July 23, 2024

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Vancouver BC Fishing Guide – The Complete Guide

Vancouver Panorama from False Creek

Reading Time: 9 minutes

Fishing in Vancouver, BC offers a different take on one of the world’s most livable cities. Just a stone’s throw from the bustling downtown, the underwater world is just as alive. Cast a line here and take part in what’s more than just a pastime in these parts!

A Vancouver fishing adventure is a must when visiting this welcoming city. In fact, we’d go as far as to say that angling here is an integral part of the city’s fabric. After all, the city sits just across from Vancouver Island – one of the best places in the world for fishing. 

This is a place where the wild beauty of nature, open spaces, and urban sophistication seamlessly blend. And we’re here to let you in on all its secrets. In this guide, we invite you to explore Vancouver’s diverse fishing landscape. We’ll uncover the variety of species waiting beneath the waves, pinpoint the most rewarding fishing spots, and share techniques that work best. Read on!

Top Vancouver Fish Species

Strategically positioned on the migratory route of all five Pacific Salmon species, and combined with the presence of Halibut, Sturgeon, and Steelhead, Vancouver’s waters are a microcosm of the Pacific Ocean’s rich fishery. Let’s take a look at each species one by one…


Vancouver’s freshwater playground is an extensive network of rivers, streams, and lakes. Here, you can find everything from the mighty Sturgeon to the elusive Trout, each bringing a unique flavour and challenge.


Two anglers hold a Sturgeon in the brown waters of a river next to a boat, ready to release it on a cloudy day
Photo courtesy of Fraser Legends Fishing

We’ll start with the big one. Sturgeon is a prehistoric giant – quite possibly the crown jewel of Vancouver’s freshwater fishing scene. These massive fish, often found around Chilliwack, offer a true angling challenge. They can grow to enormous sizes, with some reaching over 4 metres (13 feet)!

Fishing for Sturgeon in Vancouver is a blend of skill, patience, and endurance. These fish are known for their powerful fights and astonishing acrobatics. Locals use heavy tackle, strong lines, and specific baits, often anchoring in deep river channels to maximize their chances. Come from late spring through fall to catch their peak season, as the Fraser River’s deep spots come alive!

Catching a Sturgeon is like encountering a living piece of history. Due to their size and the conservation efforts in place, most Sturgeon fishing in Vancouver is catch-and-release, ensuring these magnificent creatures continue to thrive.


A closeup of a silver Cutthroat Trout being held by a man in a hooded sweater on a day with sunny intervals on a lake
Photo courtesy of Teacher Todd Guide Service

While significantly smaller than the aforementioned beasts, Trout are by no means left behind by anglers looking for a reward here. Trout fishing in Vancouver includes Cutthroat, Steelhead, and Rainbow Trout. These fish are spread across various habitats, from calm lakes to fast-flowing rivers and streams.

Cutthroat Trout are native here, typically found in both freshwater and brackish environments. They average around 35–40 centimetres (14–16 inches) and are great targets on the fly in small, clear streams and lakes.

Rainbow Trout, meanwhile, come in two forms. The river-based variety average around the same lengths as Cutthroat and are loved for their energetic leaps and fights. Steelhead, however, are larger and somewhat more elusive. Migrating to the sea, these brutes can reach lengths of up to 90 centimetres (35 inches) and are known for their stamina. Hit the Fraser River during migration season to get in on the action! 


Vancouver’s saltwater fishing scene is equally impressive – highlighted by the iconic Pacific Salmon. But that’s not all. There are also prized species like Halibut, Lingcod, and even Dungeness Crab.

Pacific Salmon

A group of three anglers holding a large Salmon each on an urban wooden dock at a marina in Vancouver after a fishing trip on a cloudy day
Photo courtesy of Built For Speed Fishing Charters

Salmon fishing is a hallmark of fishing in Vancouver. The city’s location along their migratory routes allows anglers to target all five species of Pacific Salmon: Chinook, Coho, Sockeye, Chum, and Pink. Few places in the world can compete with this! 

Chinook Salmon – also known as King Salmon – are the largest and most sought-after. They’re available throughout the year but are most abundant during summer and fall. Kings average around 9–23 kilograms (20–50 pounds) and promise an intense battle whenever hooked.

Chum and Coho are smaller, yet no less exciting. They typically weigh between 3–9 kilos (6-20 pounds) and swim by in late summer and early fall. Fly fishing and light tackle spinning are effective methods for catching Coho and Chum, especially near the mouths of rivers as they prepare for their spawning migration.

Even smaller are Sockeye Salmon, averaging 2–4 kilograms (4–9 pounds). This variety is unique in its preference for plankton. They’re more challenging to catch on traditional gear, often requiring specific rigs and techniques.

