Explore River Fishing Opportunities in BC

Rivers tie B.C.’s mountains and forests to the sea — they are the coursing lifeblood of this supernatural province. In them, salmon and steelhead surge to ancient spawning grounds while resident trout, char and even sturgeon lie in runs and pools in rivers big and small. All of them offer anglers once-in-a-lifetime experiences.

RIVER FISHING TRIP IDEAS

RIVER FISHING

Dry Fly Fishing for Grayling near Prince George

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Step into wild, remote portions of Northern British Columbia in search of Arctic Grayling

Northern British Columbia has earned its reputation as a steelhead fishing mecca, but few realize that this region is rich in fly fishing opportunity for a multitude of species.  On this list are the magnificent, and highly surface-oriented Arctic Grayling. Multiple rivers in the surrounding area of Prince George hold great numbers of Grayling, fishing a light single-handed rod and small dry flies in gin-clear rivers is a perfect Northern BC fishing experience. Ranging from one to three pounds and displaying a spectacular dorsal fin, grayling’s willingness to attack surface presentations makes it easy to see their appeal to the fly angler. Fishing in this part of the province is diverse, and allows the adventurous angler to step into a word of endless exploration due to the number of waterbodies within a short driving distance from town.

RIVER FISHING

Dry Fly Fishing for Elk River Cutthroat

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Leave your nymph box at home and float through one of BC’s finest Westslope Cutthroat fisheries

Flowing through the thriving town of Fernie, the Elk River has long been regarded as British Columbia’s premier fishery for Cutthroat trout on dry flies. These Westslope cutthroat are plentiful in the meandering waters of the Elk River, and incredibly surface-oriented.  Their willingness to chase a dead-drifted dry fly is what makes this fishery so desirable for anglers all over the world. The Elk River experiences over 20 different hatches throughout the duration of a season, many of them coinciding with the next. This adds up to spectacular cutthroat fishery that remains consistent from June until the end of October.  Another great addition to the Elk River are large bull trout which anglers can target using large, articulated streamers.

RIVER FISHING

Sea-to-Sky Heli-Fishing Experience

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An aerial approach to some of BC’s most productive coastal rivers

Heli-fishing is the pinnacle of remote fishing experiences in British Columbia. There are no limits as to what can be accessed, and you are assured as you make your descent that you will not be sharing the river with anybody or anything other than yourselves and local wildlife. Heli-fishing is available year-round with Valley Fishing Guides, and depending on the season you will be pursuing trout, char, salmon, steelhead or a combination of species. Heli-fishing trips require advance planning, and will depart from either Squamish or Whistler on BC’s Sea-to-Sky Corridor. Swinging a fly down a run of one of many glacial rivers in a perfectly remote setting is an experience to be enjoyed by both novice and seasoned anglers, these trips are as much about the scenery and setting as they are about the fish themselves.

RIVER FISHING

Squamish River Fly Fishing for Chum Salmon

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The most underrated of the Pacific salmon are a spectacular species to chase on the fly

Chum salmon are wildly powerful, love to eat flies, and display their own unique beauty with vertical bars across their body in a vibrant purple colour. Squamish River fly fishing for Chum salmon is an excellent way to gain practice with a single or two-handed rod, and making a swung-fly presentation. The Squamish River empties into the Pacific waters of Howe Sound near the town of Squamish.  Opportunity to pursue these powerful creatures as they exit tidal water is some of the most exciting freshwater fishing found anywhere in British Columbia. Flies that are often fished for Steelhead with a large profile and ample movement will entice Chum salmon as they migrate upstream. Late-October through November sees abundant returns of these fish, with opportunity for dime-bright Coho salmon and sea-run Bull trout.

RIVER FISHING

Fly Fishing for Trout and Char near Squamish

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Year-round opportunity for both resident and sea-run trout and char species

The Squamish River and its tributaries are home to resident and migratory rainbow, cutthroat and bull trout throughout the year. There are seasons in which these fish will key in on different food sources, and times of the year that they will be found in unique locations, but 365 days annually you can find them in this vast and remote setting. Though the town of Squamish is located just an hour from the hustle and bustle of downtown Vancouver, it is in a world of its own. Grizzly bears and bald eagles frequent the valley, and views of snow-capped mountain peaks and glaciers makes fly fishing in Squamish a true British Columbia fishing experience. Bull trout are the predator of the system, often caught using large streamer patterns in deep tanks and pools.  Cutthroat and rainbow trout are found throughout these systems, chasing salmon fry in the spring and nestled behind spawning salmon in search of eggs through the fall months.  These rivers are accessible by foot, boat, or even by helicopter.

RIVER FISHING

Bull Trout on the Fly in Golden

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A thriving bull trout fishery at the base of the Canadian Rockies

Dave Burns of the Golden Gillie allows his passion for fly fishing Golden’s surrounding area shine naturally through his work as a guide. Golden’s surrounding area is teeming with glacial-tinted rivers that hold spectacular numbers of Bull trout, a member of the char species that are a favourite target species for fly anglers. Standing knee-deep in these glacial rivers as your fly swings across the current, surrounding yourself in the beauty of BC’s Rocky Mountain range, these are the experiences that Dave Burns prides himself on being able to share fly fishing in Golden with the world. Large streamer flies that hold their profile in silty water fished on sink-tip fly lines are highly effective in pursuing these apex predators. Single and multi-day fishing ventures with the Golden Gillie allows anglers to experience as much of this area as possible, though one could fish here for a lifetime and still have new water to discover.  Fishing aside, Golden is a popular tourism stop for those traveling to and from BC’s closest neighboring province.

