Welcome to July. Wow, it was hot last week, we hope everyone found a way to stay cool. Prayers and best wishes go out to the residents of Lytton.
Besides causing major problems across the province, the heat has also shifted fisheries. River levels rose in many areas. We didn’t see major rises on too many of the Lower Mainland rivers, but we also didn’t see the drop we were hoping for. Matt has a water levels update in the video version of today’s report so you can tune into that for more information.
Saltwater fishing continues to be good with a few more coho reports this week as well. Jason has details below.
Lake fishing obviously suffered through the heat but anglers who know how to change tactics still found fish. Sterling has an update on the lake fishing and some tactics to use when the water is warm.
The Skagit and Chilliwack/Vedder opened yesterday and though we expect water levels to be too high for good fishing we have an update on the Vedder. Matt also looks at water levels for the Skagit in the video version of the report and next week Matt will have more info on the Skagit in the written report.
To check out the video version of the report here:
On to the report!
INDUSTRY EVENTS AND UPDATES
Island Fisherman Magazine – Free in store
If you’re coming into the shop, be sure to grab your FREE copy of Island Fisherman Magazine. This is a great resource for all anglers with material for everyone, not just those lucky enough to live on the island. You can also check out all the great things Island Fisherman Magazine has to offer online here!
So come in and get your free copy today before they run out!
Accessing the Store During Broadway Subway Project Construction
If you’ve been by the shop lately you will know there is some major construction going on as they have started work on the Broadway Line subway project. While we are excited for the new line to come, we know it can be a challenge to park nearby. If you are driving to the shop and looking for a spot to park here are a couple of locations near the shop
- Westpark Lot – corner of Ontario Street and our alley
- East 8th Avenue between Ontario and Quebec street – just one block north of Broadway there is plenty of on street parking. A bargain at only $1/hour and it’s just a block to our shop
- Old MEC building – a couple of blocks west of our store but if you’re open for a short walk there is lots of parking on top of the old MEC store building.
CLASSES AND COURSES
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. The course is comprised of two sessions; a 3hr evening Zoom seminar and a 3hr casting session. The dates below show the seminar date first and casting date second.
Dates: July 14 & 17, Sept 21 & 26
Seminar Time: Zoom Seminar 6:30pm – 9:30pm
Casting Time(s): 10am – 1pm or 1:30pm – 4:30pm
Fly Fishing on Beaches
This single evening 3hr seminar will cover the basic principles needed to be an effective beach fly fishermen in BC from Howe Sound to the east coast of Vancouver Island. Topics covered will include rods, reels, fly lines, flies, tides, and techniques. Andre Stepanian, the instructor for this course, has been chasing salmon on our local beaches for over two decades. Remember, east coast Vancouver Island has a pink salmon run every year and the Capilano always sees a strong run of coho! Book this course early as we sold out courses last year!!
Dates: July 6
Time: Zoom Seminar 6:30pm – 9:30pm
FRESHWATER FISHING REPORTS
Vedder/Chilliwack Fishing Report
It’s finally go-time! The Vedder/Chilliwack system opened on the 1st for one chinook a day. There will be some sockeye around as well, but they cannot be retained, so please treat them with the utmost care and respect if you hook one.
To be honest, salmon fishing on opening week usually isn’t great. There will be a few chinook and sockeye around, but they will be very spread out and hard to come by with this high water. Fishing typically picks up around the 15th, which is when the first wave of fish usually arrives. Focus on covering water with larger presentations right now; that’ll increase your odds of finding one of the few salmon that are in the system.
Trout fishing on the Vedder/Chilliwack can also be decent on opening week. There will be some surprisingly nice resident rainbows, bulls and whitefish around, which can be targeted with gear or flies if your heart desires. You may retain 4 hatchery rainbows under 50cm per day, if you want, but be aware that the smaller “rainbows” you may catch are actually steelhead smolts, so consider releasing them to ensure a healthy steelhead return. Wild trout and char must be released and handled carefully to ensure survival.
The river is currently fishable, but it is high… it’s currently running at about 2.6m with decent viz. To put it into perspective, I consider 2.3 to be pretty high. With that in mind, please be careful out there. Exercise extreme caution when wading or walking around the river… 2.6 is no joke; you’re in big trouble if you go in.
Fraser River Sturgeon Fishing Report
The river is still high and there has been significant snow and glacier melt in the headwaters of the Fraser, prompting some flood warnings, so I would expect the flows to be strong for a while yet. Big flow means lots of debris, so make sure you are checking your gear regularly and removing debris that causes excessive drag, or even worse, gets on your bait.
Despite the flow and debris, fishing has been consistent for the most part. Focus on the softer water where you can find it and play the tides if you are fishing in the lower reaches. Lamprey seems to be the most productive bait for us lately.
STILLWATER FISHING REPORTS
Interior Lakes Fishing Report
I’ve mentioned it the last couple of weeks, but higher heat means deeper fish. A very effective, but technical, method to try out during these months is long lining. It’s not the easiest method by any means as it means casting 20-30 ft leaders. However, it’s a great way to present nymph and larval patterns to actively feeding fish in the bottom 2-5 feet of water while still using a floating line. It’s my go-to method when targeting fish feeding on mayfly or caddis nymphs and when the water is too choppy to properly fish with an indicator. Sometimes a sinking line just doesn’t cut it when you’re trying to achieve a slow vertical ascent as you have to strip too fast to keep the line off the bottom even with an intermediate sinking link. Too much wind will also cause too much movement on an indicator.
