In the Lower Mainland and Fraser Valley, mid-autumn river fishing for salmon is soon coming to an end. As the days become colder and darker, most anglers will start packing away the rods and reels. However, for those who still wish to fish, there are many different opportunities to wet a line in Region 2. Read on for some of my recommendations.
Usually by mid-November, most salmon have completed spawning. The abundance of eggs and spawned-out carcasses in rivers usually leads to the emergence of coastal cutthroat trout and bull trout.
These trout and char, either anadromous or resident fish, are opportunistic predators which feed on loose eggs and salmon carcasses – and the more abundant these food sources are, the more aggressive these fish are. These fish are often found behind spawning salmon that are still depositing eggs in small side channels. The most effective lure is a trout bead drifted under a fishing float, or fished on its own with a fly rod. Matching the size and colour of your beads to the salmon eggs present in the system can make a big difference on your catch results. Unlike salmon, the timing of bites is not limited to early in the morning or late in the afternoon for these fish – as long as food is available, they will actively strike similar presentations that drift by them.
You can still catch fresh-from-the-ocean coho and chum salmon as late as the first or second week of December. Normally chum salmon are quite coloured by the time they are caught in rivers, but some are still quite bright, even when caught in late November. A marabou jig tipped with a piece of shrimp, and drift-fished under a fishing float, seems to be the way to catch these fish. If you are lucky, you might even connect with an early-winter steelhead.
Lastly, lakes in Region 2 almost never freeze up. The Fraser Valley Trout Hatchery has been actively releasing fish into our urban lakes to make these fisheries available for anglers throughout winter. Slightly more remote lakes can offer good fishing too. Lakes like Hicks, in Sasquatch Provincial Park, have abundant stocks and a good variety of fish (which include newly stocked fish, overwintering fish from previous stockings, kokanee, and cutthroat trout). As these fish prefer to swim in deeper water once water temperatures drop, you’ll often need a boat to catch them. An ultralight spinning rod with matching reel is perfectly adequate to catch these fish, which typically weigh between 450 to 900 grams (one to two pounds). Productive baits include deli shrimp, single salmon eggs, and dew worms.
Of course, dressing appropriately is important when fishing in the winter. Proper layering and waterproofing mean longer and more enjoyable fishing days. Good luck!