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. The Nimpkish river is the largest river on Vancouver island and the legend  Roderick Haig-Brown called it The Big One. 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. These egg hunters have their noses down continually in search of their next tasty meal. Steelhead migrate to spawn during the summer months and the winter months. Look for routes for the fish to swim upriver taking the path of least resistance and for holding lies to rest in between. Vancouver Island is home to some of the best winter steelhead fishing in British Columbia. rivers. The winter run steelhead is great here, but be sure to watch your water levels carefully. 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. The fish are typically in the seven-pound range, though double-digit steelies are here as well. One being a summer-run of fish from July to October, and the other being a winter-run of fish from December to April. day after day. Sorry, your blog cannot share posts by email. In Region 1, all wild steelhead are catch and release only. They differ in the timing of their return to the streams. Best way to experience this river is hiring a guide to do a drift. 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! Facebook. 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. The run is from early June until late July. Lots of high teens to over 20 lb Steelhead inhabit our Vancouver Island rivers. For that reason, we must treat this fishery with the utmost respect to sustain future runs. Summer-run Steelhead range in size from 3 pounds to 15 pounds, and have a very explosive nature. Although I was relatively green at fly fishing, I instinctively knew that the. 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. Known as the fish of a thousand casts for good reason, steelhead are not a fish you can expect to catch day after day. 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. 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. 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. Watch for wildlife here too, as the bears and elk are abundant in the area. You’ll need the help of a local or, The Stamp is a great fly fishing opportunity but once the salmon spawn occurs these steelhead won’t even notice a fly. A steelhead trout spends two or three years in a fresh water river environment before migrating to the open ocean to feed. 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. Steelhead migration: Trying to learn a new river system here on Vancouver Island. Spawning anytime from March through May, summer-run steelhead typically enter rivers from June through October. Angler, Writer, Photographer & Island Angler's Fly Fishing Columnist. Hatchery enhanced waters include the Stamp, Quinsam, and Quatse. 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! Steelhead sizes range from 4 to 30 pounds with the average being 8 pounds. Vancouver Island Steelhead rivers are some of the most unique around. 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. Over 120 of Vancouver Island’s streams are known to hold steelhead. The best holding spots in this river are actually only about 10 to 15 feet wide. 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. The best sport is below the Bucket, where the Stamp and Sproat meet to become the Somass. Angler, Outdoor Writer/Photographer and Island Angler's Fly Fishing Columnist Mid 1990s – alarm bells are ringing. Access is great for this river as many great fishing holes are literally a 15 minute drive from Port Alberni. There is a certain trepidation toward disclosing too much classified intel. 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. The river is small but very productive. When you’re standing in the river, you wouldn’t realize you’re close to a town. Gear fishing is very productive from October to December, best with egg patterns. Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email. 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. Or do they generally scatter themselves throughout the river system? future runs. 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. They return to their natal streams to spawn with timing that is unique to each location. 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. Gear fishing is very productive from October to December, best with egg patterns. Summer steelhead runs populate most west coast rivers but exist in only a few east coast rivers like the Campbell, the White and the Tsitika. Winter-run Vancouver Island Steelhead range in size from 5 pounds to 25 pounds. Especially the stretches of white clay are always good for a pleasant surprise. 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). Many popular steelhead streams are closed to angling. We use 8wt fly rods with sinking tips while in pursuit of these spectacular fish on the fly. Steelhead season on the stamp generally runs July to February. This river has seen some very hard times due to unsustainable logging practices and the steelhead counts were way way down during the 80’s and 90’s. The winter steelhead run in this river is absolutely amazing. The Cowichan is considered an urban river, however you’d never know it. 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. When reading the river, think of the river as a steelhead highway. This river is situated on mid Vancouver Island by the town of, you guessed it, Gold River and it flows into the Muchadhat inlet. The Stamp River System, is known as the SSS. Finding information on the steelhead holding spots can prove a little tough on the Nimpkish, as locals are extremely tight lipped. The main practical difference is that winter runs are notorious for hanging tough near the bottom. Please practice every ethical measure when fishing this river. For that reason, we must treat this fishery with the utmost respect to sustain. Many of these water ways have both summer and winter run strains of these large sea rearing rainbow trout that make for year round angling opportunity. To find the ghosts of summer takes blisters and bushwhacking, time spent, sweat shed and miles tread. This is a remote river and for that reason it's my second favorite Vancouver Island Steelhead Rivers. Freshwater fishing has been closed in this area for several summers in a row for this reason. These trophy rainbow trout enter rivers in December through April. Pinterest. Chasing Chrome: Vancouver Island Steelhead. Many of the same water types that hold summer steelhead will hold winters. So if you’re a fly fisherman or woman make sure to get to the stamp before October, otherwise you might get skunked. You can also hike in if you know where to go or if you have a jet boat you can launch from Port Renfrew. They typically weigh in a range from 1.8 to 4.5 kilograms (four to ten pounds). There a few ways to fish this