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/

Types of Fishing on Vancouver Island

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.

Fly Fishing

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.



Salmon Fishing

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!


Shore Casting

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!



Halibut Fishing

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!


Lake Fishing 

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.


Squid Fishing

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!



Fishing Report for the 2017 Season in Ucluelet, B.C.

If you’re thinking about coming out to fish in Ucluelet for 2018, past seasons can be a good indicator for what to expect and when to come. Charters like www.salmoneye.net/site/fishing-with-us/fishing-reports.html are great resources for fishing reports from the entire year, and for past years so that you can try to best predict your experience for the time of year you’re wanting to come.



Here’s a quick wrap-up on the 2017 season in Ucluelet to get you started:


Fishing began as early as March and were about as good as could be expected for that time of year. Through April, the fishing consisted of some good days where everyone caught their limits, and some slower days where a lot of work was required for a payout of 1-3 salmon. Halibut fishing, as usual, was an art of practice in close to shore, but was rewarding. If salmon proved too slow for any fun, there were plenty of lingcod to make up for it. It’s always good to have a couple days booked to make sure you get at least a decent amount of salmon and have time to fish for other things.

Early Season

The early season including May and June was better than predicted in that there was a pretty good chance you could reel in a Chinook salmon larger than 20lbs. Some charters even saw a couple tyees! While it could still take all day to hit your limit, the fishing proved to be steady and many visitors left with a happy freezer full. Even the afternoon bite saw fish jumping in the boat at times. In Ucluelet, the hotspot for June was Big Bank, and it continued to be the place to fish until the end of August. May and June also saw plenty of grilse, which menas we’re keeping our fingers crossed for a great early season in 2018.



Peak Season

This year was great in July and August with most charters meeting their limit for both Chinook and halibut. Starting in mid-August, the fish moved in closer to shore, so Big Bank was no longer the hotspot and the boats moved in. Halibut also slowed down by the second half of August, but catching your limit wasn’t off the table, it just took some extra time. Inshore, the Chinook fishing was pretty good, and there was even the chance to experience live squid fishing for about a week near the end of July!

Coho also moved in around Big Bank, which can be fun as they are aggressive and have a fast bite and good fight. The problem with Coho is that you are only able to keep those with a clipped adipose fin, and the majority of the 2017 run in Big Bank did not. However, to catch a bigger fish in close to shore, July is definitely the time to come for Chinook.

End Season

Up until the middle of September, the Chinook remained steady. Then, it dropped off as normal. Halibut was closed early this year, seeing the season end on September 5. Instead of Halibut, fishermen went for lingcod, which are another great source of tasty white meat.


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