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Locations and Fly Lines for Pink Salmon

by Aaron Goodis

Now that the Pinks are showing up it’s time to look at the business end of things: locations and fly line selection. Around Vancouver we have two distinct pink salmon fisheries: one is beach fishing off local beach spots scattered along the North Vancouver coastline, stretching up through Howe Sound towards Squamish; the second is the Squamish River itself. Both can be very productive and both are very different. The beach fishing is saltwater and involves alot of hunting around followed by casting and stripping the fly, where as the Squamish is a freshwater river environment with less hunting and less long distance casting and the fly is swung across the current rather then repeatedly stripped in. These are two totally different fisheries and each demands a different approach and different method in order to be successful.

Lets look at the beach fishing first, most of the pink beach action will take place through the next month so it’s a good time to get out there and start hunting. A few well-known coastal haunts are worth giving a go. First, and closest to the city, is Kate’s Park and the mouth of the Seymour River in the entrance of Indian Arm; second, try along Ambleside Beach in North Vancouver, there are a number of roads that cut from Marine Drive that end in small parking lots with beach access. One in particular is Cypress Beach off Steerman Ave. The mouth of the Capilano River is also in this neighbourhood. Last, and probably the most popular spot, is Furry Creek in Howe Sound. All of these spots are saltwater and subject to tides, so rinse your gear well and be careful of the tides!

The most common question I am asked is which line is best and what rod should I use? For the beach, use a 9-foot 8-weight fly rod or a rod close to that in weight and length and use a weight-forward floating line to match. I would get a slow intermediate polyleader (light sink tip) to add to the end of the floating line if needed. My beach line of choice is a WF 8 F with slow sinking polyleader attached. These pinks will be fairly shallow so there is no need to fish deep. However, you will need to strip the fly back in at varied speeds in order to entice a strike.

Regarding the Squamish River, the most popular spot would be below the Mamquam River confluence, this spot is located on the Squamish River proper and named the Mamquam Bar. Typically this spot will fish well beginning in the third week of July through August. This is river fishing but luckily, due to the close proximity to salt, the fish remain very bright and chrome. For this fishery I typically will recommend the same rod as above—the 9-foot 8-weight rod—or even better would be a small Spey rod in the 11- or 12-foot length rated for a 7- or 8-weight line. The style of presentation here is a swing across the current with short slow strips. I usually use a short Skagit style shooting head with 10 feet of type 3 for a sinking tip. This allows the fly to get down a little but not so much that you accidentally snag fish. We want the fly above their face so they grab it with agitation. My line of choice for the Squamish is WF 8 F Skagit Head with 10 feet of type 3 sink-tip attached.

Now get out there and enjoy!

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Aaron Goodis Photography

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