British Columbia plays host to a slew of fresh and saltwater fishes.

British Columbia is home to some fish species that, like each subspecies of salmon, are anadromous, meaning they begin their lives in freshwater before migrating to saltwater to mature and eventually returning to spawn in freshwater. Opposite of that, eels are catadromous.



Sport fishermen typically pursue only a few of BC'S FISH species. Salmon are especially sought after while they mature in saltwater and as they stage for their spawning runs. Prize among them is the Chinook, sometimes weighing in excess of 50 pounds. Making that look small, however, is the Pacific halibut. They are flat predator that live along the bottom of the ocean. Weighing up to 400+ pounds, most halibut caught are between 20 and 40 pounds. Generally speaking, halibut over 70 pounds are breeding females. Lingcod and other rockfish are also prize table fare.



81 species of native freshwater fish have been described in British Columbia. Ruler among these, in size at least, are the white sturgeon. They have been known to live upwards of 100 years and grow in excess of 18 feet! British Columbia has a population of white sturgeon in two of its three major drainage systems: the Fraser River and the Columbia River. Because of their slow maturation process, white sturgeon are especially prone to failure numbers due to fishing pressures. Conservation tactics are constantly being adjusted.

The other main fish in the British Columbia freshwater system is the salmon. Six different species fill the rivers and lakes during nearly spawning runs after returning from years in the ocean. First Nations tribes in BC historically survived on these bountiful fishes, but numbers have been devastated by fishing pressures and other environmental consequences of mining and resource mismanagement. Still, numbers are high enough to support a thriving sportfishing industry that draws thousands of visitors and inserts millions of dollars into the British Columbia economy each year.



Saltwater fish diversity is off the chart compared to the freshwater fishes. 409 species in the Canadian zone of the Pacific Ocean have been identified. Of these, 25 are found in both fresh and saltwater. The zone extends 200 miles offshore. Further extension reaches international waters, where there are even greater numbers of species available.



Shellfish such as oysters, clams, prawns, and crabs are also common. It might come as no surprise that seafood is a mainstay on the plates of people who live in British Columbia!