Spring has sprung and we are seeing great weather in the forecast. Today’s rain might help out some of our valley fisheries and we will see temps break the double-digit mark in the Lower Mainland next week. We might even see double digits in the interior at some lower elevations. With this in mind, Sterling has an update on interior lake fishing. He was out and did some interesting fishing last weekend and we expect this to continue with temps maybe even hitting the high teens next week.
We also have updates on cutthroat fishing on the Harrison, late Vedder steelheading and the Squamish area for those that live up that way.
On the saltwater front, Jason is back this week with our bi-weekly saltwater report. While there is not a whole lot to report on the fishing front, given the April 1st interim regulations, we have some updates on how you can help put the needed pressure on the Minister to make a decision!
On to The Report.
CLASSES AND COURSES
Introduction to Fly Fishing Lakes
This course will give you an in-depth look at the fundamentals of fly fishing lakes. We explore equipment, techniques, major insect hatches and ideal lakes to begin with. You will learn all you need to plan your next successful lake trip to one of BC’s 5,000 lakes! This course is comprised of one 3hr evening seminar.
Date: Wednesday, April 21
Seminar Time: 6:30-9:30 pm
Cost: $50 per person
Introduction to Chironomid Techniques
This course is an introduction to chironomid fishing that will give participants the information needed to become an expert fly fisher.
Date: Monday, April 19
Seminar Time: 6:30-9:30 pm
Cost: $50 per person
INDUSTRY EVENTS AND UPDATES
Chinook Decision 2021 – YOUR PARTICIPATION IS NEEDED!
As many of you know, we are still awaiting a decision for our 2021 chinook fishery. As noted in our saltwater report this week, the science in favour of a low risk, hatchery chinook fishery for the Vancouver waters is indisputable. The reason this hasn’t been readily accepted by the department is all politics. At the end of the day, it literally does come down to political pressure, and that means voters, and that means YOU. The efforts of groups like the SFI and PFA need to be backed by voters and that means letters and emails in support of the SFAB proposals.
The Public Fishery Alliance has made it easy for you with this form. Please quickly fill this out and hit send and forward to all your family and friends who enjoy the opportunity to fish out of Vancouver. Email the Fisheries Minister today!
FRESHWATER FISHING REPORTS
Chilliwack/Vedder River Fishing Report
Not much has changed since last week on the Vedder/Chilliwack. There are good numbers of fish around, but most are stuck in the lower/mid and are suffering from a case of lockjaw due to the long-term low, clear conditions. The weather forecast is calling for some rain/mixed precipitation today and tomorrow and after that a warm, dry week, so one of two things will happen… it’ll either stay low and clear, or snowmelt will bump levels… that’ll depend on how warm it gets in the mountains, and how low temperatures get overnight.
All the low water gear that I’ve discussed will work, and covering water is always a good idea. Be aware that the lower river has been pretty busy now that the upper is closed, so be sure to follow basic etiquette to avoid unpleasant interactions. Also, keep in mind that we’re getting closer to the end of the season, so things will start winding down shortly.
As always, try to avoid walking through shallow, near-shore waters… that’s where salmon fry hide, and stepping on them doesn’t do anybody any favours
Squamish River Fishing Report
It looks like we are in for some amazing weather this weekend and hopefully the fishing follows this trend! Things are warming up and with that I expect to start seeing some snow melt that should really help fishing conditions. The Squamish has been quite low and clear as of late so this melt will bring a bit of height as well as some much needed colour. Between the bridges has been fishing fairly well, as have stretches of the upper river, as of late. We have been seeing and hearing of lots of trout as well as a number of steelhead being caught throughout the system.
With the constantly changing conditions and temperatures that we are going to see this weekend, you will want to have a variety of presentations ready to go. Worms, beads, blades and even spoons are a must have for your arsenal at this time of year. For the fly anglers, make sure to have both heavy and unweighted steelhead flies in a large, medium and small size at your disposal. Also, make sure to have a selection of small spoons and spinners as well as fry patterns if you are wanting to chase bulltrout, cutthroat and rainbows at this time of year.
We are fully stocked for everything that you need for these fisheries so come on into the shop before the weekend and let us get you set up!
Harrison River Fishing Report
The Harrison is low & clear, and in perfect conditions for fishing from shore. We’ve had reports of lower than usual numbers of fry, and intermittent cutty action throughout the past week.
For the time being, fry patterns are still king, but definitely keep some muddlers and mickey finn’s in the box if the fish aren’t cooperating. The main culprit for the slow action on this system has been unfishable windy conditions. It doesn’t matter if there’s fish everywhere if you’re unable to cast out to them! It may be sacrilege for many fly anglers, but it’s worthwhile to keep a spinning rod with some small spoon and spinners if conditions are unfavourable to fly fishing.
With most anglers staying around Kilby park, it’s always worthwhile to take a hike to the Sandpiper side of the river and scout out any slashing trout. It’s often not worth casting if you’re not actively seeing fish feed on the surface, so always try to cover ground to get on top of them. It’s definitely a hiking trip with a side of fishing when things are slow. There’s still plenty of time left for this system so even getting out for a scouting trip can greatly increase your chances for any following trips.
