A to Z – All Things Fish

A         Adventure awaits.  Vancouver Island North is a fishing paradise where pristine rivers, sparkling lakes, tidal inlets and the Pacific Ocean offer up of opportunities for your epic fishing story.  You are never more than a few moments away from an incredible angling experience.

        Bait and lures are many and varied.  Depends on who you ask and what you’re fishing for.  Live bait includes: herring, roe (fish eggs) and octopus.  Some of the favourite lures used around these parts are: buzz bombs, zingers, spoons, flashers and hoochies.  Fish will definitely let you know whether the snack on the end of the line is working or not.

C         Charters are available for all skill levels from first timer to hard-core action seekers.  Half day, full day or multi-day trips with experienced guides who will provide all the equipment necessary and an endless choice of prime fishing spots.  If you’re traveling with your own boat there are plenty of moorage opportunities in each community.

D         Discover the laid back charm of Vancouver Island North.  Start a conversation with locals.  If you ask them nicely they might just share the location about their favourite fishing hole.

E          Ebb Tide.  Ebb, flow and slack tides are another piece of the fishing equation.  Taking a few minutes to educate yourself about local tides and currents can make the difference between catching some fish or just getting a bit of fresh air.  Local tide tables are available online.

Boomer Jerritt photo

         Fly Fishing doesn’t require a boat or heavy equipment.  Experience your own Zen moment casting on the shore of the Nimpkish River (the largest river on Vancouver Island).  Cluxewe, Keough, Nahwitti, Marble and Quatse Rivers are other fly fishing treasures.

G         Gastronomical delights.  If you’re not interested in trying to catch your own, local fish and seafood are the star of the show at most eateries.  Halibut Neptune is a generous piece of grilled halibut, topped with seafood and smothered with cream sauce.  And fish and chips may have originated in England but we also know to appreciate the exquisite crunch of crisp batter with the sweet promise of fresh fish and a side of french fries.

H          Halibut offers all the excitement an angler is looking for.  There’s nothing more exhilarating than deep sea fishing and yelling “fish on” and bringing up one of these bottom dwelling giants.

I           Ichthyologist is a scientist who studies fish and other marine life.  An icky term for a cool job.

J           Jigging for fish creates a jerky vertical motion and is the most active method of fishing.  The perfect introduction for newbies.  All you need is a fishing rod and a piece of shoreline or perch yourself at the end of a dock.

K         ‘Kutala is the Kwakwaka’wakw (pronounced kwock-kwocky-wowk) word for salmon.  This sacred fish is included in creation stories of the First Nations people when ancestors came in the form of animals by way of sea, land or underground.  Salmon have provided important sustenance and are woven into cultural heritage.

Kimberly Kufaas photo

L          License is a must for anyone fishing on Vancouver Island North.  There are regulations for quotas, location and time of year.  It’s possible to purchase a licence online before your arrival.  Visit Fisheries & Oceans Canada website for more information.

M         Marble River Provincial Park.  So amazing even the black bears fish here.  Watch salmon spawn in the fall from two viewing areas along the trail.  It’s an extremely popular park for recreational angling and fly fishing.  Also considered the best steelhead fishing river on Vancouver Island.

N         Vancouver Island North.  Shhh, we’re going to let you in on a little secret.  It’s a fishing Mecca.  Fishermen travel from around the world because the fishing is incredible, the scenery is awe inspiring and there’s plenty of breathing room.

        Ocean fishing.  Excuse us while we brag just a little that there are five species of salmon (Chinook, Coho, Sockeye, Pink & Chum), halibut, crab, rockfish, sea bass and snapper out in the big salt chuck.

         Packaging your catch is easy to do.  Hardy Buoys Smoked Fish in Port Hardy caters to anglers who want to have their catch professionally processed, packed and shipped home.  If you came away   from your adventure empty handed do yourself a favour and try their candied salmon.  Finger licking delicious.

Boomer Jerritt photo

        Quatse Salmon Stewardship Centre in Port Hardy welcomes visitors to the world of salmon.  Give yourself time to wander through the interpretive gallery that includes a freshwater aquarium, learn about the life cycle of salmon egg to fry to full size adult.  Tours of the stewardship centre and hatchery are available year round.

R         Research into accommodation is right at your fingertips at vancouverislandnorth.ca Options from bed & breakfasts to cabins, hotels and resorts.  By yourself or part of a group

S          Sointula Salmon Days where for 3 days in August they celebrate all things salmon.  This “old meets new” festival starts off with a parade and crowning of the Salmon King & Queen.  A weekend of live music, food, family games and the favourite event is the wild salmon dinner caught, prepped and served by local “sea dogs.”

T          Tackle is another word for fishing equipment.  All the bits and pieces like lures and fishing line you need for your fishing adventure carried in a tackle box.

U         Under the water there are plenty of creatures sharing the briny depths.  Orcas (Killer Whales), Humpback Whales, Sea Lions, White Sided Pacific Dolphins, Porpoises, otters and more.

V         Views and Vistas in front, behind and all around you.  Rugged and wild.

       Weather runs the gamut from magnificent misty mornings to cloudless big sky panoramas. We can experience more than one season in a day so it’s always a good idea to dress in layers.

        eXplore beaches, coastlines and waterways of Vancouver Island North.  Whether you’re fishing, learning about fish, celebrating fish or enjoying a meal of fish come discover your inner explorer.

        Year Round fishing is possible thanks to a temperate climate.  Some charter companies take their boats out of the water for the winter but nothing is stopping you intrepid angler from dropping a line into a lake or river any month of the year.

Z          Zzzzzzzzz is the sound your reel makes when the bait gets hammered by a hungry fish.


Karen Stewart – Freelance Writer

Karen is the author of a blog titled This is Port McNeill