Welcome to winter boys and girls! When you look at the rest of the country (Winnipeg –23, Toronto –10 with freezing rain, Calgary –17 with snow) we really shouldn’t complain. That said we are in for a cold one this weekend with temperatures in the negatives and possible snow today.
Almost every year we see a 10-20 day cold spell around February and there is no way to sugar coat it, fishing gets hard. The only bright side is that our amazing BC steelhead are not as affected by cold as bulltrout or resident rainbows and reports this week were better than we expected. It has slowed with the cold but if you are getting out you still have a real chance for steelhead on our valley rivers.
If you are heading out for trout and char species it will obviously be challenging conditions, but we are not expecting temps in the negative 6-10 range. When it gets into that range we give up reasonable hope. With temperatures ranging from 2 degrees to negative 3-4 degrees you still have a chance if you go prepared, fish hard and don’t expect high numbers.
With this in mind we will look at some cold weather strategies in our river reports below.
On the saltwater front, lots of folks are heading to the boat show this weekend but if you are getting out, the reports of good prawning and winter chinook fishing keep rolling in. Jason has intel in the saltwater section at the end of the report.
If you are going to let the cold beat you and take the weekend off from fishing, we continue to expand the fly tying department and we have a bunch of tying courses coming down the pipes. Jordan is teaching a bulltrout fly tying course and we still have a few spots left. Check it out in the course section. With this course in mind Jordan has posted one of the patterns he will be featuring, and it just so happens to be a great cold weather bulltrout pattern when tied it in small sizes. Check out the write up below and if you want to tie some and can’t make the course come down to the shop and we can show you the materials he uses.
On to the Report!
CLASSES + COURSES
Introduction To Fly Fishing
This course was 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 a 3hr evening seminar and a 3hr casting session.
Cost: $150.00 + GST
Seminar: Feb 20, 2019 | 6:30pm – 9:30pm
Casting: February 23, 2019 | 10am – 1pm or 1:30pm -4:30pm
Tying Intruder Patterns
Steelhead fly fishing has been radically transformed in the past decade or so for two main reasons, Skagit style Spey casting and the Intruder style fly. This combination has proven to be absolutely deadly effective for catching steelhead. In this one night course you will learn about the specifics techniques and unique materials used to tie Intruder style flies. The way this type of fly is tied has evolved from the classic palmering style to a new composite loop style, and both techniques will be taught in detail in this course. In addition we will talk about why this style of fly is so productive and different ways to rig the fly from stinger hooks to the original Intruder rigging. At the end of this course you will have the skills needed to tie a variety of Intruder style flies from multi stage, monster flies for high water, average sized flies for everyday conditions, down to small, mini intruders for low water. Note that this course is suitable for intermediate to advanced tiers. Course materials are not supplied but can be purchased at the course night or in advance at 10% off. A detailed list of what materials are needed will be supplied in advance of the course.
Cost: $50.00 + GST
Dates: Feb 12, 2019
Time: 6:30pm – 9:30pm
Tying Essential Bulltrout Patterns
Bulltrout / dollies ….. let’s just call them char are an interesting species. These fish have a diverse habitat, a very interesting life cycle and within the species they have very different characteristics in both size, color and feeding habits depending on their environment. The feeding habits are what we look at in this course. This is a fishing course within a tying course.
This seminar is well suited to tiers who have taken our beginner course and have basic tying skills. Advanced tiers will find the first two patterns fairly easy but they can challenge themselves with variations of the last pattern. If you are an experienced tier you probably already know that sometimes the skill, effectiveness and beauty of many great guide flies comes from their simplicity. Students are required to supply their own vise, tools and materials. A 10% discount is available on materials and tools purchased for the course.
Cost: $50.00 + GST
Dates: Feb 19, 2019
Time: 6:30pm – 9:30pm
The Simple Guide Streamer
This simple fly is nothing special to look at, but by composition and design, is one of the most effective streamers an angler can carry. It’s tear-drop shape, counter-shading, and simplicity are all key factors when trying to tie up a good sculpin. Tied on a variety of hooks in different colours, this fly can go from freshwater to salt in a blink of an eye. This example has colours that are ideal for bulltrout but it can be adapted for salmon or steelhead quite easily.
