- Cascade Fishing Adventures
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We are often asked “when is the best time to go sturgeon fishing?”
Our sturgeon fishing season on the Fraser river is quite extensive. We are legally permitted to fish for white sturgeon all year, however, we choose not to fish sturgeon in the winter months (December through February). Aside from low and slow water conditions, and the difficult weather conditions we see during the winter that directly affect fishing from a boat, the biggest factor is the Fraser’s water temperature is very cold. Current water temperatures are hovering close to the freezing mark, and these kinds of water temperatures directly affect the metabolism of fish. When water temperatures are this cold, sturgeon are reluctant to move and feed. Should you encounter a fish on the end of your line during the winter months, they certainly don’t possess the same enthusiasm or athletic abilities that they are capable of and demonstrate in the warmer seasons.
Kicking winter sturgeon fishing aside, lets focus on the better part of the season and that is March through November. Generally you will find sturgeon starting to move around in the spring when you see the Fraser go turbid, or silty. Remember, the Fraser is nearly 900 miles long, and the headwaters of the Fraser, and many of its tributaries, are at more northerly latitudes. As the weather warms up, rainwater will shed off the snow covered mountains into the river, bringing silt and reducing the Fraser’s clarity to virtually nothing. When this happens in March, that’s a pretty good sign its time to have a look around. Water temperatures will be warming up and subsequently, the fish will start moving about and foraging.
Spring fishing for sturgeon really kicks off in April with the arrival of the eulachons, a smelt that lives in the Pacific ocean but spawns in the Fraser river. This migration of feed is a big wake-up call for the Fraser’s sturgeon. There are some eulachon that show up earlier (possibly even in March), but the peak of the run seems to be the last week of April. Arriving in large numbers, the sturgeon will pick up eulachons recklessly, both live and dead ones. It should be mentioned that once an eulachon spawns, it will die, just like our pacific salmon.
In the past, eulachons returned in giant masses that were measured in tonnes, but in the last decade, the eulachon run has struggled due to various impacts – ocean survival being one of them.
As spring moves towards summer, we encounter a phenomenon in June known as the freshet – the river rises rapidly due to warming weather, some rain and most importantly, melting snow. How much the river will rise will depend on the amount of snow that fell in the mountains over the winter. Weather patterns just prior to and during the freshet also have an impact on the volume of water that carries down the Fraser. With high water, you will see a large amount of debris floating down the river. This debris can put a damper on the sturgeon fishing if you are unfamiliar with the river during this time of year. With such volumes of water, there is an enormous amount of river to cover out there during freshet. If you have a good instinct for where the fish are, you will find some pretty quiet fishing and enjoy successful days. The scenery at this time of year can be fantastic – everything is green, snow is melting on the hills, the days are long and the weather can be very nice. While generally occurring during the third week of June, the freshet can happen anytime from mid May to mid July. Weather is the key to the timing of the freshet.
July and August offers the golden days of sturgeon fishing as far as I am concerned. Warm weather, dropping water conditions (post freshet), plenty of sunshine and revved up sturgeon put our guides on def-con 5 for the big boys. Chinook and sockeye salmon provide plenty of feed for the sturgeon as do other food items found in the river (coarse fish and lamprey eels). Water temperatures are fantastic for jumping in with shorts and t-shirts to release the bigger fish at shore – life is good! Nothing more to say as far as I’m concerned!
As we move out of the summer months and into September, we sense a coolness in the air, the evenings arrive sooner and the water temperatures are starting to cool off. We will enjoy beautiful late summer/early fall conditions – cool mornings, warm afternoons and clear skies. We will see the fall run chinooks, coho and chum enter the river and provide us with a great opportunity to fish both sturgeon and salmon on the Fraser river. Sturgeon fishing in September is considered by many to be one best months for sturgeon, especially when the pink salmon arrive in September. Pinks return every odd numbered year on the Fraser – our next pink salmon run is September 2017. Pinks average 5 pounds in weight, and are a favourite food item for sturgeon. A September with pink salmon can provide some of the most spectacular sturgeon fishing! Even without pink salmon in the river, September still offers an excellent opportunity for sturgeon fishing, and offers a little bit of the best of everything – favourable weather, water conditions, and fishing opportunities are all rolled up into September.
As the season glides along into October, the weather has become damp – rain is a regular forecast. Without the much needed rain, the Fraser’s tributaries would be low and clear, making migration and spawning difficult for the returning Pacific salmon. The Fraser river’s water temperatures continue to drop and the sturgeon know that its time to feed heavily, and they do. While the weather is not as nice, big boats with tops and windows keep the elements out and allow us a break from the rain and cooler temperatures. There are plenty of big sturgeon on the prowl and this is the time of year where you will most likely see the biggest numbers of sturgeon landed in a day. There will be plenty of the smaller fish, but there is always a great chance at hooking one of those mythical sized fish that you would never forget. The opportunity to fish for Chinooks, coho, chum and sturgeon all in one day proves to be a terrific fishing opportunity and is one of the highlights of October and early November.
The fall season’s fishing days go by fast. By late November, we can expect inclement weather on a steady basis, and angling conditions become difficult. Water temperatures continue to drop and the sturgeon’s lowered activity level is noticeable. Sturgeon fishing beyond this point is weather dependent. It is at this point that we turn our attention to other matters – like hunting!
With the winter upon us, we are all looking forward to those days ahead when we can slip the jet boat into the river and see the sturgeon again!
Whether you are looking for a day trip fishing or you want to stay longer, we can arrange everything from your pickup at the airport in a limo, to your hotel accommodation and the best guided fishing tours in the Fraser Valley. Please contact Marc or Maggie on Toll Free: 1-877-887-4366 or use our contact form.