Freedom! Freedom at last! We are all very excited about the announcement on the 15th which lifted the restrictions on regional travel. It is great to see the numbers headed in the right direction. We are also super excited about the 14-day weather forecast. Summer is coming right on time! We should see an epic warm weekend and it will carry right into next week. This is all good news for getting out fishing.
For our saltwater readers Jason is back this week with a report. To date local coho fishing has been slow but now is the time we usually see it pick up, so check out Jason’s report
Sterling has an interior lake report. The heat is maybe not a good thing for lower elevation lakes or the Vancouver local lakes but we have been hearing excellent upper elevation reports and more reports of diverse hatches.
Another fishery worth looking at this time of year is the Capilano river and beach fisheries. The rain moved things around earlier this week and Taylor has an update on that fishery
Lastly, we have a fun one for everyone. For the last six- or seven-years Matt has been doing a deep dive on water levels and snowpack levels looking at the summer river fisheries coming up as water levels drop. With everyone bouncing off the walls, stuck in their health regions, Matt has come out early with his water level predictions for the Vedder, Skagit and Thompson. If you are looking forward to the Chilliwack Summer Red Chinook fishery or the interior trout fisheries opening on July 1 you won’t want to miss it below. If you don’t want to dive into the written version, Matt walks through it all in the video version of the report. Time to start getting flies tied and leaders ready!
CLASSES AND COURSES
Introduction to Fly Fishing Trout Streams
Stalking trout on mountain streams defines fly fishing. In this course we will teach you the fundamental techniques for fly fishing trout streams; dry fly fishing, nymphing, and streamer fishing. This course will get you as close to being Brad Pitt of River Runs Through It fame as you will ever be! The course is comprised of one 3hr evening Zoom seminar.
Date: Wednesday, June 23 via Zoom
INDUSTRY EVENTS AND UPDATES
BC Family Fishing Weekend – June 18 – 20, 2021
B.C.’s Family Fishing Weekend is an annual celebration of fishing that coincides with Father’s Day weekend each year. During the three-day event, residents of Canada (individuals who have lived in Canada for the preceding 12 months) can go fishing without a license.
The requirement for residents to buy or carry a non-tidal (freshwater) basic license during the third weekend in June, and the Friday immediately prior is waived. This is also true for those who want to go saltwater fishing. Be sure to check out the Freshwater Fisheries Society’s webpage for important licensing exceptions.
This is a great opportunity to get together with family and friends and try fishing!
While there are no in person events this year we hope some of you were able to take in last Saturday’s family fishing webinar.
FRESHWATER FISHING REPORTS
Capilano River Fishing Report
All that rain earlier in the week definitely made an impact on the Capilano… water levels rose sharply, as expected, and fresh fish pushed in as a result.
A majority of the fish headed straight up to the top end of the river, so fishing was spotty in the mid-river pools. Water levels have since dropped, but are currently sitting at a level that is a bit higher than normal for this time of year. I don’t think it’s high enough for fish to move freely during the day, but it should be high enough for fish to move at night. As such, I wouldn’t be surprised if there were small waves of fresh fish every morning until levels drop back down to seasonal norms.
All the usual gear that I’ve mentioned in the past will work fine, just adjust presentations to suit the conditions at hand. With no rain in the forecast for the next week or so, expect to be using a lot of smaller, more subtle presentations… fly anglers, this will be your time to shine. Check out our previous Capilano river reports if you want an in-depth discussion on what gear to use for low water conditions. A week of low water should also get the beach fishery going again too, so keep your eyes on the tide charts if that fishery interests you.
As water levels drop, fish will pile up into the upper river pools, often times in impressive numbers… and it can be incredibly frustrating to watch all those fish simply ignore any presentation you put in front of them. If you’re so desperate to catch a fish that you feel tempted to floss or snag them, don’t. As always, keep an eye on water levels when fishing the Cap… they can change rapidly and dramatically. Always have an escape route planned if things get interesting.
STILLWATER FISHING REPORTS
Interior Lake Fishing Report
A lot of what I mentioned last weekend is going to hold true again this weekend. It’s supposed to shower through the interior on Saturday and then it’ll get pretty hot. Warmer water sucks the oxygen out of the water meaning fish are going to be looking for those thermoclines. All the best chironomid fishing happened in deeper water this week in that 20 to even 60 feet and happened in lakes north of 1000m elevation.
Fishing tends to get a bit weird in these coming months as fish are trying to find that happy medium between a comfortable temperature (55-62 degrees Fahrenheit) and an ample food source. It sounds obvious, but you really have to go where you’re seeing fish jump, rise, or whatever sign you see and adjust your methods from there.
Fishing dragonfly patterns with a full sinking line works great to search for active feeding fish when you see them. It always seems to get a couple to the boat, which gives you a chance to throat pump and match the hatch. I’ve also had great success tossing size 10-14 leeches in buggy black or olive colours. I don’t even truly believe that fish always think that it’s a leech as it can imitate multiple bugs like caddis and mayflies. I had amazing fishing in 16 feet this time last year tossing leeches in the middle of the day. Not one throat pump sample rendered a leech even though there were consistent bites over multiple days. It doesn’t always have to make sense if it’s working.
