When it comes to sports fishing, Surrey isn’t typically the first place that springs to mind.
Most people head to interior lakes for a chance to catch a rainbow trout. If they’re fishing for salmon, they often look east to the Stave, Chehalis, Harrison or Chilliwack rivers. Or the Fraser, of course, maybe chucking a line in at Derby Reach or one of the popular sand bars east of Mission.
It’s no secret the Fraser is one of the most productive salmon rivers in the world. The wise angler realizes that before the fish reach those other popular Fraser Valley rivers to spawn, they must first pass by Surrey and North Delta, which together have almost 30 kilometres of Fraser River shoreline.
There are some pullouts along River Road which are popular, particularly when the pink salmon are running, which is every second year (sadly, not this year. They’re plentiful, and great fun to catch).
But pink salmon or no, Surrey has a couple good locations from which to fish for pretty much all species of salmon, cutthroat trout, Dolly Vardens and the mighty sturgeon.
Like all tidal and freshwater fishing locations in B.C., these are subject to seasonal closures, species closures and other restrictions and a smart angler – one who doesn’t want to get hit with a fine, anyway – regularly consults the provincial government fishing synopses and the DFO (Department of Fisheries and Oceans) website to stay abreast of the regulations. Remember, it’s barbless hooks for all salmon fishing in B.C.
The best known is the Brownsville Bar, also known as Whalley Beach, at the end of Old Yale Road. It’s a nice sandy bar, roughly 300 metres long, nestled between the SkyTrain Bridge and Pattullo Bridge, with ample space to chuck a spoon or still fish, while watching the working river.
Some bring a folding chair and thermos of coffee. And the thing is, people actually catch fish there. Some fellows have sworn by it for decades.
To get there, follow Old Yale Road toward the bridges, and the rest is self-evident. Another good place to fish from along Surrey’s Fraser shoreline is the Surrey Public Wharf a ways upstream, at the north end of 130th Street (11731 130th St.). It gets you far enough out to reach the fish and there’s parking available at this recently renovated dock.
For both these locations, you’ll need a tidal water licence, as elsewhere on the Fraser upstream to Mission’s CPR railway bridge.
So that’s the Fraser, your best bet for a fishing thrill in Surrey, but certainly not your only one. Surrey has about 1,400 kilometres of streams containing five species of salmon and trout. Most are small creeks that should be left alone, as local hatcheries work hard to bring them back to their former glory.
As for lakes and ponds, Latimer Lake (Stokes Pit Park) in South Surrey was once a popular spot to fish for rainbow trout, but it has dried up into smaller weed-choked pools and is not much use for fishing any more. It’s not even listed in the freshwater fishing synopsis.
The big attraction for trout fishing in Surrey is Green Timbers Lake, stocked twice a year with rainbow trout. It’s easily accessed, open year round, has a wooden fishing platform and is a great place for a beginner to learn how to cast.
The lake also contains some brood fish, large rainbows that were used for breeding and introduced to give a lucky angler a special thrill. Some years ago, a young boy landed a 12-pounder there.
The “keep” limit at this lake, accessed by the park entrance in the 14600-block of 100th Avenue, is two fish daily.
Anglers also like to wet a line at Surrey’s three other iconic rivers, the Nicomekl and Serpentine, which flow into Mud Bay, and the Little Campbell River, flowing into Semiahmoo Bay.
These three rivers can be productive for cutthroat trout, coho, spring salmon (Chinook) and even steelhead, depending on the time of year, but be aware of the somewhat complex regulations governing these three rivers. Their tidal boundaries are the Burlington Northern Railway bridges and federal tidal regulations apply below them.
For the waters above, again, click here to consult the provincial fishing synopses.
Tom Zytaruk is a staff writer with the Now. Email him at email@example.com.