Right now, tying this pattern in a 2-2.5 inch length in drab olive and brown colours like the one in our photo will be excellent for the low clear conditions when fishing for bulltrout on our local streams. This will be one of the first flies we look at in our Tying Bulltrout Patterns course. It is a great foundation for the more advanced patterns covered in our course. If you can’t make the course come down to the shop and I can walk you through how to tie it.
FRESHWATER FISHING REPORTS
Squamish River Fishing Report
Cold and clear. Winter has finally shown its face. We are looking at negative temperatures for highs for the next few days and that is going to make fishing difficult but not impossible. A few things that I have learned fishing the Squamish area over the years in conditions like this, is to pick spots that you know will have sun exposure. While it will still be cold, it wont be as cold for you, or for the fish. The sun will also make it a bit harder for the fish to see your presentations so they wont be as picky. Fishing areas in the shade when the water is gin clear, the fish are able to see your offerings from a mile away and they can really be picky when they are deciding if they want to eat it or not.
We know some obsessive guides who actually look for runs with angles that will have the sun in the fish’s eyes on overly clear days and vice versa on days that they are concerned the fish will not see their fly they will look for runs and angles where the sun will not be in the fishes eyes. A little obsessive but food for thought.
With the clear conditions the other obvious thing you can do is fish smaller presentations. Small flies, gooey bobs, jigs worms and beads are all go to’s when the water is clear. If you can find a pocket of water with a bit of colour, which you might if we see some of the predicted snow on Friday or Saturday, you can bump up the size of your gear.
If you are beading for trout really focus on pale bead colours this time of year; apricot, peach pearl, glow roe are great choices that you might already have. We brought in 2 of my favourites recently that I fish exclusively this time of year and have had great success with them over the past couple of winters, egg yolk and peach roe. These colours have a great transparency to them and look awesome when you peg them with the red, or hot pink peggs.
One thing that makes life a lot easier for rigging up beads in the cold is pre-tying your hooks and eggs to a small sized hook snap on 12-18″ of tippet material. Then you can wind them up on a leader board and when you want to change bead colour or if you break off you just snap on a new pre-rigged bead to your leader, which will have a small tippet ring or micro swivel attached to it. This makes like a lot easier when you can’t feel your fingers and you will spend less time dealing with finicky knots.
If you need any help pre-tying your beads or need a hand picking out some gear don’t hesitate to come on into the shop and we will get you sorted!
Chilliwack/Vedder River Fishing Report
We are in our deep freeze as we get a taste of that Polar Vortex that the rest of the country has been dealing with. There haven’t been many reports from this week but that was to be expected; it’s been consistently in the negatives, which equals tough fishing with frigid fish and clear conditions. Finesse presentations on the outside edge of the transition lines and choppier water will be key. You can also fish a bit slower and more thoroughly too as the fish will be less likely to travel far to hit your presentation. The few fish we have heard of have been from mid-river and down, with some slim pickings higher up.
While it doesn’t look like this coming week is going to be as cold it will still be hovering around zero degrees celsius at best so bundle up. This is a good time to get layered properly and we have all the right stuff to keep you warm for your Polar Vortex Winter steelheading.
SALTWATER FISHING REPORTS
Well winter is finally here I guess. I was hoping we would escape the sub zero temperatures and big outflow winds but that is exactly what we have lined up for this weekend, even a freezing spray warning for today. If you are going to head out, make sure to dress extra warm and be safe. If you are looking to keep warm, maybe stay off the water and head to the boat show!
The fishing this past week was pretty good. It has been the usual pattern of putting in your time and getting your shots at fish, usually around the tide change. Howe Sound has been producing some fish and so has Vancouver Harbour around the Bell Buoy, Freighters, and Cap Mouth.
Productive flashers this week were a mix of black blades, UV purple blades, and chartreuse or green blades, all with glow tape. The brighter blades did out produce on one day when it was pretty dark out all day. For black blades try CB55, PA Custom black (aka Black Mamba). For UV purple blades, the Phantom has been deadly. For green or chartreuse blades the STS, BC, Madi, and Lemon Lime have all been doing well as has our PA Custom in those colours.
The fish we cleaned has small herring inside, so the 3.0 and 3.5 spoons have been good in G-Force an Kingfisher. Skinny G were also good this week. Irish Cream, Outfitter, Herring Aide, were all working.
Prawning continues to be good as well and crabbing is still slow.
See you in the shop or on the water,