Fall Fishing on Vancouver Island can be one of the most exciting times of the year. With all five species of Pacific Salmon returning to the rivers to spawn, the Island’s waterways are alive with activity. Throughout the fall, fresh salmon of one variety or another are continually entering the rivers. Salmon that have been there for a while are busy building redds and dropping eggs. This makes for an angler’s paradise. You can either target the chrome salmon entering the system or the multitude of trout and summer run steelhead that are gorging themselves on salmon eggs.
Most of Vancouver Island’s rivers were closed this summer to angling due to low water conditions. This meant that many of the returning salmon were forced to spend extra time in the salt water waiting for river levels to rise. Many of the Island’s returning salmon entered the river much later than usual.
During late September and October I focus my attention on the Stamp River, which has one of the most impressive returns of Coho Salmon on the Island. It was no surprise to find the river full of Sockeye and fresh Chinook salmon which usually run much earlier in the season. Unfortunately, 2015’s Coho returns have been quite low right across the Island, with the exception of a few bright spots such as the Quinsam River. Stamp River Coho fishing has been slow this year but late returns of Chinook and nice returns of summer steelhead made for plenty of excitement on the water. As the calendar turns to November and the Chinook finish their life cycle the Stamp continues to be an excellent destination for Chum Salmon, steelhead and rainbow trout. Spoons and spinners are the lures of choice for gear fishermen while fly anglers are seeing success fishing egg patterns.
This year’s dry summer dramatically affected the Cowichan River as it was reduced to a mere trickle. However this fall’s healthy rains see the river in perfect condition. In the fly fishing only areas on the upper portions of the river, egg patterns are getting a lot of attention from both rainbow and brown trout. These trout are lurking below the spawning Chinook and are feasting on eggs. Of course a well placed streamer will still hook brown trout along the river banks and a dead drifted nymph will find lots of nice rainbows.
Chum fishing on the Lower Cowichan has been a thrill a minute with plenty of healthy fish inhabiting some of the slower bends and back eddies. Flies and spoons are both hooking fish, with pink being the most successful colour. As of this report (November 13, 2015) anglers are allowed to retain 2 Chum Salmon per day. At this point Coho Salmon are closed to retention but there are quite a few silvery Coho in the river. Weather has been wonderful and fishing the Cowichan has been an absolute joy this fall.
Why not join me for a drift?