Fishing on Vancouver Island: Where, Why and When

Vancouver Island is a great fishing destination, and there is more than one place to choose from when it comes to top angling. From the North-East, to South and West, each area of the Island offers something different, and something for every kind of fisherman. Whether you are the king or queen of fly fishing, love riding the waves of the open ocean, or have a knack for jigging for lingcod, Vancouver Island has the destination for you. Learn about the where, why and when for each area of Vancouver Island to determine where you should book your next fishing vacation.


West is Best

To kick it off, we’ll take a look at the west coast of Vancouver Island, namely Bamfield, Tofino and Ucluelet. Not only do the world-renown beaches of Tofino and trails of Ucluelet and Bamfield make it an enticing destination for the post-fishing evenings, but it also has some of the top salmon fishing in Canada. The history of fishing runs deep in these towns, and for many of the guides in the area, it seems to pump through their blood. You’re almost guaranteed to have a west coast fishing veteran show you the ropes.

What’s best to catch:

Chinook: The Chinook fishing season starts early on the coast and lasts all summer long, even as late as October. Come March, boats spend all day bringing them in, and by July, the big Tyees start rolling into the boats.

Coho: The Coho run typically arrives mid-June and they are great fun thanks to their acrobatics and strong bite. While anglers can only keep the Coho with trimmed adipose fins, they still put up a great fight and last for the rest of the summer. They’re a great option for ocean fly fishermen, too.

Halibut: Until about mid to late August, the halibut fishing is usually quite fantastic. Although a challenge with the weather at times for safe anchoring, some pretty monster halibut make their way up to the boat in the West Coast. If patience is a virtue you possess, you’ll certainly be rewarded with some tasty white meat.

Lingcod: Despite their ugly appearance, lingcod are some of the tastiest white meat to be found. Luckily, there are plenty to be caught off the west coast, so even if salmon fishing is slow, reeling in some lingcod is always an option. They can be caught year-round, sometimes just by shore casting.


Fishing on the coast is usually a late winter-early fall kind of activity, with the peak running from Mid-June to Mid-September. Before or after that time, those powerful west coast winds have a habit of keeping boats off the water. The west coast is also a great destination if you have friends or family that want to come on a trip, but don’t want to fish the whole time. With so much to do, they’ll hardly notice you’ve been gone all day trying to reel in the big one.



Central Island

While sometimes still considered part of the west, Port Alberni lies closer to the center of the Island. It is a famous destination to catch your fill of Sockeye in the river as they make their journey. The rest of central Vancouver Island is great for if you want variety in your fishing. Saltwater, freshwater, lakes, rivers, casting, trolling and fly fishing… The only thing it’s really missing is ice fishing. Campbell River, Qualicum, Deep Bay, Courtenay/Comox and Cowichan Valley are the other main destinations, with Campbell River self-proclaimed as the Salmon Capital of the World.”

What to Catch:

All five of the Pacific salmon species – pink, chum, sockeye, coho and chinook – can be caught on the east coast of the Island throughout the year, and each provides a different type of fishing. Pinks are great for introducing new anglers into the world of fly fishing. Sockeye is the tastiest meat around, rich with fatty acids and omega 3’s. Coho and Chinook are great to fight, with Chinook being the main trophy fish thanks to their size. Chum, while underrated stick around the longest an are also great fighters.

When to Fish:

When really depends on the kind of fish you’re fighting for. Early June is the beginning of the Chinook and Coho runs, while Chum stick around until October. If you want the chance to catch them all, pay a visit in July, August and early September.


South Island Salmon

When winter rolls around and the east and west are forces to be contended with, most anglers head to the south. In fact, all five types of fish roll through the area – Chinook at least once every month. Sooke, Port Renfrew and Sidney are also great for South Island fishing, and Port Renfrew is far removed from the city, allowing for a true fishing village vibe.

The Salmon:

All five types of Pacific salmon can be found in the waters of the south. Having something to fish for year-round makes the south a fisherman’s paradise. Although it’s typically not as great of fishing as the west and east, it definitely gives you something to do in the winter!

Aside from salmon, plenty of anglers drop a line for halibut, too.

When to Go:

The best time for the larger Chinook is late summer and fall. Runs of Pink, Sockeye, Chum and Coho tend to hit the waters around the same time.


The Rugged North

The towns of the North Island are the picture-perfect fishing town brought to life. With a mind on fishing and not much else, your attempts to land any of five types of pacific salmon will not be in vain. Telegraph Cove (more famous for its whale watching), Port Hardy, Winter Harbour, Port Alice and Port McNeill are the main destinations up North, and each has its own special something to offer.

What to Fish For:

While all of the five types of Pacific salmon tend to spawn down south, they do migrate up north, so you can try your lucky for any of them depending on the time of year you make the trip. Chinook, Pink, Sockeye, Coho and Chum tend to arrive in that order and mean that all different types of angling are available.

