STURGEON FISHING NEAR VANCOUVER
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW…
Hard to no be impressed by photos of people cradling big sturgeon in the 5-8 foot range. Sturgeon fishing isn’t for everyone but it is a pretty cool BC fishing trip that offer excellent consistency throughout the year granted you feel like traveling a little ways from Vancouver. White sturgeon are the biggest freshwater game fish in North America and the Fraser River, BC’s main drainage, has a very healthy population of them. Looking at a map, the Fraser River is about 1500 kilometres long, spanning from northeastern BC and emptying into the Pacific Ocean at Vancouver, so it’s a big stretch of river. For sake of this article we’ll talk about the lower Fraser, the area around the towns of Chilliwack & Mission, about 90 minutes east of Vancouver, and the upper Fraser, the stretch of river between Lytton and Hope, about 2 hours east of Vancouver.
About 99% of the sturgeon charter companies operate on the lower Fraser, most of them based out of Chilliwack, BC, a rural farm town, located east of Vancouver, in the Fraser Valley. Getting to Chilliwack is relatively easy, but you will need your own transportation, it is not included in sturgeon trips. From Vancouver you’ll drive Highway 1 east to Chilliwack, where the sturgeon trips originate. This is a major highway and signage is well marked. The lower Fraser offers really good sturgeon fishing nearly all year long, with peak periods being from mid March to early November. There is also the Harrison River, a tributary of the Fraser that many guides will utilize for sturgeon fishing. Some sturgeon guides won’t fish during the winter months, giving fish a chance to rest, while others do offer trips in the winter months. Keep in mind that by late Fall the sturgeon fishing tends to slow down a bit with the masses of returning salmon in the Fraser the sturgeon tend to get fed up and fishing can slow or turn off. Winter months can be okay, usually cold and wet, but with little fishing pressure if you can find fish they have a good tendency to bite. Spring, Summer and early Fall is when sturgeon is at its peak on the lower Fraser River. The fishing is very consistent this time of year and multiple fish days are definitely the norm, its rare not to have consistent fishing throughout the day, granted you’re fishing with the right guides.
The other 1% of BC’s sturgeon guides are operating on what we call the upper Fraser. This isn’t really the upper, as might be described closer to the headwaters, but its upstream of where most guides are fishing so we call it the upper. This is a section of river that carves its way through the Fraser Canyon. These trips are usually a bit more expensive than the lower Fraser River sturgeon trips and do involve a bit more travel. The expense and travel can be well worth it though. Big fish are common in this part of the Fraser, with the average size being 6 feet plus. The scenery is much different as well, the lower Fraser winds itself through flatter fields and farmland while the upper Fraser cuts its way through steep cliffs and rugged terrain. There is also virtually no one else fishing the upper Fraser, it is rare to see other guide boats while fishing here which is kind of neat. If it’s your first sturgeon fishing trip stick with the lower, but if you’re looking for a new experience then venturing into the upper might be for you.
When shopping around for a sturgeon fishing trip on the Fraser River there’s a few things you want to make sure of. If you want a good trip stay away from the Groupon guys, the Craigslist adverts and the companies doing deals that seem too good. Those trips suck, you’ll fish on a budget boat with budget gear and with a guide who probably doesn’t give much of a sh!t about how the day goes as he’s bargain basemented himself. Spending the extra $100-$150 for a professional trip is well worth it. We get lots of guys who went the budget route and who are now looking for the real experience. Because there are so many sturgeon guides on the Fraser there will always be those discount guys, but if you want to fish with best guides, who run first-class operations expect to pay between $700-$900 for your group for a full-day of guided fishing. It’s also not a bad idea to ask where the trips originate from, most trips will originate in Chilliwack. Keep in mind few of the sturgeon trips include lunch or drinks, but you can bring your own and most guides are cool with beers on board.