Fishing Guides: Northern Vancouver Island

The paved road to the north of Vancouver Island travels through some stunning scenery en route to Port McNeill and Port Hardy, the best launch points for anglers fishing the northern half of Vancouver Island.

The abundance of remote rivers, tidal inlets, the Pacific Ocean on the west coast, and the productive waters of the sounds and islands around Johnstone Strait on the east coast, provide for fabulous fresh and saltwater fishing.

Launch or charter out of Port Hardy for fishing trips in Queen Charlotte Sound, Gordon Channel and the headlands and islands off Goletas Channel. Head out of Port McNeill for fishing in Broughton Strait, Cormorant Channel and Weynton Passage.

Port Hardy is the first major North Island town to receive the summer salmon runs as the salmon head from the Pacific Ocean north of the island and head down Georgia Strait to their coastal spawning rivers.

Blackfish Sound is productive for salmon fishing, offering feeder chinooks throughout the year. The first migratory chinooks appear in late May through to August, followed by the sockeye (June to August), pinks (July to August), coho in mid July, northern coho in September, and chum salmon from late August through to October. Winter chinook end off the year by passing through toward the end of December.

Click for a Map of North Vancouver Island.

The range of Salmon fishing in Blackfish Sound extends from the eastern tip of Malcolm Island (Donegal Head), north of Plumper Islands and Hanson Island through Blackney Passage and into Baronet Passage. In Johnstone Strait, salmon run from Cracroft Point on the western tip of West Cracroft Island to the Sophia Islands.

Halibut fishing commences in April to June, and continues through the summer to September. Open water depths of 200 to 400 feet are most productive. Concentrate on Richards Channel, Ripple Passage and Bolivar Passage. Halibut around the 100 lb mark are brought in regularly, with monsters of over 200 lbs caught occasionally. As all large halibut are females, potentially bearing millions of eggs, they should be considered for release.

The saltwater fishing in Discovery Passage off Campbell River is legendary. In addition, dozens of small, freshwater lakes are scattered throughout the north island. Many lakes can be reached only by the logging or gravel roads that lead off east and west from Hwy 19. Stop at one of the many tackle shops and marinas in Campbell River for advice on where the fish are biting. For more information, contact the Campbell River Visitor Centre, 250-830-0411, or stop by their office in the Tyee Plaza Shopping Centre at 1235 Island Highway.

Fresh water fishing on north Vancouver Island remains one of the best-kept secrets around. The majority of the lakes and rivers experience very light fishing pressure due to the isolated nature of the region. Logging roads provide the primary access to the northern lakes and rivers.

Steelhead rivers in this area include the largest river on Vancouver Island, the Nimpkish River, supported by good steelheading on the Cluxewe, Keogh, Quatse and Nahwitti Rivers, plus numerous other smaller streams.

North of Campbell River, you’ll find good trout and char fishing at Morton Lake Provincial Park. To reach the park, turn west off Hwy 19 17 miles (27 km) north of Campbell River, then journey 12 miles (20 km) on good gravel road to Morton and Mohun Lakes. Roberts Lake, 20 miles (32 km) north of Campbell River, also has good fishing close to Hwy 19. Car-top boats can be launched from its sandy beach, a short walk from the road on a Forest Service trail. Many small fishing lakes such as McCreight Lake feature rustic BC Recreation campsites and the occasional boat launch.

Near Sayward, the Salmon River is one of the better-known destinations for steelhead fishing on Vancouver Island. Drive east of Hwy 19 towards Sayward and Kelsey Bay. En route, Sayward Road crosses the Salmon River at several points, offering angler access to the river. Cabins and angling information are available at either Fisherboy Park, 1546 Sayward Road, or the quaint Cable House Cafe on the east side of the one-lane bridge on Sayward Road that crosses the Salmon River. Saltwater fishing is also good out of Kelsey Bay, at the end of the road.

For more information on Sayward and Kelsey Bay, visit the Sayward Visitor Centre Booth a short distance west of Hwy 19 on Sayward Road at Sayward Junction (16 Sayward Road), or call 250-282-0018.

The water offshore from Zeballos boasts excellent saltwater sportfishing for salmon and rock cod, one of the smoothest, most tasty fish when fresh, before being doused with smoke (the usual treatment for most cod sold in BC stores.)

There’s a good salmon run on the Marble River, which lies 8 miles (13 km) west of Hwy 19 on the road to Port Alice. This logging road also provides access to Alice Lake, Victoria Lake and Kathleen Lake, which offer good cutthroat trout and dolly varden fishing. Campsites and a boat launch are located in the mill town of Port Alice, where you’ll find full facilities for exploring the profusion of sheltered inlets in Quatsino Sound.

