Vancouver Island Bank Fishing Locations
This article is for the bank anglers. We can’t all afford or store a boat so do most of our angling on the shore. In fact, most of the fishing I do is from the banks of rivers, lakes and of course the ocean! In this post I’ll go over some of the best shore fishing locations on Vancouver Island. These bank locations offer everything from a variety of Salmon species, Lingcod, Sea-Run Cutthroat, Herring, Rock Fish and a bunch of other bottom fish.
Tofino - McKenzie Beach
Tofino is such an incredible place to be let alone beach fish. It’s a popular location with Long Beach beside it at boasts surfing, camping/hiking and so much more.
Fishing near Tofino check out McKenzie Beach and try fishing around the little rock points and small islands (islets) if you can get to them.
Tofino - Tonquin Park
Tonquin park has a small beach where you can cast from shore or the rock points on the perimeter.
Ucluelet - Wya Bay
A sheltered little bay just before entered Ucluelet off Peninsula Rd. Here you can fish off the rocks.
Campbell River - Discovery Pier
If you like pier fishing you’ll love the fishing opportunities the Discovery Pier provides! There’s plenty of space for a lot of anglers and it can get busy especially in the warmer months (tourist season even more so).
Here’s a guy in late August fighting a Tyee Chinook off the Pier. To land fish this large off the pier anglers will use dip nets that are attached to a rope.
Campbell River - Inner Harbour & Seawall
During the Pink Salmon runtime (late Summer – early August being the best time) try fishing exploring the seawall or inner harbour as the Pinks begin to stage into the river.
Comox / Courtenay - Oyster River, Saratoga Beach & Miracle Beach
Beach fishing for days! These locations boast perfect spots for fly anglers and casting reels to launch buzz bombs as far as possible.
Pink salmon stage in the mouth of the Oyster River and Sea-Run Cutthroat are also caught in this area. Also Saratoga beach can provide a good chance at some big Chinooks from shore.
Comox / Courtenay - Black Creek
Black Creek empties into Miracle Beach Provincial Park and provides a great fly fishing spot for sea-run cutthroat’s.
Comox / Courtenay - Inner Harbour
There are miles of beach to explore within the harbour. The pink salmon come through the harbour to spawn in the Puntledge river (mouth at the end of inner harbour area) and the Trent river (mouth on the southern inner harbour area).
Parksville - French Creek
Around the French creek mouth and bays you can find wild sea-run Cutthroat and Coho Salmon. French Creek itself you cannot fish (check your regulations), but the tidal section is definitely worth checking out.
Parksville - Englishman River
Near the Englishman River Estuary there is a great beach casting in the Straight of Georgia. You’ll want to time this with the lower tides to walk further out. You can catch Coho, Chinook, Pinks, Sea-Run Cutthroat, Steelhead and other species from this area. The Englishman River Estuary is an important transition place for salmon smolts and coastal cutthroat to grow before they move further into salt water and begin their adult migration.
Qualicum - Big & Little Qualicum Rivers and Nile Creek
There is plenty of beach to explore between Little Qualicum river (furthest south) to Nile Creek (furthest north). Big Qualicum lies between Little Qualicum and Nile Creek and houses the Big Qualicum Hatchery. You can view Chinook Salmon and Pink Salmon there in Fall (mid-September to mid-November).
Nanaimo - Rocky Point Park
Rocky Point park is north of Nanaimo and is one of the most popular beach fishing locations. Warning that this area is sketchy on access points as the name implies with steep rock sections in getting down to the fishable rocks. There is some easier beach access just west toward Sealand Park area.
There is a number of different species you can target at this location like multiple Salmon species, Lingcod, perch and other bottom fish.
Nanaimo - Lagoon Head / Piper's Lagoon
There is a good stretch of beach to hike and explore leading up to the Lagoon head. If you’re fishing off the steep rocky edges you’ll find some deeper pockets of water. You can find rockfish here and also Salmon in the late summer and fall heading up to their spawning rivers. Inside the lagoon itself you can find crabs and shellfish.
Nanaimo - Neck Point
There is plenty of steep sections of rock here to explore with deep pockets of water below. These can be good spots to intercept Salmon heading to their spawning rivers. If you have a kayak or boat, not far off this point there is a shallower section (underwater hump) of water that’s popular for a lot of bottom fishing like Lingcod (be sure to check your regulations on timing and sizes).
