Fraser Canyon Sturgeon
Approx. 45 minutes east of Chilliwack is a beautiful stretch of river that offers a truly remarkable fishing experience. It is the beginning portion of what we call the Fraser Canyon. Here, the river gets narrower, a lot deeper, and also, a lot faster. Most of it is simply unfishable, but the areas that are, can provide some amazing fishing opportunities. Fraser Canyon sturgeon are lot different than the lower river stocks, both in looks and their feeding habits. A lot of these fish are still considered to be transients, and do move up and down the river regularly. We have proven this with the ongoing tagging program. However, there are also a lot of resident fish that live in these waters for good portions of their lives.
Their scutes are usually dull, worn right down by the “sandpaper effect” from the silt that’s carried in the heavy current. But the most distinguishable feature on the canyon fish is the really long and streamline nose, which allows them to root in between the gravel and boulders when searching for food. These fish live in an extreme environment where water level fluctuations between winter time lows and summer time highs can reach over 40ft. Heavy currents and very seasonal food supplies tend to make them more opportunistic feeders. Bites are typically very committing and if there are many fish around, it can create a feeding frenzy down there. It’s not uncommon to arrive in a spot and have 3 rods go off immediately. With food being scarce, it’s survival of the fittest. First to the food gets to grow bigger… it’s as simple as that. This kind of feeding is very typical in the Fraser River Canyon, so rarely do you have to wait long to get bites. Since these fish are very opportunistic, they’re usually not too picky with baits either. All this equates to a very consistent fishery, right from March, all the way through to mid-October.
The Fraser River Canyon is also known for its giants, who feel right at home in these treacherous waters. Every now and then, we hook river monsters that cannot be moved off the bottom. Some of these epic battles have lasted more than 3 hours, only to be lost. We know there are 12’+fish living up there, because we’ve seen them rise out of the water on more than several occasions. The Fraser Canyon portion of the river offers one of the best chances of hooking a trophy fish of a lifetime. Combined with an incredible jet boat ride through some of the most scenic terrain in South-western BC, this makes for a truly remarkable sturgeon fishing adventure. If you have yet to experience the Fraser Canyon fishery, we highly recommend you add it to your next sturgeon fishing holiday. We guarantee that you won’t go home disappointed.
If your interested in booking a Sturgeon Canyon trip, please contact us for availability and details.
Pitt River Fly Fishing
A 45 minute drive from Vancouver, coupled with a 35 minute boat ride; there lies a watershed that has hardly felt the influence of modern society. The upper Pitt River is a far cry from its turbid southern cousin, the lower. Aglacier-fed, medium-sized river, the upper Pitt has a feel of utter remoteness. Only the excellent fishing challenges the sheer beauty of the area.
The natural hot-springs are a guest favourite. When water conditions are right, your guide can take you up the river for a lunch in the natural hot-springs. Here, you’ll be able to sit and relax in a hot bath only a foot away from the rushing, Glacial cold river. Pretty cool way to enjoy your lunch…. don’t forget to bring a change of clothes!
As with most coastal rivers, the fishing can be quite seasonal, relying on salmon and steelhead returns. However, the upper Pitt does boast a strong resident population of Dolly Varden, Bull, Rainbow and Cutthroat trout, to make for excellent fishing at any time of year. The steelhead runs are all wild and arrive late in the season (end of March through April). This makes them quite receptive to the fly. Each fish is precious and must be released unharmed after pictures have been taken. Sea-run Dolly Varden (2 to 10 pounds), Bull trout (5 to 13 pounds) and Cutthroat trout (1 ½ to 5 pounds) enter the river through June awaiting the Sockeye and the upcoming bonanza of fish eggs. These fish are eager biters and quite aggressive.
The end of July finds sockeye entering the river in huge numbers. These fish are the largest for their species in the world (often exceeding 10 pounds). Along with the Sockeye come the Chinook salmon (10 to 35 pounds). Although targeting these beauties is forbidden, we do hook them when fishing for other species.
Towards the middle of October, wild Coho salmon enter the river in substantial amounts. These fish are silver from the sea and ready to tussle with the avid fly angler. Aggressive and full of fight, these fish are some of the only remaining true wild runs of Coho left in the lower Fraser River watershed. Jet boats are required to access this river. This, coupled with the run up the lake, leaves the river with almost no fishing pressure. It is truly a gem of a river that is easily accessible within a day from Vancouver.
For more information on this unique fly fishing adventure, or to book your trip, please contact us and we’ll be more than happy to help.
A Must-Do On YOUR Bucket List
The Upper Pitt River is a favourite of guides and clients alike. Spilling from the Coast Mountains, the Pitt tumbles through lush forest and across gravel bars for a relatively short distance before flowing into Pitt Lake. An urban oasis, Pitt Lake is the largest tidal lake on earth and is only a short distance from masses of the lower mainland. The boat launch is an hour’s drive from Vancouver and only minutes from the city of Maple Ridge. With boat access, vacation homes dot the shoreline and water skiers, wind surfers, and canoeists play in its waters for most of the summer. The Lower Pitt bears no resemblance to the Upper and flows lazily from the lake into the Fraser River.
Access to the Upper Pitt is limited to helicopter or boat across the large temperamental lake. The shallow water and unpredictable changes in the river channels throughout the season make this the realm of jet boats and rafts. Classic runs that can be fished with either single or double-handed rods are everywhere, and few anglers are encountered on any given day. Only experienced boat captains with specially designed jet boats dare to frequent this river. For this reason, the Pitt receives little angling pressure all year. Our guides have explored this river thoroughly and regularly keep each other updated regarding in season channel changes and water levels. Safety is key when fishing the Pitt River. One day the river may flow through a certain channel, the next it may have changed course due to a log jam.
Resident Cutthroat, Char and Rainbows are present year round on the Pitt, and a run of Winter Steelhead returns between January and April. The big draw, though, comes during early summer. When freshet raises most of the rivers in the Fraser Valley to unfishable levels, the Pitt comes into shape. Sea-run Bull trout enter the river in May to dine on Salmon fry while awaiting the return of the Salmon themselves. These fish reach impressive sizes, some into the mid -teens, and devour everything in their path. Large streamers swung through the pools, back eddies and tailouts, are crushed by these big Char. “Pitt Bulls” are the most picture perfect of the Char species and are sought after by fly fishers worldwide. These fish continue to stick around for the summer, feasting on a smorgasbord of salmon eggs and flesh.
The first of the Chinook (King) and Sockeye (Red) Salmon arrive in mid-June and the river is thick with them in July and August. Kings are off limits to sports fishers but the Sockeye are fair game. Pitt River Reds are considered to be the largest on average in the entire world. A 10-pound fish is not uncommon and these fish are bright and full of fight. These Sockeye strike flies hard and fight like they’re possessed. For some this is the most fun you can have in fresh water. As these runs peter out, the Coho (Silver) Salmon arrive. October can be great fishing for nickel bright Silvers. These fish reach impressive sizes and are a real test on light fly rods. Access can be limited by the low water levels common at this time of year and few people take the journey.
The Pitt is a must fish for fly anglers coming to the Lower Mainland. It remains on the bucket list of even those who live and fish here. Few get to experience this, one of the best fly-fishing rivers in British Columbia.