Winter Harbour, conveniently located near the mouth of Quatsino Sound, provides great facilities for offshore fishing and easy access to some of the best saltwater and halibut fishing anywhere in the world. Accessed by gravel road from Port Hardy via Holberg, the remote fishing village of Winter Harbour offers lodging, a marina, protected deep-water moorage, boat launch, fuel dock, general store, fishing charters, and campground and RV facilities.

The great saltwater fishing in the sheltered Quatsino Sound during winter and spring months – particularly for feeder chinook (January to April) – is worthy of the short trip from Port McNeill and Port Hardy, as the strong northerly winds in Queen Charlotte Strait and the southeasters in Labouchere Passage impact winter fishing on the east coast of Vancouver Island.

For more information, contact the Village of Port Alice, 250-284-3391. It is also advisable to check road conditions, road restrictions and the safest travel times in the north island region. Local fishing knowledge is also essential to determining the best times for steelhead runs and for productive lake fishing

In Port Hardy, a good place to begin a fishing trip in Queen Charlotte Strait is the Quarterdeck Marina, which has bait, tackle, and fishing licences for sale, and features a boat launch as well.

Premier Listings

Photo of Nootka Marine Adventures
Nootka Marine Adventures
Resort Locations: Espinosa Inlet off Esperanza Inlet Galiano Bay and Moutcha Bay Nootka Sound BC Mailing Address: 1392 Seaview Road Black Creek BC V9J 1J7 Work Phone: 1-877-337-5464Visit Website

Biographical Info

Moutcha Bay Resort, Newton Cove Resort and Nootka Sound Resort operate together as Nootka Marine Adventures. Located on the wild west coast of Vancouver Island, two of the resorts are located in the sheltered waters of Nootka Sound; Moutcha Bay Resort is situated at the mouth of the Conuma River, and Nootka Sound Resort operates out of the idyllic Galiano Bay off Tlupana Inlet. Our newest floating property, Newton Cove Resort, is conveniently located in Espinosa Inlet near the entrance to Esperanza Inlet.

These resorts offer exceptional amenities, comfortable luxury accommodation, gourmet meals and boat moorage, along with some of the most spectacular, salmon, halibut and tuna fishing available. The Nootka Marine Adventures’ guides are some of the most experienced and professional in the area. They will help ensure that you have both a memorable as well as a highly-productive time in their comfortable, covered 28-foot boats. Take a fully-guided fishing trip or wildlife-viewing excursion in Nootka Sound. Nootka Marine Adventures offers accommodations, rental boats, a full-service marina and fully-guided sport fishing charters and packages.

Return to top.
Photo of Bear Cove Cottages Sports Fishing
Bear Cove Cottages Sports Fishing
6715 Bear Cove Highway PO Box 2351 Port Hardy BC V0N 2P0 Work Phone: 250-949-7939Work Phone: 1-877-949-7939Visit Website

Biographical Info

Port Hardy’s hotspot for accommodation, adventure, and Wicked Salmon sport-fishing charters! Just ten kilometres from the quaint seaside town of Port Hardy BC, Bear Cove Cottages offer immaculate cottage lodging in a pristine, wilderness setting bordered by mature cedar trees. Comfortable and modern, each cottage contains a kitchen, a romantic fireplace, a jacuzzi bath, and panoramic views of Hardy Bay.

Boasting some of the world’s best salmon and halibut charter-fishing grounds, the Cottages at Bear Cove proudly offer one of the area’s top guides, Wade Dayley, as captain of your dream Vancouver Island fishing getaway. Port Hardy provides access to some of British Columbia’s best salmon and halibut charter fishing and offers all of the requisite amenities for a memorable sportfishing and outdoor adventure vacation.

Return to top.
Photo of Newton Cove Resort
Newton Cove Resort
Newton Cove Espinosa Inlet Esperanza Inlet BC Work Phone: 1-877-337-5464Visit Website

Biographical Info

Newton Cove Resort is considered by many to be the finest floating wilderness resort on Vancouver Island. Situated in a protected cove in Espinosa Inlet near the Pacific entrance to Esperanza Inlet, the area is rich in both history and wildlife. The protected inshore waters and offshore fishing grounds are just minutes away and host some of the world’s most productive and consistent salmon, halibut, ling cod and rock fish opportunities.

At the end of a day, take out one of the complimentary kayaks or stand up paddle boards or just relax by the fire while your catch is professionally processed in the government-inspected fish-processing facility.

