The Vedder River, near Chilliwack, BC, must be one of the most productive rivers, located near a large urban center, in the world. At different times of the year, all five species of native West Coast salmon spawn in this magnificent river! As well, starting in December and continuing for the winter months, steelhead inhabit the river system. In October and November, you will find good quantities of spring, cohoe and chum salmon in the river. This past October, I journeyed from my Kelowna home, having made reservations at the Vedder River Campground, for a few days of fishing just prior to our Thanksgiving weekend. Among the regular fisherman, I was surprised to see almost two dozen people all the way from Italy, here to enjoy the salmon fishing. In fact when I arrived, I was immediately helped by a gentleman in the next RV spot to guide my trailer safely into my camping place. When I offered my thanks, I found out that he could not speak English, yet we did find a way to communicate rather well in what you might say was an international fisherman's language! He and his group had heard of the great Vedder fishing and had recently traveled all the way from Italy to test the river's numerous salmon.
I mention this because the first two evenings I fished the Browne Road pool where the Italian group also fished, being an easy walk downstream from their campground. When I arrived, they had already assembled in a long line at the head of the pool, casting their drift outfits into the fast water at the far bank. And catch fish they did, both large springs and some cohoe, with much laughter among the group as a lucky angler with a fish on ran downstream trying to hold the salmon in the swift water. Most often the fish was lost but they did beach a few, releasing the springs and wild cohoe but retaining an occasional hatchery cohoe. I chose to fish just below the group, knowing that this stretch of water also held fish. I had taken both my drift rod and fly rod so I opted to fly fish just to see if I could hook a salmon to show the vistors that fly fishing could also work in this river! I was about to give up and switch to a drift float when I had a solid hit on my polar bear fly. The salmon felt heavy but did not jump so I suspected that it may have been a chum salmon. As the fish made a couple of strong runs, the fishermen downstream stopped fishing to watch the action. "Chum," I said to the onlookers, as I slowly worked the large fish nearer to the shore. Sure enough, I saw that it was a male chum salmon of about fifteen pounds that I carefully released with a pair of pliers, not wanting to get near its sharp teeth even though I was using a barbless fly. The fly that caught this salmon will be the subject of this month's fly tying article and for the want of a better name, we will call it the Vedder Chum fly!
Attach short lengths of both the red uni-mylar and thin silver wire to the hook shank. Wind the uni-mylar starting part way down the hook bend to the hook eye followed by the silver wire in tight evenly spaced wraps to form the rib. Next, mix a few strands of light green krystal flash into a clump of orange polar bear hair and tie in at the hook eye so that it flows back over the shank to form a wing. Overlay this with a smaller clump of white polar bear hair. I usually finish the wing with a couple of strands of krystal flash over the white layer of hair. The final step is to make an eye on both sides of the head with black dimensional fabric paint. You can also use a larger dab of orange or yellow paint on both sides of the head and then make a black pupil for a more realistic eye. Tie off, cement and you have finished the Vedder River Chum Salmon fly!
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