river, and the best way, in my opinion, is by drift boat. We’re certainly relentless. My question is, do winter steelhead tend to stack up in the lower reaches before scooting up to the spawning grounds in spring? These egg hunters have their noses down continually in search of their next tasty meal. Practice “keepemwet” fishing to do your part to release fish in the best condition possible and reduce your impact on the fish. When the water is clear enough, look for the fish or their shadows on the gravel below. The water is generally clear, unless it’s flooding. All of these Vancouver Island Steelhead rivers listed have their own character and need a little time and practice to get to know. Post was not sent - check your email addresses! presentation is usually more important than any specific fly pattern. On the other hand, during the thin waters of summer, floating lines reign supreme. Vancouver Island has so much to offer when it comes to fishing. By. Even the smaller steelhead in the Nimpkish will fight like a large Steelhead of the other southern rivers. 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). Season:Although they say you can catch Steelhead in this river year round the peaks are as follows: This river lies on the northern part of Vancouver Island and runs from Nimpkish Lake to the cute little town of Port McNeill. 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.. The steelhead fishing is highly productive right up until February, though it usually peaks in January. Given the general downward trend in anadromous fish returns, we can only assume that the run size has not increased. 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. Vancouver Island is a haven for anglers who seek the thrill of catching wild steelhead! With the heavy flows of winter, one often wonders how a steelhead can hold so easily in such strong currents. During the winter months (Dec.-Apr.) Which stands for Stamp, Somass and Sproat Rivers. 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. Steelhead returns are declining virtually everywhere across Vancouver Island and the Lower Mainland. 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. Seasons: Winter and Early Spring are the best time to fish this river. Listed as one of BC’s top steelhead rivers by BC Outdoor magazine, it’s definitely one of my favorite Vancouver Island Steelhead Rivers. The Gordon has its origins high in the hills south of the West Basin of Cowichan Lake. Arguably the hottest summer steelhead on the planet, straight from the ocean be sure to have a strong rod, a quality reel with good drag and lots of backing, get ready to run. 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. 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. 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 is no hatchery program here and an old mill sits down at the estuary. Winter runs peak late December to late January, but this does vary slightly from year to year depending on conditions. In these waters, fish spook easily, bolting at the slightest splash. The Stamp is a great fly fishing opportunity but once the salmon spawn occurs these steelhead won’t even notice a fly. This requires the fly be drifted almost into their face to elicit a strike. In Region 1. all wild steelhead are catch and release only. View all posts by Kristy V. Webster. Stop and do one of their many amazing hikes if you have the time and desire. Winter run steelhead November to March, peaking January and February, iGuideBC2043 Mable RdShawnigan Lake BCiguidebc@gmail.com250.508.1079. Delicate also applies in terms of approach – stealth is an asset. 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. 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. It boasts easy access and lots of steelhead. Steelhead conservation tag required. A skilled angler can land several medium sized steelhead in a day out on this pretty river. Ghosts of summer, an alias of the summer steelhead, seems a fitting nickname for a species with declining numbers. This article highlights the prevalence, characteristics, and persistence of the Steelhead Trout, otherwise known as the "fish of a thousand casts," in Northern California. We can provide light tackle spinning gear as well for those who request it. And for those who seek a connection with our dinosaur predecessors, there’s always chasing the giant White Sturgeon, found most predominately in the local Fraser River. Someone experienced with this system can get you into the great spots instead of wasting your time in the non-producing areas. 8. On Vancouver Island, summer run steelhead are present either May through August or July through September, with earlier runs the further north you go. The fish in this Vancouver Island Steelhead river are known for their fight. Don’t neglect the shallows – fish the water before stepping into it. 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. Dancing water, walking pace currents, tail outs, rocks to hold behind/in front of and river bottom depressions are all prime steelhead lies. 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. This is what gets you into the best fishing holes. The Steelhead tend to range anywhere from about 5 to 20lbs, and the winter run tends to be bigger. Some say we’re crazy. The Fish of a Thousand Casts. Vancouver Island Steelhead rivers are some of the most unique around. 3. Fly fishing is a great option here as it’s banks are wide enough to accommodate the long throws. Understanding that this is a bit of a fragile system is important to help get the steelhead numbers back up. Besides the river is filled with tourists tubing every summer anyway, also not great for fish stress unfortunately. Steelhead abundance plummets to all time lows. Most Island river have runs of winter steelhead. 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. My first experience catching a steelhead was on this river and it’s something I’ll never forget. Practice “keepemwet” fishing to do your part to release fish in the best condition possible and reduce your impact on the fish. Hatchery enhanced waters include the Stamp, Quinsam, and Quatse rivers. 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. With year round guided fishing trips for salmon, steelhead and trout, no matter what time of year you choose to visit we have an adventure of a lifetime waiting for you. Hatchery enhanced waters include the Stamp, Quinsam, and Quatse rivers. wasn’t a Coho. Watch for wildlife here too, as the bears … One of the hardest things for me is patience, seeing the fish in action, but resisting the urge to act and set the hook, instead letting it take the fly and turn away, hooking itself solidly in the side of the mouth in the process. The, As with all Vancouver Island Steelhead Rivers, it’s very important to be up to date on, 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.. Keep wild fish wet and remember NO GLOVES. 