We are all on weather watch right now. The rivers are very low but seasonally warm daytime temperatures have made for ok fishing. We expect this trend to continue over the weekend. The low clear water makes fish picky, but the warmer temperatures have meant that their metabolisms haven’t shut down and they are still actively biting. The general trend of fish being “late” continues to hold true and systems that historically have been winding down this time of year continue to fish pretty decent for the conditions.
If the weatherman is on his game this will all change next week. There is a big storm in the forecast. This has been an ongoing trend over the last few years where big storms in November have caused major problems for both the fish and flooding issues. Everyone should be watching the numbers and this upcoming storm carefully.
In the perfect world, we will see the rivers rise and color, but we will not see major wash outs. If this happens, the smaller creeks that have been concerningly low all season will rise allowing fish to enter the prime spawning habitat and as things settle after the storm, we will see some of the best fishing of the season. The egg eater fishing will be on fire and late coho and chum fishing will be excellent.
The above scenario is in the perfect world; we all know what happens in the worst-case scenario when a late season warm storm saw some of the worst flooding in the Lower Mainland’s history. At least for the weekend, we should not have to worry about this as things will be warm but low and clear.
On the report side of things this week we look at the north side rivers where although things are clear we continue to hear good reports. We will also tune in on the Chilliwack where we have been pleasantly surprised as anglers are still finding fresh fish.
The guys from the shop were out Sea to Sky way last week. Matt will go over some of the observations there. The short version is the water is very low and clear and there are a healthy number of chum and coho in the system. This bodes well for the bulltrout and rainbow fish over the next few weeks. As long as everything doesn’t get washed out, it could be a better egging season that we have seen in the last handful of years.
Jason is back with a saltwater report this week for all the saltwater anglers out there.
Last but, certainly not least, the Sport Fishing Institute’s Online Auction ends TONIGHT! Be sure to check out some of the great items to be had! Details are in this week’s Industry Events and Updates Section.
On to the report!
INDUSTRY EVENTS AND UPDATES
Sport Fishing Institute Big Splash Online Auction
If you are unable to make it to the Sport Fishing Institute’s policy conference and gala dinner tonight there is still a way you can participate and support the great work the SFI does. Be sure to check out their online auction before it closes tonight. There are some great prizes to be won – maybe something for yourself or get your Christmas shopping started early!
FRESHWATER FISHING REPORTS
North Side Systems Fishing Report (Stave, Harrison and Slough Fishing Report)
The north-side rivers are continuing to produce reasonable numbers of fish, both coho and chum, but a lack of rain means that they’re running fairly low. It’s not anywhere near as bad as it was in October, but the rivers are still a fair bit lower than I would like them to be and are going to stay that way until the next batch of rain. This is currently forecasted to arrive on Monday. It looks like a lot of water is coming but I will not get into that this week. We need to see how close the weatherman is to the mark to start making predictions.
In the meantime, expect to find good numbers of fish in certain spots, but don’t be surprised when those fish are very tight-lipped and spooky. Low water means that fish are less likely to move, so the odds of finding fresh, aggressive fish decrease. When you do find fish, it’s likely that they’ve been in the system for a while and have seen a fair amount of gear which means that fish that are much less likely to bite.
Reference our past reports for tips on how to target spooky fish in low, clear water this year. So, I’m going to spare you all the detailed instructions and keep it basic: downsize your gear, consider using some toned-down colours think peach or blue instead of cerise or fluorescent red. Target the kind of water that will make the fish feel “safe”- stuff that gives them some form of cover… that could be structure (such as logs or boulders), surface disturbance (such as riffles or faster water) or the deepest water they can find. Salmon will park themselves in places where they are least likely to be eaten- consider that when targeting them in challenging conditions. Float fishing, fly fishing, and casting spoons/spinners/jigs will all produce fish if the above suggestions are considered.
Fresh fish will be continuing to push into some of the north-side systems well into December, as long as water levels stay somewhat consistent and there are no major blowouts or droughts. Please note that this is quite late in the season and a majority of this year’s salmon will have spawned, so there will be millions of eggs buried in the gravel in side-channels, tailouts, small creeks, shallow flats, etc. Take any and all possible measures to avoid wading through anything that looks like salmon spawning habitat, especially if fish are actively spawning in the area or if you can see obvious signs of spawning activity, such as redds. Stepping on salmon eggs tends to kill them so that’s pretty counterproductive if you want to catch fish a few years down the road.
