Summer Chinook River Fishing Tips

Summer Chinook River Fishing Tips

The Fraser Valley is home to a special returning run of summer Chinook, which are not found in most of B.C.’s southwestern streams.

This particular run of Chinook, otherwise known as “Spring” Salmon, are a red fleshed Chinook and are present from June to August. Make sure you check the freshwater fishing regulations to ensure the river you are fishing is indeed open to angling. Another run that enters as early as late August is the Fall Chinook run. These salmon are a white fleshed Chinook.

This summer run of Chinook generally averages a smaller size, ranging from 6-15lbs, although fish close to 30lbs do get caught. Even though they are on the smaller side, they are one of the hardest pulling fish around.

There are a lot of variants for the timing for summer Chinook, although there are certain guidelines and specifics one should follow in order to be successful.

This fishery can sometimes be compared to steelheading. Sometimes Chinook can be difficult fish to find and figure out but with time on the water and persistence, you can be an accomplished angler for these fish.


Opening day is usually spotty for fishing so approach the early season of this fishery with limited expectations. Without a doubt, there are definitely fish in the system, but not in huge numbers. One day can be the deciding factor for these fish. They may not be there one day, and the next day a bunch have pushed in. The run is quite small, yet they seem to show up in large numbers within a short period of time, making the fishing a bit easier.

Factors and Variants

  • Water levels
  • Water clarity / visibility
  • Timing
  • Proper holding / moving spots

Water Levels

There is not really a premium water height when fishing for springs. One can catch fish during very high water and low water. You just have to adjust to the proper spots. For the month of July, the rivers are usually running on a high to medium water level.

Water Clarity and Visibility

Prime water clarity for this fishery is 1.5ft of visibility or better.

Run Timing

The bulk of the run shows up between July to mid-August. Some fish continue to enter the river in late August and early September.

Proper Holding and Moving Spots

Each Salmon species have their own preferences for holding and moving water. Chinook are one of the strongest and largest of the 5 species, so try to picture where the biggest and meanest fish could be sitting.

Like any river fishing, you will want to assess and study the water you are about to fish. The thing with springs is that they could be laying or moving in any part of the run.

A good general standard to go by is a walking speed pace of water flow. When fishing a run, start at the head, and work your way to the tail out. Make sure to cover close to shore to the heavier chop or water flow.

Like steelhead fishing, you will want to fish everything, although you may want to make a few extra casts as these fish may not be as willing to bite right off the bat. Targeting deep cut off slots, big deep pools and long heavy to tailing flat runs are your best bet.

There is no rule of thumb for time of year, as you can find just as many fish upriver as you can down low at any given time in the year.

Fishing Methods and Gear

Float Fishing

Fishing a bait or artificial presentation suspended under a float is one of the most effective methods to use for this fishery. Heavier floats and weights are a must in order to get down to them.

Natural Baits

One of the top choices of bait is either Pautzke cured salmon roe or Pro-Cure roe in either red or pink. Dyed prawns or shrimp also work very well.

Artificial Presentations

Some of our favourite artificial presentations are jigs, colorado blades, trout beads, soft beads and yarn.


Spinner and Spoon Fishing – Casting and retrieving spinners and spoons can be an excellent way of targeting Chinook as the majority of anglers will be using roe, beads or yarn. The key is finding the right type of water. If you do decide to try this method, please be mindful of anyone float fishing around you as you can easily get tangled.

Spinners - Prime Lures Spinners and Blue Fox Vibrax Spinners in sizes #4-#6. 

Spoons - Gibbs Kit-A-Mat and Gibbs Koho's in size 55 and Prime Lures Oval Spoons in 5/8. 

Beads - BnR Tackle Soft Beads, Cleardrift Soft Beads in sizes 12mm to 20mm and Trout Beads in sizes 12mm-14mm. 

Floats - DNE, Cleardrift, Compleat Angler and Top Shelf all in 25-35gr depending on the type of water you are fishing.

Fly Fishing – Casting a fly can be a very effective way to fish for Chinook salmon in the right type of water.

Flies – Black/Blue Prom Dress, Blue/Chartreuse Pick Yer Pocket, (Black/Blue, Pink/Purple, Red/Orange) Popsicles.

