This week we have a short report but it is packed with details if you plan to Steelhead on the Chilliwack or hit the sea to sky this season. Last week we looked at an overview of how to fish for Steelhead on the Chilliwack. This week Taylor takes a little deeper dive on up-to-date water levels and resources to consider when planning your trip. In the Squamish report we do the same, with some water level graphs and general seasonal trends to look out for. If you plan to fish either system this winter, you will want to tune in.
Lastly Jason is back with another winter chinook report. Fishing continues to be great so if you get some time off over the holiday it is worth a troll and a trap drop or get out with our guides on a guided trip – our Winter Chinook Charter Special starts tomorrow! More details on that in this week’s saltwater report.
On to the report!
We are looking forward to getting back in the classroom and on the water with you in 2024!
January brings a great lineup of courses starting with two of our most popular courses.
Steelhead Float Fishing Seminar:
January 16, 2024, 6:30PM-9:30PM
Fly Fishing Egg Patterns Seminar and Guided Day on The Water:
Seminar January 17, 2024 – 6:30PM-9:30PM
Guided January 20 or 21, 2024 – Full Day
Seminar Only Cost – $75+GST
Seminar + Guided Day on the water – $325+GST
Check out the full course listing here and give us a call at the shop (604.872.2204) to sign up today!
INDUSTRY EVENTS AND UPDATES
Holiday Gift Card Promotion – Give the Gift of Fishing for Less This Christmas!
Give the gift of fishing for less this Christmas. From December 9, 2023, to December 24, 2023, save 10% off all $100 gift cards and 15% off all $200 gift cards! Gift cards make the perfect present for any angler on your list and can be used for product in store, courses or guided trips. These Holiday Promotion gift cards are available for use starting January 1, 2024. Limit of $500 per person (pre discount value).
FRESHWATER FISHING REPORTS
Chilliwack/Vedder River Steelheading Planning Tips
It’s already mid-December, and that means a few things- colder weather, eggnog, and holiday-related credit card debt! More importantly, it also means that Steelhead season is about to get started on the C/V system. Winter Steelheading is a time-honored BC tradition, and no system receives more hatchery enhancement (or angling pressure) than the C/V. The C/V is a fairly easy river to fish, but it does have its quirks, and anybody who wants to get out there and chase Steelhead should know how to assess river conditions for the best odds of success before they even leave the house.
The most important thing to look out for before you head out are water conditions- there’s no point in wasting an hour’s worth of gas if the river is hopelessly blown out and unfishable. There are three resources we can use to check present conditions and estimate future conditions; the first of which is the real-time hydrometric data that is provided by the government, which can be found here. This graph shows data for water level and discharge rate, which you can use to get a good idea of what the river is doing. As a general rule, I look at the level instead of the discharge rate, and I consider anything over 2.5 meters to be high, and anything below 2.2 meters to be low; my “sweet spot” is between 2.2-2.45, your preferences may vary. Of course, the river may still be fishable if it’s high, as long as visibility is reasonable. While this graph does show water levels, it does not directly tell you anything about turbidity, so that needs to be estimated based on water levels, precipitation and temperatures. As a general rule, moderate-heavy rain or rapid snowmelt will make the water levels rise quickly- this will appear as a “spike” on the graph, and the water will almost certainly be dirty. Rapid increases in water level almost always correspond with dirty water, which usually starts to sort itself out after the river has crested and begun to drop. There is also a certain water level above which the water will always be dirty, regardless of how fast it came up or if it’s dropping or not.
The second most useful resource is the weather forecast. Once you get familiar with how the river responds to different weather trends, precipitation amounts or temperatures, you can look at forecasted weather trends and piece together a pretty accurate guess as to what the river is going to look like for the next few days. Of course, the weather forecasts seem to be wrong more often than not, but they are still a great tool when planning trips.
Another helpful tool are the City of Chilliwack’s road/weather webcams. They give you a real-time look at exactly what the weather is out there, and they even have a camera that provides a decent view of the river at the crossing bridge, viewable here. This can be used to get an idea of if the river is fishable or not at a glance, though it isn’t a clear enough camera to determine exact levels or turbidity.
