Big report this week. We consider this prime time for the Lower Mainland when it comes to salmon fishing. The Vedder is still going strong, peak chum migration is right now and reports from the Harrison and Stave are coming in consistently. The weather looks good for the weekend but, most important, the evening temps are going to get very cold. In the short term, this is excellent for the Squamish and the Harrison. We have info on all the major systems below so be sure to have a read.
This week we also have an update on Interior lake fishing. We missed it last week but we have some excellent info about how fishing can be extremely good when we see the first really cold days of the fall season. Check that out in the Stillwater Report Section below.
Lastly, winter chinook season is coming and Jason has a couple tips in the Saltwater section.
As always, check out the video version of the report where Matt reviews it all, shares some tips for looking at water levels on the Squamish, and takes a peek at the chum forecasts for this season:
On to the Report!
FRESHWATER FISHING REPORTS
Vedder/Chilliwack River Fishing Report
The Vedder is in absolutely pristine fishing condition heading into the weekend and those of us who are still fishing it hard have been pretty well rewarded. There is no lack of fish in the system and you have a great chance to land one of each species in any hole. The higher water allows the fish to move quickly and easily through the system. I’ve been spotting nickel bright chinook and coho above the crossings meaning that fish have been absolutely rocketing through the system.
The chinook bite has definitely tapered off quite a bit from 2 weeks ago but spoons, roe, and wool have all been great producers for guys. For coho, tossing spinners, jigs, and beads has been the ticket. Float fishing jigs and purple/pink wool combinations are the easiest ways to get into a whack load of chum.
The nice part about this time of the year is that although it is still crowded, anglers are spreading out to other systems. I’d definitely get out before the next big rain comes through. Usually a big rain at the end of October marks the beginning of the end for prime-time salmon fishing on the Vedder.
Squamish River Fishing Report
One thing that we love about the Squamish area is its remoteness. I have seen loads of different wildlife on the upper river and it’s one of the main attractions for me throughout the fall and winter. Another thing that we love about this system is the easy accessibility for everyone in its urban environment.
I am bringing this up because the wildlife doesn’t know which areas are remote and which areas are urban. Jordan was out on Wednesday with a buddy heading to a spot first thing in the morning. Everything seemed normal on the hike in but, the next thing they knew, a massive grizzly was barreling down on them. Jordan managed to get a shot of bear spray off which stopped the bear for a second and then it took 2 more lunges at them stopping about 15-20 feet away. Needless to say, Jordan had to do some laundry when he got home that night.
I was there on Friday and saw a black bear and 3 cubs walking around in the woods on the far bank doing their own thing learning to catch salmon which was pretty cool to see. We do get some customers that come in and shrug off the idea of having bear spray but I would highly recommend having it as Jordan’s story could have gone completely off the rails without it. Be bear aware when walking to spots as well, no matter how urban the spot is, you will run into wildlife on most river systems at some point. Make noise when walking through wooded paths, have a bear bell, talk to your fishing partner loudly. Anything to help you not surprise a sleeping giant.
As mentioned before, fishing has been good this last week. I was out last weekend and my second cast in the early morning light conected with a nice scrappy chum salmon. We managed to hook into a bull trout as well as some smaller coho on the twitch, first thing in the morning. We saw a few waves of fish rolling through which was cool to see. The afternoon is where things really heated up. I hooked a couple of really fresh chum on spoons which immediately train wrecked me.
Water clarity has been a battle so far this season and it still continues to be. That said, it is starting to clear up a bit and I expect visibility to continue to get better this week and into next week. There are very cold evenings coming this weekend and if they come, this will clear up the main stem of the river quickly.
So far, this season fly fishing has been a challenge due to the clarity so bring some large dark and large flashy flies. As things start to clear up, I expect beading and the normal white and pink streamers to start producing well for the fly guys. On the gear front, big spoons in the 55 Koho range have been producing well as have big twitching jigs. I have been putting small squirt hoochies on the ends of my 34 and 45 size spoons and they have made a bigger presentation out of a smaller spoon and have been working quite well. I will be doing a drift this Friday with a buddy on the lower river so I will have more intel for you all next week. Stay safe out there!
Stave River Fishing Report
It’s chum season, and the days of float downs and giant toothy river tigers are upon us. Fishing has been steadily improving since last week and I would classify it as “good” to “great”. It’s still a touch spotty so it helps to be in a decent location but most anglers have been getting action. I have been out a number of times both guiding and for personal trips and each trip has yielded quite a few fish, though that is to be expected of this river by end of October. A majority of the chum are already coloured but not zombified yet, and even some of the coloured fish are sporting some sea lice too, so you know they’ve raced into the river. There are definitely some clean fish to pick off if you put in the time.
