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Metro Vancouver & Fraser Valley BC Fishing Report

By Rodney Hsu, Fishing with Rod | Last updated: May 10th, 2021

Here is my latest episode featuring this past Chilliwack River winter steelhead fishery. The first part of the episode also highlights this river's volunteer adult steelhead broodstock capture program. Overall it was a very good season for me, with several fish landed and one spectacular wild male to finish off the season.

I also have a second steelhead which I'd like to share from my co-host Kitty's YouTube channel. This feature documents her steelhead fishing journey since she began fishing in 2012. Many of you who have tried out steelheading can relate to the joy and challenges experienced throughout this video!

Spring fisheries are happening in the Lower Mainland and Fraser Valley. Due to non-essential travel restrictions until May 25th, Lower Mainland anglers are bounded to this region. There are still quite a few options for lake fishing for the time being. Around 20 lakes have been stocked with catchable rainbow trout so fishing can be quite productive at the moment. As the weather warms up, carp and bass fishing is also picking up. Fraser River sturgeon fishing is happening, but be aware of the freshet which brings down fair amount of large floating debris. This time of the year, Capilano River begins to see the odd coho salmon. The tidal portion of the Fraser River can be very productive for bull trout. Chilliwack River is now only open to fly fishing downstream from the Vedder Crossing. No salmon fishing openings are expected for the Fraser River in 2021 until November, with the possibility of a pink salmon opening in late August.

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Capilano River

Capilano River is still pretty quiet. There is an early run of coho salmon for this river system, which begins around now and peaks in late June/early July. The odd early fish should start popping up in the river, so it is always worth checking it out. Early morning before dawn is usually the best time to entice these coho salmon, which average between 1 and 4lb. Float fishing with roe is an effective method, but many anglers also have success by casting and retrieving a spoon or spinner, or fly fishing with a small streamer. Only hatchery marked coho salmon can be retained, please check the regulations for daily quota. Please also note that ALL steelhead (both hatchery and wild) have to be released with care.

Ambleside Beach

Between the mouth of Capilano River and Ambleside Beach, you have a good chance of catching a coho salmon from now until August. As Capilano River water level tends to remain low in the summer time, coho salmon arriving at the river mouth would congregate, school and feed. The best time to target these fish is at low tide. If you have a low tide which coincides with sunrise, then it's even better. Casting and retrieving spoons, jigs and spinners is the go-to method for these fish. You can also catch the odd tomcod, flounder, sole, sanddab, sculpin in this area. So far, fishing is still slow but you just never know!

Stave River

Stave River is quite quiet during this time of the year compared to the fall salmon fishing season. This does not mean there are no fish in the system. There are coastal cutthroat trout, mountain whitefish, northern pikeminnow and peamouth chub feeding on salmon fry, insects and other invertebrates throughout the summer months. This is a good place to take your kids out and float fish for them with bait. Bait which works well include dew worm, shrimp and single eggs.

The closest store to Stave River is Hatch Match'r Fly and Tackle in Maple Ridge. This is your best one-stop shop on the North side of Fraser Valley. New owner Nick and his staff are always happy to help you, whether you are a beginner or a seasoned angler. They are open seven days a week. They also have ongoing seminars for both novice and experienced anglers.

Squamish River

Squamish River bull trout

Squamish River is about to get into freshet mode so fishing is not ideal. Cheakamus River is a better option for trout and char fishing. Please remember that bait ban is in effect and catch and release applies to all species.

For more information on the Squamish River and other fisheries in the Sea-to-Sky corridor, visit Pacific Angler in Vancouver.

Chilliwack River

Chilliwack River winter steelhead

Chilliwack River winter steelhead fishery has pretty much ended. Fly fishing is currently open for the section downstream from the Vedder Crossing. This winter steelhead season has been pretty good overall, with many large fish encountered and the average size was also bigger.

The river will be closed to fishing in June, and reopens in July for chinook salmon fishing.

This year's Wally Hall Jr Memorial Steelhead Derby raised over $25,000 for the Fraser Valley Watersheds Coalition! This money will be used on habitat restoration along the Chilliwack/Vedder River.

Tidal Fraser River

Tidal Fraser River is quite dirty at the moment due to freshet. With very little visibility, lure fishing is not possible. Anadromous bull trout are in fact quite plentiful during this time of the year, and you can fish for them but they have to be released. The best method to catch them is by bottom fishing with roe. I personally prefer to use a size 1/0 hook to prevent these fish from swallowing the bait. If you end up catching a fish which have swallowed your bait, the best thing to do is to cut the leader and leave the hook, which would rust and be spat out after several days by the fish. The best time to catch them is the first two hours of outgoing tide after peak. These fish can be anywhere from 1 to 6lb.

