Welcome to March! We are pumped to welcome a much better fishing month. Overall, February is probably the toughest fishing month in the 12-month cycle fishing in the Lower Mainland. The good news is that March is actually one of the better months. Why? It is a month of transition. Temps warm up, the salmon fry hatch and there is lots to do if you love waving a length of graphite around on our local flows or salt chuck.
This week, the Vedder had some very bad slide issues but there should still be fishing options for those of you looking to get out. On the Squamish, it is low but rain is coming and it should be a good weekend with a mix of rain and cloud in the forecast.
Saltwater is still fishing well when the winds allow you to get out there. Next week, Jason will tune in for the report but it is worth getting out there.
This week, in the video report, Matt talks about a very interesting seal/interior steelhead piece and he touches on the slide as well as some details on the weather. Check it out here:
On to the report !
CLASSES AND COURSES
Fly Fishing For Sea Run Cutthroat Trout In Rivers
This course is designed to educate one on the life cycle, location, seasonal feeding habits, and successful techniques and flies used to catch these elusive yet aggressive fish. The course is comprised of a 3 hr, evening seminar and a fully guided day on the water.
Dates: Seminar March 24
Seminar Time: 6:30-9:30 pm
Walk ‘n Wade Dates: March 27, 28, April 3, 4
Cost: $275 + GST
Introduction To Fly Fishing
This course was specifically designed to give the new fly fisher the basic knowledge, casting skills and fly fishing strategies to effectively fish our local BC waters. This course is comprised of two sessions; 3hr evening seminar and a 3hr casting session
Dates: Seminar April 7 & Casting April 10
Seminar Time: 6:30pm – 9:30pm
Casting Time(s): 10am – 1pm or 1:30pm -4:30pm
Cost: $150.00 + GST
FRESHWATER FISHING REPORTS
Chilliwack/Vedder River Fishing Report
It seems that we can’t catch a break from the Ranger slide this year. Clearly, putting the river out of shape whenever it rained wasn’t bad enough, so it had to go and drop a huge chunk of the mountainside into the river this past Saturday, as I’m sure most of you have already heard. This major slide will have several ramifications, none of which are especially pleasant.
The slide occurred at a portion of the river where it splits into two branches to flow around an island. The slide was so significant that about 60% of the island is under about 10 feet of clay, and the branch that ran alongside the mountain is completely blocked… so no more island! Visibility after the slide plummeted to zero. That’s not an exaggeration, it was the worst viz I’ve ever seen in the Vedder… kind of looked like a Vodka Mudshake with extra mud.
First of all, a bit of good news; the river cleared up much sooner than I thought it would after the initial slide and it was in remarkably good shape by Tuesday, which is a welcome surprise. Unfortunately, the sheer volume of loose clay deposited below the high-water mark means that any amount of rain or increase in water level will wash large volumes of clay into the river, blowing it out. If you empty a water bottle onto the slide, you’ll probably blow the river out for a while.
Unfortunately, this is not a short-term issue. Much like the Slesse Park slide of 1989, the clay is very unstable and will continue to slide until something is done to stabilize the bank. That’s a problem, not only for us, but for the fish as well. The gravel was full of eggs, alevin, and fry before the slide, so it remains to be seen how the dramatic drop in water quality and massive amount of suffocating silt will affect these fragile juvenile fish. Larger fish, such as steelhead, bull trout, whitefish and resident rainbows will have been negatively affected as well; spending too much time in water with high silt loads damages their gills, much like what being trapped in a room full of dense smoke for a few hours would do to our lungs. The aquatic insects that all species rely on for food probably aren’t appreciating the silt very much either.
This is supposed to be prime time for Vedder river steelhead, but water conditions will dictate how good it will actually be until the end of the season. There’s some rain in the forecast, so I’m not sure how fishable the river will be for the weekend. I’m not going to hold my breath, but who knows… maybe it’ll surprise me again.
Squamish River Fishing Report
The Squamish has been a finicky mistress this winter. Some anglers have been hitting the conditions right and have been finding but most of the time fishing has been tough. Luckily the days are getting longer and soon the winter doldrums will be behind us. I expect this next week to be a bit more of the same as the temperatures are hovering around freezing overnight.
Anglers that have been out have been seeing the odd cluster of fry swimming about. If you see any in a still pool or puddle of water along the riverbank that are alive, try to capture them in a ball cap, or even better yet, grab yourself a small bug net at the dollar store and release these little guys into the main flow. The early hatches of fry usually don’t stand much of a chance but if you see some give them a helping hand if you can.
As things warm up, you will want to be on the lookout for these fry hatches and the chaos that ensues when rainbows, bulls and the mighty cutthroat are keyed in on this food source. Make sure you have an assortment of small mini-g spoons and size 0 and 1 blue fox spinners.
For fly anglers, we are stocked up with Andre’s fry patterns so come and get them while they are hot. It is still a bit early, but with the river levels being as low as they are, it is a good time to scout the runs to see how they are shaping up for steelhead season. If you are swinging flies make sure you have at minimum a small dark and bright coloured pattern that is unweighted or lightly weighted and a heavier and bigger dark or bright pattern in your box. We all have our confidence patterns but usually the old adage of dark fly dark day and bright fly bright day will usually work out in your favour.
Make sure to cover water when hunting these unicorns as they are constantly moving. The Squamish system is primarily a wild steelhead river so you will be hard pressed to find a hatchery in these waters. With that being the case, make sure to not beach these gorgeous creatures and release them carefully and quickly. We all want the hero shot but please try to keep these fish in the water as much as possible. If you have any questions please come on into the shop. We have everything that you need at the shop for both the cutthroat and steelhead season in stock!
Stave River Fishing Report
As some heavy rain is expected in the forecast, expect the Stave to be one of the busier systems with others blowing out. There have been spotty reports over the past week of trout moving through the system, however they’ve been relatively tight lipped. It’s getting close to the fry hatch and these fish will push up through slack water biding their time for the annual buffet. This rain won’t make things much easier as the water clarity will reduce, but at least you can be sure the system will be fishable. I tend to look for walking speed water or deep pockets where a multitude of species can sit, but won’t bother sitting on a spot if nothing seems to be happening. Same as always, you’ve got to cover ground.
To target these fish, you can try a veritable rainbow of techniques. Swinging flies, chucking spoons & spinners, or even running bait and soft plastic rigs can all produce fish this time of year. I always suggest adding scent this time of year to increase your chances. As mentioned above, this warmer weather is going to trigger a fry hatch any day, so it’s worthwhile to get out to the system and at least do some location scouting. If you’re looking for fry patterns, we have a full selection of Andre’s epoxy minnows back in the shop, which are the premier pattern for the incoming season.
As always, when you’re fishing on a river that is held by a dam, be aware of river levels, especially when it is heavily raining. Every year there are a few anglers that are caught off guard by the rapidly rising levels, so be safe and always have a way to get to dry land.