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Author Topic: 2019 Chilliwack River fall salmon fishery information & water condition updates  (Read 58598 times)

Rodney

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This fall salmon fishery takes place between late August and early December on the Chilliwack River. Like past seasons, I usually like to get this information up and provide ongoing updates so those who are new to the fishery can have a chance to enjoy what this river has to offer by learning proper techniques, staying informed on regulations and etiquettes.


Fish species

There are four salmon species that anglers can target and retain.



Fishing regulations

The salmon regulations of Chilliwack River, including the daily quota of each species, can be found in Region 2 of the Freshwater salmon supplement.


Cultus Lake sockeye salmon alert

Cultus Lake sockeye salmon are endangered and usually enter the Chilliwack River in late summer so their run time overlaps with other fall salmon species. All sockeye salmon caught in the Chilliwack River are required to be released carefully. Please be aware of the difference between a coho and a sockeye salmon. Some Cultus Lake sockeye salmon are also missing their adipose fin so please don't confuse them with hatchery-marked coho salmon. Read about it some more...


How to float fish more effectively for coho salmon?

To effectively catch salmon on the Vedder by float fishing, you want to keep your offerings in the strike zone. New anglers have a tendency to mistaken the strike zone as the depth where the fish are sitting. It is not. Salmonids look up and strike at the offerings above them. The fish position themselves near the bottom, so the strike zone is usually 1 or 2 feet above the river bed. This technique does not only apply to the Chilliwack River, but also other Lower Fraser River tributaries.

Gear setup

Rod:9' to 10'6" baitcasting or centerpin rod, rated between 8 and 20lb
Reel:Small baitcasting reels or centerpin reels
Main line:12 to 15lb test
Leader:6 to 10lb test
Hook:Size 4 to 2/0

The diagrams below illustrate the correct and not-so-correct ways of float depth adjustment.

Excessive length of leader



For some reason, many people believe a longer leader would produce more fish, quite the opposite! Your hook will always travel faster than your weight in a river. By using a long leader, your hook and bait are lifted up higher from the river bed, away from the strike zone.

Excessive float depth



Some choose to adjust their float depth so the weight is "tapping" or sitting on the bottom. The weight will usually anchor itself to the river bed, while the float drifts slowly or becomes stationary. Two things will result from this setup:

  • You'll snag onto the bottom, and lose your weight, hook and bait.
  • Even worse, you'll end up snagging a pink or chinook in the belly or tail, which can be time consuming to bring in and release.

My way of float adjustment, but not necessarily the ONLY way



So far this has worked very well by producing about a dozen or more coho each season on the Vedder River without losing any hook, weight or line. I usually like to keep my leader length (the line between the hook and weight) around 1.5 feet in length. Judging the depth by looking at the gradient of the river bank and the water, I adjust my float depth (the length from the float to the hook) so that it is about 1 to 2 feet shorter than the actual depth. When this is drifted, the bait will lift a few inches higher, remaining in the strike zone. When the float dips under the water, there is no hesitation as I don't need to question whether it is a snag or a fish. The hook is usually set hard and most of the time the fight is on.



Some other small adjustments

I find these adjustments would connect me into more fish in the past.

  • The float size varies, small (11 grams) in clearer, slower water, while big (25 grams) in faster, deeper water.
  • Tie on enough weight so only about 0.5 inch of your float (or the coloured tip) emerges on the water surface. This allows you to detect the bites sooner.
  • Keep your main line (the line between your rod tip and your float) tight enough without disrupting the drift. Always try to avoid having any line laying on the water surface.
  • Keep the drifts short. A longer drift doesn't necessarily mean a bigger chance to catch a fish. Long drifts also cause inconvenience for nearby anglers
  • Avoid standing in the water, especially when you arrive at a new location. Undisturbed fish have a tendency to stay close to the river bank.


Water condition updates

Throughout the season, members will post up water condition updates so everyone can be alerted if condition is not ideal. Please feel free to post updates in this thread after your trips. We can all benefit from each other's updates and save gasoline and cost of our season. Please do not ask for updates. All requests will be deleted.

Rodney

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Salmon identification

Because there are both species that you can keep and cannot keep returning to the Chilliwack River, it is important to know how to identify all five species of salmon.

Chinook salmon
Chinook salmon have small spots across their back and small spots across their entire tail. Their gum is black and the edge of their jaw is white. Adult chinook salmon are defined as over 62cm and are required to be recorded on your licence when you choose to keep one.

