Nasty weather inbound?! We have a question mark here because the weather reports over the last 3 weeks have forecast bad weather multiple times but it really never came to pass. That said this one looks like a doozy and we expect it will be hard for the weatherman to get it wrong.
We have a massive dump of rain coming on Saturday and if the numbers hold true it will affect all our major river systems in a big way. Right now, they are forecasting 50-70mm and have a weather warning in effect up in Squamish with less but still significant ran for the Fraser Valley as well. It is rare to see a weather report of this magnitude. We are concerned not only for fishing conditions but with relatively high temperatures for this time of year there could be possible flooding.
If this weather comes it will blow out the Squamish, Vedder and Chehalis and we don’t recommend being out there on Saturday. The effects will probably last into next week. With that in mind when it settles after the storm it should be amazing fishing and probably the last major kick at the can for the river salmon season. As always keep an eye on the weather updates. Matt has a little trick on what he looks for when watching weather like this in the video format of the report and we have more details on the specific river systems below.
Matt also has some important fish politics updates in the video report so you make sure to check that out here:
It’s rare that we say don’t go Fishing but we think it is a safe bet at least for Saturday to be very careful and pay close attention to the water levels. If you are stuck for something to do this weekend you can hit the vise and or do some planning for upcoming trips. With this in mind, we have a fly video that Matt did for both high water late season coho and low water late season coho.
If you get sick of the cold dreary weather, we have a very cool warm water trip to Christmas Island planned for 2020. Check out the Industry Events and Updates Section below for all of the details!
Also, we have a handful of up spots for our Steelhead Fly Tying Jam Session so if you want a spot check out the details in the event section and make sure to reserve your spot.
On to the report!
INDUSTRY EVENTS AND UPDATES
Christmas Island 2020
If you have ever wanted to go warmwater fly fishing this might be the perfect time. It is rare that we even have spots available for this trip but it is something we have done for the last 5 years and it is the perfect trip for beginners and experts alike. Matt talks about this trip further in the report video and we have a cool teaser video as well if you want to see some cool fishing porn!
We also have a great no-holds-barred trip overview that is probably the most detail “what to expect” article in regard to the fishing on Christmas Island that you will ever see so even if you can’t make these dates, Email Matt at email@example.com and he will send you a copy.
Trip Dates: Mar 16 – 24, 2020
Steelhead Fly Tying Jam Session | 2019 Edition
If you missed the special mailout earlier this week not to worry. There are a handful of spots left for the upcoming Steelhead Jam Session.
Join us for a relaxed and fun night for tyers of all levels of experience from beginner to expert to hang out, do some tying, share their favourite flies and techniques, and of course talk about fishing. From intruders to classics, we’ll be tying them all so come ready to share and learn! We have an awesome lineup of expert tyers on hand to answer questions and teach some tricks of the trade.
Date: Tuesday November 26, 2019
Time: 6:30PM – 9:30PM
Location: Pacific Angler, 78 East Broadway, Vancouver BC
How: Get your free tickets to reserve your spot.
Get your free tickets here – reserve a spot at the tying table OR reserve a ticket to join us to watch and ask questions of the tyers!
CLASSES AND COURSES
Our classes and courses for 2019 have wrapped up! A big thanks to all of the students who have joined us throughout the year. Keep an eye on this section for our full 2020 course listing coming soon.
FRESHWATER FISHING REPORTS
Chilliwack/Vedder River Fishing Report
The water is low and clear on the Vedder, but we have some very heavy rain in the forecast. There is less rain in the valley than in Squamish so there is some hope if you are heading out but we do expect the water to rise fast and it will probably hit a blown out state sometime mid Saturday into Sunday. As always keep a close eye on her because if it doesn’t blowout it could be excellent and if it gets too dirty to fish on the weekend when it settles it will most likely be one of the last chances we will get for a good push of fish into this system for this year. The lower section still has a good number of chum salmon and there are coho still throughout the system.
