The herring spawn (or herring run) occurs every spring on the eastern shores of Vancouver Island between February and April. The exact time it begins varies from year to year, and the spawning event lasts 2-4 weeks in total with each individual spawning site lasting 2-4 days.
Finding and successfully viewing a spawning site can be tricky, so we’ve created a list of our favourite shore-based viewing areas on eastern Vancouver Island. If there’s a spawn in the area, you’ll have excellent viewing opportunities.
Here’s a list of beaches in the Comox Valley where the herring spawn can be viewed from:
Baynes Sound (between Denman Island and Vancouver Island) is a hotspot for the herring spawn. Highway 19A runs alongside the beach between Fanny Bay and Union Bay. Drive along this highway, and if you spot a herring spawn close by, you can stop at any of the beaches to watch.
Parksville / Qualicum Beach
Highway 19A between Parksville and Qualicum Beach also has many beach access points that offer excellent viewing if a spawn is nearby.
Try these beaches near Qualicum Beach:
And in Parksville, try these beaches:
The French Creek Marina can be a great viewing spot, too. You can also watch the herring fishing boats from here.
There are plenty of beaches with herring spawn viewing opportunities in Nanoose Bay – here’s a few of our favourites:
Denman Island & Hornby Island
If you’d like to take the ferry to Denman Island and/or Hornby Island, these islands have proved to be a true hotspot for the herring spawn every year.
“Lambert Channel and adjecent shorelines of Hornby are THE most important in all of B.C. for spawning. Nearly one in four of B.C.’s herring spawn in these areas.” – Dr. Doug Hay, former research scientist for Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) – from Conservancy Hornby Island
There are too many viewing areas to list on these gorgeous islands! Here’s a few you can try:
- Fossil Beach
- Galleon Beach
- Sandpiper Beach
- Sand Dollar Beach
- St. John’s Point in Helliwell Provincial Park