And finally, Pink Salmon are the smallest but most abundant – when they visit, that is! They offer a fast-paced fishing experience in odd-numbered years due to their biennial spawning cycle. Averaging around half that of Sockeye Salmon, Pinkies are best caught with light tackle and flies.


Two happy male anglers aboard a fishing charter in British Columbia each holding a Halibut on a cloudy day
Photo courtesy of Fish On Tofino

Wherever they show up, Halibut are a prized catch, and Vancouver is no exception. Growing to impressive sizes – often exceeding 68 kilograms (150 pounds) – these monsters hang out in deeper waters and require specialized gear and techniques, such as heavy rods and strong lines.

You should opt for longer fishing trips to target Halibut, with spring and summer being the best seasons. These trips will take you far offshore, where Halibut peruse the ocean floor, often along sandy or muddy bottoms.

The challenge of Halibut fishing lies in their strength and the depths in which they reside. Techniques like deep-sea jigging and bait fishing with herring or octopus are effective. Patience and endurance are key, as reeling in a large Halibut can be a strenuous task. But it’ll all be worth it when you tuck into those hearty Hali fillets for weeks to come!


A male angler in glasses and a baseball cap holding a large brown Lingcod on a fishing boat in open waters close to shore
Photo courtesy of Reel Time Fishing Charters & Marine Tours

Another fierce predator in Vancouver’s saltwater realm, Lingcod offer an exciting challenge for all kinds of anglers. While not quite as big as Halibut, these fish regularly grow bigger than 20 kilos (45 pounds), while their meat is just as flavoursome! 

Lingcod patrol rocky structures and kelp beds, reacting well to jigging and bait fishing. They’re aggressive feeders, striking lures and baits with great force. The best time to fish for them is during the spring and summer months, when they’re most active. Strong tackle and sharp hooks are needed to handle Lingcod’s powerful bites and fights, so come well-armed and get ready to do battle.

Top Vancouver Fishing Types

From the thrill of deep-sea adventures to the tranquillity of fly fishing in serene streams, Vancouver has it all. Each fishing type comes with its own set of techniques, top spots, and target species. So let’s explore the most popular methods of fishing types…

Vancouver Fly Fishing

A male angler in waders kneeling in a river surrounded by snow-topped mountains holding a Salmon and a fly rod, with a purple fly visible near the Salmon's mouth
Photo courtesy of Flyfishingwhistlerbc

Fly fishing in Vancouver is a serene and skillful pursuit, offering anglers a chance to connect with nature. This technique is particularly popular for targeting freshwater species like Trout and Steelhead in the area’s rivers and streams.

Vancouver’s fly fishing hotspots include the Capilano River, known for its Salmon and Trout, and the calm settings of local lakes and streams, where Rainbow and Cutthroat Trout thrive. The Fraser River and its tributaries are also excellent for Steelhead.

Fly fishing requires a blend of skill, patience, and the right gear. Anglers use a variety of specialized flies to mimic the natural prey of the fish. Whether wading through shallow streams or casting from the riverbanks, fly fishing in Vancouver is a peaceful yet incredible experience, perfect for those seeking a more intimate fishing adventure.

Urban Fishing

A male angler holding a fly fishing rod out into some water as the sun is setting near a bridge in West Vancouver

Fishing in the city itself offers quick access to the waterways – something you can even do on your lunch break! The techniques are generally simpler than fly fishing or hitching a charter, and fishers of all skill levels can try their hand at it. Get started with a basic spinning setup or experiment with hand lines – everything is possible.

The city is committed to maintaining a balance between urban development and natural habitats. Key urban fishing spots include the Capilano River hatchery, where Salmon thrive, and several fishing piers in West Vancouver. However, you’re always welcome to explore other spots.

Vancouver Charter Fishing

Two female anglers holding a Salmon aboard a fishing charter boat named Mongoose Striker with fishing gear visible on the boat
Photo courtesy of Mongoose Striker Fishing Charters

Booking a Vancouver fishing charter is your gateway to the waters of the Pacific. There are hundreds of experienced captains running well-outfitted boats, offering tailored trips for a range of species, including the prized Pacific Salmon and Halibut.

Techniques like mooching, a West Coast specialty, are common. This involves drift fishing with a weighted line at depths favoured by Chinook Salmon. Trolling with planer boards and downriggers is another popular method.

Some of the best charter fishing spots include the Gulf Islands, stretching from Nanaimo in the north to Galliano Island in the south. The “Hump,” south of Bowen Island, and the Howe Sound are also renowned for their abundant fish populations and incredible beauty. And exploring these spots is always best done with a local guide by your side.

