We were expecting more rain this weekend but as we write the report Friday it looks as though the bulk of the precipitation will come early next week. The reports we have been receiving all week are good, but rain would be nice.
It is well worth getting out this weekend, but it might also be a great plan to look at a mid-week trip next week. This week we have reports on the Squamish, Harrison and Chilliwack in the rivers section plus Jason tunes in with a saltwater report where we are already hearing good feeder chinook reports.
We are still waiting for lake temps in the interior to drop a little and get the fish up on the shoals. Next week, Jason will be tuning in with a big interior lake fishing report so stay tuned for that.
On to the Report!
CLASSES AND COURSES
Our fall classes are almost wrapped up – there are a few seats left in Matt’s Fly Fishing Egg Patterns course. Give the shop a call at 604.872.2204 to grab one of these spaces today!
Fly Fishing Egg Patterns
This course is designed to teach you the secrets to one of the most productive presentations in the BC fly fishermen’s arsenal; nymphing egg patterns. This deadly method can be used for different species of trout, char, and salmon. During a 3 hour evening seminar we will teach you key concepts, strategies, and gear that will give you a well-rounded foundation during the seminar portion of the class. Then you will put those skills into practice during a fully guided day on the water.
Seminar Date: Nov 21, 2023 – 3 SPOTS LEFT!
Guided: Nov 25 or 26, 2023
Seminar Time: 6:30pm – 9:30pm
Guided: Full Day
FRESHWATER FISHING REPORTS
Chilliwack River Fishing Report
We’re into peak-season for the fall salmon runs in the C/V system, and the numbers of fish in the system definitely reflects this. Despite the persisting low and clear water conditions, fish have been pushing through the system in large numbers, and fishing has been quite good as a result. There are good numbers of coho in the system and the chum are starting to show up, though not in especially good numbers, but the numbers of chinook in the system are simply mind-blowing… I’d go so far as to say that pretty much every single pool in the entire system has at least a few chinook in it; most of these chinook are averaging 10-15lb, though I’ve heard shaky rumors of a few tyees being landed.
Insert hatch Coho
Photo caption #1: A nice pair of fresh hatchery coho from last weekend.
Unfortunately, the rain we saw throughout the week did virtually nothing to increase water levels, so the river is still quite low. Having said that, some fish did push into the system with the rain anyways. As mentioned, there are huge numbers of chinook in the system, so consider bringing some heavier gear and fish accordingly. Remember that chinook will often push smaller fish out of the prime holding water in a given pool, so you don’t overlook tailouts, riffles or the near-shore areas when looking for coho. Scale down your presentations to match the water conditions and do your best to find fish that have been pressured as little as possible… the less pressured the fish are, the more likely they are to bite. Small beads, blades, bait/yarn presentations and jigs are all producing on the float fishing side of things, and twitching jigs, spinners and spoons are also doing some damage if the water in a particular area sets up properly for them.
As briefly mentioned above, the chum numbers aren’t looking very good as of right now; the test fishery has caught 210 since September 13th… that’s terrible when you look at the past three years (953 in 2022, 812 in 2021 and 1,325 in 2020), and it even manages to be worse than 2019 (352 fish), which this year’s return is the offspring. I’m hoping that things improve a bit; there is a chance that the run could just be a bit late, but it’s very unlikely that there will be many retention opportunities for these fish if the return continues with these numbers.
There is some rain in the forecast for the weekend, though the forecast is very fluid and seems to be changing every hour. I’m hoping that we get more rain than we did last weekend; we need a fair bit of precipitation to get the river up and to get more fish moving throughout the system. Moderate rainfall over a longer period is better than heavy rainfall in a short period, but rain is rain at this point- as long as it doesn’t blow the river out too badly.
Now is the time to be getting out there, especially if you’re looking for chinook- peak-season on the C/V system typically runs from the first week of October to the third week of October, so now would be go-time. Get out there, fish hard, fish ethically, and have some fun.
