Salmon River

The Salmon River flows north from Heber Mountain in Strathcona Park and enters Johnstone Strait at Kelsey Bay on the east coast of Vancouver Island. Fishing pressure on the Salmon River is light to moderate, but the fishing is still awesome.

Traditionally, the River was known to produce the largest steelhead on Vancouver Island, the big river has over the years produced Steelhead up to 15 kg with a few being even bigger. Bruce Gerhardt, a friend of mine who sadly passed away a number of years ago, was one of the best guides to fish this river with. I do believe he has caught the biggest Steelhead ever to be pulled from this river. The winter Steelhead fishery is now partially closed due to over-harvesting, clear-cut logging in the upper reaches, and poor returns over the last few years. So you should check for closures and restrictions before heading to the river for steelhead.

Expect Rainbow Trout, Dolly Varden, and both summer and winter Steelhead. The River also provides a good fly fishery for Sea Run Cutthroat, particularly in the lower reaches of the River and in the estuary.

Salmon River
Salmon River, Photo By Bud Logan

Access to the upper reaches is good via Highway 19, the Salmon River logging mainline, and various secondary logging roads including the big tree creek road where you can also see some of the biggest trees on the Island.

The lower river runs through Sayward, to reach the lower Salmon River, drive east along Hwy 19 towards Sayward and Kelsey Bay. Just past the point where the White river joins up, turn right on to the Sayward Road. This road crosses the Salmon River at several points, offering the angler access to the river. Angling information is available at the quaint Cable House Café on the east side of the one-lane bridge on Sayward Road that crosses the Salmon River, and the food at the cable café is just incredible.

Saltwater fishing is also good out of Kelsey Bay, at the end of the road. Vancouver Island is a land of extreme diversity. It has many beautiful watersheds with wild populations of steelhead which rarely see an angler or a visitor. The Salmon River is one of these Rivers.

Salmon River
Salmon River, Photo By Bud Logan

For the steelheader, Vancouver Island offers unbelievable and unlimited trophy-angling opportunities. When I was a young man, I and a number of my friends would put our canoes in at big tree creek, usually in January, and head downstream, fishing all the way. It was a 3 to 4-day trip with some of the best fishing l have ever done on the island. For sure, it was cold, it was usually snowing, and we were, for the most part, wet, but when you are young, it was the fishing that matters.

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