At this time of year this system can be fun as there is a lot less fishing pressure than in its prime time and there are still fresh fish to be had. With the anticipated water fluctuations this weekend the lower river will be worth a look again in the hopes of intercepting some new and aggressive fish early next week.
Squamish River Fishing Report
This past week saw some interesting levels on the Squamish and its tributaries. From being perfect to a little high and coloured, anglers saw it all.
There are fish to be found through all systems, with a variety of species to keep one entertained. Fly and gear anglers both found success, with each having a variety of options to present. For the gear anglers, all the usual suspects produced, including drifting beads. Trout, salmon, and char all eat eggs and beads are a great way imitate them.
Fly anglers managed to strip, swing, and drift up fish as well, with each presentation working in the appropriate water. Sizes and colour of fly are dictated by water conditions, and having a mix will keep you well prepared. Check out Matt’s Video below on the Poisoned Arrow for a great Squamish Coho pattern or check out the ‘What’s in my Coho Box’ video for other great pattern ideas.
With this massive dump of rain on the forecast we don’t expect it to be good this weekend and it could be unsafe if all of the rain arrives as predicted. Keep an eye on it but after this storm we should see some excellent egg fishing. The storm will wash a bunch of eggs out of the gravel and though it’s probably bad for the salmon runs it will be good for the species eating those eggs when the river level settles.
Harrison/Chehalis Area Fishing Report
With the Vedder slowly winding down, anglers are moving to the North side of the Fraser and focusing their attention on systems like the Chehalis, Harrison, Nicomen slough, and Norrish Creek. The beautiful part about these systems is that you can fish each one on your way back to Vancouver and they all present a different challenge making for some fun fishing. All the systems have been fishing well and should only continue to fish even better as the rain hits the Valley this weekend. The water is crystal clear and shallow, which often leads to spooky fish outside of the morning light window so a bit of rain will both muddy up the water a bit and allow the fish to push up river. These systems can be notoriously ‘boom or bust’ as the coho numbers just don’t quite match up to the Vedder so trying to find the fish is typically the hardest part. Be sure to cover ground and keep moving if you’re not seeing much sign of fish as both chum and coho are pretty active on the top of the water. Saying that, I have spent quite a bit of time out on these systems and had a very productive time twitching jigs and tossing spoons for coho. The two predominant species of fish (Chum, coho) in these systems tend to hang out in slower paced water and love a lot of movement.
For jigs, a combination of purple, pink, and blue are a good bet to get into fish as chum can’t seem to keep away from those colors. I find coho really don’t care about color, but try and keep away from the chum colors if you’re targeting coho so stick to your chartreuse, green, pink, and white combinations.
For spoons, I like to toss either Gibbs Croc fire wings or fire stripes. Each of the four main river systems I’m discussing are quite different so keep the action of the spoon in mind. A thicker or wider spoon (K-Wobblers / Kitimat) works well for deep slots like you would see in the Chehalis canyon. A thinner spoon (Crocs, Koho) work great for walking pace or still water like you see in the Nicomen slough or the Harrison.
Other effective methods if you’re float fishing is using a simple bead set up, roe, Colorado blades, or float jigs. There’s no sure-fire lure that fish choose to bite so having multiple options is vital once you’re able to locate the larger groupings of fish. I’ve always seemed to have good success with float drifting 8-10 mm beads in the tangerine, montana roe, and clear orange colors if you’re wondering what color to start with. Some of these systems have fish sitting in very shallow water (under 3 ft) so stick to short leaders and subtle floats. The best option when targeting or looking for coho in shallow water is to look for structure, such as fallen trees and they like to hold up in these covered areas.
For fly fishing, the best options are clear intermediate sinking lines like the Rio outbound or a floating line with a slow sink tip. For fly selection, stripping flies in the copper variety always seem to be a hit. Matt recently put out a video called “What’s in my coho fly box” that covers basic fly selection too.
Be sure to stop by the store if you’ve got any questions about where to even start fishing on these smaller systems.
