By Lakes, Rivers & Ocean
Fishing and Tours
Vancouver Island’s West Coast near Nootka Sound holds a worldwide reputation as one of the finest fishing areas on the planet, salt water or fresh. From mighty salmon to gigantic halibut in the ‘saltchuck’, cutthroat, rainbow, and steelhead trout in fresh water, anglers here catch their limit of fish, fun, and adventure in a spectacular wilderness setting..
A number of fishing charter companies in Gold River offer expert guides, fishing charters and resort accommodation. You can tackle the west coast any time of year, but summer sees most people trying their luck at catching the transient runs of Coho, Sockeye and Spring Salmon, also know as Chinook, or Tyee if weighing over 30 pounds. For variety, try bottom fishing for ling-cod, rock-cod, snapper and gigantic halibut, some up to 175 pounds.
Former Campbell River judge and award winning nature writer Roderick Haig-Brown enthused about the joys and serenity of fly-fishing on Vancouver Island. His writings have lured people from around the world to come to enjoy the thrill of hauling a steelhead, Dolly Varden, or cutthroat trout from one of the many rivers cutting through the forests and mountains of the region. The ultimate in sports fishing is to hire a floatplane or a helicopter and fish secluded lakes and rivers. No matter your choice, Nootka Sound and the Gold River region offers superb fishing as well as fantastic scenery and an abundance of wildlife.
Bring your own boat, rent one, or hop on the MV Uchuck III – It all begins at the Gold River government wharf near the old mill site, where vessels of all sizes up to ocean freighters can be accommodated. The protected waters of Nootka Sound, the fiords and channels, the maze of islands, and the smaller communities scattered throughout are a boater’s paradise. The open pacific is always close by, but boaters are sheltered from its storms and weather by the solid bulk of Nootka Island and others which form a protected inland waterway system which runs for hundreds of miles up the inaccessible coast.
Sheltered anchorages abound, and rounding a point could bring a number of surprises, from an old abandoned cannery, to a bear hunting salmon in a rivermouth. Everywhere you are surrounded by nature – virgin forest, towering mountains, eagles overhead and whales and dolphins in the water. This is their neighbourhood, and you are welcome to visit it
Kayaking in the Gold River
With the West Coast’s rain and steep gradient, it’s not surprising that the Gold River has more than 20 kilometres of class-II to -IV+ whitewater for much of the year
Kayaking in Nootka Sound
The First Nations people once ranged up and down the coast in cedar canoes, whaling, fishing and moving to and from their winter and summer homes. In the same water borne way a growing numbers of kayakers now absorb this rich aboriginal history, as they visit the coastal communities, the abandoned villages and remote islands of the “Land of Maquinna”, one of the world’s finest sea kayaking areas.
Seek out a kayak tour company for all-inclusive packages or, if competent, go with friends — going alone can be dangerous because of the changeable weather and adverse conditions.
Many kayakers load their vessels on the Uchuck III at Gold River and sail on her out to the outer coast where, using a pallet attached to the ship’s boom and a winch, the crew lowers them, in their kayaks, into the water. Arrange with the Uchuck III for return pick-up.
An absolutely splendid wild wilderness awaits paddlers: uninhabited beaches; dense old growth rainforests populated by wolves and bears; waterfalls; deep fjords, and coves, secluded and sheltered.
Supernatural! Wildlife galore: orca and gray whales, sea lions, black bears, cougars, and bald eagles. Most kayakers want to view the sea otters and rafts with a hundred of them not a rarity here. In all about 1500 of these adorable creatures live here, descendents of 89 sea otters re-located from Alaska between 1969 and 1972, and ranging from Brooks Peninsula south to the Broken Islands. Paddle Kyuguot Sound, sheltered Esperanza Inlet or Nuchatlitz Inlet — and Nuchatlitz Marine Park — Nootka Sound and Bligh Island Marine Park in between. Unparalleled!
For something even more exhilarating and challenging, try whitewater kayaking on some of the many rivers cascading down from the nearby mountains.
Surfing Nootka Sound
The giant rollers and pounding Pacific surf attacking Vancouver Island’s west coast makes the ‘killer’ waves beloved by surfers and windsurfers. Often up to 25’ in height, these waves have turned this coast into a surfer’s paradise. Although Long Beach, in Pacific Rim Park near Tofino, is considered the ‘Malibu of the North’ and the ‘Surf Capital of Canada,’ record numbers of tourists and surfers make for crowded condiditons. Now some surfers have discovered the magic of Nootka Island….
For the ultimate in Canadian surfing and windsurfing, a company operating on Nootka Island offers accomplished surfers and wind-surfers the opportunity to ride waves in the least crowded of circumstances.
Guests live in tree houses and are transported by rugged Zodiac watercraft to empty surf where they become absolutely “stoked” while carving and jumping waves to their heart’s content.
Steady offshore winds make any part of the coast, and a number of lakes, perfect for windsurfing.