As expected last week’s rain hit the river’s around the lower mainland hard but not quite as hard as we expected. If you were watching the weather, there were some excellent windows to get out fishing. The funny thing is we are looking at a very similar weather report this week. We are going to see a big dump of water Saturday. Check out Matt’s Video report for a detailed look at the weather.
It’s going to be interesting because we can use last week as a gauge to have a solid prediction of what to look for this week. As predicted the fishing has been good after the blow out so if you listened to the report, watched the weather and got out on the rivers, good on you! From everything we heard it was excellent.
River salmon season is winding down, but we had reports of good coho fishing on systems like the Harrison and Squamish that tend to get later bumps of coho and chum. That said, it is time to look to the winter fisheries. We are already hearing whisperings of steelhead on the Chilliwack River and the egging was excellent after the big dump of rain up the Squamish. We have details on both fisheries in the river section below and we are starting to look at Winter Chinook fishing out in the saltwater world. Jason was out and has details on Prawning and the fishing in the Saltwater section at the end of the report.
We also published another one of Matt’s Casting video’s. In this video he shares with us his strategy on how to teach yourself How to Double Haul. If you are an intermediate fly caster the double haul, as Matt calls it, is the “gateway drug” to advanced casting. It makes things way easier for both distance and accuracy when out on the water. If you have ever wanted to learn this technique or you are already doing it but want to fine tune it, this video gives you the skills and concepts you need to learn it fast.
The Steelhead Jam session is now sold out but if you missed out on getting a spot Zach and Jordan are sharing 2 of the flies they are going to feature at the tying night. If you are loading up a steelhead box and couldn’t make the Jam Session check them out in the report below!
One last note, If you are not a winter angler, we have a very cool warm water trip coming up in 2020 and there are a few spots left. Matt and Zach are heading back to Christmas Island in March and we still have spots Available!
INDUSTRY EVENTS AND UPDATES
Christmas Island Trip Date: Mar 16 – 24, 2020
If you have ever wanted to go warm water 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 it in the report video, we have a cool teaser video here if you want to see some cool fishing porn:
We also have a great no hold bars trip overview that is probably the most detail “what to expect” article regarding the fishing on Christmas Island. We posted it on the blog here: and we posted it in the description of the CXI video. Email firstname.lastname@example.org
On to the report!
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
As we get into the latter half of November we will see the salmon season on the Vedder wind down pretty quickly. For those that want to get into salmon this year there are still opportunities on other systems but while there are still some coho and chum in the Vedder the numbers have dropped off drastically and many (not all) of the fish are in their spawning phase now. Fishing isn’t over for this river though! The next fishery is for the mighty, albeit elusive, steelhead.
Now Steelhead season means one of two things for river anglers: either you hang up your gear for the next 6 months until the Salmon of 2020 start returning, or you get out on the river and put in the footwork to possibly shake hands with one of British Columbia’s ultimate sport fish. Neither option is right; it depends on your outlook on fishing and why you like to fish.
Steelheading is a completely different ball game as there are far fewer fish around than during salmon season and emphasis is placed on constantly moving and hitting as many high percentage spots as possible. While the Chilliwack is a hatchery enhanced steelhead run and probably has the most steelhead per kilometre of river, it is still slim pickings and you should anticipate many long days without a hint of a fish. The easiest way I can explain the allure of the steelhead is how rewarding it is to put in that time and finally get to feel one on the end of your line.
Coming out of salmon season and going forward into steelhead season, most of the gear you have been using so far is going to be the same with just a few modifications. It is possible to take Steelhead on all the different methods of fishing whether it’s float fishing, lure fishing, or fly fishing. These fish are not huge on average, with most fish being in the 6-12lb range, so medium powered gear rods and fly rods in the 7-8 weight range are fine. However fish in the 16lb range and up are not uncommon. Each method has its time and place of course, just like with salmon fishing. The most popular way to approach the Vedder is to float fish as this river sets up very well for this type of fishing and honestly it is the most versatile for covering water. The basic setup is the same, the main difference will be the options for your bait. Your standards for salmon will work, meaning that cured roe, float fishing jigs, colorado blades, and wool are still going to be in your arsenal. The other go-to’s that you will want to add to the playlist are shrimp/prawn, roe bags, gooey bobs, plastic worms, and beads. Size and colour will be dictated by water conditions.
Steelhead can also be taken on hardware such as spinners and spoons. This technique is best when the water warms up a bit later in the season when the fish get more active and they take on a trout-y characteristic, however it is a viable option all season. Gold or silver plated blades are the best as these put off the best flash and will often draw out the biggest and baddest Steelhead in the run. As with everything, size and colour will be decided by water colour. Generally speaking spoons and spinners in 1/4oz to 1 oz are good. I know that doesn’t narrow it down much but again, it is all about water conditions and steelhead aren’t going to pass up a properly presented lure if it’s put in the right spot.
The last, and possibly most challenging, method of catching these fish is to fly fish for them. A 7-8 weight single hand or 6-7 weight double hand with a sink tip is adequate. The flies that will attract Steelhead vary greatly and will depend on water condition and whether you are fishing over staging fish or whether they are moving through. Big and bright streamers in combinations of black, blue, chartreuse, and pink are great when fishing the lower portions of the river where there are fresh fish moving through, while more trout-y flies like muddlers and egg sucking leeches work well in the upper river where the fish are more prone to staging and, again, take on a trout-ish characteristic. This is a good rule of thumb to follow but obviously it isn’t as black and white as that and a well presented fly will get bit regardless.
