The paved road
to the north travels through some stunning scenery to Port McNeill
and Port Hardy, the best launch points for anglers fishing the northern
half of Vancouver Island.
Sound, North 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
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 Info Centre, (250) 287-4636, or
stop by their office in the Tyee Plaza, 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,
with most major logging companies providing free maps of their logging
road networks for recreational use.
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.
Near 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. As
well, 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 Forest Service campsites and the occasional boat launch. For
a map, contact the Forest Service district office at 370 S Dogwood
Street in Campbell River, (250) 286-9300.
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, call (250) 282-3265,
or stop by the information centre a short distance west of Hwy 19
on Sayward Road at Sayward Junction.
The water offshore from Zeballos
boasts excellent saltwater sportfishing for salmon and rock cod, one
of the smoothest, sexiest-tasting fish when fresh, before being doused
with smoke (the usual treatment for most cod sold in BC stores.) For
information on marinas, fishing charters, and accommodation, contact
the Zeballos Village Office, (250) 761-4229, or Zeballos Board of
Trade, (250) 761-4261.
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,
Victoria, and Kathleen Lakes, 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
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 effect
winter fishing on the east coast.
For more information, contact the Village of Port Alice, (250) 284-3391,
or the Port Alice Visitor Info Centre, (250) 284-3318. Contact the
Forest Service district office, 2217 Mine Road in Port McNeill, for
a detailed map of fishing and camping recreation sites in the region;
When collecting a map, it is always 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
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.