GOOD NEWS and more GOOD NEWS! It is opening day for chinook salmon retention in many of the local saltwater areas. We have been eagerly awaiting this opening. If you’re heading out, pay attention to the marine forecast as there are some strong winds forecasted but, get the teaser heads out, it’s GO Time! Check out Jason’s report for some of his tips for opening weekend!
The other good news is the Fraser River (both the freshwater and saltwater portions) and her tributaries are open for pink salmon!
We had almost given up hope. If you missed the debacle last week, DFO told the Sports Fishing Advisory Board that they were upgrading the run size to 17 million and would be opening it last weekend. Then it didn’t open. At the same time, they upgraded the run size from 17 million pinks to 20 million pinks and refused to comment on the reason for delaying the opening. With the increase in forecast numbers, we can safely rule out conservation concerns as the reasons behind the delayed opening. The long story short, is that it is open today, Sept 1. We are extremely frustrated at how the opening was handled but, we are grateful that we will all have the opportunity to enjoy this fishery. Taylor has a report this week going over all the details on this fishery and how to get out there and enjoy it.
We also have more good news. Positive reports from both the Squamish and the beaches continue to come in and, with the Fraser opening, it should alleviate some of the crowding issues we have seen on these fisheries. Eric has details below.
In this week’s report, we also have a Chilliwack River Salmon Primer. It opens for pinks today and though we still think it is a little early, it is time to get ready. Taylor has details on the run timings for the major salmon species coming and the essentials that you will need to tackle this fishery.
Also, Matt tunes in with a short video report – He has managed to calm down enough after last week’s missed pink opening. There are so many great opportunities right now that he didn’t want to miss checking in for opening weekend. Click below for the video version of the report
Finally, if you are looking to pick up bait or any gear for your long weekend fishing adventures, we are in the shop regular hours Friday through Sunday and closed on Monday!
LABOUR DAY LONG WEEKEND HOURS
Friday September 1 | 10AM-7PM
Saturday September 2 | 10AM-6PM
Sunday September 3 | 11AM-5PM
Monday September 4 | Closed
Regular hours resume Tuesday September 5
INDUSTRY EVENTS AND UPDATES
Join Our Retail Team Today!
We’re Hiring! We’ve a got an interesting hybrid role here in the shop with room for growth. This full-time role will be split between the retail sales floor directly interacting with customers and the office managing our incoming product. If this sounds like the role for you – have a look at the full job description here and send your resume and cover letter in to firstname.lastname@example.org
CLASSES AND COURSES
Introduction to Fly Fishing
This course is specifically designed to give the new fly fisher the basic knowledge, casting skills and fly fishing strategies to effectively fish our local BC waters. This course is comprised of two sessions; 3hr evening seminar and a 3hr casting session. The dates below show the seminar date first and casting date second.
Dates: Sept 19 & 23
Seminar Time: 6:30pm – 9:30pm
Casting Time(s): 10am – 1pm or 1:30pm -4:30pm
Introduction to Fly Tying
There is no greater satisfaction than catching a fish with a fly you tied yourself. This Introduction to Fly Tying course is specifically designed to give you the fundamental skills needed to tie proven fly patterns used here in BC for trout, salmon, and steelhead.
This course consists of 3 sessions; each session is 3hrs.
Students are required to supply their own vise, tools and materials. A 10% discount is available on fly tying materials and tools purchased for the course.
Dates: Sept. 27, Oct 4, 10.
Time: 6:30pm – 9:30pm
Fall Salmon River Fishing: Floats, Spinners, & Spoons
This 3hr evening seminar covers float fishing, spinner fishing and spoon fishing; the three most productive techniques to catch BC salmon in a river.
Seminar: Sep 25, 2023
Seminar Time: 6:30pm – 9:30pm
Fly Fishing for Salmon in Rivers
Fly fishing for salmon is one of the most exciting fisheries in the Lower Mainland. Let us teach you the techniques and the hot spots to catch salmon on the fly in our local rivers. In the 3hr evening seminar you will learn about rod, reel and line, sink tip, and fly selection. Then put the skills into practice during a fully guided day on the water where you will learn how to read water and swing the fly!
