A town of immense salmon fishing tradition,
Campbell River, British Columbia, has continued to earn
its reputation as Salmon Capital of the World for almost a century.
Victoria 264 km on Highways 1 and 19, Campbell River is
home to the world-renowned Painters Lodge, overlooking Tyee
Pool. Anglers vie for entry into the exclusive Tyee Club by
catching a 30 lb.
chinook salmon from a guide-rowed dory using designated
tackle in a precisely defined pool in front of the river mouth.
The Campbell River area is also known for fast flowing Seymour
Narrows where tidal flow can reach 25kph. The infamous Ripple
Rock, a treacherous impediment to shipping travel, was blasted
from the Narrows in 1958 in the largest non-military explosion
in the world.
Winter fishing is influenced by the presence of bait in the
Shelter Point, Willow Point and Cape Mudge Lighthouse areas.
Summer fishing is influenced by strong sequential runs of all
salmon species, necessitating extensive knowledge of many fishing
techniques. Bottom features vary widely from rock to sand to
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Cycle of Runs
five species of Pacific salmon present themselves in Campbell
chinook. Chinook and smaller numbers of immature blueback
coho salmon reside in these waters as winter feeder fish. Large
numbers of Fraser River sockeye divert down Johnstone Strait
in summer. The October chum fishery is a new development and
extends the summer season right into the rains of November.
Resident chinook and blueback coho inhabit local areas year-round.
Fishing for deeper, 12 - 16 lb. winter chinook typically begins
in November with 1-2 lb blueback coho showing in March. Consider
this a hootchie and plug fishery.
During May, the first summer chinook runs browse the shore;
surprisingly these are Columbians - up to 50 lbs. In June, Fraser
River, Oregon and Washington chinook follow. During August,
the Quinsam and Campbell River Tyee muscle their way through
Tyee Pool. Consider bait a best bet at most locations.
During July to September, sockeye and pink salmon migrate by
in their millions, including the highly prized Adams and Stuart
runs. These are hootchie fish. Pink mill the estuary, aching
for pink flies.
August brings summer coho to Campbell River; and September,
northerns. Chum begin showing in September and October. Chum
prefer a motor mooched live bait
October turns into November and the annual cycle is completed
by another cyclical wave of winter chinook. Campbell River is
one of the few coastal locations that has feeder chinook 12
months of the year.
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on an Annual Basis Bait: Live
bait motor mooched for summer chinook and live or cutplug bait
for fall Chum. When trolling with herring, use a glow green
or clear, teaserhead with red and white or black stick-on eyes.
A limber 10-12' rod is preferred.
Truck, pearly white, purple and white, flourescent green and
yellow, Peanut Butter, and needlefish glow-in-the-dark for winter
fishing at 80 - 120' depths. Try pink and blue, Bubblegum or
pink with white spots for chum. For sockeye utilize pink plankton
squirts on a 36" leader.
Try the 700, 500 and 565 in 3-5" models for winter chinook.
Move to the 602, 500 and Army Truck for summer chinook. Try
a 3" 225 for pink and sockeye.
Krippled K in pink and red. Gibbs #8 for the Tyee Pool.
Pink Shrimp, Grey Ghost and orange, red or mauve flies for coho.
Polar bear hair flies produce better than other materials. Try
a purple and white bucktail at the crack of dawn for chinook
cruising near kelpbed baitballs, particularly in the winter.
Drift Fishing: Green
jig lures, Zzingers,
Overall Strategy and Specific Fishing Areas
River is one of the few areas on the coast where there are so
many hotspots and such a variety of annual fisheries, it is
difficult to summarize its angling opportunities; however, the
salmon fisheries of Argonaut Wharf, Tyee Pool, Cape Mudge and
the Narrows should all be sampled. Be prepared to follow the
fish - both resident and migratory ones - as they lumber up
and down the strait.
Anglers should be well-versed in technique: trolling, motor-mooching,
casting, cutplugging, live bait angling. A guide is recommended
when first fishing this area, particularly for chum, which have
much different bite behaviour than other salmon species.
Argonaut Wharf presents one of the best opportunities for shore
casters in the province; it sits right beside one of the area
Tyee Pool at the river mouth is so precisely shaped and the
conditions for angling success sanctioned so exactly that a
guide is recommended. Fish must be caught in the official July
15 to September 15 'season' on single hook lures of either a
plug or spoon configuration. Rules and techniques have remained
virtually unchanged since 1924, including 6-9' rods and 20 lb.
Trolling at Cape Mudge presents a typical Campbell River fishing
experience; good mid-channel rollers, good tidal flow and back
eddies which concentrate bait. Campbell River is definitely
a first light, last light bet for salmon. Take a tip from the
guides and troll in the same direction as the current; this
increases the ground covered and drags the lure directly into
the face of the salmon. During summer trolling, use of a Black
Box set at .70 volts dissuades advances from local dogfish droves.
The fall chum fishery takes place in 'exciting' Seymour Narrows.
This is not an angling experience for the faint of heart. Fishers
take up position on either sides of a Boston Whaler and a third
person operates the engine, aiming to drop baited lines absolutely
vertically 20 - 60' deep in tide rips that run like waterfalls.
The water moves so fast it's mesmerizing. Rods must be hand
held; chum take up to 30 seconds mouthing bait and have extremely
hard mouths to penetrate. Fortunately they are more persistent
than other species. Sunny days, fast water and flood tides favour