Spring is on its way, although it doesn’t quite feel like that as I write this report. It’s been unseasonably cold with the snow pack slow to disappear at high elevations which has kept most fisherman at home!
The period after Christmas is generally one of the quietest times of the year for the fly fisherman. A few avid anglers have been out chasing the elusive Winter Steelhead and I have heard of a few fish being caught despite the snow and generally cold conditions. The Englishman and little Qualicum rivers have been high and largely unfishable for weeks although conditions should improve through March. Make sure you are familiar with the regulations on these local rivers as the upper parts of both are closed to fishing until June 1st. Please also be aware that it is mandatory to release all wild trout and steelhead caught on any river or stream on Vancouver Island. A wild fish is determined by the presence of the Adipose Fin, a small fatty fin located between the dorsal fin and the tail. There is very little trout enhancement on Island rivers, the notable exceptions being on the Oyster and Quinsam Rivers. So anywhere else catch & release is the norm. Make sure you handle the fish the bare minimum and always with wet hands.
I therefore encourage anglers who want to kill trout to fish Lakes, which through the stocking policy, makes it completely sustainable.
Looking forward, the emergence of the Salmon Fry in late March/early April will bring sea run cutthroats into the lower parts of rivers to intercept Pink and Chum Fry that are heading downstream to start their life at sea. These 2 species are unique in that they spend very little time in freshwater after the have hatched. The young migrate downstream shortly after they leave the gravel to start feeding in the estuary and then onward to a life in the ocean, typically 2 years for Pinks & 2-3 years for Chum.
Any pattern that imitates baitfish will tempt the trout, but the ubiquitous rolled muddler in its many forms is a pattern that has never failed me in the past. At our store we keep this pattern in many colors and sizes. When you fish rivers at this time of year it is important to get your fly down deep to where the fish are. In that respect a sink tip line or the addition of a Poly Leader to a floating line is essential. Call into the store for advice if you want further input as to how this works.
Fishing opportunities on Vancouver Island are numerous but an appetite to explore is essential if you want to get away from the crowds that frequent urban areas. The Backroads Mapbook and the Backroads Lakes & Rivers Guide are essential reading for those searching for new opportunities.
On the LAKES as the water gradually warms up trout will become more active and fishing from shore or boat will be productive. Lots of fish will be caught trolling with full sink lines using wooly buggers or leeches. High lakes could be frozen until late Spring. The Freshwater Fisheries society of BC stock a large number of Lakes with Rainbow and Cutthroat trout and the stocking program is available on their website www.gofishbc.com
Out in SALTWATER trolling for feeder chinook has been sporadically successful. Fish deep at 200+ depths out of French Creek. Within the next few weeks lots of boats will be put in the water for the first time since the fall. The herring have just started to show up so we have lots of rigs in stock to catch these early fish !
The time to check your equipment for the new season is now !
Whatever your passion we have all the right tackle and advice to help you, fly, gear or saltwater.