Seminar: Oct 11, 2023
Guided: SOLD OUT
Custom Trip Dates Available
Seminar Only Cost: $60.00+GST
Seminar & Guided Walk’n Wade Cost: $300.00+GST per angler, minimum of 2 anglers per guided day on the water.
Seminar Time: 6:30pm – 9:30pm
Guided: Full Day
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
Guided: Nov 25 or 26, 2023
Seminar Time: 6:30pm – 9:30pm
Guided: Full Day
STURGEON FISHING REPORT
Sturgeon fishing has been great these past few weeks! As more and more salmon enter the Fraser the sturgeon start ramping up there feeding in the lower river, packing on the pounds before the cold winter temperatures show up. This is prime time for multi fish days and big fish in the lower Fraser River.
We have been doing well on salmon roe and salmon bellies as the big fish are definitely keyed into the arrival of the pink salmon right now. There are 20 million pinks coming to the Fraser right now and the sturgeon will be feeding on them all of September and October.
This is one of our favorite times of year to fish sturgeon. The weather is still relatively warm, but not too hot, there is still plenty of daylight for afternoon trips, and the fish are on the bite!
Our strategically located 22-foot jet boat has access to some hot fishing 5 to 30 minutes from our dock in some of the least fished but most productive sturgeon waters on the entire Fraser, resulting in some uncrowded and great fishing! If you are looking to do battle with some of the largest freshwater fish in the world, only minutes from downtown Vancouver, now is the time!
For more information or to book your trip online visit us at Sturgeon Fishing Vancouver
To book a trip by phone give us a call at 778-788-8582 or email us at email@example.com
Fraser River Pink Openings
The PSC formally upgraded their estimate for the Fraser River Pink Salmon run from 17 million to 20 million fish this week! DFO has also announced that there will be an opening on the tidal (downstream from the train bridge at Mission) and non-tidal (between the Alexandria Bridge above Hope and the train bridge at Mission) portions of the Fraser for the retention as well as many of the Fraser Tributaries. As always, please read and familiarize yourself with the current regulations by checking out all of the relevant fisheries notices below:
Tidal waters of the Fraser River (Notice)
Non-tidal waters of the Fraser River (Notice)
Region 2 – Fraser Tributaries – Pink Salmon Opportunities (Notice)
This is the complete opposite of what I predicted for this year’s pink return, considering the floods of 2021 and the negative impact I thought they would have on the pinks. Actually, come to think of it, I’m pretty sure every single prediction I’ve made this year has been dead wrong, so maybe I should take a break from making predictions… my crystal ball is clearly broken!
There was a large dose of controversy over this opening last week because DFO said that it would open but then changed plans and held off on the opening. It became apparent that the reason for the delay was completely political. This highlights a much bigger problem with how our fisheries are managed. I am not going to wade into these murky waters in this report. We will stick to how to enjoy this fishery, but Matt is planning on tuning in on it in the video version of the report. Check it out here for more details.
Also look at last week’s video report for info on how to actually fish for pinks on the Fraser:
How to Fish The Fraser For Pink Salmon
The lower Fraser pink salmon fishery has always been a beginner-friendly, low-cost opportunity to catch salmon without having to drive far or put in too much effort, so it has always been extremely popular. Because this fishery is so close to home for most people, it offers the perfect opportunity to get out for a few hours after work/school or when you don’t have enough time to go elsewhere. There are plenty of good areas to try, the methods are simple, the fish are usually quite aggressive, and they push through in large schools, so the action can be fast and furious at times.
