How to Choose a Fishing Charter

Many anglers know Vancouver Island as one of the top destinations for salmon fishing in Canada. While areas on the west coast like Ucluelet and Tofino are considered better for salmon fishing than Victoria, if you are only visiting for a short period of time, you can still get in some great fishing! In fact, Victoria is one place where you can fish year-round, even in the dead of winter, and salmon fishing is considered one of the top things to do. Of course, the time of year makes a huge difference in what to expect from your fishing adventure, as does your charter company. Not sure how to pick a charter or when to go? Check out the tips below so that you can confidently choose your salmon fishing adventure in Victoria, BC.


Picking a Charter

Deciding on a good outfitter is crucial for an enjoyable fishing trip. You’ve got to make sure you’re confident in the people you’ll be spending the next however many hours with, plus a charter can be a pretty expensive investment depending on what you’re after. You should be able to pick a charter with confidence and feel good about your fishing trip. Check out these tips to help you get on the right track for picking a fishing charter in Victoria:



Most charters include gear like downriggers, fishing rods and lures, but it’s always good to ask so that you don’t show up and have nothing to fish with! You’ll also want to make sure they have the equipment to do the type of fishing you’re expecting. Jigging for salmon isn’t going to be effective, but downriggers let you get your lure into the heart of the action. While it is possible, traveling with fishing gear is an extra hassle many don’t want to endure.

Asking about safety gear and rain gear is also a good idea. Charters go out rain or shine, so if they don’t have rain jackets or floater suits on board, you’ll want to gear up. Charters should have all the required safety gear on board, too.



A good guide makes all the difference when it comes to fishing on Vancouver Island. Experienced guides in the area will know the best ways to catch the fish you’re after, and where to find them. Victoria has a number of fishing spots, but if you aren’t in the know-how, you’re unlikely to catch fish like you would have with someone that has the in. If you’re bringing your kids fishing, you want to make sure you don’t have a surly guide who doesn’t want to engage. Fishing trips are supposed to be fun, after all.

Ask how many years of experience the guides have, and where they’ve fished. Guides should also know how to handle their vessel and be familiar with the waters and area.



Since trips go out when it’s raining, the kind of boat is also very important. If you don’t want to get wet and cold, you’ll want to find a charter company that provides boats with heated cabins. If there’s five people coming on board, you’ll want a place with big enough boats to fit you all. Washrooms are also an important feature for many anglers, so be sure to ask those questions. Most boats will have a limit on the number of people allowed on board, too. If you’re over the limit, you’ll either need to get two boats, or find a charter with bigger boats.


What’s Included

Fishing charter prices can vary drastically depending on what is included. It’s always good to know what is included in the price! Here are some things that you can look for:

  • Gear
  • Fishing Licenses
  • Meals
  • Drinks
  • Vacuum Packing
  • Accommodation
  • Gratuity


Types of Fish You’ll Catch

If you want to catch Chum salmon, but are coming during Coho season, you might be disappointed. This also goes for if you feel like catching halibut! It’s important to know what kind of fish are available in the area for when you’re booking your trip, and what your guides are equipped to catch. If you expect crabs, ask if there are crab traps you can set out before heading off to catch fish. If you’re wanting to catch large Chinook salmon, ask what time of year is best to achieve that goal. It can be very disappointing to end up not catching the type of fish you wanted, so find out what you can catch at the time you head out, or the best time to catch what you’re after.



Depending on where the salmon are biting, you’ll want to go inshore, or offshore. If you get stuck inside when the fish are biting far out to sea, you’re not going to have any fun. Ask if the charter offers different types of trips in terms of distance, and your chances of catching fish with each type of trip. This is also important for those who get seasick. If you’re very prone to it, you might not enjoy an offshore trip!


Time and Length

Be sure the charter you choose offers the length and departure time that works best with you. If you aren’t a morning person, you probably don’t want to book a charter that departs at 5am! Same goes with length. Some charters only offer day-long trips, while others are happy to just take you out for a couple hours to try your luck. The longer you’re out, the more likely you are to catch fish, but an eight hour trip may sound daunting to a lot of people wanting to try out salmon fishing.

It’s also good to ask what happens if you catch your salmon limit right away. Some charters might bring you back to shore, while others will be happy to spend the entire length of your trip out at sea checking out the sights, or trying for other kinds of fish.


