Well, the world continues to move in interesting ways. We hope that everyone is staying safe, respecting health measures and also enjoying proper social distancing – ideally alone, in nature with a fishing rod. If you haven’t already, we remind everyone to please familiarize yourself with current Public Health orders/travel restrictions and focus on your local waters.
The weather this week put many of our systems into a state of flux with river levels rising and lakes icing off. For our readers in the Lower Mainland, we have updates on the Vedder and Harrison as well as water levels for the Squamish systems. For our readers in the interior, we are envious of you guys. Lakes are coming off and some have now turned over, have a read of Sterling’s update in the StillWater section below.
Jason has updates on the saltwater front where the minister has still not made any updates to the interim regulations. For those of you close to the coast, Jordan has a fun beach fishing piece. This time of year, the salmon fry are riding the freshet wave (rising rivers) into the ocean and it’s a great time to hike to your local beach close to inflow streams and rivers. Check it out at the end of the report
Matt will tune in next week for the video report but if you are stuck in the Lower Mainland dreaming of lake fishing, we thought to share an old video on Our Best Essential BC Lake Patterns; a cool video going over essential flies for fly fishing lakes so you can take advantage of some extra time at home to round out your box until travel restrictions are relaxed. Check that video out here:
INDUSTRY EVENTS AND UPDATES
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CLASSES AND COURSES
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. The course is comprised of two sessions; a 3hr evening seminar and a 3hr casting session. The dates below show the seminar date first and casting date second.
Dates: May 11 & 16, Jun 16 & 20, July 14 & 17, Sept 21 & 26
Seminar Time: 6:30pm – 9:30pm
Casting Time(s): 10am – 1pm or 1:30pm -4:30pm
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: Tuesday, May 25
Seminar Time: 6:30-9:30 pm
Cost: $50 per person
FRESHWATER FISHING REPORTS
Chilliwack/Vedder River Fishing Report
The Vedder is high and a little dirty right now! That heat wave we had last week caused some snow melt and the conditions reflect that. We are looking at some cooler temperatures and a little rain coming up here so we might get a bit of a reprieve from the coloured high water.
Remember that the Vedder becomes fly fishing only from the Crossing Bridge down as of May 1st so gear guys have one more week to get their lines in the water.
There are still some fish around so for those out in the valley if you want one last crack at getting a Chilliwack River Steelhead this season, it is now or never!
Squamish River Fishing Report
Freshet has started and water levels are up but, for the angler that watches river levels, there can still be fishing opportunities. Right now, the river is just over 3 meters on the graph, so be sure to keep our eyes on the graph. You can do so here
This means the river will be high and coloured but not necessarily unfishable. When we look at the forecast, we see rain over the weekend. Common sense would assume that the river will blow-out but when you look at cold 5-6 degree nighttime temps there is hope. With this trend and less than 10mm forecasted right now, the river may hold.
If you are local to the area and planning on getting out be safe. Drifting this time of year needs to be done with the utmost caution but I have had some pretty good days during these conditions in years past. If you see slashing fish, they are usually feeding on salmon fry just under the surface. When you see this fishing a fry pattern or a small spoon will usually hook up but when I am prospecting and have not seen feeding fish activity, I stick to larger presentations at this time of year. 3-5 inch white or chartreuse streamers can be very effective as well as large spoons like the K3 and K4 are ideal for swinging tail outs.
Again, watch river levels carefully and hopefully levels will hold for a little longer.
Side note – This picture below was sent to us – It is a bull trout spine left behind on the Squamish System – roughly April 14th – This is a strong reminder that all wild fish on this system are catch and release. This was reported to the appropriate authorities.
Harrison River Fishing Report
Water levels have continued on a steady rise from last week, which has made access a little more difficult, especially on the north side. We’ve also had reports of slashing cutties throughout the system, but very few anglers hooking into them.
If these are your local waters and you’re heading out, it’s likely a time to change up your presentations to larger fry patterns and big muddler minnows or even bugger style attractor patterns. It’s also a great time to chuck spoons and spinners if the cutties are being picky eaters.
Depending on how the weather shapes up in the near future, this could likely be the last hurrah before water levels rise, so enjoy it while you can!
STILLWATER FISHING REPORTS
These latest restrictions have obviously put quite the halt on everyone’s April/May plans just as a lot of lakes are starting to ice off. Saying that, I recognize that we have readers from all over the province so I’ll provide a bit of information for both the GVRD and the Interior so there is something for everyone. As noted in the Outlook, we remind everyone to please familiarize yourselves with the current Public Health Orders/travel restrictions.