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. Port Alberni is a small city with a population of only 17,000 so there is very little angling pressure from locals. Delicate, accurate presentation is usually more important than any specific fly pattern. Most gear anglers don’t see fly fishing as the most effective way to fish, yet in the shallow, clear conditions of summer, the fly fisherman has a distinct advantage. It’s divided up into three sections and each section has it’s own regulations, so be sure to check carefully. The Cowichan sees steelhead, salmon, and trout returning back to its clear flows. Given the general downward trend in anadromous fish returns, we can only assume that the run size has not increased. Access to the Mahatta River is over rough logging roads from the northern town of Port Alice. we are focusing virtually all our guide efforts on winter-run steelhead. In the Keogh River, on Vancouver Island, smolt-to-adult steelhead survival sits at four per cent, down from 15 per cent before 1990. 0. 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. This is a remote river and for that reason it's my second favorite Vancouver Island Steelhead Rivers. 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. 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. Some are wide and slow moving and many are steep, fast and deep. 9. Steelhead is a sea run rainbow trout and can vary from 1-30 pounds. 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 Mahatta River flows westwards from O’Connell lake into Quatsino Sound on the northwest coast of Vancouver Island. Very aggressive, they will actively chase down a swung fly or small lure, even rising to a dry fly, making them an excellent fish on the fly. These were introduced back in the 1930’s and they actually took to the system and have survived very well among this ecosystem. COWICHAN RIVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA – The Cowichan River is located on Vancouver Island and is visited regularly both by the travelers and local anglers. 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. Steelhead Fishing Vancouver Island is some of the most incredible sportfishing on the planet. A guide is your best bet for getting things right so don’t be afraid to spring for the help. Summer-run steelhead still return in healthy numbers to the Skeena and Dean systems. WhatsApp. 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. It boasts easy access and lots of steelhead. Steelhead conservation tag required. It does get float plane service if you’re into that sort of thing. The skilled fisherman can get 20+ steelhead in a single day. The area around the Ash/Stamp confluence was the favourite of General Noel Money for 30 years before the Kispiox had even been … 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. That primal wildness, nearly impossible to contain, is something that possesses us both. 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. 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 Ash, which flows into the Stamp, has proved very productive for me, especially in February. So because of this it is suited to great gear fishing. 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. Some are wide and slow moving and many are steep, fast and deep. The summer run of steelhead is just incredible. Babine River Upper Skeena tributary. This river can flood very quickly and become quite dangerous if you don’t have enough experience or know the character of this system. So if you’re a fly fisherman or woman make sure to get to the stamp before October, otherwise you might get skunked. The first of the winter run appear September to October but they stay just in the river’s mouth. The variety of species you can target is colossal, and there is no such thing as an off-season – it simply does not exist. Summer steelhead return in summer and fall, while winter steelhead return in winter and spring. Fortunately the Nimpkish Resource Management Board is changing that and returns are increasing again. There are various access options that accommodate all levels of anglers. The fish in this Vancouver Island Steelhead river are known for their fight. Our favourite are steelybeads. The girlfriend and I are planning a trip to Vancouver Island in early July, for summer run steelhead. 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. 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. 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. All of these Vancouver Island Steelhead rivers listed have their own character and need a little time and practice to get to know. In the Summer water levels are too low and temperatures too high, creating too much stress on the fish already. Ghosts of summer, an alias of the summer steelhead, seems a fitting nickname for a species with declining numbers. Our favourite are. Twitter. 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. This river is very beautiful, flowing green with great riffles and is perfectly suited for sports fishing. You are allowed to anchor and fish one of the many great spots. And we’re definitely addicted to being out on the flow, chasing the fulfillment of the tug after a solid bobber down. Even the smaller steelhead in the Nimpkish will fight like a large Steelhead of the other southern rivers. Summer run steelhead, on Vancouver Island, July 1 − 7. All the fish I caught in the Ash took my pattern within the first 400 meters upriver from the mouth of the Ash. Unlike Pacific salmon, steelhead trout do not die after spawning. 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. Steelhead average 22 to 32 inches and weigh 8 to 10 lbs, but have been known to reach over 30 lbs. It must be the rugged northern spirit. Curtis Leyenaar - October 27, 2020. Fly fishing for Steelhead on Vancouver Island in British Columbia Canada. 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. 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. 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. You can catch fish any day of the year on Vancouver Island, and it’s a steelheaders paradise. It has good road access from highway 28 out of Campbell River and it’s a beautiful drive through Strathcona park. These Vancouver Island steelhead fishing trips focus on targeting steelhead on Vancouver Islands’s northern region, including the Nimpkish River, the Salmon River and a variety of others lesser known but equally impressive BC steelhead systems. 120 of Vancouver Island tough on the Stamp generally runs July to February fishing has been in! Are typically in the 1930’s and they actually took to the Mahatta river is rough. Are typically in the hills south of the most unique around early July, summer... 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