Casting and retrieving lures is the most popular method for targeting pinks in the Fraser, and a 7’-9’ medium or medium-heavy action spinning or casting rod spooled up with 8lb-15lb mono or 10lb-30lb braid is perfect for this fishery. The visibility in the Fraser is quite good this year, which means that casting lures will likely be quite effective, which is a nice bonus. Pinks usually don’t travel very far from shore, so you usually don’t need to worry about launching gear into the middle of the Fraser, which makes this fishery accessible for anglers of all ages. Pinks love the colour pink for some reason, so pink spoons, spinners, spin-n-glos and jigs will all readily produce fish. Bar fishing with spin-n-glos can also be productive at times, though it’s likely that there will be a bait ban, which means that bar fishing with roe will probably not be an option. There’s no need to get too technical for this fishery; pink fishing seems to be most enjoyable and productive when you keep it simple, relaxed and try to have a good time.
There are a ton of good spots in the tidal Fraser to try, with some of the easiest to access and fish being Mission Bridge Park (Mission), Glenn Valley (Langley), Derby Reach (Langley), Brownsville Bar (Surrey), River Road (Delta), Deas Island (Delta) and No. 3 Rd (Richmond), just to name a few.
Please note that Garry Point Park is technically in area 29-9, which unfortunately is not open.
Tides play a large role in this fishery, so keep an eye on them and note that fishing tends to be best on the ebb. Fish move in on the high tide when the river is slack, and they get pushed closer to shore when the water starts to pick up speed as the tide goes out, so I always try to focus my effort on the outgoing tides… but having said that, I’ve caught fish at all times of day during all tide phases.
Please note that DFO has made it clear in their panel meetings and conference calls that they will be requesting that anglers use selective fishing methods when participating in this fishery due to concerns with the sockeye returns. This means that any method that does not selectively target pinks is not allowed- methods such as bottom bouncing or any other intentional flossing are definitely not selective and will result in the interception of sockeye. DFO has also made it clear that they will be patrolling to observe compliance rates with this selective fishing order, and they will not hesitate to close the fishery if they see too many people disobeying this simple rule. They have already shown that they can and will close fisheries if anglers don’t behave themselves (Vedder crossing…), so please stick to selective methods to avoid jeopardizing this opportunity for the rest of us. Casting and retrieving pink lures is a perfect example of a selective method, since pinks will readily bite a pink lure, but sockeye will not.
The pinks normally start pushing into the lower Fraser in decent numbers around the last week of August/first week of September, with the peak of the run coming somewhere around the second/third week of September. Having said that, this year’s run timing for the Squamish pinks has been a fair bit later than usual, so it’s tough to say if the Fraser run will follow that trend or not- we’ll have to wait and see. No matter when the fish show up, you’ll want to be stocked up on gear and ready to go before the run hits, so be sure to drop into the shop, stock up and chat about this great fishing opportunity with us!
FRESHWATER FISHING REPORTS
Chilliwack/Vedder River Primer
It’s finally September, and that means the Fall salmon season on the C/V system is just around the corner. Actually, it’s probably already started- there are almost certainly a few white springs and pinks in the system already, although they won’t be there in significant numbers just yet. As a general rule, I usually start heading out there in the second week of September, when there are usually good numbers of springs and pinks during the odd-numbered years, by that point. Of course, the water is running very low at the moment; the rains we saw in the latter half of the week didn’t do much to raise the water levels, though they did temporarily increase the turbidity a bit.
I’ve always been a river guy, so Fall salmon season is my jam, and the C/V has always been one of my main stomping grounds. It has an extremely robust hatchery program, there’s easy access to pretty much the entire fishable length of the river, and it’s not too far from home- all of these things combine to make it a pretty easy river to fish… but also one of the busiest rivers in BC. Crowds can be a serious issue in the most popular areas during peak season, but you can usually find some water that isn’t too busy if you put in a bit of walking. The hatchery is federally run and facilitates exceptional fisheries for coho, chinook and steelhead, and the river sustains decent returns of wild pinks and chum.
The main species to target during the Fall salmon season are white chinook, pink, coho and chum. The chinook are usually the first to arrive, showing up in early September and maintaining their presence in the system until mid-late October; the latest I’ve caught a chinook in decent shape in the C/V was early November. Do note that the hatchery doubled its production of chinook smolts four years ago, so it’s very likely that there will be exceptional numbers of good-sized chinooks in the system this year, so be prepared to do battle with at least a few chunky chinooks this year. Float fishing with roe, beads, blades and yarn, casting spinners/spoons or twitching jigs are all productive methods for targeting chinook. Fly anglers will typically swing fairly large intruders and heavy sink-tips on two-handed rods in deep pools or runs for them. These fish prefer slow, deep pools and will often bully other fish out of the best holding water. The peak of the chinook run is usually mid September-early October.
