halibut & salmon Fishing Spots

A list of popular saltwater fishing locations on Vancouver Island.

When you have two close communities vying for the Salmon Fishing Capital of the World, you know the fishing is truly world class.

The waters around Vancouver Island teem with five salmon species: the feisty coho, the tasty sockeye, the wiley chum, the impossible-not-to-catch pink, and the top catch of all - the mighty chinook (aka: King Salmon). There's also fishing for a variety of other saltwater fin fish, most notably halibut.

The Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) publishes an annual booklet on saltwater fishing. Available at DFO offices and marine stores, this booklet has up-to-date rules and restrictions. For more information about fishing regulations, check this page, or go to the DFO's website.

So, drop a line in some of these hotspots:

SOUTH ISLAND

Victoria: In late May, chinook begin appearing off the Victoria waterfront. They swim deep this time of year and your best lure bet is a hoochie. By July the chinook have moved closer to the surface, usually in the 100-foot depth range. June to October is best for coho, while July and August is the time for sockeye. Pink salmon migrate past Victoria once every two years in odd numbered years. If you're after halibut, April and May are your best months. The hotspots around Victoria include: Cadboro Point, The Gap, The Flats, Ogden Point to Trail Islands and off the Esquimalt Lagoon.

Sooke: Staying close to shore and at depths up to 100 feet, chinook begin showing up off Sooke in late May. Herring seem to be the favorite bait at this time of year. By mid summer, chinook over 40 pounds are common. Coho and sockeye fishing begins in July and early August, preferring green, blue hoochies (coho) and bright lures (sockeye). Halibut fishing is in March. The hotspots around Sooke include: Cabin Point to Aldridge Point and Race Rocks.

Saanich Inlet & Satellite Channel: Chinook and coho fishing begins in May, while pink and sockeye show starting in mid August through September. The inlet is also known for its abundance of rock cod. The hotspots in the inlet and channels include: off Bamberton, Mill Bay, Cowichan Bay, Henderson Point and the south end of Saltspring Island.

Nanaimo: May sees the beginning of chinook fishing with the salmon found in the 150-foot depth toward the end of the month. By July, coho are showing, while pinks arrive in early September. The hotspots around Nanaimo include: Entrance Island, Neck Point, Dodd Narrows, Thrasher Rocks. The shores all around adjacent Gabriola Island also offer great salmon fishing.

Parksville & Qualicum: Mid to late May is when the chinook show in the waters off Parksville & Qualicum. The fish are deep, down around the 200-250-foot level. By July, the outer islands of Lasqueti and Ballenas are where they're biting. There's not much of a coho fishery in this area; however, there's lots of pinks from August to September. The hotspots around Parksville/Qualicum include: all along the shoreline, particularly at French Creek and Columbia Beach, and Lasqueti and Ballenas islands. The cod fishery is also good in this area.

NORTH ISLAND

Comox: May is the season for chinook fishing in this area. The fish are deep, between 150 and 200 feet. In July, fishing moves into the Strait of Georgia. Coho fishing begins in May, while pink salmon starts in August and goes through September. The hotspots around Comox include: Cape Lazo, Kitty Coleman Beach, the mouth of the Little and Big Qualicum rivers and Comox Harbor. South of Comox, the eastern shores of Denman and Hornby islands are good.

Campbell River: You can literally fish anywhere off this city, The Salmon Capital of the World. Chinook start showing in May and the fishing continues through September. Coho also show up in May with the best fishing in June or July. Pink and sockeye fishing is best in August and September. From July 15 to September 15 is Tyee Season when rowers try their luck in the famed Tyee Pool. The hotspots around Campbell River include: the lighthouse, Whiskey Point, the Hump, Duncan Bay, Browns Bay, Deepwater Bay, the east side of Quadra, Copper Bluffs, Willow Point, Discovery Pier and Argonaut Wharf. The area also has good fishing for cod, halibut and snapper.

Port McNeill and Telegraph Cove: June begins chinook season, and there's some big fish (up to 50 pounds) later in the season. Coho show up the end of June. Being in narrow Johnstone Strait, makes this area great for pink and sockeye as they squeeze through the channel. The area is also very good for halibut, with the season running April through June. The hotspots around Port McNeill/Telegraph Cove include: Malcolm and Stubbs islands, Alert Bay, Telegraph Cove, Dickenson Point, Ledge Point and the Plumber Islands.

Port Hardy: Beginning in June, the chinook show up, but it isn't until July that the really big fish (30 pounds and more) can be found at a depth of around 60 feet. By late June the coho have arrived and by September you can catch coho in the 12-pound range. The pink and sockeye come in around mid August.

WEST COAST

Port Alberni & Barkley Sound: Also billed as The Salmon Capital of the World, by May the chinook are being caught throughout Alberni Inlet and into Barkley Sound. By September, the big chinook are being caught. Coho show up in June. By August, 10-15 pounders are common. August is also the time when pink salmon make an appearance, while sockeye are in area waters from June to September. Barkley Sound is also great for halibut, with monsters up to 200 pounds. The hotspots around Port Alberni and Barkley Sound include: the Alberni Inlet, Rainy Bay, Cree Island, Swale Rock, Cape Beale and King Edward Island. The halibut hotspot is the reef about 10 miles offshore.

Ucluelet and Tofino: Chinook fishing begins in May; however, the offshore weather can keep you shorebound. The passages among nearby islands offer good fishing with chinook up to 50 pounds. August and September is good for coho. Halibut can be found late April through September. The salmon hotspots around Ucluelet and Tofino include: Portland Point, and other offshore locations unless until last summer and early fall, when the inshore salmon fishing heats up. The halibut hotspots are found amongst various offshore reefs.

 

Salmon fishing off Vancouver Island

 

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