The best Salmon Fishing in BC - Ucluelet comparison
Salmon Fishing BC – How Ucluelet compares to all BC hotspots
As of 2024, Chinook (King) Salmon Fishing in BC in our opinion is much better than Alaska for ocean and rivers. All the hotspots on the west coast of Vancouver Island are great options. If you want to read our article on how salmon and halibut fishing in British Columbia compares to Alasaka you can do that here.
You can read about the best BC and Alaska halibut fishing and how Ucluelet compares.
Ucluelet Salmon Fishing:
Ucluelet is located on the west coast of Vancouver Island. Known as a commercial salmon fishing hub for a long time, it is now known for its sport fishing. The salmon fishing season runs from March to September, which is the longest time period for good fishing any of the hot spots.
Ucluelet has the largest feed area of any place on the coast so this give more opportunity to catch salmon but also can make it more challenging to catch salmon and we always recommend hiring a fishing charter for best results.
We list the best times to come fishing in Ucluelet here.
Whenever you choose a fishing charter anywhere in the world make sure they have lots of photos with lots of fish if that what your goal is. That is why we have hundreds oi photos on this website as well as 50lbs a day guarantee.
Ucluelet was known for being primarily on offshore fishery but in recent years the majority of the salmon are being caught within a mile of the shore.
Chinook (King) Salmon
Chinook (King) salmon are the most targeted salmon here. On most days between May 1 and mid-September we at Salmon Eye expect to catch our limit of Chinook salmon. It doesn’t always happen early or late season but we still expect it.
Out of the salmon fishing hot spots in BC, Ucluelet in my opinion is the best place to consistently catch Chinook salmon.
Coho salmon can generally be caught from late June to end of September. Our favorite time for Coho in Ucluelet is July .
Sockeye salmon run through in large numbers since they are heading up the Port Alberni Inlet but are rarely caught.
Pink and Chum salmon
Pink salmon are uncommon here but some days there will be pinks around. It is very rare to catch a chum here.
This needs to be mentioned because weather can affect the enjoyment of a salmon fishing trip. Ucluelet gets the best weather of all west coast fishing spots for wind and rain. It is still the west coast but our guests rarely put on rain gear. It helps that we have large heated cabins on our boats but we feel blessed with less wind and rain.
We have many photos of catches of Chinook salmon in our Fishing Reports over the past 15 years which you can check out here.
We think Ucluelet is the best salmon fishing spot in the world for:
- Consistent fishing over the whole season
- Area to catch salmon. We have many square miles of "hot spots"
- Fishing close to the harbour. Often we travel 20 minutes or less.
- Low wind, little rain during summer months
- Ease of travel here.
- Lowest cost when all travel factors are considered.
Haida Gwaii Salmon Fishing:
Haida Gwaii is a n archipelago off the northern coast of BC known for northern Coho and Chinook (King) salmon. The best part of the season is early August for larger Chinook salmon but there will be runs of Chinook coming through during July. as well
The average day may see as many Chinook salmon caught here but when the runs are on it can be great fishing. Fishing guides call it feast or famine but the feast times can be very memorable. Most of the Chinook caught here are heading to rivers near by so the average Chinook slightly larger than Ucluelet.
Coho fishing here is very good and you are allowed to keep all Coho caught. When the northern Coho come through in late August it can be a ton of fun and a lot of chaos.
Haida Gwaii’s remoteness can be an attraction in itself.. Most resorts are fly in from the Vancouver airport's South Terminal.
You would think the remote location would mean fewer anglers but during high season there can be more boats fishing hots spots than areas around Ucluelet. The fact that you are out of regular civilization without the distraction of normal cell phones can be a big plus.
Northern BC gets more rain and stormy weather than the southern half of Vancouver Island but this can be part of the adventure. Most resorts provide rain gear though bringing your own isn’t a bad idea. Make sure you bring water proof gear and not water resistant. It can rain all day there and having the right gear makes a difference in comfort.
Getting to Haida Gwaii:
Flying is the only option besides a long boat trip or ferry ride. There are flights from South Terminal at the Vancouver airport.
If you want recommendations for fishing in Haida Gwaii lets us know.
Kyuquot Salmon Fishing
You may not be able to pronounce the Kyuquot but this place has good Chinook and Coho salmon fishing from July 1 to late August. It is more consistent than Haida Gwaii though the average Chinook salmon is a bit smaller. There aren’t as many famine moments as Haida Gwaii but it does happen and is more likely late August.
