Welcome to a new decade! We thank everyone for all their support in 2019 and we are excited for 2020!
2019 was one hell of an interesting fishing year. We saw considerable political and fisheries management issues with saltwater fisheries and the Upper Fraser Steelhead and salmon fisheries. We also had debatably some of the best chinook fishing Vancouver has seen in a generation. Lake fishing was excellent. We saw the entire fishing community rally against the disregard of science when it comes to fisheries management. We also saw people come together from First Nations, Government and the private sector to work tirelessly to help salmon migrate the Upper Fraser slide.
The political fight is ongoing and many volunteers have been working diligently to prepare for 2020 and make sure science takes the front seat in driving fisheries management. We will keep you up to date on this front over the next few weeks.
But enough ranting – if you missed these on our guiding and store social media accounts here are some great pictures that some up the year that was 2019!
This week on the fishing front, we are seeing a major storm hit the coast and this one is going to be a doozy. If it comes as forecast, it is going to smash the Squamish area and though there is less water coming to the Chilliwack area, we still expect high water and challenging conditions. We have information on both areas in the freshwater fishing report section below as well as some river pictures from New Year’s day so you can gauge water clarity and river levels over the next 5 days.
Jason has a saltwater update and as always Matt will walk you through it all on the video version of the report. This week Matt also features some super cool old centrepins that we have on consignment in the report video.
Matt also talks about a great science piece on Steelhead put out by the Steelhead Society. This piece is going to answer a ton of your steelhead questions SO WATCH IT! It’s long but really entertaining if you love Steelhead.
Speaking of the Steelhead Society, they have some events coming up that you will want to be a part of this year. More details in our Industry Events and Updates section below.
Last but not least check out the full report below and the video version here:
On To the Report !!
INDUSTRY EVENTS AND UPDATES
MARK YOUR CALENDARS!
Steelhead Society of BC (SSBC) ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING IS JANUARY 25, 2020
The Steelhead Society will be holding its annual AGM at 8555-198 A Street (BCEGU office) in Langley at 10:00 a.m. on January 25, 2020. It will be though-provoking and a chance to mingle with like-minded anglers and conservation experts. Lunch is provided.
The speaker roster includes Dave Moore, General Manager of the Harrison Fisheries Authority, and BC Fisheries Branch Biologist Rob Bison.
You may recall Dave giving a remarkable presentation at last year’s AGM, including a deep dive into the history of and biology of Interior Fraser steelhead (Thompson and Chilcotin rivers). SSBC continues to work with Harrison Fisheries Authority to promote to research and development of more sustainable fishing methods for salmon in the Lower Fraser River. The title of Dave’s talk this year is “A Changing Vision for the Fraser River Salmon Fishery and The Role of Salmon Traps.”
Rob Bison is a Fisheries Stock Assessment Biologist based in Kamloops. The title of his talk is “Recovering Persistence of Interior Fraser Steelhead.”
2020 SSBC FUNDRAISER — MARCH 5, 2020
SSBC’s annual Pub Night fundraising event happens March 5, 2020. All proceeds from this popular and lively event go to habitat and conservation projects on behalf of wild salmonids and wild rivers. Each year, your generosity and support make Pub Night the society’s single largest and most widely supported fundraiser. There are silent and live auctions, raffle draws and much more.
Stay tuned for more details closer to the event date.
CLASSES AND COURSES
Steelhead Float Fishing
In this fishery, 10% of the anglers catch 90% of the fish. This is your chance to learn from the 10%! Our 3hr evening seminar will educate you on the gear, water types, conditions and other key variables that put veteran steelhead anglers in that 10%. Mastering this fishery will make you the envy of your friends. Upgrade your seminar to include a fully guided day on the water, putting into practice your new knowledge with a Pacific Angler guide.
Seminar: Jan 13, 2020
Seminar Time: 6:30pm – 9:30pm
Guided: Jan 18, 19, 25 or 26 – Custom Trip Dates Available
Guided: Full Day
Seminar Only Cost: $50.00+GST
Seminar & Guided Walk’n Wade Cost: $275.00+GST per angler, minimum of 2 anglers per guided day on the water.
Fly Fishing Egg Patterns
This course is designed to teach you the secrets to one of the most productive presentations in the BC fly fishermen’s arsenal; nymphing egg patterns. This deadly method can be used for different species of trout, char, and salmon. During a 3 hour evening seminar we will teach you key concepts, strategies, and gear that will give you a well-rounded foundation during the seminar portion of the class. Then you will put those skills into practice during a fully guided day on the water.
Seminar: Jan 14, 2020
Seminar Time: 6:30pm – 9:30pm
Guided: Jan 18 or 19, 2020
Guided: Full Day
Tying Essential Steelhead Patterns
This course is designed for the fly tyer looking to get the best start on tying steelhead patterns. In the 3-hour evening seminar your instructor will cover everything from tying techniques, material and colour choices, size and weight. They will walk you through 3 essential patterns that will build a well-rounded steelhead fly box. If you’re looking to get yourself into tying your own flies for steelhead, this is the course for you. This course is suitable for fly tiers with a basic knowledge. Students are required to supply their own vise, tools and materials. A 10% discount is available on materials and tools purchased for the course.
Date: Jan 21, 2020
Time: 6:30pm – 9:30pm
Introduction To Fly Tying – SOLD OUT, Call the shop to add your name to the waitlist
There is no greater satisfaction than catching a fish with a fly you tied yourself. This Introduction to Fly Tying course was specifically designed to give you the fundamental skills needed to tie proven fly patterns used here in BC for trout, salmon, and steelhead.
