Christmas is just around the corner and we are getting ready at the shop, decking the halls and tying steelhead leaders. Though it is early, steelhead is the next fishery to get on your radar. With this in mind Alex has a great look at some dream steelhead setups in his Vedder report and some predictions and advice for getting out early for scouting.
Egg fishing has been good when the rivers have been in shape. Dustin has notes on the Stave and Matt has a long-winded rant about the Squamish. The forecast is looking very favourable for next week and it might be some of the best fishing of the season so it is a good time to plan an outing.
Winter chinook fishing has been solid and with great weather in the forecast starting Sunday, it should be well worth a trip to warm up the boat, drop the traps and pull on some fish. Jason was out last week and has an up to date report in the saltwater section.
Though winter has some great fishing opportunities it is also a good time to sit down at the tying vice and prepare your fly boxes. This week we have some great new fly tying products for the warm water anglers and the steelheaders out there. Don’t miss it in our feature product section.
CLASSES + COURSES
Our 2017 Courses have come to an end for the year. Thanks to all our students who joined us this year and we hope that you each learned some tips and tricks to implement out on the water. Keep an eye on your inbox for our 2018 course lineup to be released soon!
FRIDAY FEATURE PRODUCT
Enrico Puglisi Flies + Materials and Montana Fly Company Materials
Our steelhead fly tying jam season was a big success and we brought in a ton of cool new product for the fly tying department. For those that missed the event don’t worry. This week we have an awesome feature DEAL on two brands of materials.
For the warm water anglers heading on a trip down south to Mexico or the Bahamas or west to Christmas Island or beyond we have brand new Enrico Puglisi materials and patterns. We have a bunch of new material brushes in great bonefish and baitfish colors as well as some cool tools and accessories. We also have an epic selection of new roosterfish, GT and predator baitfish patterns as well as some awesome Enrico Puglisi crab patterns. All Enrico Puglisi materials and flies will be 10% off for this week only!
For the steelheaders we brought in Montana Fly Company materials. If you have not seen their barred and standard ostrich plumes you are in for the treat. They are amazingly thin and the colors are perfect. We have a big selection in right now and all Montana Fly Co. materials will be 10% off for this week as well.
Just like the EP products, when you come down, tell the boys you saw the feature product and we will make sure you get the deal!
– Feature products on sale from Friday December 1, 2017 to close Thursday December 7, 2017 –
On to the Report!
FRESHWATER FISHING REPORTS
Chilliwack River Fishing Report – Vedder River Steelhead Preparation
Welcome to December! There are only 24 more days until Christmas so many people are currently on their holiday shopping sprees (and you know who to come to for all your fishing gift ideas!), but for those of us who just won’t hang up our rods, December marks the return of our big winter fishery: winter steelhead! They call them “the fish of a thousand casts” and these chrome bullets are no slouch when hooked, making them highly sought after gamefish and for many the epitome of what freshwater sport fishing in B.C. is all about.
The Chilliwack River is one of the most popular rivers in the Lower Mainland to target these prized game fish due to it’s relatively large hatchery enhanced run with retention opportunities. This is the perfect river to cut your teeth on this fishery if this is your first time as you can be pretty confident that you will at least be fishing over a bunch of them in any given run, especially during peak season. While we haven’t heard of any solid fish reports yet, there are historically a few trickling in by this point and we are confident that the recent high water will have brought a few fish in. We are expecting some good weather coming up so with prime conditions hopefully around the corner we will be in good shape for some early scouting.
These early fish in December are typically very aggressive and the hardest part is finding them since there aren’t a bunch of them in the river yet. As to what to use, I’m not kidding when I say almost anything will work. Many times when I ask a steelheader what they’ve had success on, 9 out of 10 times it will be something different than what the angler before them had success on. Tried and true weapons of choice are pro-cured roe, shrimp, colorado blades, spoons, spinners, plastic worms, gooey bobs, trout beads, jigs, corkies, wool ties…the list goes on and on. The key right now is to cover as much water as you can and hope you put your presentation right in front of a fresh fish that has just moved in and to not give up. Catching one in December is very hard but the guys who are putting in time and focused on scouting are always the guys who put up good numbers in the peak of the season. When is peak time? Most hard-core anglers will start catching fish consistently in the end of January and February to April is considered prime time.
Since the beginning of steelhead fishing coincides with the holidays this is a great time to put something on the Christmas list or to treat yourself! Whether you are eyeing your first setup or you are looking to upgrade what you already have, Pacific Angler has something for all skill levels. I’ve taken the time to outline a few winning products in each price point that are sure to be a hit under the Christmas Tree.
As aforementioned there are a ton of ways to target steelhead but the most popular way is to use a drifting setup. Drifting setups consist of long 9′-11’6″ rods that are paired with either a baitcasting reel or a centerpin reel. Spinning reels are also a possibility but, without going on a wild tangent, a baitcaster or centerpin is much better suited for this application.
