Stalking the beach with the perfect minnow pattern the silvers had a hard time resisting and casting to swirls or jumping fish is a fabulous way to pass a sunny afternoon in late March. In some cases, the weighted fly smacking the water triggered instant responses and the line yanked tight. Seeing the fish grab a fly and race off is what flyfishers live for! To see it for yourself, click on this.
It was a dark and stormy and rainy day today as we headed out to the West Van shoreline again and luckily the winds were in our favour for fly casting. Today the waves kept the fish deeper so you couldn't see the rises but as Gabe proved, they were still there. Take an evening stroll along the beaches on the start of the rising tide and look for the swirls. It's a great way to spend an evening and just make sure you wash the salt water from your gear! Tight lines.
It was a perfect evening to try out some minnow patterns in the flats of the shores of West Vancouver. I sought out two of the many streams tumbling from the mountains over the rocky barnacle shores into the salt water. In the first streamlet I checked I saw the scurrying flashes of fresh salmon fry. A walk out to the beach and I could see what looked like some merganser ducks diving and chasing but I saw something else too...Swirls in the water where ducks were not popping back up to the surface.
I put on the waders and tossed my first weighted minnow pattern. It landed and about 12 swirls across the surface spooked at the splash. Some quick strips in failed to invoke a strike so I switched to a sculpin and tried again. The swirls started to move down the beach so I followed and soon discovered that the hole in my waders was letting in some very cold salt water.
I switched to a sparse muddler minnow style fly with bit of red just behind the head and tossed it as far across the swirls as I could. A feisty yank pulled the sink tip taught and a scrappy little battle ensued. While not a monster, it was a nice touch as the sun started to set. A few splashes further down the beach signaled that there was more quarry to be had. As I stepped into the shallows a few mighty boils right in near shore let me know I should have been more careful as the cruising fish bolted for deeper water. Live and learn. I'm sure there are more to come as April unrolls and the schools of fry get thicker along the shorelines. Tight Lines!
The pink and chum fry are making their way down Indian Arm and Burrard Inlet and some have already arrived along the shoreline of Coal Harbour and Stanley Park. So the mouth of the Capilano and the shoreline of West Vancouver will start to see prowling sea run cutthroat and bull trout waiting to ambush them. Walking the beaches of Cates Park and Ambleside and Dundarave keep a look out for rushing and swirling Vs as the minnows are pushed to the surface followed by splashy rises as the cutties and bulls break the surface. Toss your minnow pattern out into the shallows and you might even pick up some flounders and sculpins for variety. As April gets into full swing there might be some early fly fishing opportunities which we will talk about later. (I won't use the word coho as that might give it away!)
A brilliant day to be out on the water. Today we explored the Stave River to see if the sea run cutthroats and bull trout were in. A number of fishermen were on the water tossing flies but success was limited. One lucky fellow walked off with about a three pound trout. As on the Squamish River, the merganser ducks were out in full force but few were diving indicating that the salmon fry had still not escaped from their gravel nests. A few sturgeon were caught downstream of the mouth of the Stave but overall, it was just a day to be out in the sunshine and appreciate the day!.
I headed to the upper Squamish on the weekend and was hoping the wet weather would keep the crowds away. I fished for 4 hours and didn't see another soul. After the first few casts of a new sculpin fly my rod pulsed and a nice rainbow came to the surface. As luck would have it, the barbless hook came out before the camera could click. The rain had brought the river up a bit and slightly off color but just right to give the sculpin a realistic pulse in the water. A little further down a nice bull trout pounded the fly when I used a pulsing retrieve in about 3 feet of water in a side channel. It was time to explore and I decided to try a new trail at about 15 km up the road and the walk through the rain forest provided some wonderful mossy images before stepping onto the foreshore to see what caused the roar that I had been hearing.
The waterfall was cascading from far up the hill bouncing off rocky ledges and ending in a beautiful crescendo into the Squamish River. (To see the falls, click on ) I decided to fish the runs and 3 or 4 more hits did not result in hook ups. So I decided to look for emerging salmon fry in some of the side channels which should be coming out in the millions. With the colder winter, it may still be two or three weeks as the eggs will develop slower but the Mergansers (fish eating ducks) were definitely taking up positions in runs and back washes waiting for the first salmon fry to show themselves. These ducks can eat up to a kilogram of fry in a day so where they hang out, the trout are sure to follow. The absence of freshly hatched fry made it a slow day for hits by rainbows or bulls, but that should change soon. Even the swans seemed to be looking in anticipation.
So some of the early predictions for the 2014 salmon season are starting to make the rounds. Four years ago, the largest sockeye salmon run in a century resulted in about 36,000,000 fish returning to the Fraser River. The migration of the resulting fry back to the ocean turned out to be very strong and last year the return of immature 2nd or 3rd year salmon were very strong which indicates that the return of mature fish this year should also be strong.
The strong cold upwelling ocean currents of the last few years have brought nutrients to the surface increasing the plankton and krill just in time for the record numbers of salmon fry to feed on them. This year, they are adults and hopefully making their way back to the Vancouver coastal waters and the Fraser River. It is reported that the low estimate for Sockeye are about 7.5 million fish but some estimates are 5 or 10 times that amount. While 10 times seems more than a little improbable, optimistically, 25,000,000 or more Sockeye would be wonderful. The north coast is looking forward to a strong Chinook season this June which hopefully carries on down to the south coast as well. If the Coho runs which have also benefited from the ideal ocean conditions are as strong as last year (and all signs are that they are) it could be a hot time on the water! Here's hoping to lots of tight lines!! (PS, Hopefully you heard it here first)
Today was a great day to head to the upper Squamish River and try for trout, steel head and bull trout before the next snowstorm of what is turning out to be a long winter! We crossed our favorite stream and I was amazed to see one last coho, bravely holding in a spawning channel. We had some time on the river with at least five other fisherman and between us one steelhead and 4 bull trout were landed. I managed to hook something bright and silver and got it to the surface but alas it spit the hook. After a few hours of testing various runs we decided to call it a day. A few eagles were kind enough to see us off. The walk to and from the river crossed numerous moose, deer and a pair of wolf tracks. The wolves had come across the river to our side and were crisscrossing the moose and deer tracks.
We took a slight detour from our usual route and were amazed at what we saw. With all the moose tracks we initially thought the rubs on the trees were from a moose but a closer inspection showed all the trees had claw marks, not antler marks. The number of trees marked was truly astounding. Gabe was convinced it was the work of a very territorial black bear. The height of some of the marks meant that it was definitely a big one!
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My name is Peter Krahn and I want to welcome you to Fraser Legends Fishing Blog. We look forward to keeping up with all our friends as we pursue good times and tight lines!