Nestled within the Alberni Valley at the head of the Alberni Inlet, Vancouver Island's longest inlet, is Port Alberni, BC which is a deep port city. Port Alberni is the true Salmon Capital of the World! Home to all five species of Pacific Salmon, Port Alberni also has this reputation by winning the first-ever title of Canada’s Ultimate Fishing Town in 2010 by the World Fishing Network. A mecca for saltwater fishing, this new title also paid homage to the truly world freshwater fishing.
Held annually in August, the Salmon Festival and Derby is held over Labour Day weekend at the Harbour Quay. Daily prices for the largest fish is $5,000, second place $2,000 and third place $1,000. An extra cash prize of $10,000 is presented to the fisherman that hauls the largest salmon from the entire weekend. The Harbour Quay is always buzzing with locals and tourists alike, enjoying the delicious food trucks, live music, and arts and crafts.
In 2019, the largest salmon caught during the derby was 32.40 pounds. The largest salmon caught in the history of the event was in 1982 at 60 lbs 8 oz. You should try their world-famous Salmon Barbecue or enjoy a beer in their beer garden and listen to some great live music like the Joe Cocker Experience. At dusk, the firework show starts on the first night of the Salmon Festival and Derby. The volunteers create a fantastic and fun event each year.
Hundreds of thousands of tourists visit Port Alberni during fishing season to fish in the Alberni Inlet and Barkley Sound for Coho, Chinook and Sockeye salmon.
Over a half a million salmon make their way to their spawning grounds via the Stamp River during Fall. This is truly a natural spectacle to behold. To witness it, you will need to follow Beaver Creek Road for approximately 12km, north from Hwy 4 to Stamp River Provincial Park. Keep an eye out for pullovers beside the river along the way. In Stamp River, you will find the most breathtaking and magical waterfall where you will witness firsthand the salmon migrating. Below the falls is a canyon where visitors can see hundreds of thousands of salmon waiting for their turn. Robertson Creek Fish Hatchery has a public camera at the top of their fish ladder, that you can watch and count the fish during their migration.
From the Stamp River campground’s, you will need to follow the riverside trails to different viewpoints along Stamp River, where you can see the salmon fighting their way up the falls and the fish ladder. Sockeye salmon run from late June to early September. Coho from August to December and Chinook from September to mid-November. Fishing is permitted but is closed 200 meters above, and 500 meters below Stamp River Falls from June 15 to November 15. Please review the current fishing regulations prior to fishing. The Stamp River is every fisherman’s dream with the best chinook and steelhead in the world and would definitely make any angler’s top five list. During winter the steelhead run occurs in the Stamp River from January to late March.
Port Alberni freshwater lakes and streams are the envy of other fishing towns and cities in Canada and around the world. No other place has the quantity or diversity of fresh streams and lakes, quite like Port Alberni.
The salmon appear in March, as they follow the herring and anchovy spawning runs. In May the chinook salmon migrate in the Alberni Inlet. Some of the salmon run can be seen in late June and they are joined by late salmon, which are the largest of all salmon in July and August.
The Somass River runs through the core of Port Alberni. Banking casting is possible from several locations beside Hwy 4 and along Hector Road off Hwy 4 West of Port Alberni.
As you can see, Port Alberni is not only the true Salmon Capital of the World, it is also Canada’s Ultimate Fishing Town!