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Top Fishing Charters in Port Alberni
Fishing in Port Alberni
Anglers spend their time in Port Alberni fishing one of the largest Salmon runs in the world. No less than 5 different species pass through these waters, with millions of fish making the journey each year. From Barkley Sound and Alberni Inlet to the fresh waters of the Somass and Stamp Rivers, these fish will keep you busy all year. Just in case you had any doubts about how great the fishing is, there’s a sign on the outskirts of town with a subtle reminder that this is indeed “the Salmon capital of the world.”
Tucked away in the Alberni Inlet at the heart of Vancouver Island, this little fishing town offers anglers some very special opportunities. Port Alberni’s Sockeye Salmon run keeps getting better every year, giving Campbell River a real run for its money when it comes to their reputation for the world’s best Salmon fishing. Some might say the decision has already been made, seeing as the World Fishing Network crowned Port Alberni “Canada’s Ultimate Fishing Town” in 2010.
Friendly competition aside, this really is one of the best places to cast lines in British Columbia, if not the entire world. There’s no better proof than the scores of Port Alberni fishing charters that return to shore each day with hefty catches and some serious bragging rights.
Port Alberni Fishing Spots
Alberni Inlet is the gateway between Barkley Sound and the Salmon’s freshwater spawning grounds, which is the very reason why fishing in Port Alberni takes the cake. Some of the most productive fishing grounds in the inlet are just minutes from the dock, giving visitors a chance to make the most of this fishery on a half day trip. You can even make it back to shore with plenty of time for a local restaurant to cook up your catch for lunch.
The crown jewel of Port Alberni’s fishing scene is Sockeye Salmon, arguably the most delicious of all species. Hundreds of thousands of Sockeye make their way through Alberni Inlet in May and continue showing up until September. The fishing season typically starts in June, and the inlet will be swarming with charter boats by the middle of the month.
Summer Chinook and Coho are the next to arrive, entering the inlet in June and sticking around as late as November in some cases. The biggest specimens appear at the end of August and beginning of September. Around the same time, Pink and Chum Salmon join the club, leading many anglers up into the rivers. Cold fronts cause Sockeye to move into the rivers as well, which makes for some outstanding freshwater action.
While Alberni Inlet is all about summer Salmon migration, Barkley Sound provides a study supply of winter Chinook and other fish throughout the year. Roughly 30 miles away from Port Alberni, it takes charter boats about an hour to reach these fishing grounds. You’ll find no shortage of full day trips (8-10 hours) to Barkley Sound for a haul of Salmon, Halibut, Lingcod, Rockfish, Crab, and more.
The resident Chinook here average 8-12 lbs. You can catch these small but hard-fighting fish in the deep waters of the sound between February and March. Come May, summer Chinook start showing up, followed closely by a series of Coho runs between June and September. By late summer, Coho will reach up to 15 lbs while some Chinook will surpass 30 lbs, earning them the esteemed title of Tyee.
The Broken Group Islands and Beyond
Barkley Sound holds a smattering of more than 100 tiny islands, many of them rife with Halibut, Rockfish, Crab, and Salmon, depending on the season. The Broken Group and Deer Group Islands are favorites among local anglers, especially when it comes to Halibut fishing.
As you head toward the Pacific Ocean, you’ll find plenty of productive spots along the edge of the sound, too. Sail Rock is one such place, known for hosting hordes of Halibut and surfline Salmon. You’ll recognize this spot because, true to its name, the triangular rocks rising from the waves look like sails. When the seas get rough, you can slip around the corner back into protected waters.
The Stamp and Somass Rivers
The freshwater fishing in Port Alberni is just as fantastic as the fishing offshore. Light tackle and fly fishermen can have a field day hooking into Salmon, Trout, and Steelhead while fishing along the Stamp and Somass River systems every month of the year.
If you’re eager to wet a few lines during winter but don’t feel like making the trek out to Barkley Sound, these rivers are the perfect solution. October and early November are a great time for fly fishing, when anglers catch Chinook, Coho, and fall Steelhead. Fishing for winter Steelhead starts in December and runs through late April. You can expect excellent freshwater fishing in warmer months as well, especially when the weather cools off for a few days and Salmon move into the rivers and creeks.
Spring is a great time to head to Sproat Lake, being just a 15 minute drive northwest of Port Alberni. Fishing in April and early summer will bring you Steelhead and Rainbow Trout. You’ll find Cutthroat Trout here too, but this fish is strictly catch-and-release.
Port Alberni Fishing Styles
Trolling for Salmon
Trolling takes on many forms in British Columbia, from surface trolling with spoons and bucktail flies to mooching with Anchovies. Anchovies are the bait of choice when it comes to Chinook, while Sockeyes are partial to hoochies (a squid-like lure fished with a flasher).
While fishing in Barkley Sound during summer, you might bucktail for Coho Salmon, a form of trolling that involves dragging a bucktail fly or Coyote spoon at 5-8 knots. Your guide may also have you mooching for Salmon, which involves trolling a rigged bait several feet off the bottom while maintaining a 45-degree angle.
Anglers rely on various bottom fishing tactics for Halibut, Lingcod, and Rockfish species. Some anglers deep troll for Halibut, as well. Halis take to jigs and Octopus, among other baits.
You can have great success fishing the lakes and rivers around Port Alberni with light tackle or fly fishing gear. Conventional gear with spinners, blades, and Gibbs Coho spoons works well when fishing the Stamp River for Coho. Steelhead take to gooey bobs and woll in pink, orange, or white.
It’s common to slow troll or still fish on the lakes for Rainbow Trout. This species bites Ford Fenders, Flatfish, and plugs. Fly fishing also produces great results, especially when slowly trolling a marabou leech.
Need to Know
Port Alberni fishing charters do not provide a fishing license for their customers, so you should plan to purchase your own ahead of time. Saltwater anglers can buy a tidal water fishing license online. A day license for non-residents costs 7.35 CAD (price subject to change).
If you plan on river or lake fishing, you will need a BC freshwater fishing license (20 CAD for a day license, price subject to change).
Anglers also need to have a Salmon Conservation Stamp (6.30 CAD) attached to their fishing license.
Size and bag limits apply to many species in British Columbia and some are not always open to harvest. The Rockfish season typically opens in spring. Halibut season may stay closed as late as April in some years. Sockeye season is also subject to closures, depending on conditions. Some Salmon species are only available for catch-and-release during certain periods.
You can stay up to date on local regulations ahead of time online.
Port Alberni Fishing Seasons
Port Alberni Fishing Calendar
What People Are Saying About Port Alberni
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Top Targeted Species in Port Alberni
- Size 20 to 150lbs
- Food Value Excellent
- Game Qualities Good
- Habitats Nearshore, Offshore
- Size 10 to 35lbs
- Food Value Good
- Game Qualities Low
- Habitats Nearshore, Offshore
- Food Value Excellent
- Game Qualities None
- Habitats Inshore, Nearshore, Offshore, River
Top Fishing Charters
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