For the last two months every time we have sat down to write the report, we have been looking out the window at utterly miserable weather. This week things are changing and if the weather report holds true it is changing in a big way!
BUT – Before we get into the fishing side of things, we want to talk a little about what has been on all dedicated saltwater anglers’ minds – the potential chinook conservation measures. There is detailed information in Jason’s saltwater report this week related to the potential measures. We are asking all concerned anglers to write a letter. A decision from the minister of fisheries is imminent and every letter will make a difference. Stop reading right now, scroll down to the saltwater section, take a look at the information in Jason’s report and make your voice heard.
On the fishing front from today until mid-next week we are going to see a constant temperature rise with it topping out in the high teens! This is going to mean big changes on a number of fisheries fronts. Matt and Jordan have been up the Squamish over the last few days. On Saturday on the lower river there were a couple fry kicking around but not many. On Sunday the number increased noticeably. This was all on the lower river. In the upper reaches it was noticeably colder and we didn’t see any fry. With the bump in temps over the next few days we can expect all the major systems to see noticeable fry hatches and it is well worth a trip to the Harrison, Squamish or Stave … anywhere there were spawning salmon you will find cutthroat and bulltrout hunting fry.
Steelhead fishing has also been ok. We have heard reports from all the major rivers and we expect it to get better with the warmer weather. One concern is that a number of our rivers are very low. Matt witnessed a seal kill a steelhead on the Squamish last weekend. It was frustrating to say the least and with the low clear water not as many fish are coming into the system for obvious predication issues. If you are a river fisherman and have not been paying attention to the saltwater salmon conservation issues be sure to have a read of Jason’s saltwater report today and provide your input. Chinook and killer whales may be the species we are rallying around right now but they along with others are being impacted.
On the saltwater front we are already seeing a shift in the colour of the water. With longer sunnier days, algae has started to bloom and the water is getting “dirtier”. Two weeks ago, we had 60+ feet of visibility. The water is still clear but is has a much heavier green tint and we expect this to increase over the next week of sun and heat.
Lastly on the product front we have a new rod hitting the floor -the Orvis Clearwater. It comes in a beautiful cost effective single hand option and a Spey option that has a little more ballz than your typical mid range Spey rod. Come on by and check these rods out today!
On to the report!
INDUSTRY EVENTS AND UPDATES
Pacific Angler Spring Super Sale
Keep your eye on this section for information in the coming weeks about our 12th Spring Super Sale!
CLASSES AND COURSES
Fly Fishing For Searun Cutthroat Trout In Rivers
This spring make sure to get out and take advantage of the world-class cutthroat fishing in the Lower Mainland. This cutthroat course is designed to educate you on the life cycle, location, seasonal feeding habits, and successful techniques and flies used to catch these elusive yet aggressive fish. This course consists of a 3hr evening seminar and a fully guided day on the water
Dates: Seminar Mar 26 Guided: Mar 30, Mar 31, Apr 6 or Apr 7 (custom trip dates available)
Seminar Time: 6:30pm – 9:30pm | Guided: Full Day
Clearwater Rods Spey + Single
The new 2019 Orvis Clearwater series of Spey and switch rods will take you anywhere in the world as you pursue summer and winter-run steelhead. The Clearwater Spey rod in the 7130-4 is your multipurpose rod, especially for local flows. We also have an 8136-4 for bigger, wider runs and more stubborn fish, as well as a fun 8110-4, which would make a great beach bombing rod or heavier small system rod. Lightweight and comfortable, the Clearwater Spey series of rods are great for your next adventure. The Orvis Clearwater Spey rods provide high performance at an excellent price, similar to that of the Redington Chromer. The Clearwater series is a happy and perfect medium between the Redington Dually and Chromer, filling a sweet spot. Not quite as fast as the Chromer, but noticeably faster and crisper than the Dually, these rods are sure to make a great addition to your lineup.
Come by the shop today to check these rods out!
