Sportfishing’s popularity is on the rise. Many people who are interested in sportfishing pursue adventure tourism opportunities that offer them access to the best sportfishing sites in the world.

British Columbia offers some of the best sportfishing opportunities in the world. BC has thousands of rivers and lakes, as well as thousands of miles of coastline. Whether you plan to head to a fishing lodge on Vancouver Island’s west coast, the central coast, the BC interior, or Port Hardy, located on northern Vancouver Island, this Canadian province offers legal opportunities for great fishing trips for both experienced and novice fishers. 


Recreational fishing is known as sportfishing. Those who engage in sportfishing do so because they enjoy the activity and being out on the open waters. Recreational fishers are not commercial fishermen, who fish for their livelihood. Although sportfishing is often associated with saltwater fishing, you can also go sportfishing in lakes and rivers. Fishers can keep and eat their catch, although some recreational fishermen practice catch and release.

Types of Fish

Go saltwater fishing off British Columbia's coast for a chance to catch halibut or chinook salmon. The north and west coasts of Vancouver Island offer the best halibut fishing locations in the province. Vancouver Island offers some of the most popular halibut fishing destinations, including Port Hardy, Tofino, and Ucluelet.

Port Hardy, Sooke, and Haida Gwaii are popular salmon fishing destinations. Port Hardy is located on Vancouver Island’s north coast, while Sooke is near the provincial capital of Victoria, located on the southern end of Vancouver Island. Haida Gwaii is on the north coast of the province.

Freshwater anglers can catch several different species, including rainbow trout, brook trout, carp, perch, and bass. Popular freshwater fishing destinations include the Skeena River, Fraser River, Quesnel Lake, Williston Lake, and Shuswap Lake. There are freshwater fishing opportunities near the west coast, central coast, and throughout the interior of the province.

Rainbow trout that eventually migrate to saltwater are known as steelhead. White sturgeon are also anadromous, which means they can live in both freshwater and saltwater. 

Sportfishing Laws and Regulations 

Whether you opt to pursue saltwater or freshwater fishing, if you are 16 years of age or older, you must have a fishing license. Authorities may ask you to produce your license when you are fishing. By law, you must produce your license if an RCMP officer, Fishery Officer, Park Ranger, or Conservation Officer asks to see it.

Stamps may be required to fish for specific types of fish. Conservation stamps are required for steelhead, salmon, white sturgeon, and rainbow trout fished in either Kootenay Lake or Shuswap Lake.

Freshwater fishing licenses are valid for one day, eight days, or a year. Rates are determined by whether you are a resident of BC, Canadian, or an international guest. 

Short-term saltwater fishing licenses are good for one, three, or five days. You can also opt to purchase an annual saltwater license. License rates are determined by whether you are a Canadian resident.

Planning a Sportfishing Trip

One of the best ways to enjoy sportfishing in British Columbia is to use Fish Lodges to book a sportfishing vacation. Choose from fishing resorts on Vancouver Island, along BC’s coast, or in the province’s interior. You can opt to stay at a resort you can access by road or fly into a remote sportfishing location. Some lodges offer a choice between guided and unguided fishing opportunities. Resorts that must be accessed by plane include transportation to and from the airport in their package prices. All-inclusive resorts include fishing gear, guided fishing trips, snacks, non-alcoholic beverages, accommodations, and food in their rates. 

Other Recreational Activities

After a day out on the water, you can head back to the lodge and relax in a hot tub. Between fishing excursions, you can enjoy many other activities, such as hiking, surfing, or kayaking. Tour operators also offer opportunities to see gray whales or killer whales.

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