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Home / FIshing Reports / Pacific Angler Friday Fishing Report: December 18, 2015

Pacific Angler Friday Fishing Report: December 18, 2015



Seven days until Christmas! We are into the final stretch but there is still time to get something special for the fisherman in your life or more importantly to make sure your loved ones know what to get you! We have a number of great gift ideas as well as some HOT specials worth looking at. We announced last week that the Sage Response fly rods and Nautilus FWX fly reels are on sale at 25% off but another great deal that we have in store are 2014-15 Simms Bulkley Jackets.   Remember we have extended shopping hours until Christmas eve so plenty of time to get your shopping in!

PacAng holiday 2015 - holiday hours

For all you deal hunters out there, we wanted to remind everyone about the Famous Pacific Angler Boxing Day Sale! All of the details are in the special event section below.

On to the fishing news – with the bustle of Christmas it is easy to forget that there are great fishing opportunities this time of year. We are hearing the first good winter spring reports out in the salt chuck, reports of steelhead on the Chilliwack are trickling in and when the weather has permitted, fly anglers have be chasing bull trout and rainbows on the Squamish, Stave and Harrison Rivers using egg patterns. Check out the Freshwater and Saltwater Fishing Reports below!


As mentioned above in the outlook for a limited time only, Pacific Angler has the 2015 Bulkley Jacket at a whopping 20% off!

This Jacket is amazing. When it came out in 2014 it set the bar as the warmest GORE-TEX® fishing jacket on the market. This GORE-TEX® shell envelopes heat-generating Primaloft® insulation and is perfect for any hard-core angler that isn’t scared of our west coast winters. These jackets are lightweight, warm, and fully waterproof for those menacing winter days on the water.


Don’t miss out on this deal! You won’t find these jackets for a better price!

Beefy YKK zippers, Velcro-tightening cuffs, large storage pockets, and an adjustable hood are just some of the many features that make this jacket a BC staple for those anglers looking to stay warm and dry while braving our wild elements. With a multi-layer GORE-TEX® outer, these jackets are sure to keep you dry and toasty. Available in Wetstone and Black, these jackets won’t ‘pop’ out against background elements and will help keep your profile blended into your surrounding.

With a limited number of these jackets on hand, these are sure to be a hot item and are expected to move quickly, so come on in to the shop to grab one before they’re gone! It is the best deal in town on a full GORE-TEX® fishing jacket! Come down to the shop and take a look. You do not want to miss out on this deal!



This is the biggest fishing Boxing Day sale in Vancouver and this year it is going to be a doozy. Everything will be on sale from fly rods to flashers, mooching rods to steelhead gear. We will be announcing the list of deals on December 23rd. Those on our mailing list will be the first to receive the report so if you are reading this via our blog not signed up for our weekly email fishing report make sure to sign up to see the deals.

PacAng holiday 2015 - single boxing day handout


We are mid-way through the month of December and just beginning to see our first reports of consistent steelheading in the Chilliwack. With all the high water caused by multiple rainstorms there has been few days where the river has been in optimal shape. When conditions have been fishable, there are fish being caught. A mixed bag of hatchery and wild fish are in the system. December is a good time to scout the system and figure out the new spots and what has changed in the old faithful ones.


Early season Vedder steelhead.

With high and coloured water, it makes for aggressive & travelling fish. In the higher waters, it’s key to make sure your gear is down in the strike zone as much as possible. Larger floats with adequate amounts of either pencil lead or split shot, matched with heaver leaders and bigger/stouter hooks is the standard. Larger and brighter presentations are the name of the game right now. Gooey bobs, pink worms, spin n glows are all great artificial options. In the world of baits; roe, prawns, ghost shrimp and roe bags are all proven classics.

For the fly fisherman, December can be a great time to get there. Though few and far between sometimes, these fish are by far the most aggressive of the season. The water temperatures are still relatively warm due to the fact that we haven’t had a major winter cold snap yet. And the fresh fish make for willing targets. Popsicle, bunny leech, egg sucking leech and intruder style flies are the best bet for most of your winter steelheading. Matched with a type 6 or type 8 sinktip, you will have the appropriate setup for 90% of the runs on the river. Moving fish take the path of least resistance, which is usually the inside soft water in most runs. Not over casting and swinging your fly all the way to the beach is the best way to fish this water thoroughly. Be confident, keep moving and keep casting. The reward is well worth the effort.


Well in typical December fashion it looks like we are in for a cool and wet weekend of steelheading. Wouldn’t have it any other way. The cooler temperatures should keep the river in shape with the expected rainfalls and the river will continue to drop. The reports of steelhead have been few and far between but there is the odd fish around.

Preferred angling methods for this steelhead fishery are float fishing with artificial baits such as Jensen Eggs and pink worms or natural baits such as boraxed and procured roe. Just to name a few. Fly fishing with a single or double handed rod paired with a variety of Steelhead patterns in shades of red, orange, pink, black, and blue.

