As all fishermen know, picking the right time of the season for what you want out of a trip can sometimes be tough, we have received a fantastic write up from the owners of our Sturgeon fishing on the Fraser River operation out in Canada, explaining what to expect within each season.
If you have always wanted to catch one of the hardest fighting freshwater fish on earth then you simply must visit the Fraser River in Canada and try your arms at a little Sturgeon fishing.
UNDERSTANDING THE Fraser River Seasons
The Fraser valley region has numerous angling opportunities suited for anglers of all interests and abilities. Here is a brief description, by month, to help you decide which time of year you would like to visit the area and fish.
January, February and March
We can get some cold weather and freezing conditions during these months, particularly January and February. Ice and snow can be quickly followed up with some warm conditions that are downright pleasant at times. This is the time of year for steelhead, an ocean going Rainbow Trout.
Steelhead are fantastic fish – aggressive when not pressured and at times eager to bite, Steelhead can also seem difficult to catch. Float fishing natural and imitated baits are effective. Catching them on the fly is another level of difficulty, but is truly rewarding! Steelhead are legendary for bringing out the shakes and trembles to your hands, even those of a seasoned Steelhead angler.
Sturgeon fishing is also available at this time of year but is weather dependant. Cool weather is easy to overcome, but sometimes there can be ice floes on the Fraser river, and the wind can be very difficult to fish in.
April brings the first signs of spring in the valley! Steelheads are still in and with warmer water temperatures, the aggression level ramps up noticeably.
By this time the Fraser has coloured up and is on the rise from the mountain snow melt. April can be a fantastic month to fish for Sturgeon and weather conditions are much easier and more pleasant than in the winter months.
Some of the salmon fry will begin hatching in the valley tributaries and this will really get the Cutthroat Trout moving. These small but very aggressive Trout feed heavily on old eggs and on the newly emerging fry that are starting to hatch out of their gravel beds. Small spoons and flies are excellent choices to fish for Cutthroat Trout.
May and June
Warmer months and higher water is the norm for this time of year. Usually the highest Fraser River levels occur in mid to end of June, but depending on weather patterns, we can get the “freshet” (peaking water flows from snow melt) in mid to late May. Despite the debris and variable water conditions, these two months can provide excellent Sturgeon fishing opportunities.
Cutthroat trout fishing is still available as well, particularly in some clearer backwaters to the Fraser and the Harrison river system.
Officially summer, at least in my books. Fraser river water levels are stable, possibly dropping and we start seeing some consistent river conditions. We can experience some good Sturgeon fishing during July.
Is there a better time of year that encompasses all that Sturgeon fishing is about? Warm weather, sunshine, t-shirts, shorts, flip-flops and wet wading to release a fish of a lifetime all combine to knock a day of Sturgeon fishing out of the park. Personally, I love it.
Depending on Salmon abundance, we may see a possible angling opportunity for August 2018 that could include Sockeye. This year is the return of the dominant Adams river Sockeye run. How many will return is anybody’s guess at this time. I am sure the experts can’t say with any certainty either. However, should the numbers return as hoped for based on previous cycles, there is a good chance that anglers will be able to put a couple Sockeye on the dinner plate here and there. There is really only one effective way to catch Sockeye on the Fraser and that is using the bottom bouncing method.
Chinook Salmon should also open with the Sockeye fishery. These Salmon are the biggest beasts of the Pacific Salmon species. The word “super” describes Chinook Salmon – super bright, super strong and super tasty. Bar fishing or ledger fishing spinning glos from shore or from an anchored boat is my preferred method of catching Chinooks, although they will be incidentally captured while bottom bouncing for Sockeye.
September is a beautiful month where summer transitions to fall. Cool mornings and warm afternoons are the staple weather pattern for September. Sturgeon fishing is usually excellent and there are still Chinooks and possibly Sockeye to fish for. In odd years (2019), Pink Salmon will be in the river and provide an excellent opportunity for everyone to catch their first Salmon, or their first salmon on a fly rod! Numerous and sporty, Pink Salmon are appealing to many and when cooked fresh, are wonderful eating providing a delicate texture and a mild flavour.
October and November
Fall arrives and with it comes the rain. The “liquid sunshine” is a necessity for Mother Nature and for many salmon looking to migrate up Fraser river tributaries such as the Chilliwack river and Chehalis river. After a long summer with little rain, the rivers are quite low. Rain freshens up the river water and brings water levels up for salmon to enter. Chinooks, Coho and Chum Salmon begin to show up. Coho are beautiful Silver fish that average 6 – 10 pounds and are relatively eager to eat a spoon, spinner, twitched jig, or cast and retrieved fly. Coho are noted for their feisty attitude on a rod and reel. Chum are the water buffaloes of the river. Growing to 20lbs, Chum Salmon begin to colour up into their spawning phases early in their migration, even showing bars of purple while still in salt water. I never let a little color get in the way of choosing a nice Chum to smoke or barbecue. While many turn their noses up at a Chum, I find Chum to be an extremely firm flesh that varies in color from pale cream to bright orange, and are tasty to eat. Chum are easily caught using jigs or flies, and are known to be quite hard on fishing tackle!
It feels like winter again when December rolls around. Most Salmon have come and gone and only the odd Steelheads are starting to show up in the local rivers. Picking and choosing your days are recommended for Sturgeon trips, but you can still have a good day on the water with the right weather and a decent bite!
Whichever month you choose, or fish you wish to angle for, we hope to see you on the river with us!
Until then, all the best in your fishing adventures!
Marc, Maggie and the Cascade Guides.
Thanks guys for the excellent article, I am sure it will help anglers decide when they would like to visit.
If you would like to discuss any potential Fraser river fishing trips with our team of freshwater experts, you can contact the on 01603 407596 or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. Alternatively, if you’d like to read the full tour page, it can be found here.