It looks like more sunny weather is incoming. Temperatures will not be as hot as two weeks ago but, it will be bumping a little above seasonal averages. Obviously, we would love to see some moisture and cool weather for both the fire situation and for lake fishing but, the heat has beaten down the water levels on our rivers and the Chilliwack and the Skagit are coming into shape ahead of schedule.
Alex has some information on the Chilliwack and Vedder and Matt tunes in with a report on the Skagit.
The big news in the saltwater world is there has been an announcement on chinook fishing regulations and there are some opportunities for retention coming. Jason has an overview of what has been announced in the saltwater section.
Sterling also tunes in the week with a lake update but it has been warm and things have been more challenging.
On the classes front, we are wrapping up most of our classes until September but Matt will be teaching the Introduction to Fly Fishing course so, if you are looking to get out fly fishing and want to learn or brush up on your skills, don’t miss this chance to sign up. More details are in this week’s classes and courses section.
On to the report!
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: Seminar July 14 & Casting July 17
Seminar Time: Zoom Seminar 6:30pm – 9:30pm
Casting Time(s): 10am – 1pm or 1:30pm – 4:30pm
FRESHWATER FISHING REPORTS
Chilliwack/Vedder River Update
The sun is shining, the water is great, and the fish are coming in! Yes, it’s Red Chinook season on the Chilliwack! The water conditions have shaped up amazingly for the first week of July; it is a touch on the high side but has been dropping all this week and has a few feet of visibility. Moreover, a few fish have been picked off by some lucky anglers already with the help of some optimal early season conditions. We have a couple of weeks until the peak of the run so you want to get out there soon if you want a shot at a fresh one. First light and last light are your friends in this fishery though they still can be caught mid-day. Drifting cured roe is the go-to bait though they will take Colorado blades, jigs, and spoons. As the water keeps dropping you will find some fly-friendly water opening up as well.
As a note, you will also find Sockeye in the system currently. These fish must be released so please keep them in the water at all times and handle with care.
This fishery has a relatively short window so if you are interested, come down to the Shop to get geared up now.
Skagit River Update
Well, I was a little off on my water level prediction for the Chilliwack and the Skagit. Who would have thought that we would see 100-year record temperatures? My prediction that the Skagit would be challenging to fish on opening day was correct but, things are changing fast. As expected, the rivers spiked but, then dropped at record rates. It is still a challenge to cross on the lower river but it should be crossable soon. The reports we had from opening week were as expected – better nymphing than dry fly fishing with bull trout being concentrated in the lower river. The lake is still low and if things continue to be hot, I have some concerns about high water temps later in the season. As always, this river is a catch and release, single barbless fishery so, treat the fish with respect and play by the rules.
Capilano River/Beach Fishing Report
They have kept the dam closed all week and the river has gotten low. There are fish in the river but, because of the low water, they will be hard to get to bite. Small presentations are key and focus on times of day where there is low light.
On the flip side, the low river levels will make beach fishing good. Tides this week are low through the middle of the day. We would like to see lows in the morning but the low tides mid-day still offer good fishing opportunities where anglers can wade out to the drop off. Be careful when making this wade and watch your timing for getting back to shore because the tides are large and you should be able to push out quite a way.
When fishing in the middle of the day, lures and flies should be small and less bright. #2-3-4 Copper Blue foxes or black blue foxes are one of my favorites when you encounter conditions like this. Run an egg weight 18 inches above the lure and above a swivel to get better casting distance.
And No – we have not heard of any pinks off the beaches yet!
STILLWATER FISHING REPORTS
Interior Lakes Fishing Report
Pretty much all the lakes are bathtubs at this point. I’ve heard reports of some lakes even experiencing turnover-like conditions with large organic clumps of material finding their way to the surface. Warm conditions seem to be prolific province-wide and fishing has definitely slowed down. I know I’ve seen temperatures on some of my favourite high elevation lakes exceeding 85 degrees Fahrenheit. I’ve fished these lakes for years and never seen conditions like that in certain spots even in the middle of August. It’s extremely tough to even know how to approach lakes when they’re in this condition because it’s tough to know whether to be fishing in 15 feet or be fishing in 40+ feet.
Keep in mind that some number of fish will always be present in the majority of water columns. It’s all about finding the active fish regardless of what depth you choose to fish. It’s so easy to question your choices when fishing is slow and this sometimes leads to a lot less time fishing and more time changing lines, leaders, and flies. Sometimes, the best decision in these moments is to choose a particular depth that you want to fish and continue moving until you find at least some level of activity. If you’re going to a lake for 3 days, spend the first day fishing a particular method and continually move until you hopefully find fish. If that doesn’t work, try something drastically different the next day. Try to not overthink it and mix too many styles of fishing as this will just lead to a lot less time fishing. It also takes the ‘timing’ window out of the equation and you don’t have to think to yourself, “If only I was fishing caddis patterns at 10 AM instead of 2 PM” because you spent the whole morning fishing dragonfly nymphs.
