Fishing Reports:  Fresh water and salt water - Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada - UPDATED November 28, 2018.

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salmon, trout, halibut, steelhead, bass fishing report

Vancouver Island Fishing Reports: For Winter 2018-19 From: Victoria, Oak Bay, Sidney, Langford, Elk Lake, Prospect Lake, Sooke, Pedder Bay, Becher Bay, Lake Cowichan, Port Renfrew, Nitinat Lake, Nitinat River, Harris Creek, Cowichan Bay, Shawnigan Lake, Duncan, Chemainus Lake, Salt Spring Island, St. Mary Lake, Cusheon Lake, Nanaimo, Quennell Lake (Cedar), French Creek, Parksville,Qualicum Beach, Spider Lake, Cameron Lake, Nile Creek, Courtenay / Comox, Oyster River, Campbell River, Gold River, Oyster River, Salmon River, Port Alberni,  Bamfield, Ucluelet, Tofino, Barkley Sound, Nootka Sound, Moutcha Bay, Nootka Sound, Esperanza Inlet, Port Hardy.

The federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) asks the public to report suspicious fishing activities by contacting your nearest DFO office, or by anonymously calling Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477),, or by texting TIP190 and your message to 274637 (crimes).


A newly formed group, the Pacific Balance Pinniped Society wants to harvest seals and sea lions to increase salmon numbers. The group is gaining wide support from conservation and sport fishing organizations and First Nations. Supporters
include the Amalgamated Conservation Society, Nuu Chah Nuulth First Nation, and the Pacific Salmon Foundation.
Pacific Balance Pinniped Society directorship is currently majority BC First Nations. Membership is open to anyone, and all share the same vision of ensuring salmon stocks continue to grow and remain sustainable.
Traditionally First Nations people harvested seals and sea lions for food and furs, and to prevent over-population and depletion of salmon stocks.
Seals and sea lion populations are at record numbers in BC waters. From 12,000 seals in the mid-1980s to the current 100,005+ harbour seals, there is no shortage. Sea lions numbers are estimated at around 32,000.
The group wants to get a harvest quota from the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (using humane methods by licensed harvesters); monitor populations; find markets for and process meat, oil and fur; ascertain social, environmental and
economic benefits and consequences of a harvest.
The society intends to use 100 percent of harvested pinnipeds to gain new socio-economic and cultural prosperity for First Nations and to benefit all.
Thomas Sewid, the group’s Facebook administrator said, “Unfortunately due to coastal, river and lake indigenous First Nations not harvesting seals and sea lions as we have done since the dawn of our creations, the pinniped populations
have exploded in numbers.”

Farm salmon carry PRV virus
In May, 2018 a scientific paper on the impact of piscine orthoreovirus (PRV) in chinook salmon was released with information relevant to the plight of southern resident orcas.
You can read the report at
PRV is a contagious Norwegian virus infecting the majority of BC farm salmon. It causes chinook salmon’s red blood cells to burst, as well as damage to the heart, organs and skeletal tissues.
Farmed salmon are treated with antibiotics against PRV while wild fish are exposed to the virus through aquaculture effluent and contact with escaped farmed fish and mutual parasites.
To voice your concerns contact Jonathan Wilkinson, Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard. Email: JONATHAN.WILKINSON@PARL.GC.CA
Mail may be sent postage-free to any Member of Parliament.
Jonathan Wilkinson, MP
102 3rd St W, North Vancouver BC V7M 2G3      Phone: (604) 775-6333

