How to Pick a Destination in a Fisherman’s Paradise

Vancouver Island is one of those destinations that offers so many different fishing resorts and towns that it can be hard to decide where you want to be! Follow this guide for what kind of fish you want to catch, and what kind of holiday experience you want, and you’ll be able to choose your destination in no time.

First, pick that type of vibe you want. Are you dedicated to fishing and fishing only, or do you like to have some options? Are you trying to entice your non-fishing friends and family members to tag along? There are definitely areas that offer a lot more than just fishing. However, if you’re after that cozy and remote fishing town atmosphere, Vancouver Island can offer it too.



Fishing + Just the Fishing
Victoria BC Port Renfrew BC
Tofino BC Port McNeill
Ucluelet BC Port Hardy
Sooke BC Port Alice
Campbell River BC Winter Harbour


The towns in the column on the left are either larger in size, or have plenty of other activities to enjoy both at sea and on land, while you’re out at sea. From whale watching, kayaking, hiking, surfing and patrolling beaches, to shopping, and spay days, the Fishing+ destinations are perfect if you have tag-alongs, or you yourself, aren’t keen on just fishing. The “Just the Fishing” destinations are pretty straight forward. They’re smaller fishing towns a bit farther off the grid than the rest. They give you the true, remote fishing vibe and experience. For anyone seeking those genuine west coast fishermen vibes, those are the destinations for you.

Another major consideration for your trip is going to be what kind of fish you want to catch. While all five types of Pacific salmon are available on Vancouver Island, some destinations are better than others to catch them. Other desirable fish link lingcod and halibut are also only caught in choice few areas.


Area Types of Fish
Victoria BC + Sooke Chinook, Coho, Sockeye, Pink, Chum
Tofino BC + Ucluelet BC Chinook, Coho, Halibut, Lingcod
Port Alberni Sockeye
Campbell River Chinook, Coho, Sockeye, Pink, Chum
Port Renfrew Chinook, Coho, Sockeye, Pink, Chum
Port McNeill + Port Hardy Chinook, Coho, Sockeye, Pink, Chum
Winter Harbour + Port Alice Chinook, Coho, Halibut, Lingcod


You can see that many destinations have the same options. This might be true, but some are still more popular than others. When it comes to catching that trophy-sized chinook, most anglers head out to the west coast and visit Ucluelet, or Tofino. For winter fishing, Victoria BC, Sooke and Port Renfrew are the places to go to. They see runs of chinook almost every month, and are the spawning grounds for most of the salmon. The north east (Port McNeill + Port Hardy) have a shorter run, as all the fish make their way down south. The north west (Winter Harbour + Port Alice) see similar to the west coast, but have a shorter season and trickier waters. Time of year is also crucial for your destination. While most of the ones listed have a standard season from June-September, there are some that start earlier, and some that start later. Plus, depending on the type of fish you want to catch, the time of year can make or break it for a particular destination. For example, the south Island (Victoria, Sooke, Port Renfrew) are great for the winter, but chinook can be caught in Ucluelet as early as March. Chum are around most destinations until October, but arrive late. You can catch both Halibut and Chinook on the west in May and June, but it gets trickier later in the season.


Another last consideration is weather. The east coast destinations are in more sheltered waters and offer some protection from the big swell and open ocean that the west coast destinations battle with. However, areas like Ucluelet also have sheltered areas and are typically said to produce better fishing. Plus, you can get tasty bottom fish like halibut and lingcod. If you’re into fly fishing and freshwater, nearly any area of Vancouver Island will be able to produce – the whole place is riddled with lakes and spawning rivers.

Hopefully this has helped with the selection process! If you’re looking for more information on fishing on Vancouver Island, check out If you’ve decided the west coast is the spot for you and want to compare Tofino and Ucluelet, use the websites and as a comparison resource.

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