The C/V Steelhead fishery usually starts fairly slowly in December, with a few fish being caught in the second half of the month. Things usually start to pick up in January, and there will be fresh fish pushing into the system until April. It’s hard to say when the “peak” of the run will be, as it changes from year to year, but fishing usually ramps up through January and remains productive until early spring, depending on conditions.
As I’ve always said, the key to this fishery- and any other winter Steelhead fishery- is to stay mobile, cover water, and work to find fish. Once you find fish, they can be remarkably easy to trick; I’ve always been of the opinion that a fresh, unpressured Steelhead is actually a very easy fish to catch and that the real difficulty of Steelheading is actually finding where the fish are and putting your gear Infront of them. The C/V can be a bit of an exception to this, since the fish do receive quite a bit of pressure and can be tricky to catch, so keep that in mind. Also remember that the saying “99% of the Steelhead are caught by 1% of the anglers” is pretty accurate, so don’t be too discouraged if you aren’t catching fish- the C/V Steelhead fishery is a fairly tough fishery, and there are a lot of extremely good anglers that hit the river hard and land a ton of fish. For those of us who aren’t so lucky as to be able to fish the river every day, our best bet is to not give up- keep going at it, and you eventually will catch one.
For all the new, aspiring Steelheaders out there, I’m teaching our “Intro to Float Fishing for Steelhead” course next month. I’ll be breaking down what I’ve learned over 14 years of Steelheading and “spilling the beans” on the tricks, tackle and strategies that I’ve come to rely on to increase my success. Feel free to call the shop, send us an e-mail or drop by in-person if you’re interested in this course, there are still a few spots available!
Photo caption: An example of what the hydrometric graph looks like, and how I would break it down.
Squamish River Fishing Report
The river dropped hard this week and is now low and clear but with relatively warm temps this weekend and a mix of drizzly overcast weather we don’t think it will get to an extremely low stage. This should mean ok fishing this weekend. Anglers will need to work for fish and move a little slower but we expect anglers that head out should be rewarded with a fish or two.
This week we wanted to look at more general tips for the Chilliwack and Squamish. We get asked a lot about general water levels. Taylor covered off the Chilliwack above and here is an easy-to-read chart to help for the Squamish. Note that every year is a little different but these should give you some numbers to go off of this winter season.
We should see some real rain mid-week next week. With temperatures in the high single digits. This should get the river rising and hopefully into green levels on this chart.
As for steelhead on this system it is way to early there are not many steelhead on the Squamish system and we tend to see them much later than valley rivers. Think March. For the next 3 months the name of the game is eat eaters. Bulltrout and Rainbows living in the system and feeding on salmon eggs washed down stream.
Water levels are key to success. Levels in the red make fishing very challenging. Low water = cold and clear water. It also means no eggs are getting washed out of the gravel. These 3 factors are not good for fishing. We need to see bumps in water levels to drop the clarity, warm up the water and get eggs moving.
If you are interested in learning more about egg fishing I am teaching a course in January on it which includes a day on the water! So definitely a great way to jump into this fishery!
We hope this graph helps plan your winter outings.
SALTWATER FISHING REPORTS
Vancouver Saltwater Salmon Fishing Report
It’s mid-December and the temperatures have remained relatively mild, which is always great when winter chinook fishing. Fishing has been good on the days we have been able to get out in between the wind, which for the most part hasn’t been too bad this season.
There has been productive fishing in Howe Sound, the Gulf Islands, and some fish are starting to show up in the Harbour as well. Prawning has also been decent and we are dropping traps on our 8-hour trips.
With the great fishing if you are looking to head out this winter season, now is the time!
|It’s back – our Winter Chinook Charter Special! We are enjoying another great start to our winter chinook season and we can’t wait to get you out on the water! Our guests have been enjoying great fishing and prawning since early November so now is the time to book!
It’s been so good we decided to start our annual Winter Chinook Charter Special EARLY! Save on trips starting December 15, 2023, through to March 31, 2024.
Special Winter Rates (8-hour trips): Salmon Fishing & Prawning 1-4 Guests $1,199.00+GST or 5-6 guests $1,399.00+GST
All the gear is provided, we have heaters on board, and we will clean your fish and prawns for you. The fishing is great right now, so give us a call at 778-788-8582 to book your adventure!