summer steelhead vancouver island

The winter run steelhead is great here, but be sure to watch your water levels carefully. Given the general downward trend in anadromous fish returns, we can only assume that the run size has not increased. It’s divided up into three sections and each section has it’s own regulations, so be sure to check carefully. Port Alberni is a small city with a population of only 17,000 so there is very little angling pressure from locals. Steelhead abundance plummets to all time lows. Check the Freshwater Fishing Synopsis on the specific stream you are fishing for specific closures, restrictions and open dates, which are intended to protect steelhead returns. BC’s steelhead fly fishers have long used “buggy” looking flies for steelhead, and for good reason: as juveniles in fresh water, steelhead eat the same sort of food items as resident rainbows, and mayfly, stonefly and caddis fly nymphs are often on the menu. It does get float plane service if you’re into that sort of thing. A steelhead trout spends two or three years in a fresh water river environment before migrating to the open ocean to feed. There is no hatchery program here and an old mill sits down at the estuary. At the headwaters of the main river, the Stamp lies Robertson fish hatchery and as it runs down into the Port Alberni inlet, it’s joined by several tributaries. They return to their natal streams to spawn with timing that is unique to each location. The Mahatta River flows westwards from O’Connell lake into Quatsino Sound on the northwest coast of Vancouver Island. When reading the river, think of the river as a steelhead highway. Steelhead average 22 to 32 inches and weigh 8 to 10 lbs, but have been known to reach over 30 lbs. Someone experienced with this system can get you into the great spots instead of wasting your time in the non-producing areas. The girlfriend and I are planning a trip to Vancouver Island in early July, for summer run steelhead. 0. future runs. But that one day when the stars align, the conditions are right, fish are in the system (and cooperative) and your presentation is on, reminds you that there is little that can exceed standing in a remote, pristine river, without a soul in sight, fly casting into crystal clear waters for wild and willing sea run trout. rivers. Vancouver Island is home to some of the best winter steelhead fishing in British Columbia. You can also hike in if you know where to go or if you have a jet boat you can launch from Port Renfrew. This article highlights the prevalence, characteristics, and persistence of the Steelhead Trout, otherwise known as the "fish of a thousand casts," in Northern California. Steelhead Fishing Vancouver Island is some of the most incredible sportfishing on the planet. You can catch fish any day of the year on Vancouver Island, and it’s a steelheaders paradise. The Cowichan is considered an urban river, however you’d never know it. All of these Vancouver Island Steelhead rivers listed have their own character and need a little time and practice to get to know. Sorry, your blog cannot share posts by email. To the north, the Skeena River steelhead summer run is estimated to be just over 15,000, which is less than half of that stock’s long-term average. Many anglers will be pulled to the river by the first fish which typically arrive in June, with good opportunity to chase Summer Steelhead through September and into October. 8. These egg hunters have their noses down continually in search of their next tasty meal. Chasing Chrome: Vancouver Island Steelhead. Summer run steelhead, on Vancouver Island, July 1 − 7. Practice “keepemwet” fishing to do your part to release fish in the best condition possible and reduce your impact on the fish. The Stamp is a great fly fishing opportunity but once the salmon spawn occurs these steelhead won’t even notice a fly. That primal wildness, nearly impossible to contain, is something that possesses us both. When the rain comes it enables them to migrate up the river to spawn. It is difficult to find reliable data regarding size of summer steelhead returns, but according to the Ecological Reserves Collection, in the early 1990’s, Vancouver Island wild summer run steelhead returns ranged from less than 50 to a maximum of 500 (per river). Although I was relatively green at fly fishing, I instinctively knew that the. The variety of species you can target is colossal, and there is no such thing as an off-season – it simply does not exist. To be honest, I’ve never gone out of my way to target summer steelhead, but when the time has been right, I’ve been fortunate enough to be in the right place. The winter steelhead run in this river is absolutely amazing. My first experience catching a steelhead was on this river and it’s something I’ll never forget. These trophy rainbow trout enter rivers in December through April. This is a remote river and for that reason it's my second favorite Vancouver Island Steelhead Rivers. 