Age Limits

If you want to fish with your kids, it’s good to ask about age limits on board, or the kind of trip that might suit your needs. If your kid is prone to sea sickness, it can impact the guide’s ability to get you fish, especially if you can’t go out to where you need to! Some sea sickness medication is not suggested for younger kids, and long trips can be difficult for them, which can lower your chance of limiting out! Knowing the kind of boat you have, the length of your trip, if there’s a heated cabin and washrooms on board, the height of the railings and if there’s kid’s life jackets are all important facts you want to know.


Payment and Tipping

Depending on the kind of trip you book, a fishing trip can be an expensive adventure. It’s important to know if you’ll need to pay for the entire thing up front, or if there’s just a deposit required to start off. It’s important to know the cancellation policy as well, as most won’t give you back 100% if you need to cancel, no matter how much in advance.

Tipping your fishing guide is also expected. Ask about the standard gratuity for your length of trip so that you don’t short your guide. They work very hard to make sure you get fish, and while some days just aren’t good for fishing (which is why it’s called fishing and not catching), your guide has still worked hard to make your trips as good as it could possibly be given the various conditions.



Perhaps one of the best ways to find a great charter is to read the reviews and ratings! Read the good and bad (if there are any) comments for the companies and see how the owner/manager responded to complaints. Oftentimes a bad review comes from a fish-less day out on the water, which isn’t always the company’s fault. However, how the owner or manager responds is telling about how the company is run! Aim for a company that has plenty of reviews that are consistently good and look for ratings from people similar to you – if you’re a family with kids, you’ll want to see what other families’ experiences were!


When to Go

Salmon fishing in Victoria is a year-round experience, but the expectations for each season is very different. To start, you can catch all five types of Pacific Salmon out of Victoria, but there are better times to catch certain types.

Chinook Salmon you can find year-round, as they run about once a month. If you’re expecting a big one though, you’ll need to go fishing in July, or August. The winter chinook are much smaller than the tyees you’ll try for in the summer.

Coho are only in the summer, overlapping with the chinook from mid-June to August.

Sockeye salmon are often considered the tastiest of the five types, and they run just after the Coho, from about July through to September. They’re accompanied by pink salmon, which have a tendency to also alternate years (so every two years is a good pink salmon year).

Finally, chum salmon arrive late and depart the latest, thriving from August until October. The best time to try to catch all five of the types is the late summer, typically July-August. While the other times of year still produce fish, the fishing is definitely much slower. If you’re booking outside of peak season, you’ll need to manage expectations to reflect slower fishing!


Contributed by: Laurissa Cebryk

Photos by: Chris Campbell

What about the Winter Whales?

Wondering if winter whale watching is a thing? Here on the west coast, it most definitely is. Thanks to a healthy population of resident whales, including humpback whales and orcas (killer whales), even a trip in the winter can be a success. While companies aren’t likely to guarantee whale sightings like they do in the summer, many charters still have a sighting success rate of over 75%! That means if spotting some of the ocean’s largest mammals was on your vacation bucket list, but you’re visiting in the dead of winter, you need not fret. Victoria’s whale watching tours are still running full swing and are ready to make that dream come true!

Most whale watching and wildlife tours last for about three hours, and depending on the charter you choose, can be in a comfortable cabin cruiser, or open and wild in a zodiac (yes, even in the winter). Either of these options in the winter will require you to dress warmly. Although you’ll have coverage if you opt for a cabin cruiser, when the whales are spotted, you’ll likely want to be on deck! Zodiac passengers are usually required to wear floater suits, which gives you an extra layer of coverage. You’ll definitely want toques and gloves though.

Although peak whale watching season is from May-October, there are definitely some benefits to enjoying a winter whale watching expedition. Not only are you likely to have the tour all to yourself, but prices are also cheaper than the going summer rate. The sighting rate is still pretty good, and if the sun suddenly comes out, inspiring you for a day on the water, you might be in luck with making a last-minute booking. Finally, you’ll be able to say you were out exploring the Salish Sea in the dead of winter! There’s something to be said about the peace and quiet of a tourist town in the off-season, and the beauty of Victoria from the water on a crisp winter’s day is unrivaled.

If winter whale watching doesn’t quite sound like your thing, the summer season is just a few months away! Hang in there, the flowers will be out in bloom soon enough.

