BC River Steelhead Population?

Discussion in 'Steelhead' started by Panheadsully, Dec 3, 2013.

  1. Panheadsully

    Panheadsully Member

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    Hey guys,
    I'm considering making a move here from Eastern Washington up to the Bellingham area. I'm an avid Steelheader, but have never fished the BC Area before. I travel quite a bit to the Olympic Peninsula, and fish all the rivers over here for Steelhead.

    One of my questions is related to the BC steelhead population. If you're an avid Steelheader, would Vancouver area be a good area? I read alot about the Vancouver Island Rivers, Vedder Rivers etc. Is the fishing all that much better up there? I understand I'd have to work out the license issues etc, but I just thought I'd ask the question. I'd love to target Steelhead year round, is Vancouver Area that good for Chrome Steelhead or is it pounded like the OP?

    Thanks
     
  2. You will be that "American asshole"
     
  3. sleestak240

    sleestak240 Active Member

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    Stuff in the Vancouver area gets hit as hard, if not harder, than the OP and Puget Sound rivers. There are some decent runs of winter fish on the Island, but it would be a tough day trip and the ferry ride over is about 2 hours and around $80 each way last time I looked. The Vedder attracts a great deal of the attention and tends to be quite a zoo on weekends during prime season. It does see upwards of 10,000 fish when you count the hatchery run though. You'll see lots of bait fishing going on there...one of the few (if not the only) river in the Lower Mainland with a major hatchery component where guys can keep fish. The Lower Mainland stuff is worth checking out for a change of pace, but it isn't the promised land.
     
  4. Darthmonkey

    Darthmonkey Active Member

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    Short answer, no. It is good fishing, but not so astoundingly good that no steelheader should die before fishing the lower mainland or Vancouver Island. You aren't going to find exceptionally hard fighting, or especially large fish up there maybe a few more empty gravel bars to fish from but that is the most you can expect. Living in Bellingham does make the lower mainland a cool alternative to fish on the weekends though. Good luck.
     
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  5. Salmo_g

    Salmo_g Active Member

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    Panheadsully,

    Much as I like the B'ham area, I don't see it as a strategic location for a year 'round steelheader. As other posts mention, it puts you close to the most heavily pounded lower mainland rivers, and it still involves some drive time. If you're moving for steelhead fishing, why not just move to Forks, or at least Sequim, or Vancouver Island or Terrace, B.C.?

    I lived on the Skagit for 14 years, but I wouldn't move there or to any north Sound location today for the fishing.

    Sg
     
  6. Nooksack Mac

    Nooksack Mac Active Member

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    Driving distances may not be the most important parameter, but they're obviously relevant. From Bellingham, the Vedder's popular areas are 38-45 miles or so. The upper main Nooksack is 10-15 miles, the North Fork 20+. The Skagit and Sauk are 55-75 miles. Not as close as I wish, but close enough.
     
  7. Charles Sullivan

    Charles Sullivan dreaming through the come down

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    I live in B'ham. I fish for steelhead in Canada. This year I will likely fish a couple times on hte Nook and a couple on the Skagit. All other steelheading will be in Canada.

    I have come to accept the fact that I will have to drive a good distance to steelhead fish. Chances are I will need to stay over and fish multiple days to make it worth it. The drive can be anywhere from 45 minutes to 17 hours.

    The Vedder sucks. There are a lot of fish and fishermen. It reminds me of some GL stealheading in that it takes place in an urban environment. The best part of the Vedder is the scenery. In the lower Vedder there is a jogging trail on either side. Given Canada's loose immigration policy and my love of Cinnamon girls, I find the joga pant jogging scene quite enjoyable.

    For a man willing to travel CA can be a place where dreams come true, being in B'ham shortens the drive by a little.

    Go Sox,
    cds
     
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  8. sleestak240

    sleestak240 Active Member

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    If you're able to pick and choose your location and want easy access to respectable year-round steelhead fishing with numerous options I'd suggest taking a closer look at the Vancouver, WA/Portland, OR area. Grab licenses for both states and you have some good fisheries, both summer and winter, within 2 hours driving time. You won't escape crowds necessarily, but you wouldn't be able to do that by going to well-known locations in Lower Mainland, BC either.
     
  9. Panheadsully

    Panheadsully Member

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    Hmm, well thanks for the replies guys. The Steelheading in Eastern Washington is ok, but not outstanding by any means. I've got a pretty good job offer in the B'ham area, and just was trying to gather the fishing opportunities in the area. I do love Steelhead, but I'd also like to target Salmon and whatever else I can get to bite...
     
