fraser river guided trips

Jig Fishing For Summer Steelhead

Its first light on a late June day, cool enough to need an light jacket but warm enough to be comfortable in jeans. The vibrant colours of spring are still strong on the forest growth and the summer steelhead is making its way into the runoff enlarged rivers that the fish call home.

Early summer run fishing is much like late winter run fishing in April and May. Warmer temperatures and longer days beg for persistent anglers to come to the rivers and enjoy their metallic bounty. River conditions can range from low and clear to high and off coloured depending on location and snow pack from the chilling winter months. Most local early summer run rivers though will still be somewhat high with runoff and because of that the water temps will still be quite cool. Many runs of summer steel rely on this warmer high water time to help them navigate the falls and heavy rapids that prevent the winter steelhead from ascending the same waterways.

Tactics for early summers are surprisingly similar to the methods used for winter steel since the water conditions are similar. Bright 1/8 oz jigs like a cerise/white rabbit fur jig fished aggressively through pockets and choppy runs can result in some fast action should the fish be around. The early summer run is in no hurry to make it to the spawning beds and this in turn provides the angler with supreme sport. Slowly traveling fish that frequently stop to rest are supreme biters where as the late winter fish of early spring usually only has one thing on its mind, make it to the redd! Occasionally while searching for the early summer prize an over eager winter kelt will be encountered. These fish are highly aggressive and on the feed trying desperately to fuel their bodies until they can make it back to the buffet that the ocean provides for them. It is not all that uncommon to catch both a down river kelt and an ultra bright summer run on the same trip, occasionally even from the same hole! Kelts should be left to complete their journey back to the ocean in peace and if concentrations of them are stumbled upon it is best to find a new area to seek out the chrome fish of summer.

Fast forward to the dog days of summer. Blistering summer heat has drastically reduced the rivers flows to almost a trickle. With the relentless heat comes higher water temperatures and an increasingly spooky and wary steelhead which can be the most difficult conditions of all for the summer angler. Fortunately for the , most rivers that support runs of summer steel have large sections of canyon waters that shade the riffles and pools and add much needed oxygen to the water with their steep drops and crashing rapids.

Tactics to take these extreme low water fish are much more refined than during the run off days early in the season. Light lines in the 6-8lb class, small subdued coloured jigs like 1/16 oz skunk patterns and tiny natural coloured floats are the ticket now. Extreme short floating where the jig is 2' to 4' off of the river bottom will produce great results and submarining floats. Long down river drifts or casting well up stream of the holding waters is necessary to prevent spooking the fish during these times. The ultimate experience is spot and stalk fishing. Carefully scanning the flows in search of a fish then making the stealthy approach and enticing the fish to your subdued and natural presentation. A 1/16 oz crayfish imitating pattern using olive and burnt orange marabou can work wonders during these times often rivaling a black/pink rabbit jig.

With an increase in water temps comes an increase in the fight of the fish. While the early summer fish may barely clear the water, the later summer fish will jump with wild abandon clear of the water, usually more than once. Blistering runs combined with line testing pin wheeling and numerous full body out of the water jumps put these fish ahead of the pack when it comes to fight time. Anglers must also be aware that water temperatures can get too high during these times of the year to safely angle for the summer run steelhead. When the mercury creeps into the low 60F range it is in the best interest of the fish to either retain your catch or not fish at all as mortality rates climb steeply with the increasing temperatures.

Jigs for summer steelhead, easy, effective and down right fun to fish! Enjoy the bounty of our rivers but please be careful with our resource as the summer steelhead is a rare and precious gem of the river.

See our Jig Pages for purchasing, care and how-to info!

Till Your Arms Hurt - Fall Fishing in the Fraser Valley

Fall time in the Fraser Valley of British Columbia is one of the great wonders of the world. 

Gorgeous Fraser River Chinook/King Salmon.

Gorgeous Fraser River Chinook/King Salmon.

Here, on the outskirts of the beautiful city of Vancouver, is a gathering of life seldom seen in our modern world.  As summer turns to fall the Pacific Salmon make their massive return to once again seed the rivers from which they were born.  It is a gathering for many species. The majestic Bald Eagle arrives by the thousands, seals; fat and full of life are also in good numbers.  For the angler though, it is the Salmon and the Sturgeon they have come for.

Many anglers from around the globe are now fully aware of the fantastic fishing, and most return year after year to partake in it.  There are five species of Pacific Salmon found in the Fraser Valley.  Four of these return every season, with the Pink Salmon only returning in odd numbered years.

Limited out on pink salmon for the day.

Limited out on pink salmon for the day.

The Pink Salmon are the smallest of the Pacific Salmon and make up for this with astounding numbers of returning fish. Sections of the Fraser literally boil with these small silvery fish and there are as many ways to catch them as there are places to.  Anglers use shiny lures, pink colored jigs and flies of all sorts to entice Pink Salmon to bite, and catching them is almost too simple at times.  Pink fishing is best during September and can last well into October.

One of the other sport fish of the Fraser Valley, the Sturgeon, is well aware of the Pink Salmon’s arrival.  These behemoth fish seem to flock to the Fraser Valley at this time to gorge themselves on this bounty of fish.  Some truly huge specimens are caught every fall- and pink years seem to bring out some of the biggest and fattest Sturgeon swimming our waters. 

Angling for Sturgeon is best described as rugged and awesome.  Sturgeon flat out fight!  Long runs, magnificent jumps and fierce tug of wars almost always result in a tired angler, with shaking arms and a wide smile.  Sturgeon fishing can be great most of the year, but the fall is often the best fishing, and a busy time for most guide companies.

Fishing for the Fraser River Great White Sturgeon is unlike anything else.

Fishing for the Fraser River Great White Sturgeon is unlike anything else.

Chinook/King Salmon on a custom made Cascade Spinner available for sale from Bent Rods Custom Tackle.

Chinook/King Salmon on a custom made Cascade Spinner available for sale from Bent Rods Custom Tackle.

Also lurking beneath the Fraser’s surface in the fall is the Chinook Salmon; also known as Kings.  These large bodied, sharp toothed Salmon are ferocious fighters and some of the greatest sport in our rivers.  Due to their aggressive nature, Chinook are caught with many different lures and the bites can be violent, nearly tearing the rod from its holder.  It is very common to witness anglers floating down the Fraser River chasing a huge Chinook Salmon, often floating a mile or more before the net is used.  One of the largest of Fraser Valley tributaries, the Harrison River, receives a run of fall Chinooks that grow to massive proportions.  These white fleshed Chinook can weigh upwards of  70 pounds- and 50 pound Chinook are caught quite frequently.  Super aggressive and hard fighting, best describe Harrison White Chinook, and many anglers come back year after year to try and catch a larger one.

As if that is not enough, the Fraser Valley also witnesses the return of millions of Chum Salmon, hundreds of thousands of Sockeye Salmon and many thousand Coho Salmon.  All of the Salmon are great sport for gear and fly anglers and their timing is usually very predictable year to year.  All anglers should plan on visiting the Fraser Valley of British Columbia in the fall; it is truly a one of a kind experience.

Great fishing in majestic surroundings and fighting fish till your arms hurt!