The luxurious Newton Cove Resort tailors to the needs of every angler, offering all-inclusive accommodation that is ideal for a secluded getaway, small groups or a corporate retreat. The resort can be accessed by boat or by float plane on direct flights from Vancouver, Comox, Campbell River and Seattle.

Return to top.
Photo of Reel Obsession Sportfishing
Reel Obsession Sportfishing
3139 Carran Road Victoria BC V9C 2K5 Home Phone: 250-886-0315Work Phone: 1-888-855-7335Visit Website

Biographical Info

Reel Obsession Sport Fishing Charters offers year-round, world-class, fully guided BC salmon and halibut sport fishing charters on Vancouver Island on the west coast of British Columbia, fishing Zeballos, Nootka Sound, Esperanza Inlet, and Victoria. We offer a variety of charter fishing packages and are quite flexible in customizing your charter fishing experience to suit your needs. Our west coast Lodge produces great fishing all summer long.

Return to top.
Photo of Grizzly Bear Lodge & Safari
Grizzly Bear Lodge & Safari
Lodge Location: Knight Inlet BC Booking Office: #10 3100 Kensington Crescent Courtenay BC V9N 8Z9 Home Phone: 250-334-8858Home Fax: 250-334-8858Work Phone: 1-877-764-4286Visit Website

Biographical Info

Fly-in for spectacular raincoast wildlife viewing in remote Knight Inlet in the spectacular Coast Mountains – Grizzly Bears and Black Bears, killer whales (Orcas), humpback whales, dolphins, stellar seals, sea lions, eagles and more. Knight Inlet is a famous natural fjord world renowned for its Grizzly Bear viewing. We offer 3-day trips out of Campbell River on Vancouver Island to the world capital for grizzly bear safaris.

Return to top.
Photo of Nootka Sound Resort
Nootka Sound Resort
Galiano Bay off Tlupana Inlet Nootka Sound BC Work Phone: 1-877-337-5464Visit Website

Biographical Info

Nootka Sound Resort is a floating resort moored in idyllic Galiano Bay, off Tlupana Inlet in the heart of Nootka Sound on the magnificent west coast of Vancouver Island. As an all-inclusive resort, Nootka Sound Resort offers accommodation, gourmet meals and boat moorage. Enjoy some of the most memorable salmon and halibut fishing on the west coast or experience a wildlife viewing trip to remember.

Featuring a large meeting/dining room, our facilities are perfect to entertain large groups while our chef prepares creative gourmet meals using the freshest ingredients. We offer accommodations to anglers with private boats, or fully-guided sport fishing charters and packages.

Return to top.
Photo of Quatsino Lodge
Quatsino Lodge
6288 Michael’s Drive Courtenay BC V9J 1P4 Home Phone: 250-338-7473Work Fax: 250-338-7473Work Phone: 1-866-279-5061Visit Website

Biographical Info

Fishing Location:
Quatsino Sound, BC

Located in Quatsino Sound, Quatsino Lodge specializes in guiding clients to the best sportfishing and sea kayaking on northern West Coast Vancouver Island. We offer saltwater and freshwater fishing packages as well as mothership kayaking and superb wildlife viewing. Quatsino Lodge is an intimate family-run business catering to small personal and corporate groups. Any group size from 2-12.

Return to top.
Photo of Moutcha Bay Resort
Moutcha Bay Resort
Moutcha Bay Nootka Sound BC Work Phone: 1-877-337-5464Visit Website

Biographical Info

Located at the mouth of the Conuma River, in the sheltered waters of the Nootka Sound, Vancouver Island, BC. Moutcha Bay Resort offers world-class fishing in protected, deep waters, abundant wildlife and adventure right at our doorstep. Stay in comfort at the resort in one of our lodge suites, private chalets or luxury yurts. If you like to travel with your own accommodation, we also offer fully-serviced RV and campsites.

For the avid fishers we offer fully-guided experiences for both a half-day or full-day trip. Our fully-serviced marina also offers boat rentals for guests wanting a self-guided experience. At the end of your successful fishing excursion, ask about our government-certified fish-processing facility. If you are looking for other activities, we offer wildlife excursions, and kayak and SUP rentals.

Year-round camping is available, with seasonal rates from $35 to $95. Limited sites and services are available during the off season (October to May).

Moutcha Bay Resort, newly constructed in 2011, is situated just 40 minutes west of Gold River and is easily accessible by car, float plane or boat. Regardless of the transportation you choose, you will find the trip to Moutcha Bay Resort one of the most memorable and scenic in British Columbia. Contact us to reserve your trip today.

Return to top.