It is almost the end of April and the bits of sun today have us excited for spring fishing! For our saltwater anglers it’s petition time! There is a petition out to Minister Murray re: proposed fisheries closures related to SRKW. We all know that DFO uses fisheries closures as an easy, highly visible but ineffective tool to address wild salmon decline while choosing to ignore best available science and the real issues affecting wild salmon! Sign it today.
On the fishing news front, lake fishing is heating up. We have some cool new fritz colors for all you lake fly tying addicts that just hit the fly tying wall. Though the weather is still a little hit and miss as things warm up it is time to get out there! Jason has a lake fishing update to check out in the lake section of the report.
The weather has been strange this season and unseasonably cold. This cold has extended a number of our river fisheries that historically would be nearing an end because of rising water from snow melt. This week we have had solid reports from the Sea to Sky Corridor, the Chilliwack is still fishable though getting to the end of the season and cutthroat fishing is still a great option up the valley. We have details on all three in this week’s report
Bass fishing is also starting though we would like to see some more warmth to really get this fishery going. Gavin has details on what we have seen in his report below.
Finally, Matt tunes in with the video version of the report going over it all – click below to watch the video report:
On to the report!
CLASSES AND 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.
Zoom Seminar Date: Wednesday, April 27
Zoom Seminar Time: 6:30-9:30 pm
INTRODUCTION TO FLY FISHING
This course was 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 10 & 14), (Jun 15 & 18), (July 12 & 17), (Sept 20 & 24)
Cost: $150.00 + GST
Seminar Time: 6:30pm – 9:30pm
Casting Time(s): 10am – 1pm or 1:30pm -4:30pm
TYING BEACH FLY PATTERNS
Join Pacific Angler for a 3hr evening seminar of tying flies specific to catching salmon on our coastal beaches. Without a doubt, fly selection is critical while beach fishing.
These flies are often not commercially available, so successful beach anglers learn to tie their own patterns. Your instructor will walk you through each fly pattern step-by-step.
This Tying Beach Fly Patterns course is suitable for fly tiers with a basic knowledge. Students are required to supply their own vise, tools and materials. A 10% discount is available on fly tying materials and tools purchased for the course.
Dates: May 18, 2022
Time: 6:30pm – 9:30pm
FRESHWATER FISHING REPORTS
Vedder/Chilliwack River Fishing Report
We’re getting to the end of what was an unusual season of steelheading on the Vedder/Chilliwack system, so there’s not a whole lot to report on. There will still be a couple fresh fish rolling into the system into May, but the vast majority will have pushed in by now. Fish will be scattered throughout the system, but most will be in the upper river, which is currently closed to fishing. The few anglers who are still out there have been finding some fish in the mid and lower, but it’s gotten fairly slow- mainly due to how late it is, and how low the water currently is. Speaking of low water, it’s worth noting that the river has cleared up over the past couple weeks and is starting to be excessively clear at times, so consider bringing some smaller presentations along if it hasn’t rained in a few days.
Keep in mind that there will be a number of spawned-out “kelts” that will start to make their presence known shortly… if not already. These fish often lose their dark spawning colours after doing the deed, so they may be misidentified as somewhat fresh, when in fact they are the complete opposite. Almost all kelts are wild, but hatchery kelts do exist, and keeping one is almost always a regrettable mistake- they have mushy white meat and are not good table fare. Kelts can be identified by a number of features- they are often more of a “dull grey” than a “bright silver”, their fins may be ragged or worn, they usually don’t fight much when hooked, and their anal vents are often swollen and inflamed. These fish have survived their journey and should be released carefully so they can have a chance to come back again in a few years.
Fraser Valley Cutthroat Report
The warmer weather on Tuesday finally felt like cutthroat fishing was primed to take off. It was still quite slow since we’ve had chaotic weather meaning that fry emergence and movement has been limited. However, we’re finally getting some decent weather on Friday/Saturday meaning the fishing should be quite good. Cutthroat fishing really needs a string of warmer days as the warmer water encourages the fry and stickleback to start moving around. Saturday should be a great day to get out there as it’ll be hot and there’s next to no wind. You really don’t want much wind as it’s a sight-based fishery. I’ve written a ton in the past but I won’t even bother fishing until I see either fry or cutthroat slashing.
Cutthroat have been spotted in nearly all of our local sloughs and river systems. It’s still quite spotty as we haven’t had strings of warmer days like I mentioned but it’s definitely worth a look. I know I’ll be out there over the next week with that warmer water rolling through.
For fly fishing, I like to use a floating line with a clear intermediate sink tip, a hover tip line, or a camo clear intermediate line. You don’t want to use anything that sinks too quick as the fry are often balled up in the top foot of water. Epoxy minnows and other fry imitations are always a great bet but mixing in other patterns like olive or white wooly buggers and California Neils can be great additions. For gear, it’s hard to miss when using size 0-2 blue foxes, small 3/16 crocs, and rooster tails.
Squamish River Fishing report
The Squamish has dropped like a rock over the last week and is now below 2m. This is crazy for end of April. Normally we would see freshet starting this week but with the continued cool weather it is holding. The fry eaters are affected by the low water so don’t expect lots of bites. That said because it is so late it is still worth a swing because there are fish in the system.