Adult chinook (over 62cm)Adult chinook (over 62cm)Jack chinook (under 62cm)Jack chinook (under 62cm)Black gum with white
jaw edge
Small spots across both
upper and lower parts of tail

Coho salmon
Coho salmon have small spots across their back and spots on the top portion of their tail. Their gum is white. Two groups of coho salmon are found in the Chilliwack River - Wild and hatchery fish. Hatchery fish, which anglers are allowed to keep, do not have an adipose fin and a healed scar can be found at where the adipose fin is missing. This fin is clipped at the hatchery when they are at their juvenile stage prior to being released. If an adipose fin is present, then it is a wild fish, which is required to be released with care.

Wild adult coho
(with adipose fin)
Hatchery adult coho
(without adipose fin)
Hatchery jack coho
(without adipose fin)
Absence of adipose fin
with healed scar on
hatchery coho
White gumSmall spots on top portion
of tail

Chum salmon
Chum salmon have two distinct characteristics, which are colourful stripes across their body and large teeth found on males.

Female chum salmonMale chum salmon with
teeth
Striped back

Sockeye salmon
Althought sockeye salmon cannot be retained on the Chilliwack River, it is important to know what they look like so you do not kill one by accident. Sockeye salmon that are returning to Cultus Lake are endangered and their recovery depends on your assistance. Sockeye salmon are typically spotless and silver until they are near the spawning ground. At spawning stage, their body colouration is red.

adult sockeye in
spawning colour
adult sockeye prior to
spawning stage


Some thoughts on fishing locations

The Chilliwack Vedder River is long. Some say it gets crowded, but only at certain spots. To have a good experience, it's best to avoid the busy spots. The busy spots are usually the visible ones that have easy access. These include Keith Wilson Bridge, railway bridge, Lickman Road, Peach Road, Vedder Crossing, Tamahi, Alison Pool, Limit Hole. By going to a spot where less people are fishing, the likelihood of you hooking into some quality fish is bigger since the fish are not spooked. Surprisingly, you can usually find a nice quiet spot by taking a very short walk from one of these busy spots.


Additional readings

fic

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Water was low and clear yesterday.  No fish seen and barely anybody fishing.  Creel Survey lady did not survey anybody that actually got into fish, except many people moving up and down the river to try different spots.  My buddy hooked and lost 1 fish. Still a bit early for consistent fishing I suppose.
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clarki

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After the missuz and I enjoyed brunch at Field House Brewing ( I must say, their eggs benny coupled with the Dutch Pale Ale was delish), I dropped her off at a baby shower and I continued onto the C/V for a pre-season scouting trip of my favourite coho hidey holes). Itís a little early, but I twitched a jig through anyways cuz you never know. No sign of coho or pinks in the lower stretch I was in.
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Old Blue

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Hey Rod don't forget your colour chart of fish retention....no tomatoes ;)
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Rodney

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;D

We walked the river for a couple of hours this afternoon. Low and clear, saw a school of suckers, a few pink salmon, and possibly one chinook salmon. ;)

juno

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at the vedder this afternoon not much happening. 1 guy caught a pink  after 4 hours of fishing,  so in another week will it Rock?
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Gil_Tea

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Fish are still lower down, I hooked into 3 today and landed a nice jack spring fishing from the shore (you don't need a boat but it is a treck to get to the lower river). They will start moving upriver soon but until then you will need to fish lower for better results.
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Rodney

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Fair amount of fish yesterday could be seen moving into runs compared to several days ago. The overnight rain probably helped with speeding things up a bit.

psd1179

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Fair amount of fish yesterday could be seen moving into runs compared to several days ago. The overnight rain probably helped with speeding things up a bit.

Yesterdays report lured 1000 anglers in the river. 999 did not touch a fish
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Jk47

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We're seeing the first springs and cohos poking up into the smaller lower mainland systems the last couple days with the rain...Vedder ho's should be trickling in now too
« Last Edit: September 08, 2019, 01:25:03 PM by Jk47 »
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CohoJake

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The rain really muddied up the river, but it slowly cleared up from top to bottom this afternoon.  I saw far fewer fish caught (and showing themselves) today compared to yesterday.  It's almost like the lightning scared them all back downstream!  I'm a little freaked out by all the rain in the forecast - just because I don't remember ever starting a Chilliwack salmon season with a river that isn't low and clear!  Lots of rain currently in the forecast for next Friday and Saturday - hopefully next weekend is fishable.
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Rodney

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The river was very fishable this evening. Visibility was 3 feet, greenish silty colour, perfect conditions. I saw a lot more fish showing themselves today compared to yesterday. Most were still pretty tight lipped, a mix of pink and chinook salmon.

fic

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Wow, heavy rain lined up for this weekend.  It may become unfishable at some point!  Normally I am cursing the low and clear conditions this time of year  ::)
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CohoJake

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How is the color holding up in the lower river?  The forecast this weekend looks scary.  I can't remember ever starting a fall salmon season with such high levels in the C/V.
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