Big news this week on the saltwater regulations front! There is good news and bad news. It looks as though there might be areas close to Vancouver where they will “test” marked selective fisheries (MSF). In a nutshell what does this mean? If all goes as planned, we will have limited areas during the April – July closures where we will be able to retain hatchery chinook! We will be keeping a keen eye on this and will keep you up to date.
Now that’s the good news. The bad news is there are more proposed SRKW (Southern Resident Killer Whale) closures. If they come to pass, it is going to dramatically affect fishing off the mouth of the Fraser and many other areas where we love to fish! There are some steps to take to give your feedback on these proposals and many folks have been working tirelessly to make sure these surveys are fair and unbiased. Jason has details on this in a Special Chinook Report that went out yesterday to our mailing list. If you love fishing at the mouth of the Fraser in the late summer and fall, you need to take action now. If you missed it yesterday, please take some time to check out this special update and learn how you can participate.
On the river fishing front, the weather looks “ok” for the weekend. We have a cold spell coming but it doesn’t hit until mid-next week. With a little rain and reasonably warm temps, in the forecast this weekend, it could be a good time to head out knowing that next week will be cold and challenging.
In this week’s report, we have updates on the Sea to Sky fisheries and the Chilliwack River Fishery. We also have a cutthroat piece. With the cold weather coming, it is probably still early for cutthroat fishing but it is close and we have already heard reports of anglers catching fish. When the weather warms up, we expect this fishery to kick off, so it is a good time to start thinking about it.
Matt tunes in this week with a video version of the report where he goes over all the fishing conditions, the chinook politics, a proposed law to make wearing PFDs on pleasure craft mandatory and our upcoming Lake Fly Tying Jam Season on Feb 28th – for which there is a handful of free tickets left. If you are thinking of coming get your tickets here!
Check out the video Report Here:
Last, but not least, a friendly reminder that it is the Family Day Long weekend – we are here regular hours all weekend long and closed on Monday. So, lots of time to swing by for your long weekend fishing needs. Remember there is free parking directly out front of the shop so feel free to use it!
Family Day Long Weekend Hours
Friday February 17 | 10AM – 7PM
Saturday February 18 |10AM – 6PM
Sunday February 19 | 11AM – 5PM
Monday February 20 | Closed – Happy Family Day!
FEBRUARY AND MARCH COURSES
Introduction to Spey Casting – ONLY 5 SPOTS LEFT
This 2-part course is designed to introduce you to the art of Spey fishing and establish the fundamental techniques required for basic Spey casts used on our local rivers.
Dates: Seminar – Feb 21, 2023 Casting: Feb 26, 2023
Seminar Time: 6:30pm – 9:30pm
Casting: Full Day, Squamish
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. The dates below show the seminar date first and casting date second.
Dates: (Mar 1 & 5), (May 9 & 13), (Jun 14 & 17), (July 11 & 15), (Sept 19 & 23) All dates are 2023 dates.
Seminar Time: 6:30pm – 9:30pm
Casting Time(s): 10am – 1pm or 1:30pm -4:30pm
Tying Game Changer Patterns
This course is an introduction to tying Gamechangers, a style of streamer that features multiple articulations and is productive for any fish that eats smaller fish. We will dive into tying techniques, materials, and design decisions for tying gamechangers. Students are required to supply their own vise, tools and materials. A 10% discount is available on materials and tools purchased for the course.
This course is suitable for intermediate to advanced tyers.
Date: Mar 7, 2023
Time: 6:30pm – 9:30pm
Winter Steelhead On The Fly
Fishing for winter steelhead on the fly (single hand or spey) is arguably one of the most challenging and rewarding fisheries in BC. Let our steelhead gurus help you unlock the mysteries of these magical fish with their decades of steelhead guiding knowledge. This course consists of a 3hr evening seminar and 1 full day of guided fishing on the water. In the seminar we will go over rods, reels, lines, sink tips, flies and reading water and swung fly techniques. The fully guided day on the water we will be work on casting, reading water and swinging the fly.
Seminar Only: Mar 29, 2023
Guided: Apr 1 or 2, 2023 – SOLD OUT
Seminar Cost: $60.00+GST
Seminar Time: 6:30pm – 9:30pm
Guided: Full Day – SOLD OUT
FRESHWATER FISHING REPORTS
Chilliwack/Vedder River Fishing Report
The C/V system is continuing to produce solid numbers of fish, despite the fact that it’s running quite low… again. There’s some rain in the forecast, but it’s hard to say if it’ll be enough to do anything to the river. My best guess, based on the forecasts I’m seeing right now, is that it’ll rain enough to bump the levels up a bit, but probably not enough to make a huge difference.
