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When to Catch Steelhead on Vancouver Island

If you're planning a trip to this Steelhead paradise or you're new to the island you probably need some help figuring out when to catch Steelhead on Vancouver Island. Timing your steelhead adventure well can make all the difference for a successful trip. Vancouver Island is generally rugged country, with a wide variety of rivers to choose from, making timing a bit tricky for a non local angler. Some freshwater systems are narrow deep canyons that are hidden gems and tough to access at certain water levels. The rest of the rivers are wide open flowing rivers perfect for drift boats, jet boats or hiking. The timing is depends on area, because timing varies a bit depending whether you're targeting north island rivers,  mid island or south.


It’s been said that you can catch a steelhead every single month of the year on Vancouver Island.... However it’s a feat that is tough to achieve even for the most experienced angler!


If you’re planning a steelhead trip to Vancouver Island and spending your hard earned dollars it’s best to plan for peak times, to get the best bang for your buck. So you'll need to know when to catch Steelhead on Vancouver Island.

When to Catch Steelhead on Vancouver Island -South Island

South Vancouver Island Steelhead Peaks

South Vancouver Island sees steelhead entering the rivers as early as November but winter steelhead run peaks at the end of January to beginning of March. If you’re targeting winter steelhead on south end of Vancouver Island it’s important to plan your trip at this time unless you’re a very advanced expert and want the extra challenge of finding and catching only a few steelhead lingering in the water. Winter river systems can be very tricky for timing and fishing success is sensitive to weather. Too much rains, causes the water to blowout  and get dirty making it almost impossible to catch anything. Too many dry days can mean very low clear water days, making the fish spook easily to anything presented to them. This means a flexible travel schedule that can accommodate a few poor condition days is ideal. A local guide can give you the right info and will have a few options for each different flow and water condition.


The summers on the  south end of  Vancouver Island poses a challenge to anglers. The last few years we’ve seen higher the normal water temperatures and droughts so severe it’s caused several fishing closures, in order to protect these wild fish from the  increased stress when they’re caught as there is a high mortality rate . Steelhead numbers are sensitive so we try our best to leave any fish in the water if the conditions warrant. In the past we have seen steelhead enter these system early as mid may into June peeking August and September.

When to Catch Steelhead on Vancouver Island- Mid Island

Mid Vancouver Island Steelhead Summer Peaks


There are a few select rivers that produce steelhead year round. These rivers are Somass, Stamp and Sproat. General times are July to November for summer run and December to May being the winter run. Winter peaks March and April.

When to Catch Steelhead on Vancouver Island- North Island

North Vancouver Island Winter and Summer Steelhead Runs

North Vancouver Island is the steelhead bum’s best kept secret. The beauty of it is the tiny population of people, leaving the water systems in pristine condition with very little angling pressure. There are fish here that have never seen a lure. There are several rivers to choose from, the most easily accessible being the Nimpkish, which happens to be the largest river on Vancouver Island. The timing of these rivers is generally the same as the rest of the island but the peaks differ slightly. Winter steelhead run timing is from December to May, peaking in mid January to March. Summer steelhead run from July to November, peaking late August and September.

Catching Salmon on the River

Salmon Fishing

Steelhead Fishing

Trout Fishing

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