Port Alberni – A Fishing Adventure

Port Alberni
Photographer
Chris Istace

Port Alberni – A Fishing Adventure

Through 2018, ZenSeekers is teaming up with partners the Port Alberni region. Our correspondents will bring you exceptional video, photos and stories to inspire you to #ExploreBC and have your very own #ExplorePortAlberni adventures. 

Written and photographed by Chris Istace

As I descended down the mountain pass into Port Alberni, I thought to myself, what exciting and stunning new aspect of the region will I fall in love with now. As a hiking enthusiast, I have previously explored many of the endless forests and alpine trails that Port Alberni has to offer, but on this visit, I would be trading the land for the water. I would be discovering why Port Alberni is the World Fishing Network’s First ‘Ultimate Fishing Town’ in Canada.

My first stop on arrival was the Harbour Quay, the heart of the community and the Alberni Inlet, where salmon fishing has been happening for centuries. The Tseshaht and Hupacasath tribes of the Nuu-chah-nulth First Nation were the first to recognize the importance of the inlet and contributing watersheds.

#ExplorePortAlberni, start by checking into Port Alberni Tourism’s website.

The region has built an international reputation for its bountiful salmon grounds that include the Chinook, Coho and Sockeye. From the open waters of the Alberni Inlet leading to Barkley Sound, the deep waters of Sproat Lake or the feeding waters of the Stamp and Somass rivers, the fishing is both exciting and challenging.

Port Alberni
Photographer
Chris Istace

I relaxed along the quay following my supper at Bare Bones Fish & Chips, which I would say is the best I have ever had and, is uniquely located in an old church. As the sun began to set behind the distant Strathcona mountain peaks, I was feeling both contented from the evening and excited over the coming day.

Local fishermen and life-long Port Alberni residents, Rob Cole and his father, Bob were my hosts for the morning. With strong coffees in hand, we boarded Bob’s fishing boat and headed out, ready for the day.

Having grown up in the immediate area, both men have fishing in their blood and have created lives for themselves within the industry. And they are story-tellers. I enjoyed the stories so much, it seemed like no time at all before we had reached an area where the guys were sure there were Chinook ready to be caught.

Port Alberni
Photographer
Chris Istace

Trolling motor on and lines set, Rob told me it was during a fishing derby, that he really caught the bug. “My love for fishing didn't bite until I was older and borrowed a used boat from my dad’s shop and signed up in the annual Salmon Derby with some friends. I hooked and landed my first Tyee (Chinook 30lbs/13.6kgs. or more) … even though I am pretty sure a 47lb (21.3kg) Chinook won that year, I was hooked and chase Springs (Chinook) when ever possible.”

The 47th Port Alberni Salmon Festival & Derby takes place Aug. 31 to Sept. 3 and Rob is so hooked (no pun intended), he now sits on the board and it’s evident he is extremely proud of the reputation it has earned over the years.

I don’t really fish much, but I do find that fishing is more of a mindful escape where the disconnect from the distraction of town and buzzing of cars is no more. The rhythm of the waves, along with marine birds soaring overhead — including bald eagles — puts you in a natural state of awe.

Port Alberni
Photographer
Chris Istace

In the middle of the stories and reflective moments, the fishing rod suddenly bobbed hard towards the water line. There was a fish on and Rob quickly sprung to action. I readied the net, as he cranked on the reel, testing his skill against the salmon’s. His smile grew larger — he was in his happy place, eventually landing a beautiful fish.

Port Alberni
Photographer
Chris Istace

With our catch stowed away, we headed back to town, adding another day’s worth of stories to the list for next trip. Maybe the bug has bitten me, because I can’t wait to return to Port Alberni and get on the water again. Maybe next time it will be for Steelhead along the famous Stamp River, or back out in the inlet for Sockeye.

No matter where you decide to go — it will be a great time. I highly suggest looking into booking a fishing charter or guide on your next visit to Port Alberni.

If You Go

Search #ExplorePortAlberni for more inspiration. Be sure to tag #ExplorePortAlberni while exploring the region as you could be featured on our social media channels!

Start planning your adventures in Port Alberni at Alberni Valley Tourism .

Start exploring your Port Alberni region options with Destination BC .

Find out more at the City of Port Alberni’s website .

Through 2018, ZenSeekers is teaming up with partners of the Port Alberni region. Our correspondents will bring you exceptional video, photos and stories to inspire you to #ExploreBC and have your very own #ExplorePortAlberni adventures.   

Learn more about fishing charters in Port Alberni by booking with Silvers Charters, Last Cast Guiding, or Alberni Charters.

Chris Istace is a ZenSeekers' correspondent, he can be found at The Mindful Explorer and on Instagram and Twitter.