The first unsettled weather in over a month rolled through the Lower Mainland this week. With it came some interesting fishing conditions. The sockeye are rolling into the Fraser in good numbers and most of our charters hit it out of the park. The sockeye bite has still been hit and miss to totally on fire, and some days it has been totally off. On Thursday the morning boats limited out with relative ease only to see no fish in the same waters in the afternoon. Some are blaming the weather, bananas, but most fingers are pointing at the pod of hungry Orcas. For those who did well, congratulations. For those who had a tough time, don’t give up. Millions of fish are still on the way and the best is yet to come.
Fishing in the non-tidal Fraser River has been good and should continue to pick up over the next couple weeks. We heard a couple poor reports, most likely a result of the commercial opening, where areas of the river were void of life. For the most part people are getting into fish and again the best is yet to come.
The Vancouver beach fishing is still picking up and we had a number of good reports from the solid tides early in the week. Luckily for the beach fisherman, the rain we had was not enough to bring up the water level in the Capilano River. This should mean more good beach fishing in the weeks to come. Check out Andre’s report below.
The Skagit and Thompson are also still fishing well. Matt was up on the Skagit last week and has an “on the water” report. It will be interesting to see what this weather does to the Skagit and if the sockeye will put the Thompson rainbows “down”. Take a look in the river section below for more details.
All and all this week was a good week out on the water and we have high hopes for this weekend.
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There won’t be much to say about this river system until mid September. Resident trout can be targeted in the summer months if the conditions allow. These trout are best targeted with nymphs, and streamers, but they will also take dry flies.
Squamish Cheakamus system is a 100% catch and release, single barbless hook fishery so play by the rules and have fun!
This fishery is slowly winding down, the number of reports have dropped off the last couple of weeks. The bulk of the run has returned but the odd fresh fish can still be found. We can start to get ready for the fall coho and white spring fishery which is just around the corner in early September.
Float fishing is the most effective method for the summer chinook. Medium-heavy casting or center pin outfits are suitable for this fishery. Don’t be afraid to go big, 30-35g floats with hollow core pencil lead, 20lb mainline, 15lb-20lb Seaguar Blue Label fluorocarbon leader, and 1/0, 2/0 and 3/0 octopus hooks. This heavy gear will not only help you land the fish but it will allow you to fish the heavier water more effectively. Productive baits are cured roe, prawns, wool combinations, blades, and spoons.
Please familiarize yourself with species identification as you may encounter Cultus Lake Sockeye which MUST BE RELEASED WITH CARE.
The Skagit was interesting for me on Friday. We were hoping to encounter a decent mayfly or caddis fly hatch. Excluding the incessant population of mosquitoes the river seemed relatively void of adult insect life. We saw no adult mayflies or caddis to speak of and we stayed very late hoping that it might pick up in the low light of the evening. We did some dry fly fishing but only saw one or two small rainbows come to the surface. It was obvious that dry fly fishing was not in the cards so we switched to nymphs and streamers which managed to salvage the day.
We cycled through nymph patterns and had luck on grey Hares Ears and some Prince Nymphs but the consistent producer was the classic Golden Stone in size 8 and 10. When fish are not active this fly seems to always find a way to hook a few.
I also swung streamers with a sinking Versi Leader. I would have liked a dedicated sink tip line but in a pinch having a Rio Versi Leader in your top pocket can save the day. I put on the 12ft, 5.6 ips tip. It did not cast well but I caught a half dozen rainbows and two bull trout using the swung fly technique. Olive and grey streamers worked well as usual.
One thing I found to be quite interesting was that there were a large number of trout fry in the shallows. I assume these were rainbows. I have seen them before on the Skagit but never in this number. They looked like small salmon fry and I wished I had had a few of Andre’s epoxy fry on me. From the numbers of fry I bet the rainbows and bulls were keying in on them. Having a few Muddler Minnows or Epoxy Fry in your box would be a good idea if you are heading out this weekend. You might not find them in your area of the river but it can’t hurt to be prepared.
We are hearing that large numbers of sockeye are showing up in the South Thompson. We have not heard if they have reached the Juniper/Ashcroft area in large numbers yet. The last reports we heard from Juniper area were good. Guys had good dry fly fishing, catching quite a few fish. When the sockeye do arrive this will usually put the fish down. The rainbows become skittish because of all the other big fish pushing them out of runs and feeding lies. We still recommend going to this river but if you find a ton of sockeye in your favorite trout spot, try moving into the riffles and to less ideal holding water. I have had great fishing for trout this time of year but you need to work around the sockeye. If you see fish rolling in the water you are fishing it might be a good idea to move. You don’t have to go far, just get out of the schools of sockeye. Note: Fly fishing for sockeye on the Thompson is basically impossible. You can spend hundreds of hours casting to a pod of rolling fish and once in a blue moon one will bite, but for most it will be a waste of time as these fish are more interested in migrating up river than biting a fly.
