Fishing this past week has remained steady with some great opportunities for the first ever BC Family Day long weekend, which we have renamed BC Fishing Day. Because you can bet we are all going to take advantage of having the store closed on monday. The question will be where?
It looks like we are going to get a break from the rain this weekend as the NW winds move in and push the clouds out. The Vancouver weather forecast is calling for a mixture of sun and cloud on Friday, cloudy conditions on Saturaday and Monday, and sunny conditions on Sunday. You can expect the daily high temperatures range from 6 to 8 degrees Celsius and daily low temperatures to range from 0 to 3 degrees Celsius.
The river fishing should be pretty good this weekend as the rivers received a bump of rain mid week. That will keep the steelhead moving in to most systems and stir up some of the older fish that came in earlier in the season. It should also move some eggs around if you want to head out and do some nymphing for bulltrout/Dolly Varden. There is also a few cutthroat trout being caught in the Harrison and the Stave.
Those same NW winds that bring in the sun also bring the wind right into Vancouver Harbour. This can make things a bit rough, especially when the ebb tide is pushing hard into the NW wind. Thankfully the marine forecast for the Straight of Georgia is calling for 10 knots on Saturday and then light winds on Sunday and Monday. If you are planning on doing some saltwater fishing this weekend make sure to check the most up-to-date marine forecast as predicted forecasts can change rapidly.
The saltwater fishing in Vancouver Harbour and up Howe Sound has been pretty tough for about a week now. No shortage of bait, just a shortage of fish! When the winds have allowed, anglers heading over to the “other side” have had much better success from Nanaimo down to Point Roberts. Hopefully those fish move up the Strait and into the Harbor!
So if you add it all up there is actually quite a bit of opportunity. Steelhead and cutthroat in the Fraser Valley, some bulltrout/Dolly Varden in Sea-to-Sky Corridor, some chinook fishing in the harbour (it can’t stay slow forever) and some more chinook on the other side of the Strait. So get out there and enjoy all the fishing opportunities this weekend!
To keep up-to-date with all things Pacific Angler and the local fishing scene check out Pacific Angler Facebook and on Twitter. You will find our detailed river and saltwater reports below. If you have any questions please do not hesitate to drop by our shop @ 78 East Broadway, Vancouver or give our friendly staff a call @ 604-872-2204.
Vancouver River Fishing Report:
Squamish/Cheakamus Rivers – Within the Sea-to-Sky Corridor, Rivers are finally on the rise. The forecast is looking good for the weekend and though we would still like to see higher river levels we expect to hear some better reports this weekend. The bull trout have been turning on intermittently when the temperatures are right and when they are in the mood. We had a good report last week of guys using small yet bright orange and red bead rigs. Come into the shop and the friendly staff will show you their favourite egg setups. Sculpin streamer patterns have also been quite productive. The pattern seems to be that some days the fish are keyed in on eggs and other days can only buy a few fish with a heavy sink tip and sculpin streamer pattern.
The warm weather has melted some of the snow, improving access to the upper river. We still recommend caution when traveling the upper river roads. If you dare to explore make sure to be prepared with good clearance, heavy tire treds, and a strong 4-wheel drive.
Capilano River – There are whisperings of anglers probing the depths of the Capilano River. Currently, very few fish have returned. When the river level bumps up the fresh fish choose to move in. This is always an option to fish if you only have a couple of hours between work or family duties. Float fishing works best on the canyon pools of the Capilano River but fly fishermen can have success with a full sink type 6 or 8 fly line and smallish steelhead flies. Remember that all wild and hatchery steelhead must be released.
Seymour River – Very few reports have come in from the Seymour River this year. But that doesn’t mean that there are no fish. The Seymour is a great river for the urban fly fisherman in search of the odd winter steelhead or trout. It is simply a great excuse to get on the river for a half-day, get some exercise, make a few casts and maybe even hook into a chrome steelhead. The lower river is best after a high water period while the upper sections hold fish all year round.
Fraser River – There are some cutthroat in the back channels and sloughs of the Fraser River this time of year for the adventurous angler willing to search the waters and find the fish. Sturgeon is slow as the fish are basically hibernating this time of year and most anglers agree it is time to give them a rest. It won’t be long until the eulachons come in during the spring and the sturgeon put the feed-bag back on.
Chilliwack/Vedder River – The water clarity of the Chilliwack River this week has been in-and-out due to the fluctuations of temperature and rain. The Tolmie, Slesse and Ranger slides are all influencing the river this year. The water clarity will depend on how much rain we get in the next few days, and how cold it gets in the evenings. Based on the latest weather forecast I am predicting that the river will have pretty good clarity for the long weekend. Make sure to check the latest river levels, and weather reports online.
If you are planning on going out this long weekend, there will be fresh fish in the river due to the coloured water this last week and all the rain we received. Bigger and brighter presentations will allow you to cover ground quickly and find the eager biters.
For the float fishermen 4 inch pink worms, Gooey Bobs, & jigs are all good choices. For the fly fishermen 3 inch intruders and leeches in pink, orange, black & purple work well.
Chehalis River – With the heavy precipitation we received the Chehalis rose and was in very nice shape. A few fish trickled in, but there was a lack of a main ‘push’. The further into the season we get, the better the fishing will be. Remember that this system tends to rise very quickly as well as drop quickly. Being on this river as the level is dropping is key. The Pacific Angler staff has not heard any recent reports but there are always a few winter steelhead holding in the unforgiving canyon pools. If you are planning on hitting this system make sure to arm yourself with small presentations due to the unlimited clarity of the water. Presentations such as single Jensen eggs, sparse jigs, or sparse flies such as “General Practitioners” are all great options.
