Fishing British Columbia - part I

Updated: Jun 13

Fly-fishing the rivers of Squamish and Pemberton


steelhead taken (and released) in the Squamish River

Some of my favorite fishing has been in beautiful British Columbia (BC). I am a huge fan of BC and particularly Vancouver, which has big sky, green mountains and awesome seascapes. It also has terrific fishing for trout and salmon and I have been fortunate to make regular visits over the last twenty years to indulge my passion for fishing both species.


I often use Whistler as my base as it is a short drive to both Squamish and Pemberton, which have some marvelous rivers to fly-fish for various salmon and trout species. I always book a few days with Valley Fishing Guides - the owner and head guide, Clint Goyette, has always put me on fish and treated me to my most memorable fishing experiences anywhere in North America.


Squamish River fly-fishing


The go-to water when I am fishing with Clint is usually the Squamish River, which is mid-way between Vancouver and Whistler and a fantastic fishery. What is amazing about this river is that you do not have to go far from the downtown area of Squamish to find good water to fish. The stretch of water along Government Road has some good spots for wading, and is an especially productive water during the pink salmon run which occurs every two years, usually in August and September.


Squamish river pink salmon

Driving several miles upstream of Squamish along Squamish Valley Road provides for some very wild and scenic fishing. There are sections of the Squamish River along the gravel portion of this road where the fishing pressure is minimal and the nymph fishing for trout amazingly productive. My best days here with Clint of Valley Fishing Guides have involved tight line nymphing in riffles and pockets.


Cheakamus River fly-fishing


Another interesting water north of Squamish is the Cheakamus near to Cheekye which is paralleled by Paradise Valley Road. Along the paved portion of this road there are some choice spots to enter the river, but much of it is posted as private. To find water that is more accessible for public fishing, it is best to follow on to the gravel portion (very slowly, as the posted signs request) until the road ends. Find a lay-by that is not a local’s driveway and follow the trail until it begins to parallel the Cheakamus. The preferred approach here is also tight line nymphing of riffles and the seams along deep sections.


reeling in a catch on the Cheakamus River

Birkenhead River fly-fishing


If your preference is the Pemberton area, which is a short drive to the north of Whistler, the Birkenhead River offers some excellent opportunities to fly-fish for various salmon and trout species, as well as whitefish. Getting there is easy following the Sea to Sky Highway until Mt. Currie then bear to the left on the Pemberton Portage Road through Owl Creek to an area referred to as Creekside. There are several laybys on the left-hand side of the road to park and cross the railroad tracks through to the river.


a Birkenhead rainbow

Be sure to check in with fly shops in Pemberton or Vancouver regarding river conditions and effective fly patterns. Tim at Michael & Young in Vancouver was very helpful in providing guidance as were the guys at Spud Valley in Pemberton.


I am not being compensated by my mention of Valley Fishing Guides or the fly shops. I am simply a happy client.

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