9. Stop and do one of their many amazing hikes if you have the time and desire. Steelhead conservation tag required. A guide is your best bet for getting things right so don’t be afraid to spring for the help. Winter run steelhead November to March, peaking January and February, iGuideBC2043 Mable RdShawnigan Lake BCiguidebc@gmail.com250.508.1079. With the heavy flows of winter, one often wonders how a steelhead can hold so easily in such strong currents. We use 8wt fly rods with sinking tips while in pursuit of these spectacular fish on the fly. Although they say you can catch Steelhead in this river year round the peaks are as follows: Sockeye, Chinook, Chum, Pink and Chum Salmon, Rainbow, Dolly Varden, Cutthroat and Kokanee Trout. Given the general downward trend in anadromous fish returns, we can only assume that the run size has not increased. Vancouver Island Steelhead rivers are some of the most unique around. The best thing about the Cowichan is actually the unique species of brown trout. Even now, twenty-five years after Earl and I had our great day, not many people fish the river and very few know it well. The river is small but very productive. On Vancouver Island, summer run steelhead are present either May through August or July through September, with earlier runs the further north you go. Some of the deep canyons of this river are inaccessible to hikers but we have found that the most productive pools are lower down and very accessible with only a short hike. It boasts easy access and lots of steelhead. During the winter months (Dec.-Apr.) One being a summer-run of fish from July to October, and the other being a winter-run of fish from December to April. When the water is clear enough, look for the fish or their shadows on the gravel below. we are focusing virtually all our guide efforts on winter-run steelhead. Steelhead is a sea run rainbow trout and can vary from 1-30 pounds. Besides the river is filled with tourists tubing every summer anyway, also not great for fish stress unfortunately. This river can flood very quickly and become quite dangerous if you don’t have enough experience or know the character of this system. The fish in this Vancouver Island Steelhead river are known for their fight. Dancing water, walking pace currents, tail outs, rocks to hold behind/in front of and river bottom depressions are all prime steelhead lies. Fly fishing for smallmouth bass, Island Angler June 2017, page 7, Beach Fly Fishing For Pink Salmon, Island Angler August 2017, page 6, Backroads, Backpacks & Fly Rods, BC Outdoors Magazine, Nov/Dec 2020. Some are wide and slow moving and many are steep, fast and deep. Pinterest. Delicate also applies in terms of approach – stealth is an asset. Understanding that this is a bit of a fragile system is important to help get the steelhead numbers back up. Summer steelhead are most often found on the west coast rivers of Vancouver Island (most notably Gold River), however they are also present in a few select east coast island rivers. So if you’re a fly fisherman or woman make sure to get to the stamp before October, otherwise you might get skunked. View all posts by Kristy V. Webster. They typically weigh in a range from 1.8 to 4.5 kilograms (four to ten pounds). The highway follows this sparkling and fishy river course, through the high peaks of the Vancouver Island Mountain range alongside elk meadows and small lakes, to meet the Heber River, the Gold River's premier summer steelhead tributary. Listed as one of BC’s top steelhead rivers by BC Outdoor magazine, it’s definitely one of my favorite Vancouver Island Steelhead Rivers. When you’re standing in the river, you wouldn’t realize you’re close to a town. Naturally, small, dark flies and lighter tippet usually present better in low and pressured waters, although some days steelheading means that nothing you tie on the end of your line will be right. Part of the appeal of this fishery to me is the element of surprise – my first summer steelhead was caught on the Stamp River while fly fishing for Coho. Sockeye, Chinook, Pink, Coho, and Chum salmon are all found in the rivers surrounding Vancouver, making Vancouver steelhead fishing just the icing on a delicious cake. In the Keogh River, on Vancouver Island, smolt-to-adult steelhead survival sits at four per cent, down from 15 per cent before 1990. Fortunately the Nimpkish Resource Management Board is changing that and returns are increasing again. GORDONRIVER: SUMMER STEELHEAD COUNTRY ... until the mid-seventies and beyond that the Gordon began to be known as a great stream among steelheaders of Southern Vancouver Island. It must be the rugged northern spirit. Summer-run steelhead still return in healthy numbers to the Skeena and Dean systems. In Region 1. all wild steelhead are catch and release only. Keep wild fish wet and remember NO GLOVES. Angler, Writer, Photographer & Island Angler's Fly Fishing Columnist. The main practical difference is that winter runs are notorious for hanging tough near the bottom. It's common for this river to have the largest returns of steelhead on Vancouver Island and some anglers say you can fish for Steelhead any day of the year. Mid 1990s – alarm bells are ringing. Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email. Steelhead returns are declining virtually everywhere across Vancouver Island and the Lower Mainland. Summer-run Steelhead range in size from 3 pounds to 15 pounds, and have a very explosive nature. The steelhead aren’t as large as some of the main land rivers, averaging in the 10-15lb range for winter run, but there a few bigger ones lurking around! In Region 1, all wild steelhead are catch and release only. Some say we’re crazy. Practice “keepemwet” fishing to do your part to release fish in the best condition possible and reduce your impact on the fish. The Vedder River is a great local river close to Vancouver, it’s located approximately one and half hours east of the big city, in Chilliwack. Summer steelhead return in summer and fall, while winter steelhead return in winter and spring. Many of the same water types that hold summer steelhead will hold winters. Babine River Upper Skeena tributary. Freshwater fishing has been closed in this area for several summers in a row for this reason. It has good road access from highway 28 out of Campbell River and it’s a beautiful drive through Strathcona park. There are two different runs of Steelhead in the Vancouver Island area. WhatsApp. Watch for wildlife here too, as the bears and elk are abundant in the area. Even the smaller steelhead in the Nimpkish will fight like a large Steelhead of the other southern rivers. On the other hand, during the thin waters of summer, floating lines reign supreme. Vancouver Island Steelhead rivers are some of the most unique around. Our favourite are. Check the Freshwater Fishing Synopsis on the specific stream you are fishing for specific closures, restrictions and open dates, which are intended to protect steelhead returns. Dan Thomson with a beautiful Island steelhead, photo courtesy of Jenna Pollock . By. Known as the fish of a thousand casts for good reason, steelhead are not a fish you can expect to catch. Fly fishing for Steelhead on Vancouver Island in British Columbia Canada. 3. The Ash, which flows into the Stamp, has proved very productive for me, especially in February. day after day. Unlike winter run steelhead, whose single minded pursuit is spawning, the smaller summer run fish are more apt to rise up to take a fly, moving into freshwater when they are still immature to hold until spawning. It’s named from the color of the water because it definitely has a golden hue to it, some say it’s from the cedar sediment in the water. To find the ghosts of summer takes blisters and bushwhacking, time spent, sweat shed and miles tread. Some are wide and slow moving and many are steep, fast and deep. All of the 200 plus rivers on Vancouver island are with a day’s drive from anywhere on the island, this makes steelheading on vancouver island very convenient for the locals, but people from all over the world travel here every year to experience the wild rugged west coast and the feisty fish that come with it. This river begins at Port Renfrew and runs up the San Juan Valley and is fed by a few tributaries including the Caycuse and the Harris creek.. Steelhead migrate to spawn during the summer months and the winter months. Access to the Mahatta River is over rough logging roads from the northern town of Port Alice. Watch for wildlife here too, as the bears … The Fish of a Thousand Casts. The Cowichan sees steelhead, salmon, and trout returning back to its clear flows. So because of this it is suited to great gear fishing. These were introduced back in the 1930’s and they actually took to the system and have survived very well among this ecosystem. Hatchery enhanced waters include the Stamp, Quinsam, and Quatse rivers. A skilled angler can land several medium sized steelhead in a day out on this pretty river. Naturally, small, dark flies and lighter tippet usually present better in low and pressured waters, although some days steelheading means that nothing you tie on the end of your line will be right. Hatchery enhanced waters include the Stamp, Quinsam, and Quatse rivers. Twitter. On Vancouver Island, summer run steelhead are present either May through August or July through September, with earlier runs the further north you go, Unlike winter run steelhead, whose single minded pursuit is spawning, the smaller summer run fish are more apt to rise up to take a fly, moving into freshwater when they are still immature to hold until spawning. The fish are typically in the seven-pound range, though double-digit steelies are here as well. Head out aboard a Bell 206 Jetranger Helicopter in search of salmon and steelhead in the remote coastal rivers along the coast of Vancouver Island. There a few ways to fish this river, and the best way, in my opinion, is by drift boat. Long before the Kispiox and Sustut, the Dean and the Thompson became the renowned fishing destinations they did the Stamp River, on the central west coast of Vancouver Island, near Port Alberni had a well established reputation among the steelhead angling elite. The best holding spots in this river are actually only about 10 to 15 feet wide. It’s hard to say what is more satisfying, the anticipation of watching the steelhead rise, sip the fly and explode into full on beast mode or the actual experience of a fish, hell-bent on escape, on the end of my line. You are allowed to anchor and fish one of the many great spots. They differ in the timing of their return to the streams. Although I was relatively green at fly fishing, I instinctively knew that the leaping and cartwheeling fish on the end of my line wasn’t a Coho. The Vedder River is heavily enhanced by a hatchery on the upper reaches; this hatchery supports the steelhead run that returns in the winter months. All of these Vancouver Island Steelhead rivers listed have their own character and need a little time and practice to get to know. Steelhead season on the stamp generally runs July to February. Part of the appeal of this fishery to me is the element of surprise – my first summer steelhead was caught on the Stamp River while fly fishing for Coho. There is plenty of room, the river isn’t crowded with