Introduction to River Fishing

Introduction to River Fishing

Pink salmon!

Introduction to River Fishing

Rainbow Trout



Time of year

Late June to Late August


6-7 hours

Minimum Age


Minimum Fitness Level

Activity Overview

Simply the best and most enjoyable way to fish in Bella Coola is from a McKenzie Drift Boat. These stable platforms provide efficient access the entire river system. Fish from the boat, anchor, or fish from shore at some of the best fishing holes otherwise inaccessible without a boat. 

McKenzie Drift Boats are exceptionally comfortable and are purpose-built for these waters. Each fishing drift is guided by an expert oarsman with many years of experience fishing these waters. Fishing equipment and technique depend on the season and the species of fish. For trout we use lighter spin casting or fly fishing gear. For salmon we most often plug, bait, or lure fish. Guided tours included all necessary fishing equipment (guest must purchase a fishing licence at reception); however, we recommend guests bring their own equipment if they want to fly fish for salmon. We do not supply heavy fly fishing equipment. 

Note: Land-based fishing tours are also available by request. Please speak with our reservations team for more information. 

We recommend hiring a guide in order to locate the best spots, but for those guests who are keen to fish on their own, we also rent fishing equipment by the day. A rod & reel is $30 per day. Chest waders & fishing boots are $30 per day. The lodge also sells fishing licenses (required for all guests), lures and flies.

*Important Note!* To limit interference with the essential food supply for migratory Grizzly Bears, and for safety reasons, guided fishing is not available between September 1st and October 16th.

Quick Facts

  • Who Should Book
    • This activity is designed for guests who are interested in learning the fundamentals required to successfully fish for trout and salmon

Note: The success rate of catching fish on the Atnarko River varies based on species, time of year, the skill of the angler, and a bit of luck.

  • We practice catch and release as these fish are native to the Atnarko River and play a crucial role in maintaining a healthy ecosystem

Note: Guests are not able to keep their fish nor have them prepared by the chef at the lodge.

  • Safety & Mobility Considerations
    • This activity requires light flexibility and fitness in order to safely balance and navigate on uneven and slippery rock covered shoreline and river bed
  • Minimum Age
    • 6+ as part of a Private Group or 12+ as part of a Small Group

Note: The minimum age for children in a private group is subject to the discretion of the parent(s) or legal guardian(s), based on the child’s fitness and maturity, and following consultation with the guide. Children’s casting rods are available by request.

What to Bring

  • Comfortable layered clothing that is appropriate for variable weather conditions, wind protection, and possible rain
  • Water resistant rain protection is complementary and available by request
  • A small backpack for snacks, fluids, and other important personal items
  • A hat, sunglasses, sunscreen, and bug spray are highly recommended
  • A camera to capture the experience

Sample Itinerary

  • Start - This activity begins at Tweedsmuir Park Lodge
    • Prior to departing the lodge, guests will be fitted with proper fishing gear including a rod & reel, hooks & tackle, chest waders, and a lifejacket
    • A brief introduction to casting session will be held on the front lawn for beginners or guests who want to improve their technique (20 minutes)
    • Guests will board one of our shuttles and transfer approx. 5 minutes East along highway 20 to the Belarko Wildlife Viewing Platform
    • With the assistance of the guide, guests climb aboard the boat, are helped into position, and are instructed on where to safely stow their belongings
    • The guide will anchor the boat at various points along the river so guests can fish, or if it is a larger group, guests will be able to get out of the boat at various points along the shore to fish from there 
  • End - This activity ends at our dedicated boat launch approx. 2 kms south of Tweedsmuir Park Lodge
    • Guests collect their belongings, climb out the boat, return their fishing rods and lifejackets and board one of our shuttles for an approx. 5 minute drive East back to Tweedsmuir Park Lodge
    • Upon arrival back at the lodge, guests will return fishing gear and enjoy a delicious lunch or apres on the deck if they have purchased one of our all-inclusive packages

Note: Capacity is limited in each of our activities and we prioritize space for guests staying at the lodge. That being said, we occasionally have space for guests not staying at the lodge. If you will not be staying with us and would like to book this activity, please contact us by phone at 604-905-4994 or by email at [email protected].


SPECIES April May June July August September October
Sea Run Cutthroat Trout Common Common Uncommon Rare Rare Rare Rare
Resident Rainbow Trout Common Common Common Common Common Common Common
Cutthroat Trout Common Common Common Common Common Common Common
Bull Trout Common Common Common Common Common Common Common
Spring / King Salmon Uncommon Common Common Common Uncommon Rare Rare
Pink Salmon Uncommon Common Common Common Uncommon Rare Rare
Sockeye Salmon Rare Rare Uncommon Common Common Uncommon Rare
Chum Salmon Rare Rare Rare Uncommon Common Common Common
Coho / Silver Salmon Rare Rare Rare Rare Uncommon Common Common