14 Feb 5 Cool Places to go Salmon Fishing on Vancouver Island
Vancouver Island is a sport fishing paradise with unlimited options for freshwater and saltwater fishing. In this post we’ll focus on the best places to go saltwater salmon fishing on Vancouver Island.
One of the biggest draws of salmon fishing on Vancouver Island is it’s an affordable option compared to the fly-in lodges on British Columbia’s central and north coast. You can easily drive to Vancouver Island, find your own accommodations and get in some great fishing that won’t break the bank. There are lots of salmon fishing charters on Vancouver Island, here’s our list of the Top 5 Cool Places to go salmon fishing on Vancouver Island and the top charters to go with (in no particular order!).
Located on the central west coast of Vancouver Island is Tofino, one of the coolest places to visit in BC and a spot that’ll give you the opportunity at not only great salmon fishing but bottom and halibut fishing too! Remember, not everywhere on Vancouver Island has good bottom fishing, but Tofino does, making it one of our favs. So, why do we love Tofino? Well, Tofino has a great vibe, tons of excellent places to stay, the Ocean Village Tofino, is a personal favourite and a pile of superb places to fill your tummy, don’t miss going to the Wolf in the Fog, it was voted Canada’s top new restaurant and the food and drink menus are killer.
But back to the fishing, Tofino has a super long salmon fishing season and on its doorstep is the Salmon Super Highway. Salmon that are headed southbound to the Fraser and Columbia rivers (the two biggest salmon rivers in the world), swim right by Tofino. That means you can expect really consistent salmon fishing in Tofino all season long, from May to September. There is also lots of bottom fishing, halibut are a BC sport fishing favourite.
Getting to Tofino is relatively easy, here’s a Google Map from Vancouver to Tofino, but you can also fly direct. If you’re looking for the best Tofino salmon fishing charter, go with the pros at Cleanline Sportfishing or Wardo West Sport Fishing. Both are located right in Tofino and they run a full fleet of boats, capable of any sized group and happy to accommodate any experience level. Blake at Cleanline Sportfishing also offers Tofino fly fishing trips!
Campbell River has long been the most famous salmon fishing spot on Vancouver Island. Located on the central east coast of Vancouver Island, Campbell River has a long history of recreational salmon fishing and is often referred to as “The Salmon Capital of the World”. No doubt Campbell River saw a few hard years of fishing in the 90’s and early 2000’s but the fishing here has come back and local waters offer salmon fishing 365 days a year. Winter chinook (king) salmon fishing is solid from December right through April, as they come in to the waters of Campbell River and the Straight of Georgia to fatten up on the healthy populations of herring.
When is the best time to go salmon fishing in Campbell River? Anytime from May to September will afford you consistent salmon fishing. One of the big draws of salmon fishing in Campbell River is you can catch all species of Pacific salmon there, including chinooks, cohos, pinks, chums and sockeye. If you’re looking to combine your trip with bottom fishing, then it’s good to remember Campbell River bottom fishing options are very very limited, so keep salmon fishing the focus of this Vancouver Island destination.
There are plenty of hotel options in Campbell River, you can choose from a variety of waterfront hotels or a Campbell River AirBnB is also a good option, you can take your salmon home and have dinner that night. Expect about a four hour drive time from Vancouver, that’s including the ferry to Vancouver Island. If you’re looking for a great fishing charter in Campbell River there are lots of charters advertising at a variety of pricing, but the best Campbell River fishing charter for us has always been Coastal Wilderness Adventures run by Curtis Smith. Curtis runs a first class operation and has the reputation as the guy to fish with in Campbell River!
Looking for a bit of adventure for your Vancouver Island fishing trip, well then head north until you come to the end of the road. Port Hardy is located on the northern tip of Vancouver Island and is going to offer you a ton of awesome saltwater fishing options for salmon, bottom fishing and big halibut!
