Fishing British Columbia’s Spectacular Coast

A look at the impressive variety of game fish and wildlife in the waters around Kyuquot Sound on northwestern Vancouver Island.

Kyuquot Sound, British Columbia

Fishing British Columba's Spectacular Coast - a leaping chinook salmon
Without question, for most visitors to these waters, the number one game fish is the Chinook salmon.Rachel Olander

Five angling enthusiasts recently made the 8-hour trip from Vancouver, British Columbia (including a two-hour ferry ride to Vancouver Island) to Fair Harbour, and then journeyed 45 minutes more by boat to Rugged Point Lodge on Kyuquot Sound for three days of fishing. The albacore tuna we'd hoped to catch were within an hour or two of the coast but nonstop northwesterlies of 15 to 30 knots didn't encourage that run so we fished near the coast — and enjoyed plenty of action, as this gallery shows.

Kyuquot Sound, British Columbia
This remote sound is one of several that carve notches into the rugged, craggy Pacific coastline of northern Vancouver Island.Courtesy Google Earth

Arrival at Rugged Point Lodge

Rugged  Point Lodge
What could be termed a boutique fishing resort, Rugged Point, on Walter's Island at the mouth of Kyuquot Sound, serves up to 12 guests in six rooms.Doug Olander / Sport Fishing

Canadian Salmon Tackle: It's Different

Fishing British Columbia's Spectacular Coast - a guide explains Canadian salmon tackle
Before the maiden voyage (no pun intended... well, okay maybe it was) to the salmon grounds, guide Paul Vincent explains to three anglers how the 11-foot noodle rods and single-action fly-type reels are used on the B.C. coast to catch salmon.Doug Olander / Sport Fishing

Lingcod: Supreme Predator

Fishing British Columbia's Spectacular Coast - a lingocd
Elongate bottom dwellers, lingcod will ingest anything that moves into their large mouths, armed with jagged teeth. The species is unique to the eastern Pacific, caught from northern Baja to northern Alaska. This one came from about 100 feet of water.Doug Olander / Sport Fishing

A Pacific Halibut Comes Aboard

Fishing British Columbia's Spectacular Coast - a Pacific halibut
After clearing the cockpit deck, Rugged Point Lodge owner Matt Guiget swings aboard a 60- to 70-pound slab of muscle. Halibut, largest flounder in the world, are powerful fish.Doug Olander / Sport Fishing

A Romp of Sea Otters

Fishing British Columbia's Spectacular Coast - sea otters
Yes, that's what a group of sea otters is called, a romp (hey: I looked it up on Google), but the term applies also as a verb to these curious and sociable mammals, which — as you can see by this photo, taken en route home from fishing — thrive around Kyuquot Sound.Rachel Olander

A Tiny Coastal-Island Community

Fishing British Columbia's Spectacular Coast - Walter's Cove
Some of the homes that make up Walter's Cove, a tiny community on Walter's Island of which Rugged Point Lodge is part.Doug Olander / Sport Fishing

Trolling for Salmon in a Northwest Chop

Fishing British Columbia's Spectacular Coast - trolling for salmon
The second morning dawned clear but with a brisk and building breeze. Northwest winds had been sweeping the entire coast of the island and seas offshore were too big to make a 25- to 60-mile run for albacore practical, so we scrubbed that plan. So most of the other Grady-White walkarounds that comprise the lodge's fleet opted to troll the relatively protected shore of Spring Island for salmon, as guide Paul Vincent is doing here.Rachel Olander

Yelloweye Rockfish — Great Light-Tackle Sport

Fishing British Columbia's Spectacular Coast - a yelloweye rockfish
We decided to put off trolling for salmon that morning in favor of drifting nearshore reefs in 50 to 150 feet, fishing metal jigs and lead-heads with light spin and conventional tackle we'd brought. A little Shimano Stradic with 15-pound braid made this fat yelloweye rockfish a great catch after it struck a 9-inch Z-Man GrubZ tail.Doug Olander / Sport Fishing

Rocky Reefs — Where Lingcod Lurk

Fishing British Columbia's Spectacular Coast - a lingocd
The next fish over the transom was a lingcod that hit a speed jig on an Accurate Valiant reel.Doug Olander / Sport Fishing