The best fisherman is always going to be confident that his/her method has the best chance at working. A lot of fishermen have been rewarded even in these bathtub conditions by sticking to a particular method and finding the fish that want that particular presentation. Caddis larvae fishing has seemed to be the most productive across all lakes. I’ve gone into quite a bit of detail in the past couple of weeks about caddis fishing including long-lining techniques. Long-lining can be great for imitating both the larvae stage as well as the pupal stage by dragging it across a marl bottom lake.
Another great option is looking for lakes that are fed by rivers. Fish will naturally congregate in these mixing cold-water conditions and river outflows will always provide an ample food source for fish. It’s a great backup option when lakes may be too warm. Give it a go and you might really grow to love it! Not enough people fish outflows.
SALTWATER FISHING REPORTS
Vancouver Saltwater Salmon Fishing Report
As I am sure most of you have heard, we will be able to retain a chinook as of July 15th in certain areas:
AREAS 13 to 17 (excluding those portions listed below) and Subareas 29-1 and 29-2:
00:01 hours July 15 to 23:59 hours August 31: One (1) Chinook per day with a maximum size limit of 80 cm on marked and unmarked Chinook.
00:01 hours September 1 to 23:59 hours December 31: Two (2) Chinook per day
SUBAREAS 29-1 to 29-5:
CHINOOK FISHING CLOSURE:
Effective April 1 until August 31, 2021 the following areas closed to fishing for Chinook:
Those portions of Subareas 29-3 to 29-5 that lie east of a line from Gower Point (49°23.021’N, 123°32.166′ W) near Gibsons to Shah Point on the southern tip of Valdes Island (49°01.695’N, 123°35.721’W).
SUBAREAS 29-1 to 29-2 – daily quota and size restrictions:
Effective 00:01 hours July 15 to 23:59 hours August 31: One (1) Chinook per day with a maximum size limit of 80 cm on marked and unmarked Chinook.
Effective 00:01 hours September 1 to 23:59 hours December 31: Two (2) Chinook per day, no maximum size limit.
SUBAREAS 29-3 to 29-5 – daily quota and size restrictions (excluding those closed and non-retention areas/periods listed above):
Effective 00:01 hours August 1 to 23:59 hours August 31: One (1) Chinook per day with a maximum size limit of 80 cm on marked and unmarked Chinook.
Effective 00:01 hours September 1 to 23:59 hours December 31: Two (2) Chinook per day, no maximum size limit.
REMINDER: Chinook minimum size limit is 62 cm in Subareas 29-1 to 29-5.
So, what does all this mean? Well, the first thing you need to do is pull up the Area Maps so you know what DFO is talking about. To make it as simple as possible, from July 15th onwards, you can keep a chinook if you are W of Thrasher Rock or W of Gower Point. It must be 62cm or greater but no larger than 80cm and can be marked or un-marked (wild or hatchery). These are the same regs as last July. After Aug 1st there will be a slightly expanded version of this opening, but not much, the line pushes E just a bit.
Also in August, there will be some chinook openings along the West Van shoreline to the Cap Mouth, but I am not going to go into specifics yet because the fishery notice for this has not been announced. It has been talked about in the Integrated Fisheries Management Plan, but I will hold off on getting into the specifics until the actual notice comes out. We also have 3 weeks until then, so once we get closer and the notice comes out, I will report on it.
I want to make note that some people are reporting (incorrectly) that the Fraser Mouth area will open for chinook retention August 1st. This is not correct. I can see how that mistake could be made, because if you read the notice above it does state you can keep a chinook in 29-3 and 29-5 Aug 1 onwards, but you must take into account the statement superseding it that says all chinook fishing is closed E of the line from Gower Point to Shah Point on Valdes, and therefore those sections of 29-3 and 29-5 E of that are closed, which is really most of 29-3 and 29-5. So, no fishing for chinook off the Fraser Mouth until September 1st at this point.
Like last year, we are working on a map, but it takes a bit of time, and we want to make sure it is perfect.
Okay, enough about the regs, let’s talk some fishing. It has been productive over in Area 17 and for the most part we are fishing glow flashers and hootchies down deep. I usually fish a chartreuse setup on one side of the boat and a blue setup on the other side of the boat. I have been fishing 175-275 on the riggers. There are a few coho around too, and hatchery coho are open for retention right now. If you see some arcs on your sonar in the top 100 feet, I would suspect those are coho. I have seen a few chase my dummy flashers up. A chrome flasher like a Betsy and a white hootchy will usually get the job done.
Locally we are also seeing some coho get caught from Point Atkinson down to the Cap Mouth. It is a bit spotty still, but it should pick up in the coming days. The odd pink has also been caught and more of those will be showing up very soon.
See you in the shop or on the water,