Freshet has kicked in. We saw a big rise on all of our Lower Mainland rivers, and we have also seen some flooding and road advisories in the Interior around Cache Creek. If you are heading that direction, make sure to check road conditions and closures. We have details on the Chilliwack and Squamish this week, but the general trend is rising water and limited opportunities.
Though most of the major freshwater opportunities in the Lower Mainland are affected by the rising water, we have heard good cutthroat reports this week from the sloughs and we are also hearing good bass reports with the increasing temperatures. We don’t have an update on the cutthroat this week, only to say that is well worth going but we do have a bass report worth a read at if you are looking for something fun and local.
On the saltwater front, if you’ve been following our reports, you will know that we have been waiting for a decision on various Mark Selective Fisheries (MSF). Extremely overdue decisions were made this week and while some MSF proposals were approved for Southern Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands, DFO inexplicably failed to approve Howe Sound proposals that have the same or less risk to stocks of concern. For more on this you can read the update from the Sport Fishing Institute here and from the Public Fishery Alliance here. As noted in the SFI update, it is positive and encouraging to see some proposals for small, precautionary but critically important opportunities to harvest hatchery fish, through MSF in specific areas and times on the south coast approved. That said, It is very discouraging to see the Vancouver angling community shut out yet again! More details on the approved openings Fisheries Notice FN0426 here.
The big focus this weekend is on the Interior lake fishing. It is GO time! Lakes in the 3000ft level are starting to ice off and many of the lower elevation lakes are through their turnover. We have some details in the lake fishing section on winter kills and what we have been hearing this week. Though the weather is not beautiful this weekend it should still be a great weekend to head to the Interior. Many of the staff were out over the last week and are going again this weekend.
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. 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: Jun 14 & 17, July 11 & 15, Sept 19 & 23
Seminar Time: 6:30pm – 9:30pm
Casting Time(s): 10am – 1pm or 1:30pm -4:30pm
FRESHWATER FISHING REPORTS
Chilliwack/Vedder River Report
The past few weeks of warmer weather have kicked off the freshet in the C/V system, so the river is running high and the visibility is what one might consider to be “sub-optimal”. In short, the river is blown out and will almost certainly remain that way for the rest of the month.
If you are absolutely dead-set on going to the C/V system, come hell-or-high-water, be aware that phase 3 of the “rolling closure” is now in effect. That means the upper and mid stretches of the river are closed to all fishing until July 1st. The lower river, below the Vedder Crossing bridge, is open to fly fishing only until June 1st, when it closes. Note that there is a mandatory bait-ban and release of all hatchery cutthroat and rainbow trout in the lower portion of the river while it’s open.
There will be a few fresh steelhead trickling into the system, but the run is pretty much over now. A vast majority of the fish one might encounter would either be quite dark, or already spawned-out and heading back to the ocean. The next fishery will be for summer-run chinooks in July, so it’s time to start looking forward to that.
Squamish River Fishing Report
The river pushed through a 4.5 yesterday and seems to be holding. With rain in the forecast, we do not expect it to be a good weekend to head up the Sea to Sky. There may still be opportunities in areas where clearer water enters the system and if things do start to drop again it can be some of the best fishing of the season but, right now, it is not recommended. In May if we get some cooler weather and no rain, the river can come back into shape, so it is still worth watching.
If things change for the better, we will tune in on the Squamish again but at least for May and June we expect opportunities to be limited.
Time to go lake fishing! – and no… the pinks have not arrived yet 😊
STILLWATER FISHING REPORTS
Local Bass Fishing Report
The fairly rapid warming trend we’ve seen over the past couple weeks has gotten things moving in the right direction for our local bass fisheries. I’ve heard reports of some fish on beds in some of the smaller local ponds, and the larger lakes shouldn’t be too far behind. It seems that we’re right at the tail-end of the pre-spawn season.
The pre-spawn/early spawn season can be quite productive and is my personal favorite time to fish for bass. The fish are either bedded up or are getting ready to bed up, so you should be prepared for both situations as most of the fish will bed up around the same time. I like to cover water and stay fairly mobile if the fish haven’t bedded up yet, so I’ll typically run spinnerbaits, shallow-diving cranks, swimbaits or jigs. All of the above, can be fished slow or fast, depending on water temps and fish activity levels. You can still fish these “searching” lures when fish are on beds, but a soft plastic fished slowly near beds will often produce very well; I usually have a bunch of senkos and craws that I fish when I know where the bedded fish are. Bedded fish aren’t usually striking because they’re hungry; they’re striking to defend their territory, so a slowly-fished wacky-rigged senko or Texas-rigged craw that violates their airspace usually gets shot down quickly. Topwater lures aren’t usually the best option this early in the season; they usually start to produce better as the water gets warmer later in the season, but there can be exceptions to this, so feel free to pitch a frog if you feel like it.
The local bass fisheries will remain viable all throughout the summer and can be a great option for when the local trout lakes get too warm. Of course, bass can tolerate much higher temperatures than trout, so they remain quite active through the summer. Remember that bass are an invasive species, so anglers should do everything in their power to keep them contained- never, ever transport a live fish from one body of water to another… that’s how they spread around the Lower Mainland to begin with.
Interior Lake Fishing Report
As we finish up the first week of May we are finally seeing some warmer temperatures. This means that all but the highest lakes in the Merritt and Kamloops areas are now ice free and some of the lakes in the Cariboo are also iced off with more to come this week.
As you likely have heard, there was more winterkill than normal this year. There really isn’t a normal these days when it comes to weather, but the fact remains that some lakes saw 50 year lows when oxygen levels were investigated this winter. For more information on winterkill and what lakes were affected, check out this recent blog post from the Freshwater Fisheries Society of BC titled Winterkill Update: Spring 2023
If you have a trip planned to the Douglas Lake Ranch you will want to call them as well because there was extensive winterkill on some of their lakes, but others seem to be okay and still have some big fish. It sounds like Corbett is doing great as well. Reports from today are indicating that Roche Lake might be looking at a total winter kill though. Anglers on the lake today and yesterday are not catching any fish or seeing any movement and lots of dead fish around. Not good. This is one of, if not the busiest lake in the region for good reason with all the nice fish it holds, so all those anglers are going to be looking for different waters this season.
The good news is there are hundreds of amazing lakes in the Province, so there really is not a shortage of opportunities. The lakes that winterkilled will be stocked again, and they will come back and grow some big fish. In the meantime, get out there to your favorite lake that didn’t winterkill or explore some new waters. There are more than you can get to in a lifetime.
When it comes to what is going on in the lakes, it is the usual early season show. Leeches, blobs, boobies, baby damsels, and scuds. Some of the lakes that have been off for 2 and 3 weeks now are seeing some good chironomid hatches, mostly in size 16 and 18. There have even been a few mayflies around on the lower elevation lakes. These next 2-4 weeks will be some of the best fishing of the spring lake season, so it’s time to get out there!
If you are not a tier, we have a great selection of flies in stock now, including contemporary flies like balanced leeches or jig leechees, blobs, boobies and custom tied chironomids. Lots of leaders, tippets, and indicators are in stock as well. Come by and check things out before your next trip.
See you in the shop or on the water,