The big focus for all BC residents, fisherman and non-fisherman alike, has been the wildfire and smoke situation. We took a hard look at the weather this week and though the outlook is a little better for both the fire situation and the smoke situation things are still not ideal. We will see a little rain on Saturday but the weather service is not expecting it to be the “deep soaking” rain needed to put out fires. The wind directions will also not solve the smoke problem. It looks as though things will be less smoky in many areas but it will not be gone.
One positive is that it looks like one of the heaviest pockets of rain will hit the Skagit Valley and should at least take the edge off the fire. We will also see some cooler temps across the province that will help the fire fighters keep things from spreading.
On the fishing front things have been way more optimistic. The Fraser is full of sockeye and though commercial fishing has caused dead spots in the river there have been lots of anglers harvesting their limits with relative ease.
Saltwater fishing continues to be good to great. There have been a few tides where anglers have had to work for sockeye but at least when fishing in the morning, things have been awesome. Check out Jason’s report for all the details. Also don’t forget about the chinook. We hosted our annual Vancouver Chinook Classic derby last weekend and though the weather was a little rough the fishing was solid with lots of big fish being weighed in during this catch and release tournament.
Sean braved the smoke up on the Thompson last weekend and had some great trout fishing. He has details in our Thompson report. As for the Skagit it still remains closed but at least when looking at the fire maps it doesn’t appear to have spread too much and as we said the rain might hit this area and dampen the blaze.
We are waiting for the rest of the salmon (coho, chum, chinook) to arrive to start fishing the Fraser tributaries, but we have heard the odd report of early coho and chinook. We have a quick overview this week on when to start looking at the Chilliwack, Harrison, Stave as well as the Squamish for those that are already thinking of fall fishing.
Last, but definitely not least, we have the pleasure to announce that we have a new staff member. Zach Copland has joined the team and we are pumped to bring his knowledge and experience to the sales floor. Zach has worked in the industry for some time and he brings along with him an exciting spread of angling skills. He is an avid saltwater angler and a very experienced fly fisherman and fly tier. You may have seen his posts on Instagram and his videos on YouTube. Zach will be bringing us a number of tying tutorials over the next few months and this week he is starting it off with a great coho pattern for the upcoming season. Check out the Coho Stick bugger in this week’s feature section.
On to the report!
CLASSES AND COURSES
September is almost upon us and that means back to school for many! It also means its time to get back into the classroom. We have a great lineup of fall courses including these great courses this September!
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.
Seminar: September 18, 2018
Seminar Time: 6:30pm – 9:30pm
Casting: September 22, 2018
Casting Time(s): 10am – 1pm or 2pm -5pm
Introduction To Fly Tying
There is no greater satisfaction than catching a fish with a fly you tied yourself. This Introduction to Fly Tying course was specifically designed to give you the fundamental skills needed to tie proven fly patterns used here in BC for trout, salmon and steelhead.
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.
This course consists of 3 sessions; each session is 3hrs.
Dates: Sep 19, 26 & Oct 3, 2018
Time: 6:30pm – 9:30pm
Fall Salmon River Fishing: Floats, Spinners + Spoons
This 3hr evening seminar covers float fishing, spinner fishing and spoon fishing; the three most productive techniques to catch BC salmon in a river.
Seminar: Sep 25, 2018
Seminar Time: 6:30pm – 9:30pm
We had a great time this year working in the weigh boats! It was a bit rough out there but we made the best of it. The top 3 fish were in the 20-24 pound class. The event was a huge success and sold out early this year. We are already looking forward to next year. If you want to see some great pictures, check out Vancouver Chinook Classic on Instagram. A big thank you to all our sponsors, weigh boat volunteers, and all our participants. See you next year!
Fraser River Sockeye Fishing Report
Reports are still consistently good from the bottom bouncing crowd on the Fraser; there was a small dip in productivity on Monday/Tuesday but things have picked up again. In saying that there was a First Nation commercial fishery from Thursday to Friday afternoon. Since it takes these fish roughly 24 hours to get up into the bounce-able bars, expect fishing this weekend to be little slower than average. Most of the well known bars are producing and if the fish are moving through you will get them.
On the bar fishing front we have been hearing of a few successful anglers chucking spin n glows in the upper section of the river. The chinook fishing hasn’t been particularly hot yet for both the bar fishers and the bouncers, but that should change very soon.
This is a very popular (and exceedingly rare) summer fishery enjoyed by many. Please remember to be respectful to one another so everyone can get a shot at a fish or two. If you need help getting set up come visit us at the shop. We’ve got that particular shade of green that those sockeye really love! Also every other shade that works just as well – LOL!