Chilliwack/Vedder River Fishing Report
This past week we are still having good fishing for both coho and chum salmon in the C/V. The river level is at 2.06m at the time of writing, we are expecting showers and slightly warmer temperatures starting on Monday going into the week. This is a good sign as a bump of water levels and temperatures will trigger stale fish to move out and fresh fish to move in.
Historically, the Chilliwack/Vedder coho season winds down significantly this time of year, but we are still seeing consistent pushes of fresh fish from the Fraser into the river. This is the time of year where we run into “Blackheads”, dime bright chum that do not spend time holding at river mouths. Often times littered with sea lice and generally on the smaller side, they are the cleanest chum of the year and have the best table fare. Anglers have been finding fresh pods of coho and chum from the canal all the way up to the top. With that said, there are quite a few pods of fish that are quite stale. If you know there are fish in an area and they are not biting, move to the next spot. Spot after spot, eventually you will run into a group of fish that are fresh and you will enjoy your day out much more.
Spoons, spinners, twitching jigs have been very effective with these clearer water conditions. Think copper, brass, purples and blacks for a slightly stealthier presentation for spooky coho in clear water. Float fishing continues to be a great option for fishing some of the deeper spots with roe, beads, blades. Short floating jigs are still a very deadly method for those fresh chum coming in. Fly anglers are having good success with coho throughout the river, whenever they get to the fly before the chum do. Clear intermediate tips and lines are the still the weapon of choice with small sparse patterns being the ammo of choice. Think Cali Neils, Muddlers, Arrowheads in chartreuse, blue, natural.
While the fishing is still good, expect it to last for another couple weeks before dropping off drastically.
Keep going at it while it’s still good,
Squamish River Fishing Report
We have had some solid days fishing the late season on the Squamish this year. In the last couple years, I will admit I have been a little depressed about what I have seen on the Squamish in the late season. Low chum and pink numbers coupled with major blow outs washing out the redds made for poor late fishing in general.
We still need to watch the weather. The major storm on the horizon is not encouraging but at least from what I saw last weekend I was pleasantly surprised to find chum spawning in many areas that they have been missing from over the last few years and we also observed good numbers of fresh coho still moving through the system.
The fishing was challenging because of the low clear water, and we can expect similar conditions this weekend but there are fish in the system.
We fished a bunch of different presentations. Egg fishing worked but was challenging because of the low clear water. Bulltrout are very sensitive to cold, clear water and I expect when the water bumps up, they will be eagerly eating eggs again. One trick is to fish very pale eggs in the water where you do not see spawning salmon but if you are close to an area of spawning salmon don’t be scared to fish bright eggs even in the clear water as the natural eggs out of the salmon will be bright.
For coho, small flash flies produced a few fish on slow sink tips and longer fluorocarbon leaders. We also tried twitching Jigs and again caught a couple but the go tos were small spinners in copper and or copper and chartreus. This makes sense as small spinners are a favorite clear water presentation
Long story short, it is still well worth getting out. It will be challenging this weekend but if we see a bump of water next week that isn’t too extreme, I expect excellent fishing when things settle.
SALTWATER FISHING REPORTS
Vancouver Saltwater Salmon Fishing Report
The weather looks great this weekend for some winter chinook fishing. Particularly on Saturday with very little wind in the forecast and some sun as a bonus. On the fishing front we don’t have a lot of new information to report from last week. Fishing has been decent if you are willing to put in the time around South Bowen and up Howe Sound.
One interesting thing to note are the whales. For the past 2-3 weeks now there have been quite a few of them off South Bowen. There have been almost daily reports of them and they have been putting on quite a show. Although Humpback and Grey whales are fairly common sightings in the Strait of Georgia, we usually don’t see them hang around in these numbers for this long. There must be a good amount of bait out there to keep them in the area.
If you are going to observe the whales, make sure you do some from a healthy distance. DFO does have a whale protection unit and they are out there patrolling. So, make sure you keep your distance, you have your fishing license on you and those barbs are fully flattened.
Here is a link to watching marine wildlife that will help make sense of things.
If you are a visual learner, here ya go!
See you in the shop or the water,
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