Pacific Angler Outlook:
Well the blow out happened as predicted by the Pacific Angler Friday Fishing Report! The rain didn’t hit the Valley until late morning on Tuesday but when it showed up in meant business. 50mm of rain blew out the Chilliwack and many of the other rivers in the Valley. This is exactly what we were hoping for. We are in for clear skies and colder temps over the weekend so the rivers are dropping and bottom line, if you are a steelheader, now is the time to get out on the water. For the next few days the fishing will be awesome.
Another point of interest has been the saltwater fishing. The last few days of weather were amazing for winter chinook fishing in the harbor. Jason was out on Wednesday. They missed a few bites and landed a beauty 12 lb red spring off the mouth of the Capilano. The crab trap produced well and it was a great day on the water. If you are thinking about heading out see below for Jason’s detailed report in the saltwater section.
With the rain we were hoping to see the snow get beaten down in the Sea to Sky area but unfortunately you can take one look at the North Shore to see that it wasn’t quite warm enough. Most of the precipitation heading up to Whistler was in the form of snow. The Squamish only rose up about 6 inches but this might have been enough to stir things up a bit and make for some decent fishing. The river will be dropping like a rock this week with the very cold temperatures over the next few days. It looks like we will have to wait awhile for a big blowout… If anyone has made their way up that direction and knows how the road to the upper river looks please call in a report. We are planning to head out there next week.
The forecast for the weekend and next week is calling for clear skies and cold temperatures.
Unfortunately this will drop the rivers fast but if the rain pulled in enough fish, the fishing should stay decent for awhile. Prepare for sun and cold with the daily low temperatures dropping below freezing all next week.
Steelhead Pro Tip of the week:
The last few Pro Tips have been about gear fishing, but don’t worry we haven’t forgotten about the fly fisherman. With the conditions improving and more fish hitting the river we thought we would talk a little about leaders for swinging flies for steelhead. Over the years we have seen many beginners or even intermediate anglers come in and say “I finally hooked a steelhead on the fly but it shacked me off!” We also see many anglers coming in to buy 10lb or 8lb fly tippet to swing with there 8wt single hand rods and Spey rods. DON’T FISH LIGHT TIPPET, you won’t hook more fish and the ones you do might break you off. Read more to find out why…
If you talk to any guide from the Olympic Peninsula to the Skeena you will find that most agree the kind of steelhead you are trying to target with the swung fly are not leader shy. These are fish that are aggressive and are chasing down a fly that is swung across and in front of them. They truly don’t get much of a chance to view your tippet as they are focused on the fly as it swings in front of them. Their primary view is generally the back portion or the butt of the fly as it swings through the holding water in front of the steelehead. This is completely different from nymphing or float fishing where the fish will have time to look at your presentation as you are drifting your egg pattern or gooey bob towards them and along side them at the natural pace of the water.
So what should you use? You will find that most veteran anglers and guides use Maxima Ultragreen or Rio Max leader material in 15lb test. These tippet or leader materials are specifically designed for maximum abrasion resistance and knot strength. This makes them perfect for river fishing where abrasion resistance is key, not suppleness or small diameters that anglers are concerned about when lake fishing. Remember your tippet is going to be rubbing rocks and snags from time to time and your tippet needs to withstand this and still be strong enough for the big grab when that steelhead decides to commit to that swung fly. By fishing 15lb Maxima or Rio Max, you will have excellent knot strength, abrasion resistance, and you will have the power to set the hook hard and play the fish aggressively so you can not only land the fish, but land it in a reasonable amount of time.
We are also starting to see more anglers running fluorocarbon but not in the pound tests you might expect. We tested running fluorocarbon in the 12-15lb range and it often did not stand up to the abuse of casting all day bouncing off rocks and running through snags. But, did you know that 20lb fluorocarbon is only .001 inches in diameter thicker than 12lb Maxima? Fluorocarbon has excellent abrasion resistance and is amazingly thin for its strength. For this reason more and more anglers are using fluorocarbon instead of monofilament when it comes to tippet or leader material. It also sinks much faster than mono and the fact that is is virtually invisible in the water doesn’t hurt either. The fish might not notice so much in the scenarios we are talking about, but if it gives you more confidence, then that is reason enough to fish it. So don’t be afraid to try 20lb fluorocarbon, such as Seaguar Blue Label. It is thin, strong, extremely abrasion resistance, and invisible when wet. What more could you ask for?
