Fly Fishing The Squamish River

 

Just north of Vancouver, towards Whistler ski area, one finds a spectacular drive along the Sea to Sky Highway. Mountains rise from the salty waters and tower above the winding highway. Forty-five minutes from downtown Vancouver, the town of Squamish interrupts the drive with a few signal lights. Nestled just west of the town is the river from which the town derives its name.

The Squamish River begins in the snowcapped coastal mountains of BC. Many different glaciers feed the river along its way to Howe Sound where it forms a large estuary extending well into the ocean. This river is a rugged, beautiful place.

The lower river has some access points, but is still best fished from a jet boat of which there are hardly any. The upper river offers more bank access with a logging road traversing most of its length. To the inexperienced eye the entire length looks “fishy”, but the local anglers know only portions hold good fishing.

Our main fishing on the Squamish is the Chum Salmon that begin to show up in middle October and peak the middle of November. The run is large and attracts huge numbers of bald eagles for which the area is famous. We fish within the estuary or just upstream from it, traveling from spot to spot via jet boat. These fish are ocean bright; many still have sea lice clinging to them. Hard fighters and eager biters make these fish fun and challenging to catch.

Once known for its winter steelhead, the Squamish River now holds only a remnant of those original fish. This is mainly due to habitat degradation. The upper river felt the effects of logging, whereas the estuary had a pulp mill to contend with. Over the past years the fish have been making a comeback and are starting to offer somewhat of a fishery. Each fish caught is a treasure and rightly, a true trophy.
During steelhead season, the river also finds us trying our hand at sea-run Dolly Varden and resident Bull trout. These fish have flourished over the last decade and represent a quality winter/spring fishery. Bull trout are considered rare in most parts of the world, but seem to do well in smaller coastal river systems of BC. Dolly Varden can be found in two distinct variations, sea-run and resident. “Dollies” and “Bulls” are beautiful creatures and reflect well the surroundings in which they are found.

 

  

 
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