When you should Go:

For Chinook, head up North early June to catch the beginning, or any time of the season for that matter. They typically stick around all summer long.

Pink arrive just after the chinook in July – again these are a beginner angler’s dream as they are good for light tackle, aren’t as large, but still put up a nice little fight.

After the pink, the sockeye roll in late summer and are some of the tastiest meat on the west coast of British Columbia. Bright red, just like their spawning skin, they’re definitely a hot commodity in the kitchen.

With the sockeye come the coho, but the largest of the pack don’t get in until September. These are fast bighters and tough fighters, often adding in some acrobatics for flair.

Last but not least, the Chum arrive late and sick around until the middle of October. When all else fails, there are always halibut and lingcod to go for, as well as plenty of different rock fish just like on the west coast. Fly fishermen also love to take on fishing for trout, as well as pink, coho and sockeye salmon.


Best Spots for Fishing Charters

If you are looking to go on a fishing trip to have a great time and catch salmon and halibut, I would recommend Ucluelet. It is the easiest location to get to on Vancouver Island combined with great fishing for both salmon and halibut. Check out Salmon Eye Fishing Charters in Ucluelet as they come in as one of the best recommended charters on Vancouver Island.

For other fishing on Vancouver Island, check out


Idaho Chinook deserve more spill

By Tom Stuart

Bonneville_damLast summer, more than a million fall chinook salmon returned to the Columbia River. This blessing for the Columbia and its fishing towns has lessons for Idaho, where returns of our most valuable salmon, spring/summer chinook, were poor in 2013 and have now been poor three years in a row.

First, a million fall chinook in the Columbia shows Idaho the sweet promise of what we could have. Fishing was great for people and businesses on the Columbia this year. And large numbers of uncaught salmon gave back to the circle with their deaths, nourishing their next generation and all other life along the river. Imagine 400,000 wild spring/summer chinook — 10 times this year’s return — streaming regularly into the heart of Idaho. Imagine the boon to people and towns. This isn’t nostalgic reverie. It can happen, with good policies.

Second, most of those fall chinook returned to the Columbia’s Hanford Reach. Hanford Reach has two qualities critical for salmon: it flows freely, and its salmon have only four dams to deal with as they migrate to and from the ocean. Its salmon have a living river and face half the dams Idaho’s salmon do.

Third, Hanford Reach salmon have benefited since 2006 from regular water spills over their four dams each summer, moving ocean-bound young salmon the safest way possible. This moderate but guaranteed spill occurs because Idaho fishermen and the Nez Perce Tribe, among others, won it by court injunction in 2005. It’s been in effect for eight years, and it is working.

Of course, Idaho’s salmon and steelhead have also benefited from these regular spills. But with eight dams to get past, the benefits are more a holding pattern against extinction than a truly restorative measure. Most scientists agree that restoring the lower Snake River, by removing four unnecessary dams, is the best restorative measure.

Right now, the lower Snake dams, and their damage to Idaho salmon, remain. So, Idaho fishing groups are focused first on expanding spill at the eight dams between Idaho and the ocean. After eight years’ proven success from the moderate spill levels ordered by the court, science, common sense and business sense agree that the smart step is to expand spill for five to 10 years. This will further boost salmon survival and also test how much spill alone can do to put salmon on a path to recovery.

The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife has developed an expanded spill test for the Snake and Columbia and is asking for federal support for it. The most recent salmon plan, released by NOAA Fisheries Jan. 17, does not include expanded spill; we are disappointed, and this serious omission and other shortcomings in the plan may force us back into court.

Free-flowing rivers work. Idaho hosts 5,000 miles of free-flowing salmon habitat, the most in the lower 48. But eight dams, not two or four, choke access to Idaho. As long as they stand, lesson three from Hanford Reach fall chinook applies: Spill works, and a several-year test of expanded spill, across different water years, should occur at federal dams now. The NW Energy Coalition, which has a better track record on spill costs than dam agencies do, says costs are relatively small and affordable. Our best salmon scientists and most experienced fishermen project that more spill will bring more salmon.

Some scientists believe expanded spill could help salmon enough to take lower Snake dam removal off the table. We doubt it, but there’s a way to find out. If you need a reason, look at what a million fall chinook did last year for fishing, fishing towns and the river itself on the Columbia.

Tom Stuart is a longtime board member of Idaho Rivers United and the current board chair of the national Save Our Wild Salmon coalition.

Read more here:


Award recognition for River Frome enhancement project

By Harry Hogger, Dorchester

Dorset Echo: CHEQUE IT OUT: Bridge over the River Frome at Lower Bockhampton

Dorset Echo: TRAVERSE: From left Richard Slocock, vice-chairman of the FP &WDFA with Zoe Pittaway and Dr Anton Ibbotson, Lead Project Scientist for the Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust

A PROJECT to enhance the River Frome has been recognised for its work.

