Winter Is Coming! After a historically warm October, November is going in the other direction. We have had snow on many of the higher elevations and as we write the report. On Thursday, it is snowed in Squamish.
On the fishing front, things have been good right across the Lower Mainland fisheries. The late trend to our salmon runs this season has made for good fishing over the last week when the weather and river levels have cooperated, but temperatures are going to drop dramatically over the next week. Right now, the weekend looks like a good bet to get out but, as we push into next week, things are going to get challenging.
This week we have updates on the North side rivers where chum and coho fishing have been solid. Gavin has a Chilliwack update and Jordan tunes in with a Squamish River report.
We also need to talk about saltwater fishing and interior lake fishing. The weather has been a challenge for both and Jason has updates at the end of this week’s report.
INDUSTRY EVENTS AND UPDATES
2022 Sport Fishing Institute Policy Conference and Big Splash Gala and Fundraiser
The SFI Big Splash Annual Gala & Fundraiser and Policy Conference returns to the Vancouver Convention Centre on Friday, November 18th. The conference will be held during the day beginning with a buffet lunch from 11:30 and will include presentations from and timely dialogue with senior DFO officials and the BC fish and fisheries community around this year’s theme: Selective Fishing: Achieving a Balance.
Come to the conference during the day and stay for the Big Splash Gala evening social and fundraiser! It will be an evening of excellent food and reconnection with friends and colleagues. There will be an onsite raffle as well as an auction with an excellent assortment of items including a loaded boat package with motor and trailer donated by Bridgeview Marine, Mercury Marine, Scotty, and Gibbs Fishing. They are using an online auction system which allows you to preview the growing list of items and get a head start on bidding a few days in advance as well as during the Big Splash event.
Ticket Sales Close November 10!!
FRESHWATER FISHING REPORTS
Chilliwack/Vedder River Fishing Report
The C/V has steadily dropped this week since our last atmospheric river on the weekend. At the time of writing, the river level is sitting at a 2.1m, with decent visibility.
We are expecting more rain to arrive in to the valley starting on Friday through Sunday. Fishing should continue to hold with the colder weather we are having. This is one of my favourite times to target fall coho. Colder weather and overcast skies allow coho to be much more comfortable than low, warm, and clear water. You can expect coho to bite all day!
This past week we are continuing to see good waves of fresh chum roll into the C/V. Everything has been working; jigs, roe, beads, blades, yarn and deli shrimp have all been deadly on these spunky river tigers.
Coho fishing has been great as well. Lots of coho have been moving through the system and will continue to for the next little while. Letting your presentation sit long enough before a chum takes it has been the issue as of late! All of the typical go-tos have been working under a float. Chucking hardware such as spinners, twitching jigs and spoons have also been very deadly in the right water.
Fly anglers have been having good success with coho and chum, visibility permitting. Finding the right water to fly fish is key. Locations with lots of float anglers are not the same places you want to be casting and retrieving a fly. Look for the slow stagnant frog water, often times places you would not think there could be fish in. Clear intermediate tips or full sink lines are critical to delivering a delicate presentation in relatively undisturbed water. Switching up sizes, colour, and profile of fly throughout the day will keep coho interested.
Stave and Harrison Rivers Fishing Report
The north-side tributaries are continuing to produce reasonable numbers of fish, despite the blowouts earlier this week. Coho are still arriving in decent numbers and should continue doing so until later this month, while the chum runs will start to taper off as we progress further into November. Unfortunately, there is another atmospheric river expected to hit the coast on Thursday/Friday, so river levels may spike and blow out, depending on how much rain actually falls. I’m not even going to try to guess what’ll happen this time; I’ve been wrong every single time this fall.
The Harrison has slowed down a bit after the rains, as most of the fish were finally able to push up their spawning tributaries, namely the Chehalis and Weaver Creek. There are still fresh coho and chum pushing in with the tides, but they’re not sticking around in the Harrison for too long. The tributaries are definitely high enough to enable free movement, so the fish have no reason to sulk around in the Harrison. Shore-bound anglers have been having success with spoons, spinners and twitching jigs, while those with boats have been anchoring up and basically doing the same thing.
