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Salmon Fishing in Canada

Not only are salmon good for you, they are an enjoyable fish to catch. The colour of a Chinook salmon glistening in the sunlight as it tries to throw the hook is a sight to behold. Salmon fishing in Canada can be enjoyed on the coastal waters or in many inland lakes, rivers, and streams. Canadian salmon fishing is popular among fly fisherman where you can pick out a serene spot in the wilderness, release all worries, and catch your favourite fish.

Biology and Habitat of Salmon

Salmon is a name used for several Canadian fish species. Trout are actually part of the salmon family although trout are normally a stay at home fish whereas true salmon migrate to their ancestral home to spawn. Because they are so closely related, Canadian trout fishing is often intertwined with salmon fishing in Canada.

Salmon are typically hatched in freshwater lakes and rivers and then head out to saltwater oceans. I say typically as there are rare salmon species, such as those in the Great Lakes, that can only survive in fresh water.

Each spring, salmon travel upriver to their ancestral birthing place to spawn. It hasn’t been scientifically proven as to how salmon can locate the exact spot they were born; however, many experts believe it is their excellent sense of smell that guides the way. Mature Pacific salmon die shortly after the spring spawn while other species reproduce more than once. Salmon will spend anywhere from one to five years in the ocean until reaching sexual maturity.

Many salmon species hang out in freshwater estuaries and flowing streams. They choose streams and fast flowing rivers as the moving water provides plenty of oxygen to the eggs or roe. Estuaries and wetlands provide a sanctuary for young salmon before they are old enough to venture into the open ocean.

Young salmon feed on crustaceans, aquatic insects, and flying insects such as dragon flies. This is the reason that Canadian fly fishing for salmon is popular recreation. As they grow older, salmon feed on other small fish. Salmon are an environmental and economic powerhouse. They are fished commercially, recreationally and provide subsistence to local populations. They are also an important food source for grizzly and black bears. In fact, bear watching in Canada is a popular activity during the spawning season.

Salmon Species in Canada
  • Atlantic salmon patrols the east coast and is a favourite Canadian salmon fishing location.
  • The Chinook salmon is the largest of the Pacific salmon species achieving weights of 30 lbs. or more. Hooking a Chinook is a must do while salmon fishing in Canada.
  • Chum salmon is another Pacific salmon species and is found throughout the Pacific Ocean.
  • Coho is a Pacific salmon species which makes its home in the clear waters of various rivers.
  • Pink salmon is the smallest of the Pacific species.
  • Sockeye or Red salmon can be found as far north as Bathurst Inlet in the Canadian arctic.
  • A subspecies of Atlantic salmon can be found in inland waters such as the Great Lakes. Known as Land-locked salmon they are a non-migratory fish.
  • Kokanee salmon is a subspecies of the sockeye and are also land-locked.
Canadian Salmon Fishing Destinations

Salmon are that rare breed of fish where you can embark on fishing charter and do some deep sea fishing or you can set up on a sandbar on a freshwater river and do some salmon fishing in Canada.

Andrew Rippingale of Vancouver Island is one of the many salmon fishing guides that will take you deep sea fishing in Nootka Sound for ocean salmon or travel inland on the Campbell River…known as the “salmon fishing capital of the world.” With fishing charters, experienced guides, quality accommodations, and millions of fish, there is no better way to go Canadian salmon fishing.

The Skeena River in British Columbia is another of the world’s finest salmon fishing destinations. Pacific salmon species found in this river include the Chinook, chum, Coho, pink, sockeye, and rainbow trout or steelhead. It is second only to the Fraser River of B.C. in its sockeye salmon production.

The Fraser River is the longest river in B.C. flowing from Mount Robson down through to the Pacific Ocean. The mighty Chinook salmon begins its heroic journey to its spawning grounds as early as March and continues through to November. The average size of these fish are around 18 – 25 lbs while the big ones tip the scales between 25 to 35 lbs.

The Campbell River offers some of the best salmon fishing in Canada if not the world. The sheltered waters off the east coast of Vancouver Island is home to all five species of Pacific salmon.

Although Atlantic salmon stocks have been dwindling over the years there are still plenty of salmon fishing destinations in eastern Canada for those looking for Canadian fly fishing opportunities. Deep sea fishing in the Maritime Provinces is also available for those that like the adventure of the open seas.

The Humber River flows through Newfoundland and is a popular salmon fishing destination on the east coast. The New Brunswick River in New Brunswick, Canada is also an Atlantic salmon hotspot.

The Miramichi River in New Brunswick is still seeing solid salmon stocks although they are not what they once were. Many years ago you could practically walk across the river during spawning season. Approximately 50 % of landed Atlantic salmon in North America are caught in the Miramichi. For conservation purposes salmon fishing in New Brunswick is heavily regulated to ensure that there are ample stocks for the future. Salmon fishing guides are your best bet when fly fishing for salmon in New Brunswick.
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