Dogs in Victoria

Your dog is a huge part of your family, so why should they miss out on your family vacation? Anywhere in British Columbia is an ideal place to bring your dog on vacation, but Vancouver Island is definitely one of the top doggy destinations. There’s just so much to do! When visiting the Island, Victoria, B.C. is a natural first stop. So, how dog-friendly is the capital of British Columbia? Read on to find out where to stay, the top things to do with your dog and plenty of other tips to bringing your dog along on your vacation to Vancouver Island’s, Victoria B.C.



First things first – you’ll need a place to stay. There are plenty of dog-friendly accommodations in Victoria, so you should be able to find something that suits your style. From luxury hotels and resorts, to cozy cottages and simple vacation rentals, Victoria has it all for your dog.

Here are a few options to get you started:

Coast Victoria Harbourside Hotel

Harbour Towers

Delta Victoria Ocean Pointe Resort and Spa

Fairmont Empress

Westin Bear Mountain Golf Resort and Spa


When booking your accommodation, be sure their pet policy fits your requirements! Many have an extra fee and some only allow smaller dogs!


Top Things to do in Victoria with your Dog


Visit a Restaurant with a Patio

During the summer, plenty of Victoria’s restaurants feature outdoor patios and a number of them are happy to have well-behaved dogs join you as your dinner date.


Enjoy a Water Taxi Ride

While up to the discretion of the driver that day, dogs are typically welcome on Victoria’s Water Taxis as long as they are pleasant and on a leash! Enjoy a beautiful water adventure with your pooch and take in the sights of Victoria. Why miss out on sight-seeing just because you’ve got your dog along for the ride?


Photo by: Tyler Ingram

Photo by: Tyler Ingram

Off-Leash Areas, Parks and Beaches

Dallas Road has a special spot just for dogs to run free next to the ocean, Elk/Beaver Lake is entirely leash-optional except in picnic areas during the summer, and French Beach is a dog heaven with plenty of driftwood sticks and beach to run. Victoria has tons of outdoor options and about 12 off-leash areas to let your pooch romp. What better way to take in the beauty of Victoria’s parks, beaches and trails? While some require leashes in particular areas, there’s typically a place to let them run free, too. After all, aren’t vacations in cities meant to be social?


Go Shopping

Downtown Victoria is a haven of sweet boutiques and other fantastic stores. While many aren’t pet-friendly, there are definitely shops that allow both you and your furry friend in to peruse. Chapters, Marks Work Warehouse, Canadian Tire and Capital Iron all encourage some accompaniment as you check out their goods. Better yet is when there’s a pet section, as you and your dog can leave happy with some goodies to show for your efforts.

There are also plenty of pet stores and “pet boutiques” that Victoria has to offer. If you’re in need of specialty foods, forgot your pup’s favourite treats, or just want to get them into the vacation “treat yourself” spirit, you’ll definitely find a place to do so.


Explore Victoria by Horse Drawn Carriage

One of Victoria’s most unique tours allows well-behaved and leashed dogs to enjoy. Explore the city by horse-drawn carriage – a magical way to see and learn about historic Victoria. What better way to spend time with your best friend than listening to the patter of horses’ hooves and exploring a brand-new place?


Visit the Famous Butchart Gardens

With the exception of the evening firework displays in the summer, your furry friend is allowed to join in on your exploration of the world famous Butchart Gardens. They’re not only one of Victoria’s top things to do, but the Butchart Gardens are like a giant park of beautiful, flower-lined pathways to walk your dog along.  While expected to be well-behaved and on leash (flower arrangements are delicate), they can take time to smell the roses by your side


Photo by: J Holland

Photo by: J Holland

Go Hiking

There are plenty of great hikes within Victoria, or just nearby. To tucker your dog out for the day, take to the trails and enjoy some fresh air! From Goldstream Provincial Park, to any of the city lookouts like Mount Douglas, or Mount Tolmie, there are some great areas to get your heart going and give your dog some exploration time.



  • Bring Poop Bags

Plenty of parks provide these, but it’s always handy to have a few with you at all times. The sidewalk outside a store you’ve popped into is not an ideal place for your pup to leave its business.

  • Vets in the Area

Be aware of what vet clinics in the area and perhaps have one in mind should anything happen to your dog – with Victoria being such a pet-friendly city, there are tons of dog owners around and sometimes the dogs don’t get along. There are also plenty of accidents that could happen (like anywhere), so knowing where to take them if something does makes you that much more prepared.