Its remote location and weather is be part of the adventure.
Kyuquot is in the northern half of Vancouver Island so gets more stormy weather and it should be expected that you will be in 15-25 mile an hour winds. It is not always like this but it is frequently like this. The good thing is that the fishing is often not too far off shore and you rarely have to travel more than 10 miles out.
From Nanaimo, drive north on highway 19, and keep straight though Campbell River and follow signs to Woss. At kilometer marker 320 turn left at the road marked Zeballos/Fair Harbour which runs parallel to the highway for the first few mins. (approx. 15 minutes past Woss Camp turn off). Proceed on an unpaved logging road and follow the signs to Fair Harbour. It is approx. an hour drive on gravel roads.
There are no public phones or cell phone service in Fair Harbour so you must phone ahead from either Zeballos, Woss or Campbell River to confirm your water taxi pick up time.
A truck is recommended but not necessary. Make sure you have a spare tire on board. From Fair Harbour is half an hour by boat to Kyuquot.
There are a few fishing lodges and fishing charters in Kuyoquot. Let us know if you would like a recommendation.
Nootka Sound Salmon Fishing
Nootka Sound can be a great place to catch salmon and Nootka Sound has many feast moments where the Chinook and Coho salmon are coming on fast. The best part of the season runs here for July/August.
The remote nature of Nootka Sound is a draw for many who come there.
Driving: Drive to Gold River, keep straight on Head Bay Rd, following the signs to the Village of Tahsis.
The final stretch of road is gravel with some steep grades (15% and 18%), The road is better when it was graded and the weather conditions are good but the state of the road can vary so just be prepared. This area gets more rain than other areas of Vancouver Island. Make sure you have working brakes and headlights and a spare tire. Take it slow, pull over for larger vehicles, and keep your headlights on at all times!
There are a few fishing lodges and charters in Nootka Sound. Let us know if you would like a recommendation.
Nootka Sound is in the northern half of Vancouver Island so rain and higher winds are common here. The good thing is that when fishing can be good in protected water for salmon.
Port Hardy salmon fishing
The salmon fishing out of Port Hardy has been slower the past couple years but it is normally a decent spot. A few of our clients fish multiple areas and have reported slow fishing but that could also be affected by famine times and guide experience.
Port Hardy is at the northern tip of Vancouver Island and most of the best fishing is offshore here.
Getting to Port Hardy:
You have the option to drive or fly. Most people don’t realize Vancouver Island is 456 Km long. From Nanaimo Duke Point ferry , it is about 4.5 hours driving time plus stops.
Alternatively you can fly from South Terminal in Vancouver to Port Hardy. If you are going to fly our recommendation would be to fly to Haida Gwaii.
Other places in BC to catch salmon.
We don’t recommend coming to these other areas as a destination but if you are in the area it can be a fun side excursion.
Campbell River salmon fishing:
Campbell River has a marketing tagline is the "Salmon Capital of the World."
In recent years Campbell River like other places on the east coast of Vancouver Island has had salmon retention restrictions making much of the year catch and release.
Located on the east coast of Vancouver Island near the Discovery Islands. It became famous for its Tyee Club which started in 1924 where fisherman would fish in row boats. Campbell River salmon fishing was not very good for about 20 years but both Chinook and Coho have come through in larger numbers the past few years.
The Campbell River gets a large run of pink salmon so fly fisherman like fishing along the shoreline during the fall months . The Chum salmon fishing can be good in the first couple weeks of October near Green Sea.
Campbell River also is famous for its fast tides and whirl pools. It can be humorous when a foreign boat tries to come through at the wrong time and quickly realizes it doesn’t matter how much power the boat has.
Port Alberni salmon fishing:
Port Alberni also has a marketing tagline is the "Salmon Capital of the World."
The best times to fish here are June 15 to July 15 for sockeye salmon. Sockeye run fluctuate so just because you hear it was poor last year doesn’t mean it will be poor the following year. Sockeye limits are often 4 per person and when fishing is good the boat can limit quickly. The best time to fish is the first 2 hours of the morning.
Boats often leave the dock at 4 am to get out for first light.
From August 18- August 25 the bites for Chinook salmon returning to the Stamp river can be good. Most people try and get out at first light and catches normally range from 2-6 salmon.
