Fly Fishing The Harrison River

More Pictures of Harrison River Fly Fishing

The Harrison River is one of the main tributaries of the Fraser River. Although it is not a long river, exiting Harrison Lake and flowing into the Fraser at the historic town of Harrison Mills, it does have a large water flow and an estuarial look to it. Since the Harrison has a large lake at its headwater no amount of rain will muddy up the water, even though it will rise and fall often in a season. This makes it a sure bet when many of the other local rivers are flowing high and turbid.

The waters of the Harrison are hallowed as being some of the best fly waters of the Fraser Valley. Its low gradient, clarity and estuarial feel make it ideal for the fur and feather tosser. Also, the inaccessibility and need for a jet boat give a fairly remote feel even though it is within an hour of Vancouver.

The Harrison is the single largest salmon-producing tributary of the Fraser River system. All five species of salmon enter the Harrison to spawn and die and/or move up river to their natal streams to propagate and fulfill their life cycle. This often means that in-season, multiple species days can be had.

Sockeye are the first to move into the system in August. They continue to enter until the end of September. The best fly fishing for them is usually the middle of September as the fish enter the upper portion of the river. Pinks can found entering the system in huge numbers - in the millions - on odd years… 2001, 2003, 2005… towards the end of August, peaking towards the end of September. These are some of the most aggressive salmon you will ever find. Although not huge (3 to 7 lb average), they make up for their smaller size in their sheer willingness to attack a fly and stunning numbers.

Chum are next entering towards the end of September and peaking around the third week of October. These brutes are some of the largest in the world often topping 20 pounds with a good average of 13 pounds. They respond very well to the fly and proliferate the river in the hundreds of thousands. Large number days and exceptionally large fish are the norm when targeting this species.

Sometime in the beginning of October the long awaited return of Coho begins to filter into the system. These fish represent the pinnacle of success for the Harrison River fly fisher. The spookiest and toughest to catch, the Coho is the “trophy” fish of the river. When “in the mood” Coho can become reckless takers, often chasing flies for some distance or making surface attacks in plain view.

Chinook enter the river year round although the most fishable time is usually October and early November. These are the biggest of the big often-exceeding 30 pounds with a 17+ pound average. Timing is everything with Chinook as most of these brutes use the Harrison as traveling grounds and a “run” of fish can easily push through in a few days.

Spring marks the time that new life begins for the salmon’s offspring; this is usually sometime in March and peaking towards the end of April. With this newfound birth comes a bonanza of food in the form off salmon minnows. Thousands of gorgeous sea-run cutthroat trout come in from the Pacific to lunch on these hapless victims. Averaging around 14 inches these trout are known for their aggressive takes and great fun on light tackle. Most fishing is sight casting to boiling fish and surface film orientated.

   

More Pictures of Harrison River Fly Fishing

 
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