In Nanaimo and the Cowichan
Valley, anglers seek out any of the locations mentioned below.
Quamichan Lake east of Duncan
has good trout fishing. You can launch a car-top boat at Art Mann
Park on the lake. To reach the park, follow Trunk Road east of downtown
Duncan to Tzouhalem Road, then Maple Bay Road to Indian Road, which
leads to the park. Quennell Lake near South Wellington is known
for its good smallmouth bass and trout fishing, as is Holden Lake
(launch at Hemer Provincial Park) near
Long Lake and Brannen Lake are situated 3 miles (5 km)
north of Nanaimo centre. They're both easy to locate on opposite sides
of Hwy 14. Follow Norwell Drive east of the highway to Louden Park
on Long Lake or Dunster Road west of the Nanaimo Pkwy to Brannen Lake.
There are trout and smallmouth bass at Long Lake; cutthroat and rainbow
trout at Brannen.
There's excellent bank casting for rainbow and cutthroat trout on
the Englishman River, either near the
river mouth on the Strait of Georgia near Parksville
or in Englishman River Falls Provincial Park.
There's a steelhead run as well in the river. Unfortunately, a decline
in salmon stocks has forced closures on fishing for a number of species,
so be sure to check in advance with the Wildlife Conservation Officer
in Port Alberni, (250) 724-9290.
Information on fishing in tidal waters is available from the Fishery
Officer in the Department of Fisheries and Oceans in Port Alberni,
Over the past century, brown trout have been successfully introduced
to a number of Vancouver Island rivers such as the Cowichan
River and the Little Qualicum River.
The best access to the river for bank casting is at Little
Qualicum Falls Provincial Park. You'll also find good trolling
and boat casting in Cameron Lake, part of which also lies within
the park. There's a boat launch at the picnic grounds on Cameron Lake.
The annual fall salmon run at the mouth of French Creek as
it enters the Strait of Georgia 3 miles (5 km) north of Parksville
attracts anglers to the French Creek Marina and the public boat launch
adjacent to the federal dock and Lasqueti Island ferry. French Creek
is located on Hwy 19A, and is well marked.
Spider Lake Provincial Park northwest
of Qualicum Beach is renown
locally for its smallmouth-bass and trout fishing. The lake is stocked
regularly, so for best results come in early spring before it warms
up, or wait until fall to try your angling luck once temperatures
begin to drop. No motorized boats are allowed on the lake. Launch
car-top boats from the beach beside the parking lot. Follow the signs
west of Hwy 19A on Horne Lake Road to reach Spider Lake Provincial
Park. After passing Spider Lake, the road follows the shoreline of
Horne Lake to the headwaters of the Qualicum River. The lake
is 5 miles (8 km) long and about 1 mile (1.5 km) wide, and features
good boat fishing year-round for cutthroat, rainbow, and kokanee trout.
North of Qualicum Beach is the small oceanside community of Deep
Bay, a town seemingly devoted to angling. Mapleguard Point is
the elbow of an arm and spit that protect Deep Bay's natural harbour
beside much larger Qualicum
Bay. Rich salmon grounds lie in the bay near the Norris Rocks,
Chrome Island, and Eagle Rock. Chinook salmon in the 20-pound range
top the scales each year in these waters. Just north of Deep Bay on
Hwy 19 you'll find Rosewall Creek Provincial
Park, a small roadside park devoted to riverbank casting at the
entrance to Qualicum Bay.
west of Cumberland on Comox
Lake Road, has good freshwater fishing for trout and char year-round.
Boaters must beware of the strong winds that rise in the afternoon
on the large, dammed lake. You'll find a boat launch at the west
end of Comox Lake Road.
Some of the best saltwater fishing on the island, particularly for
salmon, can be found in the waters of the Strait of Georgia
north of the Puntledge River Estuary, between Courtenay
and Comox, and off of Cape
Lazo, King Coho, and Bates Beach, just north of Comox. Because of
its sheltered location and an absence of dangerous currents, the
shoreline around Comox is well suited for rod fishing in a small
boat. If the weather does change, you can see it coming and quickly
make for shore. Shore angling for salmon is popular in Comox Bay
from August to November.
For more information on fishing in the Comox
Valley, contact the Comox Valley Visitor Info Centre, (250)
334-3234. For details on licences, closures, and limits, contact
the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, (250) 339-2031.
Guides guest from England with a winter run steelhead
The closer you
get to Campbell River, the
better the salmon fishing becomes. Tidal flows in Discovery Passage
churn up clouds of nutrients that sustain a complex food chain,
which includes tasty salmon near the top.