While they have a steeper learning curve, baitcasters are extremely versatile and efficient tools for river fishing. They pick up line fast thus allowing you to cover water quickly and certain models come with some serious stopping power should you hook a fish of a lifetime.
Centerpins on the other hand have a much slower retrieval rate as there are no internal gears involved and they are only useful for drift fishing while a baitcaster can double as a lure-casting reel. The big benefit of a centerpin is it allows for a completely drag free drift for natural presentations in slow water and there is a ton of enjoyment fighting a fish on a reel that only has a 1:1 retrieval rate. They also have no drag so the entire fish fight is in the palm of your hand, literally! Both types of reels are great tools for the job and you can’t go wrong with either for winter steelhead.
Below is a list of top selling baitcasting and centerpin reels and their respective price points.
- Abu Garcia STX $119.95
- Abu Garcia C3 $149.99
- Abu Garcia C4 $169.99
- Shimano Corvalus $139.99
- Shimano Cardiff $179.99
- Abu Garcia Pro Rocket $259.99
- Abu Garcia Record $229.99
- Daiwa Luna $389.99
- Shimano Calcutta D $539.99
- Shimano Tranx $399.99
- Rapala R-Type $179.99
- Amundson Trend Iron Header $229.99
- Okuma Raw II $299.99
- John Milner Kingfisher $615.00-$665.00 (colour dependent)
- Islander Steelheader $465.00
- Islander Sea-Run $565.00
- Raven T-4 $429.99
In general the higher end baitcasting reels have high quality internal materials and bearings in addition to being more sturdy in their construction. This can be imperative since these reels have many working parts to them although I have known entry level reels such as the C3 to last many seasons with a little bit of care. Centerpins on the other hand have very little in the way of internals; it’s a spool on a pin for the most part. Thus It is not necessarily the plethora of tiny moving parts inside that make a quality centerpin worth its price tag but the tolerances in the machining and the quality of the bearings (or bushing) inside. A high end centerpin will require less force to start spinning than the lower end ones which in turn translates to easier casting and the quality of the bearings will dictate how smooth said cast will be. They are more of a pleasure to fish with and are almost a work of art once you get into the upper end pin reels.
Next we will get into the second component of a fishing setup, the rod. Entry level rods are perfectly adequate for catching fish though rods at a heftier price bracket will have a higher modulus graphite, which makes it stronger and lighter, more appropriate rod action to aid you in landing fish, a better warranty, and all around just better “feel” to them. The creme de la creme of fishing rods are typically custom builds and can be catered to your liking both in appearance and in components.
- Rapala RSC $109.99
- Fenwick HMX $149.99
- Shimano Convergence $109.99
- Rapala North Coast $199.99
- Rapala Classic Drifter $259.99
- Rapala Shift $329.99
- Trophy Titan $279.99
- Shimano Technium $199.99
- Sage CT2106, CT 3106, or CT3113M (special order custom builds) $750.00 and up
- Loomis IMX $520.00
- Loomis GL3 $455.00
- Shimano Convergence $109.99
- Trophy Titan CP2106 $299.99
- Shimano Technium $199.99
- Sage 3106LB (custom build) $750.00
- Sage 3113MB (custom build special order) $750.00 and up
- Loomis GL2 $380.00
These lists compile a bunch of my personal favourite rods and reels and we pretty much all of these items in stock at the shop. There are lots of technical nuances that we could get into but this would end up being an essay instead of a brief overview. The guys at the shop love to talk “gear talk” so come on down and we can figure out which setup would be perfect for you or for your loved one.
Capilano River Fishing Report
The water is now very low and clear in the Capilano river, once the water goes up the salmon will move into the hatchery and we will see steelhead start to show up. Over the next few months, we will see a small run of steelhead come in the system.
You can target them with procured roe, shrimp, spoon, spinner, and flies. The steelhead fishery in the Capilano is pressured and not many fish come back. If you do get into them please release them with care even if they are hatchery fish as they are not for retention. Release them with care, best way to do this is take a catch & release net and keep them wet and don’t lift them out over the rocks.
Squamish River Fishing Report
It has been a tough couple years for the Squamish and though she has still provided amazing fishing we need every angler to be very vigilant on this system. Why? I have never claimed to be a biologist but I have spent many years fishing and guiding this system and in the last three seasons my records are telling me that we are seeing way more high water events. You can simply look back at our reports that have been running for almost 10 years. Again I am not a biologist nor do I have hard numbers to back up my concerns but nonetheless I am concerned. We have seen massive river altering floods, badly timed for the end of the salmon spawning cycles. There is no doubt that these storms pushed spawning fish into areas that won’t have water in a month or two and when the river washes out the road you can’t tell me it is a good thing for eggs already in the gravel. Bottom line, these storms are not good for spawning salmon and as we know the salmon are the life blood of this river.
