The decommissioned HMCS Columbia was sunk in 1996 near the sea-life-rich waters of Seymour Narrows off the Quadra Island's west coast. For information on diving to this artificial reef and on other diving sites (with enticing names like Row and Be Damned, Whisky Point, Copper Cliffs, and Steep Island) in the Campbell River area, contact Beaver Aquatics (tel. 250/287-7652; www.connected.bc.ca/~baquatics).
The coho salmon in these waters weigh up to 9-kilograms (20 lb.), and even these are dwarfed by the tyee -- 14-kilogram-plus (31-lb.-plus) chinook (king) salmon. But fishing isn't what it once was in Campbell River. Some salmon runs are now catch-and-release only, and others are open for limited catches; many fishing trips are now billed more as wildlife adventures than hunting-and-gathering expeditions.
To fish here, you need nonresident saltwater and freshwater licenses, available at outdoor-recreation stores throughout Campbell River, including Painter's Lodge Holiday & Fishing Resort, 1625 McDonald Rd. (tel. 250/286-1102; www.painterslodge.com). The staff at the lodge can also provide information on guided boats and fishing rules.
If you'd like to get out onto the waters and fish, be sure to call ahead and talk to an outfitter or the tourist center to find out what fish are running during your visit and if the seasons have opened. Because of plummeting numbers of salmon and of recent treaties with the United States, the coming years will see more restricted fishing seasons in the waters off Vancouver Island. Don't be disappointed if there's no salmon fishing when you visit or if the salmon you hook is catch-and-release only, though. For one thing, there are other fish in the sea: Not all types of salmon are as threatened as the coho and tyee; or, you can also consider fishing for halibut and other bottom fish. And if you really just want to get out on the water and have an adventure, consider a wildlife-viewing boat tour, offered by many fishing outfitters.
There are dozens of fishing guides in the Campbell River area, with a range of services that extends from basic to pure extravagance. Expect to pay around C$100 per hour for 4 to 5 hours of fishing with a no-frills outfitter. A flashier trip on a luxury cruiser can cost more than C$120 per hour. The most famous guides are associated with the Painter's Lodge and its sister property, April Point Lodge on Quadra Island. A few smaller fishing-guide operations include Coastal Wilderness Adventures (tel. 866/640-1173 or 250/287-3427; www.coastwild.com) and CR Fishing Village, 260 Island Hwy. (tel. 250/287-3630; www.fishingvillage.bc.ca).
You can also check out the Info Centre's directory of fishing guides by following the links at www.campbellriverchamber.ca. Most hotels in Campbell River also offer fishing/lodging packages; ask when you reserve.
For day hikes, drive to Strathcona Provincial Park, or explore Quadra Island's Mount Seymour or Morte Lake parks. For a pleasant hike closer to Campbell River, drive west 6km (3 3/4 miles) on Hwy. 28 to Elk Falls Provincial Park. Easy 1- to 2-hour hikes lead to a fish hatchery and let you explore a stream with beaver ponds. From the park, you can also join the Canyon View Trail, a loop hike that follows the banks of the Campbell River.
Eagle Eye Adventures (tel. 250/286-0809 or 250/890-0464; www.eagleeyeadventures.com) offers a range of excursions via Zodiac and floatplane. A popular 4-hour trip takes you up a series of sea rapids, with the chance to see bears, eagles, orcas, and sea lions. Excursions cost C$109 for adults, C$79 for children under 13. Check the company's website for other options. Painter's Lodge also offers wildlife-watching trips.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.