Published on May 7th, 2010 by Rodney
To be honest, fishing for bull trout in the Tidal Fraser River has been pretty tough for me so far this year. Unlike other years, after numerous blanked outings around my house, I gave up before freshet was even in full swing. Perhaps they were simply not excited about the usual lures and flies that I offer, or perhaps they were simply not at my usual haunts. It has been frustrating to say the least, but this is what targeting predatory species in the Tidal Fraser River is all about.
Seeing that we are finally getting some nice weather, we went down to one of the local beaches this afternoon so we could soak in the rays and make a few casts. Although the Fraser River is now pretty muddy due to freshet, you can still catch bull trout. The best method to do so is by bait when water condition is poor. It is not a technique that we use often, because using bait on a catch and release fishery seems to be a waste. Secondly, bull trout have a tendency to take the baited hook too deeply. We avoid this by not letting the fish biting on the bait for too long. Although completely legal, it is something that we choose to do once awhile so our impact on these fish is minimized.
The moderate westerly breeze from our back and the sun in front of us made it very comfortable. We had a great view of the river and our rods that sat firmly in the holders. Sea gulls hovered and rested on the pylons, celebrating after so many miserable spring days in April.
The bites came on pretty quickly, but it was the wrong species. The little twitches on the rod tip told me that sculpins were hungry. It did not take long before we brought one to the beach. These common sculpins can be a nuisance when bait fishing for bigger species, but we always release them with care because they are an important food source for bigger fish and birds.
The tide turned at 1:30pm. From past experiences, I have found that the bites come on soon after flood tides. Today was no different. While reeling in one rod, I spotted a couple of big tugs on the other rod. I called out for Nina to grab the rod. She pulled and the bend in the rod suggested a bigger fish on the line. The line suddenly became slack as she retrieved, but the fish was not lost. It was simply swimming toward us. One minute later, it emerged from the silty water and we were delighted to see a bull trout on the line.
Once it was released, it did not take long to hook the second, third and fourth fish. There was definitely a school of hungry bull trout in front of us. The largest fish of the day did not even want to wait for the bait to settle on the bottom before grabbing it. It was a solid fish, which probably has been feeding on plenty of salmon fry that are travelling down the Fraser River.
We decided to end the trip after two hours while the fishing was still pretty good. In total, we brought in five bull trout and lost a couple more, definitely not a bad way to start our weekend. Tomorrow we will be attending the 20th Great Salmon Send Off at Stoney Creek. We will be doing flytying workshops, arts and crafts for kids, as well as handing out reading material on both fresh and saltwater fisheries in the Lower Mainland. Be sure to come by for a chat!