Salmon Fishing in Campbell River

In keeping with natural cycles of return and release, visitors have flocked to ƛəmataxʷ Campbell River, often referred to as the Salmon Capital of the World, for decades in search of unbeatable fishing experiences. Nestled on the northeast coast of Vancouver Island where smaller islands cluster at the narrowing of Discovery Passage, Campbell River shows off unique yet approachable fishing grounds for anglers of all skill and experience levels.

Fishing here is all about the experience of getting out on the water and enjoying the diversity and beauty of our coastal landscapes. As you and your guide cruise along looking for the best spot to cast your lines, you will witness the beauty of the Discovery Islands, remote inlets, coastal waterfalls and ocean rapids. In addition to the landscape keep a keen eye out for the wildlife that inhabits these waters, during the summer months orcas and humpback whales are commonly sighted as well as pods of Pacific White-Sided dolphins, bald eagles and many other animals. See it with your own eyes and you’ll know, this is the place you want to be.

If you’re keen on getting out on the water here in Campbell River, we’ve compiled a list of important information for you to make your fishing experience as seamless and easy as possible.


A license is required for all anglers who are looking to get out and cast a line. There are licenses for freshwater and saltwater (also known as tidal) fishing, and you can choose the number of days you need your license for. There are 1 day, 3 day, 5 day, and annual licenses for purchase available. If you are coming to Campbell River to go fishing you will need to purchase your license online, and print it off before heading out on your trip. If you are saltwater fishing and are looking to keep your prized salmon, you will need to purchase a salmon stamp. 

To learn more about licensing or to purchase your license online visithttps://www.pac.dfo-mpo.gc.ca/fm-gp/rec/licence-permis/index-eng.html

A fishing boat on the ocean at sunset.

Saltwater (tidal) fishing

Saltwater or tidal fishing refers to fishing in the ocean. Here in Campbell River sport-fishing is available throughout the entire calendar year, with our experienced, professional guides that know all about the tides, tackle and tricks. Though salmon tend to be the show-offs, other bottom fish like lingcod and halibut also patrol the depths. There are 5 species of Pacific Salmon available here (depending on the time of year): Chinook, Chum, Coho, Pink and Sockeye. Campbell River is unique in that at certain times of the year you can catch all five species! You might be thinking, “Hey! What about Tyee, King, Spring, or Silver?” These are all common names used by our southern neighbours and are based on size or appearance. (The first three are Chinook, and Silver is another name for Coho.) There are also opportunities to both crab and prawn in our waters.

To purchase your tidal fishing license visithttps://recfish-pechesportive.dfo-mpo.gc.ca/nrls-sndpp/index-eng.cfm

For a list of our local guides visit – https://www.campbellriver.travel/outdoors/fishing/

Salmon retention 101

Over the last few years there have been a lot of changes when it comes to salmon retention. Currently in our area, area 13, there is no salmon retention until July 15th of this year. There still is, however, the chance to get out on the water and soak in some of BC’s most beautiful coastline, experience chance encounters with local marine life, and feel the hum of the reel as you catch and release your salmon. Some guides do have the ability to travel to Toba and Bute Inlet, where there is salmon retention available of 1 salmon per day. If all of this information sounds overwhelming, don’t worry! Our experienced local guides will ensure you have the best experience possible and will be knowledgeable about what’s in season, what you can keep, and how you can have the most memorable experience possible. 

Fishing Regulations

Be sure to check for up to date regulations at the Department of Fisheries and Oceans website.

freshwater fishing

Fresh water refers to fishing in any of our fresh bodies of water such as rivers and lakes. Most popular around here is river fishing, as salmon gather along the ocean coastline and follow their journey up through these passages. Winter steelhead can be found in local river systems within driving distance of Campbell River in early January through April, with summer runs going from July through to the end of November. Many anglers enjoy the character and challenge of learning the geography of the rivers and ocean waters themselves, but if you’re new to the sport, or our calm protected waters, hire a charter guide for a fun and informative experience.

Campbell River is home to two very popular river fishing destinations; the Quinsam River and the Campbell River central to town. They have 4 of the 5 species of Pacific salmon, along with sea-run cutthroat trout and steelhead. The Campbell River is 4 km long and the entire river is full of salmon; Chinook, Chum, Coho, and Pink populate the waters here. Fly-fishing is allowed everywhere on the river, but exclusive fly-fishing zones are located above the pump house, making it a haven for enthusiasts of the sport.

To purchase your freshwater fishing license visithttps://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/sports-culture/recreation/fishing-hunting/fishing/recreational-freshwater-fishing-licence

While we’re all about the thrill of feeling a fish on the line, there’s so much more to the experience of fishing when you’re here. Some people come for laughs, making memories, and soaking in the scenery as a full package experience. We hope to see you out on the water soon, and remember to keep that rod tip up and those lines tight! 

Two men fly fishing in the river