It has been a busy week here at Pacific Angler with courses being held each night, everything from Steelhead on the Fly to Introduction to Fly Fishing. Matt was also out this past weekend showing students how to effectively fish with egg patterns. Check out the pictures below. There is simply no better way to learn than on-the-water instruction.
The conditions have definitely improved from a couple weeks ago. This week has seen a bit or rain plus mild air temperatures. We expect the fishing to keep improving this weekend for the river guys with more rain and some big tides pushing fresh steelhead into our local rivers. The saltwater fishing over the past weekend was slow but seemed to perk up mid-week with a couple reports of winter chinook being caught.
In the fish conservation world the Steelhead Society of British Columbia is hosting their AGM this weekend on Saturday January 26th starting at 10:00 AM. To check out the itinerary, guest speakers and address click on the link – SSBC AGM. This is a great opportunity to meet fellow steelheaders, renew your membership, and learn about these amazing fish and how you can help protect them.
Now lets get back into the fishing. The Vancouver Weather Forecast is calling for cloudy and rainy conditions for the weekend and well into next week. The daily high temperatures range from 5 to 8 degrees Celsius while the daily low temperatures range from 2 to 4 degrees Celsius. The rain and milder conditions are definitely welcome as they will bring up the river levels and push fresh fish into our local river systems.
For the saltwater angler the Straight of Georgia Marine Forecast is calling for southeast winds ranging from 5 to 15 knots over the weekend. On Friday the winds will be from 15 to 20 knots but then diminishing over the weekend. It should be another great weekend to get out on the saltchuck.
This week’s steelhead pro tip of the week comes from Pacific Angler’s Matt Sharp.
This rig is one of the most versatile nymph rigs for fishing eggs and pretty much any other imitation where you want to nymph. This is not a steelhead specific rig but it will work for steelhead, bulltrout and pretty much anything else in our rivers this time of year. This set up is specifically weighted for steelhead with larger lines. When targeting smaller species we use much lighter line. The key to the presentation is to only target water you can fish effectively. With this set up look for 3-6 feet of water moving at a slow walking speed. Avoid heavy deep seams, deep water in general (over 8ft), slow dead water, and large wide open runs where a swung fly is much more effective. I like to target smaller more defined holding water that is hard to swing a fly.
Mend your line constantly working to maintain a dead drift and to keep you indicator over top of your fly. Don’t get lazy. Some people have said that indicator fishing for steelhead is cheating and easy but if they knew how attentive you have to be to your line, leader and indicator they might change their tune.
At this time of year the slightest bounce or twitch of the Indicator can be a fish. You do not always need an aggressive hook set but each time you think there is a bite or something odd happens to your indicator make a hard check mend. If the line does not lift properly off the water turn the mend into a fast hook set. The rule is faster the better.
The rig: For steelhead run 3ft of heavy butt section 20-25lb then with blood knots, taper down quickly using 2ft of 15lb and 4 feet of 10lb. This fast taper allows the fly to sink without drag. A standard 9ft leader will work but building your own with a faster taper will cut down on drag. From the end of the leader tie on a #12 crane swivel and place 1 AAA or 2 to 3 #1 split shot just above the swivel (note: the weight should not have wings because they tangle). Some guys will also put a single #1 split shot at the 15lb to 10lb junction to get a straighter presentation.
Your indicator should be placed somewhere within the heavy butt section of the leader and we have almost exclusively gone to using the fish pimp or thing-a-mabobber indicators. They are hands down the best. Exact position on the indicator depends on depth. For most of the day I keep the indicator between 6ft and 8ft above my weight.
Tie on 14 inches of 12lb fluorocarbon leader to the terminal end of the swivel. We then use a bead pegged 3 inches above a # 4 black Gamakatsu hook. (We use a 1.5 inch spread and a #8 Gamakatsu for small species). Peg a small amount of white wool into the bead with the toothpick to add a moldy veil.
To keep up-to-date with all things Pacific Angler and the local fishing season check out the Pacific Angler Facebook Page. You can also follow Jason Tonelli and Pacific Angler 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.
River Fishing Report:
Chilliwack River: The Vedder has been fishing well for the last week. A number of fish pushed in this week with the rain, such as the one below Dimitri took to hand on Thursday. If you look closely you will see this fish has sea lice on it so it goes without saying some chrome fish are pushing into the Vedder as we speak.
We are expecting more bumps of water this week so it should continue to bring in fresh fish. Pacific Angler is heading out for a number of courses this week and we have high hopes for both fly and gear. The forecast is for rain but from what we have seen we don’t expect a blow out. Keep your eyes on the water levels and remember that if a clay bank goes mid-river look to the upper river for clear water. Yesterday the visibility was 3 to 4 feet so use that as an indicator with water levels.