STILLWATER FISHING REPORTS
Interior Lake Fishing Report
Ice off has started to quickly happen on a lot of the lower elevation lakes. I got the chance to head out last Saturday and was rewarded with a great day. I had the best success fishing in 4-10 feet of water near weedy areas. Weedy areas are typically the warmest come ice off and fish seem to migrate to the edges of darker patches to feed on anything they can get their mouths on. Ice off can sometimes be finicky for people as they tend to fish in the areas where they’ve had success in the past, fishing chironomids. Most lakes don’t have chironomids start to show up until two weeks after ice off since the water is too cold meaning you should be throwing size 10-14 buggy patterns like leeches, woolly buggers, scuds, and other attractor patterns. All the fish I pumped had either snails or a few small baetis flies, which means black and brown buggy patterns should be the first ones out of the box.
It was also very common that fishing would slow for a short time and then pick up substantially, meaning that my pattern selection was spot-on, but I was hitting passing schools of fish. This also means that you have to be willing to pull up anchor many times before you find the biggest schools of fish. I set up in areas where I knew the wind could drift my boat in 100 ft intervals. I’ll commonly drop anchor, give it 15 minutes, and then pull up anchor again if it is slow. Don’t be shy to also brave the wind when it picks up. Most of my patterns are fished under an indicator and I let the wind work its magic. A wind drifted fly is absolutely deadly as it seems to do a better job at presenting a fly than even the best of anglers. Cast your fly out at a 90-degree angle from the boat and let it loop around towards the back of the boat. It’s very common that the fish will take the fly as soon as it starts whipping around towards the back so be ready for it. You can also fish a hover (sub-surface) or a type I sink line too, and effectively if you find the fish are in that 8–12 foot range. It’s extremely common that fish will take your fly on the first or second cast if they’re there. I’ve found this method to be the most effective when covering large stretches of water when they’re not showing themselves. It’s always a safe bet to start in areas where you see fish surfacing and jumping as they tend to be the most active and willing fish.
As always, ice off fishing is extremely finicky and can change every day substantially. The biggest piece of advice that I can offer is to be flexible and to cover stretches of water. There tends to not be any secret spots on lakes as the fish will constantly be on the move as the water, oxygen, and temperatures are fluctuating so don’t get too attached. It’s common to have non-stop action one day in one area and then to be skunked a few days later. Fish those buggy high confidence patterns that have done well for you in the past and cover water.
SALTWATER FISHING REPORTS
Vancouver Saltwater Salmon Fishing Report
Not a whole lot to report on the fishing front these days with the April 1st announcement closing the best of our local April chinook spots with a “no fishing for chinook regulation.” Some areas are open for “non-retention of chinook” but not much close to Vancouver proper. If you didn’t see our special chinook update last week, which includes a map of the regulations to make it easier, I would recommend you check it out. Chinook Update 2021
I have been in recent meetings with DFO, as recent as yesterday, with my role as Chair of the Sport Fish Advisory Committee to DFO for the Vancouver area, Management Areas 28/29. In these meetings, I have stressed the very low impact the Sport Fish Advisory Board chinook proposals are for our area, and how urgently we need them to be adopted so we can have access to chinook stocks of non-concern effective immediately. I also stressed how the local fishery is an April, May, June fishery and any announcement after April 1st is not acceptable. The message was received loud and clear. The message I received in return is that this is now in the Fisheries Ministers hands, and we are waiting on her and nobody else.
If you are like me and you don’t watch the news as much as you used to, you may have missed the fact our local fishery made it on to Global News with yours truly. It was a great way to promote the fact that we can fish for hatchery chinook here in Vancouver while having little to no impact on chinook stocks of concern that are often present less than 1% of the time. Last Saturday afternoon, we fished off the QA. I was able to fish this area as I have a special permit to collect DNA and that data is then used by DFO. Quite quickly, we caught a legal sized chinook. Although it was not a marked hatchery fish, there is a 99% or greater chance it was not a chinook stock of concern, based on the DNA data we have been collecting for years. Also, keep in mind that Canada only clips 10% of our hatchery chinook, while the USA clips 100%. If we clipped 100% as well, quite often the odds of you catching a hatchery chinook around Vancouver in April and May would easily exceed 50%.
So, for now we wait. The scuttlebutt is we may get some sort of announcement as early as today or it might be next week. The truth is, at this point, nobody knows when or if it will be good news or bad news. I can tell you this. The science in favour of a low risk, hatchery chinook fishery for the Vancouver waters in indisputable. The reason this hasn’t been readily accepted by the department is all politics. Environmental groups and First Nations are generally not in favour of these Vancouver fisheries, and they have their own agendas as to why. At the end of the day, it literally does come down to political pressure, and that means voters, and that means YOU. The efforts of groups like the SFI and PFA need to be backed by voters and that means letters and emails in support of the SFAB proposals.
The Public Fishery Alliance has made it easy for you with this form. Please quickly fill this out and hit send and forward to all your family and friends who enjoy the opportunity to fish out of Vancouver. Email the Fisheries Minister
I hope next week’s report is about the opportunity we have to fish for chinook salmon around Vancouver. Until then…
See you in the shop or on the water,