Always wanted to learn how to fish? We want to help you get out there!

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I’m bringing you on an adventure #insearchofthesockeye where I’m following this year’s record breaking sockeye salmon run up our Fraser River. First I INTRODUCED you to this species and this year’s run, then I SHOWED YOU the best places to buy it and today I’m taking you onto the river to catch one of these wonderful fish. Forgive me for skipping forward with the photo below but I wanted to show you the prize first and then talk about how I got to it.

Fraser River sockeye
Fraser River sockeye

The journey to my first sockeye salmon (caught last week!) may be a little different than yours as I’ve been fishing for trout most of my life. My dad started me early and I’ve been finding that this is usually the case; people who fish a lot have usually been introduced to it by family members early on. For those of you who haven’t had that experience but are interested in fishing, Pacific Angler (who you may have noticed is sponsoring this series) has a range of courses to help you learn about fishing and how to fish. For beginners and seasoned vets, HERE is a list of all of them.

As a trout fisherman I’ve always used a small rod with a tiny reel; the fish I’m used to catching weigh less than a pound each. The sockeye are generally at least five times that size so Pacific Angler outfitted me with a larger Fenwick rod and an Abu Garcia Ambassadeur baitcasting reel. All-in this pro setup cost a little less than $400 and will survive decades of use. I’m looking forward to many more salmon fishing adventures with it.

rod-and-reel

They handed me a list of spots to hit up on the Fraser (you can pick up a printed copy of them in-store), and the proper tackle as well as some basic instructions and I was on my way. I landed at this spot between Chilliwack and Hope, right off the highway.

fraser-river-salmon-fishing

Unless you’ve got a boat that can make it up the river during these big salmon runs you’re going to see quite a few other fishermen at the best spots you can access. This is what it looked like during most of the five trips I took out to catch my first sockeye.

freasr-river-fishermen

It took a few trips for me to get used to the style of fishing used to catch sockeye on the river (which is different than the method they use when fishing for the same salmon on the ocean), and on my fifth trip I landed a female fish which I gutted and brought home to the BBQ. I used to struggle with the idea of catching a fish that’s on its way to reproduce but when the runs are as crazy big as they are right now my fish isn’t even a dent, plus if I’m catching (and keeping) a salmon at any point in its life cycle it won’t live to reproduce. In addition, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans monitors the amount of fish going up the river and sets catch limits for us fishermen that will ensure a sustainable amount of them will make it to the spawning grounds. Right now the limit is two per person per day on the river or four if you’re catching them in the ocean. I caught one on my fifth visit to the river and another on my sixth and I plan to go back at least a couple more times to catch more before I take you up to their spawning grounds on a road trip. I can’t wait.

My first sockeye caught on the Fraser. The image at the top was my second!
My first sockeye caught on the Fraser. The image at the top was my second!

If you’re not interested in getting all the gear and learning but simply want to get out on a boat and have somebody else do most of the work (except for reeling the fish in!) they also have a charter company where they bring people out fishing. It’s more costly than hitting the river (a five hour charter starts at $500) but you’re basically guaranteed to catch a sockeye or four, and as I said they pretty much line em up and you reel em in. HERE is the info and pricing for those trips.

pacificangler2 This series is sponsored by Pacific Angler, Vancouver’s store for the fishing enthusiast. If you’re looking for a specific fishing item or planning your next (or first!) fishing trip, their knowledgeable and friendly staff can provide you with the information you need. They also offer a comprehensive and broad range of seminars, courses and fully guided trips for anglers new and old. Visit them at 78 E Broadway and pacificangler.ca