Happy almost Christmas everyone! We hope you all are having a good holiday season no matter what you are celebrating. We also know that the season can be a bustle. If you have loved ones who are fishers or have loved ones asking you what you want for Christmas, a gift card is always the right size! We are still running our Gift Card promotion where you get 10% OFF if you purchase a 100$ gift card and 15% OFF if you purchase a 200$ gift card. See all the details below in our Industry Events and Updates section.
It is also the time of the year to remind everyone about our annual BOXING WEEK SALE. It is our biggest sale of the year! We are busy putting the finishing touches on the list, but the team is scouring the store so make sure you are subscribed to the Friday Fishing Report and check your inbox for the full list on Christmas Eve!
Finally, the fishing! We are having some of the best December fishing weather seen in years! The last couple of Decembers have been tough with cold temps and snow but, this season, it has been warm and damp. In Vancouver we always say if the skiing is bad go fishing. If the skiing is good… don’t go fishing. We know that the warm weather has put a damper on many of your ski trips, but the fishing has been great.
Why? Warm damp weather keeps rivers at good fishable heights, plus keeps the fishes’ metabolisms going. We have heard steelhead reports from the valley and the egg eater fishery up sea to sky is going strong. So, we are hopeful it will be a good boxing week derby and well worth getting out for a fish if you have some time off.
In this week’s report, we have a Chilliwack report and a little piece on swinging streamers in the winter. We sometimes get very focused on fishing eggs but there is a time and a place in December January to break out the sink tips and fish streamers. Check both of those out below along with a little ice fishing primer and a saltwater report.
If you’re headed to the shop over the holidays, be sure to check our holiday hours below!
Friday December 22 – 10AM – 7PM
Saturday December 23 – 10AM-6PM
Sunday December 24 – 11AM-3PM
Monday December 25 – CLOSED – Merry Christmas!
Tuesday December 26 – 10AM-6PM – Boxing Week Sale Starts!
Wednesday December 27-Saturday December 30 – Regular Hours
Sunday December 31 – 11AM-3PM
Monday January 1 – CLOSED – Happy New Year!
On to the report!
INDUSTRY EVENTS AND UPDATES
Boxing Week Sale
It’s almost here! Our Boxing Week Sale is back again this year. Be sure you are signed up for our weekly Friday Fishing Report. Sign up here to have the full sale list delivered right into your inbox on the afternoon of December 24. If social media is your thing, keep an eye on our social media feeds for links to the list and we’ll see you in the shop on December 26!
Holiday Gift Card Promotion – Give the Gift of Fishing for Less This Christmas!
There is still time to 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 Fishing Report
If you’re reading this on the day of release, then it’s the 2nd day of winter, though the current weather trends have been making that hard to believe. Unseasonably high temperatures are threatening to make this year’s December steelhead fishery on the C/V system a repeat of the last two years, which isn’t something that anybody wants. Having said that, the river is currently running at a good level, with the visibility also looking quite good. I’ve heard a few quiet reports of a handful of steelhead being caught, but there haven’t been any fish weighed into the Wally Hall Derby – yet.
With the Boxing Day derby almost upon us my best guess is that the river could actually be in decent shape for the derby this year- assuming the forecast doesn’t change. The current forecast is for no precipitation on the 23rd and 24th, followed by a bit of rain on the 25th and more rain on the 26th. Assuming that’s what actually happens, the conditions should be decent enough for the derby to go ahead on Boxing Day. Hopefully everyone has fun and respects the derby.
As always, the single most important thing you can do to increase your odds of hooking a steelhead is to stay mobile and cover water- don’t “grow roots” and spend too much time in one spot. These early-season fish are usually quite fresh and haven’t seen much pressure, so they are often quite aggressive and will bite pretty much right away, if they’re going to bite at all. There aren’t many fish in the system just yet, so covering as much water as possible will give you the best odds of putting your gear in front of a fish. As far as the gear goes, float fishing is usually the best way to target steelhead in the C/V system- beads, yarn, Colorado blades, bait, rubber worms and jigs will all produce fish, just be sure to adjust the size and colour of your presentation based on conditions. Swinging flies and spoons can also be effective in the right areas and under the right circumstances, so it’s never a bad idea to bring a spinning rod or a spey rod if you want the option of using an entirely different presentation.
Remember, this is still quite early for the C/V system’s steelhead run; the early component (November-December) of the run is nowhere near as strong as it used to be, so don’t be surprised if you head out there and don’t see a single fish. The fishery usually starts to pick up in January and will run through April, so there’s plenty of time to get out there.
Squamish Report + Tips on Streamer Fishing in The Winter
The Squamish has been on the rise the last couple of days with mild temperatures and showers. The weather is due to clear this weekend so levels should stabilize and provide some decent fishing over the Christmas break. The bump in water should add some needed colour to the river and maybe move some fish around. Fly and gear anglers can still expect fish on egg imitations. This will last well into February but there are also other techniques to consider when we see bumps in water levels.
In higher water, I often look for ways to cover larger runs faster. Gear anglers can cover water effectively with spoons and spinners. Fly anglers can effectively cover the same water using winter streamer tactics and swung flies.
Winter streamer fishing is a great way to cover some of the larger runs when fish are spread out. It’s a relatively simple way to fish but there are some tips and tricks to maximize your success on the big flows. The basic technique is casting a medium to large fly on a sink tip and allowing it to swim and swing through the run before retrieving it back. I usually focus on walking speed water where fish can spend as little energy as possible and still find food and prey items. I also look for cover and ambush points in the river. This could be logs, boulders and creeks that flow into the main stem… All great places for trout to hide.