anglers and you’re surrounded by the tall trees that the west coast is famous for and it’s surrounded by a quiet hiking trail. The Nimpkish river is the largest river on Vancouver island and the legend  Roderick Haig-Brown called it The Big One. Obviously, in high, fast conditions for winter steelies, sinking lines are the most effective. Our favourite are steelybeads. wasn’t a Coho. Catching them causes even more stress and leads to reduced populations. The Stamp River System, is known as the SSS. Delicate also applies in terms of approach – stealth is an asset. For that reason, we must treat this fishery with the utmost respect to sustain future runs. It is difficult to find reliable data regarding size of summer steelhead returns, but according to the Ecological Reserves Collection, in the early 1990’s, Vancouver Island wild summer run steelhead returns ranged from less than 50 to a maximum of 500 (per river). Most Island river have runs of winter steelhead. Often you’ll share the river with Grizzly bears but enormous numbers of summer and fall steelhead, as will be the highlight of your trip. presentation is usually more important than any specific fly pattern. Fly fishing is a great option here as it’s banks are wide enough to accommodate the long throws. It’s also changing regularly and different sections are opening and closing all the time. Steelhead conservation tag required. With wild runs of both Summer and Winter Steelhead, and some numbers of hatchery fish the North Umpqua has earned its reputation as a Steelhead destination. Gear fishing is very productive from October to December, best with egg patterns. Access is great for this river as many great fishing holes are literally a 15 minute drive from Port Alberni. The best sport is below the Bucket, where the Stamp and Sproat meet to become the Somass. So if you’re a fly fisherman or woman make sure to get to the stamp before October, otherwise you might get skunked. We'd like to camp, not in any campgrounds but rather more secluded, and plan on moving about to get a feel for your beautiful island. Unlike most Vancouver Island Steelhead rivers, this isn’t a great river for fly fishing, as it’s too narrow in most spots until it nears the ocean. Old rumours say that an Orca made Muchadhat inlet home and ate all the steelhead but they’ve since recovered. The Steelhead tend to range anywhere from about 5 to 20lbs, and the winter run tends to be bigger. Lots of high teens to over 20 lb Steelhead inhabit our Vancouver Island rivers. All of the 200 plus rivers on Vancouver island are with a day’s drive from anywhere on the island, this makes steelheading on vancouver island very convenient for the locals, but people from all over the world travel here every year to experience the wild rugged west coast and the feisty fish that come with it. The upper section is everything above Stamp Falls, middle is from the Bucket to the falls and everything below the Bucket is considered the lower. Stamp/Somass: Upward of 2,000 steelhead stack up in this Vancouver Island system, most of them below Stamp Falls, 16 kilometres from the Alberni Inlet. The possibilities are infinite – drifting a dry fly such as Roderick Haig Brown’s steelhead bee; skating a Grantham sedge cross stream; swinging a soft hackle wet-fly; traditional grease lining broadside with a Blue Charm; or dead drift nymphing a Kaufman stonefly, worm or later in the summer, egg pattern. Finding information on the steelhead holding spots can prove a little tough on the Nimpkish, as locals are extremely tight lipped. Vancouver Island has so much to offer when it comes to fishing. Don’t neglect the shallows – fish the water before stepping into it. Steelhead migration: Trying to learn a new river system here on Vancouver Island. As with all Vancouver Island Steelhead Rivers, it’s very important to be up to date on regulations for this river as it is considered one of the most confusing regulated rivers, so ask for help and then check for yourself to ensure accuracy. There is a certain trepidation toward disclosing too much classified intel. You’ll need the help of a local or a guide for access points as they’re well hidden and very difficult to find. Its seems there is a little confusion over summer and winter run steelhead and it’s thought there is now a combination of summer and winter runs in November and December. Summer steelhead are most often found on the west coast rivers of Vancouver Island (most notably Gold River), however they are also present in a few select east coast island rivers. The steelhead fishing is highly productive right up until February, though it usually peaks in January. These egg hunters have their noses down continually in search of their next tasty meal. Listed as one of BC’s top steelhead rivers by, , it’s definitely one of my favorite Vancouver Island Steelhead Rivers. Seasons: Winter and Early Spring are the best time to fish this river. The skilled fisherman can get 20+ steelhead in a single day. Or do they generally scatter themselves throughout the river system? Curtis Leyenaar - October 27, 2020. Summer; Fall; Winter; Stamp River Winter Steelhead Winter Steelhead are a distinct run of Steelhead that arrive to their home rivers during the months of December, January, February, March and leave during April. Delicate, accurate presentation is usually more important than any specific fly pattern. It didn’t take long to realize that I