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Salmon and White River fly fishing

The Salmon and White River on Vancouver Island

Fabisch Fly Fish Blog


How to Get to the Salmon River and White River Watershed on Vancouver Island

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As the Salmon River and White River watershed is situated on Vancouver Island, you will have to pass through either Nanaimo, Victoria or Port Hardy. At first, you got to Campbell River, but from there you drive another 70 kms on Highway #19, going north. About one km before you get to the exit for Sayward, there is a bridge crossing the Salmon River. Only about 20 meters upstream, the White River joins the Salmon River.

To get to the fly fishing stretches on both rivers, you leave the highway at the Sayward exit, but then go in the opposite direction. After a few hundred meters you will see an old gas station with a coffee shop, unfortunately closed by now. This station used to be the local CSI (for Center of Steelhead Intelligence). Gas station and shop were run by a charming elderly lady who knew all anybody could wish to know about the salmon and steelhead runs in the area. She was also able to give you directions to within a 100 meters of the best fishing spots. Nowadays better make sure to have an accurate map with you. By the way, the coffee shop had a 29 pound steelhead hanging on the wall!

Some more info about Sayward: this town offers top of the notch whale watching tours.

junction of salmon and white riverJunction of Salmon River (left) and White River
lower White Riverlower White River

It is interesting to know that the White River has a summer run, whereas the Salmon River has a winter run of steelhead. Unfortunately, this winter run is relatively late. So, if you strike bad luck when planning your steelheading trip, upon arrival there may not yet be any steelhead in the Salmon River while all other rivers' steelhead may already have happily returned to sea. The Salmon River, however, yields the largest steelhead of any river on Vancouver Island.

Winter fishing with a flyrod on Vancouver Island may be pretty tough at times. It doesn't get really cold as a rule, but not everyone will enjoy swinging that fly rod in drizzling rain for days on end at temperatures ranging from 2 to 5 °C.

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The best time for the White River would be September and October. Prepare for flyfishing with nymphs, but also dries. The place to start is above the canyon. Watch out, there's lots of logging trucks on these logging roads! Especially if you're traveling with an RV, extreme caution is advised! Whenever you park your vehicle, be sure to stay absolutely clear of the road. A couple of years ago I had parked my RV inside a wide bend of the road, thinking it stood well outside anybody's way. I had just about made it to a promising pool when a truck's horn stopped me in my tracks, and I had to return to the car. A logging truck with a heavy load of protruding logs could not have made it around the bend without turning my RV into a heap of scrap.

If the water is extremely low in the fall, which does happen at times, the fish may stay inside the canyon. Tough luck for anglers!

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British Columbia River

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Fabisch fly fishing english

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Fabisch Fly Fishing home
  • Wolfgang Fabisch
  • Nürnberger Str. 45
  • 90542 Eckental / Germany
  • Phone 011 49 9126 288640
  • Fax 011 49 9126 288643
  • Copyright: Wolfgang Fabisch

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