Lower Mainland Steelhead - Spey Pages
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post #1 of 11 (permalink) Old 11-20-2019, 11:42 AM Thread Starter
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Question Lower Mainland Steelhead

I am heading down the coast Dec 15-28 for the holidays, hoping to spend a day out on the water for winter steelhead. Grew up in Surrey and never river fished until I moved away 12 years ago. I know of the popular places to go for steelhead; the Vedder and Chilliwack River.

Wondering, where should we go? Are the Vedder and Chilliwack ridiculously busy every day of the week this time of year? If so, any suggestions of alternative places? Chehalis? Others? Stay with the tried and true Cheddar?

I've been rooting around for tactics, an old forum thread basically said go opposite of what the gear folks are casting, so purple and blue intruders and the like opposed to orange and pink, which is what they're seeing day in and day out.

Any tips or tricks or spots greatly appreciated!

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post #2 of 11 (permalink) Old 11-20-2019, 12:31 PM
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There will be some steelhead in the Vedder when you are here, early fish.

As one of the few rivers where you can kill hatchery steelhead you can be sure there will be many float and bottom bouncer fishermen on the river.
They generally pick a spot on a run and camp there so fly fishermen have to go around them etc.
Not much courtesy on the river.

With flies I always go with a fly I like and believe presentation is more important than anything else.
Good luck.
If you get a fish it will be fresh and pretty.
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post #3 of 11 (permalink) Old 11-20-2019, 12:57 PM Thread Starter
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They generally pick a spot on a run and camp there so fly fishermen have to go around them etc.
Not much courtesy on the river.

With flies I always go with a fly I like and believe presentation is more important than anything else.
Good luck.
If you get a fish it will be fresh and pretty.
Thanks. The lack of courtesy (ignorance) is what I'm worried about. I've heard of fist fights, etc. as nobody even pulls in their line if someone else hooks up, then they get tangled and pissed off. I want it to be fun, not stressful.

Also wondering if it's early season if there's any value at fishing the mouth of the Chilliwack/Sumas at the Fraser, although technically not fly fishing only anymore below the confluenace of the Sumas/Chilliwack.

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post #4 of 11 (permalink) Old 11-20-2019, 01:07 PM
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Thanks. The lack of courtesy (ignorance) is what I'm worried about. I've heard of fist fights, etc. as nobody even pulls in their line if someone else hooks up, then they get tangled and pissed off. I want it to be fun, not stressful.

I guess based on the regs, I can fish this section and at least avoid the gear anglers (or can call the COs on them):

Downstream of Vedder Crossing bridge: (a) fly fishing only, bait ban, hatchery rainbow trout release (50 cm or less), and hatchery
cutthroat release, May 1-31; (b) No Fishing June 1-30; (c) hatchery rainbow trout of any length 50 cm or less:
daily quota = 4, July 1-Apr 30

Also wondering if it's early season if there's any value at fishing the mouth of the Chilliwack/Sumas at the Fraser, although technically not fly fishing only anymore below the confluenace of the Sumas/Chilliwack.
have to say its combat fishing there almost all the time. gear guys in most cases have no respect for any other anglers.
i suggest to go there after lunch. less busy.
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post #5 of 11 (permalink) Old 11-20-2019, 01:17 PM Thread Starter
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have to say its combat fishing there almost all the time. gear guys in most cases have no respect for any other anglers.
i suggest to go there after lunch. less busy.
Even on the fly fishing section? Good advice to go later. Any other places to try, what about the Chehalis, same thing?

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post #6 of 11 (permalink) Old 11-20-2019, 01:25 PM
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well, this fly fishing only section its a joke to be honest. we have part of the river for one month in not so great season.
i rather go swing some flies for bull trout on squamish. far better experience. but as i said. at afternoon its less busy. so you will find some water for yourself.
tight lines!
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post #7 of 11 (permalink) Old 11-20-2019, 02:10 PM
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Thanks. The lack of courtesy (ignorance) is what I'm worried about. I've heard of fist fights, etc. ....
From gossip and rumour, the fist fights usually occur during the autumn months when coho and chinook salmon are in the river.

That said, the gear fishermen can be aggressive and pushy during steelhead season. Forget beat rotation. It is elbows up first-come, first-occupy. Fence-posting is the rule even though it is a poor angling strategy.

From folks who actually fish the system, I have heard that the river can be relatively empty up until December 26th and then it starts to get busier. peresada's suggestion of going in the early afternoon is a good one for the C-V system and other busy industrial-hatchery fed systems.

In the C-V system, there are relatively few early winter steelhead compared to hatchery-fed runs of steelhead in the USA. The wild fish start showing up in better numbers as of late February.


Note: One competent 2-hand angler I know once reported fishing 7 weeks from early January to mid-February without getting more than a tap. Temper your catch rate expectations.
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post #8 of 11 (permalink) Old 11-20-2019, 02:11 PM Thread Starter
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Oh, yea, I didn't read that reg correctly, only between May 1-31. Not sure why they don't write those lines more clearly and cram separate things into one sentence.

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post #9 of 11 (permalink) Old 11-20-2019, 02:47 PM Thread Starter
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Okay, didn't realize the run was that late. Perhaps a trip to the Squamish might be better with resident bullies and rainbows.

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post #10 of 11 (permalink) Old 11-20-2019, 03:01 PM
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Okay, didn't realize the run was that late. Perhaps a trip to the Squamish might be better with resident bullies and rainbows.
For sure. Vedder is quite difficult for fly angler.
Not too many classic runs, and hard to beat competition from gear guys, having roe ect.
There is few good deep pools holding fish, but presentation of fly is hard. 2 years ago I have spend almost all winter /spring fishing at Vedder 3 times a week without any grab at all. I would suggest squamish with lighter spey. Very few people there ( fly guys 90 percent )

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post #11 of 11 (permalink) Old 11-20-2019, 04:06 PM
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The right rain dump can bring good numbers of hatchery steelhead into the C-V system in early January.

Some fly guys I know would start fishing the C-V system at the end of February when the water starts to warm up. March and early April can be good. Towards the end of April and May, it becomes very hit 'n miss. Perhaps it goes without saying, but I no longer fish the system.

The Squamish River fishing for charr and trout might be slow, due to cold water, and some of the bull charr might be a little skinny but the river and scenery are quite attractive. Keep an eye out for wolf tracks; they are coming back.

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