The technique you will find most gear anglers will be using is float fishing with a jig. It is insanely effective so it is not usually necessary to deviate. Instead of bringing a ton of different types of presentations, just bring a bunch of jigs. Standard jig colours are some combination of purple, pink, fuschia, chartreuse, and blue. If the bite dies or gets tough, you can try a colorado blade or a bead to change it up. They will take twitching jigs and spoons as well but I’ve found that, due to the concentration of fish in the runs, it is easy to foul hook fish with these methods. Fly anglers will want to swing similarly coloured streamers though once in a while you can downsize to smaller muddlers, egg sucking leeches, or even flash flies. The water they are sitting in is not necessarily that deep so heavy sink tips are not crucial.
Don’t want chum? Well you’re in luck because there are also coho in the system too! Due to the large numbers of chum salmon the coho are mostly found in slack water or in back channels away from the big river tigers. They can be caught on all sorts of presentations including roe, spinners, spoons, single eggs, flash flies, and rolled muddlers. Try to get away from the chum to find the more active coho and aim for first light as that is when these fish are most active.
On a much more serious note, I want to address the issue of blatant illegal practices on this river once again. Forgive me as this is me going on a bit of a rant but I think it needs to be said. As some of you may know, the Stave is notorious for being a hot spot for poaching and illegal methods of catching fish. There are tons of horror stories that revolve around this river, but It doesn’t have to be this way.
During my recent trips on this river I have been fishing a very popular stretch and while it does get busy, it’s a fun and social experience that is actually rather enjoyable when everyone is fishing properly. You don’t even notice the crowds a lot of the time. However, I have also seen a lot of intentional snagging and retention of foul hooked chum. This is ILLEGAL. A number of our days out on the water took a turn for the worse when snaggers came in and started doing their thing. Not only is it against the law, but it also spooks the fish and ruins it for everyone else as it shuts down the bite very quickly.
Now I am not calling for self-policing or for anyone to get into a fist fight over this. There are those out there who are new to the sport and genuinely just need to be educated and a gentle nudge in the right with kind words can make a world of difference. On the other hand, there are individuals who know exactly what they are doing. The best course of action is to call the RAPP line (1-877-952-7277) on these individuals. Officers aren’t able to respond to every single call right away but when there are multiple calls from the same area, they know to look into it. Many of the perpetrators are repeat offenders so if they are called in enough times they will be caught.
The other issue I want to touch on is river etiquette. The Stave is a busy river, I get it. That’s not an excuse to jam into a tight spot between two people without asking. Seriously, just ask if it is okay to come into a spot between other anglers. You might be surprised how much more accommodating or at least friendly people will be if start out with that. The worst that can happen is they say no and you move to the next potential opening.
I’ve just seen too much recently on this river and I think it is a good time to remind everyone to be courteous to others, follow river etiquette, and follow the rules. This river CAN be a great experience; it definitely has the potential for it. If everyone is on the same page, then it doesn’t matter if it’s busy, we can all enjoy this fantastic fishery together.
Capilano River Fishing Report
The salmon fishery on the Capilano is starting to wind down, as is expected for this time of year. Having said that, I’m still hearing reports of fresh fish, both coho and chinook, pushing into the system. The water is currently running low, but recent events have shown how quickly that can change. There isn’t much rain in the forecast at the moment, but again, that’s subject to change.
Follow this link to monitor the water levels in the Capilano
River:http://www.metrovancouver.org/services/water/sources-supply/watersheds-reservoirs/seymour-capilano-river-levels/Pages/default.aspx . It is always a good idea to check the water levels of any river before you head out. Follow this link for most other rivers in BC:https://wateroffice.ec.gc.ca/google_map/google_map_e.html?map_type=real_time&search_type=province&province=BC .
Owing to the low water, a majority of the fish should be holed up in the deep canyon pools. Deep, slow water naturally lends itself to twitching jigs or casting spoons and spinners, but floating artificial presentations such as beads, wool, jigs or blades can also be productive. If you’re chasing fish with a fly rod, you’ll either want to run smaller flies with a lot of flash or small presentations in black or olive. Remember that the bait ban is still in effect and will remain that way until November 1st.
Recent events have shown how powerful and unpredictable rivers, especially dam controlled ones, can be. Be careful out there, pay attention to your surroundings and always have an escape plan, especially in the canyon. Tight lines.
