WELTZ: Tyee a prized catch for West Coast anglers

Heavily sought chinook salmon can range in weight from 30 to 125 lb

The red springs or kings, depending on which side of the border you call home, are open in the Vedder River, while the Fraser is scheduled to open on July 27.

Whether you call them, the chinook salmon (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha) are a prized catch for many west coast anglers. The largest of these fish is often referred to as tyee, and range in weight from 30 to 126 lb.

These fish have been attracting the interest of trophy anglers and governments as far back as 1846, when Britain ceded the Oregon Territory over these same fish. As the story goes, the decision was made after Prime Minister Lord Aberdeen’s brother declared the region was not worth fighting over because the salmon would not take a fly. Twenty-six years later in 1872, Spencer Fullerton Baird hired Livingstone Stone to build the first recorded west coast salmon hatchery and raise chinook salmon to rebuild the decimated Atlantic salmon rivers of the eastern U.S.

Then in 1896, Sir Richard Musgrave wrote in the British sporting magazine “The Field” about catching tyee up to 70 lb, out of a dugout canoe in the wilds of British Columbia. The following year Musgrave began challenging adventurers from around the world to join him on tyee expeditions and all eyes focused on our coast.

Chinook salmon are one of our heritage fish and they are in the river now. Can you catch them by fly fishing? I’ve done it, and you can too. My personal best fly-caught tyee weighed in at 36 pounds and believe me that was enough. Now if you are looking for the record, you will have to beat Grant Martinsen, who set the current fly-caught world record with a 71.5 pound tyee from the lower Rogue River in 2002.

 

The Report

Fishing on our Lower Mainland lakes is good. Now that the heat is on, your best fishing will be found in the early morning and evenings.

For wet (sinking) fly fishing try: Bloodworm, Nations Black, Zulu, Wooly Bugger, Wooly Worm, Pumpkin Head, Micro Leach, Doc Spratley, Halfback, Sixpack or Baggy Shrimp. For dry (floating) fly action try: Lady McConnel, Tom Thumb, Irresistible, Double Hackled Peacock, Royal Coachman, Black Gnat, Griffith Gnat, or Elk Hair Caddis.

For kokanee try: Scarlet Ibis, San Juan Worm, Double Trude, Blood Worm, Kokanee Thriller, Kokanee Zonker, or Red Spratley.

Our Lower Mainland bass and panfish waters are fishing well. For bass try: Big Black, Wooly Bugger, Gomphus Bug, Crayfish, Clouser’s Deep Minnow, Lefty’s Deceiver,  Dolly Whacker, Bucktail, Hair Frog, Poppers, Chernobyl Ant, or Stimulator. For panfish try smaller (size 12 to 16) versions of the above.

Fishing on our interior lakes is good but will be tapering off soon. For your best success try fishing early mornings and evenings in the southwest sections of your favourite lake. For wet fly fishing try: Chironomid, Bloodworm, Halfback Nymph, Baggy Shrimp, Pumpkin Head, Wooly Bugger, Big Black, Dragon Nymph, Sixpack, 52 Buick, or Doc Spratley. For dry fly fishing try: Lady McConnel, Tom Thumb, Adams, Irresistible, Renegade, Black Gnat, or Elk Hair Caddis.