In terms of leader length from your sink tip, we recommend a 2 to 4 foot piece of leader. Most anglers will put a loop knot (figure eight or perfection loop) in one end of their tippet and attach it to the loop on their sink tip. Some guides use a bimini twist loop knot instead of a figure eight or perfection loop, as the bimini knot acts as a shock absorber. Unless you are targeting extremely big fish, like chinook, you won’t need to use this knot. If your sink tip does not have a loop on the end, you can attach a braided loop, you can double over the sink tip and nail knot it with 10lb Maxima and then cover it with UV Knot Sense, or you can nail knot on a one foot section of 25lb Maxima and put a loop knot in the end of that.
Good luck out there and don’t worry if you feel as though you are fishing a telephone cable for tippet. The fish will still smash your fly and you just might land it!
If you have any questions do not hesitate to contact our friendly staff at 604-872-2204 or better yet, drop by Pacific Angler at 78 East Broadway.
River Fishing Report:
Chilliwack River: Polar opposites from last week, the river has jumped up almost a half meter in 24 hours. On Wednesday it was running high and dirty, this should bring in a good push of fresh fish. Looking at the forecast, colder weather with a little precipitation, means the river will slowly drop and clear. It will be in beautiful shape for the next couple days. With the high water conditions, bumping up your gear is a must. Larger floats, with more weight to balance them will help keep your gear in the zone in the increased flow. Heavier leader with bigger hooks to match a large presentation is also key. The challenge now is finding a fish, they are eager to bite when conditions are like this. The best baits consist of larger fluorescent offerings such as pink worms, gooey bobs, spin-n-glos, jigs, roe, prawns and roe bags. For flies, go big. Fish intruders in pink and orange. Dimitri was on the water yesterday and is out there again today. Yesterday he reported about a foot visibility. That should double or triple today and this weekend should be perfect.
Chehalis River: The Chehalis also jumped up, but this river is known to come back into shape quickly. With the large canyon it rises and falls like a yo-yo. With this first good rain of the season, fish will be making their way up river and into the canyon. Fresh moving fish are aggressive fish. They key to catching them is covering lots of water and fishing bright presentations in order to get their attention. Fishing will be good for a shorter period than the Chilliwack, and we heard it is already getting pretty clear there with the freezing temperatures in the mountain headwaters.
Fraser River: The Fraser is a great system to explore in the winter months. We have not heard any new cutthroat reports because most guys are out steelheading, but with the bump of water in most of the tributaries the fish should have turned on. This is mostly a fly fishery and we recommend small size 8-12 bead head pheasant tails, black stone flies, or bead head muddlers on a full floating line or light sink tip. Using small spinners and float rigs are also a great way to cover the water.
Squamish River: The recent rains in the Lower Mainland have fallen as snow in the upper watershed of the Squamish. The river has risen slightly, but due to the cold temps, will fall again very quickly. Bull trout fishing has picked up a bit. The small bump in water helped put these fish on the feed for a short period. Eggs are always a good choice until later in the winter towards the end of February. Other flies to consider are matuka streamers, rolled muddlers, egg sucking leeches, and flesh patterns. The warmer the weather gets and the more rain that falls, the better the fishing is going to get. That isn’t forecast for awhile, so as these cold temperatures show up, the river will drop hard and fishing will be fairly slow.
Capilano River: They opened the dam with the rain and on Wednesday it rose up to 4 on the graph and has been dropping since. There were likely a few fresh winter runs that came in on the high water event. The water will be less dirty than other systems because of the dam, so large “blow out” presentations should not be required. Get out this weekend if you can because we expect the river to be back to low tough conditions by early next week.
It should be noted there are a few summer run steelhead in the river that have been there for some time (some of them since May or June 2012) and they are now over wintering in the canyon pools. It is best to leave these fish alone and concentrate on the fresh winter run steelhead. It is catch and release for ALL steelhead on the Capilano, regardless if the fish has an adipose fin or not.
Here is the link to the webcam to correlate water levels with good times to fish.
Stave River/Harrison This rain is exactly what we are looking for to get the nutrient levels up on the Harrison and Stave. The big dump will have stirred up eggs and flesh. This should make for some great cutthroat and bull trout fishing. Finding areas with riffles and walking speed current are the best for fishing eggs and flesh under an indicator but remember that when the nutrient levels rise, the smaller species like leeches, stoneflies and sculpin, that rely on the salmon flesh/nitrogen and eggs, are much more active as well. Stripping bead head nymphs and sculpin patterns as well as egg sucking leeches and general attractors can work well in these conditions.
Vancouver Saltwater Report:
Things have been pretty good this week with multiple reports of chinook being taken off the W. Vancouver shoreline. Jason was out on a charter on Wednesday. For a detailed report and some pictures, check out The Guide Journal.
On behalf of the Pacific Angler staff we wish you the best in your fishing endeavors and we hope to see you either at the shop or on the water. To check out the latest Pacific Angler news view the Pacific Angler Facebook page.
The Pacific Angler Crew