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With over 40 tributaries feeding into its might, the Fraser River is as powerful in flow as it is seemingly endless in length. Flowing across 850 miles of British Columbia’s breathtaking topography, the river drains a basin nearly 85,000 square miles in size.
Its source is a Fraser Pass spring from which it subsequently courses through mountainous terrain before winding into the large plateau that bears its name. The river eventually moves into Fraser Canyon, a geological phenomenon dating back over 5 million years and accounting for several miles of the Fraser River’s run.
Ultimately, the Fraser River pours 125,000 cubic feet of water each second into the Strait of Georgia immediately northeast of Vancouver Island. A close look at a Fraser River map reveals the sheer extent of the river’s flow, of the vast landscape it traverses, and of the many tributaries it meets along the way.
So, how’s the fishing in Canada’s tenth-largest river? To put it mildly, Fraser River fishing is excellent.
Over three-dozen freshwater fish species inhabit the massive body of coursing water. These include various types of trout (bull, rainbow, brook), Northern squawfish, smelt, and the pea mouth chub. But the two species of fish most closely associated with the Fraser River are salmon and the white sturgeon, with the latter being notoriously abundant in this region. But let us first explore the river’s salmon population.
Species of Fish in the Fraser River
Every species of salmon extant in the Pacific can be found there. This includes Pink, Chum, Coho, Chinook, and the famous Sockeye. Fishery activity throughout the river and many of its tributaries keeps the salmon population bountiful in the extreme.
Estimates vary, but salmon numbers in the region hover reliably in the tens of millions. Which is to say, they are likely equal to or greater in number than the people of Canada (population 35 million). That’s a great many salmon, which makes Fraser River fishing in Vancouver an attractive prospect.
Though similar to one another, each subcategory of salmon is distinguishable from its cousins by a few telling characteristics.
- Pink salmon are identifiable by a hooked lower jaw and their smaller scales
- Chum are known for their calico markings and visible teeth
- The Coho can be recognized by its spotted back and its notably sharp teeth which protrude from a white gum line
- Chinook (or King) salmon are large with black gums and have sizable spots across their back
- Lastly, the Sockeye salmon is comparatively small, is toothless, and is largely devoid of spots. Sockeyes live up to their name in possessing especially large, glass-like eyes.
Now, to the White Sturgeon, North America’s largest freshwater fish, and a cornerstone species of the Fraser River fishing scene. Sturgeon are highly distinctive in appearance, with long, lean bodies that taper conspicuously into a very narrow head/mouth complex. They are toothless, comprised largely of cartilage, and lack the scales so often associated with freshwater fish. In place of a scale layer, White Sturgeon are shielded on their flanks by layers of scutes, which are essentially plates of thin bone.
At their largest, White Sturgeon can reach lengths of 20 feet and weights of over 1500 pounds. On average, however, White Sturgeon measure between 5 and 10 feet, while they their weight falls within the range of 70-500 pounds.
Fraser River fishing guides qualify White Sturgeon as big game, as the challenge associated with hauling in such sizable fresh water fish is nothing short of supreme. There is truly an element of adventure in play for the fisherman who visits the likes of Mission British Columbia in search of car-length fish.
Vancouver and Mission British Columbia Fishing Tips
Even the savviest of lifelong fishermen are keen on procuring tips and advice from local experts wherever they can find them. Visitors looking to fish, for instance, in Vancouver and Mission British Columbia would do well to keep these pointers in mind.
1. Proper Gear
With dozens of species of fish swimming about, it’s important to match your rod, reel, and supporting gear with the finned creature you’re looking to capture. Ensuring the strength of your line is commensurate with the task at hand is essential, particularly if you plan on wrestling with something heavier than yourself.
2. Know Where to Look
Fish behavior and movement patterns vary from one species to the next. Consult with a local guide to better understand where your choice of fish is likely to be found and what characteristics it is most likely to exhibit. With that knowledge in hand, your likelihood of success with measurably increase.
This one speaks for itself. Fish, whether Salmon, Sturgeon, or anything else you’ll find in the Fraser River, are drawn to good bait. More so than knowing what a fish eats, it is important to know what movements are likely to catch their eye. Your guide(s) will have plenty of insight as to what methods are best for a given fish species.