First light is very important here as the Chinook aren’t actively feeding and the first 30 minutes is the best chance at action.
Tofino salmon fishing:
Tofino is on the west coast of Vancouver Island just a 35 minute drive north from Ucluelet.
Most people visiting are coming to the beaches to surf and it is known as the surfing capital of BC. But you can also have good Chinook salmon fishing here. There are less feeding areas to choose from compared to Ucluelet but normally once a summer for a period of a couple days the fishing can be better than Ucluelet for returning Chinook salmon.
Clayoquot sound used to be a place to catch Coho salmon on the fly but in the past 20 years Clayoquot has been slow for both Chinook and Coho.
Target species include coho, chinook, and pink salmon. The landscape here is comparable to Ucluelet. The fishing seasons runs from March to September.
Port Renfrew salmon fishing:
Port Renfrew is famous for the Swiftsure bank, about a 30 mile boat ride North West of Port Renfrew. Restrictions on ground fish and Chinook salmon retention have made things tougher on guides but if you want to fish close to Victoria out of cell range, Port Renfrew could be a good option.
Recent retention restrictions have made it tougher on fishing charters here but just check the latest DFO notices
Sooke salmon fishing:
If you are in Victoria, Sooke is only a 45 minute drive depending on traffic. During the later season Sooke has some larger Chinook salmon that come closer to shore. Retention restrictions have made it tougher on the fishing charters here but from August 1 on you should be allowed 2 Chinook salmon. Always check with regulations.
Nanaimo salmon fishing:
Nanaimo Chinook salmon fishing is mostly catch and release, but in recent years the Chinook salmon have come back in bigger numbers and locals can still enjoy some fun on the water. There is a large local fishing community in Nanaimo.
Victoria salmon fishing:
Some say Victoria is the crown jewel of Canada and most come for whale watching, slow food and conferences. Summer salmon fishing is not recommended however, winter salmon fishing in Victoria can see from 2-6 Chinook salmon in the 3-10lb range.
Access to British Columbia’s capital city is good as you can fly direct from Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton and San Francisco.
Skeena River: A remote river system in northern BC famous for its large Chinook salmon. The Skeena fishing has slowed in recent years which as been a bit perplexing given that it is a very remote area.
If you would like to read how to choose a fishing charter on Vancouver Island click here.
If you are interested in coming fishing check out our fishing packages.
BC Salmon fishing FAQ’s:
What is the best month for salmon fishing in BC?
Both July and August are good months depending on where you want to fish and what you want to catch. August generally has slightly larger Chinook salmon and Coho.
How much does it cost to go salmon fishing in BC?
It really depends on how long you want fish. Most people that come to fish with us come for multi-day trips since we are a destination area but we also get visitors to Ucluelet and Tofino that just want a 4-6 hour trip. Our day trip prices are listed here and our package prices are listed here.
Are most salmon wild in BC?
All salmon you catch on the ocean should be wild. Even salmon raised in hatcheries which we all hatchery salmon are wild since from a smolt on wards they are wild.
How many salmon can you keep in BC?
That depends on the area. Most areas from Ucluelet north on the west coast of Vancouver Island have a limit of 2 Chinook and 2 Coho per person per day and 4 as the carrying limit.
Can you fish for salmon year round in BC?
You can fish salmon all year round from Ucluelet north on Vancouver Island. In other areas in the south it depends on the time of year. In other areas you are always allowed to fish but sometimes it is catch and release only.
What license do I need to fish for salmon fishing in BC?
You need a saltwater license with salmon stamp. BC has one of the cheapest saltwater fishing licenses in the world.
Does salmon fishing affect the Killer Whales?
NGO’s and some larger organizations have sued the Canadian government over fishing regulations and also written many articles claiming whales were starving because of declining Chinook salmon populations.
It is hard to make a case that fishing has anything to do with the media coverage over Tahlequah the Orca - famous for carrying her dead calf for 17 days. The good news is that she had another calf not long after.
Northern Vancouver Island Orca resident orca whale numbers have doubled since 1970 while southern populations have fluctuated but increased slightly.
Pollution is more than likely the culprit as up to 2021 Victoria dumped raw sewage into the water so there are cleaners and plastic particles being put in daily. It could be coincidence but since over the last couple years the focus on starving whales has not been a regular news cycle.
Here are a few more photos from 2023: