Salmon fishing on the West Coast

By Nikki Lotz   Trail Canada

Get your salmon on!

Its fall and that means Salmon season! As chum salmon make their way to shallow waters, hunters of these denizens of the deep prepare to partake in the heart stopping, adrenalin inducing thrill that is the Salmon Run!

There are 5 different Salmon species, the largest of which, the Chinook, can weigh as much as 50kgs. The species differ slightly in breeding rituals, but most are spawned in fresh water rivers. The small salmon swim down into the nutrient rich waters of the Pacific where they live for a couple of years until maturity. They return to the breeding grounds, making epic journeys upstream to spawn in the shallow waters that once gave them life. Once they have spawned, their decaying carcasses provide food for other forest dwellers.

The sport of Salmon fishing is shared with sea lions, orcas, eagles, seals, sea otters, dolphins and a variety of birds and ducks. Bears are also avid fishers, using claws and teeth to pluck fish from the water. They can be seen along river banks where they feast on the salmon in preparation of their winter hibernation.

There is a lot of great fishing to be had, so if you are planning to head out, here are a few tips. Our first hot spot is French Creek as it enters the Georgia Strait about 5kms North of Parksville (accessible from Highway 19a) on Vancouver Island. There are other areas in the Strait of Georgia where salmon fishing fanatics get their kicks. Try the Puntledge River Estuary, between Courtnay and Comox and further north as well. Comox bay and the beaches in this area are excellent spots, especially from August to November.

Campbell River on the east coast of Vancouver Island is touted as being the Salmon Capital of the world and that adage is well deserved. Late September sees a run of chum salmon, Chinook and a late summer run of steelhead into October. The Discovery Passage between Campbell River and Quandra Island is the stuff of legends. It has given rise to a special fishing technique called Tyee (not for the faint of heart!)

The southern parts of the island around the Juan de Fuca strait like Port Renfrew, Oak Bay, Victoria and the Sooke River (north of highway 14) are rich in fall salmon.

Sidney is a great place to head if you want information about fishing, or if you wish to book a charter.

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