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Vancouver fishing opportunities in October

Published on Thursday, October 1st, 2015

October coho salmon fishing in the Fraser River

October is by far the most exciting month of the year for anglers in the Lower Mainland. There are so many fishing opportunities that many of us probably wish there are 60 days in October. Several species of Pacific salmon can be found in every stream, followed by trout and char. Lake fishing is also productive once again as the weather cools, and further improved by the fall catchable rainbow trout stockings.

Here is an overview of what options are available for you throughout October.

The Lower Fraser River coho salmon fishery will begin around Thanksgiving weekend. Opening date depends on which part of the river you are fishing in. They are as follows:

In the tidal portion of the Fraser River, you can apply the pink salmon spincasting technique which you have been using for coho salmon as well. The fishery is very tide dependent, so be sure to check the tide table. From two hours before to two hours after the peak tide is best. Lures such as the 1/4oz brass fire stripe Gibbs Croc spoon are deadly. Spincasting lures also heavily depends on water condition. The water clarity in October for the Lower Fraser River can sometimes be poor, due to heavy rainfall in Northern British Columbia. If this is the case, then bar fishing (or plunking, bottom fishing) with roe is a better option. These techniques can also produce chum salmon, bull trout, cutthroat trout and the occasional chinook salmon. It is important to know that all wild (unmarked) coho salmon, trout and char have to be released with care, so be sure to double check your catch before retaining it. The following video tutorials can be helpful if you wish to try out this fishery.

While most are only familiar with bar fishing for big chinook salmon in the non-tidal Fraser River in August, bar fishing between Hope and Chilliwack can also be very good in October. In fact, it is a rather exciting fishery because you may encounter chinook, coho, chum salmon and even steelhead. These fish, often travel in less than 10 feet of water, will grab a spin n’ glow as it spins in the fish’s travelling lane. Warm clothes, a fire and plenty of hearty food are recommended because it can be rather cold and wet out on the bar throughout October!

White sturgeon fishing in the Fraser River

White sturgeon fishing is also at its peak in October, after these fish have been feasting on a variety of salmon carcasses and their eggs. The strength of these fish will be peaking, so be sure to fuel up and pump up those muscles prior to your trip. A massage session is also highly recommended after the trip! Sturgeon guiding services will be available throughout October.

In the lower part of the Tidal Fraser River, downstream from the mouth of Pitt River, fishing for anadromous bull trout can be incredibly productive throughout October. These fish, believed to be overwintering feeders, will feed on anything which swims in front of them. Small spoons, spinners, flies presented close to shore will produce. Watch for fish following behind your presentation as it is being retrieved.

Vedder River coho salmon

The most popular Lower Fraser River tributary is definitely the Chilliwack/Vedder River system. Coho and chum salmon will be the target species throughout October, while some chinook salmon will be available in the first two weeks of October. We are seeing an exceptionally good return of chinook salmon so far in 2015, so it is possible to see the productive chinook salmon fishing continue in the Chilliwack/Vedder River for awhile. Water level always plays a key to success when fishing this system. Low water means spooked fish, so early morning or late in the afternoon are the best periods for targeting these fish. Once rain begins, fish will be constantly on the move and you should be able to catch them throughout the day. You can check updates for this fishery in our discussion forum.

Fraser Valley coho salmon

Other rivers which have similar fisheries include Stave River, Chehalis River, Nicomen Slough, Harrison River, Squamish River. Information on all these river systems can be found in our location guide. The regulations and daily quotas for all of these systems are different to each other so make sure you check before heading out.

Bait ban will be in effect throughout October for Capilano River. This management measure is done to protect the vulnerable run of summer steelhead, which are suckers for bait. By removing bait during their return,hopefully it can reduce incidental catches and mortality. Coho salmon will be in this system throughout October, but generally this fishery dies off faster than the fisheries in the Fraser Valley. Fish are also hard to entice with lures, even at first light.

Spawning coho and chum salmon

Once salmon start spawning in these tributaries, fishing for coastal cutthroat trout will pick up. These anadromous trout, often follow right behind spawning salmon so they can feed on the deposited eggs. While lures and flies will work well, egg patterns suspended under a float or strike indicator are much more effective.

Stocking urban lakes in Vancouver

Fraser Valley Trout Hatchery, operated by the Freshwater Fisheries Society of BC, has resumed its catchable rainbow trout stockings. Fish will be released into various lakes across Metro Vancouver in October. As a result, plenty of fish can once again be caught at your favourite lakes. This fishery is excellent for young families and beginners, due to the abundance of fish and the easy shore access. The following articles should get you started if you have never tried this before.

Fishing will also be productive at the more remote lakes such as Jones Lake and Hicks Lake in the Fraser Valley. As the weather cools down, water temperature close to the surface will also drop to tolerable levels for trout. Resident rainbow and cutthroat trout should be active on the surface for at least a couple of months before the weather gets too cold.

Trolling for salmon in Vancouver

If lake and river fishing do not fancy you, then there are still some saltwater fishing opportunities just outside of Vancouver for the first couple of weeks of October. The news throughout September was that anglers have been seeing the best chinook salmon fishery at the Fraser River mouth in a long time. While the fishing is tapering off as most fish are now in the river, you should still be able to find some late returning fish. Once the Fraser River mouth fishery finishes, then the focus is shifted to the Capilano River mouth where big white chinook salmon will also be staging. If you do not have a boat and are interested in trying out these fisheries, then you should contact the best in this business, Bon Chovy Fishing Charters and Pacific Angler. Both charter companies offer half and full day trips from Downtown Vancouver.