Local Lake Fishing Report
Our local lakes are all starting to quickly warm up and wooly bugger variations are reigning supreme. Make sure to stock your fly box up with wooly buggers of all colour variations focusing primarily on olives, blacks, and reds. The most effective method is placing ‘buggy’ patterns under an indicator on a floating line and putting some decent action on the retrieve. Chromies or other bright chironomid patterns always seem to pick up quite a few fish up in the Squamish area if those lakes are within your health sector.
Interior Lake Fishing Report
For those in the Interior, you likely already know ice off is starting to happen quickly at the higher elevation lakes while the lower elevation lakes are starting to finally see some decent hatches. Refer to my last report for fishing those freshly iced off high elevation lakes as all those methods will still hold true. Most of the hatches in the lower elevations are seeing #16-#18 sized hatches. As a general rule, I always go up one size for my chironomids so if you’re seeing #16s, go with size #14s. The majority of throat pumps have been full of bloodworms and small gun metal chironomids so make sure to have your box full of those.
For gear guys, you really can’t ever go wrong with small spoons and bobber/worm setups.
One last thing, lakes in turnover tend to have displaced fish so having a fish finder is immensely helpful. We all know that lake fishing isn’t the most straightforward thing so understanding where fish are suspended in the water column is vital. Most of the best fishing will always occur in the bottom 2 feet of the lakes, but turnover conditions tend to lead to exceptions to that rule. I’ve had plenty of times during turnover where fish are suspended at a thermocline in a 10 foot depth in 30 feet conditions. We’ve recently stocked up with some great Lowrance Hook Reveal packages so be sure to stop by the store to get geared up if need be.
SALTWATER FISHING REPORTS
Vancouver Saltwater Fishing Report
Well, right on cue, mid-April, the chinook fishing picked up dramatically in our local waters. We have been out in the few locations where you can fish for chinook, non-retention, like further up Howe Sound and over around Gabriola and up to Nanaimo.
Unfortunately, we have not heard from the Fisheries Minister, which is extremely frustrating, as this time of year we always have excellent local chinook fishing and a good number of hatchery fish. Will we get an announcement this afternoon? Nobody really knows, but DFO does like to make announcements late on Friday afternoon and then run for cover. If they don’t open it they will be ducking for cover from the public fishery and marine sector. If they do have some sort of opening you can bet First Nations and the NGOs will be making a few calls.
If you do want to head out for non-retention and have some calmer seas, I would recommend heading over to Thrasher and fishing from there up to Entrance on the “highway” in 350-1000 feet of water, 90-200 on the riggers. Productive depth varies dramatically depending on water colour and sunlight.
Generally, you can’t go wrong with a Salty Dawg or similar flasher with a chartreuse splatter back hootchy or your favorite spoon, like an Irish Cream or Trailhead.
See you in the shop or on the water,
Beach Fishing Primer
With the out-migrating salmon fry starting to make their way to the ocean, beaches can provide a great opportunity to try and catch the elusive searun cutthroat trout. These trout will be cruising along shallow beaches looking for small fish, invertebrates, and insects.
The biggest deciding factor for a good cutthroat beach is a combination of a few things: freshwater, structure, and food.
If you find a beach that has even the smallest freshwater trickle that is a good starting point. It doesn’t have to be a good-sized stream, but even the slightest bit of trickle can help bring Cutthroat nearby. These streams and creeks also provide food from tumbling bugs or small fry.
For structure, a gently sloping beach made up of mostly cobblestone or similar is preferred. These cobbles provide shelter for food sources such as small crabs, shrimp, worms, and baitfish. Eelgrass beds and boulder gardens are also great structures as they provide food, cover, and breaks from the current for resting during big tide swings.
When it comes to tides, small to medium-sized exchanges are good, with most anglers avoiding extreme tide swings. Flood tides are generally preferred as the cool water coming in promotes activity from food sources that may have receded or burrowed into the sand. Though ebbs aren’t bad, you’ll generally want to focus close to stream mouths and slowly work your way out with the tide.
When it comes to food, cutthroat can sometimes come at a dime a dozen where they’ll eat anything and everything; or they can be insanely picky and keyed in very specific food items. Fry, shrimp, krill, larvae, and other small prey items are all food sources for these trout and a well-prepared angler will have flies to represent them all. Outside of specific foods and flies, having an assortment of trout flies, in general, can help entice these fish. Even wooly buggers in various sizes and colours can work off the beach as they can represent various marine worms and other Polychaeta.
Keeping in mind these are generally smaller trout, a 4-5wt rod is all that is needed. Pairing this with a reel that can handle the abuse of saltwater and a few trout leaders is all that is needed for this unique and fun fishery.