The pinks show up at around the same time as the chinook with fish pushing into the system until mid October; the latest I’ve ever caught a pink that wasn’t all moldy and falling apart in the C/V was the last week of October. Note that the Squamish and Indian River pinks have been quite late this year, so there is a chance that the C/V pinks could follow that trend… so this run-timing is only a generalization of how it usually goes. Pinks are especially fond of the colour pink, so float fishing with pink beads, blades, yarn and bait or casting pink spinners/spoons/jigs are all effective methods of targeting them; fly anglers typically cast and strip pink flies of various descriptions. Pinks prefer slow water but will sit on seams or on the slow sides of seams; they are usually not as dependent on deep water as other species and can often be found sitting in shallow tailouts or near shore when not spooked. The peak of the pink run is usually mid September-early October, just like the chinook.
The next species to show up is the coho, which typically start arriving in early September and are around until late November; the latest coho I’ve ever caught in the C/V was mid December… imagine my disappointment when I landed what I thought was a beautiful early steelhead, only to realize it was a bullet-chrome wild coho. Coho can be targeted by float fishing a wide variety of gear or casting spinners/spoons/jigs; their aggressive but spooky nature means that they can be incredibly easy to catch, or they can be completely lock-jawed and refuse any and every presentation possible. Fly anglers can do very well by casting and stripping small flash flies in slow to stagnant water. Coho will sit in a variety of water, but they are especially fond of very slow or even still “frog water”. The peak of the coho run is usually late September-mid October.
The last species to arrive is the chum, which usually start arriving in mid September and are around until late November; the latest chum that I’ve caught in the C/V was in late December; it was a bullet-chrome “Blackhead”. Chum can be quite aggressive and will bite pretty much any presentation you put in front of them if they are in the right mood. The best way to target chum is by short-floating a jig, but they are also quite fond of twitching jigs and swung flies. Chum will usually sit in pools or seams, seeking out water that makes them feel “safe” while limiting the amount of energy they consume. Having said that, they can and will park themselves wherever they want to, they are very much the Honey Badger of the salmon world. The peak of the chum run is usually early October-late October, with a second, smaller wave of chum arriving in early November and hanging around until mid-December- these fish often push into the system as “silver bullets” and are sometimes referred to as “Blackheads”.
As a general rule, mid-September to late October is what I consider to be peak-season for the C/V fall Salmon run, so now is the time to gear up and get ready for the upcoming season. I’m hoping that conditions are better than last year, but it’s a good idea to be ready for whatever conditions the river tries to throw at you. Be aware that there has been an in-season closure for a portion of the river in the Vedder Crossing area. Details on that closure can be found in one of my previous reports here. Come into the shop if you’re looking for more info or if you want to get set up for this fishery!
Squamish River Fishing Report
This past week has seen the pink salmon fishery continue to be good with anglers finding numbers of fish at the tributary mouths.
Water clarity has been hit and miss with a couple days of decent visibility. As the temperatures drop, we can expect to see water clarity improve, so keep an eye on upper-level temperatures.
Trout and char fishing in the mainstem and tributaries has been decent to good, with it expected to get better as the season progresses and more salmon arrive to deposit eggs and eventually, flesh.
Fly fishing for trout and char is a popular past time at this time of year, with small beads/glo-bugs being popular under indicators. For those that like tight-line grabs, swinging and stripping sculpins can be quite effective, with 4wt-5wt rods being popular choices. Alternatively, if fishing the main-stem outside of the tributaries, 7wt-8wt rods and small-to-medium pink flies are popular choices for targeting pink salmon.
For those who prefer more traditional gear, light spinning rods with spinners and spoons, as well as light spin-drift set ups are popular for the trout and char. Keeping species in mind, sizing up the rod to a medium and tossing medium sized spinners, spoons, and jigs can be quite popular while targeting the pink salmon.
