Best Time to Fish Vancouver Island

The best time to fish Vancouver Island depends solely on what species of fish you would like to target. It also depends on what type of fishing you’d like to do- would you like freshwater on the wild rivers on the west coast or are you looking for ocean fishing in the saltwater.  It also depends on where on the island you want to go. South island and North island have different run times. Because we’re based down by Victoria and operate out of Cowichan and Port Renfrew, the access is fast and easy. You can be onsite within a couple hours of leaving Victoria.

Every month and season has it’s different run of fish and every species peaks at different times. Year after year the cycle repeats itself, although we have noticed an early trend. For example, the best time to fish Vancouver Island winter run steelhead is usually peaking in late January and February, however we’re noticing the steelhead are entering the rivers just slightly earlier and peaking in mid January and staying until February and slowing right down in march.


Best time to fish Vancouver Island:

Winter Fishing Trips

Species to catch:

  • Peak winter steelhead
  • Brown trout

Vancouver Island is one of the best places to catch winter run steelhead. This run trickles in late fall, heats up in December and peaks during January and February, then slowing down again in March. 


Spring Fishing Trips

Species to catch:

  • End of winter run steelhead
  • Brown trout heats up
  • Rainbow Trout

The last few of the winter run steelhead are in the Vancouver Island rivers until about March. Brown trout are starting to come alive in the Cowichan River so it’s a great time to switch over targeting these unique fish and experience this mighty urban river.

Summer Fishing Trips

Species to catch

  • Summer run steelhead
  • Oceanfishing: Salmon, halibut and Tuna

The last few summers we’ve experienced a drought on Vancouver Island over the summer so the river and lake fishing is shutdown to protect the fish from the high stress of low water levels. This obviously put a damper on catching summer run steelhead.


Fall Fishing Trips

Species to catch

  • Salmon- Coho and Chinook enter the rivers
  • Winter run Steelhead begin to enter
  • Ocean Fishing Salmon, Tuna, Halibut

Early fall brings the Coho and Chinook Salmon into the rivers to spawn. Come October they are abundant and easy to catch. Once the salmon spawning has begun you can expect to see the Steelhead enter the river, as they hunt for salmon eggs on their way home.

When we think is the best time to fish Vancouver Island:


In our opinion winter is the best time to fish Vancouver Island!

We love the challenge of targeting Steelhead and this is the best time to do that. It’s also a time when the weather is poor meaning most people stay inside, but what it means to us is less angling pressure! The whole island population is 750,000 compared to the lower mainland 2.5 million so there isn’t nearly the competition on the island as there is on the mainland, but competition gets even less in the winter, with most sane people staying indoors. So we get out there, in our many layers and high quality rain gear and catch these challenging fish.