Seasonal River Fishing Overview: Late Fall & Early Winter

Seasonal River Fishing Overview: Late Fall & Early Winter

Leaves are on the ground, mountains are snow-capped, Bald Eagles are perched in their trees, and Pacific Salmon are still making their yearly migration up our local stream systems. November is a fantastic month for so many things “fishing.” We are very fortunate in British Columbia to have not only have some incredibly scenic views, but some special fisheries year round, and this time of the season is a reflecting period of the opportunities we had in the Fall, and the immense fishing opportunities we have in the very near future.

Chum & Coho Salmon Fishing Opportunities

Towards the end of November, some things begin to change drastically. By this time, Salmon runs will be slowing down for the most part as fish inch closer and closer to their spawning rituals, but this is not the end for Salmon, and not the end of your fishing season. Some opportunities that still lay on the table include Salmon and Trout fisheries.

Current opportunities that are available start of the ongoing Chum Salmon and Coho Salmon fisheries which are still abundant in good numbers. While things will be coming to close in the near future, it is still worth it to get out there are wet a line for Salmon. Picking your river systems this time of the year are critical as you will obviously want to invest your time on systems that host later returning runs of these two species. Historically, and generally speaking overall, Northern Fraser tributaries are better bets for later returning Coho and Chum. See our Fly Fishing for Coho in Freshwater blog post and Gear Fishing for Coho in Freshwater blog post. The Harrison River and its tributaries are often a good place to focus your efforts on for the Northern side of things. On the other hand, the Vedder-Chilliwack System hosts a fantastic return of Chum Salmon that pushes well into December, and some of these fish can be the absolute nicest looking fish of the season. Not to mention, the Vedder-Chilliwack River is expecting one of its largest Chum returns in history, and that seems to be true with recent reports of the amount of fish around. For more information read our Chum salmon fishing blog post.


Winter Trout & Char Fishing

One fishery that is often over looked in the late Fall and early Winter months is the abundant trout/char fishery. The local river systems are a playground this time of the year for these fish as resident and sea-run fish move in to gorge on Salmon eggs. Fishing egg patterns such as Troutbeads and Glo Bugs under indicators or floats is the best way to present the most realistic looking egg as possible. These fish can be found in a good majority of river systems in the general area. For more information check out our Trout Beading for Trout and Char blog post and Winter Cutthroat Fishing 101 blog post and Winter Bull Trout Fishing blog post.

Winter Steelhead Fishing

Let’s not forget that one of our favourite fish of the year are literally right around the corner – Winter Steelhead. With cooler weather, and snow on the mountains, there is no doubt that the smell of Winter Steelhead is in the air. See our Winter Steelhead Fishing Etiquette blog post. By December, you can most certainly bet that systems such as the Vedder-Chilliwack for example and other systems will have the first pushes of Steelhead. While generally not into huge numbers at this point of the year, mid-December has produced some fair numbers of fish in the recent past. Fishing earlier in the season can give you the upper hand a bit later in the season as you learn any new changes in a river system on different water heights, and you may even luck out with a fresh Steelhead on the end of your line as well.


Earlier Winter Runs tend be some of the most aggressive fish of the entire season, and are very responsive to a variety of presentations and methods. Whether you would like to float fish, cast lures, or fly fish, you have good shots at these earlier fish. Numbers will significantly increase as the days pass into the end of December, and they will continue to grow as we get into the New Year. Check out our Gear Fishing for Early Season Steelhead and Fly Fishing for Early Season Steelhead blog posts.

Be sure to check the fishing regulations before venturing out:


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