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The Salmon fishing Vancouver Island has to offer is nothing short of sensational. It’s easy to see why, given the fact that anglers have access to freshwater, saltwater, and 5 different kinds of Salmon swimming in both. Millions of Salmon pass by the island each year on their annual migrations, giving anglers a chance to hook into some of the biggest and tastiest of them.
The Island’s prime Salmon season runs from mid summer to fall in most areas, when every species makes an appearance. The most anticipated summer Salmon are Tyees, trophy Chinook weighing 30 lbs or more. In some places, droves of mouth-watering Sockeye take the cake instead. When the summer hype fades away, many charter boats shut down for the winter—except for those with access to winter Chinook fishing that will keep them busy until next summer.
Top Salmon Fishing Spots
You’ll find excellent Salmon fishing all over Vancouver Island, but there are a few special places that put all others to shame. Each one of them has something different to offer, whether it’s a killer winter fishing season or a summer run that’s 1 million fish strong. If you’re a diehard Salmon fan, be sure to put these destinations at the top of your list:
Long regarded as the “Salmon Fishing Capital of the World,” Campbell River on the east coast of the island offers a unique blend of freshwater and saltwater Salmon fishing that you don’t see every day. You’ll find all 5 Pacific species swimming past Campbell River in summer as they make their way through Discovery Passage to their spawning grounds. Almost every Salmon that passes through BC swims this way, turning the local waters into a real who’s-who of Vancouver Island Salmon fishing. Even when the hustle and bustle dies down, anglers here hook into feeder Chinook all year.
On the other hand, the Campbell River itself offers superb freshwater Salmon fishing from July through mid November. Fly anglers have a blast catching all 5 species in the the river and numerous streams connecting to it. Locals have embraced this world renowned fishery to the fullest, offering specialty trips like “Snorkel with Salmon” so visitors can get up close and personal with the town’s claim to fame.
If any town can rival the Salmon fishing in Campbell River, it’s Port Alberni. In fact, the friendly competition between these two destinations grows more and more intense each year—if you don’t believe it, just take a look at the sign outside Port Alberni asserting that this is in fact the true Salmon fishing capital.
Just over 90 miles south of Campbell River, Port Alberni also offers a mix of freshwater and saltwater Salmon fishing. The local speciality is little different, however, with extra emphasis on Sockeye Salmon. Hundreds of thousands of this species enter Alberni Inlet in May and provide non-stop action through September as they make their way into the Stamp and Somass rivers to return to their spawning grounds. Chinook and Coho Salmon are right behind them, followed by Chum and Pink Salmon at the end of summer. In total, more than one million Salmon migrate past Port Alberni each year, making it a go-to destination for the diehard fan.
Anglers follow the Salmon up into the Stamp and Somass rivers, where it’s easy to spend all day indulging in stellar fly fishing. A brief cold front at the end of summer can push Sockeye Salmon into the local streams for additional freshwater fishing perks.
Victoria has made a nice little niche for itself in Vancouver Island’s reputation for Salmon fishing, mostly because it offers exceptionally good Chinook fishing all through winter. Salmon fishing is a non-stop pastime here in the capital city, whether you’re after hard-fighting feeder Chinook or the Tyees that arrive in summer.
Anglers target juvenile Chinook from October through May. When it comes to sheer numbers, this fish hits its peak from November to late April. By the time these 5-20 lb specimens fade out, Tyees move in to keep up the pace. They’re joined by the rest of the species between August and December, giving local anglers a chance to catch all 5 kinds of Pacific Salmon long after they’ve disappeared from other places on the island.
Vancouver Island Salmon Fishing Techniques
When it comes to saltwater fishing, anglers on Vancouver Island rely on two methods: trolling and mooching. Trolling with Anchovies, spoons, and squid-like lures called “hoochies” will help you catch multiple Salmon species, depending on the season.
A special technique that proves effective in areas like Tofino is “bucktailing,” which involves trolling a bucktail jig behind the boat. This method works especially well for Coho Salmon that feed near the surface in deep water, or in the sounds.
Yet another tactic that locals rely on is “mooching,” a form of deep trolling which keeps the bait several feet of the seafloor while dragging the line at a 45-degree angle.
Fly fishermen have great success while fishing for Salmon in the freshwater rivers and streams on Vancouver Island. An 8-weight fly rod will stand you in good stead. Locals have very specific bait recommendations depending on where you fish, so be sure to ask around for advice.
Vancouver Island Salmon (Chinook) Fishing Seasons
What People Are Saying About Salmon (Chinook) Fishing in Vancouver Island
"An afternoon chinook fishing with Steve"
It was a beezy day, and although we found the bait fish where the salmon should be, we struggled to catch managing a couple of chinook and a couple of rockfish. This was slightly off season, but you couldn't fault the skipper's efforts and would use again
" Half-day with Captain Blake "
Weather was incredible and the fish were very cooperative. Our first time salmon fishing and captain Blake gave us a trip to remember!
"Full 8hr trip "
Jessy our guild new where the fish were and put us on them, we did great with salmon but currents were to fast for bottom fishing so we did not wast time for bottom fish Over all great trip, lots of good laughs and plenty of fresh fish in freezer
Top Salmon (Chinook) Fishing Charters in Vancouver Island
Nearby Salmon (Chinook) Fishing Destinations
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