  • Follow Pet Policies

Whether it’s your accommodation provider, or for a tour you’re interested in, it’s important to comply to their pet policies! That way, people can continue to enjoy their vacations accompanied by their best friends, and everyone will be safe and happy.

  • Traveling with B.C. Ferries

B.C. Ferries allows pets on most of their sailing routes, but be aware you may need to stay on deck in the pet area on the car deck, which can get chilly, or in your vehicle. Dogs will be expected to be on leash, too.

  • Research Other Options

Do you really want to go whale watching, but your dog isn’t allowed on the boat, or to be left alone at your accommodation? Victoria is a large city, with plenty of pet owners, meaning there are also plenty of pet services. Book your dog in for a haircut, find a dog walker, or get a pet sitter for the afternoon. That way, your dog isn’t spending your vacation alone, and you can enjoy some of the things you two can’t do together. Just do your research beforehand and pick a service you feel comfortable with.


Contributed by: Laurissa Cebryk

5 Man-Powered Water Activities to do in Victoria

Oceanside and riddled with various freshwater features as well, Victoria is a go-to destination to experience numerous activities on the water. From exhilarating adventures to a casual float and paddle, below are 5 of the multitude of water-based activities to be found in Victoria, BC.

1. Diving

Vancouver Island has been rated one of the top cold-water diving destinations in the world. Rich kelp-forests with playful otters, scores of salmon and numerous nudibranchs are just the beginning of the stunning and intriguing wildlife that live beneath the waves. As you stroll the Ogden Point Breakwater, more often than not bubbles ascend to the surface from a diver’s tank. There are plenty of dive schools in Victoria and Sidney, as well as charters that will take you out to all the hotspots. Plenty of man-made reefs are available to discover, and you can even explore plane crashes and nearby wrecks.

2. Kayaking

This adventure is pretty much a given for a coastal city. Taking a peek at Victoria from the water offers an incredibly unique vantage point. Aside from seeing the intriguing heritage buildings from afar, there are also the Gulf Islands nearby that offer plenty of paddling exploration. Kayaking can be as relaxing or energetic as you desire, and plenty of sea life lives around the harbour and islands. You’ll no doubt meet a lot of “locals” along the way in the form of seals, sea lions, marine birds, and if you’re lucky, whales at a distance.

3. SUP Boarding

The balanced art of SUP Boarding is another awesome water-based activity to give a go while visiting the city. A paddle through the Harbour is a fun way to check out the boats up close and the buildings from a distance, as well as putting your balance to the test. Once you have the hang of it, scooting around the area is a breeze. You can even do a mini booze-cruise via paddleboard, making pit stops at a couple water-accessed pubs. Alternatively, if freshwater and no audience is a bit more your style, SUP Boards are a great thing to take to the lakes to explore the shoreline.

4. Thetis Lake

Located just outside of the city in Langford, Thetis Lake is a perfect city escape. Besides the two main lakes, Upper and Lower Thetis Lake, the 834-hectare park boasts multi-purpose trails for hiking, horseback riding and biking. The lakes themselves each have a boat launch, sandy beaches to lounge on, picnic areas and change rooms. Hot summer days sometimes mean a crowded beach, but the lake itself is usually relatively empty and open for a serene float. There are also a few cliff-jumping spots that are a local favourite, although it’s important to be aware that there is no lifeguard on duty. Be sure to check out the area before jumping and try to go where you’ve seen others jump before you.

5. Sooke Potholes

Naturally carved into the bedrock of the Sooke River are the Sooke Potholes, another local favourite and bustling summer destination. Unique due to their splendid curve and stunning aqua-green colour, the drive out of the city to spend the day here is a worthy cause. Explore the sets of cascading waterfalls in the park and find a swimming hole to call your own for the afternoon. With about 5km of swimming areas that consume plenty of the pools, you should have no trouble staking claim to a slice of rock. Again, cliff-jumping is a common activity, but be wary with your selection of jump location.

Summers on the coast are calling with these water-based activities, so dive in! Getting to know the variety of activities the city has to offer, all while keeping cool is just one of the unreal advantages of spending some time in Victoria.


Christmas seems to sneak up a little bit earlier every year. November 1st? Get those Christmas lights out, it’s just under 2 MONTHS away! Now, with Christmas just a few days out, those of us who still find ourselves muttering, “Bah humbug”.