Squamish River Fishing Report
The Squamish has had a slower than usual start to the fall salmon season. The warm sunny days are still creating runoff that dirties the main stem river. The milky water is posing problems for anglers looking to fish higher up the Squamish Valley. Fish are making it up but are hard to target. The tributaries are experiencing similar issues but not to the same degree and are still producing fish.
Last week, the water levels bumped up with the rain. The Squamish was un-fishable but things have since dropped down to normal levels. We have some rain in the forecast for the weekend, but I don’t think it will change river levels too much. Gear anglers have had the most success. The standard issue Cohos 45-55 in chrome/red, copper, and scale patterns in green and blue are a great way to cover water quickly. Dark coloured twitching jigs have also produced fish.
Fly anglers will have a harder time with small flies in the milky water. I would recommend stepping up to larger dark flies. You can also look to swinging flies at confluences of tributaries. Coho are still staging at river mouths. It’s worth it to try and catch some fresh moving fish pushing up on high tides. Cover some water and you might be rewarded.
Even with the milky water, we have had success fishing for trout with egg patterns and beads. I recommend fishing larger beads and bright colours. Coho will also target beads so be ready with quality hooks and stronger leaders.
Remember your bear spray!
Harrison River Fishing Report
The Harrison River is currently incredibly low, but fish are still making it up into the system. Though we could use some rain, anglers will welcome these conditions as it provides access to areas that are usually only accessible by watercraft.
Insert Harrison Sat Pic – Caption: Updated satellite images show the very low water on the Harrison.
With the levels being as low as they are, anglers are able to walk and hike to areas not previously reachable, making the ability to find slow, soft water more of a reality.
Back-channels, sloughs, troughs, and flats will all hold fish and we have heard good reports on flies, spinners, and floats.
Small, sparse flies such as muddler minnows are great for those clear sky days and weary fish. Clear floating and clear intermediate VersiLeaders paired with Fluorocarbon tippet can sometimes be an ace up the sleeve for this system but should be included in your kit no matter where you angle.
For fish that are more active, small to medium sized flash flies such as our custom ties by Andre, bugger-style flies, and even small Clouser-style flies can be good options for those with fly rods. A bit of a secret I’ll share with you guys from my bag: I take my box of bonefish flies with me. If you’re wondering why, just take a look at a Christmas Island Special, a Crazy Charlie, or a Gotcha fly pattern. If you tie, feel free to add a couple rubber legs down the side and trim to size- you’d be amazed at what will try and eat it!
For the gear angler, smaller spinners and spoons can be productive on the shallow flats while your standard #35/#45 Koho spoons and larger spinners such as #3/#4 Blue Fox and torpedo-style spinners can do well. In those meandering troughs, floats paired with beads, blades, bobs or float fishing jigs can be effective. Small spin-n-glo’s can also get the fish to tick so don’t forget to grab a few of those.
Remember that the ground can be soft in areas, so always wade with caution. Stay safe and have fun.
SALTWATER FISHING REPORTS
Vancouver Saltwater Salmon Fishing Report
This past week, we had some good fishing in local waters, off West Van, as there are still quite a few chinook and coho that haven’t gone up the Capilano River yet. We also saw some pictures of some great catches from the South Arm of the Fraser. There are plenty of fish in the Capilano, Vedder/Chilliwack, and Harrison Rivers, so the fact we had some good to great saltwater fishing these past few weeks is a testament to just how strong the chinook and coho returns were this fall.
It looks like there is some decent rain in the forecast for Monday, about 40mm, so this should drive any of the later run coho and chinook into the rivers.
Looking forward, we are now into “winter chinook” season. In past years the fishing often picked up around Christmas, but with the chinook returns being so healthy in the Strait of Georgia, we are now enjoying good feeder chinook or winter chinook fishing as early as late October. This season goes all the way into March, and we are lucky to have some of the best winter chinook fishing on the coast. I will be reporting on winter chinook every second week.
See you in the shop or on the water,