Fish are being caught on pretty much anything that you might consider fishing for steelhead… beads, blades, bait, yarn, gooey bobs, jigs, rubber worms, or any combination of the above. The spey guys have been finding some fish too, and I’ve even heard of a few fish on spoons and spinners.
Speaking of spoons and spinners, it’s mid-February, which is usually when I start packing a spinning rod with me so I can swing spoons, if the conditions are right. I wrote a detailed article about swinging spoons last year, you can find that here if you haven’t seen it yet or if you need a refresher.
There are fish spread throughout the system, but a majority of the fish are being caught in the mid/lower. This is simply because the fish down there are fresher and haven’t seen as much gear. There are certainly plenty of fish up top as well, but you can bet that they’ve seen gear and are going to be a fair bit tougher to trick. You’re also much less likely to encounter a hatchery-marked fish in the upper; this is because very few hatchery fish survive the gauntlet in the mid and lower stretches of the river.
This has been a remarkably good year for steelhead thus far, and it doesn’t look like it’ll be slowing down anytime soon. The major derbies are getting fish weighed in daily, and there are plenty of anglers out there who are catching their first ever steelhead. The river has been busy as a result, but those who are willing to put in some time and cover some ground are usually able to get away from the worst of the crowds. Having said that, please try to avoid wading through salmon spawning habitat while covering ground, as there will be plenty of eggs and freshly hatched alevins in the gravel that probably shouldn’t be stepped on.
Squamish River Fishing Report
The reports this week were as expected. It was slow. We wanted to see rain last week to move the river levels but it didn’t really come and it looks as though this week will be similar. Of course, anglers who put in the time and know the river have found fish but, the conditions we are seeing going into the weekend are not great.
With light rain and maybe some snow, expect low clear conditions. Dumb down presentations and fish the deep spots, is the best advice we can give.
We are hopeful that after next week’s cold snap we will start seeing warmer weather and we can start looking ahead to the spring fishery. Historically the first warm spell of season has fallen somewhere between Feb 20th and March 10th, so we are close. When this warm spell hits fry will hatch, fish will become more active and more steelhead will be moving into the system.
Good Luck if you head out this weekend and fingers crossed, we don’t have to wait too long for warmer weather.
Cutthroat Fishing Primer
With spring almost here and its temperatures to follow, cutthroat anglers will start getting their gear together in preparation for the fry hatch.
Most trout anglers who fly fish already have the appropriate gear for this fishery: 9′ 4wt or 5wt rods with floating and/or ghost tip lines. With that being said, 6-8lb tapered leaders and 4-5lb fluorocarbon tippet round out one’s gear besides a handful of flies.
On the fly front, small fry imitations such as epoxy fry, muddler minnows, and poppers such as the AS or the Miyawaki are all being great flies to try from fresh to saltwater. Simpler ties like a Chum Baby by Bob Triggs or Dahlias Squid by Jeff Delia would also be good options for estuary fisheries where a spawning stream enters the ocean.
On traditional gear, lighter spinning rods in the 6′-7’6” range that can throw small Crocs, Dick-Nites and small spinners on 6-8lb mono are ideal. Remember, these aren’t necessarily large trout, but aggressive and nomadic. Smaller swivels, weights, and terminal will help round out one’s kit when targeting these trout.
The biggest influencing factor to consider when heading out for spring cutthroat is temperature: the fry have to be moving and we usually don’t see that until things warm up. We usually hear reports of fry being seen as early as the end of February and this year there has already been the odd report already but a cold snap like we are seeing coming up will put the fry that have hatched back into the gravel. They will hunker down in the rocks and not move. Consistent warm temperatures through the night are needed to keep the alevin and fry from hunkering down in the river rocks. We are hopeful that after this cold snap coming next week, we will see a warming trend and it should be game on.
It never hurts to go for a walk along your favourite river at this time of year- take notes on temperature, daylight, tides, and any visual clues you might notice like diving birds or mystery swirls. If you want to go scouting, attractor style patterns like small buggers in olive and black or more colorful old school patterns like the Mikey Finn can get fish that are waiting for fry.
If you’re thinking of heading out for an early scouting walk, come on in and grab some cutthroat essentials- you never know when you might happen across that magic moment when they show up and it turns on.
It’s an older video but Matt has a “What’s In My Cutthroat Box Video” if you are thinking about building a fly box for this fishery. Check it out here for some more great fly recommendations: