Campbell River: Your Destination for Salmon fishing and Bear watching
As the last days of summer sunshine meet a refreshing change in temperature, September in British Columbia, Canada is a golden time for outdoor adventures for locals and visitors alike. In Campbell River, the return of the salmon (and the bears who feast on them) connects us to the beautiful wildness of this place. Do you know where and how you’ll be marking the shift to the fall season? Come discover Campbell River, and you’ll be treated to wildlife experiences you’ll never forget.
Fall Salmon Fishing
Fishing is a way of life in Campbell River and you can’t visit the Salmon Fishing Capital of the world without getting out on the water! Whether you’re a seasoned angler or trying for the first time there’s something for everyone, you just need to know where to go.
Campbell River is home to experienced guides who have been taking visitors out into Discovery Passage and beyond for decades. These passionate locals have knowledge of the weather conditions, fishing regulations, and navigation routes to help you make it to your big catch. Plus, you’ll have a great day filled with stories and humour on the way.
Find the right fishing charter, lodge, or guide for you in the listings at the bottom of this page.
Close to town, the Quinsam River and the Campbell River run with many types of fish including four of the five species of Pacific salmon. To the delight of many visitors, there are exclusive fly-fishing zones located above the pump house on the 4 km (2.5 mile) long Campbell River, but fly-fishing is also allowed everywhere on the river. Local fresh-water operators such as Coastal Wilderness Adventures or Sea Beyond Adventures can help you plan your river adventure.
Fish close to town
Keeping things a bit more low key? Head to Discovery Pier, the public boardwalk just a five-minute drive or 15-minute walk from downtown Campbell River and enjoy the relaxed community vibe. You can rent rods and purchase licenses right here and take advantage of the built-in rod holders and fish scales available for public use. Benches and wheelchair accessibility make this a great venue for all ages and abilities. There are also food vendors nearby.
Learn more about salmon
Visit the Quinsam River Fish Hatchery to learn about the Department of Fishery and Oceans salmon enhancement activities such as broodstock, egg takes, and sorting. See adult salmon returning to the hatchery and learn more about their life cycles at the visitor centre. A major highlight? Its glass floor river diorama, where visitors can see various marine life “swimming” right below them. Call ahead to inquire about tours.
Where can I see bears?
You won’t be the only species in town for salmon fishing! The bears are too. And that makes Campbell River an ideal basecamp for bear viewing. The rich ecosystem of the temperate rainforest provides bears with the food they need to eat before hibernating for the winter. Seeing these magnificent creatures skillfully fishing for salmon is a breathtaking sight. Be sure to pack your camera and binoculars!
Know your bears
Did you know – in B.C. grizzly bears are reported over four-fifths of the province, but never established themselves on Vancouver Island. Any bears you see by the rivers of Campbell River will be black bears, but tour operators can take visitors to view grizzly bears in the mainland inlets nearby.
It is estimated that there are more than 120,000 Black Bears in British Columbia and over 7,000 Black Bears on Vancouver Island making it one of the more dense places in the world for this bear population.
A small population of about 15,000 grizzly bears live in B.C. The Kermode, or “spirit” bear is found in B.C., and is actually a sub-species of the black bear.
Book a tour
Tour companies take guests from Campbell River on full day tours to stunning coastal inlets for grizzly bear viewing from mid-August through to the end of October. Inquire directly with the operator about timing, costs, and tour group size. Visitors are highly recommended to book in advance, as the tours are popular and operate in small groups to ensure minimal disruption to the animals.
The Homalco First Nation run all bear watching tours in Bute Inlet, to the northeast of Campbell River. See the list below for tour operators that visit this region.
Tours to Toba Inlet, are run by the Klahoose First Nation. Operators visiting this inlet include:
Be bear aware
Keep a respectful distance from bears for the safety of both humans and bears. They are wild animals and we are visitors to their habitat. Please do not approach bears or go looking for them. They are busy getting ready for winter and looking after their young!
Get inspired by our Campbell River itineraries and plan your visit today. We can’t wait to see your salmon fishing and bear viewing experiences this fall! Use #DiscoverCampbellRiver on your photos and see Campbell River through the eyes of visitors on our Facebook and Instagram accounts.