Alaska vs. Vancouver Island

Salmon fishing in Alaska has received plenty of media attention. It’s for a good reason, Alaska definitely has some fantastic salmon fishing. However, there is an unsung hero farther south down the coast in Canadian waters, and it goes by the name of Vancouver Island. Despite its relatively unspoken media presence, fishermen that have been to both might even argue that Vancouver Island is the real king of salmon fishing, especially towns like Ucluelet and Tofino on the west coast. Not sure you’re ready to give up your stake in Alaskan fishing to gamble on something new? Read on to be convinced that salmon fishing on Vancouver Island is less than a risk.


The Season

While Alaska typically has a tight peak time for catching great salmon, Vancouver Island’s season can go year-round if you know where to go. Ucluelet alone has a season that can span from March to October. Even peak time on Vancouver Island is 2-3 months long, not 2-3 weeks. Check out this handy chart to get an idea of when you want to come fishing (

The Numbers

A key thing to look for in a fishing area is how many river sources feed its waters. Alaska has the Yukon and the Kenai, which have seen dwindling numbers of chinook (King) salmon as the years have gone by. Vancouver Island’s waterways have multiple spawning rivers that flush the ocean with plenty of fish fresh for the catching. Using Ucluelet as an example again, just one of its sources, the Fraser River, saw more than half-a-million fish returning. With the addition of its other resources, you’re looking at close to a million salmon, while Alaska sees about 200,000.

The Fish

Besides king salmon, the classic prize for anglers coming to Alaska, Vancouver Island sees all five types of Pacific salmon. Second most desired are the Coho, which reach the Vancouver Island in great numbers and large sizes starting in July. There are also the tasty sockeye, where the Port Alberni Inlet is a go-to destination to reel in some supper. Aside from salmon, Vancouver Island is also a great place to snag halibut, which are another main reason angler’s trek all the way up north to Alaska. To learn more about the type of salmon there are in B.C. and on Vancouver Island, check out

The Weather

As far as storms, wind and heavy seas go, Vancouver Island is much more temperate than Alaska, even on the wild west coast. That means more days on the water fishing, and less sea sickness. There are also so many different areas to fish off of Vancouver Island, that you’re likely to find one that is more sheltered than others, but still produces fish. That makes it a perfect place for those that are prone to sea sickness, even in small swell.

The Consistency

It’s no secret that Alaska had to close its Chinook fishery early this year, which caused a lot of serious anglers to re-route to Ucluelet on Vancouver Island in order to fill their freezers. While Alaska has seen a lot of stock decline over the years, Vancouver Island has been less effected, and the fishing season is still going strong. Out of Victoria, B.C., you can even do some winter angling for chinook and halibut!

The Convenience

Rather than head all the way up north, Vancouver Island can be reached in a day from most places in Canada and many parts of the US. There is a major city nearby, and Ucluelet itself is a well-stocked town. All of your accommodation options are within couple minutes of the boats, too. While getting to Alaska can be quite the journey, getting to Vancouver Island is a scenic and easy feat. For more about getting to even as far as the west coast of Vancouver Island, check out

The Seclusion

Thanks to its lack of media, Vancouver Island is still a well-kept secret in the fishing world. That means you don’t have to share the waters with hundreds of other fishermen out to get the big one. With so many fishing hotspots, not everyone will pick the same destination, either. Even though there are larger destinations on Vancouver Island like Victoria, a number of the fishing towns still give you that remote fishing lodge vibe, without being littered with tons of lodges and traffic of a highly publicized place. Just because it isn’t all over the TV does not mean it isn’t a top spot to go.

The Beauty

Vancouver Island is a destination for a number of reasons, one of them being its unique, stunning beauty. Mountains, towering forests and incredible oceans and rivers await on this rock off the coast of British Columbia. At times, it is a mystical place where whales splash, cougars and bears roam, and the giant forests seem to be telling each other secrets. The west coast also offers its own unique brand of Pacific Northwest beauty, with a raw, rugged and wild essence of the coast that will steal your breath just as much as reeling in a Tyee will.

The Activities

While Alaska is very fishing oriented, Vancouver Island is the perfect place to escape to, even if you have friends and family that don’t want to just salmon fish. There is so much to do! From whale watching and bear watching, to foraging, hiking, skiing, beach combing, wine tasting and numerous other activities, there’s something for everyone. On Vancouver Island, you can be guilt free while out on the boat, knowing that your significant other is having just as much fun exploring everything Vancouver has to offer on land.


So, there’s the comparison, the rest is up to you! If you’re not sure about Vancouver Island, check out this charter company’s guarantee – they’re so confident in the fishing on Vancouver Island that they swear by 50lbs a day. You can learn more about the different areas on Vancouver Island at