If you live in Vancouver BC, you really don’t have to venture too far to catch trophy-sized fish. That is one great thing about living in this city, I simply have to walk or drive to a nearby spot and I usually will not be disappointed.
The Fraser River drains into the ocean through Vancouver, where it is known for the large return of Pacific salmon every summer and fall. Most people, even anglers, are not very aware of another exciting event that goes on in this waterway every spring. Starting in late March, millions of juvenile salmon begin their out migration from the streams where they are hatched. These fish are followed by coastal cutthroat trout and bull trout, which are opportunistic predators that take advantage of this seasonal buffet.
The presence of these anadromous trout and char creates fantastic fishing opportunities. It is the time of the year that I always look forward to. If the water is clear, then fly fishing with small fry patterns usually results in aggressive chasers in shallow waters. That being said, this out migration unfortunately coincides with the start of freshet, so water is usually muddy when this fishery takes place.
When water clarity is poor, the alternative is to simply fish with bait such as salmon roe. It is a method that I do not enjoy as much because the wait can be dull and there are often lots of bait-stealing sculpin around. Nevertheless, I would still take it over no fishing at all.
We decided to give it a go this week. We caught the last hour of the incoming tide after work, so it was simply a short outing to wet our appetite. Visibility in the Fraser River is now no more than six inches, so we were limited to fishing with bait. Among hundreds of sculpin bites, one pull took me by surprise. Check out our latest video blog to see what ended up on the end of my line.
Spring is trout stocking season for the Freshwater Fisheries Society of BC. Last week we followed one of the hatchery trucks around and filmed Buntzen and Como Lake being stocked. This is an new video project that we are doing with the society and you will be able to see the finished videos on their newly launched website later this month.
We originally had planned to take advantage of last week’s spring by going to Kawkawa Lake for some kokanee fishing with Mark, who is a teacher. That plan fell apart for Nina and I after discovering some water in the rear floatation compartment of our boat the weekend before while prepping for the trip. The boat is now being drained and dried so it can be ready for the interior lake season in a couple of months from now.
I was pretty excited about kokanee fishing. I had even bought new #6 hooks that I wanted to try out. The backup plan was not so bad I guess, we went steelhead fishing instead. Shane had the day off too so the four of us decided to give the Vedder a shot, but we couldn’t agree on when to go. Mark prefers to go first thing in the morning, while I have become an afternoon starter. My reasons are that I’ve always caught my fish in the afternoon, even when starting at first light. Mornings tend to be windy (and cold), especially in the lower stretch of the river. I also find mornings much busier than afternoons. It seems like most anglers usually disperse and leave by early afternoon. In the end, Mark decided to go solo and was MIA all day while the other late starters met up at 1:30pm.
It couldn’t have been a better winter steelhead day even before we wetted our lines. The sun was out and the fingers were actually not frozen. Spring was in the air and that definitely lifts up the spirit. The river was pretty busy for a weekday, most likely due to the weather. Finding a vacant spot was not a challenge really. We actually had a few runs to choose from right away. I decided to leave my rod at home while only bringing a baitcasting setup for Nina. She hadn’t caught a steelhead yet so I wanted to do some photo and video shoots while giving her all the opportunities at every spot.
The run that we tried was pretty, a long stretch with moderate flow and fair amount of cover. Nina and Shane worked through the run as I played with my camera for about an hour. Nobody was home. By 4:00pm, the afternoon sun made everyone like a bear just coming out of hibernation. Nina decided to take a nap on the bank while Shane took his time to tie up after playing hookie with a log jam. I decided to give it a shot. I worked through the same run once with no success and gave it another go from the top. This time the float dipped quickly but as usual I was asleep at the wheel. It was definitely a fish. I made a few more casts to see if it would come back but there was no response. By that time Nina was already woken up by the commotion so I gave the rod back to her and told her where to cast. I grabbed the camera and wanted to film some ducks nearby. As I walked by her with the camera, she pulled the rod back and screamed, “Fish on!”
The kicks in the rod was a welcoming sight. “That was my fish!”, I said. Nina played it pretty cautiously and after a few minutes, a silvery spotty doe was guided into Itosh’s hands. It was a hatchery marked fish, around 7 or 8lb, not bad for her first steelhead ever after two outings.
Not wanting to be outfished by a girl, Shane and I quickly got back to fishing. Time was running out as the shadows of trees from behind us started creeping onto the water. This was also not a bad thing of course, fish usually start getting more active when this happens. We decided to try another run just downstream from us for awhile. Once we arrived, Shane made two casts before he set the hook hard. This fish must have been surprised, because it put on an acrobatic show immediately, but only for about ten seconds before he felt the dreadful pop.
As dusk approached, we worked our way back to the cars. It was a pretty nice evening despite of a lack of fish for some. Shane and I never had another bite before we left. In the end, I was so desperate for a bite that I convinced myself (and tried to convince others) that I had a bite when a branch took my float down twice.
You can watch Nina’s catch in the video below. Because it is in Danish, please click on the “CC” button to receive caption in the video.