Campbell River once laid claim to the title, “Salmon Capital of The World”. I'm sure there are those who would now dispute this claim to fame, as the Campbell River area suffered a decline in fish stocks through the 90's and on into the 2000's. But there is reason for hope. Legendary areas such as Stuart Island seem to be making a comeback, and with the restrictions now placed on the commercial fleet, the future of salmon fishing here may well indeed be very bright. One of the great benefits of Campbell River is its' easy access by either road or air. Equally as important to many fishermen (and fisherladies!) is the absence of the stomach churning groundswell of other popular west coast or open ocean fishing locations.
Springs or Kings can be caught year round, even during the frigid months of January and February. Fishing really begins to pick up around June as mature fish start trickling back to their home rivers. One of the advantages, though, of fishing during the winter months, is the complete lack of competition from other anglers. While the summer months may get a little crowded in the popular spots such as “The Hump”, winter fishing can be cold, serene, and effective. Winter springs seem to have a higher fat content as well, making their flesh tasty and perfect for BBQ. Shelter Point, Willow Point, and Cape Mudge are popular areas during the winter season.
Where to Fish
During the summer season, there are so many areas to fish it would be hard to cover them all. A word of caution, though. If you decide to fish Seymour Narrows, the water flow can exceed 15 mph. Definitely hire a guide, and listen to instruction. Many lives have been lost here, but the Narrows can be an awe inspiring trip. As to where to find the fish, Cape Mudge can be a good place to start. Try to plan your approach so you are fishing with the current, and at a good speed. Dogfish can quickly become a headache, so trolling quickly is of the essence.
Another favorite is the famous Tyee Pool. Named for the famous Tyee Club at Painter's Lodge, early morning and dusk can provide that king salmon you'll always remember. If you aren't sure where to fish, follow the charter boats. They make their living catching salmon, so they are usually right.
I've had some great memories fishing the Campbell River area. It seemed to fall on hard times as far as fish numbers go for the last decade or so. There also seems to be an over abundance of fishing lodges left over from the heydays of years past. There used to be a joke that there were two critical pieces of equipment the fisherman should never be without: a gas mask (because of all the 2 stroke fumes) and a slingshot (to ward off other fishermen). While the 4 stroke motor has largely eliminated the fumes, Campbell River still gets quite a bit of fishing pressure. If your trip takes you through here and you want to try salmon fishing, make sure you find a good local guide. I would caution against using a guide from one of the many lodges, (unless you have firsthand knowledge otherwise) as many of these guides tend to be inexperienced.