Recommended Products for Summer Chinook Fishing

Men's Waders

Simms Men's Freestone Stocking Foot Waders
Simms Men's G3 Guide Stocking Foot Waders
Patagonia Men's Swiftcurrent Expedition Waders 

Women's Waders

Simms Women's Freestone Stocking Foot Waders

Wet Wading Socks

Simms Flyweight Wet Wading Socks
Simms Guide Wet Wading Socks

Men's Wading Boots

Simms Men's Flyweight Vibram Sole Wading Boots
Simms Men's Freestone Wading Boots Felt Sole
Simms Men's G3 Guide Wading Boots Felt Sole

Women's Wading Boots

Simms Women's Flyweight Wading Boots Felt Sole
Simms Women's Freestone Wading Boots Felt Sole

Fishing Vests, Sling Bags and Hip Packs

Diehard Creations River Fishing Vests
Simms Freestone Hip Pack
Simms Freestone Fishing Backpack
Simms Ambidextrous Sling Bag
Simms Freestone Tactical Hip Pack

Bait Casting Rods

Trophy Titan Bait Casting Rod
Trophy XL Bait Casting Rod
Shimano Clarus Bait Casting Rod

Centerpin Rods

Trophy Titan Centerpin Rod
Trophy XL Centerpin Rod

Bait Casting Reels

Abu Garcia Ambassadeur C3 Bait Casting Reel
Abu Garcia Ambassadeur S Bait Casting Reel
Daiwa Luna Bait Casting Reel

Centerpin Reels

Luhr Jensen Legacy Centerpin Reel
Islander Steelheader Centerpin Reel
Okuma Aventa Centerpin Reel
Okuma Raw II Centerpin


Gibbs Kit-A-Mat Spoons
Gibbs Koho Spoons
Prime Lures Spoons


Prime Lures Bell Spinners
Blue Fox Vibrax Spinners

Colorado Blades

Gibbs Colorado Spinners
Cleardrift Colorado Spinners


Uncle Fred's River Yarn
Atlas Mike's Glow Yarn

Hard Beads

Mottled Trout Beads
Original Trout Beads

Soft Beads and Egg Clusters

BnR Tackle Soft Beads
Cleardrift Soft Beads
Mad River Soft Beads
Cleardrift Egg Clusters


Gamakatsu Octopus Hooks
Owner Barbless No Escape Hooks
Owner SSW Hooks with Cutting Point
DNE Barbless Octopus Hooks

Leader Material

Seaguar Invizx Fluorocarbon
Seaguar Original Blue Label Fluorocarbon
Maxima Ultra Green Monofilament


Dr. Slick Barb Pliers
Dr. Slick Squall Pliers with Pouch
P-Line Aluminum Pliers with Side Cutter
Shimano Brutas Needle Nose Pliers

Fish Bags

Trophy XL Heavy Duty Clear Fish Bags

Pro-Cure and Pauztke Bait Cures

Pautzke Borx O' Fire Egg Cure
Pautzke Balls O' Fire Cure
Pro-Cure Bait Cure
Pro-Cure Borax Egg Bait Cure
Pro-Cure Fuze Egg Cure

Bait Scents

Pro-Cure Anise Bloody Tuna Super Bait Gel
Pro-Cure Anise Plus Bait Oil
Atlas Mike's Lunker Lotion

Lead Egg Sinker, Pencil Lead or Split Shot

Pencil Lead
Compleat Angler Split Shot
Compleat Angler Egg Sinkers

Leader Storage

Delta Tackle Leader Board
Mack's Pips Leader Dispenser


Angler Tackle Black Barrel Swivels


DNE Foam Floats
Top Shelf Floats
Compleat Angler Cork Floats

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us by email, by phone at 604-931-5044 or stop by Sea-Run Fly & Tackle at #110-1140 Austin Avenue in Coquitlam BC.

Good luck on the water.

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  • by Alex Sergeeff

    That is a very good presentation. Now what river should I try ?

  • by Len

    I appreciate all the informatin. Any suggestions about which rivers that are generally productive? Also, what size of hook would one use in flyfishing for these salmon?

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