Tight Lines

Fly Fishing the Squamish in the winter is one of our favorite things to do over Christmas and into the new-year. In the last few reports we took an in-depth look as the “Simple” and “Advanced” Squamish bead rigs that I use when fly-fishing egg patterns but almost more important than the rig, is knowing when to fish in the winter. There are days that fishing can be lights out and there are days when even the most experience Squamish angler will have trouble buying a fish. It all has to do with fishing conditions. You will find the best anglers are constantly looking at the weather and watching river levels. We watch the weather network  for long term forecasts and the Weather Office for more detailed short term information.

Though gauging conditions is more of an art form than a science, the Squamish system will usually blow out (get too high to fish well) when we see 20mm of rain in a day. There is some wiggle room with freezing levels and snow but 20mm in a 24 hour period is one you want to watch carefully. 30mm and 40mm is a “don’t go fishing” scenario.
On the other end of the spectrum, low clear water with cold temps, is a kiss of death for fishing on the Squamish. Bull trout can be very aggressive and I have heard some anglers refer to them as stupid. When it is cold this is absolutely not true. Funnily enough I find that the Squamish rainbows are less affected by clear water and cold temps than bull trout. Bull trout can shut right down in these conditions.
When looking at water levels at least for the Squamish there is a half meter sweet spot and about a 1 meter fishable zone on the graph. You have to be in-tune with the river to relay understand it and it shifts a little each season but for those of you learning the system the 1 meter “good fishing” range is 2-3meters on the Brackendale Graph. Above 3m it is blown out and below 2m it is low and clear.


Squamish water levels

Squamish River near Brackendale Graph – as of Thursday evening.

Today we are into that “low range” on the graph but it is right on the cusp of being too low and clear to have “hot” fishing. This last week as the river dropped from a 3m to a 2m the fishing was good throughout the system. As we get into the low range there are a couple things we can do to maximize your chances with “smart” fish. The first is fluorocarbon leaders. In these conditions it is a must. You will also want to lighten up these leaders. I usually fish 7lb fluoro on the Squamish but in these conditions I go down to 5lb. Another trick is to use smaller indicators so they don’t land so hard on the water and spook the fish. Finally my bead selection leans to paler colors and I love to add white wool to my bead presentation to make the presentation less obtrusive.

With this weekend it will be one to watch – we have rain, snow and cold conditions but when you look at seasonal averages, we are a little warmer this weekend than normal. The amounts of rain are going to be substantial but not over the 20mm mark and with some of it coming as snow the river should rise but probably not blow out. This is all assuming the weatherman isn’t out to lunch… Bottom Line it is well worth watching the weather and planning a day out in the next 4-5 days.

So this is a little insight into the things we take into consideration when planning an outing or guided trip and the simple factors above only scratch the surface of how many graphs, hunches, weather reports, snow reports and just good old “gut feel” that we take into consideration to make sure we don’t miss perfect winter fishing conditions. They may not come very often but there are days were double digits and even triples are attainable.

Good Luck Out there

With temperatures expected to drop, winter rains should start to ease up allowing for the river to settle into shape. Light tackle fishing has continued to be steady for those targeting the feisty whitefish and anglers searching for cutthroat have been doing okay.

Keeping things light and stealthy can be the key to success when conditions settle in the winter. Low, clear water and easy, steady flows can create gin-clear water and weary fish. Drab, natural colours are great fly choices under these conditions, as well as copper or gold spoons and spinners. Worms, grubs, and natural roe are all great choices as well.

When gearing up for steelhead on this system, keep in mind that these fish can sometimes be very ‘trouty’, and are often a by-catch by those targeting trout. Don’t be surprised if that ‘cutthroat’ all of a sudden takes you into your backing on your 5wt!


Well it’s official! We are past the mid point of the month and the winter chinook season has started. On the days where the wind has not been too strong boats have been out and they have been into fish. There are still a lot of undersize fish around, but that is actually a positive sign as these fish grow like weeds! In a couple of months they will be large enough to keep, that means over 62 cm. Amongst all these aggressively feeding smaller fish are some keepers. You may have to weed through the little guys right now, but there are definitely some really nice size fish that have been taken this week.

There have been fish caught in Vancouver Harbour, up Howe Sound, and over in the Gulf Islands as well. Despite the strong winds, the derby down in Washington a few weeks also saw great fishing. So things are looking promising so far. It is still fairly early in the season, so we will see how January is, but for the most part it is potentially shaping up to be a great winter season like last year.

Hot flashers have been Green Onion Glow, Purple Onion Glow, and if you are fishing really deep, a green or chartreuse flasher with full glow tape on one side. Pesca spoon in 2.0 and 3.5 have been good in the Gut Bomb, Yort, Basket Case, and Clupea colours. Other productive spoons have been Koho Killers and Kingfishers in size 3.0 in Irish Cream, Yellow Tail, Homeland Security, and Kitchen Sink.

Looking for a unique Christmas gift? A lot of people purchase fishing charters for their loved ones. This makes a great gift and we can plan a custom trip for anytime of the year.

If you are interested in getting out this winter, give us a call and book a date for late December and then January as this is when we had some of the best winter chinook fishing last season.

Call us at 778-788-8582.

See you in the shop or on the water,

Jason Tonelli