Fly Fishing for Vancouver Pinks begins

Nothing beats fair weather fly fishing for chrome Pink salmon around Vancouver BC!

It’s been a very sunny 3 weeks here in Vancouver, British Columbia. Some days have been just right and others just a tad too hot and humid, but today is just right and the wind is certainly keeping things in check. This is a perfect day for Pink salmon fly fishing!

pink salmon, fly fishing, squamish river fly fishing

starting the swing

It’s July 22 and I have the day off from guiding so what do I want to do? GO FLY FISHING of course! with the family. My wife packed some food and our 10 yr old daughter found a friend to bring along. The 2 young women will find endless things to do amidst the giant dried up log jams and barely moving side channels. My wife will enjoy the sun and take some pics. I will be in my own world and what was once 4 hours felt more like 30 minutes. Unlike a weekend the gravel bar that took us 10 minutes to walk to after a beautiful 45 minute drive north of downtown Vancouver was very quiet. There was 1 other fly fisher there and he had been there about 1 hour and hadn’t seen a fish or had any tugs. I didn’t like the sounds of that but who was I to know if that angler knew how to get these fish to bite. There had to be a few fish moving through this run that is only about 2 miles from the ocean. The tide was about to turn and a wave of fresh Pink salmon would surely be on their way, or maybe some were taking their time from the last high tide. Regardless I had confidence that my line would go tight soon enough. Not that it mattered, the day was perfect anyways.

Time to start fly fishing!

We settled into a nice looking part of this Squamish river run. There was a giant washed up Cottonwood tree from the higher waters of June that the kids could play on or behind.  I went through my fly box and picked a nice little chartreuse fly, one that would be more visible in the murky waters of the Squamish river.

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Chartreuse Pink salmon fly

The preferred method of fly fishing here for Pinks in the medium speed flow is ‘the swing’. Equipment consists of a 7 or 8 weight fly rod and matching reel, floating line with a sinktip that will get your fly down 4 or 5 feet near the bottom, a leader of 3-5 ft and a smaller bright fly. Pink or chartreuse are good colors for Pinks in the river. I use Rio floating line and Rio T-14 sinktip of about 5 -6 feet long. My Pink flies are tied on a #4, 2XL hook with barb pinched down. I like to use dyed UV Polar chenille for added flash and visibility.

I waded out to about knee deep water and started casting out where the faster water met the slower water, known as the seam. It’s about 5 feet deep and most fish travel or hold in this water. Sometimes the Pinks will move in closer too. I cast about 50-60 feet out, a mend upstream and when the line starts to straighten out from the gentle pull of the current I follow slowly with rod tip. Fish will sometimes hit early in the swing, but mostly half way through to near the end. It’s a must to have your fly near the bottom. After 10 minutes of swinging I feel a sudden tug, line goes tight and I set the hook! A few thrashes and it’s all over. Fish off. That’s a good sign I tell my wife. I saw a fish or 2 break surface out there so I know they are starting to move in. A few minutes later another solid tug and it’s fish on! It breaks surface and flies through the air showing me it’s bright silvery body. Pinks are known for being very scrappy but the Pinks of the Squamish river have a reputation for really toughing it out and testing your endurance.

pink salmon, fly fishing, pink salmon fishing vancouver

a nice pink salmon

This is mostly due to their freshness and being just in from the ocean. Sea lice will be seen on almost every fish you catch which is always a sign of ocean fresh. My Pink comes to shore 5 minutes later and is dispatched to make up the first of the 2 fish limit. We will have a lovely fresh salmon dinner tonight!

Feeling very optimistic for another hookup I start casting again and each cast brings new hope for another tight line. The odd Pink is seen rolling now and then. Over the next hour I hooked 3 fish, all of which were long line released. Then the line tugged and went tight again, and a big Pink came hurling out of the river and screaming line downstream going into the backing. A new neighbour, another angler who showed up a few minutes earlier, hollered out “nice fish!”. I agreed. This Pink was much bigger and gave me a intense battle of 10 minutes, fighting much like a Chinook with relentless runs and holding out in the faster water. It was totally impressive the strength of this fish. My wife took a video and a few pics during the battle. Finally the salmon was landed and we were staring at a gorgeous 9-10 lb fish, chrome and a few sea lice on him.

pink salmon, flyfishing, vancouver fly fishing

Pink salmon on the fly

The kids had some fun looking and playing with our fish and after a few minutes relaxing with everyone, it was time to clean the fish and head home. A great day on the river is always fun and creates some wonderful memories. I will be back on the Squamish in no time to take advantage of this superb fly fishing experience and the nicest Pink salmon one could hook into in our area.

Brian Mack


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