October 5, 2016

Six New Spots to Fish This Autumn

Summer has come and gone … but that means that fishing is heating up! If you’re looking for your next great fishing adventure, or simply want to try fishing a new spot, our Society Fishing Advisors – Brian Chan, Nick Basok, and Rodney Hsu – have some options for you.

Brian Chan’s Picks:

Campbell and Scuitto Lakes – Rainbow Trout
Bordered on the south by Douglas fir forest and with rolling grasslands to the north, Campbell and Scuitto lakes lie approximately 30 kilometres southeast of Kamloops. Access to these lakes is via the Scuitto Lake Forest Service Road which, although gravel, is suitable for campers and travel-trailers. The road passes along the north shore of Scuitto Lake, which offers undeveloped camping and car-top boat launching. Another 2.5 kilometres past Scuitto is the Campbell Lake Provincial Recreation Site, which provides designated campsites and a launch for trailered boats. Both lakes literally teem with willing-to-strike 25- to 40-centimetre (10- to 16-inch) rainbow trout. This is the perfect lake to introduce someone to fishing, whether it be trolling lures or fly-fishing for the very first time.

Dragon Lake – Rainbow Trout
With abundant aquatic food sources and an ideal habitat for growing big, well-conditioned rainbows, Dragon Lake provides one of B.C.’s premier fisheries. As you approach the city of Quesnel from the south, the lake – only five kilometres from downtown – lies almost alongside Highway 97, with much of the northern half of the lake lined with houses and an RV park. Despite its near-urban setting, Dragon offers excellent fishing in the late fall months, and anglers can expect to catch fish in excess of 2.25 kilograms (five pounds), with an excellent chance at hooking one over 3.6 kilograms (eight pounds). Just over six kilometres in length, the lake holds many good areas to catch that trophy fish of a lifetime.

Nick Basok’s Picks:

 Harrison River – Coho and Chum Salmon
Six kilometres west of Agassiz off Highway 7, the Harrison River runs 13 kilometres between Harrison Lake and the Fraser River. The river’s fall fishery for coho and chum starts around mid-September, peaks around mid-October, and tapers off by about mid-November. While there are a few areas to walk-and-wade, anglers with boats will have the most success because the river, although slow-moving, is quite wide. The best access points for boaters are from Island #22 on the Fraser near Chilliwack, or from Kilby Park near Harrison Mills on the Harrison.
To target coho, short float with cured roe bait. You can also fly-fish with brightly coloured fly patterns; spin-cast using spinners or spoons; or cast leadhead jigs.
For chum, float fish with pink- or purple-coloured leadhead jigs; spin-cast small spinners or spoons; or fly-fish with flies in various shades of pink or purple.

Always confirm the in-season regulations before retaining your catch.

Fraser River – Searun Cutthroat Trout
The prime area for fishing searun cutthroat trout on the Fraser is the section along the river’s main stem between Hope and Mission. This stretch of the river has several access points, but you will have to search for them, since this fishery does require footwork. While the area is vast, there are plenty of fish once you find them. Your best bet is to find areas where chum salmon are spawning or have spawned; it’s almost guaranteed that searun cutthroat won’t be far away. Concentrate your efforts around shallow riffles and slow-moving backwaters. You will also find these cutthroat in virtually every tributary of the Fraser from Vancouver to Hope, including the whole Harrison River system.
This fishery starts by mid-October and lasts all winter, but you’ll find that you will catch the biggest cutthroat before Christmas.
You can use several methods to fish for cutthroat. Spin-cast with small minnow-type lures; fly-fish with egg, fry, or stonefly patterns; drift-fish with natural baits (like single salmon eggs or small pieces of salmon roe); or just plunk a reliable old dew worm right onto the bottom.
You may retain two hatchery cutthroat 30 centimetres (12 inches) long or greater, with only one over 50 centimetres (20 inches) per day. The hatchery cutthroat will have a healed scar in place of the adipose fin. All wild cutthroat trout must be released. 

Rodney Hsu’s Picks:

Chilliwack-Vedder River – Coho Salmon
So far, the Chilliwack-Vedder River’s coho return has been excellent, and 2016 should turn out to be a good season. Not only are we seeing a good abundance of fish, but the average size of fish being caught has also been bigger than in previous years. The river’s coho run typically starts in early September, and fish can still be caught as late as early December.

The two most common ways of catching them are by float fishing with bait (like roe, wool, or artificial eggs), or casting and retrieving lures (like a spoon or a spinner). Early morning is usually the best time for catching these finicky silvers, but on a cloudy day you can actually catch them throughout the day by finding active fish. In the Chilliwack River, please remember that all wild coho with an adipose fin have to be released with care. You should also note that since some sockeye are adipose fin-clipped, and sockeye cannot be retained at all, be sure it is a hatchery-marked coho before retaining it.

Fraser River – White Sturgeon 
Fishing for white sturgeon on the Lower Fraser River is now at its best. They feed on the carcasses of spawned-out salmon that float down the river between September and November. With such an abundance of food, these sturgeon are in peak condition – be sure to hold onto that rod when you hook one! Baits commonly used by guides right now are salmon pieces, or salmon roe tied into sacs.

The most exciting part about sturgeon fishing is not knowing how big the fish might be until it is hooked: as small as a few centimetres (inches), or as big as four metres (13 feet). If you have never tried white sturgeon fishing before, it is best to hire a licensed fishing guide who is familiar with this fishery, and has all the appropriate fishing tackle. As the fishery is strictly catch-and-release, handle all sturgeon with care by following the proper release guidelines.

Authors: Brian Chan, Nick Basok & Rodney Hsu; Freshwater Fisheries Society of BC's Fishing Advisors
Photo Credit: Brian Chan, Nick Basok & Rodney Hsu