Coarse fish such as pikeminnow, peamouth chub, largescale sucker, redside shiner are also very abundant in the tidal portion of the Fraser River during this time of the year. You can catch them by fishing with a variety of bait near the bottom. Dew worm, dough balls, shrimp are all good bait to try out. Use a small hook, size 8 or smaller, as these fish tend to have a small mouth.

Check out Berry's Bait and Tackle in Richmond for all your Lower Fraser River fishing needs!

Harrison River

Harrison River can be good for coastal cutthroat trout fishing during this time of the year. Salmon fry are now found in the river so fish are actively feeding on them. Look for surface activities around creek and slough mouths. You might also encounter the odd bull trout.

Non-tidal Fraser River

Fraser River white sturgeon fishing

Non-tidal portion of the Fraser River can be good for sturgeon fishing right now. Please be very careful as freshet is happening, the river is dirty and rising, plenty of debris such as large trees are floating down the river. You must be aware of your surroundings at all time. A mishap with the boat can be deadly under these conditions. Best sturgeon bait during this time of the year include lamprey, dew worm, eulachon and pikeminnow. It's best to head out with a licenced sturgeon fishing guide if you have never tried this before. We recommend Lang's Fishing Adventures.

Skagit River

Skagit River is now closed to fishing until June 30th.

Sumas River

Sumas River between Abbotsford and Chilliwack can be very good for carp fishing at the moment. There are also many other species found in this area, including largemouth bass, sunfish, pikeminnow, chub, shiner and sculpin. This multi-species fishery is an excellent place for family with young kids. Try bottom fishing with dew worm, dough balls, corn, salmon eggs.

Lower Mainland Lakes

Kawkawa Lake kokanee

Lakes around Metro Vancouver and Fraser Valley have all been stocked with catchable rainbow trout. These fish average around 250g and can be caught by float fishing or bottom fishing with bait, or lure fishing, or fly fishing. Urban lakes such as Deer Lake, Lafarge Lake, Como Lake, Rice Lake and Green Timbers Lake are ideal for those who rely on public transportation. Lakes further out in the Fraser Valley to try out include Mill Lake, Buntzen Lake, Sasamat Lake, Rolley Lake, Hicks Lake, Grace Lake and Weaver Lake. These articles may assist you:

Kawkawa Lake's kokanee fishery should be improving now. The average size of these kokanee is 12 to 14 inches long, but you can encounter the odd 16 and 18 inchers at times. You can troll for them, but the best method is anchoring up and bait fish near the bottom. Use your fish finder to mark fish and find depths which are around 40ft. A boat is definitely required for fishing at this lake. Best bait for kokanee are krill, shrimp, single eggs, corn. You can also jig for them by using a small spoon.

Cultus Lake is gradually warming up. Largescale suckers can be seen feeding in the shallows, and it's easy to catch northern pikeminnow now. In recent years, smallmouth bass have been discovered at this lake and anglers are now targeting them. Majority of these fish are in the 1 to 2lb range but fish up to 4 or 5lb have been reported. They can be caught from shore once it gets warmer, but at a moment boat anglers are finding most of the success. Jigging with a dropshot rig, dragging a tubebait, or retrieving a crankbait are the go-to methods for these smallmouth bass.

Jones Lake near Chilliwack is a good location to target stocked cutthroat trout. These cutthroat trout can get up to 2lb large. There is also a high abundance of smaller rainbow trout in this lake. Access to the lake can be difficult, vehicles with 4X4 are needed. Launching a boat can be difficult at this lake too. Be prepared.

Alta Lake in Whistler is also stocked with cutthroat trout and fishing can be excellent throughout May. These aggressive fish tend to feed in the shallows and can either be caught by stripping a fly or a spoon. Check out this video.

Squamish area also offers some good lake fishing opportunities. Check out Browning Lake, which has been stocked with catchable rainbow trout as well. Alice Lake and Brohm Lake both have smaller trout in them.

Please remember that for lake fishing, if you are fishing from shore, you are only allowed to use ONE rod. If you are fishing alone in a boat, then you are permited to use two rods. Only one hook is allowed on your rod. Please note that single barbless hooks are required to be used at some lakes. You should note the daily quota of trout for the lake where you are fishing. Catch and release is required in some lakes, please check regulations.

Before heading out, please read the freshwater regulations in Region 2 first. For more regular updates, make sure you follow our Facebook page. If you witness violations, please contact the nearest conservation office or phone 1-877-952-RAPP (7277). Conservation officers can not attend all calls, but they do their best to catch those who do not choose to play by the rules.

Good luck and please conserve your catches!

Rodney Hsu
Webmaster, Fishing with Rod Production