Thomspon River Fishing Report
With the Skagit in the middle of a fire, us trout fishermen have limited options to get our dry fly fishing fix. However, the Thompson is still fishing well. Though the strong run of sockeye this year means that the fishing may start to slow down, you will still rise a trout to a hopper amongst the sea of red fish.
I fished the stretch between Ashcroft and Savona and the stretch between Spence’s Bridge and Ashcroft. I can say that the extra hours drive was definitely worth it as fishing was noticeably better higher up where their were less salmon. I mostly fished hoppers and other big dry fly presentations but nymphing was also productive.
Later in the season the sockeye will push the rainbows out of their usual holding spots you will need to make sure you cover water effectively. What I found produces the most fish is fishing a hopper upstream through a spot and then nymphing my way back down. Once you have covered the water make sure you move on as the fish in the Thompson don’t see a huge amount of pressure so aggressive fish will most likely take your fly the first time you present it to them.
As for the gear I like to have two 4-6wt rods: one setup with a hopper or another dry and the other setup with a nymph. Check out our video on how to pack multiple rods to make sure you can change presentations quickly and don’t waste your time on the water
Fall Salmon Overview – Vedder, Harrison, Stave and Squamish Rivers
Sockeye season is in full swing but it is also time to start thinking about the rest of the salmon runs that will be hitting our river systems soon. We get a lot of questions about run timing on the different river. We have laid out some basic guidelines and over the next few weeks we will start having more specific technique and River Specific reports.
Vedder River – This is debatably the first river to see a substantial push of coho, chum and jack chinook. It is great for float fishing and also good for spoon fishing. We try to avoid bottom bouncing on this system and there are also good spots for fly fishing. If you are thinking about hitting the Vedder the second week of September has always been a good time to kick off your season.
Harrison River – The Harrison coho are historically a little later than the Vedder but you will start getting good reports mid September and is it is a great system to target chum salmon on the fly or gear rods. The coho can be fished almost until December and many anglers consider the third week of October to be peak time.
Stave River – The Stave is one of the most accessible salmon rivers in the lower mainland and chum should be in thick by early October. We can fish this system well into November and the sturgeon fishing at the mouth can be fantastic.
Squamish River – This is an interesting system. Coho and chum will be in the system in September but we find that the water clarity makes them a challenge to target. We like to wait for the first cold nights to hit this system. This clears up the water. Historically this happens around the very end of September but can be as late as the second or third week of October.
Pink salmon will be showing up everywhere this year…. Just kidding no pinks to speak of this year. You will have to wait for Summer 2019!
Coho Stick Bugger
There’s something about waking up to find dew on the windshield of the car that makes me excited with anticipation for the upcoming river season. It’s the time of year when I start getting my fly boxes filled and I tinker with new creations for coho. Big or small, coho flies are actually quite simple to tie and the colour variations are endless. I have caught coho on big streamers, but in recent years I have started downsizing my patterns and they have been quite productive. The Coho Stick Bugger is a very easy pattern to tie up and in different colour variations it can be used to catch sea-run cutthroat, bull trout and pink salmon. It only uses a few materials so getting a bunch of different colours wont break the bank. Let’s get started
Step 1: Start by placing a 1/8” black bead on a Partridge Sea Streamer #8 or #10 (or your favourite 3-4xl streamer hook) and wrap your thread to between the hook point and the barb. Any 8/0 or 70 denier thread will do the trick. I like to angle the hook slightly in the vice to help stop the bead from sliding back towards the bend of the hook
Step 2: Strip a clump of marabou from the stem and tie it in at the back of the hook. Wrap your thread forward to behind the bead to keep the body a consistent thickness
Step 3: Trim off the butt ends of the marabou and pinch and rip the tail to a length no longer than the shank of the hook. It’s important to not cut the tail with your scissors as it will create a hard edge and won’t flow as nicely in the water
Step 4: Next you will tie in a piece of small blue wire starting from behind the bead back to the base of the tail. Tuck the one edge of the wire under the bead to help prevent your thread from fraying and breaking
Step 5: Now you will tie in a strip of Blue Lagartun Mini-Flat Braid from the tail and follow the strip with your thread to behind the bead. Again, by tying in the materials the full length of the body it helps to keep a smooth consistent profile to the body. Let your thread hang behind the bead and wrap the flat braid forward with slightly overlapping turns to behind the bead and tie it off
Step 6: Next you will tie in a blue grizzly hackle by the butt end and take 2 wraps behind the bead, followed by 4-6 open spiral wraps towards the tail
Step 7: Once the hackle is at the base of the tail of the fly, grab the wire and trap the hackle stem against the body with the wire. Take open spiral turns of the wire crossing over the stem of the hackle and wiggling the wire as you go to help trap less barbules from the hackle. Once you get to the bead take a full wrap with the wire in front of the hackle and tie off the wire
Step 8: To finish the fly you will helicopter or bend the wire until it breaks flush with your thread and do a 3-4 turn whip finish before you cut off your thread
This is a very simple pattern that works extremely well off the beaches in West Vancouver as well as the Harrison and Squamish Rivers. Make sure to tie them up in a variety of colours and always have a few on hand. If you have any questions about patterns or if you are having troubles getting a certain pattern “just right” then please come on in to the shop and I will help you get it dialed in. We have a large variety of materials in store and we are always adding to our tying section so come on in for a visit!