Saltwater – The fishing for winter (feeder) chinooks has been good off Constance Bank. Halibut fishing was slower.
Becher Bay - A few salmon caught inside the bay and off the Bedford Islands. The best depths for springs have been between 120 and 160 feet on the downrigger. Anglers are now using mostly spoons and plastics. Good spoons have been Skinny
Gs, Coho Killers and Coyotes with glow on them. Needlefish hootchies in white, glow/green and Purple Haze are the top plastic baits. Anchovies still work, and good teaser head colours are chartreuse, Tiger Prawn and Bloody Nose. The
Gibbs Highliner Guide Series Outfitters, the Betsey, and Gold Fever Hot Spot flashers have been working well.
Pedder Bay - All the attention is now on springs. The fishing has been slow near Church Rock and inside Pedder Bay, but very few boats were going out. Most of the springs have been less than 10 lb. Most anglers are fishing anchovies in
Mint Pearl, chartreuse and Bloody Nose teaser heads. Squirts are still working with green and glow, Purple Haze or UV white good choices. Flashers that are popular include the Guide Series, Madi, Outfitters and lemon lime. Good choices
for teaser head colours are Bloody Nose, chartreuse and Purple Haze.
Halibut fishing was slow. There were lots of dogfish being caught. East Race and William Head were the most productive spots.
Victoria - Fishing for winter springs was good off Constance Bank. Anglers were catching lots of feeder springs up to 6 lb. Some boats reported catching limits fishing along the high points of the bank. Spoons are working well on the
bank with Skinny Gs and Coho Killers in Irish Cream, brass/silver and glow white good choices. In closer, it has been slower for anglers trolling from Esquimalt to Clover Point. The few fish caught by the harbour were from 3 to 8 lb.
Anchovies have been the most productive bait for springs and the Bloody Nose and UV green teaser heads have been working well. Spoons that have been successful in getting hook ups are Skinny Gs and Coho Killer, AP Tackleworks and
green/glow and Cop Car Coyote spoons.
Fishing was slow for halibut off Victoria with lots of dogfish being caught. Fishing has been best at Constance Bank and the Mud Hole.
Oak Bay - Riley Ragan landed a 10 lb. spring on the flats. Trollers had been catching fish trolling Coho Killers, Wee Gs and AP Sandlance spoons. Most of the anglers have been either bottom bouncing small anchovies, squirts and spoons or
jigging close to the bottom. Best bets for Oak Bay trolling lures are Wee Gs, Skinny Gs, Coho Killers and AP Tackleworks Sandlance spoons. Squirts will also work with Jellyfish and Electric Chairs good bets. Jiggers were also catching
limits of winter springs using Deep Stingers and Point Wilson Darts.
Sidney - The Sidney channel and James Island areas have held winter springs, but they have been just under the size required for retention. We haven’t heard of any fish coming from the Pender Island area. Suggested spoons are Coho
Killers, Gibbs Needle G and Wee G spoons and AP Sandlance spoons. Suggested colours are green/glow and blue/glow. Anchovies and Tiny Strip were also good in glow or UV Purple teaser heads.
Freshwater - Fishing was good in most lakes for trout and bass. Salmon fishing is still going on in Vancouver Island rivers.
Until December 31, 2018 the daily limit of coho salmon is one per day, and the daily limit of chum salmon is two per day in the Cowichan River downstream from the Mile 66 Trestle Bridge to the to the Highway No. 1 Bridge (Silver Bridge).
This is the typical boundary for this opening. The minimum size limit for coho salmon is 25 cm. The minimum size limit for chum salmon is 30 cm.
Trout fishing has been good at local lakes due to fall trout stocking. Shore anglers are catching trout on Powerbait, Gulp Eggs, and worms while fishing close to the bottom. Pink, chartreuse and fluorescent yellow have been good choices
recently for Powerbait.
Fly anglers are mostly fishing Wooly Buggers, leeches and Muddler Minnow patterns on full sink fly lines.
Trollers are catching trout with worms fished behind Gibbs Gang Trolls and on Gibbs Wedding Bands. 2” Tomic Plugs have also been working well for trout.
Bass fishing is good as bass try to fatten up for the winter. Most lakes are producing large fish. Soft plastics are a great choice when fishing structure close to shore. The most productive colours in 4” Yum baits are Smoke or
Pumpkinseed. Drop shot fishing can also be very effective this time of year if you find fish in deeper water. During the day, spinner baits and crank baits are working well at times. Langford Lake, Shawnigan, Prospect and Elk and Beaver
lakes and St. Marys Lake on Salt Spring are the best local bass lakes.
Island Outfitters, 3319 Douglas St.,
Victoria, ph: 475-4969


Salmon fishing for winter spring has been good between the Sooke Bluffs to Otter Point.
Fish have been right on the bottom, anywhere from 100 to 150 ft. Anchovies trolled in various glow teaser heads like Bloody Nose, Peanut Butter, glow white have been working great. Also spoons have been working. Use Shinny G, Trap Shack,
Coyote glow, Cop Car, glow green and white, and if you can get your hands on the Pesca spoons try Uncle Bob, Big Gulp, Green Lantern, and Happy Hour.
On the halibut side it has been very good off the Sooke Buffs from 200 to 400 ft., and Muir Creek has been pretty good also. Large herring and salmon bellies have both been working good.
A reminder the that Sooke Boxing Day Derby is on again this year. Tickets can be picked up in Sooke at Eagle eye Wilderness and the Crab Shack for more information phone 250-642-7983.
Tight lines.
Al Kennedy

