The Variety of BC Fisheries
If there is one aspect of fishing in BC that stands out above all others it is that there is no down season. In freshwater or salt there’s something that will strike at a lure or rise to a fly. Deciding what to fish for is a matter of deciding what you want to catch and then following the opportunities that present themselves. Take the salmon fishing.
The off-shore winter fishing starts with mooching for 10- to 16-pound feeder chinook along the Sunshine coast, the Lower Mainland and among the islands of southern Vancouver Island. By May, the fishery shifts north to Haida Gwaii, Hecate Strait and beyond where fish of 40, 60 or more pounds are hooked every season. Come summer, the migration turns south as the fish work their way back to natal streams. Through this time, the off-shore fishing along entire middle and south coast turns on and, with it, the shoreline and in-river fishery.
Coho, sockeye, and chum salmon provide shore fishing and in-river angling through to the end of November. During alternating years, pink salmon also run in huge schools along the shorelines and into coastal rivers through most of August.
The most celebrated of British Columbia’s anadromous migrants are steelhead and the Skeena–with its world class tribs, including the Kispiox, Babine, Copper, Bulkley and Morice–is hallowed water, as is the Thompson, a tributary of the Fraser. Vancouver Island streams, including the Gold, Stamp/Somas and Cowichan are touchstones for steelhead anglers.
In freshwater, rainbow trout are the main draw, though they share the spotlight with cutthroat and bull trout in East Kootenay waters. Rainbows are also the main draw for hardwater anglers, though ice fishing for kokanee (landlocked sockeye salmon) is becoming more popular.
For a change of pace, anglers can test their strength against white sturgeon on the lower Fraser River. The prehistoric leviathans can go over half a ton and span 10 feet nose to tail, though most fish hooked are about half that size. That’s still a lot of sturgeon, especially when it tail walks right next to the boat, gill plates rattling.
Then there is the Columbia River with its powerful redband rainbows, the huge Gerrard rainbows of the Arrow Lakes, the winter fishing for stocked Eastern Brook trout and the yellowfin tuna fishing in the blue water. But those will have to keep for another time.
George Gruenefeld has fished across Canada from the stormy waters off the Newfoundland coast for giant Bluefin tuna to the island-studded coast of British Columbia for bright, feisty Chinook salmon and, along the way, sampled the freshwater lakes and rivers for trout and char, walleye and black bass as well as northerns and muskies. And he has lived to write about his experiences and adventures in many of North America’s well-loved outdoor magazines and on the Internet. He currently resides in Kamloops, British Columbia, the heart of some of Canada’s finest rainbow trout fishing.
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