Freshwater Fishing

court river


There is freshwater fishing throughout BC, but you have to go up country, or remote spots on the Island for the big freshwater fish. Species include: Five types of Salmon, Rainbow, Brown, Cutthroat, and Lake trout, Dolly Varden, Smallmouth Bass, Kokanee, Whitefish, and the king of them all: Steelhead.



Regulations are strict, and each area has different restrictions. When you get your licence, be sure to pick up the free regulation guide. It is also worthwhile to purchase the "BC Fishing Directory and Atlas" which lists over 2500 lakes and rivers, and tells you how to get there.

For our purposes, we are listing a few of those lakes and rivers in coastal regions, that are known for Rainbow, Cutthroat, or Steelhead (or all three). Most of the rivers also have good Fall Coho runs.

• North Vancouver Island: In the Port Hardy, Port Alice, Port McNeill triangle lie a number of good fishing spots: Alice lake, Artlish River, Bonanza Lake, Cluxewe River, Georgie Lake, Keogh River, Kokish River, Nimphish River and Lake, Tsitika River.


• Mid Vancouver Island: From Campbell River south to Comox and west through Strathcona Park: Buttle lake, Burman River, Campbell River, Upper and Lower Campbell Lakes, Cypre River, Comox Lake, Elsie Lake, Forbidden Plateau Lakes, Gold River, Oshinaw Lake, Purtledge River, Schoen Lake, Torquart River, Vernon Lake, Grand Central Lake, and many others.


• South Vancouver Island: From Port Alberni to Victoria are a number of good sized lakes, and rivers with steelhead and salmon runs. Boomerang Lake, Brannen Lake, Cameron Lake, Caycuse River, Chemainus River, Cowichan Lake, Cowichan River, Englishman River, Francis lake, Franklin River, Fuller Lake, Hidden lake, Horne lake, Klanawa River, Little Qualicum River, Nahmint River, Nanaimo River, Nitinat Lake, Pachena Lake, Qualicum River, San Juan River, Sproat Lake and River, Weeks Lake.


• Lower Mainland: Salmon rivers from Hope to Vancouver, notably the Fraser, Chilliwack and Caplilano. Most of the lakes are stocked with trout, but the larger fish are in more remote lakes and rivers. Allouette Lake and River, Campbell River, Cultus Lake, Chilliwack Lake, Errock Lake, Harrison Lake, Indian River, Kanaka Creek, Pitt Lake and River, Rolley Lake, Salmon River, Stave Lake and River, Sumas River are some of the more productive waters.



• Squamish / Garibaldi: The Cheakamus and Squamish Rivers have good Coho runs in fall, Chinnook in summer, and winter Steelhead. The lakes offer good sized Rainbow and Dollies. Alice lake, Alta Lake, Brohm Lake, Butterfly Lake, Green Lake, Lillooet Lake, Mamquam River, Stawamus River.


Sunshine Coast: From Gibsons to Powell River can be very good fishing in the numerous lakes that dot the coast. Some of the better ones are: Dodd Lake, Duck Lake, Freda Lake, Goat Lake, Halsom Lake, Horn Lake, Horseshoe Lake, Ireland Lake, Nanton Lake, North Lake, Powell Lake, Ruby Lake, Sakinaw Lake. Rivers: Rainy River, Gray Creek, Lang Creek, Roberts Creek. Other waters accessed by plane or boat: Brem River, Brittain River, Phillips River, Vancouver River and Nelson Island.


• Queen Charlottes: Rainbow, dollies and cutthroat all year in most lakes and rivers. The winter steelhead run, Nov. to April, find these great fighter up to 30 lbs. Try these rivers, which also have fall Coho runs: Yakoum, Tiell, Hiellen, Chown, Copper, Deena and Pallant.


• Cariboo to Bella Coola: The Adams River and others in the Interior (from the Okanagan to the Chilcotins) have superb reputations. All the tributaries of the Fraser River system have merit. The Bella Coola River is one of the most productive salmon rivers in BC. The tributaries hold rainbow and other trout, but the really good lakes are the other side of the Coast Mountains on the Chilcotin Plateau.


• The Exchamsiks River Provincial Park, 56 km west of Terrace has giant old growth Sitka Spruce, and productive salmon fishing in late summer. Another good spot is in the Kleanza Creek Provincial Park, in the canyon, or Lakelse Prov. Park south of Terrace.

• In the Prince Rupert/Kitimat area the Skeena River and its many tributaries have salmon, cutthroat, dollies. The Kitimat River and Kloiya are considered good for winter steelhead, salmon July to Sept. and trout. Prudhomme and Diana Lakes are close to Rupert with cuts all summer. Many fly-in lakes to the north and south.


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