Reel Excitement Salmon Charters


Freshwater - Cowichan Lake fishing for trout has gotten better. Try trolling off creek mouths. Good success with Tomic plugs in iridescent colours, Gang Trolls (The larger the better.) 24-30" leader and size 5-7 Kwikfish or Flatfish in
chrome, blue and Frog patterns are best. Fly casting at creek mouths with Wooley Buggers or leeches.
Remember the bait ban and single barbless hooks until April 15. Cutthroat and rainbow trout over 50 cm (19.685 inches) must be released.
Kissinger and Lizard lakes to the west, good rainbow trout fishing, try Corky and single egg rigs off the docks and beaches. Troll with small Spratleys, leeches, Wooley Buggers, Flatfish and small spoons.
Fuller Lake, Chemainus, Dougan’s, Quamichan and Somenos lakes also producing well. These lakes have been again stocked recently.
Cowichan River trout fishing - Mid river resident rainbow and brown trout. Single egg copies.
Skutz Falls to 70.2 trestle excellent for browns and rainbows. Single egg copies and minnows or Rolled Muddler flies. Greendale trestle to 70.2 trestle loaded with rainbows that have dropped from the lake to dine on the salmon eggs and
prepare for spawning. The largest browns in the river are found in this section.
Flies of choice: single egg patterns, Rolled Muddlers, Prince Nymphs, Hair’s Ear Nymphs, Pheasant Tail Nymphs. Stick to the bead heads and weighted flies - the river is quite high and it is important to get down deep.
Best flies for coho are blue Rolled Muddlers, Micky Finns or Jim Humphrey’s famous river salmon flies.
Best spinning lures for coho: Vibrax, gold/orange size 3 or silver/pink in size 3 also Gibbs Croc spoons in hammered brass or copper with fire stripe.
Steelhead fishing - Cowichan River - Try Silver Bridge area for early steelhead. Pink worms (we stock 17 shades), blades, Spin-n-Glos are good bets, but the new Trout Beads in Blood Dot are the best choice for steelhead or coho. I
wouldn’t bother casting anything else.
Mid river (Riverbottom Road area) try pink worms, blades and smaller roe imitations. December/January yields the largest fish of the season followed by the February/March run of smaller but more plentiful fish.
Nitinat, San Juan, Harris Creek - All excellent rivers for late summer runs and winter steelhead. Best fished when coming off of high water.
Fly fishing - Heavy sink tip lines are necessary when the rivers are running in winter conditions.
Flies of choice: Always popular egg and roe copies, the best of the best are Jim Humphrey’s Intruder Flies that could entice a strike at any time. Put your time in and as the weather improves the odds of landing a winter steelhead will
only get better.
Always check your regs before heading out.
Stop by the store for an up to dated fishing report.
May your rod bend to the butt and your smile go from ear to ear.
Winter hours are in effect at the store (Closed Sunday to Wednesday).

Gord March, Gord's Fly Box & Goodies, 170C Cowichan Lake Rd., 250-932-9309

Saltwater - There’s still the last few coho and chum out there in November, but lately not a lot of legal chinook. They are a bit late but we expect them in good numbers soon. They move in and out looking for bait, and throughout the
winter months they should give us some great fishing.
Fish deep, 150-200 feet, trolling Spaltterback, Blue Meanies, Herring Aid and other small spoons behind a glow flasher with any colour you like as long as it’s green. (try Guide One in lemon lime).
Prawning has been exceptional with great mixed catches of large and smaller prawns, and a good number of egg bearing females. Remember to throw those back, and expect a prawn closure Dec 31. Check DFO for prawn closures to protect egg
bearing females.
Freshwater - The lakes have been doing really well for all kinds of fishing, anything from worms and Powerbait to fly fishing and small spinners. The new Twitching Jigs by Arrow Jig are catching lots of trout. They are a cross between a
spinner and a hootchie. Cast them out, let them sink and twitch/retrieve. Or try trolling a Flatfish with a Wedding Band and worm.
Fly fishers should go deep with sinking line and wet flies like Pumpkinhead Wooly Buggers.
Fishing for chum and coho salmon was good in the Nanaimo River in November. Expect the river to open later for steelhead in the lower portions between the bridges. Fishing success will depend on the water levels.
Gone Fishin’, 600-2980 North Island Hwy., Nanaimo, ph: 250-758-7726

