question the Vedder-Chilliwack is the most popular river on the
lower mainland. It provides year-round recreation for hikers, kayakers
and anglers. There are very few months that anglers can't fish for
something. Winter steelhead start entering the Vedder in late November
and continue to do so until May. In June, summer run Chinook salmon
start their migration up this stream. Most Chinook are "white springs"
and were introduced to the Vedder from stock taken from the Harrison.
Overlapping these runs
are very late running steelhead and very early running Chinook.
In late September, coho salmon start running up the Vedder along
with fall run Chinook. The coho fishing continues to get better
until it peaks in late October. It's still possible to get a bright
coho in early December, just when the steelheading is about to start.
All the runs have been hatchery enhanced and its legally possible
to keep hatchery fish. Besides salmon there are rainbow and cutthroat
trout, Dolly Varden char and rocky mountain whitefish. Whitefish
are under-utilized and provide great sport on light tackle.
Vedder-Chilliwack is not two separate streams like its name suggests,
but simply a name change partway up the river. A bridge crosses
the river where it leaves the mountain valley and flows onto the
Fraser Valley flood plain. Below the bridge the river is called
the Vedder; above the bridge it is known as the Chilliwack. Anglers
usually refer to the whole fishing section simply as the Vedder.
Above the Slesse Creek tributary the river is closed to fishing,
and anglers refer to this section as the Chilliwack. No matter what
you call it the river is wonderful.
Vedder is one of the top producing steelhead rivers in British Columbia.
It is always crowded when fishing is good. Tempers often fray when
too many people try to fish the same pools and don't follow procedure.
When it's crowded it is necessary to time casts in sequence with
other anglers. Fly casting and float fishing don't mix well because
of different styles. When it is crowded, anglers aren't popular
when they allow their float to drift way downstream and hang there.
is 36 km of fishable water below Slesse Creek, the upper fishing
boundary. The lower river has been dyked and channeled, and there
is a dyke trail from Vedder Crossing to the highway. It's popular
with joggers, mountain bikers and anglers. Steelhead and salmon
zip through shallow canal section quickly. They start to slow down
in the pools near the end of Wilson and Lickman Roads. There is
a parking lot at the end of Lickman Road. In this section the Vedder
starts acting more like a river and less like a canal or ditch.
The river is a series of gravel runs with deep water along the dyke
bank. Steelhead and salmon hold tight to the bank in pockets created
by large rock.
Vedder Crossing the river is a series of fast water runs and pools.
There are many boulders and rapids, but no serious falls. A paved
road follows the entire fishing portion of the river. It is 10.5
km between Vedder Crossing and Tamahi bridge, the only crossing
upstream. It is another 10 km to the fishing boundary.
Vedder is a popular stream with river kayakers and rafters, and
there is even a competition course set just above Tamahi Bridge.
Sometimes there is confrontation between boaters and anglers, but
a little common sense should calm tempers. Kayakers shouldn't play
in pools where anglers are fishing and fishermen shouldn't complain
when kayakers slide quickly by.
Vedder has a long history of angling and many of its pools are named.
Tesky's Rock, at Vedder Crossing, was named after a local angler
who fished it every morning in steelhead season. The Camp Run, just
below Vedder Crossing had a history of producing a large steelhead
right at closing time during the famous Boxing Day derby. The Grenade
Run was named after the Army's testing area. Millers, Way's Field,
the Schoolhouse Run, the Dunbar Run, and the Boulder Hole are all
favorite holding areas above Vedder Crossing. A bridge crosses the
river just above Tamahi Creek, and a gravel road follows the far
side of the river downstream for 5 km from the bridge. There is
a forestry campsite near Tamahi and many access trails to the river
off the gravel road. From the paved road side, much of the property
is private and there are only a few access points. Above Tamahi,
the Allison canyon pools are popular for picnics and fishing. They
are great pools to catch whitefish in the winter. Above the Allison
pools are a series of small bouldery pools and runs. At km 16 above
Vedder Crossing there is the Correction's Branch Camp where access
is denied for one km. At km 17.3 the Forestry has provided another
free camp area at Thurston Meadows. It's very popular in the summer
and the pool in front of camp is great holding water. But, the pool
only has room for three anglers. At 19 km is a small parking area
near the Borden Creek re-habilitation area. It is the trail head
to the wonderful Ranger Run. The big Ranger Run is located just
above a long series of rapids and all salmonids stop here before
heading upstream. A short distance above the Ranger Run is the Slesse
Creek boundary pool, which is the last stop for anglers. All these
famous steelhead pools bring back memories to hundreds of Fraser
periods of very low water, salmonids don't like entering the shallow
Vedder Canal. There is very little protection and few holding sections
for quite a distance. Salmon and steelhead mill around in the Fraser
River and mouth of the Vedder Canal. They move in and out of the
canal at night. Anglers can access these fish by driving to the
end of the road on the downstream side of the Hwy #1, then hiking
downstream to the junction pool near Grassy Island. An alternative
is to run a boat down from Island 22 campsite.
the crowding it is still possible to find water to yourself. Fish
are constantly on the move and they hold in some tiny, bouldery
pockets that only experienced anglers recognize. Even when fishing
a crowded pool, a few fishermen seem to have all the luck. They
are the ones who experiment with technique and a variety of lures
or flies. In my early days with the Kingfisher Club I remember a
few of the fellows who always seemed to catch a steelhead on the
Vedder no matter what the conditions. It is no different today and
there are MORE steelhead and MORE salmon than there ever was in
the GOOD OLD DAYS. If I was stuck with limited time to fish the
Vedder I would check at a local tackle shop for ideal conditions.
Then I would pick a time in January for steelhead, July for Chinook
and mid-October for coho. I would feel quite confident of success.
Copyright Ian Forbes