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Archive for April, 2013

Lower Fraser River’s Cutthroat Trout Fishery

Published on Tuesday, April 9th, 2013

The month of April always keeps me restless. Fishing licences are renewed, the weather is warmer, the days are longer so suddenly a number of exciting fisheries in the Lower Mainland emerge and conflict with each other. The problem is definitely not a lack of fish but overly abundant opportunities to take advantage of. Too many options, too little time, so I have to pick and choose what I want to fish for. Last April I invested most days on steelhead fishing and this year I decided to target anadromous cutthroat trout in the Lower Fraser River.

Hunting for Lower Fraser cutthroat trout

Going fishing for anadromous cutthroat trout doesn’t simply mean going out and catching them. To “successfully” catch these cutthroat trout, 99.9% of the time involves trying to find them. This means visiting all the spots where (you think) they might be, sitting and waiting for signs of fish, casting and retrieving to see if anyone is home. Cutthroat trout anglers often come home without touching a fish, record down the findings in the fishing journal and repeat the same routine in the next outing. Sooner or later, a school of feeding fish will appear in front of you. The elation being felt when that happens can almost equate to winning the lottery jackpot.

Coastal cutthroat trout, or anadromous cutthroat trout, are present in the Lower Fraser River and tributaries throughout the winter months. Larger, mature fish spawn, while smaller, younger fish feed. In spring, they become especially active when salmon fry begin their downstream migration. Feeders, and larger fish that have recovered from spawning, take advantage of this time by feeding on these juvenile salmon.

While this feeding goes on until early summer, the window of angling opportunities is limited to the first part of April because of freshet. Once freshet begins in mid April, it becomes almost impossible to target them with artificial lures and flies in the murky water. For now, water clarity remains excellent so I have been taking advantage of this by spending a few hours per day looking for them.

Good Water Clarity

While fish have not been too difficult to find, having the right presentation has not been easy. During a trip last week, I discovered that the spoons I had were too big for their preference. On the following day, I returned with a fly fishing rod and some flies which imitate salmon fry, only to find fish feeding outside of my casting distance.

This week I decided to pack the spinning rod along and carried a box of smaller lures. The timing was pretty well done. The evening incoming tide has brought some active fish into a slough where unsuspecting salmon fry were milling about. Fish could be seen thrashing on the surface. Salmon fry were being pushed out of the water like sea lions being hunted by killer whales. The smaller lures did not fail me. Several healthy fish were brought in, but the much bigger ones were harder to trick. Overall, the results were satisfactory but I will once again tempt these fish with a fly fishing rod next time.

Anadromous Cutthroat Trout

I have also been spending more time lately to capture good underwater photographs. Here are a couple from this week and you can expect to see more in the future! In the meantime, be sure to get out and give the Lower Fraser River cutthroat trout fishery a try.

Cutthroat Trout Underwater Photograph

Releasing a Cutthroat Trout


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