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Home / FIshing Reports / Pacific Angler Friday Fishing Report: March 8, 2024

Pacific Angler Friday Fishing Report: March 8, 2024



There is a warm spell coming! It is just not coming this weekend. We are going to see some more wet reasonably cold weather over the weekend but next weekend, if the weather man is on his game, looks amazing with the first 16-degree days in the forecast!  

We expect this weekend to be good because we need water on many of our local rivers and then next weekend should be worth marking on the calendar.  

Right now, as we write the report, we are not seeing many salmon fry in the local systems and the water is low. This should change over the weekend and if the warm weather comes next weekend, we will see salmon fry out in force.  

This week, we have an update on the Squamish where the bulltrout fishing has been ok and we have heard of some steelhead, but not many. We are hoping this will change over the weekend.  

We also have an update on the Chilliwack where things have been solid, and we are in peak migration timing.  

With lower water steelheading in mind, Eric has a piece on some classic steelhead patterns. Though the big classics are super cool to tie and look at, when it comes to fishing large steelhead patterns on big shank hooks, we are not fans. That said, when it comes to low water close out pattens, the classics still pull fish when all the “modern” patterns are striking out. Check the article out below.  

Finally, we only have a couple weeks before regulations change in saltwater fishing. Two weeks ago, we took the BC Fly Guys out winter chinook fishing, and it was a blast! The boys just released their “Day Tripping” video filmed when they were out with us, and it turned out great! The chinook fishing is still going strong up Howe Sound and across the strait so don’t miss out.  Jason has a bunch of details in the Saltwater update at the end of the report. Check it out if you plan to head out or sit back and watch some of the fun with the fly guys video (link to video in the saltwater report)!

 On to the report! 


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. The dates below show the seminar date first and casting date second.
Dates: (Apr 29 & May 5), (Jun 4 & 8), (July 11 & 15), (Sept 18 & 22) 
Cost: $180.00+GST
Seminar Time:  6:30pm – 9:30pm
Casting Time(s): 10am – 1pm or 1:30pm -4:30pm


Winter Steelhead on the Fly
Fishing for winter steelhead on the fly (single hand or spey) is arguably one of the most challenging and rewarding fisheries in BC. Let our steelhead gurus help you unlock the mysteries of these magical fish with their decades of steelhead guiding knowledge. This course consists of a 3hr evening seminar and 1 full day of guided fishing on the water. In the seminar we will go over rods, reels, lines, sink tips, flies and reading water and swung fly techniques. The fully guided day on the water we will be work on casting, reading water and swinging the fly.

Seminar:  Mar 20, 2024      Guided:  Mar 23 or 24, 2024   WAIT LIST ONLY
Seminar Only Cost: $75.00+GST
Seminar and Guided Walk’n Wade Cost: $325.00+GST
Seminar Time: 6:30pm – 9:30pm
Guided:  Full Day

Introduction To Fly Fishing Lakes

This course will give you an in-depth look at the fundamentals of fly fishing lakes. We explore equipment, techniques, major insect hatches and ideal lakes to begin with. You will learn all you need to plan your next successful lake trip to one of BC’s 5,000 lakes!  This course is comprised of one 3hr evening seminar.
Dates: Apr 3, 2024
Cost: $75.00+GST
Time: 6:30pm – 9:30pm

Coastal Streamer Fishing
Many Anglers focus on steelhead in the spring but with spring comes warmer waters, salmon fry, more active sculpin species and all the predators that feed on them. In this course Matt will go over different techniques and flies for targeting these species with single hand and switch rods on coastal streams. This course includes an evening seminar and a guided day on the water.

Dates: Seminar: Apr 9, 2024
Seminar Time: 6:30pm – 9:30pm
Seminar Only Cost: $75.00+GST
Seminar & Guided Walk’n Wade Cost:  $325.00+GST per angler, minimum of 2 anglers per guided day on the water.
Seminar Time: 6:30pm – 9:30pm
Guided:  Full Day April 13 or 14

Introduction to Chironomid Techniques
Chironomids are the number one food source for trout in BC’s lakes; however, few anglers have taken the time to become true masters of this discipline.  Those that do, are often rewarded with the largest fish.  Trevor is a former member of the Canadian Fly Fishing Team and an excellent chironomid angler.  Dedication to his sport has helped Trevor to become one of the top fly fishermen in the province as well as a fisheries biologist.  This course is comprised on one 3 hour evening seminar.  Content is for beginner to advanced.
Date: April 23
Time: 6:30-9:30 PM
Cost: $75.00+GST

Check out the full course listing here and give us a call at the shop (604.872.2204) to sign up today!


