We have another spring storm rolling across the coast this weekend. It looks very similar to last week’s bump of water. Though there were challenging river levels and clarity issues last weekend, the fishing was excellent when you planned your day and picked areas of clear water. We expect similar results this week, so it is well worth planning some time on the water.
In the Freshwater report section, we talk about Fraser sturgeon, the Sea to Sky systems and the Chilliwack with details on how the storm last week affected things and where we expect it to go this weekend.
We are also hearing about more interior lake reports rolling in. Ice off is still behind schedule but there are some lower elevation lakes that are off and the reports coming in are promising. Jason has an update there and we also have a new video we released this week on Essential Early Season Fly Patterns and Gear. Matt talks about some of the flies he is loading in his box for this season, and he also shares his go to accessories that he takes on every lake trip. Check out Jason’s report below and check out the Essential Early Season Lake Flies video here:
For those thinking about lake fishing, be sure to check out our upcoming courses as Trevor Welton is back this year with his Introduction to Chironomid Fishing Course. See the course section below for more details!
Last, but not least, we are still waiting on any announcements from DFO on pilot chinook fisheries around Vancouver. Make sure you are subscribed to the newsletter and our Instagram account where we will try to get information out as fast as possible if we hear anything.
On to the report!
APRIL & MAY COURSES
Introduction to Chironomid Techniques
Chironomids are the number one food source for trout in BC’s lakes; however, few anglers have taken the time to become true masters of this discipline. Those that do are often rewarded with the largest fish. Trevor is a former member of the Canadian Fly Fishing Team and an excellent chironomid angler. Dedication to his sport has helped Trevor become one of the top fly fishermen in the province as well as a fisheries biologist. This course is comprised of one 3hr evening seminar. Content is for beginner to advanced.
Date: Apr 25, 2023
Time: 6:30pm – 9:30pm
Introduction to Fly Fishing
This course is specifically designed to give the new fly fisher the basic knowledge, casting skills and fly fishing strategies to effectively fish our local BC waters. This course is comprised of two sessions; 3hr evening seminar and a 3hr casting session. The dates below show the seminar date first and casting date second.
Dates: May 9 & 13, Jun 14 & 17, July 11 & 15, Sept 19 & 23
Seminar Time: 6:30pm – 9:30pm
Casting Time(s): 10am – 1pm or 1:30pm -4:30pm
INDUSTRY EVENTS AND UPDATES
Join Our Retail Team – Full + Part Time Positions Available
Spring is on the horizon and summer is not far behind it. With that in mind we are looking to add to our team! We currently have full and part-time openings for Retail Sales Associates. For more details on the position, check out the full job posting here and send your resume to firstname.lastname@example.org
FRESHWATER FISHING REPORTS
Chilliwack/Vedder River Fishing Report
All that rain at the start of the week had an obvious impact on the C/V system… it blew out, as expected. Now, it didn’t get super high and gnarly, but the water levels did rise, and the visibility went down. Not an unexpected result, considering how unstable the clay slides have been this spring. With how low the river had been running for the past while, I think everyone was hoping for rain, and we got what we wanted. Now that the river has had a few days to settle and drop a bit, the visibility has returned to a good, fishable level, and the water is at a more comfortable level that will allow fish to move around a bit more freely.
Of course, a bump in river levels will have brought a few fresh fish into the system but remember that it’s mid-April and we’re getting into the tail-end of the season at this point. There will be some fresh fish arriving throughout the month, but most of the run is already in the system. The standard presentations that have produced fish all season will continue to work, but the warmer water temperatures of spring will result in the fish having higher metabolic rates, which might result in them being more aggressive. As such, drifting a Colorado blade or small spoon under a float or swinging a spoon or fly can be quite effective as the season starts to wrap up. As always, cover water and vary your presentations based on water conditions.
There will be a mix of some fresh and some not-so-fresh fish in the system; some of the fish that arrived in the strong early-season pushes will still be in the river. Granted, most of those fish will be holed up in the upper river, which is closed to fishing as of the 1st of April, but there will still be some dark fish in the mid and lower stretches of the river as well. Dark fish can be thought of as “senior citizens”- they’ve been in the system for a while, they’ve probably been hooked a few times, their energy reserves are running low, and they’re almost guaranteed to be wild. If you do hook a coloured-up fish, do your best to get it landed and released as quickly and carefully as possible to give it the best chance of survival. Note that the next phase of the “rolling closure” comes into effect on May 1st; the mid-section of the river will close to fishing and the lower stretch will be fly-only with a mandatory release of all hatchery-marked trout.
The late-season fishery can be quite enjoyable and is a nice change of pace from the cold weather that is commonplace earlier in the season… it’s kind of nice to be able to fish for steelhead in a light hoodie or t-shirt on a favourable day. The crowds are usually not as bad during the tail-end of the season, since the derby is over, and a lot of the dedicated anglers have had their fill. The fishing can still be quite productive, your hands won’t be freezing to your reel, and the worst of the crowds will be gone, so the late-season steelhead fishery can definitely be a worthwhile endeavor.
Don’t forget to purchase your 2023-2024 freshwater license and Steelhead stamp if you’re planning on heading out, as the new license year started on April 1st.
Squamish River Fishing Report
We are going to see another storm for this weekend up Sea to Sky. This is a good thing to keep water levels up. It does come with some challenges. We can look to last week to gauge what the rain will do to the river this week.