We haven’t heard much from this system as of late. It’s safe to say the salmon fishing is done till the fall. Summer steelhead are present in the river. Because the water is generally very clear, first and last light are your best chances at hooking one of these fish. We are already looking forward to the fall coho fishery on this river.
Productive baits for steelhead include prawn tipped jigs, roe bags, dew worms, and krill.
Despite the rain, the river has remained low. Although the water has remained low, the fly fishing for coho in the deep pools has been pretty good. Because of the bait ban, fly fishing and spoon fishing is your best bet. Small olives flies are the ticket, especially under these conditions.
Please note: ALL steelhead (adipose clipped and unclipped) must be released with the utmost care.
Bait ban as of August 1st.
We have not heard anything from the interior for a couple weeks now besides the odd Tunkwa report. Not a surprise as it is August. The falls months can offer some great stillwater fishing so we look forward to hearing more reports then. If you are heading out lake fishing, try going to some lakes inthe 4500 to 5500 foot elevation and you might be surprised how good the fishing is this time of year.
The local lakes are now in their summer doldrums . Trout fishing won’t pick up again until the fall. Although trout fishing is now slow, lakes that hold carp and bass can be fantastic this time of year.
If you are looking to do some lake fishing for trout, the Whistler lakes are your best bet. Alta and especially Green Lake can actually fish better in the summer months. For Alta cutthroat try olive Wooly Buggers, and Muddler Minnows in various colours and flash combinations. Don’t be afraid to crack out the big streamers for Green. Large flashy rabbit strip streamers work quite well for the bull trout on the drop offs.
Please remember that Alta and Green Lake are catch and release/bait ban fisheries.
Beach: (West Van)
There is definitely a flow of fresh fish into the estuary and less people because of the sockeye opening. The tides will be in our favor again starting Monday so take advantage of this. I can tell that it is not a big year for coho comparing it to last year at this time but there are enough fish to put in the time for. Still, the orange and white fly is this winner this year fished on a floating line. You don’t need to strip the fly fast, when you see a school of fish or a jumper, cast let it sink for 5 seconds and give it a twitch, if you don’t get a take,strip your line and cast again. Don’t lose hope as I witnessed a few fly fisherman land their first coho this year including our own PA staff member “Mr. G”. The fish are also showing themselves on high tide near the mouth of the river so you can get to them by boat but remember to watch the ebbing tide so you don’t get stuck if you are anchored.
Sockeye Fest 2014 is on! Other than the occasional slow down attributed to the visits from the J pod Orca family, the fishing has been p 32″ behind the flasher. The shorter leader length is the standard but I prefer mine a little longer. For the flasher I prefer any flashers with the chrome mylar but the sockeye don’t seem too fussy over the color. One of my best producers has been the standard green flasher with silver mylar tape. You should also run a set of dummy flashers below your gear to keep the school following the boat as you land fish. Always try to keep one set of gear down while resetting the gear on the other side. I run my dummy flashers 48″ from the cable and keep my fishing gear close to the cable as well. The bests depths so far have been around the 50′ to 70′ range but the other day during a slow period I dropped my gear to the 70′-to 90′ range and found them there.
The fish can be found almost anywhere at the moment but the best concentrations are between the North Arm to the South Arm of the Fraser river. It’s a lot of water to cover but look for jumpers and signals on you sounder and you’ll find them. Don’t be surprised if you also find a chinook while fishing for sockeye as they will hit the pink hoochies as well.
On the local front the fishing has been a little spotty along the West Vancouver shoreline and the Bell Buoy for cohos and chinook but those putting in the time are sometimes being rewarded. The mouth of the Capilano and Fisheries gave up a few nice chinook and the Flats, West Bay, John Lawson creek and Ambleside are good places to hunt for coho. Anchovies are your best choice, but I always run a Pesca 2.5″ Leprechaun spoon that has been very good to me and has out fished the bait on a couple of occasions. Go out and enjoy this once every 4 year bounty of Sockeye and then invite a few friends over for the big BBQ!
Give us a call on our charter phone at 778-788-8582 to book a charter or come by the shop for all the right gear and some friendly advice. The shop number is 604-872-2204.
See you on the water,
The P.A. Saltwater Guide Team: Jason, Eddie, Dimitri, Todd, Mike
On behalf of the Pacific Angler staff we wish you the best in your fishing endeavors and we hope to see you either at the shop or on the water. To check out the latest Pacific Angler news view the Pacific Angler Facebook page.
Jason, Matt, Max, Andre, Sam, Eddie, Dimitri, Todd, Mike, Kathryn