December is moving fast, and it is time to start thinking steelhead! It is still early but, for the guys and girls who get out now, the scouting will pay off in January. The water levels have been up and down across the Lower Mainland this week and with good flows for this weekend we could start hearing the first steelhead reports.
The egg eater fisheries are also doing well with the bumps in water levels. Fishing has been slow in the Squamish areas, the last two days, due to high water but, the water levels are coming down nicely and could be very good this weekend.
We will see another dump of water Saturday so watch your water levels. We will have pretty clear warm weather next week so there should be good opportunities to get out.
This week, we have a Squamish Report as well as a little steelhead primer. Next week, we will tune back in on the Saltwater fishing. It also continues to be excellent, so if the rivers are not in shape this weekend, a winter troll is well worth the trip + prawning is picking up nicely.
For those of you looking to cross a few things off your Christmas Shopping list, and care to give your friends and family some ideas, check out the details of our Holiday Gift Card Promotion below!
On to the report!
Our 2024 course schedule has been released! We are looking forward to getting back in the classroom and on the water with you in 2024. 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)
Update – Parking on Broadway!
If you’re headed to the shop or other businesses in the neighbourhood, we’ve got some great news – additional parking spots will be reopened outside of peak travel times on Broadway.
The re-established parking on Broadway, closest to shop, will be on the south side of Broadway between Manitoba and Ontario Street along with one spot on our block. So, on the same side of Broadway as the store at the west end of our block! Check out the map below for more details on this new parking as well as other parking options in the neighbourhood.
Just like the pre-construction parking regulations, please be aware that these parking spots won’t be available during peak periods, specifically Monday to Friday from 7-10 a.m. and 3-7 p.m. You’ll have full access on Saturdays and Sundays throughout the day.
If you’re making a quick stop continue to use the free loading area directly in front of the store! These spaces are free for 30min!
FRESHWATER FISHING REPORTS
Squamish River Fishing Report
The river spiked hard this week and was dirty Tuesday and Wednesday. As we are writing the report Thursday it is dropping nicely.
I wish I was out on the water today. The levels are perfect. It should be good for Friday and then we have another dump of water Saturday. With 25 mm of water in the forecast it won’t be as intense as last Tuesday. We expect it to rise but not as hard. There should be good fishing on both the rise and drop.
This weekend I would make sure to have bright egg presentation weather you are float fishing or fly fishing.
Cover ground and bring good rain gear if you are out Saturday.
Steelhead Primer – 2023 Update
Gear Fishing for Steelhead Primer
Success all starts with the prep work. You’ll hear it every year, but great scouting plays such an important role in finding fish.
Steelhead will sit in different slots on the river depending on water levels so getting out taking records of water levels is very valuable. Many anglers often fish the same water repeatedly, regardless of water level, because they’re unsure of where else to try. We recommend getting out for at least 2 days in December just to go for a hike and cover as much ground as possible.
Look for various types of water including runs, riffles, holes, seams, and structure as steelhead will be found in 2-7 feet depths of those various types of water.
It’s quite common to find steelhead in the ‘tailouts’. Looking at a tailout in low clear water is useful. You probably won’t catch a fish there when it is clear but if you find a tailout that has nice head sized boulders take note. Come back to that tailout in dirty water and it should fish perfectly. The opposite is true if you see gravel and no structure in a tailout. You will know to skip it when the water is higher.
Write all this stuff down. An often-neglected resource is a fishing journal. It’s not always about recording when you get into fish, but more about what type of water you think is/isn’t worth fishing again at certain water levels and water flow.
The two main methods to catch steelhead with gear are float fishing and spoons/spinners. Note, some folks are now twitching for them too. You will see many experienced anglers pack 2 rods. A longer 10-11ft float fishing rod and a smaller 7-9ft spoon/spinner/twitching rod.
For float fishing, we recommend using a 20g-30g float, ½ – 1 oz lead weight to match a float, and a 12-24 inch 10-15lb leader. There are many types of lures that work great at catching steelhead and it’s all about finding the tackle that you enjoy fishing the most.
Some guys swear by cured roe. Natural / orange colored roe is popular.
Some guys swear by the 4-6 inch bubblegum or pink worm and many, in recent years, are fishing a 10-14 mm cherry roe or orange pearl hard or soft bead.
It’s important to remember that steelheading is not salmon fishing, meaning it’s much more important to cover water than it is to have the ‘perfect’ lure. Other great lure options include soft beads, wool, float fishing jigs, and Colorado blades. You’ll find that certain lures work better in certain locations and conditions. That’s all part of the learning process. Again, a journal of river conditions, water height, plus the lure that worked or the lure you saw someone else have success with, can pay big dividends over your steelhead career.
Here is a great sheet on some simple float fishing rigs
For spoons and spinners, it’s all about getting it down to their depth and holding it in the “sweet” spot, 12-20 inches off bottom, during the entire retrieve. A variety of weights and profiles will allow you to change from one depth or speed of water to the next.
When retrieving lures (Spoon Spinner or Jig) it’s important to have a fast or extra fast action rod so you can really feel the ‘thump’ of the spoon, ‘vibration’ of the spinner or bounce of the Jig.
We like Koho, sz 35-55 spoons in the standard brass, silver, and copper color variations. For spinners, Prime spinners and Blue Foxes are great. Blue foxes are naturally built with lighter components so make sure you’re fishing a large enough sized bell to match your preferred water conditions. Blue foxes really thrive in slower water which allows the spinner to sink to the right depth.
People will generally start throwing more spoons/spinners in March when the water temperature jumps up a little bit leading to more active fish but don’t be afraid to throw them even earlier than that. The first fish of the season tend to be elusive but aggressive and a spoon can cover a ton of water fast when scouting.
If you are a Fly Fisherman thinking about steelheading, don’t worry, as we have you covered as well.
A few years ago, Matt did a video for Fishing with Rod, going over his favorite steelhead patterns and a little concept talk on how and why he fishes these patterns. Patterns are ironically not all that important but fly concepts can play a big role in having a fly that will work or simply not work for steelhead.
Check out the video, “What’s in Your Steelhead Box? Dissecting a Steelhead Fly Box” | Learn How with Pacific Angler below:
If you want to sit down at the vise after watching some of the general concepts, we have a video on how Matt ties his go-to Choking Black and Blue steelhead pattern here:
If you are new to the Steelhead fishery, it can be very challenging but very rewarding when it all goes right. Come down to the shop and we can walk you through the setups and Rigs – Good Luck on your scouting trips!
From the SB Archives