The Ins and Outs of Fishing in British Columbia
Pairing a chilled, buttery chardonnay or local craft beer with a freshly caught salmon or trout for dinner is the epitome of a combined camping and fishing holiday. British Columbia is fortunate to have both saltwater and freshwater fishing (also known as tidal and non-tidal) opportunities often close to campgrounds, RV parks or Recreation Sites.
For freshwater anglers that like to fish from a quiet river bank or float along in a small boat, British Columbia has an abundance of lakes (25,000 and counting) and thousands of kilometers of streams and rivers. Perhaps the most iconic, and sometimes elusive, species are the steelhead and white sturgeon (which can only be fished in the Lower Fraser. To fish either species you must purchase a conservation stamp). Other popular species for freshwater anglers include rainbow trout, cutthroat trout, kokanee, char and whitefish.
Saltwater anglers who yearn for the open sea or a sheltered cove along the coast, are spoiled for choice along the Pacific coastline that stretches from Victoria, BC all the way up to Alaska. Renting a fishing charter and guide provides recreational anglers an opportunity to fish for species such as halibut, or a trophy sized chinook.
Fishing Licences and Regulations
To fish in British Columbia waters, all anglers require a valid licence.
Licenses for non-tidal/ freshwater fishing can be purchased at local hardware stores, sporting good centres or tackle shops. To view vendors throughout BC or to purchase an e-licence click here. A comprehensive guide to licensing, regulations, and more is available in the guide Freshwater Fishing Regulations Synopsis produced by the Ministry of Forests, Lands & Natural Resource Operations.
Licences for tidal/saltwater fishing are available through the Fisheries and Oceans Canada website. A handy guide that gives you all the information you need on licences; species and allowances; packing and transporting; safety and much more can be viewed in the British Columbia Sport Fishing Guide.
Fishing in a national park requires a Parks Canada Fishing licence.
Rods, reels and an assortment of tackle can be bought at sporting or fishing stores. Some lakeside private campgrounds loan rods and tackle, or you can borrow equipment for free at locations throughout the province thanks to the Freshwater Fisheries Society of BC’s Rod Loan Program.
Handling Your Catch
Important information for Handling & Releasing your catch is on the Freshwater Fisheries Society of BC’s website. If you plan to keep your catch, make sure you are prepared with an ice-filled cooler to keep your fish in. Treat your fish humanely by giving it a sharp blow on the head immediately, clean it promptly, and store it on ice to prevent spoilage. Never harvest more fish than you need, and to comply with the law, you must leave the head, tail and all fins on your catch until you return home or to your campsite.
Other Useful Information
Camping & RV in BC has a google map that plots all the stocked freshwater fishing lakes in BC. The map data is directly provided by the Freshwater Fisheries Society of BC, who stock all BC lakes. The map also plots campgrounds making it easy to plan your camping and fishing trip. You can determine what lakes you will fish, species stocked, and find nearby campgrounds.
Read blogs on the Camping & RV in BC website about favourite fishing spots of some of BC’s visitors.
For camping opportunities in British Columbia go to the Camping Map
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Published: September 1st, 2022
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