Spring - April, May, June
Spring is truly some of the best fishing chinook salmon fishing of the entire year! Starting around April 1st the first migratory chinook show up in our local waters. These fish combined with the resident feeder chinook make for some memorable days out on the water. The chinook are in the 10-25 lb range with the odd fish pushing the 30 pound mark.
These fish travel in packs and when the fish are in, it is not uncommon to hook numerous hard fighting chinook. We commonly fish an area known as the “Hump” off S. Bowen, about 25 minutes from our dock. This fishery is best experienced on a 5 hour to 8 hour charter and fishes well from early April to late May.
Another hot spot, and always a guide favourite, are the Gulf Islands. Here we fish as far north as Nanaimo, down to Thrasher Rock on Gabriola Island, and as far south as Porlier Pass on Galliano Island. These spots are 50 to 60 minute run from our dock and are available only on our 10 hour charter. The run can be well worth it is as double digit days of hard fighting BC chinook salmon are not unheard of. These spots fish well from mid April until the end of June. Crabbing and prawning is also excellent this time of the year. We drop crab traps on every trip during the spring and limits of Dungeness crab are the norm. We can also drop prawn traps for BC spot prawns on 8 hour and 10 hour trips.
Summer - July, August
Summer is the time of diverse opportunity in our local waters as more migratory salmon flood into our area on their way to the Fraser River and rivers south of us like the Columbia. The first coho of the year, destined for the local Capilano River, show up off West Vancouver in late June and by early July we are experiencing good catches only 20 minutes from our dock for these feisty fish.
As July progresses more chinook salmon destined for the Fraser River show up with their numbers peaking in mid to late August. We fish for these 10-30 pound chinook at the Bell Buoy (20 minutes from our dock), the T-10 (25 minutes from our dock) and the Sandheads (35 minutes from our dock). On years ending in an odd number, like 2015, 2017, etc, we have runs of pink salmon that number in the tens of millions and they offer excellent action only minutes from the dock.
On certain years we also have sockeye returns in the millions to tens of millions and limits of these tasty fish are usually only 15-20 minutes from the dock! So you can see that July and August truly are active and diverse months to be fishing for salmon in Vancouver.
5 hour trips are a great way to spend the morning or the afternoon in search of some coho or chinook and some years pinks and sockeye as the hot spots are only a short boat ride away. 8 hour and 10 hour charters are recommended when hunting for trophy chinook as our guides can fish through the tides and make some moves to some of the spots a little further away if needed or if weather allows.
Fall - September, October
The fall is an exciting time as the fish are close to home and are stacked up waiting for the fall rains to raise river levels so they can complete their migration. By mid September thousands of coho are holding off the shoreline of West Vancouver waiting to go up the Capilano and Seymour rivers.
As September progresses, more and more chinook salmon show up, and by late September we are hooking lots of big chinook as well as coho. This a very productive time of year to be on the water and the best spot at the mouth of the Capilano is lonly 25 minutes from our dock! This fishery is best experienced on a 5 hour or 8 hour charter.
Winter - November, December, January, February, March
After a brief break in November for maintenance on the boats and gear, we are right back at it looking for the first chinook of the winter season. These fish are commonly referred to as feeder chinook because they are next years fish and are ravenously feeding with the sole intention of packing on as many pounds as possible. These are without a doubt some of the funnest, strongest, and tastiest salmon to fish for.
Calm and refreshing days are the norm in the winter season and a hot cup of coffee, flat calm seas, and hard fighting chinook make this fishery a guide and local favorite. The size of these fish vary dramatically from 5 to 25 pounds, depending on location and time of year as we get wave after wave of fishing cruising into our local waters from early December all the way into April and May. We can fish for these fish on a 5 hour charter in our local waters and have good success, but often the best catches are on 8 or 10 hour charters where we take you to the very scenic waters of Howe Sound or across to the equally beautiful Gulf Islands. This is also a great time of year to drop the crab traps for Dungeness crabs and prawn traps for BC Spot prawns.
Vancouver BC is fortunate to have consistent salmon fishing 365 days of the year. Vancouver, BC has all 5 species of wild Pacific salmon available in the Pacific Ocean.
Chinook Salmon (King Salmon)
Chinook are available year round in local waters. In the late fall, winter and early spring we are kept busy with our feeder Chinook fishery. What these feisty fish lack in size, is compensated by their number and eagerness to bite. These 2 and 3-year-old fish range in size from 4-20 pounds. In the spring we start to see our first migratory Chinook of the year in numbers. These fish range from 9 to 25 pounds. Summer Chinooks are almost entirely migratory as the feeder Chinooks usually move on. Fish in the 15 -30 pound range are common. The fall Chinook fishery is where we get our biggest fish of the year. Through September and October, we have consistent action with Chinooks between 15-45 pounds. Chinook over 50 pounds are caught every fall by a few lucky anglers.
Coho Salmon (Silver Salmon)
Our coho fishery kicks off in mid June along the West Vancouver shoreline and continues well into October. The peak of this fishery falls between late June and late August! Coho average between 4 and 13 pounds. In our local waters, only hatchery coho are retainable.
The mighty Fraser River provides the Vancouver saltwater fishing scene with some healthy runs of Sockeye salmon. Sockeye are world-renowned as the best eating of the 5 locally available Pacific salmon and they can provide some top flight entertainment. These salmon tend to school up while feeding so there are often multi-line hook ups! Sockeye fishing is usually best in August and run size varies dramatically from year to year, so some years there is no retention of sockeye. When there is an opening for sockeye it is because we literally have millions of fish only 10-20 minutes from our dock and the fishing is fast furious!
A 5 hour charter is usually perfect for sockeye fishing or go for an 8 or 10 hour charter and get some sockeye in the morning and chase huge chinook in the afternoon!
Pink salmon, also known as Humpies, occur in great abundance on a recurring two-year cycle with numbers peaking in the odd numbered years in the southern half of British Columbia’s coastal waters. Local Vancouver rivers including the Indian and Fraser both support strong runs of Pink salmon. These smaller Pacific salmon, generally ranging from 4-8 lbs, are feisty and aggressive eaters and can provide some extremely entertaining saltwater trolling, light tackle and fly fishing opportunities. For several weeks, on peak-pink years (odd years), these salmon stack up in the river mouths and estuaries gorging themselves before their final push upriver to spawn. This makes for some exceptional fishing with a very high success rate.
The same rivers that provide the Vancouver area with healthy pink and chinook fisheries also produce some strong and healthy chum, also known as Dog salmon. Chum are generally underrated as sport fishing targets but are some of the strongest and meanest fighters in the bunch. They are somewhat difficult to target in the saltwater but gear casters and fly fishers can enjoy some spectacular fishing in the river mouths, estuaries and even up into the lower portions of the rivers. Timing with chum salmon fishing is critical as only a short exposure to the freshwater forces their physiology to make the final switch into full spawning mode when they cease eating all together. Although we don’t target chum in the ocean, we do catch them incidentally while fishing for other species like chinook , pink, coho and sockeye.