The best fly fishing can be found in the Cowichan River, which is home to rainbow trout, cutthroat trout, brown trout and steelhead. Trout are best from March through to June, and there’s a healthy steelhead run from December to March. The river is also famous for its trophy-sized browns that average in size from 16 to 18 inches. The best flies for most trout are caddis, mayfly and stonefly patterns. Brown trout are particularly fond of streamers and, if you’re going for steelhead, stick with marabou streamers. The Cowichan is a heavily regulated river, so be sure to check for in-season closures.
Cowichan Bay was once a sports fishing mecca and the regular haunt of angling aficionados John Wayne and Bing Crosby. Today, and with the right advice, it’s still possible to catch Chinook salmon (a.k.a. spring or king salmon), coho salmon, rock cod, lingcod, prawns and crabs. The best months for saltwater fishing are May through to October, although there is winter Chinook fishing. The best spots on the inside waters (Salish Sea) include Porlier Pass, Samson Narrows and Pender Bluffs. On the outside waters (west coast of Vancouver Island), preferred spots include Tofino, Port Renfrew and Sooke.
Most of the local lakes in Cowichan are well stocked with rainbow and cutthroat trout. Shawnigan Lake and Fuller Lake are also known for their bass. Springtime is the most favourable season for lake fishing, but you’re welcome to try your luck year-round. Good lakes to consider include Chemainus Lake, Fuller Lake, Dougan Lake, Shawnigan Lake and Cowichan Lake.