch in Ucluelet when you book a fishing charter.



First things first are the salmon:



Also known as king salmon, and Tyees when over thirty pounds, chinook are the prized catch out here on the coast. From June until September, they frequent the waters, moving inshore near the end of the season as spawning is about to begin. They range from about 18-40lbs and put up a wild fight, making them as fun to catch as they are good to eat. Chinook salmon are blue/green in colour on their backs, with silver sides and giveaway black spots on their tails and upper halves.


Also known as silvers, these guys are second in line for being caught when fishing in Ucluelet. A bit smaller at 10-20lbs, they can arrive in late June, and typically stay through September. The trick with Coho is that you can only keep the ones with a trimmed adipose fin, and their run can be inconsistent. Still, when you do catch a few, they make for great eating and smoking.



Other Fish:



Halibut are also in high demand for any fishing charter on the coast. Averaging 20-45lbs, it’s common to catch even larger, monster halibut off of the coast! Last season, Salmon Eye Charters recorded on that was 75lbs! Fishing for halibut can be a bit weather dependent because of the style of fishing, but they can be caught all summer long and are tasty to eat.


Lingcod are fun fishing, and some rather large specimens can be caught off of the coast of Ucluelet. Jigging with fresh meat on the line brings them out to play – prepare yourself for a workout! The smaller ones especially make for some great eating, despite the ogre-like features of the fish itself. Its large head, sharp teeth and sleek body make for a strange sight. It’s colour varies from browns and yellows to grey and green, and occasionally, the fish’s flesh itself is blue-tinged.

Rock Cod

Rock cod fishing can also be plenty of fun, although it isn’t as rewarding or sought after as the other kinds of fish on the coast. However, they occupy the ocean’s floor just like Ling and Halibut do, so you’re likely to catch a few on any given charter out of Ucluelet. While a common food in Asia, if they aren’t your thing you can sometimes feed the eagles a snack, or use them to catch a bigger prize. They can be black and green to red in colour, with distinct fins with heavy spines.


For more about fishing in Ucluelet, check out www.ucluelet-info.com/fishing-charters-ucluelet-bc/

For more about fishing on Vancouver Island: www.discovervancouverisland.com/things-to-do/fishing/