Outsmarting mother nature for Bull trout?
Well probably not outsmarting mother but certainly exploring options and being creative. I was watching the hydrometric data graph like a hawk because I had 2 fly fishing clients waiting to hit the Squamish river in the morning. There was much cause for concern. Steady rain and warmer temps were pounding on last weeks snow dump. Not a major snow dump but enough to make life difficult if it melts too fast. The graph was telling me my worst fear. Rising and fast. Like throwing a spear to the Gods. Straight up. Oh boy. Perfect would be a dropping or stable river. I went to bed not feeling too eager about the mornings prospects. Upon waking the first thing I did was check the graph. The river had risen even more as I slept, but it did peak a few hours before I woke. It was dropping finally but it had a long way to go.
The search for Bull trout, or any trout
Well, we got to the mid river area about 8 am and sure enough it was dirty, maybe a foot of visibility at most and likely 8 inches. Gross I thought. This changes everything and I had to get these guys on at least some fishable water. So we went to a smaller tributary where it was almost gin clear. Here lied hope anyways, and of course some stunning scenery.
We parked near the Ashlu and started down the trail that would take us to a section that has produced nicely over the years. As we walked through some ‘out of the way’ wildlife habitat we employed some ‘Bear aware’ skills. I’ve never had a problem up here in my 30 years on this river but it’s good to keep your senses on alert. At least it keeps things exciting. We got to the creek a fter a 15 minute walk. I was kind of expecting the creek to be a lot higher than it was. After all the Squamish was high therefore shouldn’t her tributaries also be?
My 2 clients fly fished a good section of the creek that covered 3 beautiful runs. I was expecting at least a fish or 2 from the first run. It had perfect structure and has produced so well over the past 5 years. Flies were cast, swung, stripped. Nothing pulled back for the entire section, not even the final run that had some gorgeous deep water where fish could feel cozy. We enjoyed a mid morning snack on the shore and contemplated the view.
Onward in the quest for Trout
It was obvious what we had to do. The Squamish was still dirty at lunchtime so our only option to find biting trout was in cleaner water where they could actually see our hand tied offerings. I knew 2 such spots down river so off we went.
Our first option required a 10 minute walk through some nice sandy trails and cottonwood trees. The trail opened up and there was the Squamish in all it’s greenish greyness. But just 100 meters downstream a lovely chunk of blue water was mixing in. That;s it I thought! “We’ll get some fish out of there” I told my guys.
Carefully sneaking up to the cleaner water we were greeted with the splash of a rising trout! Nice. The casting started. It wasn’t long before lines went tight. Cutthroat trout were here.
After a entire morning with no action this was a pleasant surprise. We spent a good hour here tempting Cutties and landed a few. A Bull trout was hooked but got off after a minute. As this was a smaller piece of water it only warranted a smaller allotment of time flogging it. I had 1 other spot further down river that held much promise. Back to the truck we marched.
Bull trout hide out!
This was our last hope to find some Bull trout, the biggest of the trout species in this river valley. The Mamquam river flows into the lower Squamish and creates a large stretch of cleaner water and some structure too. It’s flat water but big water. As we approached our starting point I could see where fish would be holding. I told the guys “cast out there and let your fly swing”. First cast yielded a rather hard hit but a missed hookup. I could feel it. Something was going to happen. Sure enough it did. Within a minute or 2 we had one on! Rod was bent over good and the this fish which was certainly a Bull gave a good fight holding in the deeper choppy water with ease. With carefull tactics it was finally landed. Happiness broke out!
We had a lot of river to cover in this setion of the Squamish. 500 meters roughly. But not all that water would be holding water so I took the son down to the next hole while dad stayed and worked this run with one of my favorite Bull trout flies that I have developed over the years.
Found: large Bull trout
Guiding Jordan aggresively through a rather large run, casting , swinging and stripping in hopes of that big tug it finally happened. I heard him holler out “I got one!” I could see his rod was bent over well and pumping in such a way only a big fish could accomplish. I immediately turned on my iPhone and started filming. I could tell this Bull was big. It peeled line several times and I caught glimpses of flash in the depths. I was excited and I know Jordan was. He was a rookie fly fisher too so that makes it all the more exciting for him. I offered a bit of coaching to make sure we get this fish safely landed and snap some great pics. It all worked out as you can see.
We watched in anticipation to see how big it was. It was putting up a rather tough scrap and could be a great fish. I finally got a glimpse and a flash. It looked good but certainly wouldn’t top the 5 lb mark. The Bull was brought in and a quick photo proved the capture.
March & April is prime time for Bull trout fly fishing in Vancouver. But it’s just 1 of many fly fishing options we have here. We have Salmon, Trout and Steelhead throughout the year, each in their own times.
Upcoming fly fishing adventures: Rainbow trout on wilderness lakes is great from mid May to early July.
Tight lines & dry boots!