Copper Rockfish from a Shallow Reef

Fishing British Columbia's Spectacular Coast - a copper rockfish
In reefs around kelp beds and down to 100 feet or so, copper rockfish are often the most abundant of the many species of rockfishes found in such waters. These pretty fish hit hard and fight well. This typical copper went after a Z-Man GrubZ Tail on a Savage Gear Sandeel jig head and was landed on a new Penn Slammer III reel.Doug Olander / Sport Fishing

Pacific Halibut Muscles in on the Action

Fishing British Columbia's Spectacular Coast - a pacific halibut
Halibut abound along this coast and can surprise anglers trolling for salmon or dropping for bottomfish in shallow water, but Rugged Point boats generally target them a few miles offshore in 150 to 300 feet of water, anchoring and dropping a chum bag. The chum works, and often big halibut will attempt to eat the chum bag. This fish was taken with one of the Okuma Andros two-speed reels the lodge uses for halibut fishing.Doug Olander / Sport Fishing

Where Bald Eagles Abound

Fishing British Columbia's Spectacular Coast - a bald eagle
There's no shortage of bald eagles in the Kyuquot area; it's common to see them soaring overhead as we noted this one, while returning to the lodge.Doug Olander / Sport Fishing

A Welcoming Lodge

Fishing British Columbia's Spectacular Coast - Rugged Point Lodge
In another hour, the main lodge will be populated with anglers, returned from a long day on the water and full of stories to share.Doug Olander / Sport Fishing

A Big Chinook Salmon Comes to the Net

Fishing British Columbia's Spectacular Coast - big salmon comes to the net
On our third day, we focused on salmon. But another Rugged Point boat struck first blood, as guide Paul Vincent here prepares to slide the net under a big Chinook salmon.Doug Olander / Sport Fishing

Salmon Flashers

Fishing British Columbia's Spectacular Coast - salmon flashers
Tools of the trade — salmon anglers often rely on flashers placed on the line ahead of the bait or lure. Typically these are thin, flat rectangles but as these holographic plastic flashers show, they can vary in design. Below them is a downrigger clip.Doug Olander / Sport Fishing

Salmon-Trolling Setup

Fishing British Columbia's Spectacular Coast - salmon-trolling setup
Trolling the lower reaches of Kyuquot Sound on a breezy morning, a long, limber salmon rod bends over hard, attached to the downrigger cable, down about 40 feet. The bait of choice for Rugged Point Boats, at least at this time of year, are salted anchovies.Doug Olander / Sport Fishing

Salmon Success

Fishing British Columbia's Spectacular Coast - salmon in the net
The rod in the downrigger "popped" suddenly upward when a salmon grabbed the bait and pulled it from the clip, momentarily reducing the tension on the line. The angler grabbed the rod and battle was on. He had to keep a tight line (not always easy with salmon that often dart suddenly in different directions) since by law, barbless single hooks are required when salmon fishing.Doug Olander / Sport Fishing

Chrome-Bright Chinook at the Boat

Fishing British Columbia's Spectacular Coast - chinook salmon
The real prize of the North Pacific, collectively from northern California to Alaska, a huge amount of effort and dollars are expended by anglers to catch fish like this.Rachel Olander

One More Chinook for the Fish Box

Fishing British Columbia's Spectacular Coast - a chinook salmon
Chinook this size and into the 20s are known as springs in Canadian parlance. Trophies start at 30 pounds, when they're called tyee. The salmon we kept to take home were expertly fileted, packaged and vacuum-sealed, flash frozen and boxed by SRP Processing.Doug Olander / Sport Fishing

Humpback Whale Sighting

Fishing British Columbia's Spectacular Coast - humpback whale
An afternoon surprise was this humpback whale, moving on a line parallel to our trolling path. Humpbacks, greys and occasionally orcas can be seen here.Doug Olander / Sport Fishing

Lingcod's Nightmarish Maw

Fishing British Columbia's Spectacular Coast - a lingcod
A look down the mouth of a lingcod is enough to give one nightmares. This one went for a Z-Man Mag SwimZ tail on a Hogy Harness Jig head.Doug Olander / Sport Fishing

Sea Otter, Livin' Large

Fishing British Columbia's Spectacular Coast - sea otter
En route back to the lodge, we enjoy the antics of sea otters, which often drift casually on their backs.Rachel Olander