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Author Topic: 2020/21 Chilliwack River steelhead fishery information & water condition updates  (Read 14611 times)

Rodney

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Between early December and late April, the Chilliwack River offers a productive winter steelhead fishery for both local and visiting anglers around the Fraser Valley and Lower Mainland. While other nearby systems also provide such a fishery, the Chilliwack River yields more success due to the amount of fish being produced by the Chilliwack River Hatchery. This thread has several objectives:

  • To provide valuable information such as fishing techniques, regulations, fish identification and other related information for first-time anglers who wish to participate.
  • To provide updated river conditions such as water clarity and level for all anglers.

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 request for updates. All posts that request for updates will be removed.


Fishing regulations

Regulations for the steelhead fisheries differ slightly to the fall salmon fisheries in BC, so please familiarize by going through the BC Freshwater Fishing Regulation Synopsis from time to time if unsure. For the Chilliwack River, anglers should be aware of these regulations. Please report violators by phoning 1-877-952-RAPP (7277).

  • You must have a valid freshwater angling licence. You must purchase a steelhead conservation surcharge if you wish to fish for steelhead (even if you only intend to catch and release). Freshwater angling licence and conservation surcharges can now be purchased online.
  • The daily quota of steelhead is one hatchery marked fish, which can be identified by the absence of the adipose fin and the presence of a healed scar. Once you retain your hatchery steelhead, you must stop fishing for the day and mark your catch on your licence immediately.
  • All wild steelhead must be released with care by keeping the fish in the water at all time.
  • All salmon must be released between January 1st and May 31st. Anglers may encounter early chinook salmon occasionally in the winter steelhead fishery, so please be aware of the differences between a chinook salmon and a steelhead.
  • The river section above the Vedder Crossing is closed from May 1st to June 30th.
  • The river section below the Vedder Crossing is opened to flyfishing only from May 1st to 31st and closed from June 1st to 30th.


Fish species and identifications

While the primary target species is steelhead in this fishery, several other species may also be encountered. It is important to know the morphological differences between these species so you do not accidentally retain a fish that is not opened for retention.



Steelhead's life history is similar to Pacific salmon's. It is a variation of rainbow trout, which has an ocean phase. Unlike Pacific salmon, steelhead may not die after spawning. Size range of steelhead from the Chilliwack River ranges between 6lb and 15lb, while bigger fish have often been recorded every season.

Several identification keys can be used to recognize a steelhead. Its white gum and tongue, lack of teeth behind the tongue. Once arrived from the ocean, its body is silver with heavily spotted back. Its tail is spotted from top to bottom and it is not forked. During spawning phase, pink and red colourations become apparent on the gill plates and across the body. Below are additional photos that may assist you.

Resident rainbow trout can also be caught while targeting steelhead. Unlike steelhead, they are typically under 18 inches in length or 2lb in weight. All wild rainbow trout must be released.



Bull trout are often encountered while targeting steelhead and they are required to be released. Their size ranges between 1lb and 10lb. Bull trout can easily be identified by its white and pink spots across the body. Their mouth is large and extends way behind the eyes. The end of their pelvic fins is often white. All bull trout must be released.



Coastal cutthroat trout travel in schools. Several identification keys can be used to differentiate them from rainbow trout. Their body and tail are heavily spotted from top to bottom. An orange slack can be found on the bottom side of the gill plate. Their size typically ranges between 8 and 20 inches. Only hatchery cutthroat trout can be kept. All wild cutthroat trout must be released.



Mountain whitefish belong in the salmonid family. While their body is similar to a minnow, one can easily identify them by locating the adipose fin. Their mouth is small and protudes slightly. Their size typically ranges between 8 and 20 inches.


General etiquettes

When fishing for steelhead in a stream, it is considered rude to start just downstream from another angler who is already fishing. When approaching a run, always start from the head of it and work your way down so other anglers can have a chance to try it too. If other anglers are already fishing at a spot where you want to fish, then you should either move to a different spot or talk to them first. More likely than not, other anglers do not mind having you joining them.


