It is almost the end of August and we are starting to see hints of Fall. The weather should be good this weekend with daytime temps in the 20s and cooler nights. The spread of colder nights with warm days can be excellent for fishing. We also are in a time of shift with Fall just around the corner and that means we can start thinking about river salmon fishing in a bigger way. With that in mind, we have an overview of the Chilliwack/Vedder River salmon fishery.
We also look at the Skagit and Capilano Rivers in this week’s freshwater fishing section.
An important note for the Vedder/Chilliwack as we see sockeye numbers starting to come in. Overall, we do not expect a sockeye opening on any of the Lower Mainland rivers this Fall and the sockeye going to the upper reaches of the Chilliwack system are a stock of major concern. With that in mind we ask that anyone fishing the Vedder/Chilliwack be very mindful of these fish. As there are hatchery clipped sockeye in the system, there is concern that these fish will be mistaken for coho so make sure to identify your catch correctly as these hatchery clipped sockeye need to be released. Every fish counts. Matt talks about this in a little more detail in the video version of the report and here is a good reminder graphic for you.
Big news next week on the saltwater front is on Sept 1st when we will see most of the local waters OPEN! for chinook retention!! We don’t need to say more about it here. Check out Jason’s report for more details.
Matt is back at it this week and goes over the full report in the video version of the Friday Fishing Report. Watch it here:
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.
Dates: Zoom Seminar September 15 Casting September 19
Seminar Time: 6:30pm (Zoom)
Casting Time(s): 10am – 1pm or 1:30pm -4:30pm
FRESHWATER FISHING REPORTS
Capilano River / North Shore Beach Fishing Report
The Capilano is showing signs of slowing down a little this time of year. Last week there was a big rain, resulting in the dam being opened and a bump in river levels. This gave the coho sitting at the mouth for the past month a chance to shoot up the river. Unfortunately, they had seen so much gear at the mouth for so long and were not super interested in biting when they hit the river. There were a few fresh fish caught in lower pools, but not too much else. The river slowly dropped back down to low levels the next day and has been sitting at 0.7 meters for the past 4 days.
The fish that were able to get up the river are likely now sitting in the upper pools, so if you plan on fishing the river, head up top. Your usual Capilano presentations like small Blue Fox spinners and small olive and black flies will be essential in your box. Another great method to try is twitching jigs. We have a huge selection of twitching and floating jigs here at the shop, so make sure to stop by to learn how to do it and which jigs work best.
The next week isn’t showing a lot of rain in the forecast, so it may be worth it to hit the mouth of the river. Tides are lining up for the early to mid-morning lows, ranging from 0.86m – 0.97m and 8:45 AM – 12:10 PM. Check the tides before you go, and plan to fish a little before low tide and a little after. This should give you the best chance of hooking into a coho. There is also chinook in the area this time of year, so think about changing your presentations to something a little larger and more visible. Bigger spinners and beach flies would be great to have if the coho bite isn’t hot.
Good luck out there, tight lines.
Skagit River Fishing Report
The Skagit continues to fish well as we near the end of August. The colder nights that come as we near September have definitely sparked some bug activity. I have heard reports of better hatches and more consistent dry fly fishing.
This time of year, we typically see larger more prolific drake (mayfly) hatches. Come ready to fish dries as these hatches can happen fast with the river opening up as fish rise, taking bugs on the surface. Like I’ve said before in previous reports, having a selection of patterns in green/grey and in a variety of sizes is key. This difference can really help you dial in the size and colour of the bugs coming off leading to a successful day on the water.
On the bull trout front, we are nearing the time of year where they begin to colour up to spawn in the Fall. At times I find these coloured fish to be a little more tight-lipped appearing to be more focused on spawning than chasing down flies. If you do run into a pod of coloured fish that hasn’t hit your fly in 10 casts it is best to leave them be. Let these fish focus on spawning.
Chilliwack/Vedder River Fishing Report – Fall Outlook
With September looming, we have everyone’s favourite river salmon fishery just on the horizon. The Chilliwack/Vedder is a couple of weeks out from getting its first few good pushes of Fall salmon runs, namely white chinook and coho. While we will start to see a couple fish trickle in here and there from now on, historically it’s around the 7th to 14th of September that things really kick off and this second week in September usually is when the Chilliwack River becomes a viable salmon fishery, especially for those of us driving out from Vancouver. These initial groups of fish are mostly comprised of big chrome chinook with the odd coho mixed in. Throughout the month, these numbers will accumulate and the ratio of chinooks to coho will start to even out more until both peak in October.
