Best Fly Fishing in British Columbia

British Columbia is home to over 12,000 miles of coastline and 25,000 lakes. It is a natural Canadian fly fishing hot spot. Many people from all over the world visit the province to experience its many fly fishing opportunities.
Fly Fishing British Columbia

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They hope to land Steelhead, Trout, Salmon or one of its many other fish species. Although there are many fishing hot spots in British Columbia, we will focus on only a few of the most popular here.

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12 Best Places for Fly Fishing in British Columbia

1. Skeena River

Skeena River

The Skeena River is the second largest river system in British Columbia. It is also one of the best for fly fishing, famous for its abundant salmon over the summer.

Summer is definitely the best time if you are planning to visit the Skeena to fly fish, especially if your target is Steelhead, an iconic Canadian river fish. It can be a bit tricky to catch a Steelhead, but the feeling of landing one is very rewarding.

Besides its excellent fishing, the Skeena area has plenty of accommodation. There are multiple fishing lodges including both the Skeena Spey Lodge and Kalum Lodge.

2. Quesnel Lake

Quesnel Lake

Quesnel Lake is located among the Cariboo Mountains and it is one of the deepest fjord lakes in the world. The lake has three arms, each offering different fly fishing opportunities.

Before you plan any fly fishing trips to Quesnel Lake, you need to understand that the lake has four seasons, and each season suitable for a different type of fishing. So check the season is appropriate for your preferred style before you book.

The locals advise that the best time of the year to plan a fly fishing trip to Quesnel Lake is around May. This is because the area is less crowded with anglers than in other months. The fewer the anglers, the hungrier the fish, so if you time it right,  it can be quite easy to reel in an incredible catch.

If you are in the mood for trout fly fishing in British Columbia, you can head over to the bay in the West Arm to fish bull trout and rainbow trout. There are plenty of lodges and resorts in the area that can provide you with accommodation, flies and guided tours.

3. Upper Pitt River

Upper Pitt River

If you want to go fly fishing in Vancouver, the Upper Pitt River should be at the top of your itinerary. The Upper Pitt is without a doubt one of the best fly fishing opportunities in BC. Many experts even classify it in the top 10 fly fishing destinations in North America.

This fly fishing destination isn’t only scenic but also very productive. The glacier-capped mountains, coupled with the old-growth rain forest offer spectacular views.

The scenery is amazing but the fly fishing opportunities are better.

You can access the Upper Pitt via a jet boat or a helicopter, whichever works best for you. It’s only about 70 minutes away from Vancouver.

The Upper Pitt has large populations of Bull Trout and Dolly Varden. Since they start their journey towards the river around May through mid-June, the best time of the year to visit the Upper Pitt River for fly fishing would be during late spring to mid-summer.

4. Squamish River

Upper Pitt River

If you want to go fly fishing in the Squamish River, you have to drive for about 60 minutes via the scenic Sea to Sky Highway to get there. Squamish is a typical BC West Coast fly fishing river.

The fly fishing area is surrounded by dense rain forests and glacier-capped mountains that rise over 7,000 feet. Local wildlife includes Black bear, deer and elk. The surroundings are breath-taking, there is plenty to look at as you wait for the trout of salmon to strike.

Fly fishing in these parts is relatively easy, you just have to cast your fly and watch the Pink Salmon jump at the opportunity. The salmon in the area are huge in number and you can keep fishing them out for hours on end. The Squamish River is popular worldwide for its incredible salmon fly fishing opportunities.

 If you want to catch Pink Salmon the best time of the year to visit this fly fishing destination is from July 15 to September 7 during the odd years. If you want to fly fish some Chum and Coho Salmon, plan your fly fishing trip for October through November. At this time of year populations of trout are also common.

5. Fraser River Valley

Fraser River Valley

The Fraser River Valley offers a variety of incredible fly fishing destinations near Vancouver. It has five different fish species to fly fish including Pacific Salmon, Coho, Chum, Steelhead, Sockeye and Chinook, however, the last two are quite challenging to catch.

You can also around March through late November for some Sturgeon fishing.

The best time of the year to experience British Columbia fly fishing thrills is October through early November. This is the time salmon are plentiful since they are returning from the Pacific Ocean to spawn. Over the odd years, you can get the Pink Salmon in September.