Because we are primarily targeting trout, we can fish a range of rods from 5-8 weight in single handed and two-handed options. Faster action rods can help lift and cast sink tips and heavy flies, but most rods will do the trick. When we get closer to spring, I start to fish heavier rods in case of a larger steelhead encounter.
Lines and sink tips:
Floating lines with integrated or changeable sink tips are very effective for most water conditions. Two handed anglers will be set up with skagit style spey lines. Sink tips are important when winter streamer fishing. Be sure to select the right ones to match your rod. Lighter 5-6 wt rods will balance well with trout versileaders. These are light tapered 7ft leaders in various sink densities. 7 and 8 weight rods can handle heavy Versileaders. These are longer 10 ft tapered sinking tips. Spey and switch rods can throw MOW tips in T8-T11 or heavier if needed.
I usually run a simple straight leader of 3-4 ft of maxima 10-15lb. Maxima is durable and provides excellent shock resistance on big takes. Alternatively, when things get low and clear I might switch to STS fluorocarbon in the same weights for a stealthier presentation.
Medium and large streamers in olives, white, black, and fleshy colours will all produce. Look for a variety of weights in the flies as well. Try to have a few unweighted, a few bead head and a few heavy dumbell eyes to get the flies where are fish are. Like the sink tips, you may need to select flies to match the rod. Smaller slumpbusters and bugger patterns will be great on trout rods, but longer rabbit leeches and heavy flies are best suited to larger rods or two handers.
Winter fishing can be a relaxing and productive way to spend the day. Don’t forget to pack an extra layer, gloves, toque and hand warmers to stay comfortable on the long winter outings. Also, make sure your vehicle is capable in winter weather. The Squamish is remote, and conditions will change rapidly. Have fun stay safe.
STILLWATER FISHING REPORTS
Ice Fishing 101
The warm winter has made a slow start to the ice fishing season, but we are starting to hear reports and lakes in the Interior are getting to safe ice levels. Note: Because of the warmer start to winter be very careful heading out on the ice this year and make sure to check your depths.
Anglers targeting Brook Trout, Rainbows, Kokanee, Burbot and even Lake Trout have all been finding success, with the Brookies and Rainbows being the easiest of the bunch to catch.
The gear needed for ice fishing is fairly simple and straightforward, with the bare essentials being warm clothes, an ice fishing rod/reel setup, a 5-gallon bucket, an ice scooper, small jig heads and some bait. An ice tent, sled and tip-up are all very nice to have but are not strictly necessary. My favourite setup has always been to use a small trolling spoon, think Gibbs G-Force or Luhr-Jensen Coyote, with the hook chopped off as a flasher, with a small jig head tipped with bait on a 12”-18” leader below it. This setup, or a variation of it, will work for pretty much every species of fish you could care to ice fish for. Worms, wax worms, meal worms, maggots, shrimp or krill are all effective bait options for tipping your jig head. The idea here is that the flasher spoon reflects light and attracts fish, then the jig head and bait seal the deal. You can jig the setup or leave it hanging stationary about 1’ off the bottom, either will work fine. Small jigging spoons can also work well at times, but I find them to be somewhat hit-or-miss, depending on what kind of mood the fish are in.
As mentioned before, Brookies and Rainbows will be the easiest fish to catch through the ice, with Brookies usually being easier than ‘Bows. Brookies tend to be more active in colder water, which means their metabolisms are more active and they will be eating more. Brookies will typically be found in shallower water than Rainbows, with 2’-12’ being my preferred depths. Woody structure is an absolute magnet for Brookies, so keep an eye out for fallen trees or beaver lodges.
When targeting Rainbows, I’ll look for depths between 6’-20’, depending on the lake. Fishfinders that are built exclusively for ice fishing are available and are massively helpful, but you can definitely get by with some good old-fashioned dead reckoning. I used to make a few small marks on my mainline with a permanent marker at every 2’ from 2’-12’ so I could have a good idea of how deep I was; these days I just use a fishfinder.
I like to be mobile when ice fishing, so If I’m not seeing any active fish in one area, I’ll grab my auger and start drilling more holes until I do find active fish. Colder temperatures mean that the fish’s metabolism will be slower, so there will be some fish that simply show no interest in biting. There’s no point in wasting time trying to get a bite from an inactive fish when you could go find some active fish somewhere else, so try not to get tied down in one area for too long if you’re not catching fish.
I enjoy ice fishing quite a bit, especially when in good company. It’s fun, relaxing, and easy.
SALTWATER FISHING REPORTS
A quick saltwater report for those of you who might be heading out over the holidays. Overall fishing has been great. On our last trip we put 4 nice chinook in the box and got a handful of prawns. If you have some time off this holiday season it’s definitely worth heading out. No boat? No problem, call us at 778-788-8582 to book a trip at our special winter rates.
On the weather front, you will see the SE is coming in for most of next week and with it the low-pressure system and the rains. Nothing some good raingear and hot coffee can’t handle.
If you are looking to get some winter chinook gear, we have our Boxing Week Sale next week and as always there are some great savings to be had on all your favorite gear. We recently got some of our 2024 booking orders in so the pegs are full of all the top producing spoons, hootchies, and flashers. Grab them now, on sale, while we have stock!
I’ll be in the shop for the sale, so if you want to talk winter chinook fishing, come on down!
See you in the shop or on the water,