The winter season approaches and gives us pause to reflect on the measure of the year so far. Only a few short weeks back we were amid one of the best years in several for fishing coho along the beaches of central Vancouver Island’s east
coast. This year coho showed in abundance from Black Creek south to Nanoose Bay. If ever you had a favourite beach for coho it was guaranteed that at some point there was coho to be found. Typical of their kind there were days when the
bite just couldn’t be triggered no matter what fly pattern or what colour you pitched in their direction. Other days if you were lucky enough to be at the right place, at the right time, with the right fly… you experienced fishing the
likes of which you hadn’t been part of for some time.
The usual suspects did the damage. Flies like a California Neil in chartreuse, red or blue often would coax coho into action. However, Neils with bodies tied from flat braid or similar materials in other colours such as rainbow
holographic, silver or copper also worked this year. Bead colours of silver, gold, chartreuse, pink and blue helped to complicate things. Other notable patterns that worked for coho were old standards like a Pearl Mickey, Rolled Muddler
or a Clouser in orange, green, green and blue, red and yellow or pink and yellow. Sandlance imitations also brought hook-ups early in the season.
The fall chum fishery was hit and miss but some good returns to the Puntledge and the Nanaimo provided rewards for those who didn’t mind a little more travel and some crowded waters. Late October rains brought what chums were present
offshore into rivers like the Big and Little Q, French Creek and the Englishman. Hot on their heals we found some beautiful sea-run cutthroat, a few pressing three pounds that came to either egg patterns or Rolled Muddlers.
Summer run steelhead fishing has been consistently good for those who don’t mind walking to find them or who can drift local rivers like the upper Stamp. Gear fishers have had better results, but for those who have been willing to work
with their two-handers either fishing heavily weighted wets or skating bushy dries, there’s been rewards. We wait in anticipation to see what the winter run will amount to. If you plan on heading out in search of them, feel free to give
us a call for the latest information on where to go.
On the lakes – Spider lake was recently stocked with fall catchables and is also producing a few larger fish. Spider has fished particularly well this year. Even during the warm late summer days of September, we had some great fishing
when there was a hatch of brown termites that the rainbows in Spider couldn’t resist. Rusty brown coloured stimulator patterns worked well enough to bring some great dry fly action. We also heard of a few large smallmouths caught this
As 2018 draws to a close, we would be remiss if we did not take a moment to thank our many friends who helped make the past year for us a success. We will continue to work hard for you to source out new products and provide you with
service that you won’t find anywhere else. We continue to appreciate your support and we look forward to assisting you find that special gift for the special fisherperson in your life.
From Keith, Glenn and Gary at Coast Sportfish, we wish you all a joyful Christmas season and many tight lines in 2018.
Coast Sportfish, 202 - 891 Island Hwy. West, Parksville, 250-586-6622,

Saltwater - There are a few winter chinook in Barkley Sound now but the real effort starts in late December. It should be steady fishing through till spring. Winter salmon fishing peaks in March during the Sproat Lake Loggers salmon
The Alberni Canal, Vernon Bay and Ten Mile Point are a couple of the reliable hot spots for winter springs. Troll at 100-150 feet with anchovies or small spoons in Army Truck or hootchies in alligator and prawn patterns.
Freshwater - We’ve had really good fishing in the river in November, but usually the winter run steelhead begin to show up in early December. In the upper river fish with egg imitations like Trout Beads and Blood Dot Trout Beads, or egg
imitation fly patterns or marabou jigs, anything to imitate coho salmon eggs will interest the steelhead.
For trout fishing the big lower elevation lakes are always productive. Pick a day with good weather and dress in layers for the unexpected. Troll big Gang Trolls with Flatfish, Wedding Bands (with a piece of worm), or bottom fish from
shore with a worm or Powerbait. Fly fishers stick to wet flies like leeches, Muddlers and Spratleys.
Good luck. Gone Fishin’
4985 Johnston, Port Alberni,
ph: 250-723-1172