FRESHWATER FISHING REPORTS
Chilliwack/Vedder River Fishing Report
We are starting to see a
shift into more spring-like weather but unfortunately that hasn’t changed much
on the Vedder. There hasn’t been enough of a warming trend yet to see some
serious snowmelt and with the levels still hovering around 1.28-1.3 the fishing
will be tough as it has been most of March. This doesn’t mean that they aren’t
there; in fact quite the opposite. A good number of fish are in the system now
but they are hunkered down in the few remaining decent holding areas that are
left. We have had a couple of lucky customers this week with bars of chrome to
show for their effort so if you are heading out into the Valley it doesn’t hurt
to drop a line. As with the last few weeks you want to focus on small
presentations and lighter leaders than normal. These fish will be easily
spooked so a bit of tact and finesse is needed for right now.
I know I’ve been saying this the last few reports but we legitimately will be getting warm weather this next week with double digit highs during the day, so look for some good snowmelt to start soon.
Squamish River Fishing Report
We were out on the river a fair amount over the last week. We had some beautiful days.
On the Squamish the upper river is so low and clear that fishing is very challenging and most of the fish we have heard of have come from the lower river. This has concentrated the steelhead, concentrated the anglers and also concentrated the seals. As we said in the outlook, I watched a seal hunt down and kill a steelhead right in front of us. It was frustrating!
The good news is that with some warmer weather we should see some more snow melt. This will bump up the river levels and also add some colour to the water. We also saw a number of fry coming out on Sunday and this should ramp up with this warm spell. If you are steelheading but also want to target bulls and cutthroat, add an arm length of 7-8lb fluorocarbon to you classic 4ft 12lb maxima leader. Then use a fry pattern. Andre’s Skinny style fry will probably be best in the clear water but if we see a little hint of color a fat style fry pattern is king on the Squamish. For the float fisherman you will want to add colorados to your arsenal and a rod for throwing spoons will become more and more affective for both steelhead and other species as we see more fry enter the system.
Stave River Fishing Report
The weather is looking to be turning towards spring, with a high of 16c coming early next week. So here come the gutsy cutties on the stave. Once we get more reports of fry hatching it will be a mad dash to the back channels. Skinny patterns are the go too to start with when the water is clear, along with small trout spoons (Mini G’s and Dick Nite’s). If you have any questions or want help getting set up drop by the shop and we can give you a hand.
Harrison River Fishing report
We’ve had some reports of fry hatching on the Harrison but not in big numbers. With highs of 20c starting this Monday and carrying on through the week this should change. With a proper fry “hatch” on the Harrison, one of our favourite fisheries will kick into full gear.
The setup for fry patterns is dead simple. A typical 9ft fly rod ranging from 3 to 5 weight, Full floating line, and a 5-7lb fluoro leader is all you need all day long. If you can get out to the Harrison from Monday to Thursday next week, you can be pretty confident to find fry out. Then all you need to do is cover water. Cutthroat on this system move a bunch and in turn so do the anglers.
SALTWATER FISHING REPORTS
I am going to start off this weeks report with an update on where we are at with potential chinook conservation measures that may affect your ability to fish for or harvest a chinook this season. The Sport Fishing Institute has done a great job of summarizing this issue and recent events. Read the information below so you are informed and click on the links to see the proposal that was put forward to the Fisheries Minister by the Sport Fish Advisory Board (SFAB) in an effort to maintain access to chinook while meeting conservation requirements. If you wrote a letter re-send it to the Fisheries Minister now, and if you haven’t its not too late. This is critical and read below for more information.
As has become evident over the last
several years, there are specific stocks of Fraser River Chinook that are in a
serious state of conservation concern and require attention. It is hoped that
DFO will take swift action to improve Fraser River stream type salmonid
production through opportunities such as strategic and careful enhancement,
predator control and habitat rehabilitation.