  10. Rick Todd

    Rick Todd Active Member

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    I would not move to Bellingham for the steelhead fishing. You will be closer to the Skeena system (still a long day drive), and the Thompson shows signs of coming back. You are closer to the OP than Moses Lake. Charles Sullivan is the man to talk to on steelhead fishing around Bellingham. If you are in the area for a job interview, stop by Confluence Fly Shop, both of those guys are very knowledgeable about steelhead fishing and spey rods. There are also other very good fishing possibilities near by. Pass Lake is an hour and provides year around trout action. The upper Skagit (in BC) is 2 hours and is outstanding trout fishing in the August-September time frame. You are 3-4 hours to all of those truly great BC lakes. In the summer it is 3 hours to the Winthrop area which has good lake, river and stream fishing. August brings coho into shore at Cherry Point and you can sight fish for them from a small boat or pontoon. Odd years you can literally wear out your arm catching pink salmon. This fall has provided excellent coho and chum fishing on tributaries of the Fraser. There is an outstanding community of fly fishers in Bellingham and the 4th Corner Fly Fishers is very active in conservation and has a lot of knowledgeable fly fishers who are happy to share their knowledge. You should consider that Bellingham is just a flat out great place to live. Close to skiing, the San Juan Islands, Vancouver BC, and Seattle. It has a small town feel with big town amenities like restaurants etc. Western WA U provides a lot of cultural things coming through town and the Mt Baker theater has many world class types of entertainment. So I would say move here for a great lifestyle and enjoy a lot of good fishing as well! Rick
     
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  11. Panheadsully

    Panheadsully Member

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    Thanks Rick!
     
  12. ottorotate

    ottorotate New Member

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    That's news to me. I certainly wouldn't base any relocation decision on the viability of the Thompson steelhead fishery.
     
  13. rustybee

    rustybee Active Member

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    +1.
     
  14. Rick Todd

    Rick Todd Active Member

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    Stephan.jpg
    Maybe not coming back but this is a Thompson fish from this year. One of 3 caught that day. You are right, as I said in my post, don't move to Bellingham for steelhead! You guys are kind of sensitive I would say! Rick
     
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  15. ottorotate

    ottorotate New Member

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    Spawner counts through the 90s averaged around 1950, which in and of itself is already very low from a historical perspective. Through the 2000s it was at 1250 and in the last 4 years it has been 775. But if you got three in one day this season, including a picture of one, I suppose it could mean the river is 'coming back'.
     
  16. sleestak240

    sleestak240 Active Member

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    Ottorotate only stated a pure and simple fact that's backed up by decades of data...nothing sensitive about it.

    A few years ago people were depressed over how that particular Fraser River tributary was done forever. The escapement was roughly 500 fish and a lot of people thought it would never open again. By all accounts this season might be best year in quite some time for the quality of fishing but that euphoria could be short lived. I'm not sure of the factors behind the apparent quality of fishing this season, but the escapement probably won't be over 1,000 fish. That's pretty abysmal by all accounts and doesn't point to a fishery that's coming back by any means. There's been a slight positive cycle, but the long term trend is still down unfortunately.

    Depending on the timing of chum openings at the mouth of the Fraser, next season could be the worst on record. Who knows...there isn't a lot of wiggle room on the low end! It's awful premature to declare a comeback.
     
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  17. Evan Burck

    Evan Burck Fudge Dragon

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    I love me some Fraser and Howe Sound tribs. But it's not the steelhead that take me there. Also: Helps to have a sled in thems parts.
     
  18. psycho

    psycho Active Member

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    The young man in the above picture would be called a top rod any where in BC including the Dean. I watched him tying flies when he was ten or eleven years old that would make most tiers on this board including me want to give up tying.:D His father is a pretty good fly fisherman too.:D
     
  19. Rick Todd

    Rick Todd Active Member

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    Yes, I was fishing with his father on the Bulkley and Morice when his son sent us this picture! Spent 2 weeks with his dad in New Zealand a couple years ago and had a ball! Sorry guys about the reference to the Thompson. It was the picture above that got me think that it was improving as well as the fact that it was closed for quite a while and is now open! Obviously didn't have my facts straight. Probably the sea run cutthroat in Burrard inlet or the Fraser or the bull trout in the Squamish (and possible steelhead), would have been better examples of fishing opportunities near Bellingham ! Rick
     
  20. Charles Sullivan

    Charles Sullivan dreaming through the come down

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    The T fish are clearly depressed in comparison to the histric averages. They are also quite aggressive. If a man was to put his fly over 3 fish, he may get 3 takes. Fortunately, since it's a C&R fishery it's highly unikely that any of those 3 fish would be any worse for it.
    Personally, I wouldn't post a pic like that on the web, because there is a very limitted amount of fishable water on the T and that picture gives only the glory part of fishing the T, not the hours and hours of effort and cold it takes to hook a T steelhead.
    Of course, I rarely even write the names of rivers on the interwebz and I took no pic of my last several steelhead.

    Go Red Sox,
    cds
     

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