You'll find a boat launch at Pacific Playgrounds Resort's marina
in Clarkson Drive, at Saratoga
Beach in the town of Black
Creek, 10.5 miles (17 km) north of Courtenay on Hwy 19, and
another at aptly named Salmon Point in Black Creek.
Fly-fish for coho in September at the mouth of Black Creek,
which flows through Miracle Beach Provincial
Park into the Strait of Georgia as well as farther north at
Oyster River on Hwy 19.
Campbell River justifiably bills itself as Salmon Capital of
the World. Located halfway up the east coast of Vancouver Island,
Campbell River is a friendly community situated in the middle of
some of the best fishing grounds on Vancouver Island. One of the
four main fishing centres on Vancouver Island, the city is internationally
famous for both its ocean and freshwater fishing. Along with great
salmon fishing, there are also a wide variety of other fishing opportunities.
Within 15-40 minutes of some of the hottest fishing spots along
the Inside Passage, and central to several river systems home to
steelhead, trout and salmon, Campbell River is hard to beat for
fishing action and diversity.
is a year round activity in Campbell River. With resident winter
chinook salmon present through the winter months, fisherman head
out on the quiet waters for great winter fishing and prawning. In
mid June, we start to see our annual runs of transient chinook arriving,
joined in mid July by large runs of migrating pink, coho and sockeye
salmon. This is the fishery that has made Campbell River famous.
In late September large numbers of chum salmon start to dominate
the waters. With the strength of a chinook, and the acrobatics of
a coho, the chum salmon put up a fight to remember! Bottom fish
such as ling cod, rock cod, snapper and halibut are also found in
The twice-yearly steelhead runs on the Quinsam
River and Campbell River are as
well known as that on the Cowichan River, while the year-round salmon
fishing in Discovery Passage is unmatched. The Quinsam flows into
the Campbell just inland from the Strait of Georgia. As it meets
the ocean at the north end of town, the Campbell broadens into an
intertidal estuary. The fishing calendar here has a summer steelhead
run scheduled from June to October, with a winter run between November
and April. Chinook (king) salmon are in residence year-round in
Discovery Passage, which also hosts successive runs of coho (June
to September), tyee (July to September), sockeye (August), pink
(August and September), and finally chum (September to November).
Guide Morgan McLean with
a winter run steelhead
For the freshwater
fisherman, there are also year round fishing opportunities. Steelhead
are present year round, with both summer runs and winter runs moving
through the local rivers. These fantastic fighters will take on
a fly, spoon, or artificial egg pattern, and put on a terrific display,
taking long runs and making spectacular jumps. There are also trout
present in the local rivers year round, as well as seasonal runs
of salmon. With pinks, chinooks, coho and chums packing the local
rivers in the fall, the fishing action is non stop.
The wealth of the salmon fishery in Discovery Passage between
Campbell River and Quadra Island
is so legendary that a special ritual has grown up around it over
the past century. Called tyee fishing, this method has stringent
requirements, but success buys instant membership in the exclusive
Tyee Club of BC, the oldest fishing club in BC. Tyee is the
appellation given a chinook (king) salmon when its weight exceeds
30 pounds (13.5 kg). Anglers must abide by regulations that stipulate
a minimum catch weight of 30 pounds, hooked with an artificial single-hook
lure fastened to a maximum 20-pound (9-kg) test line. Oh, and you
have to be in a rowboat. (Considering the size of an average tyee,
make sure it's a big rowboat.) The official weigh-in station is
at the Tyee Club House beside the boat launch on Tyee Spit, east
of Hwy 19 on Spit Road in Campbell River. Between August 15 and
September 15 the rowing season is open, and at first light and last
light the Tyee Pool is filled with rowboats quietly stalking the
The waterfront in Campbell River appears to be one massive marina.
In fact, there are three saltwater marinas, as well as a freshwater
marina at the mouth of the Campbell River. Government Marina
and Discovery Pier are located at the south end of the harbour
on South Island Hwy (Hwy 19). Almost as many salmon are caught off
this pier that juts out into Discovery Passage as farther offshore.
Local ritual requires that at the cry of 'fish on,' all other anglers
reel in and stand aside as the lucky soul manoeuvres the (unlucky)
Saltwater fly fishing is becoming popular once again, and it is
not hard to understand why. Imagine holding your breath as you watch
a giant chinook salmon rise through crystal clear shallows to take
your fly. Or visualize a picture taken on a boat of you and your
favourite fly rod with a glistening coho about to be released. Unforgettable!