Top Vancouver Fishing Spots

A bent fishing rod curves above turbulent open waters with mountains and a city visible in the background
Photo courtesy of Lazydayz Charters & Adventures

Speaking of spots, you’ve probably already guessed that Vancouver is home to some of the finest fishing spots in North America. Each location in and around town comes with its own allure. Here are some of our favourite locations where you can wet your line:

  • Chilliwack. Located 100 kilometres (just over 60 miles) east of Vancouver, this is a celebrated hotspot for Sturgeon fishing. The Fraser River in this area harbours some of the largest freshwater fish in North America.
  • The Hump near Bowen Island. Particularly renowned for Salmon fishing, the deep waters here create a perfect playground for various Salmon species, especially during their migratory season.
  • Gulf Islands. Extending from Nanaimo in the north to Galliano Island in the south, these islands are home to Salmon, Halibut, and other saltwater species.
  • Howe Sound. A majestic fjord that’s easily accessible from Vancouver, this an excellent location for targeting species like Salmon, Lingcod, and Rockfish amidst awe-inspiring scenery.
  • Capilano River Hatchery. Positioned below the dam on the Capilano River, this area hosts an exceptional Salmon fishery. Visit during the spawning runs to take advantage of peak season.
  • West Vancouver fishing piers. Ideal for a more laid-back experience, all within the convenience of the city, there are plenty of purpose-built structures for you to cast your line from.
  • Spanish Banks. Near the University of British Columbia, this popular beach area doubles as an excellent fishing spot. Its shallow waters are suited for fly fishing and wading for Flounder and Crab, among others.
  • Rice Lake. Tucked away in the North Shore Mountains, this calm freshwater lake is perfect for a family fishing day out. The lake is stocked with Rainbow Trout, so bring your fly fishing gear.

Vancouver Fishing Seasons

A view across the water towards anglers on a boat fish ingon a winter's day with snowy mountains in the background
Photo courtesy of Go-fish-charters

It should be clear that the fishing never stops in Vancouver. But some seasons are more productive than others – especially if you have your eye on a specific species.

The city’s waters come alive in spring. This is when Halibut begin to make their presence known around the Gulf Islands and Howe Sound. In freshwater, the rivers and lakes awaken the appetites of Rainbow and Cutthroat Trout, while the Sturgeon fishing season kicks off in the Fraser River. For urban anglers, the Capilano River sees the early runs of Chinook Salmon.

Summer in Vancouver is nothing short of a fishing bonanza. Saltwater fishing hits its peak with the arrival of all five Pacific Salmon species. As the leaves turn, so does the focus of fishing in Vancouver. Fall is synonymous with even more Salmon runs. Anglers in the Fraser and Capilano Rivers can witness the migration of Salmon upstream. In the saltwater domain, Lingcod and Rockfish become the main target.

However, don’t discount winter fishing. It can be surprisingly productive, especially for freshwater enthusiasts targeting Steelhead and Sturgeon in the rivers. Saltwater anglers can enjoy hunting for Prawn and Crab. Just make sure to wrap up warm!

Vancouver Fishing Rules & Regulations

An infographic featuring the flag of British Columbia, a vector of a boat, and the FishingBooker logo, along with text stating "Vancouver, BC Fishing Regulations: What You Need to Know" against a blue background

In Vancouver, compliance with fishing rules and regulations set by the BC authorities is essential for all anglers. Regardless of whether you’re fishing in freshwater or saltwater, a valid fishing licence is mandatory. Saltwater anglers should get a Tidal Waters Sport Fishing Licence, and those planning to catch and keep Salmon need to include a Salmon Conservation Stamp with their permit. 

For freshwater fishing, licences are issued by the BC authorities and are available on their official website. Even for anglers under 16, who can obtain permits free of charge, having a licence is a must.

Bag and size limits are critical for conservation. These vary by species and fishing location and are subject to change based on ecological needs. Make sure to consult with your guide to stay up to date with current regulations to make sure you don’t miss out on the fish of your dreams!

Vancouver Fishing: Urban Waters, Wild Catches

Four anglers fly fishing from two kayaks underneath a Vancouver bridge with the city in the background on a bright, hazy day

In the heart of British Columbia, Vancouver stands as a seamless blend of the urban and natural. And this is particularly reflected in its fishing scene. Whether you’re casting a line in the shadow of skyscrapers or amidst the tranquil waters of the Pacific, Vancouver fishing expeditions go beyond the catch. So book a trip, secure your licence, and dive into the diverse and bountiful waters of Vancouver. Make this city a part of your angling story!

Have you ever been fishing in Vancouver, BC? Do you have any fish stories you’d like to share with us? Let’s chat in the comments section below!

The post Vancouver, BC Fishing: The Complete Guide appeared first on FishingBooker Blog.

By: Lisa
Title: Vancouver, BC Fishing: The Complete Guide
Sourced From: fishingbooker.com/blog/vancouver-bc-fishing/
Published Date: Mon, 25 Dec 2023 15:56:58 +0000

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