Is Summer now coming? We have been waiting for spring weather to really kick in but, this weekend we are going to see almost summer level temperatures! This is good news for many of our fisheries but for others heat is a problem.
On the Chilliwack River, there are still opportunities to get out, but regulations change on the 1st. It closes above Vedder Crossing and goes fly only below.
On the Squamish, fishing was good this week, but we are seeing the first signs of freshet kicking in and with the heat this weekend we are not sure where it will go.
One area where the warm water is exciting is for interior lake fishing. This should accelerate ice offs and get the bugs going. We have some details on turn overs, more ice off reports and we have heard some news on winterkills as well that you will want to tune in for.
On the saltwater front, we are looking ahead to May where we have rockfish and lingcod open up May 1st across the strait. Our report this week also has an update on the SRKW measures for the season and don’t skip our industry events and update section below where we share updates on the Public Fishery Alliances Petition re: MSF opportunities.
On to the report!
INDUSTRY EVENTS AND UPDATES
Call to action!!! Public Fishery Alliance marked selective fishery petition is to be presented in Ottawa. The petition calls upon the Honourable Joyce Murray, Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard to open all scientifically defensible, data-supported hatchery Chinook retention opportunities immediately and expedite the implementation of the Mass Marking and Marked Selective Salmon Fisheries
Please sign the petition in person at our shop!
Our Fisheries Minister Joyce Murray, her fellow Liberal Members of Parliament, and the Prime Minister are destroying the recreational fishery in British Columbia. It is clear that science is taking a back seat to political priorities of Minister Murray and the Prime Minister’s office. We need sustained action to fight for data driven marked selective fishing opportunities this year and for years to come. Our current government does not respect the recreational fishery in BC.
Please sign the petition, IN PERSON, at our shop and these other Lower Mainland shops:
Sea Run Tackle
Pacific Net & Twine in Steveston
Fred’s Custom Tackle in Abbotsford
Berry’s Bait and Tackle
For Vancouver Island locations visit the Public Fishery Alliance’s page for an up-to-date list!
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. 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: 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
FRESHWATER FISHING REPORTS
Chilliwack River Fishing Report
It’s late April, and steelhead season is definitely wrapping up on the C/V system. That’s not to say that the fishery is done; there are a lot of fish in the system, and there will still be some fresh fish trickling into the system. Most of the fish in the system will be holed up in the upper river, which has been closed to all fishing since April 1st to protect wild spawners. The mid river and lower river are still open to fishing, though the next portion of the “rolling closure” comes into effect on May 1st; I’ll talk about that in detail later in this report.
Float fishing with bait, beads, gooey bobs, rubber worms, yarn and Colorado blades will produce fish, as expected, but late season steelhead can be quite susceptible to swung spoons or flies, so it’s certainly worth bringing that second rod if you’re planning on heading out. Warmer water temps mean that the fishes’ metabolic rates will be picking up, thus making them more likely to chase something bright or flashy. Another benefit to late-season steelheading is that a vast majority of the crowds have dissipated, so you might actually be able to fish in peace which is a genuinely rare thing on the C/V system!
The warm weather that we’re finally starting to feel is going to trigger some snowmelt, which means that the freshet is right around the corner, if not here already. The river levels have been on an upward trend since last weekend, with some more significant jumps seen on Wednesday and Thursday which, of course, were the two days when daytime temps really started going up. With at least a week of above-average temperatures expected, it’s possible that the river will start to go into the early stages of freshet, which will blow it out and signal the end of steelhead season.
As I mentioned before, the second phase of the “rolling closure” comes into effect on May 1st. The mid river, between the Tamihi bridge and the Vedder Crossing bridge, will close to all fishing, and the lower stretch of the river, from the Vedder Crossing bridge to the confluence with the Sumas River, will transition to fly-only with mandatory catch and release of all rainbow trout under 50cm and all cutthroat trout, including hatcheries, until June 1st. A bait ban is included in this portion of the rolling closure, so you can’t use any natural bait or natural scents.
As always, be sure to treat any dark fish you may encounter as carefully as possible to ensure it has the highest possible chance of successfully spawning. Also be aware that there will be lots of salmon fry hiding in the gravel near shore and in backchannels during daylight hours, so try to avoid unnecessary wading as squishing fry is counterproductive if you want to catch fish in a few years.
Squamish River Fishing Report
Some of the best fishing can happen at the end of the season just as water starts rising with spring freshet. Right now, we are seeing the start to freshet and it will be interesting to see how hard it kicks in with the warm weather this weekend.