A friend sent me this picture this week of a dead coho stuck in a puddle behind a stump. This is not something uncommon but if you look closely there is a rainbow hiding beside him. Our friend managed to catch the rainbow with his net and release him back into the river but if he hadn’t it is likely the trout would not have made it when the water dried up or became stagnant.
This “stuck” rainbow is a rare event but highlights what has probably happened for hundreds if not thousands of salmon that were trying to spawn and are now stuck or left high and dry or the thousands of eggs washed out of spawning habitats or buried in silt.
The hard question is what can we do about it? Right now very little on a large scale but we can remind ourselves of some good river practices. Be very mindful when tromping through side channels and spawning creeks. We need to protect the eggs that have made it. If you are in a group avoid them, where you can’t avoid them pick areas that are sandy (salmon eggs don’t do well in sand) Walk single file when in areas that might have had spawning salmon. Four anglers tromping through a small spawning habitat 4 wide can have a big impact. Practice proper catch and release practices and don’t harass spawning salmon that are on their reds. It will all help.
Lastly, get involved because the impact that we have hiking and fishing the rivers is minimal. Join the Steelhead Society, donate to the steelhead Society or look to become active in other great organizations supporting habitat protection.
Alright sorry for the doom and gloom rant let’s talk about the fishing – This is also something that we can do to help the river. Go fishing. I always hear people tell me that if I am so concerned about a river I should just stop fishing it and talking about it in reports. This is probably the worst thing we could do because the river needs friends. Now, more than ever, it needs people in our society who love it, know it and understand it. If no one was fishing we would loose this.
So the fishing – We have another bump of water today. I don’t think it will blow out the river but it may make the already high river hard to fish on Saturday. Leading into next week though we are going to see some great conditions. Cool but not crazy cold weather will roll in next week with sun and cloud. It looks like an awesome time to get out.
Beading will be the go to method and though there are fresh salmon that come into this system right into December, again it should probably not be your focus. Bring the coho rod and try some spoons or big flashy flies in the lower river or super deep tanky runs where the salmon will not be spawning but leave the shallow spawning grounds and stale fish alone.
Let’s pray for a more stable December and January GOOD luck!
Harrison/Chehalis River Fishing Report
It is safe to say that the salmon fishery is over for this year as we head into December. The Harrison River is blown out as it is well above 10 meters and it will take awhile to come into shape. If you are into fishing for steelhead this is the time to start looking at your terminal tackle before the season starts in a couple of weeks. Although it is not common to fish the Harrison system for steelhead the Chehalis system that flows into the Harrison is a good option. There is no station for this system in the BC water level site therefore it is a bit of a gamble when you head out. One way to have a guesstimate when to go is to keep a close eye on the weather forecast as this system rises and drops really fast so it is usually fished after it has stopped raining a day or so and doesn’t fish well after a few days of dry spell as the river level is too low. I will be returning to the Harrison River by the end of February for sea-run cutthroat. Can’t wait for my favourite fishery!!!
Stave River Fishing Report
The water level rose a bunch at the Stave and most of the salmon have pushed to their spawning beds. We highly advise to not target these salmon, as we want them to spawn without too much stress.
With the high water, lots of eggs will be washed downstream. Egging with beads and egg imitations will be very effective, as trout and whitefish will be eating the single eggs.
Look for riffles behind spawning salmon, as trout will be waiting for the eggs to get washed downstream.
Since it is December we will start to see steelhead trickle in. You won’t see big numbers now but give it some time and you will be able to find some in the system. Drifting with bait, plastic worm, and bead will get their attention as they enter the system. Hardware like spoons and spinner and Colorado blades will also produce bites when swung with the current or under a float. We find this productive right in the beginning of the season when the fish are fresh and aggressive and then again in the end of the season when the salmon fry hatch.
Be safe out there,
SALTWATER FISHING REPORTS
Vancouver Saltwater Salmon Fishing Report
It finally looks like we are gong to get a break from the rain, just a bit more to go on Saturday. The same can be said for the winds as well. No more gale force wind warnings. So that means its time to get out there and chase some winter chinook.
We were out last weekend, despite the wind and rain, and it was well worth the effort. We had a good action and came back with a few nice fish. Productive spoons were Irish Cream and Herring Aide in the 3.0 size with a 6 foot leader to a green or chartreuse glow flasher.
As usual for this time of year, productive spots vary as these fish move around so much. For the most part, find the bait and you have find some feeding chinook. There has been good action around the freighters and Bell Buoy, West Van down to Cap Mouth, and the Howe Sound area. I am sure there are some fish from Nanaimo down to Porlier and Coal Ports as well, but the winds haven’t given us much chance to explore these spots this year. The forecast looks good for Monday and Tuesday, so we might head across to check it out. Hard to pass up those winds light days!
See you at the shop or on the water,