So there you have it! With so many recreational fishing opportunities available in the next several weeks, you do not have an excuse not to catch a fish! If you have other questions regarding any of these fisheries, regulations or techniques, you can email us, or message us on Facebook, or fill out a form at “Ask an Expert”. Good luck!

Second Q&A Video

Published on Sunday, September 20th, 2015

Here is our second Q&A video. If you have a question which you’d like to be featured in the next one, please feel free to add a comment in that video, or ask on our Facebook page, or on the “Ask an Expert” page.

Rivers Reopen for Fishing!

Published on Monday, September 14th, 2015

Most rivers in Region 1 (Vancouver Island) and Region 2 (Lower Mainland, Fraser Valley) which have been closed to fishing in the past several weeks due to the drought conditions are now open for fishing once again! Here are the notices:

To check the daily quota of salmon for the stream where you want to fish, you should visit the following links:

Lower Fraser River Interior Coho Salmon Management Measures

Published on Monday, September 7th, 2015

Fraser River coho salmon

If you fish the Lower Fraser River for pink salmon, then you should be aware of some important regulation changes which come in effect this week. These changes include:

  • Bait ban for salmon fishing
  • No fishing for coho salmon and sockeye salmon

The windows of these changes are as follows:

Since 2001, Fisheries and Oceans Canada has identified these dates as the migration period for Interior Fraser River coho salmon, which are endangered. To protect these fish, managers have used these measures to minimize their mortality. Bait such as roe is known to be very effective for coho salmon in the Fraser River, so well that fish often swallow the bait when hooked. This often leads to post-release death, therefore banning the use of bait during this period is required. The Sport Fishing Advisory Committee has also made sure fishing opportunities for chinook, pink and chum salmon remain available during this period, so anglers can still cast lures, fly fish, bar fish with a spin n’ glow for them without impacting the coho salmon run. When you catch a salmon, be sure to identify it first in your landing net before bringing it onto shore. If it is a coho salmon, please release it with care so it can continue its migration safely. With your support, we can keep these fishing opportunities open while protecting endangered species.

Coho salmon and pink salmon


Knowing the differences between a coho and a pink salmon may sound simple on paper, but beginners often find it difficult when seeing them for the first time by the river. If you are just starting out, don’t be afraid to ask for second opinions if you are unsure about your catch. Always double, triple checks your fish before deciding to retain it. Experienced anglers should understand these challenges for beginners and assist and educate those who seem to need guidance. Coho salmon (top in the photo) have small spots across their back and the top portion of the tail. Pink salmon (bottom in the photo) have larger “thumb-print”, oval spots across their back and the entire tail.

If you are interested in reading more about Interior Fraser River coho salmon and its recovery program, please check out this document.

Lower Fraser River Opens for Pink Salmon Fishing!

Published on Friday, September 4th, 2015

Fraser River Pink Salmon

Finally! The Lower Fraser River pink salmon fishery which many have been waiting for is here! Fisheries and Oceans Canada announced the opening for both the tidal and non-tidal portions of the Fraser River, which begins on September 5th 2015. This fishery generally starts around the 1st of September and peaks by the 10th, but the season can extend until the third or fourth week of September. It is a fantastic fishery for beginner anglers who wish to get into salmon fishing due to the high abundance of fish which are more than willing to bite. Millions of pink salmon are expected to converge into the Fraser River with each incoming tide. They will chase your lure without much hesitation. If you have never done it before, here are some tips to get you started.

  • Make sure you have a valid fishing licence! If you are fishing in the Fraser River anywhere downstream from the CPR Bridge in Mission, then you need a valid tidal water fishing licence. If you are fishing upstream from the CPR Bridge, you need a valid freshwater fishing licence. If you want to keep a pink salmon, you also need to purchase a salmon conservation stamp.
  • Know the daily quota, which is the number of pink salmon you are allowed to keep per day.
  • Know the regulations. There are some general fishing regulations that you need to know when fishing for pink salmon in the Tidal and Non-tidal Fraser River. Make sure your hook only has a single point and barbless. You can read the rest on this page.
  • Identify your catches before killing them. Among millions of pink salmon, there are three species that you need to know and must release with care when caught. These two species are sockeye salmon, coho salmon and steelhead. During the pink salmon season, late summer run sockeye salmon, endangered interior coho salmon and steelhead will make their way into the Thompson-Nicola region. Fishery managers are working hard to conserve these species while ensuring our fishing opportunities remain available. As anglers, we need to work with them to minimize our impact on endangered species.
  • Time your fishing outing with the tide. This fishery is heavily influenced by the tide. The magic hours are the last three hours of the incoming tide. During this time, fish will follow the tidal current into the river. There’s no such thing as the “best spot” on the Fraser River. You can catch pink salmon anywhere along the Fraser River, just make sure you are at the right spot at the right time.
  • The weather can be fantastic for fishing in September, but it is still too hot to keep your fish on the beach or in the river. To preserve the freshness of your pink salmon, make sure your fish are bled immediately and packed in an ice-filled cooler while you fish.
  • Bring a landing net. Majority of pink salmon are lost just before they reach the angler. Having a landing net can improve your catch success significantly. The rocky shorelines along the Fraser River can be steep and slippery at times, so a landing net can also make sure you do not fall in while trying to grab your fish by hand. Because some fish are required to be released, a landing net with a soft or rubber mesh finish is best.
  • Respect other users. When taking part in this fishery, you will most likely be fishing among other anglers. Treat others like you would like to be treated so everyone can have a good experience. Some considerations include to avoid casting over other people’s lines, avoid talking loudly, pick up some garbage on the river bank and help others when they need a hand.

Here are some useful links to get you started:

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