These fish are not necessarily hard to catch, but they are hard to find. Put in the time and effort and eventually you will be rewarded. If you are new to this fishery definitely come talk to us at the Shop and we can get you in the game! Also stay tuned for dates next year on our annual Introduction to Float Fishing For Steelhead course.
Squamish River Fishing Report
Well the rain last week hit hard but it was late by about half a day. If you were watching the water levels and made the call in the morning to get out the fishing was good on Saturday. Then as predicted the river went out hard on Sunday.
It dropped fast and if you watched the graph, fishing conditions were excellent come Tuesday.
The funny thing is we are looking at almost the identical cycle this week, with a little less rain and colder temperatures. This is good news. We can base things off last week and know that there will probably be a window of dirty or high water, but it shouldn’t be as high, and the window of good fishing should be longer.
Coho fishing this time of year is still very much an option. I have hooked silver coho well into January on the Squamish but the bulk of the run is through so many anglers will be shifting their focus to the bull trout and rainbows feeding on salmon eggs. You can do this with a float rod, or a fly rod and beads are the presentation of choice. Next week we plan to feature a bunch of videos on this technique so stay tuned!
If you do want to target coho check out the Poisoned Arrow Fly, we posted last week. The purple one is great for late season and the chartreuse one should work when the river bumps up. Here is the video if you missed it in last week’s report.
Harrison/Chehalis Fishing Report
The salmon season is nearly done but the Harrison, Chehalis, and Nicomen systems offer at least a realistic chance of getting into some fish. The majority of fish have already completed their cycle and will have washed up onto the banks with this last big rain and receding water levels creating a complete stink fest. Saying that, this last rain will allow a few late stragglers to get into systems that are known to fish decent up into December with the right conditions. A few people have been out towards the Nicomen and have been able to land some nice fish by fishing away from the spawners with roe or bead patterns.
The best place to pick out fresh ones is typically down river from the spawners as they’re sitting below them and picking out drifting eggs that are floating down. Jigs and spinners are always a good option for coho like I mentioned in my last report, but use discretion as there are a lot of coloured up fish in the system now so do your best to avoid using too big of lures that foul hook stacked up fish that aren’t actively feeding.
Zach’s Black and Blue Tube
The Black and Blue Tube is a very simple guide style fly that goes together very quickly. It is light weight and casts easily. The addition of ostrich and the rabbit tail give this fly a lot of movement in the water. This is a must have fly for any salmon or steelhead trip. Just switch up the colours for your preferred species.
Tube: Pro Sportfisher Nano Tube Clear
Thread: Danville 140 Black
Tag: Lagartun Flat Braid Chartreuse
Tail: Black Rabbit Strip
Shoulder: Kingfisher Blue Ice Dub, Kingfisher Blue Arctic Fox
Flank Flash: CWO Glacier Flash Azure Blue
Wing: MFC Barred Ostrich Black/Blue
Collar: Nature’s Spirit Blood Quill Marabou Black
Pro Sportfisher Gen 3 Jungle Cock Small
Pro Sportfisher Ultra Sonic Disc Blue Metallic Medium
Jordan’s Quick and Easy
This week I am going to give a little peak into one of my “Guide Flies” that I use for salmon, trout, and steelhead. Tied with appropriate colours, one could target estuary salmon, upper river steelhead, or sculpin-eating trout and char.
This fly doesn’t really have a name, as most ‘guide’s style flies are generally meant to be quick and easy to tie with certain design elements included. There- perfect name: Quick and Easy
This fly includes a hot spot, a shoulder, flash, collar, and wing. With a teardrop shape while swimming, this fly can be scaled up or down to match conditions as well.
Tube: Pro Tube
First shoulder: Polar Chenille
Second Shoulder: Intruder Prop Hackle
Under Flash: Lateral Scale Small
Collar: Two Different Colours of Marabou
Wing: Two Saddle Hackles
Option 1: Finish with bead and Guinea (to protect Marabou)
Option 2: My favourite, finish with a Pro Tube sonic disc as it eliminates the extra step of Guinea while protecting the Marabou and allowing water flow
SALTWATER FISHING REPORTS
Vancouver Saltwater Salmon Fishing Reports
If you are thinking of heading out this weekend, Saturday looks a bit nasty. Lots of rain and SE winds 25 knots or perhaps more. Luckily Sunday is back to the sunny weather and NW winds forecast to about 15 knots.
I will be in fisheries meetings this weekend, but luckily I was out mid-week and the conditions on Thursday were amazing, flat calm and sunny. The fish seemed to like it as well. We had some pretty good action in Howe Sound for winter chinook up to about 12 pounds.
This past week my top producing setup was a black glow flasher like a Gibbs CB55 or PA custom black glow. My best spoon has been a Kingfisher Herring Aide 3.0 that is so chewed up it barely has any paint left. Chartreuse glow flashers and brighter spoons like Irish Cream or Trailhead have also been working well, especially on overcast days.
As usual, find the bait and you usually find the fish and this past week has been no exception. Make sure to keep your gear close to the bottom as well. That means getting out of that warm cabin more than once in awhile and making sure you are in the zone. This is not a set it and forget it fishery, so just keep that in mind if you are new to winter fishing.
See you in the shop or on the water,