RIVER FISHING

Campbell River Late-Season Salmon Fishing

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Late season chum fishing offers an unforgettable experience

Chum salmon are the unsung heroes of the angling world. Large and aggressive, these salmon often save the day for anglers when the search for more “noteworthy” salmon species comes up short. An experience with a hot chum salmon will change most fishermen’s notion of its value as a sport fish.  Campbell River’s salmon fishing history may have shined on the Chinook, but never should the pursuit of Chum salmon be overlooked.

Campbell River is well placed to offer anglers a tremendous chum salmon experience, especially in the fall when other species of salmon have passed. The town is central to many prime fishing grounds, areas well-known and defined by generations of previous anglers.

Ocean-fresh chum salmon are much like Coho in appearance and size, averaging 10 to 15 pounds. In the fall, as they approach coastal rivers in preparation for spawning, chum salmon travel in big schools and aggressively strike at lures and flies. Anglers who find themselves in the midst of a fast school of chum salmon will not forget the experience.

Lastly, ocean chum makes great table fare. They smoke well and are great on the barbecue.

RIVER FISHING

Heli-Fishing near Prince George

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Few experiences rival soaring over British Columbia’s vast wilderness in a helicopter, knowing that wherever you may land you will be the only ones there. Kate Watson of Northern Outback Adventures has pioneered an excellent heli-fishing program that allows anglers to experience the waters near Prince George from a different perspective. For anglers that prefer fishing moving water, Northern Outback Adventures reaches a multitude of remote river systems that hold large numbers of Bull trout.  A member of the char family, these are the apex predators of almost any river system they inhabit and are a great target species to pursue with streamers. For the stillwater enthusiast, the options are endless with over 1,600 lakes in Prince George’s surrounding area.  Lakes are fished from small personal watercrafts, anglers are always accompanied by both their guide and pilot for the duration of the day. Heli-fishing is a once in a lifetime experience, and the pristine waters of Northern BC provide a fly fishing experience found nowhere else in the province.

RIVER FISHING

Harrison Hot Springs Sturgeon Trips

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Guided Angling Adventures right off the dock of the Harrison Hot Springs Resort

Sport fishing and conservation come together in a truly one of a kind experience in British Columbia’s Fraser Valley. Based out of Harrison Hot Springs, BC Sportfishing Group’s experienced guides specialize in connecting guests with prehistoric White Sturgeon that can reach in excess of 13ft and 1500lbs.  This beautiful slice of British Columbia’s lower mainland is ideally located for anglers to access reaches of the Harrison River, a Sturgeon and salmon fishing haven.

When your day on the water is complete you can relax in one of five different hot-spring-fed mineral pools at the luxurious Harrison Hot Springs Resort.

RIVER FISHING

Fishing The Bull River

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With origins high in the southern Rocky Mountains of British Columbia, the Bull River is a classic mountain stream with a healthy, thriving population of wild westlope cutthroat trout, as well as the odd bull trout in the river’s low reaches.

There is a dam several kilometres above the confluence with the Kootenay River, which divides the Bull River into two different sections. Downstream of the dam, the river can be floated and is guided by Fernie Wilderness Adventures. The long upper reaches do have a couple sections that can be rafted, but this section of the river is more easily explored on foot. Walking and wading is a popular efficient way to fish here.

All in all, there are at least 100 kilometres of wild river to explore.

RIVER FISHING

Sturgeon Fishing Adventure near Chilliwack BC

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Guided fishing for Fraser River sturgeon connects anglers with ancient fish in a contest like no other

He’s lived in the swirling water of the Fraser River for nearly 100 years, more than 13 feet and 1,500 pounds of ancient fish Dinosaur comes to mind when first seeing white sturgeon. Especially fish of the kind that work the bottom currents of the Fraser, one of B.C.’s most powerful rivers. These are the behemoths that write fishing legends. They test an angler’s endurance and their determination to hold the rod. Encounters with these sturgeon — one of the last wild populations of its kind in the world — are measured in hours. Fraser River sturgeon fishing is an experience to be had by anglers looking for a new challenge.

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RIVER FISHING

Blackwater River Rainbow Trout on the Fly

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These rainbows wrote the definition for hard fighting

The Blackwater River is home to a unique strain of rainbow trout so spectacular that their genetics are incorporated into B.C.’s provincial fish stocking program. These trout are ready feeders that take flies (especially dry flies) with abandon, then challenge anglers with spectacular leaping battles in the Blackwater’s hard current. And of course, the country the river weaves through is spectacular too. Floating the Blackwater River is an experience not soon forgot.

RIVER FISHING

Elusive Bull Trout are a Special Kind of Trophy

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Guided fishing in Fernie’s rivers can produce unique experience

Bull trout are big, aggressive fish that attack streamers with a ferocity that will shock many fishermen. They are unique and increasingly rare predators that thrive in pristine environments. The many rivers near Fernie offer spectacular opportunity to find and catch these once-in-a-lifetime fish, all of it set against the classic backdrop and magnificence of the Canadian Rocky Mountains.

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