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Top Fishing Charters in Campbell River

Fishing in Campbell River

If we had to describe Campbell River fishing in five words, they would be these: Salmon, Salmon, and more Salmon. Not only is it known as the ‘Salmon Capital of the World,’ it has held this title for over a century.

This small town on Vancouver Island is visited by all five species of Pacific Salmon on a yearly basis - and it is a favorite haunt of hundreds of sportfishermen who migrate to these waters, every year, too. Some say that the only things that can be in short supply round here in high season are free spaces on Campbell River fishing charters!

Known For

Campbell River may be a small town, but don’t let that put you off. Not only does this coastal community play host to plenty of hotels, B&Bs, and stores, it also has its own airport and - most importantly - a substantial charter fishing fleet. But what’s the big deal? What is it about this little place that Salmon, and anglers, just can’t resist?

First, take a look at its geography. Campbell River is located at the end of the Strait of Georgia, on a stretch of water enigmatically known as ‘Discovery Passage’. This is prime, world class Salmon territory. Imagine a kind of ‘Salmon funnel,’ that thousands of Pacific Salmon need to travel through to return to their birth rivers to spawn.

To the north, the hard granite of the steep mountains is sliced into by deep channels and inlets. This is a land of glacial wilderness: those who have the time to spare may even make it out to Bute Inlet and Johnstone Strait. Head southwards, and the water and the land formations flatten, creating wide expanses. You can fish here for days and experience multiple different styles, areas, and views. And oh my, the views.

Now, let’s look at the fish. The waterways of Discovery Passage and Johnstone Strait can be understood as a kind of ‘Salmon highway.’ This is the connection between the open ocean and the rivers and streams where the Salmon lifecycle both starts - and ends. Chinook, Coho, Sockeye, Chum, and Pink Salmon all pass by Campbell River on their journey to the stream where they were spawned - and where they in turn will spawn and end their days.

What does this mean for anglers? Plentiful Salmon, of all varieties. And it’s the big ones that Campbell River Salmon fishing charters are competing to get their hands on.

Any Campbell River Salmon fishing guide worth their salt will tell you that there’s one thing every angler wants round here: and that’s a Tyee. This native word means chief, and it is used to describe any Chinook Salmon weighing over 30lbs. Take a fishing trip from July to September and who knows, maybe you will hook a Tyee for yourself.

But it’s not all about big Chinooks. Locals say that it’s the Chum Salmon migration that you really need to look out for: come in the fall for a fight to remember. Freshwater anglers will find themselves up against both Winter and Summer Steelhead. And as if the Salmonids weren’t enough, with Halibut, Cod, and Snapper all available in deeper waters, you are not going to go hungry any time soon.

Rules & Regulations

Just like everywhere else in British Columbia, a valid sportfishing license is essential for fishing in Campbell River. Tidal Waters Sport Fishing Licenses are needed for saltwater fishing. They are issued by the Government of Canada and may be purchased online. For freshwater fishing, you will need a Non-Tidal Angling License, which is issued by the Province of Canada. 

Anyone who wishes to keep any Salmon caught will need to be in possession of a valid Salmon stamp.

Types of Fishing

Salmon fishing means trolling deep down in the water column. So if you can't get enough of the sound of downriggers popping, this is the style for you.

Otherwise, have a go at Salmon fishing Campbell River style and try for membership of the exclusive ‘Tyee Club’. How? Easy. All you need to do is catch a 30 lb + Chinook. On light tackle. In a rowboat. This is sportfishing at its most pure, and it has been done here this way ever since 1924.

Campbell River Fishing Seasons

January might see the most average annual snowfall in Campbell River, but it doesn't usually stay around for long. And thanks to the area's Chinook fishery, you can always warm up by catching a Salmon offshore.

February is a quiet month in Campbell River, BC. But the Winter Steelhead season is going strong in the local rivers and streams, while saltwater fishing offers up the ever-present Chinook. Not bad for a low season!

As spring gradually starts to appear, the fishing begins to change up. The Chinook Salmon begin to feed up more aggressively and are piling on the pounds, with most catches weighing in between six and 20 pounds.

Spring fishing starts to settle into its pattern more consistently. Full day trips are recommended at this time of year, with the biggest and best Salmon being a little further out. This is the end of the Winter Steelhead season.

As summer draws in, the fishing comes closer to the shore. Big Chinooks are following schools of herring and needlefish near town. You will be fishing with an amazing backdrop of spring colors and warmer weather.

Fishing starts to mix up, with more than just Chinook Salmon in Campbell River. Coho (Silver) Salmon shows up and will stay through September, and Summer Steelhead appears. Don't miss the Campbell River Salmon Derby.

July is when things start to get really exciting in Campbell River. This is the beginning of Tyee season, with Chinooks weighing over 30 lbs on the cards. Sockeye, Pink, and Coho Salmon join them. This is peak season!

Diehard sportfishing fans will want to visit Campbell River from August 1 through September 15. This is Tyee rowing season, when small boats go out to target big fish. Check out the Annual Campbell River SalmonFest.

As the tourist season draws to an end, those in the know head to the local waters. This is time for Chum Salmon. These may not be the biggest fish, but they trump everything else in terms of size to fight ratio!

Campbell River fishing is all about Chum Salmon in October, as this fierce fighter floods the local waters. Couple this with lower accommodation costs, and you could say this is the best time to fish in Campbell River.

By November, the mature Salmon have moved on to their respective spawning rivers. But that doesn't mean there's nothing here for anglers: feeding Chinook are caught to the south of the town and Winter Steelhead is back.

If you thought winter fishing in British Columbia was a no go, you should think again. As well as Winter Steelhead, anglers can test their skills against smaller Chinook Salmon offshore. There's always something to catch.

Campbell River Fishing Calendar

Campbell River
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Top Targeted Species in Campbell River

Salmon (Chinook)

Salmon (Coho)

Salmon (Sockeye)

Salmon (Chum)

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