The key to long lining is having an appropriate leader. The golden rule is to have 25% more leader than depth. What I mean by that is having a 25 ft leader in 20 ft of water or a 31.5 ft leader for 25 ft of water. You won’t be able to find a leader that long which means you have to make your own. Having a long, untapered leader is far from the easiest to cast but there’s different leader material that will make your life a lot easier. Keep in mind that the goal of this method is about getting a great, slow emerging pattern and is not about being able to cast long distances. I always start my leader with a stiff 3-5 ft of 12-15 lb mono. Stiffness is key as it allows the leader to turn over much easier. You can use any number of lines including Maxima or Rio 0x tippet material. I then attach an 8-10 ft portion of another stiff 8-12 lb mono or fluoro line. I find that using a Rio saltwater mono or the Rio Steelhead/salmon leader work best since they’re the right lb test but will be a thicker diameter. I’ll typically just use mono line for nymph and larvae patterns but will use fluoro line if I’m trying to fish deeper chironomids. The next line that I’ll attach to my leader is a softer fluoro portion in the 8-10 lb portion once again. My favourite to use is the Rio fluoroflex strong or the Scientific Anglers fluorocarbon tippet in the 2x-4x size. The length of this portion is variable as it depends on how deep I’m fishing. My final setup for 23 feet of water would look like: 1.) 4 ft of 15 lb mono 2.) 10 ft of stiff 12 lb saltwater mono 3.) 6 ft of 2x fluorocarbon 4.) 3 ft of 3x Rio Strong fluorocarbon. I’ll increase my leader lb test when it’s windier as I need a little more weight to punch through the wind.
Give this setup a try as it can be absolutely deadly when the fish are deeper, and you need to mimic a slow emergence and keep right near the bottom.
SALTWATER FISHING REPORTS
Vancouver Saltwater Salmon Fishing Report
Locally we really haven’t heard too many coho reports. There have been a few coho taken off the Cap Mouth, Ambleside, and South Bowen, but nothing consistent so far. This can change in a hurry, so hopefully this is the week that happens.
If you are focusing on coho, think shallow. Usually, the best depths are 25-65 feet on the riggers. For flashers try the Betsy, Herring Aid Betsy, Twisted Sista, Green Onion, or Purple Onion. You can’t go wrong with a white or UV white hootchy and a shorter leader, around 28 inches. Skinny G spoons are also an excellent choice in the nickel finishes with a 4 to 5 foot leader to the flasher.
Recently we have been suggesting longer trips to our clients, and when winds allow, we have been crossing over to the Gulf Islands and Nanaimo. In these waters we have had fantastic chinook fishing with a little bottom fishing thrown in as well. On the other side chinook are open for non-retention and we are hopeful this will open for retention on July 15th. I have been in touch with DFO this week and they are telling me they are working on the Integrated Fisheries Management Plan, and it should be out soon. When that comes out, we will know if we are going to get that opening on July 15 on the other side of the Strait of Georgia. There are no projected openings for chinook in our area, except perhaps that small piece of real estate off West Van they opened last year in August. Besides that, it will likely be a September 1st opening like we saw last year.
Here are some pictures of the fish we have been into on the other side these past few weeks on our guided trips and also some pictures from our regular customers.
If you are heading over to the Gabriola and Nanaimo areas to fish for chinook, we have been doing well on chartreuse flashers like the Salty Dawg or Lemon Lime paired up with a chartreuse or green splatter back hootchy. Productive leader lengths are in the 32 to 40 inch range. Most of the fish are in the 8-15 pound class, but there have been some in the mid to high twenties, and the odd one close to 30. So make sure you gear is fresh!
Crabbing locally has been decent but commercial activity is picking up in English Bay which is normal for this time of year. I noticed quite a few commercial sets yesterday, so I expect crabbing to slow down over the coming weeks.
See you in the shop or on the water,
Beach Fishing Report
This past week saw an unusual heatwave hit the lower mainland, putting fishing on hold for the most part. This also affected the beach fishery, with many people finding it too hot, even in the early hours of the morning.
Things are looking a little cooler this week with more favourable tides as well: tides dropping below 6′ starting on Saturday, July 3rd. For this fishery, it is important for the tide to be below 6′ as it allows access to the sandbar that the coho have to swim past. Starting on Saturday, it looks like the tides will be great, continuing all the way through into the following week.
Keep in mind that these fish are more staging than hunting/feeding and that their habits will reflect this. Though the odd fish will be encountered and taken on small baitfish patterns (Clouser Minnows, etc.), these fish will want to expend the least amount of energy while gaining the greatest number of proteins. This makes krill, crab larvae, euphasids, and polychaeta easy and important food sources.
Small patterns such as Andre’s local custom patterns found here at the shop have proven to be the ticket for myself, and countless others over the years. Small California Neils, Jiggy’s, and even sparse buggers have all proven themselves successful off the beach as well.
Keeping the average size of these fish in mind as well, this can be a great opportunity to use some lighter rods as well, making a 6wt or 7wt suitable options when the 8wt feels a little too heavy.