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Everything You Need to Know About Kayak Fishing in British Columbia

British Columbia angler Bryce Lussier has cast for fish from seaside beaches, rocky freshwater shorelines, large boats, outboard runabouts, and he’s even enjoyed ice fishing while sitting in the cab of his truck. But it wasn’t until he tried fishing from a kayak that he fully appreciated the skills required to land a lunker. “I caught a bull trout while trolling from a kayak I borrowed from a friend and I tell you, nothing’s more exciting than hauling in a big fish while balancing in a small boat,” he says. A few weekends later, he purchased his own kayak to fish from.

Kayak fishing is growing in popularity throughout the world and that includes the province of BC where paddlers can fish for wild Pacific salmon one day and any number of freshwater species the next. There are certain things to know before kayaking fishing in British Columbia though and this article explains everything from safety considerations to the laws and regulations.

Kayak Fishing Safety in British Columbia

Canadian Federal regulations require all kayak paddlers to carrying the following with them:

  • Canadian-certified lifejacket
  • Buoyant heaving line that’s a minimum of 15 metres (50 feet) long
  • Bailer or manual bilge pump (sit-on-top kayaks are exempt)
  • Whistle or another sound signally device

And always remember the following safety considerations:

  • Paddle with a friend if possible
  • Tread lightly on the loose rocks, wear proper footwear
  • Know your gear
  • Know your skills
  • Stay away from logs and other debris
  • Bring water and a dry bag with a first aid kit, snack and a warm layer

Kayak Fishing Regulations in British Columbia

Every person, no matter if they’re a resident or traveller to British Columbia, must have a fishing license to fish freshwater and/or saltwater species, including shellfish. One-day licenses are available as well as multi-day ones, and annual licenses typically cost less than $40. Annual licenses are valid from the date shown on the license to the following March 31 and all are non-transferrable. People under the age of 16 do not have to pay for a license but they still require one. There may also be supplementary licences and stamps required depending on the species being fished.

Different regions, areas, and species will have varying regulations depending on the season and stocks. For example, the angling season for Kokanee salmon on Kootenay Lake is very limited and so it’s important to know when fishing is allowed. For more information about freshwater regulations, visit the appropriate page on the government of BC website. For information about sport fishing regulations in tidal waters, which fall under federal jurisdiction, visit the appropriate page on the Canadian government website.

Kayaking Fishing For Various Species in British Columbia

Salmon is king when kayak fishing the tidal waters of BC. These torpedo-shaped silvery fish regularly grow up to 10 pounds and the largest ever caught in the province was 126 pounds. There are five different species here including chinook, chum, coho, pink and sockeye and every one makes for delicious eating. Other popular saltwater species to fish for include lingcod, rock fish, flounder, halibut, and shellfish such as Dungeness crab.

Popular freshwater species include trout, such as rainbow and cutthroat, bass, perch, pike, walleye, and arctic grayling. As mentioned above, each species has its own season and it’s important to know before you go when regulations allow angling for them.

Kayaking Fishing Equipment Needed for British Columbia

All kayak anglers need the following equipment:

  • Kayak (either an enclosed one or a sit-on-top model)
  • Double-blade paddle
  • Personal flotation device
  • Whistle
  • Buoyant heaving line that’s a minimum of 15 metres (50 feet) long
  • Bailer or manual bilge pump (sit-on-top kayaks are exempt)
  • Fishing rod and tackle

There are many guides, outfitters, and equipment rental businesses throughout the province that will help make your kayak fishing expedition successful. Refer to our Kayak Fishing Experiences page to find the perfect fit for you.

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