As we write the report, conditions are great with water coloring at a 2.7 on graph. It is rising and we expect dirty water with the weekend’s heat.
It is still well worth heading out, but you might need to look to the mouths of inflow creeks where water will be clearer. You will want to have larger presentations in your kit. Bigger pink worms, larger flies and tossing a medium to large spoon this time of year can be deadly for both steelhead and bull trout.
Harrison River Fishing Report
This past week saw a sudden increase of activity on systems that support cutthroat trout fisheries.
With warm temperatures staying steady, the fry have become a readily available food source.
We’ve had reports from this past week of anglers doing well on Andre’s fry patterns, as well as various other patterns that represent these small morsels.
Right now, the Harrison River is sitting about 8.7m and is continuing to rise, which is what we’ve been waiting for. That said, with this upcoming heat it will continue to rise, eventually ending the fishery. If you’re wanting to take part in this fishery, you’ll want to get out there soon as possible as time is limited.
For anglers using traditional methods, small trout spinners and spoons on light tackle can provide a great opportunity to go after these elusive fish.
Remember that depending on which system and where you are targeting these species, the appropriate licensing will be required.
STILLWATER FISHING REPORTS
Interior Lakes Fishing Report
We are excited to see the warm weather this weekend. It is going to hit high 20s in areas around Kamloops and this should really help ice off a number of lakes that have been behind schedule. We had some good news this week and though Corbett Lake is not iced off, as of the 25th, it is getting there and the folks over at the lodge have shared the latest oxygen level report that they had done earlier in the month. It looks as though the levels are in a good safe range. The ice is not off yet, but all indicators are positive for no winter kill on Corbett.
What else have we heard? In general terms, this means that lakes in the sub 3000’ level are off or close to off. Lakes that are over 3000’ are probably still iced on and it will be interesting to see how fast the weather accelerates things over the next 10 days.
Simple Spring Lake Fishing Concepts:
If your lake has just iced off, focus close to shore with leeches, blobs, scuds, baby damsels and boobies with limited chironomids coming off. If you show up to your lake and it looks dirty or like pea soup, we recommend moving to another lake. If you have hit your given lake after turning over its chironomid time!
Fish early with leeches and blobs then try to dial in the chironomid hatch. On the cooler days, it may not start until mid-day so don’t panic. If you are seeing a few on the sounder or catching a few on your searching patterns, it might just need to warm up a little to really turn on. Check out the flies Jason tied below for some early season tying inspiration!
Interior Lakes Fly Tying
If you missed it on our Instagram @pacificangler Jason has been hitting the bench with the new Upavon materials that we got into the shop a few weeks ago. They have a great straggle material for leeches and scuds + a cool blend of fritz/slush that makes for amazing boobies and blobs. Check out some of the flies below and come down to the shop if you want to try the materials:
SALTWATER FISHING REPORTS
Vancouver Saltwater Salmon Fishing Report
The SRKW announcement was on Wednesday, and I am happy to report the proposal to close off all of the Fraser Mouth for SRKW protection was NOT accepted. They did keep that North Arm closure, so it will be the same as last year. Chinook fishing should open off the Fraser Mouth September 1 and you will need to fish south of the Iona Jetty, down towards T-10 and off the South Arm. Fishing should be good this fall with the projected return for Harrison chinook at a whopping 110,000. Last year 86,000 came back and in the previous 5 years it was in the 50,000 to 60,000 range. So, things are looking good for that run of chinook. DFO’s target for that run is 72,000 so we are trending well above that thanks to good ocean survival these past few years.
September 1st is a long way away but, in the meantime, there are some bottom fishing opportunities coming up. Rockfish and lingcod open up May 1st. You will need to head across to Gabriola or Nanaimo to catch your fish as it is closed on this side but pick your day and make the crossing.
Chinook is also open to catch and release on that side, Area 17, where in our areas, Area 28 & 29, the regulation is no fishing for chinook, so you can’t catch and release unless you have a DNA permit which our guide boats have.
Remember the commercial prawners open up May 15th this year, so get your sets in before they do. They will clean out the best spots in days and they don’t like the recreational gear in their way, so best to stay clear of their efforts unless you want to lose your traps. Crabbing always picks up in May so time to focus your trap efforts there.
The next major chinook retention opportunity will be July 15 over in Area 17 (Thrasher to Nanaimo). We should see some decent coho fishing in local waters come mid to late June as well. There have been lots of juvenile coho around this winter, so that’s a good sign.
If you missed the petition info. above be sure to have a read of that and drop by our shop or others to help the Public Fishery Alliance keep the pressure on our elected officials.
See you in the shop or on the water,