Seasons & Run Timing
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 6 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 best fished on a 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 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 5 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 (15 minutes from our dock), the T-10 (30 minutes from our dock) and the Sandheads (50 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 10-20 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.
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 literally only 2 minutes from our dock! This fishery is best experienced on a 5 hour or 8 hour charter.
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.
Pacific Angler Fishing Charters has access to Vancouver salmon 365 days a year. Vancouver Salmon include all 5 species of wild Pacific salmon available in the Pacific Ocean.
Chinook salmon, sometimes referred to as King salmon, are the most consistent species available in Vancouver and the surrounding areas. With a number of healthy and productive river systems nearby, there are generally solid numbers of large chinook available to the local angler. As the weather and temperatures improve into spring time, the first signs of migratory summer chinook appear. Spring to summer chinook fishing produces some of the biggest fish of the year ranging from 10 to upwards of 30 lbs! These fish are effectively using our local waters as a highway en route to their native rivers and provide some excellent fishing from April all the way to September as different runs of these fish pass by our doorstep.
As the mature spawning chinook head up river to spawn in the summer and fall, our waters are inhabited by immature, 2-3 year old, feeder chinook in the winter. These fish are aggressive eaters as they work to gain body mass in order to complete their life cycles in the next 1-3 years. Due to their aggressive eating, feeder chinook take bait hard and can be a handful on the line for experienced and inexperienced anglers alike! Generally ranging from 5-25 lbs, feeders, sometimes also referred to as winter chinook, are beautiful chrome specimens for photographs and tasty on the BBQ.
Local chinook can be caught on a 5 hour or 6 hour charter depending on the time of year. An 8 or 10 hour charter is your best bet for landing some of these beasts as it allows us to fish multiple tides and move to more productive locations that are further away if needed based on recent fishing, time of year, and weather.
Coho Salmon, occasionally referred to as Silvers, are famous for their acrobatic leaps. These fish begin to show up in late spring and there numbers build in early summer and continue on into early Fall. Our local Vancouver coho range from 4-12 lbs and are easily identifiable from chinook by their white gums and the lack of spots on their tails. We have excellent coho fishing only minutes from our dock as thousands of these fish return every year to the Capilano River in West Vancouver.
A 5 hour charter is a perfect choice for coho as we have great fishing for them only minutes from our dock. Many anglers opt for an 8 hour charter so they can fish for coho in the morning for a few hours then chase chinook later on in the day.
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 6 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.
A 5 hour, 6 hour, or 8 hour charter will get you into plenty of pinks when they are around on the odd number years. On 8 or 10 hour charters we can take you to remote beaches where you can spin cast or fly fish for these fish as they cruise the shallows!
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 altogether.
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. If you are a river fisherman, give us a call to discuss some of our rafting and jet boating trips to the river mouths where we have excellent fly fishing and float fishing for chum in October and November.
Coastal sea run cutthroat trout are truly beautiful little fish. Similar to Pacific salmon, these trout are anadromous, meaning they spend part of their lives in freshwater and part in the saltwater. They are different from salmon in that they make the transition between fresh and saltwater each year. This makes timing particularly important, but they can be successfully targeted by fly fishers in and around their home river estuaries during the Spring and Fall months. In the Spring, they are lurking at their river mouths awaiting the newly hatched salmon fry to make their first appearance in the saltwater. During the Fall months they inhabit the same areas while feeding on stickleback, sculpins and a variety of immature crustaceans to fatten up before they enter the rivers once more. Pacific Angler has significant experience targeting coastal sea run cutthroat on the fly!
We have some amazing and remote beaches to take the serious fly fisher in search of coastal sea-run cutthroat. These beaches require a 10 hour charter and we can drop crab traps and prawn traps on the way our and fish for chinook on our way to the cutthroat beaches as well. This fishery is tide and season dependent and we recommend booking well in advance.