Lastly, make sure your fly box is full of Tom thumbs, Mikulak sedges, and elk hair caddis patterns in sizes 8-14, especially if you’re going into the Cariboo. Anyone who has come through the store knows how fanatic Jordan, Matt and I get about the stillwater caddis fishery. There’s really nothing that compares to a large rainbow feeding on the surface and choosing to smack your size 8 travelling sedge when the sun is going down and bats are flying around your head. You’ll need a full arsenal of flies as they can be picky, but I’ve always found more success with larger patterns. It also tends to be a temperamental method since the fish simply just aren’t keyed in on them. I’ll likely be going to my sedge lake for the next three weeks as the conditions really have to be right. I’ve always had the best success on calm nights after a pretty chaotic weather day. I’ll search around the lake looking for slashes on the top of the water and then cast right to the residual ring rises. Calm conditions are ideal as you can see rises from a long distance away and continually move to where the fish seem to be.
Summer River Levels – Fishing Outlook
As most of you know water levels play a big role in a number of our summer river fisheries. For the last few years every June, I have had fun looking into the crystal ball, poring over water level numbers and snowpack data to try and predict what to expect on July 1st when many of these fisheries kick off.
I have always focused this on the summer trout river fisheries but this year I am going to be looking at the Chilliwack system as well because water levels also dictate how good the season will be when things open for summer chinook on July 1st
Let’s Start with the Skagit
The Skagit opens on the July 1st and stays open until October 31st. The Skagit is a catch and release, bait banned, single barbless hook fishery. This keeps the population healthy so make sure your barbs are pinched and the fish are released gently.
The big question for most anglers leading up to opening day is whether the river will be at a fishable level and what will the season look like in regard to water levels. Many anglers rush out on opening day only to find that the water levels are too high to hike the banks effectively.
Last year’s snowpack was above average and the amount of runoff was hampered by a cooler than normal spring. I was out opening day (2020) and though fishable, it was very hard to traverse the banks. The graph was sitting at about 6.15 on June 25th , 5 days before opening day.
Low and behold this year we are sitting about a 6.15 as I write this report. The other thing to factor in is the heat wave coming. When looking at the 14-day trend, summer is going to kick in over the next 2 weeks. I expect a bump in the numbers from the snow melt but then a fast drop.
Now, if we really want to geek out, we look at snowpack levels. I am not a meteorologist or a snow scientist (I have no idea what you call a snow expert) but in most of the surrounding mountains we are at similar or slightly higher snowpack levels than last season.
So, What is My Prediction?
“Similar or slightly lower water levels than last year but not ideal for fishing opening day”
If you have kept a fishing journal (if you don’t I highly recommend you do) we should see higher water level than 2018, much higher than 2016 and 2015 but a little lower than 2014 when we had a very high-water year.
Check out this link which should help delve into the numbers and follow it as we get closer to opening day.
Another interesting note sent in by a buddy (Thanks Rory) who was out doing some hiking in the area – is the lake level is at an extremely low level. Check out these pictures!
I remember a few years back we saw a similar lake levels and it made things interesting.
Recreational angling on the Chilliwack/Vedder River is back on as of July 1st and during the summer months receives a run of red chinook salmon and sockeye (which are strictly non-retention).
When looking at water levels from last season things were too high opening day for good fishing. From past reports things started dropping around the 15-25 of July and fishing picked up.
So, What is My Prediction?
When we compare levels right now the river is lower than last year at this time but we have also had a fairly cool last 2 weeks. With amazing weather incoming, I expect numbers to go up fast over the next 10 days. I have also looked into the snowpack and though I am no expert it looks like the snowpack around the Chilliwack watershed is much higher than normal.
Hopefully the heat over the next 14 days will knock the snowpack down and if the weather stays warm into early July, I am expecting similar fishing to last season. High water opening day with the smart bet to plan a trip around the back end of July.
As I always say “I am a knuckle dragging fishing guide/shop rat” so I wouldn’t be surprised if these predictions change. If anyone has any info on the Skagit, Thompson or Chilliwack water levels don’t hesitate to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Stay tuned for updates over the next couple weeks as more information comes in.
Note: I will be looking at the Thompson in two weeks. It historically is a little later than the Skagit but the initial look is that it is much lower than last season and could be worth looking at early.
SALTWATER FISHING REPORTS
Vancouver Saltwater Salmon Fishing Report
Levels of chinook in local waters seem to be thinning out, which is pretty normal for this time of year. We usually start to see less chinook around lower Howe Sound and South Bowen mid to late June and the fishing over around Nanaimo and Gabriola tends to be more consistent.
Considering there is a no fishing for chinook regulation around Vancouver, and you can legally fish for chinook (non-retention) around Gabriola and Nanaimo, if that is what you are looking for, head to those waters.
Locally most people are focusing on coho. So far it has been fairly slow for coho but it usually picks up in the back two weeks of June, so right about now. Try fishing around South Bowen and keep an eye out for current seams, both inshore and offshore. This is usually where you will find the fish. Productive depths on the riggers are 25-65 feet depending on the time of day and light conditions.
Prawning has been slow for some time now due to the commercial effort. Crabbing has been good.
Early test sets for Fraser chinook are not looking good, some of the lower returns on record. These are the stocks of concern, the April, May, June run fish that are going to the upper headwaters of the Fraser. We won’t know how the Aug returns are going to be for a while yet. These are the more abundant Thompson/Nicola fish.
The next potential opportunity for chinook retention will be July 15, not on our side of the pond, but over at Thrasher and Entrance, etc. With the current political situation in play, the next likely opportunity for chinook retention around Vancouver will be Sep 1 and maybe that small opening along the W Van shoreline sometime in Aug. It’s all up in the air at this point, but I will let you know what I find out as things progress.
See you in the shop or on the water,