Saltwater - Those who tuck their boats away for the winter miss out on some of the best fishing opportunities of the year. There are plenty of feeder chinook salmon being caught in all the regular spots and at a wide selection of
depths, look for bait! Winter chinook are active and aggressive feeders, so a faster troll is acceptable and recommended.
Durabait anchovies and Rite Angle sandlance spoons, Tomic plugs and needle fish sized hootchies are perfect for enticing these feisty fish. The colder currents have driven away the dogfish, so this is an excellent time to troll small
anchovies and herring in a Rhys Davis teaser head.
Prawning is also great right now, your best catch will always be when you hit just the right spot and have your traps loaded with Tyee Marine Ultimate Prawn Pellets, Ultimate Prawn Paste, and Carlyle Just Tuna. Remember to quickly
release all the female prawns back into the deep.
Freshwater - Steelhead fishing in the Quinsam and Nimpkish rivers should be heating up. These rivers can be productive from mid-November all the way through into January. Pink or blue Intruders and egg sucking leeches should be effective
patterns for anglers using a fly rod. Last year, set-ups using different colours of wool were productive and the marabou steelhead jigheads were also productive. Rubber worms and Gooey Bobs in bubblegum pink are also great choices for
gear casting.
Oyster River and Salmon River are both worth fishing during late December through to the end of January. Remember you are fishing these river systems in winter, so dress in layers and if using waders, wear your wading belt.
Roberts Lake should be at the top of your list when trying to decide where to do some winter trout fishing. This lake has a bait ban, so the good ol' worms and bobber will have to stay home. Try casting Krocodile spoons or Blue Fox lures
around the drop off between the boat launch and resort. Another good way to fish Roberts Lake is to slowly troll two or three inch Tomic plugs around the far side of the lake. There are plenty of lunkers in this lake, but the maximum
length you are allowed to keep is 50 cm.
Lots of good trout opportunities at the multitude of lakes we are so lucky to have nearby. Many lakes have nice little day camping areas so get out and enjoy but remember to clean up all your mess when you are done.
Tyee Marine, 880 Island Hwy.,
Campbell River, 250-287-2641


Jessica Rodgers with a November Vancouver Island steelhead. Photo courtesy Tyee Marine

Jasmine from Campbell River caught her very first fish (at Point Holmes) on her pink Barbie rod with a blue BuzzBomb. She was persistent in wearing her pink princess dress to match her rod.










This Atlantic salmon was caught in the Salmon River on Vancouver Island. The faceless angler is a federal fisheries employee who fears for his job security if he is perceived to be making an anti-aquaculture statement in his off duty fishing.










In the spring when it’s time to buy your fishing licenses there will be some changes. Non-tidal licenses will remain available from your fishing tackle store as well as the BC government website. Tidal licenses however will no longer be for sale at any store, they will only be available on-line for 2014.

As an attempt to go green by using less paper the federal government will no longer print blank licenses. Anglers, however, will have to print the on-line license and carry it with them when fishing.

The federal government will also stop offering vendors any incentive to sell  licenses. Previously tackle shop owners earned one dollar for each license sold. Not exactly a high profit margin, but a bit of compensation for their time. So the federal government will save money by not printing licenses and also by not sharing proceeds with stores. Also going into extinction are printed tidal waters regulations booklets. The government is banking on anglers carrying smart phones to check regulations wherever they are fishing.

Many tourists will be caught unprepared, and possibly find themselves paying fines for fishing without a license and without a clear idea of fishing regulations.

To buy your tidal waters fishing license on-line click here.


Be bear aware

A biological drive to put on weight for a long winter has B.C.’s bears on the move, seeking out the calories they need before heading to their dens.

In their desperation to get enough food, bears can get aggressive, especially in areas close to human habitat. That’s when most bear-human conflicts occur. If you’re fishing Island rivers there’s a chance you may encounter bears drawn to the same shores.

Bears have an incredible sense of smell. They can zero in on food from miles away and can be single-minded to get at that food. For a bear, food comes in many forms, including garbage and over-ripe fruit in residential areas.

Every bear encounter is unique so there are no steadfast rules.

If you meet a bear in the wild try to remain calm. Never approach or chase a bear; face the bear without making eye contact, back away slowly. Take the same route out that you came in. Try to keep track of the bear, but again, don't challenge the bear with eye contact.

If the bear makes blowing or snorting noises and then charges and veers off at the last second this is likely defensive behavior so continue to back away.Extend your arms above your head appearing as large as you can, talk in a gruff voice, look for a weapon such as a rock or stick. Drop your pack to distract the bear; only do this if absolutely necessary because the bear could learn to pursue people for their packs.

Climb a tree as a last resort.

If a bear is persistent or aggressive, call the Report Poachers and Polluters hotline 1- 877-952-7277, or surf to

For more information about bears and bear-human conflicts, visit:



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