Chilliwack/Vedder Fishing Report 
The past week has been fairly productive on the C/V system, with good numbers of fish being caught as the river has dropped. It’s currently running low and clear, but I’m expecting that to change based on the forecast- almost a week of moderate rain should bump the water levels and get some colour into the water; albeit with a fairly high chance of a blowout at some point.  

Fish are being caught throughout the entire system, from top to bottom- this is to be expected from this time of year, as fish have had ample amounts of time to spread out in the system. Generally speaking, you can expect to find fresher, more aggressive fish in the lower river, while the fish in the upper river are usually a bit more coloured up and less aggressive, as they’ve likely seen quite a bit of gear and probably been hooked at least once in their travels. It’s also very common to find significantly more unclipped fish than clipped fish in the upper river, since a clipped fish usually doesn’t survive the gauntlet of hooks long enough to get up there.  

The gradually warming water temperatures mean that, while all the usual presentations that I’ve mentioned in past reports will continue working, a few other options will become more viable. Swinging spoons and flies will work all season, but higher water temps mean higher metabolic rates for fish; higher metabolic rates mean more active, aggressive fish… and more active, aggressive fish are more likely to hit swung flies and spoons. As such, I don’t leave home without a second rod for spoons, and anybody who really wants to get a steelie on the fly should be putting in their effort from now until the end of the season.  


Keep an eye on the weather forecast and the river level gauges if you’re planning on heading out this weekend- as I said earlier, there is the potential for a blowout. If you do head out there, try to avoid wading unnecessarily in backchannels, side channels or in slow, near-shore areas, as there will be increasing numbers of pink, coho and chum fry hiding in the gravel over the next few weeks. Trampling fry is not great to their survival, so if you don’t need to be in the water, then don’t be in the water.  

Taylor Nakatani

Squamish River Fishing Report  

The river didn’t rise last weekend and stayed low all week. This made for some slower reports. It also kept the water temperatures cool. We heard reports of fry but not many. With rain in the forecast, I would drag my heels on heading out until we see some vertical movement on the graphs, but it might be hard to time as there is quite a bit of rain in the forecast, and it could blow out.   

As of writing of this report, the weather forecast is for 30-45mm of rain today and 50-75mm Saturday and another 30-40mm Saturday and Sunday.  Some of this will fall as snow at higher levels so there is a chance that it may not blow the river, but it is tough to say as this is a lot of precipitation forecasted!   So, it goes without saying – watch water levels before heading out. If it pushed through 3.3m expect dirty water. Over 4 is a no go. If it doesn’t bust through 3m it’s go time.    

With things clearing up mid-week and temperatures rising a lot next weekend, we are expecting the report to pick up.  

If you are out before we see a rise in water levels the lower river can fish well when fish can’t push hard into the system and if you are mid to upper river fish small presentations in the clear water.  

Eric’s article on smaller classics is worth considering in these conditions.  

Time will only tell how hard the river rises but expect the opposite conditions Sunday, Monday, Tuesday and you will want to scale up your presentations.  

With a sizable amount of rain in the forecast make sure to be safe and good luck!  

Matt Sharp


Classic Small Flies for Big Fish 

A few thoughts on small flies and classsic flies for steelhead. 

Stuffed in the corner of my fly box are a few flies that stand out. They are noticeably smaller and tied on single salmon hooks. I might only carry two or three but these smaller flies they have fooled quite few fish when the more modern style pattern have failed. We often call these close-out flies or low water flies. These more delicate presentations also have a lot in common with classic Atlantic Salmon and Steelhead flies. We can fish them when conditions favor a more subtle approach. 

If I get a take but miss a fish, I will go back for a second pass with a smaller close out pattern. A stung fish might not come back to the same fly. 

Similarity higher pressure systems late in the season might fish well with smaller flies. If fish have been bombarded with a rainbow assortment of worms and beads, they may be tuned off large bright presentations. 

Low water in the winter can be challenging to fish effectively. This is usually accompanied by clear water and cold temperatures. In these conditions a big loud fly might spook fish. 

Low water can also force fish up under faster moving water. In many instances fish will hold in swallow choppy water, an unweighted fly is all you need. 

What makes a good close out fly? 

