Fishing is a passion, a way of life for many anglers. If you find yourself drawn to the allure of casting lines and reeling in the catch of the day, Vancouver has some fishing hotspots that can satisfy your cravings.
But first, let's clarify that we're talking about the waters in Vancouver, Canada, not the Vancouver Lake in the United States. In this guide, we'll explore the fishing experience, things to prepare, and the best fishing spots in the city.
Get ready for some exciting fishing adventures in Vancouver!
What Fishing Is Like in Vancouver
Fishing in Vancouver offers a wide range of opportunities all year round, with different fish species peaking at various times. However, it’s salmon fishing that has made Vancouver famous among anglers.
Because of its prime location near the Pacific Ocean and its abundant salmon runs, locals and anglers from around the world flock to Vancouver to experience the thrill of catching these prized fish.
From June to September, you can catch chinook, coho, sockeye, pink – along with flounder and lingcod. Chum salmon fishing, on the other hand, is best from October through December.
The fishing options in Vancouver are also not a problem at all. You can fish along the coastline, piers, and marinas or book fishing charters with local guides.
If you're more into freshwater, the rivers and lakes are awesome, and renting a boat lets you explore remote fishing spots. If you love fly fishing, you can schedule a trip during the prime months of March to April and August to November.
Remember that timing is everything for landing the best catches. Tides have a big say in fish behavior, so check out tidal charts to avoid slack tides when the fish are taking a break – plan your trips around the time your target species are active.
How to Prepare Before Fishing in Vancouver
- Know the fishing regulations. Saltwater or tidal waters fishing regulations are provided by Fisheries and Oceans Canada (or the Canadian government itself) while freshwater fishing (of all species other than salmon) is managed by BC’s Ministry of Sport, Recreation, Arts and Culture.
- Determine the fishing license you’ll need. If you’re fishing in rivers and lakes, you need a BC Recreational Freshwater Fishing Licence; if you’re ocean fishing, a Tidal Waters Sport Fishing licence.
You can also choose from a wide range of options, from single day, three-day, five-day, to annual licenses.
- Obtain your license online or through an in-person vendor. For a freshwater fishing licence, go to this site, but if you’re getting it in person, make sure to check if you’re dealing with legitimate vendors.
If you’re obtaining a Tidal Waters Sport Fishing licence, go to the site of the National Recreational Licensing System.
Like for your freshwater fishing licence, you can obtain the tidal waters fishing licences from independent access providers (IAPs).
Best Fishing Spots in Vancouver
First Narrows is located at the mouth of Vancouver’s inner harbor. It’s known for its narrow channel and strong currents, so anglers should be cautious while navigating these waters.
With its location right by the Pacific Ocean and connection to Vancouver’s inner harbor, this fishing spot is teeming with various species like lingcod, sturgeon, and largemouth bass.
But the most caught fish? The chinook salmon.
The Burrard Inlet is one of the busiest ports in Canada. Check out the Burrard Inlet Safe Boating Guide to know where crabbing or fishing is not allowed to keep the traffic lane clear.
The English Bay is situated west of Vancouver’s downtown peninsula and is close to the likes of Stanley Park, the West End residential neighborhood, and the iconic Seawall (Vancouver Seawall). All year round, tourists flock to the nearby beaches for waterfront attractions.
The same waters are also popular among anglers. Thanks to its strategic location near the Burrard Inlet and the Pacific Ocean, this area offers a diverse array of fish species to catch, including piked dogfish, Chinook salmon, and mottled sculpin.
You can fish from shore or consider using boats to explore deeper waters for a larger catch. If you’re fishing during the winter season, target close to the bottom since that’s where the salmon tend to lie.
Vancouver Harbour is a busy harbor located near Gastown (Gastown) on one side and Mission Indian Reserve 1 on the other. It’s the main entrance to the Port of Vancouver, so it’s a central hub for maritime activities and fishing opportunities.
In this area, the Chinook salmon is still the star of the show, with occasional appearances from the Pacific halibut, largemouth bass, and copper rockfish.
A good setup is essential when fishing from the shores of Vancouver Harbour. Opt for a reliable rig and be prepared – you might just catch some perch!
To clarify, we’re not talking about the Coal Harbour on Vancouver Island, which is a quaint little village surrounded by beautiful coastal and wilderness areas. Anglers also love that Coal Harbour, but our focus here is on the one in downtown Vancouver.
Fishing in Coal Harbour (Coal Harbour Guide) can be a rewarding experience. As a small, relatively calm body of water situated between Stanley Park and the downtown area, Coal Harbour offers a unique and chill fishing experience.
The waters here are way calmer than other parts of Vancouver Harbour, so try using lighter tackle and finesse techniques. The calmer waters make it ideal for a more delicate approach.
During wintertime in Vancouver, Trout Lake is a popular spot for skiing and snowboarding. But when the weather warms up,, it becomes a fantastic fishing destination.
Anglers frequent Trout Lake from April to October because it’s the perfect time to catch some massive Rainbow Trout. And there’s more to reel in too, like Freshwater Cod, Char, and Bull Trout.
If you’re up for more fishing adventures, make your way to Staubert Lak, just a short distance to the northwest on Hwy 31. It’s not as popular as the other fishing spots, so you can have all the space you need to fish Kokanee and Rainbow Trout.