Steelhead brood collection program

The broodstock collection program begins on January 15th. Volunteer broodstock anglers will be out fishing and collecting wild steelhead, look for the rubber tube which they are carrying. 30 pairs of adult wild steelhead are expected to be collected to produce 125,000 juveniles.


Wally Hall Junior Memorial Fishing Derby

Please see this page for more information...

Watch this video on the background of the derby and where the proceeds go to


Additional readings



Additional help

Your local tackle stores in the Lower Mainland and Fraser Valley provide excellent additional resource.

b8floater

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I was out for a walk with the family this afternoon, thought I'd shoot and share a quick video at the train bridge - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7IiLvwIh9jY
River is in great condition, and not that much pressure this afternoon from Blue Heron to Hopedale.
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dennisK

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I was out for a walk with the family this afternoon, thought I'd shoot and share a quick video at the train bridge - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7IiLvwIh9jY
River is in great condition, and not that much pressure this afternoon from Blue Heron to Hopedale.

speaking of bridges...

« Last Edit: January 09, 2021, 08:01:01 PM by dennisK »
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Paulo

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 I saw that video the other day. That bridge must be above the Slab. I have fished from the slab down to the mouth at the Fraser and I don't ever remember seeing that bridge. River looks a little smaller as well unless it is not the Chilliwack.
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Paulo

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I was out for a walk with the family this afternoon, thought I'd shoot and share a quick video at the train bridge - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7IiLvwIh9jY
River is in great condition, and not that much pressure this afternoon from Blue Heron to Hopedale.

Can you drive down towards the train bridge or is it still gated for no vehicles? I have not been down that way in probably 5 or more years. I see some changes on the far bank at the train bridge as well. Probably going to be a big surprise for me if I make it.
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Rodney

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I saw that video the other day. That bridge must be above the Slab. I have fished from the slab down to the mouth at the Fraser and I don't ever remember seeing that bridge. River looks a little smaller as well unless it is not the Chilliwack.

That's the bridge at Riverside Campground about halfway between Chilliwack Lake and the hatchery.

You can no longer drive down to the railway bridge. There's plenty of parking at the end of Hooges Road and that whole area is really nicely done now for all users and fishermen. I think the City of Chilliwack has done a good job, installing outhouses at all the major access points. The trails are well maintained, it keeps things a lot more orderly than before when it was free for all to drive up and down that stretch. What we need now is some fishing related signages to provide new anglers all the needed information from regulations to fish ID.

armytruck

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I saw that video the other day. That bridge must be above the Slab. I have fished from the slab down to the mouth at the Fraser and I don't ever remember seeing that bridge. River looks a little smaller as well unless it is not the Chilliwack.
[/quote
So this bridge photo is where ? . 👀
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armytruck

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speaking of bridges...


So this bridge photo is where ? . 👀
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Wiseguy

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Went for a walk today along Rotary Trail. River was high and silty. Maybe a foot of visibility. Saw some anglers out despite the poor conditions. A conservation officer was trying to cross a small side channel at Peach rd with no waders to get to a few anglers fishing the main long run at Peach. Didnít stick around to see if he made it across in his shoes. Lol. Was a beauty day to be outside.
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jim

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about 11 am, went to the dog park. visibility was about 12 inches. temperature was 41.6 F or 5.2 C
the level is coming down, so maybe it will be okay today.
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banx

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speaking of bridges...



looks like the wedeene to me
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bigblockfox

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Fished near train Bridge. Vis was just under 2 feet. Managed a small wild 10 minutes in. Snow line is really high right now.
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Wiseguy

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River fairly high and still murky. Fished mid river for a few hours in the beautiful sunshine. No luck for myself and a few others I talked too.
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Wiseguy

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Fished the last couple days. River is in nice shape and on the drop the lower has better clarity then the upper due to the slide at Ranger run. Very slow fishing imo so far this week.  Have not seen anyone with a fish on in my travels.
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iblly

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Fished for a couple hours yesterday above crossing. Did not touch a fish. Only saw three other anglers, one on foot and two other guys in a raft. Did not see any of them touch a fish. Water was in decent shape.
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