Spring has officially arrived and peak fishing season is just around the corner on Vancouver Island. Although most students are busy finishing projects and studying for final exams, spending a couple hours fishing can provide a relaxing break from the usual end-of-semester stress.

Nanaimo offers several easily-accessible fresh and saltwater locations for fishing, and most of the local lakes are stocked year-round, says fishing expert Jessica Pittman at Gone Fishin’ Shop.

The Colliery Dams and Westwood Lake are popular spots for students to fish, as both are near VIU and there is plenty of shoreline for anglers to spread out. Green Lake near Woodgrove Mall is also a great area to fish, and Pittman says fewer locals know about it. Rainbow Trout are most likely to be caught in these areas and the prospects of other species may require a trip away from Nanaimo. “For bass fishing you have to go out of town, like Spider Lake or Quennell Lake,” Pittman says.

With the perfect location chosen, fishers should then look for the best tackle. PowerBait worms and Panther Martin lures are a popular choice for the region, and Gone Fishin’ carries a wide variety of each. “For the Colliery Dam, a lot of people use cured salmon eggs, they’re pretty popular,” Pittman says.

The time of day also matters when angling and choosing to cast a line. When the fish are more likely to bite can yield better results. “Traditionally, the best time to fish is the beginning and end of the day, but right now when the temperature is cool it [matters less],” Pittman says.

Living in the Harbour City also provides anglers with accessible and worthwhile saltwater fishing opportunities. From late July to Sept., a pink salmon run at the mouth of the Millstone River offers good results, says Pittman. The best areas to catch the pink salmon are at Departure Bay and Swy-a-Lana Lagoon.

Stephen Vavrik, saltwater fishing specialist at The Harbour Chandler, says the locations offer easy access for beginners, and also recommends Rocky Point off Fillinger Rd. along Hammond Bay. “When I first moved to town I fished there…you can cast off shore and catch 30 pound salmon,” Vavrik says. He suggests using Buzz Bombs, McDeep, or Little Nibbs tackle for these areas.

Vavrik also says to “use bright lures on darker days and darker lures on brighter days. Sometimes on brighter days the fish are spooked easier.” This is because fish try to stay camouflaged in their environment, so a darker lure blends into their surroundings better and appears less out of place.

For more advice on local fishing and the best equipment to use, visit Gone Fishin’ along the Island Highway near Country Club Mall or The Harbour Chandler on Esplanade St.