Remember that this is a catch and release fishery, so let’s all do our part to respect those regulations and ensure a viable fishery for the future.
SALTWATER FISHING REPORTS
Vancouver Saltwater Salmon Fishing Report
Happy opening day off the mouth of the Fraser! In fact, pretty much the vast majority of the Strait of Georgia, including the Fraser mouth area, is back to a 2 chinook per day limit, 62cm or greater, no max size, the fish can be hatchery or wild.
These Fraser fish are shallow, not generally feeding, and respond best to bait fished in a teaser head with a 6-foot leader and a flasher. For depths try 25 to 75 on the downriggers with that 35 to 55 zone usually being the best. Sometimes they will be a bit shallower or deeper depending on time of day and light conditions.
On your shallowest rod try an Oki Betsy flasher. This chrome flasher works great with a similar chrome Rhys Davis anchovy teaser head. On your mid to deeper rods try a Gibbs Green Onion Glow or Chartreuse Lemon Lime flasher with similar glow green or glow green/chartreuse teaser head. We have been using 5.5 to 6.0 inch anchovies and also doing very well using the “green” size herring. These are a med/small herring that fit well in the Rhys Davis anchovy classic teaser head and the two together give you a great roll for chinook.
From the fishing reports this morning and the test sets on the Fraser, it does appear some of the chinook pushed up the river with that rain and low-pressure system we just had. Regardless, fishing has been decent this morning and there will definitely be some great days going forward.
The even better news is there are still hundreds of thousands of chinook on the way. The Harrison River chinook run is estimated at 110,000 chinook this year and they are just starting to show up. That number doesn’t include the Vedder/Chilliwack return and in recent years the hatchery released 2,000,000 chinook smolts and the survival rate has been good for these fish. At 5% that’s another 100,000 fish on the way. So, the rain the past few days and today’s wind didn’t do us any favours, but there are some big pushes of chinook inbound and they are the largest of the year as well.
Also take note of this. We are still having amazing days in the Gulf Island! Check out this catch from just a few days ago. There are LOTS of chinook still in the Gulf Islands and Nanaimo area, so we always have the option of going there on our longer trips. We have great fishing there all of September. Lingcod and rockfish are also open there until the end of this month. So, I highly recommend booking a longer trip so we can assess where the best fishing is and hit the Fraser Mouth or the Gulf Islands. With those 2 options in the playbook, you are going to have a productive day.
See you in the shop or on the water,
Beach Fishing Update
The beaches are alive with hundreds of anglers and thousands of fish.
Reports from North Shore have been great. Rain or shine, plenty of anglers are having success. Pinks will continue to flood the beaches the next few weeks. We are well into the run so we are seeing some fish go stale and tight lipped. When the conditions get a little tough it pays to have some additional gear, flies, and tricks in your arsenal.
Smaller spinners or micro spoons can fool a few weary fish. These can be harder to cast on heavier rods so some additional weight is usually added. It might even be worth changing to fluorocarbon leaders if you are getting refusals. I still carry a heavy buzz bomb for the far off fish.
For the fly angler, I recommend stocking up on smaller sparse flies. My most productive patterns would be Pink Pam’s, small clouser minnows, and small shrimpy patterns. These are tied on strong stout hooks to handle hard fighting salmon. If you’re wading out or fishing off rock piles a stripping basket will be very helpful for line control. Every year we see damaged lines from the sharp rocks and shells on the beach. A stripping basket helps keep your line protected, organized and ready to do battle with salmon.
As the season progresses, we will encounter more fish changing to the spawning phase. The salmon’s body will change shape (males particularly) and they will develop bars and spawning colours. If I am looking to keep fish for the table, I am usually avoiding coloured up fish. There are still plenty of fresh pinks out there so release any older fish with care.
It’s going to be a productive season so it’s a great time to introduce a new angler to salmon fishing, and perhaps land a fresh fish for the BBQ.
Good luck and enjoy the action!