Fly Fishing The Fraser River

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The Fraser is the single largest river system in British Columbia; traversing three quarters of BC it is the major water drainage of the province. It also has the single largest amount of salmon traveling through it, of any other river, during their spawning runs

Entering the Pacific at the city of Vancouver most of the salmon in the lower reaches are in their prime as they prepare to make their final journeys. Most of the sport fishing in the Fraser is done from the town of Chilliwack to the town of Hope. Jet boats are not a necessity but definitely help in the attempts to get away from the sometimes crowded conditions.

Fly-fishing the Fraser is mostly done from large, gently sloping gravel bars and the cast and swing approach is most often utilized. The waters are fairly dirty year round, often allowing the salmon to feel safe entering very shallow water. Large flies, heavy rods, sink tip lines and a lot of stamina are required.

Sockeye are the main quarry for the fly tosser. Entering towards the end of July and peeking usually towards the end of August. These fish come in huge numbers and are in top shape. Silver sided, these fish are a far cry from the same fish you find on their spawning grounds months later, bright red and beaten. Sockeye will, pound for pound, out fight almost every other salmon. Tail walking, “torpedoing” and screaming runs are tell tale signs of a fresh Fraser River Sockeye.

Chinook or “king” salmon are usually present with the Sockeye allowing for another dimension of a days fishing. These are the largest of the Pacific salmon and are in the most prime shape they will ever be in. Averaging around 16 pounds, only fish over 30 will get more than a nod from fellow anglers. Often one will hook up with one of these brutes while fishing for sockeye; a long hard fought battle usually including a chase with the boat and a very happy and lucky angler is the end result.


Pink Salmon enter the river towards the end of August on odd numbered years (i.e., 2001, 2003, 2005, etc…). The smallest of the Pacific salmon (3 to 7 pounds), what they lack in size they make up for in sheer numbers (average 14 million spawn before Hope in the Fraser) and aggressiveness. A great place for the novice fly fisher to start or experienced fisher to hone skills and have some fun.

Chum salmon arrive around the middle of September but don’t peek till the middle of October. Known locally as Dog salmon, these fish are eager bighters and hard fighters. Large numbers are again the norm and will test the stamina and skill of most fly fishers.

Cutthroat are not very conducive to the fly in the main channel of the Fraser. However, they take very well in the clear back sloughs. Floating lines, weighted patterns and the right tide are required for these fish. Fishing for the cutts usually commences around the middle of December and continues until run off occurs towards the end of April.


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