544 km north of
Victoria on Highways 1 and 19,
Port Hardy is the first north
Vancouver Island spot to afford access to summer runs. Salmon
arrive from the open Pacific and fin down Georgia Strait to
several hundred natal streams and rivers along the inside waters.
Port Hardy is the southern terminus for the scenic Inside Passage
ferry trip to
Prince Rupert .
Winter fishing is influenced by strong north winds from Queen
Charlotte Strait and southeasters from Labouchere Passage. Consequently,
winter fishing for feeder chinook occurs predominately on the
more-sheltered Quatsino Sound.
Summer fishing is influenced by strong sockeye runs destined
for the Fraser River and even stronger runs of intermingling
coho stocks. Accordingly, Port Hardy prides itself on being
"King Coho Country"; the coho season is further lengthened by
cool waters that retard migration patterns.
Port Hardy enjoys a special reputation for large red snapper
to 25 lbs.
Adventure Members serving this area:
Cycle of Runs
All five species of salmon may be caught in Port Hardy:
chum. The latter three species appear only as mature animals
in summer months en route to spawning beds. Chinook appear
as both resident winter or migratory summer fish, as do coho.
Early blueback schools often exceed those of other areas,
as intermingling runs assemble prior to the fish moving into
the open ocean in their third and final year.
Winter feeder chinook inhabit local waters January to April,
and fishing concentrates in Quatsino Sound. Migratory chinook
start showing in Port Hardy the last week of May and build until
August as 20-25 lb. mature fish bound for the local Quatse or
nearby Nimpkish River hatcheries. Halibut fishing for 20 -50
lb. 'chickens' peaks in the best weather months, June - September.
Halibut over 100 lbs are weighed in regularly, with the largest
1998 fish a 225 lb. monster caught on the local waterfront.
June 15 to August 30, Fraser River sockeye pass through. This
is a major fishery - 80% of the 4-15,000,000 fish divert down
Johnstone Strait. In an El Nino year the percentage may climb
Pink salmon runs occur every year, in contrast to southern locations;
however, the odd-numbered year runs are heaviest. These July
- August humpies average 4-7 lbs. Most are caught offshore,
however, the Quatse River run some of these fish right into
Coho fishing begins July 15. By early August, the 3-4 pounders
give way to fish of 10-12 pounds. Unlike many other locales,
20 pounders commonly reach the scales in late August. Northern
coho cruise in in September and remain until October rains wash
them toward spawning beds.
During late August, 8-10 lb. chum mosey through. These fish
eat their way south to provide the high adrenaline Campbell
River October fishery for mature, 20 lb. fish.
Winter chinook filter in around Christmas.
on an Annual Basis Bait:
Strip, whole herring, anchovy or cutplugs trolled 60 - 150'
deep. Herring or octopus for halibut.
Pink early in the summer season, then green and white, blue
and white, Mint Tulip and Army Truck. Dayglo orange or yellow
cuttlefish for sockeye, or as an alternative, green hootchies
and green Hotspot or No. 1 or 2 Abe and Al flasher. Utilize
halibut-sized hootchie skirts in black and orange, purple and
red, and black, green, yellow and red in combination. Look for
bright, fluorescent colours. Large, 8/0-9/0 single hooks prevent
Tom Mack, 4 ½" or Wonder Spoon, 5" in chrome and brass. Red
Krippled K for sockeye and pink.
Although uncommonly used, some fishers find great success. Try
the Coronation or white for chinook at 30-120' deep and purple
and white with an abalone spinner for coho on the surface.
Orange and pink for sockeye and pink salmon.
Drift Fishing: 2
½ oz Yellowtail perch Zzinger, 3" Polar Bear Buzz Bomb, Deadly
Dick, MacDeep, Stingsilda, Pirken. For halibut, utilize the
Lucky Jig, Spinnow and Mudraker which incorporate glow-in-the-dark
hootchies. Add bait to one hook for scent.
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Strategy and Specific Fishing Areas
Port Hardy has two types of fisheries: structure-related fishing
for chinook and
halibut; and summer surface fishing for other salmon species.
In addition, three distinct fishing opportunies present themselves:
winter and spring fishing in Quatsino Sound; Port Hardy waterfront;
and, open water halibut fishing.
Although Port Hardy bay remains fishable in winter, most fishers
take the short drive to the more sheltered Quatsino Sound; 8-15
lb. chinook provide dependable action December - February. Anchovy,
herring or, in spring, cutplug or hootchies, particularly bluish
ones are lures of choice. Crabbing and rockfish opportunities
abound. As spring turns to summer, local chinook to 30 lbs.
begin to show. Local fishing experts recommend fishing the low
slack into a flood tide, particularly at the crack of dawn.
A July Quatsino Sound closure protects leviathan-sized chinook
at the Marble River hatchery at the mouth of Alice Lake. These
August fish reach a gargantuan 80-90 lbs!
All easily fished in one day, the Gordon Islands, Duval Point,
the Masterman Islands, the Deserters, Christy Pass and the Jenettes
provide the summer fishing opportunities for which Port Hardy
is known. Open water in the surrounding areas can provide excellent
action for coho, sockeye and pink. The coho fishery can be so
terrific that guests often catch fish until they're too tired
to hold the rods. It is not uncommon to hook 40 coho in a single
Although halibut can be taken right in the bay, open water spots
of 200-400' regularly produce during the summer season. Popular
spots include Bolivar Passage, Ripple Passage, Richards Channel
and the open water areas of Taylor Bank and Morgan Shoal. Utilize
a 1 lb. jig with whole herring or octopus or a spreader bar.
Remember to practice conservation; large halibut look wonderful
in photos, but they are all females and bear as many as 4,000,000
eggs - keep the sweet chickens instead.