Steelhead and Spring Sturgeon 2017

Steelhead and Spring Sturgeon 2017

Firstly, pictured above is Rob with one of the nicest (if not THE nicest) Vedder river steelhead that I’ve ever seen!  And, it was caught on a fly, making it that much more special.  Well done, Mumf! Its HUGE!

It has been quite a winter here on the West Coast.  Winter arrived with a vengeance in early December, bringing snow and cold temperatures, and it still has not left yet!  We had snow last night here on the hill!

The Hound loves his fishing trips!

The winter season has its perks though, and one perk goes by the name of steelhead.  We are fortunate here in the valley to have a number of waterways that contain steelhead runs of various run sizes, with the predominant river being the Chilliwack river, also known as the Vedder.  Since the Vedder is an hour or so away from Vancouver, the river does see some pressure.  However, by taking advantage of inclement river, less than ideal water conditions and by putting one foot in front of the other more than the other guy, you can find some good spots to fish and put yourself in the position of hooking one of those legendary fish we call steelhead.

What is a steelhead?  Steelhead are actually rainbow trout that migrate to sea after spending one year in the stream or river that they hatched in.  The benefit of making such a demanding and even perilous migration is the abundance of feed available that is in the ocean compared to the river.  Making the trip comes with significant risk, but the incredible will of fish and the physiological ability to adapt to a saline environment allow these fish to survive ruggedly adverse conditions.  Steelhead will spend 1 to 3 years in the salt water before they return back to freshwater to spawn.  After spawning, steelhead are referred to as “kelts” at this stage. Approximately 20% of the kelts are capable of surviving to return to sea once again, where they re-gain their fitness and size, before returning to spawn again.

The allure of steelhead is their aggressive nature, their willingness to take a lure or fly, their acrobatic insanity and the beautiful waters and country you find them in.  Winter steelhead are challenging to catch – they are not in vast numbers, the weather can be cold and wet, probably even snowy in the early part of the winter season, and cold water temperatures can make them a little difficult to entice into “grabbing”.  However, the reward for hooking a steelhead is enormous!  When you hook up with a steelhead, you are going to know all about it, and in a real hurry!  From there, you will have your own idea or opinion on the reward, but I’ve never heard anyone ever say “well, that was OK”!  Most experienced steelhead anglers are still vibrating with excitement long after the release!

steelhead and spring sturgeon

We are suckers for that downturned and lively eye, – always searching

Currently, our local waters are enjoying some very good steelhead fishing.  Location is key in finding good water that holds fish, and that best suits the methodology or style of fishing you are employing to pursue these fish.  Putting one foot in front of the other during less than ideal fishing locations ALWAYS offers beneficial payback down the road.  I often like to find one or two “traplines” that I like to run through that offer a few spots with a moderate walk that will get you into some fish.  Always, when going for a walk, it is advisable to “foresee” spots that may produce during higher or lower water conditions than the current conditions – its called scouting, and this can be quite an enjoyable component to your fishing outing.  It offers you good intel and gives you the motivation and that ever needed “promise”, that the next hookup is just around the next corner.

This is the time for some of the best steel heading of the year, and it should be good right up to the close of the regular steehead season which ends April 30th.  After that point, there is a fly only opening for the Vedder/Chilliwack river, which allows fly fishing only from the Vedder Crossing bridge to the confluence of the Sumas, for the month of May.  Weather is key during May, as melting snow can drive the river up and out of shape.  Usually, the first 10 days are well worth the effort.

A 37 inch steelhead that couldn’t resist an intruder

On another fishery that is just beginning to ramp up is the spring sturgeon fishery.  Much has been written about sturgeon, so to keep this short and without regurgitating the same old phrases and descriptions, we will be starting to sturgeon fish towards the end of this month (March), and the fishery will be a worthwhile endeavour right through April and May until we start seeing a big jump in river levels due to the beginning of the snow melt from the upper reaches of the Fraser.  June can be difficult in high water at times, however, the reward is significant, with good sized fish still willing to feed, and you will see very little traffic on the river.  I personally enjoy the high water periods as you get to fish some real interesting spots.      From a guide’s perspective, I enjoy the challenge and the reward that the high water brings –  for using some “grey matter” and applying the premises of experience, knowledge of the fish, and the ever present feeling of hope and promise!

Also, we are donating a 4 hr sturgeon trip for four to the McCammon Elementary Grade 6 class to raise money to help offset costs for a year end activity for the Grade 6 graduating class.  Marc will guide this trip and if you know Marc, you know he’s not much of a “clock watcher”.   Tickets are $25/ticket, or 5 for $100, and there are only 150 tickets sold.  Call us if you wish to purchase one!

We are currently taking bookings for steelhead, sturgeon, and for some multi-day trips, try a combination of the two!

Thanks for reading our latest report, and please, feel free to browse through our website at

See you on the water!



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