Chehalis River: The Chehalis River flow is fed from the Hemlock valley. This means that it will have different flow volumes from the other Lower Mainland systems. Hemlock got a ton of snow with the last rain and because of that the river is low as of yesterday. This means that the Chehalis River is low-and-clear which makes for difficult fishing. Keep your eyes on the water levels and plan to go out after we get a good bump of water.
Squamish River: We held our annual Egg Fishing Course this weekend and we were pleasantly surprised. With the rivers in the area very low we did not expect much success.
The egg presentation proved its worth with a number of fish each day and a couple fish well over the 5lb range. We learned a number of things that seemed to make a big difference. The first was light fluorocarbon tippet makes a different. The second was very small egg patterns. The fish seemed to key in on ones that had a relatively bright peach or orange color with a veil of egg yarn. The last key was persistence in the right water. All the fish came out of the middle parts of 3ft to 6ft deep runs. Not in the tail outs, not in the heads of the pools and not in heavy water on the outside seam. We found that if we moved through the head and tail of the run fast, then “pounded” the bucket with relatively short precise casts for long periods of time we consistently hooked fish. Good job to all they guys in the course and thanks for a great day!
Capilano River: It looks as though the dam has been opening intermittently throughout this week with the rain. This should have brought in some fresh fish and it is definitely worth getting out on the river. We recommend float fishing the Capilano River but there are a couple areas that you can find room for fly fishing. And of course all hatchery and wild steelhead must be released. Remember there are some summer runs on the Cap and the Seymour and many of these fish have been in the river for 6 months and are stale and over wintering. These fish are often visible due to their darker coloration from being in the river for so long. It is best to leave these fish alone and target chrome winter fish. Look for these grey ghosts in the tailout…
Stave River: The Stave River has had some decent egg fishing with the warmer weather. We had a good report of guys catching whitefish below the dam last week using indicators and eggs. This fishery should only pick up over the next months if it warms up a little. The other thing to look for is an early fry hatch on this system. Because it is dam fed it runs warmer which often means the fry hatch a bit sooner than on free flowing systems.
Harrison River: The Pacific Angler staff heard of a few cutthroat reports over the last week. Although we haven’t heard any big number days the fishing has been consistent. Guys have been heading out with fly rods and small bead head nymphs and picking up a couple fish on each trip. We recommend a floating line and long leader with pheasant tails, prince nymphs and an assortment of small bugger imitations. Because the Chehalis is very low we expect some steelhead to be stacking up near the mouth in the Harrison. I wouldn’t be surprised if we hear steelhead reports on the Harrison River over the next few days.
Vancouver Saltwater Report:
Fishing was a little slower to very slow this week off W. Van and up Howe Sound. There were some fish caught in both locations but most boats had little to no success. There was no shortage of bait around, in particular there were some great bait balls off W. Van, but not too many fish to be had. This can change as quickly as one tide as these fish move around a lot. They are literally here one day and gone the next. Check out the picture of this bait ball off W. Van.
We are coming up to the full moon and this will sometimes provide better fishing activity as long as the skies aren’t too clear. If the skies are clear the fish will feed at night if they have sufficient light provided by a full moon and clear skies. The long term forecast is for overcast skies and rain until Feb 1st so it doesn’t look like we have to worry about clear skies for at least one more week. I have noticed the same pattern while steelhead fishing. The steelheading seems to pick up around a full moon as the big tides push fish in and the fish already in the river seem to liven up a bit. Again, if the skies are clear and it is very bright out at night, it seems to be pretty tough in the morning on the rivers, not much of a first light bite because it has been so bright out all night long. Interesting stuff to say the least, but don’t get me wrong, the best time to go is when you have time. Don’t over analyze, go out and put your time in and it will happen. You can’t catch them on the couch! Check out this picture of Jason H. who went out mid week despite the slow reports from the weekend and was rewarded with a nice fish! Way to go Jay.
There seems to be good to extremely good numbers of fish around on the other side of the Strait. We have heard of good reports from a variety of sources from Campbell River down to Nanaimo, as well as Gabriola to Galliano. There are a limited number of anglers fishing these areas but those that are had some good fishing this week. Much like our areas, the fish are there one day and gone the next, but it will be interesting to see how things shape up over the next few weeks. Overall this is encouraging and perhaps some of these fish will migrate over to our side of the tracks! The truth is nobody truly knows the exact migratory patterns of these fish and likely never will unless we do a radio telemetry study on these fish. I can tell you right now this is not going to happen with the kind of funding that is available to the DFO! So in the meantime we can keep theorizing on when and where these fish will show up next and head out on the water in search of the next hot spot.
Eddie will be out guiding on Sunday so our next report will be early to mid next week.
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.
Jason, Matt, Dave, Dimitri, Andre, Ron