Stave River – The boys at Pacific Angler have not heard of any direct Stave River reports. However, this is a great fishery for this time of year for the trout fishermen using streamers, single egg patterns, and nymphs. There should also be a few steelhead hanging around. When the fry hatch later in February and March this fishery can really take off for all species.
Harrison River – There has been some decent cutthroat fishing in the Harrison this week and this should continue and get even better as the weather warms. We heard some reports that the water level is extremely low, even lower than last year. It will be interesting to see how this affects fishing over the next 3 months. Try general searching patterns like small bead head rolled muddlers. Keep moving around and cover water until you locate the fish.
Skagit River – Closed
Skeena Region Report – Nicholas Dean Lodge
It’s of course the Winter season here in the lower Skeena region right now, but based on the weather the past two weeks, you’d hardly think it. The weather has consistently been above the freezing mark on most days, which has created good winter steelhead fishing conditions. Rivers are currently running low and clean.
One of the biggest surprises upon my arrival back in Terrace in mid-January was the shortage of snow – both in town and in the alpine. As I write this, there is literally no snow in my front yard; in comparison, this same time last year there was well over two feet. Snow surveys on various stations are as low as 42% of normal near Terrace, with the overall Skeena-Nass basin averaging approximately 90% of normal. While there is certainly the possibility that we’ll receive significantly more snow in the next several months, the present conditions suggest that we may have a smaller summer freshet than we’ve seen in the last two years. A couple of implications of the snowpack and freshet are that we should have easier access to our favourite coastal steelhead rivers this spring, and a longer chinook fishing season in the summer – something that we’re pretty darn excited about!
More currently, Sky Richard and I fished last weekend for a half-day and each landed one steelhead between 9 and 12lbs, losing two others.
When fishing our first run of the day, I was reminded just how important it is to always be actively thinking about presentation dynamics and how you choose to present your fly. The top of the run held shallow, riffly water, perhaps 2 ft deep, with a deeper slot on the far bank about 80 ft away. To hit the slot and have the fly swing at the appropriate depth, I used a Type III tip and an unweighted fly. Mid way through the run, well past the slot, the water started to slow down and drop off into approximately 6 ft of water. To cover the seam more effectively and ensure that the fly was at depth, I changed to a heavily weighted dumbbell fly that was tied very sparsely. Several casts later, a 12 lb hen crushed the fly before displaying a rather impressive fight for a winter fish, complete with four aerial jumps.
The take home point on this is to always ensure that you’re visualizing where your fly is, at what depth it is at and how you want it to look when presented in front of the fish. Small changes to your presentation, like changing the profile or weight of the fly, presenting your fly more broadside, or slowing down the swing are all factors that can make a big difference in your fishing. This is, of course, pretty standard advice when it comes to steelhead fishing, but it’s all too easy to lose focus sometimes when you’re casting repeatedly over the course of a day, waiting for that one electrifying grab!
If you’re looking for a great way to start off your fishing season this year, you might want to consider a spring steelhead trip with us in April or May. There is currently limited space available in our prime weeks if you’d like to check out this popular season. For more info, contact Dave at Pacific Angler for all the details.
Operations Manager, Nicholas Dean Outdoors
Vancouver Saltwater Report:
For an in-depth look at the Vancouver saltwater salmon winter chinook fishery read the lastest reports written by Pacific Angler saltwater guides Jason Tonelli and Eddie Matthei.
This week the local saltwater fishing has been in a word, challenging. There is no shortage of bait as anglers have seen bait balls off W. Van, QB, the freighters, and Bell Buoy. There have been a few fish caught but for the amount of anglers out it has been very slow. We have heard basically the same from Howe Sound, lots of bait, not too many fish.
We do expect this to change as there have been lots of fish encountered further south and over on the Island. It should only be a matter of time before this fish show up in Vancouver Harbour and off the Bell Buoy, QA and South Bowen. The fish that have been taken locally have been on small spoons like the Irish Cream 3.0 inch and Flaming Hans 2-3/4 inch. Try a 6 foot leader of 20-25lb test behind a flasher. The Purple Onion flasher and the Kinetic UV Jelly Fish Yellow Green Mist have been working well. Jason is heading out on Friday and Eddie is heading out on Saturday so keep an eye out for the Salty Dawg on the water this weekend.
I don’t have much to report and I haven’t heard much on the radio either. Although we came home empty handed the last time out, the weather could not have been nicer. Seemed like we were fishing in early spring or late summer.
Out of the 5 boats fishing that day only one reported a single undersized fish. The fishing was extremely challenging. On a positive note I should add that I trolled towards some active Herring Gulls and the sounder lit-up with bait balls. That was supported by lots of small herring breaking the surface all around the boat. It is possible that the winter chinook salmon are simply full on natural feed and therefore it is harder to fool them. I have noticed, from past fish I hit and also reports from fellow fishermen, that the fish have been hitting when there’s little to no bait around. On a previous trip I was just about to leave and area that showed nothing on the sounder only to hit 2 decent fish and one really nice fish.
On behalf of the Pacific Angler staff we wish you the best in your fishing endeavors and we hope to see you either at the shop or on the water. To check out the latest Pacific Angler news view the Pacific Angler Facebook page