This course consists of 3 sessions; each session is 3hrs.
Students are required to supply their own vise, tools and materials. A 10% discount is available on fly tying materials and tools purchased for the course.
Dates: Jan 22, 29 & Feb 5, 2020
Time: 6:30pm – 9:30pm
FRESHWATER FISHING REPORTS
Chilliwack/Vedder River Fishing Report
Welcome to the 2020 Steelhead Season on the Chilliwack! We are starting out the year with some high water conditions and some unpleasantly wet weather. Clarity will be an issue right now so fish bigger presentations like 6 inch plastic worms, colorado blades, 10mm beads, magnum gooey bobs, or big pieces of bait combined with a spin n’ glow. Fluorescent colours or a lot of flash will help too. High water levels mean fish will be pretty close to the bank so don’t neglect any softer water you see right at your feet as many times they will be right there. Big presentations coupled with heavy leaders and heavier powered rods will be the key to hooking and landing Steelhead in these faster water conditions.
For those who haven’t seen the results from the Boxing Day Derby, one fish was weighed in out of just over three hundred participants. Scary numbers for sure and while, coupled with seemingly low Steelhead numbers coast-wide, this does seem like an early indicator that we are in for a slow season we will have a better picture of what the overall seasonal numbers will be once we hit March/April. There have been a few reports of Steelhead action since Boxing Day so they are definitely there. The only way to hook one is to get out there, so get your line in the water.
Stave River Fishing Report
The Stave is always an interesting one in the winter. There are many winter opportunities to fish for different species on the Stave but they are inconsistent. It is a good system to look for steelhead but we usually lean-to Feb and March for the timing. It can also see good cutthrout fishing but because of the migratory nature of cutthrout they can be there in force one day and then gone for weeks on end. Lastly there is a good population of whitefish in the system who love to eat salmon eggs. This can make for an interesting fishery and is the most consistent this time of year.
There are a couple tricks when it comes to whitefish. First off, their mouths are small and at the angle they feed, a classic bead setup does not do well at hooking them. It is common to see an indicator or float go down multiple times in one spot without hooking up because you are using an egg presentation that is just too big. We recommend very small yarn tied eggs on very small hooks (like #12 and smaller) With this in mind you will want to float fish or fly fish with a light rod to absorb shock on these small hooks and the light leaders needed to rig small hooks.
Overall the Stave is a good one to scout when you don’t have the time to go farther afield.
Squamish River Fishing Report
This weekend is going to be an interesting one if the weatherman is on his game. We had a good amount of rain earlier in the week that bumped the river up to a high but fishable level. This would be great if we had clear weather for the weekend. However, it looks like there is a rainfall warning for the next few days and this could blow the river out. If we get the rain that is expected keep a close eye on the river levels if you are thinking about going out. When the rivers are rising things can be quite dangerous so please take extra caution out there.
When the rivers finally come down, if it stays the same temperatures that we have been seeing lately then fishing could be pretty good. Coloured water and warmer temperatures usually equal a good recipe for some pretty good fishing. I would expect using spoons and spinners in a larger size should bring anglers some success if the water is coloured, go smaller if the water clears up quickly.
If you are fly fishing, I would be focusing on using mid to large sized darker coloured streamers to contrast with the dirty water. Again, if it clears up quickly go smaller and bust out your white and olive streamers.
If you are fishing beads, which we love doing this time of the year, make sure you have a good selection of pale colours in your arsenal. Egg Yolk, Peach Pearl and White Pearl are a couple of my go to’s for the best natural presentation. That said if you walk into dirty or high water (what we expect this weekend) Up your size to 10 mm beads and go for bright colors so the fish will see them. It is better for more fish to see your egg than for it to be an exact match to the real eggs in the river when things get dirty.
It is still early for steelhead but over the next few weeks when the conditions cooperate, I love scouting the river. I do like to go out when the river is “too low” as this helps me to map out what is going on at the bottom of the runs that I like to fish. Knowing what lies beneath can be a huge advantage when choosing flies or lures for runs when the unicorns start showing up around March.
If you decided to go out this weekend and the river is rising please be careful.
Why do fish live in saltwater? Because pepper makes them sneeze
SALTWATER FISHING REPORTS
The first salt report of the year! I am going to hold off on looking back at 2019 for a week and send out a special year in review report later on, so lets get current here.
In short, the fish are around if you can get a break in the weather. It’s been pretty windy and rainy, so you need to pick your days. I was out with clients last weekend and we got a legal, a few unders, and that has pretty much been the program most days. Put in the time, get a few chances at some legals, and some unders to keep you busy. Greg and Derek were out on Thursday got a nice fish, lost another good one, and had a hand full of undersize and other friends and guides are reporting similar action.
Productive flashers have been chartreuse glow and green glow flashers like the Salty Dawg and STS. The usual spoons have been working well but so have hootchies lately. The Yamashita chartreuse splatter back (OG140R) and green splatter back (OG42R) have been productive. Some of the fish have had anchovies in them and the slender profile of a hootchie matches that of an anchovy. The hootchies are supposed to represent squid, but I think a lot of the time the fish think they are chovies.
In terms of location there are fish spread throughout Howe Sound and Vancouver Harbour is always a good bet this time of year in the Freighters, QB or Cap Mouth. We have also heard some decent reports from the Gulf Islands but haven’t been able to make it over there recently.
Prawning has been well worth the effort and we have been dropping traps on all of our recent trips.
If you would like to book a trip give us a call at 778-788-8582.