Stave River Fishing Report
The lovely stench of rotten fish is in the air, signaling that we are nearing the end of the season for the Stave. There are lots of chum in the system now, though mostly dead on the bank after they’ve done their spawning ritual. Chum fishing is pretty much on its last legs for this year and while there are still a few very clean fish making their way into the river and you will find action with a purple jig or purple streamer, a vast majority of the fish are in full spawn mode and are best left alone.
The one positive from the big storm coming is it will wash out the dead chum but we expect them to open the dam with the rain so be careful if you get out there this weekend. The coho fishing has been fair with a mixture of dark and clean fish. The water has been super low and clear, making a stealthy approach a necessity but it will be interesting to see how the rain affects things. Be safe out there!
STILLWATER FISHING REPORTS
Local Lake Fishing Update
This is the final hurrah for our local urban lake scene as water temperatures begin to tame the appetite of fall stocked rainbows. With nasty weather hitting our rivers, lakes will be an option that won’t be affected by the weather. We have heard some great reports from Rice, Green Timbers, Mill, and Buntzen have been steadily flowing in over the past month or so. The most common tactic for hooking into these fish is a bottom powerbait rig, which anchors your bait a foot off the floor of the lake. The other way of tricking these picky trout is to use small spinners or spoons to attempt at a reaction strike. But as the fall winds down into winter, we can also look towards spring. Springtime stocking on our local ponds begins in late March and continues strong throughout May and June.
SALTWATER FISHING REPORTS
It doesn’t look like it is going to be a very nice weekend out there! Big SE winds and lots and lots of rain. If you are hardcore and you want to chase down some winter chinook and prawns this weekend, you will probably have the place to yourself for the most part. Bring your rain gear and maybe a heater.
Luckily we were able to get out earlier in the week when it was flat calm and sunny. We got into some fish but we had to work pretty hard for them this past week. There also doesn’t seem to be as much bait around, which is likely why the fishing was a bit slower this week. You know how it goes, find the bait, find the fish. Our best producing setup this past week was a black flasher, like the CB55 or custom black Pacific Angler flasher, paired up with a Kingfisher Herring Aide spoon in 3.0 or a G-Force Herring Aide in 3.0.
We had the Lower Fraser Valley Sport Fish Advisory Board meeting this week and there was a lot covered, but lets focus on early run chinook, as this is the big issue. As you all know, the early run timed Fraser chinook are at extreme low numbers and not much has changed there. I expect we will be in for the same fight this coming year to keep the marine waters open from April to July. The science shows that less than 1% of the time we are encountering those specific stocks off areas like South Bowen and Howe Sound or over at Thrasher and Entrance. Closing down chinook fishing in those areas is completely political and is simply a move to appease and manage First Nations who want to gill net the Fraser during that time period. The reality is this. DFO knows we don’t catch those threatened Fraser stocks but they shut us down and won’t even allow a hatchery only fishery. They close us so they can show FN that we are closed and in turn they can then impose more restrictive regulations on FN in river gill netting. That’s the truth of the matter. Not based on science and not based on logic. Science and logic would dictate if you aren’t catching the stocks of concern and in fact you are catching stocks that are actually doing quite well (also lots of US bound hatchery fish) you should be open. Right? Of course, but this is the problem with how DFO manages the resource. They shut down one user group to manage another. At this past meeting the recreational angler was well represented and the message to DFO was loud and clear. This management style is not acceptable and at the very least there should be a fishery for hatchery fish and we need to transition to clipping all our hatchery fish now. We will see how this plays out, but the best thing you can do in the mean time is join organizations like SFI as they are pushing DFO hard for science based decisions and they need your support. I will be at the SFI Conference today and senior DFO staff will be there and presenting. I will report on how that goes in next weeks report.
In the meantime, stay dry, tie some leaders, and get ready, as the fishing should pick up next week when the winds die down and we are done with the full moon.
See you in the shop or on the water,