had the catch of a lifetime on, a coveted chromer, and it was going to be a wild ride. Despite of the difference in return times, both summer and winter steelhead usually spawn around the same time, which is late winter or early spring. To culminate these efforts with one chance to share a line in an epic dual with a rocket propelled chrome enigma is all I need. It must be the rugged northern spirit. Winter Steelhead are one of the hardest fighting freshwater fish that reside in Canadian waters, Vancouver Island Steelhead will bring an angler to their knees! This is a remote river and for that reason it's my second favorite Vancouver Island Steelhead Rivers. There are summer-run steelhead found in other river systems in British Columbia, including the south coast of BC and Vancouver Island but these runs are generally small and guiding services for them are minimal. Steelhead sizes range from 4 to 30 pounds with the average being 8 pounds. Northwest coast of Vancouver Island and the legend Roderick Haig-Brown called it the Big one the! As locals are extremely tight lipped open ocean to feed changing that returns... Me, especially in February possible and reduce your impact on the fish caught., Writer, Photographer & Island angler 's fly fishing opportunity but once the salmon spawn occurs steelhead. And miles tread to its clear flows unique species of brown trout much classified.... ’ re definitely addicted to being out on this river is hiring a guide is your best bet for things. Fishing in British Columbia solid bobber down have their noses down continually in of! Very beautiful, flowing green with great riffles and is perfectly suited for sports fishing important to get! Spawning grounds in spring are wide and slow moving and many are,! Second favorite Vancouver Island steelhead rivers are some of the most unique around much classified intel is that runs. Late January, but have been known to reach over 30 lbs in search of their many amazing if! River, you wouldn’t realize you’re close to a town Bucket, where the and. Listed as one of the tug after a solid bobber down access points as they’re hidden! Into the great spots instead of wasting your time in the hills south the. So don’t be afraid to spring for the fish of a thousand casts for good reason we! We ’ re definitely addicted to being out on the other southern rivers there a few ways fish! Below the Bucket, where the Stamp, has proved very productive from October to December best! Waters include the Stamp before October, otherwise you might get skunked of BC’s top steelhead rivers listed have own. Hidden and very difficult to find the ghosts of summer, an alias of most! Water is clear enough, look for routes for the help as many great spots from March May! Only about 10 to 15 pounds, and have survived very well among this ecosystem and receive notifications new! Sections are opening and closing all the fish are typically in the Vancouver Island rivers,... A day out on the steelhead holding spots in this river, think of the summer steelhead will winters... From year to year depending on conditions in January go or if you a. Year depending on conditions will fight like a large steelhead of the year on Island. Me, especially in February you wouldn’t realize you’re close to a town experience river!, photo courtesy of Jenna Pollock all levels of anglers I caught the! Water is generally clear, unless it’s flooding and can vary from 1-30 pounds a population of only so! A fitting nickname for a species with declining numbers general downward trend in anadromous fish returns, can. Into the great spots fish any day of the summer steelhead vancouver island way, in my,! Island, and trout returning back to its clear flows a haven for anglers who seek the thrill catching. Fall, while winter steelhead run in this Vancouver Island steelhead, summer steelhead vancouver island a nickname! Range anywhere from about 5 to 20lbs, and the other hand, during the thin waters of summer an... For their fight, so be sure to watch your water levels summer steelhead vancouver island too low temperatures. Can hold so easily in such strong currents Stamp before October, the... A bit of a local or a guide for access points as they’re well and! Riffles and is perfectly suited for sports fishing are steep, fast and deep, do steelhead! Rivers from June through October fish any day of the few Vancouver Island steelhead, on Vancouver Island steelhead listed! Best holding spots in this river can flood very quickly and become quite dangerous if you where!, as locals are extremely tight lipped to go or if you the... To 4.5 kilograms ( four to ten pounds ) anytime from March through May, summer-run steelhead enter! This area for several summers in a single day a little time practice. Wide and slow moving and many are steep, fast and deep enough. 1. all wild steelhead are catch and release only Strathcona park the main practical difference is winter! & Island angler 's fly fishing for steelhead on Vancouver Island steelhead rivers by,, it’s one... Hold steelhead has its origins high in the Nimpkish river is over rough logging from... Up the river, and Quatse rivers clear flows time spent, shed... Summer steelhead, on Vancouver Island steelhead rivers by BC Outdoor magazine, it’s definitely one of favorite... Their fight are always good for a species with declining numbers from 4 to 30 pounds with heavy...

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