Harrison River Fishing Report
The Harrison and Chehalis rivers are areas that we are starting to think about hitting but it is still a touch early for these spots, traditionally they run a bit later than the other systems. Looking at the graph for the Harrison area, the river is still quite high, hovering around a 9.5 and I expect it to be in the trees but we have heard of guys that are confident waders getting into spots that are hip deep. We need to see the river drop down to about 8.5 to have some more room to move around out there while keeping it safe. We have been hearing of coho trickling through the system and there are a good number of chums pushing through as well. For fly anglers bust out your small flash flies for the coho and big pink, purple, pink and purple or purple and pink Popsicle type flies. For the gear guys, we have been hearing the standard lures of spoons and jigs are producing a good number of fish. For spoons and flash flies, copper is one of our favourites for this system for both anglers casting spoons and spinners and the fly anglers. Keep an eye on the graph if you are thinking of heading out as it is already high and the forecast is calling for up to 10mm of rain on Friday. This might bump the river up a bit but it should start to drop on Sunday as the temps drop. Be safe out there and good luck!
STILLWATER FISHING REPORTS
Sturgeon Fishing Report
Sturgeon fishing has been pretty consistent lately and there has been a big push of chum into the Fraser this past week and the sturgeon are keying in on this like they do each year. Fresh chum roe is hard to beat and the best way to get some is by ethically harvesting a chum with rod and reel out of a place where it is open, like the Stave for example. When you are filleting your chum, keep a belly strip or two and try that for bait. Sturgeon will usually respond quite well to a fresh piece of chum or fresh roe. If you haven’t tried sturgeon fishing, we highly recommend it. These fish have immense power, rip line off the reel, and they come flying out of the water. It is a world class game fish, right here in our back yard. We have the gear at the shop if you want to get setup and you can fish from shore or from a small boat or even your ocean boat if you fish the lower river. If you would prefer a guided trip, give us a call on our charter phone at 778-788-8582. We are tight with the top guides and can get you setup.
STILLWATER FISHING REPORTS
Interior Lake Fishing Report
Well it went from a very, very warm fall with anglers wondering when it would cool down to getting much colder very fast! Things are really coming into prime time now as the water has finally started to cool off and the fish are moving up into the shallows to feed. Here is a good primer on fall lake fishing from our friend Brian Chan and the good folks at Islander Reels. The Dream Season
Some of our staff have been up in the interior and have been doing well on the shoals with leeches under an indicator or stripped in on slow sink or slime lines. There has also been some success on scuds/shrimp under indicators as well as blobs.
SALTWATER FISHING REPORTS
Vancouver Saltwater Salmon Fishing Report
It looks like the winds are all over the map this weekend, from N to NW to SE and some outflow in Howe Sound to top it off. With these kind of forecasts, it’s really anyone’s guess as to what it will be like out there. Sometimes it seems these winds never show up and you have the popular spots to yourself, other days they do, and you head home with your tail between your legs. Such is the life of the local angler in the fall stormy season as we transition from summer winds into winter weather patterns.
It is about that time to start poking around in your favorite “winter chinook” spots. There are a few reports coming in and we have some trips on the books for this week and into November, so I guess the season is upon us. It seems more anglers are participating in this fishery every year as summer chinook opportunities continue to get diminished by DFO. I would anticipate that this will be one of the busier seasons for winter chinook as most of us won’t be doing any travelling and local anglers are still looking to hook some chinook after the reduced opportunity to do so this summer in local waters. Then again, a lot of anglers put their boats to bed for the winter, so there are only so many of us ready to go at a moment’s notice when the winds back off and the sun comes out.
Some basics on this fishery. Find the bait and find the fish. In the winter you are hunting for bait balls which are usually herring that are close to the bottom. If there is bait around that is the first step for fish being around and staying around. With good electronics you will see the bait and you will see the chinook (arcs close to the bottom feeding on the bait). If you aren’t seeing any bait or any chinook after an hour in your favorite spot, its usually time to go somewhere else. If you never see bait or chinook arcs, you need to up your game on the electronics side of things. It is a critical piece of the puzzle for winter chinook success. If you need some help here, give me a call at the shop or email. I can help you get your boat dialed in.
Keep your gear close to the bottom. The water is clear in the winter and the bait is generally down on the bottom as a result. That is where the chinook are as well. You generally want your gear to be within 10% of the bottom. We are often fishing in 150-250 feet of water and 18 or 20 pound cannonballs will get you gear down and keep it down.
Troll on the faster side of the speed spectrum. Most winter anglers use artificials in the winter like spoons and hootchies because they work well on aggressively feeding fish and they come in glow finishes. These lures fish well with some speed, so pick it up a notch compared to the speed you would troll with bait. With an 18 pound cannonball I am often fishing a 40-50 degree cable angle in our local waters. A faster troll also allows you to cover more water and this is important. The sooner you get a feel for what is going on in an area and where the bait and fish are, the better. Once you find the, use your sonar and chart plotter to stay on them as long as possible.
In future reports I will get into some of the top flashers, spoons, and hootchies for winter chinook.
See you in the shop or on the water,