actually....last weekend had fresh coho and fresh buck move in near the bottom of the river. A fellow managed to land these freshies making me jealous, we were warned about the tide coming up so....thats probably the cue why a bunch of fresh fish was coming in. You can probably tell you have a fresh one on ur line when the strike is very hard instead of a nibble.
I have always fished the tides for Coho and been fairly successful in the Fraser. I am not sure how it translates to the other rivers but it stands to reason if the fish are entering the Fraser on the incoming they will find their way to the other rivers.
Ryanb make a lot of sense, if I’m not mistaken the tide makes couple minutes between Fraser mouth and Stave. Maybe someone can prove me wrong, but the tide doesn’t travel as a wall of water (in which case might take hours), but more like wave, each drop of water will take the place of the one next by and so on. This is how you explain the 3-4 minutes difference between high tides in Vancouver and let’s say Squamish. And if my thoughts are correct then is no way the fish can ride the tide. Hmmm ?!
I believe it takes about 3 days for salmon to make it up the Fraser from the mouth to the Stave. (years ago that used to be about how long you had to wait for fish after the gill netters had taken everything downstream) The incoming tide delay from Point Atkinson to the Stave is about 3 hours. Like first light, the incoming tide change seems to wake them up and they're ready to move or hit.
The way the tide works in a river such as the Fraser is as follows:
- as the tide rises in the ocean, it exerts pressure against the flow of the Fraser at Steveston.
- although high tides have awesome power, the bulk of the infusion of actual saltwater into the Fraser goes not much further than Steveston or the Deas Island Tunnel although there is some minor salinity as far upstream as New West.
- as the high tide pushes against the Fraser's current at the mouth, it creates enough backpressure that further upstream, the water starts to slow due to this backpressure. More water continues to flow downstream from further up the Fraser and it has only one place to go....sideways. Thats when tributary streams start to rise.
- the timing of the high tide (from the base observation at Point Atkinson) is variable and most dependent on the discharge flow of the Fraser but generally speaking your looking at about 2.5 hours to the Stave and 3 to the mouth of the Sumas. So for instance if high tide is 1:00PM at Point Atkinson, high water at the Stave will be about 3:30PM and about 4:00PM at the Sumas. This is of course the timing of the actual high water mark but the water will start to rise 1.5 to 2 hours before the stated times.
- generally speaking it takes almost twice as long to reach low water with low water at the Sumas about 6 hours after low water at Point Atkinson and about 5.5 hours at the Stave.
The current of the Fraser (downstream of Hope anyways) has absolutely no effect on fish migration. Fish will migrate up at any stage of the tide and do. The current just isn't strong enough to be much of a bother. You do find fish often holding at the mouth of clear streams but that is more a function of clearing gills from the siltiness of the river rather than actual resting.
High tides can often be beneficial to fish in tributary streams because depending on the level of the water in the trib, fish will often hold in the Fraser waiting for more water. However if there is sufficient water in the trib (3 or so feet plus), the state of the tide becomes a negligible factor as fish will move into the stream at any time.
Thanks for all the thoughts/clarification on the tidal effects on fish migration...quite interesting stuff. To be honest I'm having a hard time convincing myself that the Fraser current downstream of Hope has no effect on fish migration based on some of my own personal experiences, particularly with fly fishing for pinks in the Delta/Richmond area on the incoming tide. Maybe they were moving all the time and it was the incoming tide that attracted the fisher, not the fish!
I fish the tidal Fraser (Fort Langley) a fair amount during Coho, I definately notice a difference in the fish movement on the incoming tide, to the point, where I wont even bother fishing unless its high tide, (an hr before to an hr after high tide) the fish dont seem to be moving by or as plentiful.
I don't discount the observations of TakeMyFlyPlease and bcguy since we all have our own personal experiences and they both make very valid points. What I was trying to say (and probably not that eloquently) is that, in my experience, the tidal situation on the Fraser has no effect on the MIGRATION of fish up the Fraser. The current, downstream of Hope, is just not strong enough to affect migration, even at low water. I know this for a fact because in the early 70's I commercially gillnetted for a few summers on the river and the only effect the state of the tide had (i.e. the strength of the current) was in the lay of the net and the duration of the set. It didn't affect at all the quantity of fish caught.
Now I don't disagree that people observe more fish MOVEMENT at certain stages of the tide, mainly at slack water periods, either high or low. That is seen most notably in the ocean. In the ocean, slack water is linked to movement of feed and this is what attracts predator fish such as salmon. The greater the effect of the tidal flow, the more pronounced the feeding activity at slack water. Why salmon react to the same conditions in freshwater I'm not sure other to say that instinct is what drives fish and its very possible, that even in rivers, slack water periods cause instinct to take over. Although obviously not feeding, the fish might slow down their upstream migration and be instinctively cruising around look for a meal and thats why it appears the fish suddenly 'showed up' (even though they were probably passing that same spot throughout the day but unseen). But I suppose we really need one of those smart scientist fellows to tell us for sure.
I don't think anyone really understands what drives or influences fish behavior. I know we've all seen and experienced it but how many times, whether fishing in the ocean, lake or river, you have a period of time where the fish suddenly start biting, then just as suddenly the bites off, only to return unexpectedly in an one or two or three? If you ever figure it out, write a book. I'll buy a copy.
One thing is for certain though and that is, there is no possible way fish can swim from Sandheads to Fort Langley or further on a single tide. From the mouth to even the Port Mann we are talking about 1.5 hours of flood tide and from the mouth to the Sumas about 3 hours. No salmon can sustain that kind of speed for such a long distance.
Many people fish the tides on the Vedder from KW down, this is especially true in the area from the Sumas confluence down (log dump area), tides have a huge effect on fish movement in this extreme lower portion of the river.
I have noticed tidal effects on the Harrison from around the railway bridge down and I am sure the tidal effects would be huge on the Stave although I rarely fished it.
Your absolutely right Pat. On systems like the Sumas, Stave or Nicomen, high tides can have a dramatic effect on fish movement. How dramatic depends on the level of the flow at low water. If very low (lets say 3 or so feet deep..or less), you will get fish holding at the mouth waiting for higher water. Some fish will still go through, particularly at night or if there isn't much boat traffic but most will hold waiting for higher water. Those that do move through at lower water are often found scooting along the shoreline in the deepest water they can find (did I let out a fishing secret?). I've found though, if the low water depth is greater than 3 feet, you will have fish moving through at any stage of the tide.
On the subject of fish travelling close to shore, I recall seeing a cartoon in a Charlie White fishing book that showed a boat angler trying to troll as close to the shore as he could and a bank caster trying to cast out as far as he could. Watching people on the Sumas casting from boats, 90%+ are casting towards the middle of the river. Just a hint..in low water conditions, cast toward the shore instead. Your catch rates will go up. The deepest water on the Sumas in virtually every stretch is right along the shoreline.
My thought was thought that the fresh fish would smim up and bump the resting fish out of thier resting spots who would then smim up and bump the next group of resting fish.
Kinda like dominoes.
There will always be the fish that will join or pass the resting fish but basically the rested fish are resting in the prime resting spots and there`s only so much space.
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