Pay close attention to the weather. The 14-day trend looks to continue the cold trend but there is a bump of water coming Sunday and with drizzly weather next week this could make for good fishing conditions.
Smaller general streamer patterns in black and blue, pink and white should be in the arsenal. Fry patterns and small spoons should also be in the kit but we have had mixed results on these all season because of the cold. When it warms up this could go off but we will have to see. We have had years where it stays low right to the end of the season and then in a handful of days it blows out without an extended period of time in the “perfect” water level conditions.
It all else fails a big pink worm is well worth a toss this time of year too.
STILLWATER FISHING REPORTS
Local Bass Fishing Report
Locally, bass fishing has slowly picked up in the Lower-Mainland. From our last report we talked about the importance of prespawn. Depending on the system you are on, progression of prespawn will vary. On some systems we are in full prespawn while others are just starting to enter prespawn. With that said, most systems seem to be behind schedule compared to most years due to the colder weather averages that we have been having.
Covering water is key this time of year, especially for those who are fishing a new system. Covering water fast and effectively will help you identify which parts of the lake bass are using to spawn. Once you have identified those specific locations, you are set as they will hang around for the next few weeks into and after spawning. There is no point in staying stationary until a fish shows up to your presentation, the odds just are not there. Use a bait that will get noticed and heard right away when covering water, think spinnerbaits, swimbaits and bladed jigs.
From my records, this weekend is typically when things really kick into motion. Spend some time covering water and you could be pleasantly surprised with what you can find.
Interior Lake Fishing Report
The interior lakes were mostly hit and miss this past week in large part due to the unseasonably cold weather and frequent high winds. Ideally, we would see 3-5 days of warmer temperatures in the mid to high teens to really get things going but it has been tough to even get a few warm days back to back lately. Cold days means cold water, and that combined with a lot of wind has kept some lakes in a state of turn over and murky water for longer than normal. The end result is tougher fishing. To put things into perspective how unseasonably cold it has been, Merritt was down to -8.3 C last Saturday and that broke a record that went all the way back to 1971 where it got down to -6.7 C. That’s a full 20% colder than a record set 50 years ago!
All that being said, the forecast for this weekend actually looks pretty good, with many interior lake fishing areas set to see daytime temperatures in the 13-18 C range and evening temperatures in the 2-6 C range. This warmth and rising barometer should make for some better lake fishing this weekend.
Depending on what lakes you are fishing, their elevation, and how long they have been iced off, there are a variety of techniques that will be productive. Some of the lakes that have been off for a while are now seeing more consistent chironomid hatches in 5-15 feet of water with the usual early season small ones coming off. So, make sure you have your #18s ready in a variety of shades and there will no doubt be some bigger ones popping off this weekend and next week, so have the #16s and #14s ready as well.
Put picture of vial with chironomids here. Caption: Some very small chironomids and a baby damsel were on the menu.
For lakes that have just iced off, the trout are often full of daphnia so it pays to have a good selection of blobs. Hang these under an indicator in the shallows and don’t be afraid to give it some movement once in a while. We just got in a big order of some of the latest cutting edge materials and shades to tie these simple yet effective flies, including FNF Daphnia Fritz and FNF Slush Jelly Fritz. Not a tier, no problem, we have some custom ties ready for you.
Another tried and true tactic for lakes that aren’t seeing chironomid hatches yet is fishing a leech. You can strip the leech along the shoreline or shoals using a slow sinking line or hang them under an indicator in the same areas on your floating line. Better yet, do both and see if the fish want the fly moving or hanging. Focus on those shallower water areas from right off the shoreline out to about 10 feet. As always, look for moving fish (rollers). If you aren’t seeing fish on your sonar or rolling in your area but are seeing them in the next bay over, time for a move!
Last but not least, don’t be surprised if you pump a fish and you see a damsel fly or two in the sample. These immature damsels, often referred to as “baby damsels”, are a common food source for trout this time of year. A small leech in an olive shade might be taken as this food source but other very productive flies for fish feeding on baby damsels are a BMW (Brian’s Marabou Wiggler) or a DLT (Damsel Leech Thing). These small flies could also be taken as leeches or even a scud, depending on what colour they are or how they are fished. In general, they look like food, which is likely why they and other similar flies work so well. These flies can be suspended under an indicator and just left to sit there, can be twitched under an indicator or can be retrieved on a slow sinking line.
In terms of elevation and what’s fishable, surprisingly a lot of lakes came off early this year because of the strong winds in late March and early April. Too bad that wasn’t followed up by some heat!
Some lakes 3,000 feet plus are already off, like Tunkwa at 3,700 feet that came off on April 8th. Others further north at that same elevation still have significant ice. It has a lot to do with how much sun and wind they get and of course each lake is unique. It is safe to say all your usual lower elevation lakes have been off for a while now and should be finished turning or just coming out of turn and your fishing success will benefit greatly from this weekend’s heat. So, time to get out there!
See you in the shop or on the water,