There are a few reasons why you might want to participate in this fishery early on. The fish are harder to come by but it is highly rewarding and they are typically in mint condition. Absolutely bullet chrome Springs are more the norm than your average White Spring that you will see later in October that have turned all shades of grey and brown. There also tends to be a few less anglers out there so scouting is a little less stressful.
The river is historically low and clear in September so this early component fishery can be a bit of a technical one. These chinook and coho can be readily caught in low light conditions as they are extremely aggressive since they are fairly unpressured. However, once the sun hits the water the bite can shut off pretty quick so it is imperative to fish first light and last light. Drift fishing is the most utilized method on this river and for good reason; it is fairly simple and it is highly effective. You will still want to run heavier medium-heavy rods that have some pulling power if you are gunning for large Chinooks in early September conditions, but fluorocarbon can be your friend.
I like using 15lb STS or Blue Label as this gives me a fair amount of strength but is still relatively hard for the fish to see in the clear water. Later in September when more coho have accumulated I downsize to 10-12lb fluorocarbon in spots where I know coho are stacking behind the Springs and I run a medium or medium-light powered rod. When drift fishing it is important to only use as much weight as required to fish the water you are working through; too much weight can make for an unnatural presentation and, while in ideal conditions getting an impeccable drift isn’t as crucial, it can mean the difference between getting bit or not when the water is low and clear. Roe is king for both of these species, especially at first light. In saying that, the bait bite shuts off pretty quick once things get bright. Many first light anglers decide to leave by this point, especially if they have already gotten their fish. If you are struggling to catch fish or if you just want to keep fishing, there is a way to prolong your trip and still grind out a few fish. This is when you will want to pull out your reaction style presentations like Colorado Blades or go extremely finesse such as a single Blood Dot Egg. Putting the drift rod away and swinging a spoon or twitching a jig can also be a good way to buy another bite or three and can be great techniques to pull fish out after the first light bait guys have gone home. This way you have a one-two punch of presentations that will let you fish straight through until the early afternoon if you so desire. As someone who can rarely get out first light these days and when presented the opportunity would much rather sleep in, I have many times resorted to these tactics when I roll onto the river at 9 or 10am. I may miss the first light window but I can still usually convince a few to bite after they have long gone off the bait.
This report has been heavily focused on gear angling, but we don’t want to forget the fly anglers out there that enjoy this fishery too. An 8-10wt fly rod will be needed for your chinook fishing and heavy sink tips with bright intruder style patterns will be your weapon. Twitching jigs may have taken a page or two from these flies and the purpose is very similar as a reaction style presentation. If you are looking for Coho then you will want to run 7-8wt rods and much smaller flash flies, muddlers, and buggers on light fluorocarbon tippet will be your ticket. While this river does get absolutely crazy with gear anglers, the beauty of presenting a fly to these fish is, as with the reaction style gear jigs and blades, you can walk into a run in the middle of the afternoon and still have decent success. There are also a few spots that generally set up very well for fly fishing in the mid and upper river.
We have everything you need on both the gear and fly side of things for this fishery so whether you are just getting started and need to be full kitted out or are a veteran that just needs to stock up, come see us at the shop and we can help get you sorted!
SALTWATER FISHING REPORTS
Where did August go? It sure did fly by, but I guess that is okay because as of September 1st we are back to 2 chinook a day, min size 62 cm, no max size. In the meantime, the poor West Van shoreline has seen its share of action this summer. Coho fishing has been lack luster lately, and a few Fraser and Cap chinook have been taken each day, but I think most of us are ready for a change.
Once Sep 1 rolls around, the vast majority of angling pressure will shift to the Bell Buoy, North Arm, T-10, and South Arm. For those of you that follow me on Instagram, you will have read my post about some DNA sampling I did this week. I am happy to report there were still very impressive numbers of “red springs” around. This will definitely thin out over the coming days, but I do expect decent fishing opening day. The numbers of reds will diminish but the number of larger “white springs” will increase as the days of September roll on. My favorite part about this fishery is the depth. The fish are shallow, basically they are in the top 60 feet of the water column, so fish your rigger depths accordingly. Bait is definitely a top producer for these fish. Anchovies or smaller herring in chrome, UV green, or green glow or chartreuse glow teaser heads all work very well. Pair these up with the appropriate chrome, UV, or glow flashers and you have a winning combo. Fish the chrome or UV setups on your shallow rods and the glow rigs on the deeper rods.
We are still doing quite well over at Gabriola and Entrance Island. I am impressed how this fishery just keeps producing. There is a huge amount of bait over there right now and the springs are on the bottom, right where the bait is, getting that one last meal. Productive depths have been 260-300 on the rigger and chartreuse glow flashers and hootchies have been the ticket.
See you in the shop or on the water,