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Top Halibut Fishing Charters in Vancouver Island


  • Size 20 to 150lbs
  • Food Value Excellent
  • Game Qualities Good
  • Habitats Nearshore, Offshore

Halibut Fishing in Vancouver Island

Chances are you’ve heard of the Halibut fishing Vancouver Island is famous for. If you haven’t, prepare to see this pancake-shaped creature in a whole new light. Locals go crazy for the humble Halibut, whether they’re reeling in 10-20 lb “chickens” or “barn doors” weighing hundreds of pounds. While the 200 lb whoppers never fail to impress, it’s the smaller fish you want to catch at the end of the day, since these are the tastiest.

Where to Fish for Halibut

Halibut season usually opens in spring and continues until September, or until the annual quota is met. You’ll find great Halibut fishing from the southern Gulf Islands all the way up the west coast of Vancouver Island. Excellent opportunities continue along the north coast and down past Port Hardy on the upper east coast, into the protected waters between the island and the mainland.

The most productive Halibut fishing grounds are off the north and west coasts of Vancouver Island. Charter boats in Tofino, Ucluelet, and Port Renfrew have access to some of the best fishing spots, including the infamous Swiftsure Bank at the entrance to Juan de Fuca Strait. Early in the season, anglers catch Halibut just several miles from shore. The protected waters of Barkley and Clayoquot Sound also hold lots of Halis, and it’s not uncommon to catch this fish while trolling for Salmon.

As summer progresses, Halibut move offshore, drawing anglers into the Strait of Juan de Fuca and the Pacific Ocean. Many local charter boats head straight to Swiftsure Bank, about an hour-long boat ride from Port Renfrew.

How to Fish

Halibut aren’t the smartest fish in the sea, but they are great fun to catch and enticing them takes a fair bit of know-how. Local guides spend years finding the most productive spots and honing their techniques, which vary depending on conditions like current, bottom structure, and how deep the water is.

The basic rule of thumb is this: fish near the seafloor using the smelliest bait possible. Some anglers prefer to drift fish while others deep troll using Salmon gear. In some cases, you may even try both. You’ll have great success by jigging artificial lures or fresh bait like Herring, Rockfish, or Octopus. If fresh bait is unavailable, some anglers add oils and pastes to the bait to enhance the odor, since Halibut hunt mainly by scent.

You can expect to use heavy tackle with 80-100 lbs test line. If you hook into one of the bigger Halis swimming in these waters, get ready for a lengthy fight. Many charter boats have a fighting chair or harness to make sure you’re well equipped to win the battle.

Need to Know

Anglers age 16 and above must purchase a tidal waters fishing license. Non-residents who plan to fish Swiftsure Bank need to buy their license in person.

Vancouver Island Halibut fishing regulations change from year to year, so keep an eye out for updates before your trip. The season usually opens in March or April. Anglers can keep up to 2 Halibut during the open season. Any Halibut longer than 133 cm (52.4 inches, or 60-70 lbs) must be released.


  • Size 20 to 150lbs
  • Food Value Excellent
  • Game Qualities Good
  • Habitats Nearshore, Offshore

Vancouver Island Halibut Fishing Seasons

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Halibut fishing in Vancouver Island varies slightly throughout the year. High season is April to August. Low season is January to February and October to December. There is no closed season.

What People Are Saying About Halibut Fishing in Vancouver Island

"Half day with captain Sean stayed very active and fun. "

Lewis Bonner fished with Hali Hunter - Comox on May 31, 2019

The captain kept us in the catching mode almost the entire time. Caught and released many smaller sized chinook and a keeper cod. We were hoping for a halibut but was a little early in the season. Captain Sean is a hard worker and has lots of interesting stories.

"Half Day Halibut Trip"

Barry Ryan fished with Reel Life Charters on May 25, 2019

Great day on the water with Captain Travis. We were out for halibut and managed to catch a very nice sized brute. Experience was great all-around if we'd caught more halibut is the only way it could have possibly been any better. Captain was top-notch and would highly recommend fishing with Reel Life Charters to anyone. Will be booking with him again in the future.

"We booked a two day trip"

Julius Debaar fished with Spring Roll Sportfishing – Port Renfrew on February 1, 2019

Nick is a amazing guide , he knows where the fish are and works hard to get them . His boat is in hreat shape , he keeps it all clean and tidy. We got our limit on Halibut and springs every day . Nixk sets out several crab traps as well they where a delicious bonus. We booked again for this year.
Vancouver Island
Based on 11,633 reviews by FishingBooker anglers

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