Chehalis River, Harrison Mills
By Rodney Hsu
Chehalis River is a large tributary of Harrison River in the Fraser Valley. This scenic stream tucked in the thick temperate rainforest offers salmon, steelhead and trout fishing opportunities throughout the year. Access to this river is more challenging due to its terrain, but the recreational use area is a popular spot for camping for those who would like to try multi-day trips.
How to Get There?
Vehicle travel time to Chehalis River is approximately 1.5 hours from Vancouver. From Highway 7 just west of the Harrison River bridge, turn north onto Morris Valley Road. River access is available from the recreational site, approximately 5km from the turn-off at Highway 7. The recreational site has a day use area by the bridge and a campground just downstream from the bridge. Both areas have easy foot access to the river. Foot access is also available further upstream from the bridge in the canyon but anglers should note the difficult terrain in this area.
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Chehalis River offers fishing opportunities for chinook salmon and summer steelhead between June and August (please note that no fishing for chinook salmon is in effect during part of August, check the regulations for more information). September is generally quiet but can be productive at times for coho salmon. October and November can be excellent for coho and chum salmon. From December to April, winter steelhead fishing opportunities are available. The lower river also offers the possibility of catching some coastal cutthroat trout.
Fishing techniques employed at the Chehalis River depend on the river level, which can fluctuate greatly in a short period of time. When water is high, float fishing with bait in more sheltered parts of the river is best. The river can usually drop fairly fast once it stops raining so you may wish to adjust your float depth, drift path throughout the trip. When the river is low, the water is often crystal clear. This is when fly fishing and spincasting hardware become quite effective.
Being at the river at first light can greatly improve your fishing results on days when it is sunny and when the river is clear. During the coho salmon season, if your timing is right, then finding schools of coho salmon moving through the system throughout a rainy day is not uncommon.
Before your first fishing trip to Chehalis River, please make sure you know the following information:
- You must have a valid British Columbia freshwater fishing license. If you intend to retain salmon, then you must also purchase the freshwater salmon conservation surcharge. If you intend to fish for steelhead, then you must also purchase the steelhead conservation surcharge.
- Chehalis River is located in Region 2 in the British Columbia freshwater fishing regulations. The regulations are often different from one season to another, so please check them before your trip.