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Vancouver BC Fishing Report

By Rodney Hsu, Fishing with Rod | Last updated: February 16th, 2019

Last July, we did an amazing heli tour with Nicolas Drader at Compass Heli Tours. This wasn't just a fishing trip, we visited unexplored waterfalls, glaciers and kayaked at a glacial lake! Check it out in the video above!

Winter trout fishing in Fraser Valley lakes

As we reach the halfway mark of the winter steelhead fishing season, the weather has been a little more unbearable for some. Daytime temperature has been hovering around 0C, and snow has been falling. This means cold fingers and frozen lines, making an already challenging species even tougher to catch. Chilliwack/Vedder River's winter steelhead season has been reasonably good. While fish are few, they are rather big this year. Average size has been between 10 and 15lb. Cutthroat trout fishing is good in the Fraser River as long as you can find spots with no ice chunks. Strong wind has also been an issue lately. Most lakes are frozen right now but in the Lower Mainland the ice is not thick enough for you to walk on, so please do not attempt unless you are really sure that the ice is safe.

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Capilano River

Capilano River is quiet during this time of the year. The odd winter steelhead might be encountered but overall there really isn't a winter fishery for this system.

Please remember that you might encounter the odd steelhead in the system. ALL steelhead (hatchery and wild) have to be released with care. Please report individuals who choose to do otherwise.

Stave River

Stave River's quiet during this time of the year, so it can be quite pleasant to spend a day wandering around it. You can encounter a couple of species right now, coastal cutthroat trout and mountain whitefish. This can be caught by float fishing with single eggs, shrimp or dew worm. If you are fly fishing, egg patterns should still work well.

Winter steelhead don't really start showing up until a little later on for this system.

Hatch Match'r Fly and Tackle in Maple Ridge is your best one-stop shop on the North side of Fraser Valley. New owner Nick and his staff are always happy to help you, whether you are a beginner or a seasoned angler. They are open seven days a week. Upcoming seminars:

Squamish River

Squamish River conditions have been very good due to the cold weather. There's snow in the upper portion of the river so you should be prepared if you decide to drive up. Overall, the bull trout fishing has not been excellent due to the lack of feed last fall (low return of chum salmon). If you are spin fishing, casting and retrieving a Gibbs Croc spoon can always trigger a few bites. Rainbow trout and cutthroat trout can also be found. Winter steelhead fishing generally does not get good until February or March for this system. Catch and release applies to all species, and there is a bait ban in effect year round.

Chilliwack River

Chilliwack River winter steelhead

Chilliwack Rive's conditions have been very good lately. Winter steelhead fishing is happening and fish are being consistently caught. The fishing appears to be a bit lower than last week, but we are still seeing several fish in the 8 to 12lb range being weighed in at Fred's Custom Tackle daily. This isn't like the fall salmon fishery. Because the number of fish returning is a lot lower, your chance of getting into a steelhead is pretty slim. You can improve those chances by covering lots of water. It is best to keep moving along. If a fish is within your drift, more likely than not it will go for your presentation! Pink worm, blade, shrimp, roe, egg sac, trout bead, jig are the most commonly fished presentations under a float. You can also try casting and swinging a spoon. Water level is still a bit on the high side, so there aren't too many options for fly fishing. Fish can be caught throughout the river, they are moving upstream constantly.

Wally Hall Junior Memorial Fishing Derby is happening right now. Entry fee is $20 and can be purchased at Fred's Custom Tackle. The weigh-in station is at Fred's Chilliwack store at 6336C Vedder Road. All proceeds go toward salmonid habitat enhancement on this river system. Stay updated on the derby results. This derby ends on March 15th.

Tidal Fraser River

Tidal Fraser River is mostly quiet during this time of the year. Herring can be caught in Steveston between now and March as they enter the estuaries to spawn around eel grass patches. Imperial Landing's pier and Garry Point Park are both good places to do it. Incoming tide and the beginning of outgoing can be good for it.

Bull trout can be caught throughout the winter months but they are usually pretty spread out due to the lack of food. Because water clarity is generally very good in the winter months, casting and retrieving a lure, or fly fishing can work well for bull trout and cutthroat trout. Fishing usually picks up when the weather gets warm in late February and March. On a bright sunny day, fish can be found feeding closer to shore. Look for splashes as these fish prey on salmon fry, sticklebacks and sculpins. Keep your lure or fly until it reaches the shoreline, and watch carefully in the water because quite often a fish would follow right behind it. If you need more information on this fishery, please see the following articles:

Please note that in spring 2016, Fisheries and Oceans Canada has issued a night time fishing closure for all finfish species in the Tidal Fraser River. To fish the Tidal Fraser River (downstream from the railway bridge in Mission), you are required to have a valid saltwater fishing licence.

If you would like more information on fishing in the Tidal Fraser River, please stop by Berry's Bait and Tackle in Richmond. Mike, Len and Michele have a team of knowledgable staff who regularly fish this area and they can help you out.

Non-tidal Fraser River

Fraser River winter cutthroat trout fishing

Cutthroat trout fishing can be very good during this time of the year. There are lots of overwintering feeder fish in the 12 to 16in range for you to target. These fish are generally quite mobile, so you want to jump from spot to spot until fish are found. Backwaters between Chilliwack and Hope are usually your best bet. Look for slough mouths where fish tend to hang out as well. Float fishing with bait like single eggs, or spincasting with a small lure like a 1/8oz Croc spoon, or fly fishing with a tiny wooly bugger can all work well.

There is also a chance to encounter a big bull trout from time to time, so be ready!

Lower Mainland Lakes

Winter rainbow trout fishing in lakes

We are having a relatively mild winter compared to the past two years, so this in fact has opened up many lake fishing opportunities in the Lower Mainland and Fraser Valley right now. All of the urban lakes were stocked at least once back in October, and you can still catch rainbow trout from them right now. The bites might be slower due to the lower water temperature, but with some patience it will happen. Try bottom fishing with bait such as Pautzke Bait's Fire Bait. In the smaller lakes, pick the deepest sections where fish are most likely to be hanging out.

If you are looking to do a more serious day trip, give Hicks Lake at Sasquatch Provincial Park a try. This lake offers a diverse fishery, producing rainbow trout, cutthroat trout and kokanee. In the winter months, try fishing on the bottom in the deep parts of the lake, 30 - 40 feet. Quite often you can encounter fish that were released a couple of years ago and they can be up to 18 or even 20 inches long!

Another lake to try out is Cultus Lake in Chilliwack, which offers good cutthroat trout fishing opportunities in late winter. Look for surface activities as these fish prey heavily on salmon fry. A small watercraft like a pontoon boat or kayak allows you to get to where the schools are.

The roads up to Jones Lake are fair, but the edge of the lake has been frozen so it is best to wait for awhile.

These articles may assist you:

Please remember that for lake fishing, if you are fishing from shore, you are only allowed to use ONE rod. If you are fishing alone in a boat, then you are permited to use two rods. Only one hook is allowed on your rod. Please note that single barbless hooks are required to be used at some lakes. You should note the daily quota of trout for the lake where you are fishing. Catch and release is required in some lakes, please check regulations.

Before heading out, please read the freshwater regulations in Region 2 first. For more regular updates, make sure you follow our Facebook page. If you witness violations, please contact the nearest conservation office or phone 1-877-952-RAPP (7277). Conservation officers can not attend all calls, but they do their best to catch those who do not choose to play by the rules.

Good luck and please conserve your catches!

Rodney Hsu
Webmaster, Fishing with Rod Production