The Enhancing the River Frome, the Final Furlong scheme overseen by the Frome, Piddle and West Dorset Fisheries Association (FP&WDFA) has won a £500 Wessex Watermark Award.

The award will help with the ongoing management work being carried out along the River Frome that has helped return the dwindling stocks of migratory salmonids to the spawning beds above Dorchester.

Wessex Water’s catchment co-ordinator Zoe Pittaway handed over the award to the association when she paid a visit to the Freshwater Biological Association River Laboratory at East Stoke near Wareham.

The FP&WDFA’s ambitious project began back in 2006 with the aim of giving the migratory salmonids – which include salmon and trout – access to the pristine spawning gravels of the upper Frome.

It was achieved by removing manmade barriers in the river, improving river band erosion caused by cattle poaching and installing the Louds Mill fish pass at Dorchester.

The association worked closely with the Westcountry Rivers Trust and the Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust’s East Stoke Fisheries Research Station. FP&WDFA chairman Charles Dutton said: “We have adopted a policy of letting mother-nature repair herself.

“So far we have seen an improvement by removing two major in-river barriers.

“We have two more major obstacles to remove and when that has been achieved it will open up 54.6km of pristine virgin spawning waters in the Frome’s upper catchment.

“Survival of the young fish over their first winter to the smolt stage is nearly twice as good in the upper Frome than in the lower Frome, meaning that more young salmon and sea-trout will make it out to sea.

“This grant will enable us to complete the barrier removal work we have been planning.”

The Watermark Award provides funds for environmental projects within the Wessex Water area and has supported over 900 initiatives in the last two decades.

The awards are organised by The Conservation Foundation and all projects are judged by a panel chaired by its president David Bellamy.

To mark the 20th anniversary of the Watermark Award scheme Wessex Water has also launched a special award to specifically support water conservation projects in the region.

The Sustainable Watermark scheme will run until March and has £10,000 to support groups in the area with up to £2,000 available for single projects.

This article can be seen at:


Major US retailers reject ‘frankenfish’

mutantsalmonA number of top US grocery stores, including Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods, have pledged to reject selling the genetically engineered “frankenfish” if it is allowed on the market in April.

The mutant fish was engineered by scientists at a company called AquaBounty, which has spent more than 15 years and $50 million researching and perfecting the frankenfish. The mutants can grow to market size in 16-18 months, rather than the usual 30 months required for the Atlantic salmon. The Food and Drug Administration began its approval process in 2010, and in December decided that the fish is safe enough to be consumed.

The FDA is still conducting its final review of the genetically engineered salmon and retailers expect it to be on store shelves soon. But a coalition of consumer, health, food safety and fishing groups representing more than 2,000 US stores have taken a stand against GE fish and have pledged not to sell it, due to safety concerns and unanswered questions about consuming genetically engineered products.

Trader Joe’s, Aldi, Whole Foods, and Marsh are some of the stores that will refuse to put the frankenfish on its shelves.

“We won’t sell genetically engineered fish because we don’t believe it is sustainable or healthy,” Trudy Bialic from PCC Natural Markets in Washington State told Consumer’s Union. “It is troubling that the FDA is recommending approval of AquaBounty’s salmon as a ‘new animal drug,’ subjecting these engineered creatures to less rigorous safety standards than food additives. That’s not a credible safety assessment.”

Stores like Walmart, Costco and Safeway, however, have not expressed any opposition to selling the mutant salmon, which is likely to be cheaper due to its expedited growth.

AquaBounty has been trying to obtain FDA approval for the frankenfish for the past 17 years, but their engineering has come with a wave of opposition from people concerned about the possible long-term effects of consuming a genetically engineered fish. The fish contains DNA from the eelpout, a ray-finned fish that resembles an eel with its elongated body. Scientists have long been studying the eelpout to see if it can be used to accelerate growth rates of other fish or even to preserve human tissue and organs. But if the FDA allows the mutant salmon on store shelves, it will be the first ever genetically engineered animal deemed safe for consumption.

Scientists are concerned that the FDA has been lax about its decision and might be making a mistake by allowing grocery stores to sell such a creature.

“There are still unanswered safety and nutritional questions and the quality of the data that was submitted to the FDA was the worst stuff I’ve ever seen submitted for a GMO,” Consumers Union senior scientist Michael Hansen told Alternet in early 2013. “There’s stuff there that couldn’t make it through a high school science class.”

It is likely that the FDA will not label the genetically engineered fish as having been scientifically manipulated. Patty Lovera, assistant director of Food & Water Watch, is afraid that consumers won’t recognize the mutant fish on store shelves and purchase the produce without knowing where it came from – even if they would otherwise have a problem with consuming such a questionable species.

