With the rushing waters of the Capilano, the wharf at Cate’s Park and the tranquil quiet of Rice Lake, the North Shore is an angler’s dream. As a quiet, close to home summer sits on the horizon, fishing might be something new to get the family outside.
“You can spend as much as $1000 or as little as $50,” said Reece Fowler, education director of the Seymour Salmonid Society. “You can probably spend a lot less than $50 if you head to Canadian Tire or Walmart. You just need a rod kit with a spinning reel.”
Provincial fishing regulations allow children under the age of 16 to fish without a licence, but there are handful of rules to learn and becoming familiar with fishing closures (like the Seymour River) is part of fishing responsibly. Plus, there are additional licencing and regulations for saltwater and tidal fishing.
But really it’s just a kid willing to try, a rod and some bait, says Fowler. While worms are a classic, he has other suggestions to get fish biting.
“Power Bait is kind of like Play-Doh and comes in a little jar, smells like fish obviously,” he said. “You form a little ball on your hook, and cast it out. A sinker will sit on the lake bed but the bait floats up.”
It is a good option especially in the summer when the trout are deeper in the water.
Lynn Valley’s Rice Lake is one of the go to locations for new anglers in the Lower Mainland. The man-made lake is an ideal location for stocked trout. With just a short walk in from the parking lot little legs will still have some energy to fish.
“Originally Rice Lake was first made as a water reservoir and then used by the logging industry to help move logs down from Lynn Valley,” said Fowler. “It’s quite a nice environment for trout – there are no water activities, you can’t swim, you can’t go boating. The forest is nearby so there is a fair amount of food for the trout.”
Several times a year Rice Lake is stocked by the Freshwater Fisheries Society of B.C. – information worth checking out. Most recently it was stocked with 4,000 trout in the first week of April.
“It is stocked three or four times a year,” said Fowler. “You have the best chance to catch a fish within a week or two of a release because there are a lot of people who fish there, it gets fished out.”
Between the stocking and the location Rice Lake is a good bet for a first fishing experience.
“You can park at the top and it’s a five minute walk in. There is a dock there as well as a number of other spots along the lake that have been cleared and created.”
Being a small lake, Fowler offered this tip.
“Rice Lake is not as great in the peak of summer because it is not a huge lake, and it can get warm. The fish can be reluctant to bite. When you are fishing Rice Lake the key is to not go in the middle of the day in the middle of summer.”
Fishing can be a great way to share something you love or to learn something new with your kids. Typically the Seymour Salmonid Society teams up with partners to mark Family Fishing Weekend every Father’s Day. This year’s plans have been cancelled due to the pandemic but the annual event hopes to be back in the future with its equipment to borrow and info booths to get people out fishing.
In the meantime, a little parental enthusiasm and family time can be a great introduction to the sport.
“I love fishing and I have been dragging my daughter out since she was about four and now she loves it,” said Fowler.
They visit Rice lake together often, plus his work gives Fowler and his seven-year-old daughter some unique opportunities to fish. While the Seymour River is currently closed to sport fishing, having suffered significant habitat upset after the 2014 rock slide, efforts to rebuild the fish population require catching fish for breeding at the Seymour Hatchery.
“She has caught salmon every year for the past couple of years,” said Fowler. “When you’re having to hold on to a six-year-old kid so they don’t get pulled in the river by a big salmon it creates a bit of buzz.”
There are a number of other spots worth checking out in the Lower Mainland. Fowler recommends Murrin Provincial Park with its sandy beach and small stocked lake, Buntzen Lake and Burnaby Lake. (Review each location’s governing body for openings and closures due to Covid-19 before your trip.)
North Vancouver also has a number of rivers known for fishing but Fowler doesn’t recommend them for children or new anglers.
“Flowing water depends on experience. How old are the kids? Have they been introduced to rivers in the past? Most of our rivers are canyonated with steep sides,” he said. “They can be tough to get into if you aren’t experienced.”
During salmon fishing openings the mouth of a Seymour is an option, said Fowler with more of an estuary-like environment. It will also require a salt water licence and knowledge of tidal fishing regulations, he said.