Why do we love fishing in Port Hardy? Well for one, the area is stunning, a true wilderness fishing experience in British Columbia that fits almost all budgets. And also, the fishing! Your patience with the drive will be rewarded, the fishing season in Port Hardy is long, offering solid fishing for chinook (king) salmon from May to September. Other species including coho (silver) salmon show up a bit later in the season, usually in July. If you really want to get into some awesome halibut fishing in British Columbia, without going to a lodge, then Port Hardy is going to be your spot. Accommodations options are limited, have a look at the EcoScape Cabins in Port Hardy, they’re a really nice option, overlooking the water and close to the charter boats. Getting to northern Vancouver Island isn’t tough, just takes a few hours, driving time from Vancouver to Port Hardy is around 7 hours, but you can split that up and enjoy the trip with stops along the way.
Who do you want to book a Port Hardy fishing charter with? That’s easy, you’ll want to check out Leisure Suit Charters run by pro guide, and all-round nice guy, Larry Weber. Larry has run his northern Vancouver Island fishing charter business for many years and just invested in a new boat for extra comfort. You’ll find him one of the most fun guys to fish with and runs a first class operation.
Comox for salmon fishing? You bet, Comox is one of the secret fishing spots on Vancouver Island that offers really good year round salmon fishing! Located between Campbell River and Nanaimo, Comox has all the benefits of more known fishing areas with much less pressure and lots of fun areas to fish. You can catch chinook (king) salmon 365 days a year from Comox, and the protected waters make for a comfortable trip for all anglers.
Getting to Comox from Vancouver is super easy, a quick ferry ride and short jaunt north on Vancouver Island’s main highway and you’ll be there, driving time from Vancouver, including the ferry, is less than four hours. There are only a few charter operations fishing from Comox and you’ll want to go with Steve Veloso and his team at Island Pursuit Sport Fishing. Steve runs a fleet of boats and his passion for saltwater fishing on Vancouver Island is evident when you’re on the water with him.
Plan on a day charter or a multi-day package. Island Pursuit Sport Fishing has teamed up with Crown Isle Resorts to bring you affordable Vancouver Island salmon fishing packages that include excellent resort accommodations and of course fun days on the water.
If you’re looking for a really cool fishing lodge on Vancouver Island then you’ll want to look south, to the town of Sooke. Sooke, British Columbia is a small coastal community on the southern tip of Vancouver Island, about 45 minutes west of Victoria, BC’s capital city. Sooke has long flown under the radar as a real sport fishing destination in BC, but is gaining notoriety for the long salmon fishing season anglers enjoy here.
The waters of southern Vancouver Island both salmon and halibut fishing without any big travel plans. If you’re in Victoria, you can pop out to Sooke for a day or two of fishing with ease, or if you’re coming from Vancouver, it’s a hop skip and a jump, with one short ferry ride. You can also fly in to the Victoria airport.
Hook up with Ryan Chamberland at Vancouver Island Lodge if you’re looking for a Vancouver Island package with fishing and accommodations. Vancouver Island Lodge is right on the water in Sooke, their boats are moored out front and they offer easy to enjoy packages at affordable all-inclusive prices.
Now that you’ve found a few cool places to go fishing on Vancouver Island, here’s a few tips to help plan your trip…
Getting there is easy, but if you’re driving from Vancouver you will need to take a ferry there. There are two ferry terminals close to Vancouver, Tsawwassen and Horseshoe Bay, departing from either of those will put you on Vancouver Island. Visit BC Ferries for more information and if you’re travelling in the summer months its a good idea to make a ferry reservation.
Once on Vancouver Island travelling around is safe, there is a system of highways and roads to get around with ease. Island folks are friendly and you’ll find lots of neat places to visit. A few of the favourite local Vancouver Island attractions include Butchart Gardens, Cathedral Grove home to some of BC’s biggest trees, and of course the Coombs Country Market with their rooftop goats!
Remember, you’ll need a saltwater fishing license if you’re fishing on Vancouver Island. Buying a fishing license is easy, you can visit this link to buy a saltwater fishing license.
Last but not least, some good things to pack if planning a Vancouver Island fishing trip include: rain jacket, rain pants (yes it rains lots), sunglasses, warm hats, camera gear, light gloves, some good layering and of course a pair of boots you don’t mind getting muddy!
About the Author
Yos Gladstone is the owner operator of Chromer Sport Fishing, a guiding company and booking agency based in British Columbia, Canada. A full-time salmon & steelhead guide, Yos spends 200+ days a year on the water fishing, guiding and hosting trips.