- Cascade Fishing Adventures
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When you book your guided sturgeon and salmon fishing adventure on the Fraser river, there is a good chance you will see more than just fish on your trip. Aside from an abundance of scenic viewpoints and geography that changes from one end of our guiding area to the other, the Fraser river attracts many species of birds and animals.
Most of the wildlife we see on the banks of the river live in the area all year round, while many birds are resident or migratory.
One of the most spectacular birds that we see regularly on the Fraser is the bald eagle. Many bald eagles will build enormous nests in tall cottonwood trees near the river’s banks. Most nests are spotted by watching eagles consistently flying in and out of the same area as the nest can be difficult to spot in the heavy canopy of the tree. Naturally, the main diet of a bald eagle is fish, and they can be seen taking dead fish from the surface or scavenging fish on the banks. If not enough fish are present, the bald eagle will hunt and capture squirrels, rabbits and other small mammals. On one occasion while guiding, I watched two eagles systematically pick off nearly every duckling from a large clutch, with the hen watching helplessly. She tried to lead her ducklings into the flooded willows, but it was to no avail. A sad sight but also one of many scenes played out in nature during a predator prey scenario.
Ospreys are my favourite raptor and are seen throughout the Fraser river in the late spring to mid fall. Osprey are generally migratory – some osprey fly as far as South America for the winter. Osprey love to nest on pilings, trees (snags) with flat, broken tops and even some power poles. Osprey are truly hunters, or should I say anglers! Osprey will hover 30 – 50 feet over calm water, waiting for the perfect sized fish to surface and pause for just a little too long. With a fold of it’s wings, the osprey will dive into the water head first, and somehow manage to grab it’s prey with its sharp talons. After surfacing and with a quick shake of the wings, the osprey will lift off, taking it’s meal back to their nest to feed the young. What an amazing sight to see! And the sound of the osprey hitting the water is surprisingly loud – they really mean business when they’re hunting.
There are a myriad of other raptors whizzing around the river, and by keeping watch, you could witness a falcon chasing down a small duck, grouse or jay. Sometimes, we are so close to the action that we’ve had feathers land in the boat from a falcon’s successful hunting connection with its prey!
In addition to predatory birds, there is a variety of birdlife including waterfowl. Puddle and diver ducks, and a few species of geese all utilize the Fraser river. Canada geese are in high abundance everywhere but the largest waterfowl, the trumpeter swan with its tremendous size and all-white plumage, are seen in small to medium sized flocks. Trumpeters can be seen during the late fall and very early spring as the Fraser Valley is a wintering area for many trumpeter swans. And one bird that is so prevalent on our river edges and cannot go without being mentioned is the blue heron. These long legged wading birds have a long sharp beak for catching small fish as it stalks quietly along the river’s edge. Its not uncommon to see large numbers of herons on certain gravel bars, with the odd scuffle breaking out over who gets the best fishing spot. If you could imagine what a pterodactyl would sound like, that is the sound of the blue heron – which almost certainly has to be the grumpiest bird on the river!
When it comes to wildlife on the river, the number one animal that visitors want to see is the black bear. And rightly so, as a large black bear walking the banks of the river is a spectacular sight to see. We have two colour phases of black bear in the valley. While most black bears are black, as their name suggests, we also occasionally see bears with a brown or brown/blond hide. Because the undergrowth is so thick along the riverbanks, we don’t see all the black bears that we drive by. The best bear viewing is in summer when the gravel bars start showing up along the edges and the bears use these corridors for easy travel when scouring the banks in search of food. While I have seen bears chase live salmon along some shallow edges, most bears are happy to scavenge dead salmon that wash up on the banks. Bears are omnivores, and will eat plants, berries as well as meat. In the fall, bears will gorge themselves to fatten up for the lean winter when food is not abundant. Because of a low food source in winter, bears will den up and have a “winter sleep” which is similar to hibernation.
As for grizzly bears, I have yet to see one on the river. There has been the very odd incidence of grizzly bears passing through the Fraser Valley, but grizzlies are happier living back off the valley and into the mountains, far from humans.
Harbour seals are commonplace on the Fraser and are found as far upriver as Hell’s Gate, with a good population found in the lower river. Seals are in the river all year round, but they are seen more often from spring to fall. During the spring, seals will follow the eulachon (smelt) up the river, feeding heavily on the oil rich fish. Sturgeon also happen to love eulachon, as well as many other birds. On one occasion while fishing for sturgeon and using eulachon for bait I actually hooked a seal on my sturgeon gear! After a 150 yard run, I was really wondering what I had latched onto. While watching the line rise off in the distance, I was quite surprised to see a seal’s head surface, attached to my line. It had picked up my eulachon and was hooked on the edge of it’s lip. After winding the line in and with a few short tussles, I was able to free him – with only the 9/0 barbless hook left in his mouth which I’m sure would have deteriorated and fallen out in time. That was quite an experience but certainly not the only encounter we’ve had with seals. Curious by nature, seals will often swim very close to the boat, especially if you have a dog on board – they seem to be very curious about dogs.
Other wildlife commonly seen on our fishing journeys include coyotes, blacktail deer, the super busy otter, mink and beaver.
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.