“Most consumers don’t want to eat genetically engineered salmon, but without mandatory labeling it will be hard for them to avoid,” she told Consumers Union. “That’s why the stores who have committed to not to sell genetically engineered seafood are making a smart move and giving their customers what they want — a way to avoid this controversial, unnecessary biotech fish.”

But despite the wave of opposition by non-GMO campaigners, “not a single new scientific or legal argument has been presented to the FDA,” AquaBounty CEO Dr. Ronald Stotish told FoodNavigator. He expects the engineered fish to be on the market by late 2013.

This article was taken here.

Biologists are forecasting the best run of fall chinook salmon to the Columbia River in almost a decade

salmon_chinookphoto courtesy Idaho Fish & Game

Biologists are forecasting the best run of fall chinook salmon to the Columbia River in almost a decade with expectations for a record-high return of bright fish to central Washington.

The forecast, released late last week, predicts a return of 677,900 fall chinook to the Columbia, the highest return since 2004 and significantly larger than the actual return of 512,300 a year ago.

Particularly encouraging is the forecast for a record-high 432,500 “upriver brights,’’ mostly wild-spawning fish produced from the free-flowing Hanford Reach downstream of Priest Rapids Dam near the Tri-Cities.

The highest actual return of upriver brights was 420,700 in 1987. Upriver brights fuel catches at places such as the mouth of the Cowlitz River, Kalama, Vancouver and Government Island.

“Upriver bright chinook have been the foundation of fall salmon stocks since their big comeback in the 1980s,” said Guy Norman, regional director of the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife. “There are a number of actions that have contributed, including protection of the free-flowing Columbia River in the Hanford Reach, the United States salmon treaty with Canada, and improved dam passage conditions for migrating juveniles.”

Another forecast for a record high is for bright fall chinook returning to the hatcheries of the Bonneville, The Dalles and John Day pools of the Columbia River Gorge. The forecast is for 70,000 in 2013.

The actual return in 2012 was 46,300 and the existing high is 67,400 in 2003.

Fall chinook returns to the Columbia are categorized in six different stock groups.

Four of the groups are “bright’’ fish, while two are “tules,’’ which are dark-skinned and generally less desirable in mainstem Columbia sport and commercial fisheries but power Washington ocean and Buoy 10 fisheries where they are brighter.

Here’s a look at the six stocks:

Lower River hatchery — These are tules headed for hatcheries such as Cowlitz, Kalama and Washougal. The forecast is for 88,000, which is similar to the five-year average of 87,000 and the 2012 return of 84,800.

These fish are important because they are used as surrogates in fisheries to determine the strength of wild-spawning chinook in the catches.

Lower river wild — These are bright wild-spawners, mostly in the North Fork of the Lewis River downstream of Merwin Dam, but also in the Sandy and Cowlitz rivers. The forecast is 14,200, equal to the 10-year average and similar to 13,900 of 2012.

Bonneville pool hatchery — Another tule stock, these chinook are headed mostly for Spring Creek National Fish Hatchery in eastern Skamania County. The forecast of 38,000 is about 40 percent of the 10-year average and quite a bit less than the actual return of 56,800 in 2012.

Bonneville upriver brights — These are produced at Bonneville Hatchery on the Oregon side of the Columbia downstream of Bonneville Dam. The forecast is for 35,200, which would be almost triple the 12,400 of 2012 and similar to the average of 39,100.

Pool upriver brights — These are reared at Little White Salmon, Klickitat and Umatilla hatcheries. The forecast, as mentioned above, is 70,000.

Upriver brights — Besides Hanford Reach, these are produced at Priest Rapids and Ringold hatcheries and the Snake River, plus lesser numbers in the Yakima and Deschutes rivers.

Coho — Finally, some good news about Columbia River coho salmon. The biologists predict there will be 501,100 Columbia-origin coho out in the ocean this summer, a much better number than the forecast of 317,200 in 2012 and the bleak actual return of 170,300.

The five-year average is 404,700 coho.

“It’s good news, better than we’ve seen for a while,’’ said Steve Watrous of Vancouver, Washington sport-fishing representative to the Pacific Fishery Management Council.

While it takes 700,000 to 1 million coho to have excellent fishing in August and September at Buoy 10 at the mouth of the Columbia River, a half million coho is a move in the right direction, Watrous said.

The forecast calls for 331,600 early coho and 169,500 late coho.

Early coho enter the Columbia River from mid-August to mid-September and tend to migrate south from the river mouth while in the ocean.

Late coho enter the Columbia from mid-September into late November with the peak in mid-October. They migrate north from the Columbia River.

A large number of early coho normally results in better catches at Buoy 10. Article taken from here.