Victoria - Ogden Point (breakwater)
This breakwater is just below James Bay area of Victoria and provides access to many species of fish. From Salmon in the Summer and Fall to Rockfish year round. There are many other species that can be caught here and it’s a popular place not only for anglers but walkers, joggers, tourists, etc.
Victoria - Oak Bay (by Victoria Golf Course)
Along the Victoria golf course there are some rocky points (especially near the 9th hole) that have good fishing opportunities. Definitely be courteous to the golfers and if you’re accessing via the golf course, you may need to check and ensure that’s still allowed. If not, there is plenty of beach access points off Beach Dr.
Victoria - Ten Mile Point
The section of shore points between Oak Bay and Ten Mile Point are some of Victoria’s most popular beach fishing locations. The rocky Ten Mile Point can have some fast moving current so will feel like casting into a river. Here you can intercept moving Salmon, Lingcod and bottom fish. Warning to be careful in some of these areas as there are some steep rocky sections.
Sooke - Billings Spit
This fishing area is highly impacted by tide. This area is right at the mouth of the Sooke River that has returning Chum, Chinook & Coho salmon. However, this area is well known for good Chum Salmon in Fall as these fish are returning to the Sooke River.
Available Species and Run Times
Here is a quick summary table outlining what species are running throughout the year and details the best time to fish these locations on Vancouver Island.
|Location / General Area||Species||Runtimes|
|Campbell River||Chinook, Coho, Pink Salmon & Sea-Run Cutthroat||Pink Salmon - late Summer (beginning of August is best).
Chinook show up a little earlier but will continue to show up in late August.
|Comox / Courtney||Chinook, Coho, Pink Salmon, Sea-Run Cutthroat and some bottom fish||Late Summer to September|
|Parksville / Qualicum||Pink, Coho, Chinook & Sea-Run Cutthroat||Summer & Fall for Salmon|
|Nanaimo||Chinook, Coho, Pink, Lingcod, Rock Cod, Perch and other bottom fish.||August to mid-September - Rocky Point
Summer and Early Fall Salmon and bottom fish - Neck Point
|Victoria||Chinook, Coho, Lingcod, Rockfish, Herring, Greenling & other bottom fish||Summer & Fall for returning Salmon
Year round for bottom fish
|Sooke||Chinook, Coho, Chum & bottom fish||Late Summer and early Fall|
|Tofino||Chinook, Coho, Bottom Fish & Lingcod||Early August to mid-October|
|Port Hardy||Chinook, Coho, Pink Salmon, Lingcod & Bottom Fish||Summer to Fall - Adult Chinook
Winter - "Feeder" salmon
Best Gear for Tidal Bank Fishing
Here are the types of gear that I use for beach casting:
- ROD – 8′-10′ Spinning Rod – A longer rod will give you further casting distance. You don’t need anything super heavy duty, a medium action is fine.
- REEL – I like salt-water rated spinning reel usually in the 3000-4000 model sizes. Don’t go too small because you may need a lot of line for those big runs BUT also don’t go to big as you’ll have wrist/arm fatigue if you’re casting a heavy spinning reel all day.
- FISHING LINE – 30#-50# braid mainline. Braid casts so well and has no stretch so you’ll have better hooksets.
- LEADER LINE – I always use a bumper flurocarbon leader line that’s attached to my braid. This leader is usually 3′-6′ long depending on how clear the water.
- CASTING LURES – My favorite from shore are usually heavier lures so I can cast them further. Or at least having some sort of inline weight added to get those spoons out there further. That said, my favorites are: Buzz bombs, Zingers and Gibbs Crocs. These I use for Salmon. For Lingcod, Rockfish and other bottom fish I’ll use white or yellow plastic jigs on a weighted jig head.
- BOTTOM FISHING – If I’m bottom fishing from shore, I’ll simply use a Octopus or Circle hook with a big piece of bait and a weight to keep it down. For more information check out our tip page: Bottom Fishing Rig Setups.
Recommended Bank Fishing Gear
Other Vancouver Island Fishing Tips and Areas
If you want more information on Vancouver Island fishing check out our other tip pages and click the images below. We’ve got Vancouver Island Bass Fishing and the Gulf Islands fishing locations that have dozens of salt locations (including GPS coordinates).
Thanks for checking out BC Fishing Journal. Cheers! Jesse