Big Bear Salmon Charters' Grady White 282 Sailfish, affectionately named Big Bear, is part of a fleet that ferries fishermen into the aquatic playground of trophy salmon and halibut. The quiet rumble of its twin 225 hp engines spreads across Ucluelet, a habitat filled with fish, whales, and more squid than an ink factory's payroll. Once in the water, guides use all-digital E-Series Raymarine electronics and sounders to track fish, and specialized rods await the familiar tugs of halibut and salmon at the ends of lines. The world-class team stows fish on salt ice before they clean and optionally smoke each catch. The crew also invites anglers to take breaks from fishing in their comfortable cabin, outfitted with an audio system spitting out groovy tunes. Additionally, Black Rock Oceanfront Resort partners with Big Bear Salmon Charters to provide accommodations and create on-land relaxation.
Lang Nguyen sat at his cubicle, alternating between closing insurance deals and thinking about his next weekend fishing trip. Seeing how much her husband enjoyed being on the water—and recognizing there's only so much time to split between a job, a dream, and a family—Nguyen's wife encouraged him to turn his passion for aquatic adventure into a full-time career. He returned to work, took his office supplies out for a goodbye lunch, and then found a new cubicle aboard a 22-foot North River boat.
Today, Nguyen and his guides—all possessing at least 15 years of experience—lead anglers in search of sturgeon and salmon during fishing trips along the Fraser River's dramatic terrain. They also organize walk-and-wade trips to catch steelhead and trout with casting or fly tackle.
Still more of a fisherman than businessman at heart, Nguyen values the experience of being on the water above all else. He backs every full-day sturgeon trip with a catch guarantee, observing, "My competitors hate me because of that." He'll also reschedule clients' trips should conditions look unfavorable. Though he's experienced working with every level of angler, his favorite clients are the ones who have never caught a fish before and can't hide the excitement inspired by their first haul.
The trees that shade the banks of the River of Golden Dreams have been there longer than anyone can remember, lining a mostly undeveloped area that continues to attract visitors to its natural spoils. Along with Atla Lake—which remains free of oil slicks and pollution due to bans on water-skiing, wakeboarding, and cigarette breaks for working beavers—the area still thrives with wildflowers dotting its riverbanks and bald eagles flying overhead. For the past 25 years, Backroads Whistler has done its share to help keep the environment pristine by hosting a variety of nonpolluting recreation, which include paddling sports, fishing, and cycling. Paddle past distant snow-capped mountains and bike along winding woodland trails on unguided, semiguided, or guided tours, the latter of which includes plenty of tidbits on Whistler's history and wildlife. Canoe, kayak, and boat rentals grant further access to the lake, while aluminum fishing boats come loaded with gear for catch-and-release sessions where guests can swap kelp recipes with 3- to 5-pound trout. Around nightfall, twilight tours drift down the river as wild birds and black bears emerge to greet the evening.
Fishlander Pontoons and Custom Tackle helps anglers leap from the land to the water with a full line of fly-fishing gear and inflatable fishing boats available for purchase or rental. The company's fleet features both lightweight and heavy-duty vessels, ideal for exploring British Columbia's lakes and rivers. Many of those bodies of water ripple across the company's own province, transforming the property into a convenient location for anglers to test-drive their new rides and equipment.
Before he founded Good Time Dave’s Fishing Charters, David Eves spent 10 years fishing off the west coast of Vancouver Island. As a result, he brings a vast knowledge of the water and extensive fishing experience to his trips, as well as a Transport Canada certification, marine first-aid training, and enthusiasm for his work. David chauffeurs patrons out onto the water on a 23-foot Sea Sport that seats four. The vessel aids amateur fishermen in their quest for the perfect catch with a variety of high-tech tools including a Lowrance colour sounder that uses sonar to locate areas with high concentrations of fish and a black box that infuses the water with an electrical current to attract salmon. While on an adventure, patrons can hunt and hook Pacific salmon and halibut, or enjoy the rocky surroundings and fill souvenir jars with crisp clean air.
The fishermen lay their catches out on the dock: a haul of meaty king salmon, halibut, and toothy ling cod. The guides of Reel Obsession Sport Fishing take out anglers all year to reap catches such as these, leading charters along Victoria and Vancouver Island into prime fishing waters such as Zeballos, Esperanza Inlet, and Nootka Sound. These spots teem with different species of salmon, depending on the season. During the spring and summer, trophy chinook and coho salmon flood the waters on their way to spawn in the river systems. Some years also bring pink salmon, distinguished by their humped backs and fondness for wearing pink sweatbands. Halibut also lurk beneath the salmon runs, with occasional lunkers known as barn doors reaching more than 200 pounds. In addition to outfitting guests for salmon and halibut fishing, they also have a scenic west coast lodge and guides can also take them out for crabbing, prawning, and on wildlife tours to see bald eagles, seals, and migrating whales.