Most good steelhead flies have a few things in common… close out flies just do it on a smaller scale. We start off with a tear drop shape. You could call this the universal underwater prey item shape. Look for Movement: It should look alive, not like a dead stick. Colour and contrast: I am putting these together because they relate to one another. A dark fly has great contrast in low light. A bright fly stands out when its lighter out. Stout hooks are also important. These small flies need to withstand some big fights. The last factor that I think affects how these flies fish, is something we don’t worry as much about in bigger flies and that is the “Buggyness” factor. These smaller patterns have more classic trout “buggy” look to them and this “look” seams to trigger steelhead slightly differently that the larger streamlined swimming patterns and might be the reason they pull fish when the larger patterns won’t.  

Common patterns: 

Egg sucking leech, General Practitioner, Polar Shrimp, Green butt skunk, Buggers, Muddlers, micro intruders like the Klamath and CCFCCP, various classic flies… 

Classic flies: 

 I don’t fish them every day, but I do think they have a place as a close out fly. I have a soft spot for GP’s (General Practitioners) so I usually have a few non-traditional black/purple and orange/red colour variants with me on the river. I also like the shape and lines found in many classic Washington and Oregon Steelhead/Spey flies. Classic might be a stretch as most of these patterns only go back to the 50’s, but they were forged at a time when steelheading on the fly was in its infancy. These flies take inspiration from traditional Atlantic Salmon/Spey flies dating much farther back. These patterns have also made their mark on the many rivers of the Skeena region. There is something special about getting a beautiful fish on a beautiful fly. Sourcing these flies can be difficult so most anglers choose to tie their own. I won’t dive too deep into the world of exotic plumage and tinsel, but if you plan to fish these flies choose quality hooks at a reasonable size. Many patterns call for very large hooks or utilize light gauge. These are suitable for display but might not be best for hard fighting fish. Tying classic flies is a pastime and art all to itself.  

I spun up a few freestyle closer patterns to share this week. These are heavily inspired by classic flies.  


Enjoy ! 



Vancouver Winter Chinook Fishing Report 

Well, we have a few more weeks left of Vancouver winter chinook fishing.  This season has sure flown by, probably because the fishing has been pretty awesome overall.  If you haven’t made it out yet, don’t worry there are still 3 weeks left!   

To check out some of the action we have had this winter, watch this video of Jason and the BC Fly Guys, chasing down some winter chinook in Howe Sound.  It was a true winter chinook day, windy with a good dose of rain and cooler temps, but the fish sure didn’t seem to mind!  

Looking ahead, there will be plenty of chinook around the next few weeks in local waters and the Gulf Islands.  Howe Sound was a touch slower this past week, but it was quite good over in the Gulf Islands when conditions allowed a crossing.   

Eddie and his guests had some mid-week success in lower Howe Sound

Over the next few weeks is when Vancouver Harbour can also really come alive.  In years past there has been good to extremely good fishing for chinook in mid to late March off the “Bell Buoy” and around “The Freighters.”  It’s not every year that this happens, but when the chinook do decide to hang out in these areas and feast on the abundant herring, it has made for some of the best fishing of the winter season.  It will be interesting to see if it lights up this year.  

Another area worth checking out in March is South Bowen from Cowan up to Roger Curtis.  When we were open for chinook fishing in April and May, this area was the place to be as many of you know.  It is also worth a look mid to late March, especially that last week of March, so keep that in the playbook.  

Prawning has been solid to perhaps a bit leaner in the most popular spots.  This is to be expected as the easiest spots to access on the way to the most popular fishing grounds have now been hit hard by our traps for over 4 months.  There are still plenty of spots a bit further up Howe Sound that receive a fraction of the effort, so a little exploring can go a long way.  Crabbing is also picking up with more legals in the traps recently and this trend will continue until mid-June when the commercial fleet shows up. 

When it comes to weather, this weekend looks a bit dreary, but the long-term forecast looks great, with some double-digit temperatures on the way!  It’s been a while since we have seen that.  Those are going to be some very fun and very comfortable days on the water, “winter” chinook fishing and prawning, so give us a call to book your trip and take advantage of our special winter rates. 

Our Winter Chinook Charter Special runs until the end of the month and we still have some openings.  Give us a call on our charter line at 778.788.8582 or email kathryn@pacificangler.ca to book your trip.  
Winter Chinook Special Rates – 8hr trip 
1-4 guests – $1,199+GST 
5-6 guests – $1,399+GST 

See you in the shop or on the water!

Good Luck out there!

Jason Tonelli