A Strong History
Prince Rupert’s past and present are linked to the sea’s bounty, from the deep connection of the Ts’msyen People to the North Pacific, to the boom of the commercial fishing and canning industry in the early twentieth century. When the town of Prince Rupert was founded, salmon canneries had already been in operation along the mouth of the Skeena River for decades.
The Halibut Capital of the World. Image from Prince Rupert City Archives
For millennia, Indigenous Peoples have harvested the sea’s bounty in the waters around what is now Prince Rupert. With the first cold storage facilities opened in 1910, the completion of the Grand Trunk Pacific Railway in 1914, and finally an Order-in-Council permitting U.S. halibut fishermen to ship their catches from Rupert in 1915, Prince Rupert acquired the nickname, “The Halibut Capital of the World.” During the month of September 1915 alone, 2,165,500 pounds of halibut were unloaded in Prince Rupert, and 62 carloads were shipped fresh by the Grand Trunk Pacific into markets in eastern Canada and the United States.
Today, the local fishing industry remains strong, built upon the long history of fishing and canning in the region. A commercial fishing fleet sees vessels departing Rushbrook Marina in a steady stream, while sports fishing enthusiasts and charter fishing operators criss-cross the harbour daily in pursuit of the daily catch.
VARIETY IS THE SPICE OF… THE COAST?
The waters around Prince Rupert are nutrient-rich and support an abundant sealife population, from chinook, coho, chum, and sockeye salmon to prawns, Dungeness crabs, and halibut.
Catch and release. Image by Jeremy Koreski
You can also find sea asparagus and seaweed, clams, mussels, and scallops, just to name a few! From snapper, cod (yes, including black cod), tuna, and eulachon, to herring and octopus – we’re only scratching the surface.
Salmon and halibut are the main fisheries that bring people to Prince Rupert.. At the right time of year, bagging your daily allowable salmon take can happen in just a few hours before the sun rises. Snagging a juicy halibut can be as easy as dropping a line to the bottom, waiting a few seconds, and then reeling it back in. For those who favour fishing in a freshwater environment, a drive inland along the Skeena River will get you to some of the most abundant freshwater fishing in the world.
Knowing Where to Look
Because this is truly a fishing town, everything you need to catch fish is right here. From tackle shops to outdoor clothing to boat repair, take your pick. For folks who aren’t sure where to go or come without the means to get on the water, there are a number of local guides who will take you out, show you some of their favourite spots, and do everything they can to make sure you come back to shore with a good catch and a great story.
A local favourite spot. Image by Jeremy Koreski
Remember, if you’re planning on putting a line in the water with the hopes of catching something—and it’s pretty likely you will, given the abundance around here—you do have to pick up a fishing licence first. Most of the local tackle shops sell them, or you can always purchase one online here.
For those who prefer freshwater angling, opportunities abound. The Skeena River is world-famous for its wild salmon and steelhead, with phenomenal bar fishing. The wilderness around Prince Rupert is sprinkled with lakes and streams that feature cutthroat and rainbow trout fishing.
Plan your Prince Rupert itinerary by discovering the unique businesses that operate here.