Copyright 2009 Bute Inlet

As the spawn ends in April, the mature herring exit Bute Inlet headed to the open Pacific. Fishing at exact spots during precise tides produce excellent Chinook fishing! Progressing from spring into early summer will shift the fishing locale from way up Bute Inlet to channels leading out of the area with the food supply leaving. On the other hand, by mid-summer schools of current year spawned herring are ready to leave too! This second wave of juvenile “firecracker” herring supplies countless Chinooks with their favorite food. Like a magnet the constant supply of herring attracts most west coast Chinooks at one time or another.

Besides the herring there is another factor for the great Chinook fishing near Bute Inlet, the major salmon producing rivers in the area. The Southgate, Hamathko and Orford Rivers are major rivers not far from Bute that account for additional Chinooks in the area.

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Stuart Island sits at the mouth of 40 mile long Bute Inlet. On the other side of Stuart Island are the main channels between Vancouver Island and mainland Canada. These channels transport the main body of Chinooks and other salmon headed to their home rivers to spawn.

As a summary of the “Bute Inlet – Stuart Island area” it can be said that beginning from early spring millions of Chinooks are in the area to feed upon the massive amount of herring, and as summer and fall arrive, there are abundant Chinooks passing by using this major migratory path.


The Chinook season at Nanook Lodge on Stuart Island begins in March and ends in September. Other lodges along the west coast generally have a Chinook salmon fishing season averaging two months. Why is there such a long Chinook season at Nanook Lodge; Bute Inlet!

Not many people realize that Chinook (King) salmon have various life cycles ranging from 3-7 years. Returning to their specific river of origin, Chinooks pass their genes to future generations pure and identical as their predecessors. At any time within the west coast tides there are millions of Chinooks at various stages of their lives. One common denominator amongst them is food and the most common, the Pacific Herring.

Each year in late winter and early spring, herring return to Bute Inlet to spawn. Countless schools gather along the kelp beds and deposit eggs and milt that will produce future abundant generations. Following this migration are Chinooks of various age feeding voraciously on the millions of herring. Chinooks headed to California or Alaska can be found in Bute Inlet feeding prior to their own migration home to spawn.