Last week, we saw 33.7 mm over Thursday and Friday. The river rose but held clarity and fishing was solid Friday / Saturday. Saturday saw another 17 mm and the water started to dirty up. Sunday, the fishing was good in the morning but by 11am the river was in what we would consider a blown-out condition. On Monday, it was dropping and though the water was still quite dirty fishing was solid.
Use this to gauge what will happen this weekend:
They are forecasting .04 mm Friday, 22mm Saturday, 39mm Sunday and then 7.9mm Monday. We expect good fishing Friday, Saturday and then Sunday will be in the hands of the weatherman and the fishing gods. Early next week should again be great conditions with only a little rain each day in the forecast.
Long story short, it is well worth getting out but keep your eye on the river levels and if you wake up and see levels pushing through a 3.2-3.4 on the Brackendale graph expect dirty water. Anything over this level will probably be a blow out. Fish big, cover water and bring your rain gear.
Fraser River Sturgeon Fishing Report Update
Sturgeon are getting active and the bites have been on! Anglers both from shore and boats have been connecting with mighty dinos as of late. Every April and May, the arrival of eulachon cues the start of sturgeon fishing in pleasant weather.
For the next little while until when freshet starts, fishing can be excellent as sturgeon key in on their first major food source of the year. Eulachon are an anadromous fish that return to the Fraser in the spring to spawn just like our beloved salmon!
They range from 10-15cm and die after spawning. Essentially, they are Cheetos for sturgeon; they just can’t stop eating them! With that said, don’t single yourself out with bait, make sure to have a selection of baits to choose including worm bags, pikeminnow, and lamprey if you can find them. From Richmond to Mission, there are opportunities for shore anglers to capitalize on some of the most enjoyable sturgeon fishing of the year. Generally, the current in the Fraser is rather tame until freshet starts, allowing anglers to use lighter weights such as 8oz-16oz. Tide and current are critical factors to your success with sturgeon fishing in the Fraser River; finding the balance where the tide and current work with you is key.
Come into the shop and have a chat with us if you have any questions about hooking up with some gentle giants!
STILLWATER FISHING REPORTS
Interior Lakes Fishing Report
April 14 and it’s just now starting to feel like spring, barely. It has been a later ice off this year and in general the lakes seem to be coming off about 2 to 2.5 weeks later than they did spring of 2022. Hopefully that helps with your trip planning.
It also looks like the lakes that usually experience winter kill are going to experience potentially some heavy winterkill and some of the lakes that usually don’t are even on the list for some potential winterkill.
I was reviewing the fall of 2022 weather recently for a presentation I am doing this evening and I found some interesting facts. In Sep and October there were multiple times where over 20 temperature records were set. You will remember it was very hot, very late, well into October.
Then on November 9th there were cold temperature records set including the Shuswap which was -13C. End result is that many lakes didn’t get a chance to turn and froze over very quickly and were then blanketed with snow. That with a later ice off this spring is a recipe for little to no oxygen on some lakes and a winterkill. Some that were on the high-risk list have recently come off and seem to be okay, so we will see how this all plays out as a lot of lakes are coming off this week and into next week and reports will roll in.
If you are heading up this weekend, keep an eye on the weather and the highways. There has been some snow on the lakes and the highways so be ready for both. Productive techniques this time of year are leeches under and indicator, both jig head style and balanced style. Stripping leeches and scuds is also very productive and don’t forget to strip some boobies or hang some blobs under and indicator as well. There have been some chironomid hatches already, and for the most part they have been small (normal for this time of year) like size 20 or 18. Grey bodies with a black rib or chrome bodies with a black or red rib have been productive.
We have a fantastic selection of all the flies I have talked about above. Probably one of the best in years, so if you need some contemporary and productive patterns, come on down to the shop to get setup. If you are tying them yourself, we have what you need.
See you in the shop or on the water.
SALTWATER FISHING REPORTS
Vancouver Saltwater Salmon Fishing Report
As you likely know, we did not get the Howe Sound opening for 1 hatchery chinook a day, 62-80cm from April 1st to May 31st. To say I am disappointed and frustrated would be an understatement.
I met with some of the Fisheries Minister’s staff in person yesterday for an hour. I stressed the importance of this opening to Vancouver anglers and was told the Minister is looking at it. There is a potential for a decision to be made next week, albeit late, but at this point I am not going to hold my breath.
The DFO has had these proposals for over a year and in some version or another for 3 years. For them to not be able to make a decisive decision on April 1, 2023 demonstrates where public access to sustainable chinooks stocks is on their priority list. Clearly, quite low and apparently a trip a to Norway and Iceland in the last week of March to talk to fish farming companies was more important than dealing with chinook management in their own back yard.
In the meantime, we are under the same draconian regulations as last year around Vancouver; no fishing for chinook. That means no catch and release. If you want to fish for chinook C&R you will need to cross over into Area 17.
We have some Avid Angler permits so we will be out there doing some sampling to further bolster the already strong DNA data that shows stocks of concern are not present at this time.
Besides the chinook scenario, other things are going okay, and by that, I mean crabbing and prawning. Both have been pretty good lately.
Lingcod and rockfish will open in Area 17 on May 1st as well. I would imagine chinook fishing is going to be very good as well in that area, it will be catch and release, but it seems there are lots around. There have also been a lot of juvenile coho around, a promising sign for the Strait of Georgia coho fishery which opens for retention June 1st in most areas.
Regarding the SRKW and Fraser Mouth decision, the goal for DFO to make an announcement was April 19 but I was told this is going to be delayed. This will be a big decision, so stay tuned.
In the meantime,… See you in the shop or on the water.