Scenario B – Retaining Opportunity
On February 5th DFO distributed a discussion document that outlined the Fraser River Chinook issue and presented two example scenarios for consideration. Scenario B would reduce the CYER (CYER; all mortalities, across all fisheries divided by the total estimated size of the run) of the stocks of concern to 10%, a number that DFO declared as acceptable in the discussion document. Scenario B involves the use of bag limit reductions (to 1 per day, 2 in possession) in Johnstone Strait and Northern Strait of Georgia from April 1 to the end of August. It is also incorporates a mark selective fishery and bag limit reduction of one hatchery marked fish per day from April 1st to July 31st, with the option to retain one chinook per day marked or unmarked from the month of August for the migration corridor from the western entrance of Juan De Fuca Strait to the Fraser River mouth. The detailed description of the scenario recommended by the SFAB is here.
In contrast, Scenario A details a 5% CYER option, which would require non-retention of Chinook for the public fishery from April 1st to July 31st. This Scenario would effectively destroy the reputation, opportunity and prospects of the public fishery while reducing the exploitation rate of Chinook by the public fishery by only .8 % over Scenario B. While there are significant concerns about some runs of Fraser River Chinook and it is important that all sectors adjust catch impacts, implementation of Scenario A is neither a biologically necessary or a socially responsible approach. Public fishery impacts on these stocks are extremely low already, and the additional conservation benefit to stocks that would be achieved from implementing non-retention in the public fishery versus a mark selective fishery, MSF, combined with bag limit reductions amounts to less than a 1% difference, yet the social and economic impacts would be devastating.
While neither approach is desirable for the public fishery, given the state of conservation concern, the SFAB has suggested that Scenario B represents an approach that almost eliminates the impacts on stocks of concern in the public fishery. Scenario B continues to fulfill the legal requirement for the public fishery to “bear the brunt” of conservation measures which must take place before DFO can choose to impose restrictions on First Nations FSC fisheries. It is in the FSC fisheries where the bulk of the harvest of these stocks would take place if scenario B were to be implemented.
It is worth repeating, the difference in public fishery CYER between Scenario B and Scenario A is a reduction of only 0.8%! When considering the benefit of harvest measures to the stocks of concern versus social and economic cost (this is a relationship that is important for DFO to include in development of management decisions), it is inconceivable how DFO could contemplate the short- and long-term socio-economic impacts to small coastal communities that would result should Scenario A be implemented.
It is important that the public fishery is participant in a sustainable approach and addresses conservation concerns in a meaningful way. Scenario B is a far cry from providing the opportunity and expectation that would allow the public fishery to thrive and represents “survival mode” for our fishery. It is a plan that we hope can be considered only in the short term and would be paired with much more effective actions to help the stocks of concern recover.
Making the point – Letters to the Minister
To that end, decisions have not been made by the department or the Minister at this time. Some have sent letters to the department to describe the importance of opportunity personally and to the public fishery. Timing is good and it is important to send letters to the Minister now to make the same point and before decisions are made. Letters should express the values and importance of opportunity personally and to small communities coast wide and that decisions must be considered against the benefits of any management measures adopted. It is important that steps are taken to address conservation concerns but when DFO’s evidence shows that one scenario will retain opportunity for the angling community and the other will eliminate it, the imbalance must be highlighted; by all measures, the socio-economic costs are far greater than the benefit to the resource. Minister Wilkinson can be reached at: [email protected]
Okay, on to the fishing. In short it was good to great this past week. The not so good days were because you were in the wrong place at the wrong time and had a bit of bad luck, but for the most part all spots in the Harbour and Howe Sound produced well this week. I would say it was one of the best weeks of the winter season so far, if not the best.
The water has definitely gotten “dirtier” from the start of the algae blooms. We are in the 25-35 foot zone in terms of visibility. Gone are the cold and dark winter days that give us water clarity of 50-65 feet. As a result the brighter gear has been the ticket. Chartreuse and green glow flashers and the same for spoons, hootchies, and teaser heads is the way to go.
Crabbing has been good and so has prawning. With solid chinook fishing, crabbing, and prawning and double-digit temperatures in the forecast, it’s a great time to get out there and book a trip.
See you in the shop or on the water,