SALTWATER FISHING REPORTS
Vancouver Saltwater Salmon Fishing Report
There is a lot going on this time of year so we will take a look at all of the major fisheries, sockeye, chinook, and coho.
Sockeye: The fishing has not been what I would call easy, by sockeye standards. We have had some amazing catches, but until recently it has been confined to a fairly narrow window of opportunity from first light until about 9:30 or 10:30 am and then they go off the bite and you have to grind for them. If you are able to get on a good school first thing in the morning though, look out, as it has been hot and heavy. If you aren’t on a school right away and you don’t find one by mid morning, you are likely going to have a lot tougher day. We are still catching fish mid day and in the afternoon, but you just have to grind away at them to get the numbers. As the numbers of sockeye build, this will change, and it is already happening. Our boats had some solid action on their afternoon trips just yesterday, so from here forward that trend should continue. There will always be the first morning bite, but as numbers build this coming week there will be enough fish around that even during mid-day the action will be enough to keep you busy.
Let’s look at some numbers. If you haven’t had red hot fishing, don’t worry as things are actually just getting going and we are far from seeing the best sockeye fishing of the season. The estimate as of August 20th is that 2,783,700 fish have made it into the river. The run is still currently tracking at its p50 forecast of 13,800,00 fish, so only 20% of the run has shown up so far. So think about that, we know that in the next 4 weeks about 11,000,000 more fish are going to show up. When that happens you are going to see some pretty easy fishing. Things should get really consistent this coming week and all of the week after that.
Lets talk about gear and locations. The blue flashers have been working very well for us. This seems to be especially true when we have been fishing on the schools further offshore in 500-700 feet of water and the water is cleaner. We have experimented with greens and chartreuse in these conditions, but the blue has consistently out performed. When we have been fishing in tighter in 100-200 feet and in dirtier water, we have found the green or chartreuse flashers and blue flashers have been about 50/50. We have been using Michael Baits with a glow head and a 24-32 inch leader and trolling just fast enough for the flasher to rotate. This seems to be working well for us, check out some of the pictures on our Facebook page and Instagram account.
We haven’t been fishing down at the South Arm as most of our sockeye trips have been half-day trips. We have had good success around the QA and North Arm down to the Iona Jetty. There have been schools in as tight as 150 feet of water and as far out as 700 feet of water. In terms of depths, the fish have been as shallow as 50 feet and as deep as 110 feet. Most of the fish I saw on my sonar this past week were around 80-100 feet down. I have seen some decent sockeye fishing down at the South Arm when I have been down there chinook fishing, but I can’t speak to it directly as I haven’t soaked the sockeye gear down there.
So in conclusion, get ready, they are coming….
Chinook: On our longer trips we have been sockeye fishing for the first few hours of the trip, getting some in the box, then heading down to the South Arm for chinook. In short the fishing has been good. The usual tactic of fishing anchovies or herring in teaser heads on all 4 rods has been productive. We have been using the classic flashers for this fishery, like the BC, STS, Madi, and some new favorites like the Gibbs Phantom in Chartreuse. That last one seems to be pretty hot for me lately. Use a 6 foot leader to a Rhys Davis anchovy teaser head in UV Green or Glow Green/Chartruese and you are off to the races. We are starting to see some of the larger white springs show up as well and there will be more on the way as we get closer to September.
Normally there would be lots of boats fishing off the Bell this time of year, but the last few times I went by there on a flood tide, there was literally nobody there. Usually there would be 30 boats, so if you are looking for some chinook closer to home try the Bell or T-10 this week. Just seems everyone is offshore chasing sockeye.
Coho: You forgot about them didn’t you? Well they are still here, stacked up off West Van. We have had some awesome coho fishing this week, with multiple double headers. There were are few days the sockeye fishing was tough and our guides took off to West Van to coho fish and it paid off big time with limits of coho for their guests. Lots and lots of hatchery coho around, so looks like it is going to be a good return. The Cap is ultra low, so the good fishing should continue until we get a big rain and the fish can get up the river. White hootchies, Irish Cream 3.5 spoons, and 5.5 anchovies have all been working well.
See you in the shop or on the water,