The Stave has been fishing pretty well for the whole week, mostly owing to the fact that it’s a dam-controlled river that doesn’t usually blow out too badly. We’re past the peak of the chum return at this point, but there are still quite a few fish around; most are fairly dark. There should still be some fresh chum arriving until late this month; short-floating jigs is by far the best method to target these fish- you can read a detailed report about it here. The coho returns usually pick up and peak when the numbers of chum in the system start to decrease, so I’m expecting the coho fishing to pick up a bit in the near future. The coho in the Stave are best targeted by casting spoons, spinners and twitching jigs, or by float fishing with bait, blades, beads, or yarn. If you want to target coho, you should be looking for the areas with the fewest chum, as the coho will usually try to avoid the larger, more aggressive chum… also note that casting a spoon/spinner/jig into a group of chum is a sure fire way to snag one almost instantly.
As I’ve mentioned before, the coho runs in north-side systems usually peak as the south-side systems are starting to die down, so we should be pretty close to (or if not already slightly past) the peak in the major salmon-bearing north-side systems.
Depending on what the weather decides to do, I usually count on decent coho fishing until at least mid-November, sometimes later. It can be a good way to bridge the gap between salmon and steelhead, and the fact that most people give up by mid-November means that the crowds are usually much more manageable.
Squamish River fishing Report
The Squamish saw some very coloured water this past week on the main stem, with conditions continuing to be low and or clear on some of the tributaries.
This weekend’s forecasted rain will be much-welcomed and needed, helping bump levels for fish to enter the systems and travel. This will also help shuffle and mix fish around that are already in the system. That being said, we are in line for some very cold weather up top, so we will see how the rain affects the height and the temperatures affect the visibility. As we write this report it is actually snowing a little in Squamish and this may dramatically affect water levels.
Anglers’ reports from this week included some chum in the system. Please remember that you cannot target these fish and they are non-retention, so please do your best to avoid these fish.
With that said, our fingers are crossed for a great return to help with the health of the river, as well as to help turn on the ‘egging season’ for char and trout.
For the coho fishing that is open spoons, spinners, beads, and bobs are all great choices for both spinning and drift anglers. Don’t forget your twitching jigs either!
If using fly rods to fish this system, having a variety of small and big flies in both dark and bright, flashy colours are all great choices.
As mentioned above, temperatures are going to be cool up there- having proper layers will help keep your day comfortable and your fishing confident. Rogue Fleece Hoodies and 1/4-Zip base-layers are my go-to system, allowing me to layer the hoods as needed, as well as to zip/un-zip in various combos between the ¼ and full-length zippers of the two pieces.
Be aware that bears are also very present, especially with the later change in season. Having bear spray in hand while hiking is recommended and having it accessible while fishing is a good idea!
STILLWATER FISHING REPORTS
Interior Lake Fishing Report
Well, it looks like the weather does not want to cooperate these coming weeks. We went from much warmer than usual temperatures only 2 weeks ago to much colder than usual with very little transition time. Not good for lake fishing as a gradual cooling of the water would have allowed for some better fall fishing opportunities. Check out the temps for Merritt and Kamloops.
There might be the opportunity for some more lake fishing if daytime temps get back above 0 later in November. With weather extremes being the norm these days, it wouldn’t surprise me if this happens. In the meantime, lakes up on the Lac Le Jeune plateau are now starting to freeze over and it won’t be long before lower elevation lakes follow suit if these freezing day and night time temperatures continue.
For those that are trying to get in a few more days, the recent reports are of fish feeding on daphnia, scuds, bloodworms, leeches, and baby damsels. Most anglers seem to be having some success with blobs and leeches under indicators or stripping boobies and leeches. For the most part the fish have been in 3-10 feet of water.
Hopefully we get a warming trend in the back end of Nov to make the highways safe to get up into the interior and extend the season. If not, this is probably the end for most of us but the interior locals might get to squeeze in a day or two here and there
SALTWATER FISHING REPORTS
Vancouver Saltwater Salmon Fishing Report
It looks like there is going to be quite a bit of wind and rain this weekend. So much for the 20 plus degree days we had only a few weeks ago. They are a distant memory now. We have officially entered that time of year where you must pick your days. It’s time to start looking for the calm ones in between storms coming through the Strait of Georgia and outflow and inflow winds in Howe Sound.
Luckily, we have had a few good weather days recently and managed to get some trips done. We haven’t been heading across to Gulf Island with some decent to good fishing right here in Howe Sound. A few more hours of rod time and less fuel burn are always welcome.
We have at least 4-5 months of good winter fishing ahead of us and I will be posting about how things are going about every 2-3 weeks going forward. Until next time, dress warm, pick your days, and get out there and enjoy some of the winter chinook in our local waters.
See you in the shop or on the water,