Since there are so many different varieties of fish here, fly fishing can be a bit tricky. Make sure that you sharpen your skills as you prepare for the upcoming fly fishing trips to these regions.

6. Haida Gwaii

Haida Gwaii

The Haida Gwaii is a relatively remote archipelago for fly fishing in BC. It is known for its large population of Salmon and Steelhead.  There are also Chinook Salmon, which are very popular in the province as a sports trophy fish.

Many fly fishing professionals recommend that visitors try out Langara Island, located to the south of Alaska since this is where salmon mostly migrate upriver.

You can also find good populations of Sockeye, Red Snapper, Rockfish and Halibut as you enjoy the first-class BC fly fishing experience. You can also seek accommodation at a nearby lodge at affordable rates.

7. Campbell River

Campbell River

For over a century, the Campbell River has been one of the rivers enjoying very high salmon populations with millions of salmon migrating annually through the Discovery Passage as they head home to spawn.

Although the river has four fishing seasons, salmon fly fishing is the most popular from May through November.

If you want to fly fish some Steelhead or Cutthroat trout, the best time to visit Campbell River would be during winter.

The area is also home to the Discovery Pier – the first-ever Canadian saltwater fishing pier. If you are an eager fly angler you can join the Tyee Club and become a legendary member as you try your luck at reeling in some of the biggest Chinook.

8. Thompson – Nicola

Thompson Nicola

The Thompson – Nicola isn’t your typical fly fishing river scene but it is a destination you should plan visiting on your next fly fishing trip while to British Columbia. Situated in the Merritt area, the region is about two and a half hours east of Vancouver and offers plenty of lakes for fly fishing.

The area is full of lakes, presenting anglers with plentiful opportunities to take advantage of. It can be quite difficult to tell which lake has the best populations of fish in these regions because all of them are worthwhile spots, with Rainbow Trout being the most popular species. The best way to fly fish for trout in these parts is by stripping or casting. All you need to do is anchor your boat, cast your fly line and let it sink. Then you sit and wait patiently for the Rainbow Trout to strike.

If you want to know the different types of trout, see our Trout Species post here.

You will only enjoy not only the fly fishing but also the amazing scenery that comes with it. The whole area is a rolling plateau with plenty of Ponderosa and Lodgepole Pine trees. You can also see bunches of free-range cattle randomly grazing.

The main and the best access points to this great location are dirt roads. It would be ideal if you sought the services of a map provider to help you explore this location.

9. Elk River

Elk River

The Elk River is among the best world-class fly fishing rivers an offers incredible opportunities to dry fly fish. The Canadian Rockies surround the Elk River giving it a picturesque appeal. The river is nicknamed ‘Trout Town’ because it has huge populations of trout including Bull Trout and Cutthroat.

If you are planning fly fishing trips for trout to these regions near Vancouver, then you better plan them anytime from July through October. According to the local fly anglers, the best way to fly fish here is by using floating lines for dry fly fishing.

Choose your equipment correctly so that you don’t have to go back to the shop.

10. Dean River

Dean River

The Dean River is a treasure. It is one of the most well-managed rivers in the world. Located in Central BC, the Dean River is popular for its population of Steelhead. Many anglers looking to catch Steelhead during their fly fishing trips end up here.

It also has many other fish species apart from Steelhead. These include Rockfish, Rainbow Trout, Salmon, Ling Cod, and Halibut. If you want to go on a fly fishing trip to Dean River to catch Steelhead, plan it for late spring because at this time the Steelhead population will be bound for Takia River, with their second run happening just weeks later.

11. Williston Lake

Williston Lake

This is the largest lake in BC, situated to the south of the province. It is a man-made lake that intercepts three rivers – the Parsnip, Finlay and the Peace.

The Peace River offers great opportunities for fly fishing Kokanee, Sockeye, Northern Pike and Rainbow Trout. For accommodation, there is a lodge just by the lake that offers you guided trips.

12. Victoria

Pedder Bay Marina

If you are looking for fly fishing access to some of the best British Columbian salmon waters on the Pacific Ocean, Victoria is the best place to start. There are several fish species around Victoria, including Halibut, Rockfish and shellfish.

For some of the best fly fishing in Victoria, you should head over to Pedder Bay Marina or Oak Bay, Victoria’s Inner Harbour, and Ogden Point Breakwater.

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