Fishing forum > Pontoon boat in Fraser river

Author Topic: Pontoon boat in Fraser river

I was thinking about drifting down the Fraser river on a pontoon boat - fishing for cutties along the way.

Anybody did it before? Is it practical?

i dont think that that is a very good idea

to my knowledge, pontoons can handle white water, not to mention fraser. should not be a problem from the safety point of view. weather it is practical - don't know. which section of fraser do you consider?
The Yak

apparently the currents in he lower half are deceptivly impossible to swim out of should you go in the drink.

i dont think its a good idea. I guess if you have a big enough pontoon like a Steelheader, or something but I wouldnt do it

I think the fraser is dangerous in the area you want to fish (where there are cutties). It's way too big a river for small craft. I heard the confluence of the harrison and the fraser are especially treacherous. Take the advice from a guy who has been whitewater paddling for 10 years now. DON'T TRY IT.

Why not do it on Nichomen or Maria slough? Probably better chance of catching cutties anyway...


Guys, thanks a lot. I would agree that pontoon is a small craft for the size of the river.

I tried it once near Strawberry Island and had no problem crossing Fraser several times as well as peddling up the river. But this is a reasonably quiet place.

dwg is right - there is a dangerous place right below confluence with Harrison, but there might be other tough places along the way.

Well, the topic is not dead yet!

I made a stop today at Berry's Bait & Tackle to ask them if it is safe to use a pontoon boat in Fraser (between Hope & Mission). Three experienced anglers confirmed that this is safe for sure and that even the mentioned spot below cofluence with Harrison is a not a problem (just keep to the left).

In order to confirm, I also called Vic at STS Fishing Guide and asked the same question. Vic's reaction was not only it is safe, but it is one of the best ways to actually fish for cutthroat trout in Fraser. You can cover a lot of water to find cutties. He also mentioned that Chum fry started to hatch 3-4 days ago. That means that season for cutties is NOW. And if you want a safer way to scout river - book a trip with an experienced guide like Vic (use Club's discounts).



Wear your lifejacket...

impressive watercraft! how much do they retail for?

Alex, I in no way doubt these people you asked about there experience with FISHING or FISHING from a pontoon boat. The fact that they have done it before doesn't mean they are experienced dealing with white water, heavy currents, under currents, wind, wourl pools...It just means they were lucky.

It's kind of like the person who ski/boards out of bounds on the ski hill. If your experienced with avalanche safety, taken courses, have a reciever and a few buddies, know the avalanche hazard on this particular day, then you probably will be all right. Then again, if you're just a boarder looking for fresh snow, you're in for a big suprise!

If you want to try it, wear a lifejacket. Try to go with a buddy, for safety.

Good luck!


dwg, thanks for your comments. Do you think Fraser qualifies as the white water? Certainly, it has undercurrents and whirlpools, but it is reasonably safe until freshet. Well, lifejacket is a must by regulations, as well as other things, like whistle, waders (to keep body warm & buoyant).

As for the company - good point. Any volunteers?


A point of advice from someone who served in the Navy and knows quite a bit about navigation on this coast especially the Fraser River ... before trusting anyone, buy a copy of the Canadian Hydrographic Services publication "Canadian Tides and Currents 2004" before putting yourself on that river in a boat that has no real draft (and thus no control in faster currents". If you read through this (less that $20 CAD) before going out on Fraser River. The currents at any point in Fraser River in spring can be especially unpredictable considering the Fraser is fed from melting snow in the surrounding mountains. Additionally, you have the confluence of tides (which is the root cause of current speed and behavior on the river). When the tide comes in, it acts like a buffer spring, which slows the overall flow of the river. When the tide goes out, it accelerates the currents in the river seawards. My advice to you, pick a time of day when the tide is changing or is rising because the currents will affect you less (ideally slack water). Trust me, I have pulled enough people out of the water who did not take into account tides and currents before going out (lifejackets work yes, but ... sometimes shit happens too).

I don't have this year's issue, but I would recommend to anyone playing on the Fraser to pick up a copy. I took a minesweeper up the Fraser and came alongside at New Westminster and let me tell you ... it's a heavy boat with lots of push power, but when the currents screwed with my passages in some pretty dramatic ways.

Here's an excerpt from the 2001 Tides and Currents (if you copy and paste in Word or Notepad ... it will be easier to see). Notice the speed as it changes from Hope to New West, it really starts to get funky:

HW or LW 700 m3/s 2,800 m3/s 5,700 m3/s 8,500 m3/s TEMPS
PM ou BM A B C A B C A B C A B C A B C
m m m m m m m m m m m m m h min h min h min
5.0 4.2 3.8 3.2 4.2 3.9 3.4 4.3 3.9 3.5 4.3 3,9 3.5 15 20 45
4.5 3.7 3.3 2.7 3.8 3.4 3.0 3.8 3.4 3.1 3.8 3.5 3.2 15 25 50
4.0 3.3 2.9 2.4 3.3 3.0 2.6 3.3 3.0 2.8 3.3 3.1 3.0 15 25 55
3.5 2.8 2.4 1.9 2.8 2.5 2.2 2.9 2.6 2.4 2.9 2.7 2.7 15 30 1:00
3.0 2.3 2.0 1.6 2.3 2.1 1.8 2.4 2.2 2.1 2.4 2.3 2.5 20 30 1:05
2.5 1.8 1.5 1.2 1.8 1.6 1.5 1.9 1.8 1.8 2.0 1.9 2.3 20 30 1:15
2.0 1.4 1.1 0.8 1.4 1.2 1.1 1.5 1.4 1.5 1.5 1.5 2.1 20 35 1:20
1.5 0.9 0.7 0.4 1.0 0.8 0.7 1.0 1.0 1.3 1.1 1.2 1.9 25 40 1:30
1.0 0.4 0.2 0.2 0.6 0.4 0.4 0.7 0.6 1.1 0.8 0.8 1.8 25 45 1:40
0.5 0.1 0.0 0.0 0.2 0.2 0.2 0.4 0.3 1.0 0.5 0.5 1.7 30 50 1:55
0.0 -0.2 -0.2 -0.1 0.0 0.0 0.1 0.2 0.2 0.9 0.3 0.3 1.6 35 1:00 2:10


In this table, columns A, B and C refer to STEVESTON, DEAS ISLAND and NEW WESTMINSTER respectively. The tidal heights are above local chart datum (which rises in an upstream direction) and are to be taken directly from the table while the time differences should be added to the times of high or low water at POINT ATKINSON. The heights are also related to the following four discharge rates for the Fraser River at HOPE, so those appropriate for the time of year, or the actual flow of the river should be selected.
700 m3/s Normal for January, February,
March, December 2,800 m3/s Normal for April, August, September,
October, November 5,700 m3/s Normal for May, July 8,500 m3/s Normal for June
Tidal heights calculated using Table 5 or 5A are referenced to newly established datums used for the 1997 New Edition of chart 3490 (Fraser River - Sand Heads to Douglas Island). Mariners using the April 23, 1993 New Edition of chart 3490 must subtract 1.6 feet (0.5 metre) from the New Westminster values shown in Table 5 (Table 5A). No adjustment is required for Steveston or Deas Island.
For more information please contact:
Canadian Hydrographic Service Department of Fisheries and Oceans Sidney, B.C. , ,,„,,


Here are the tides for Point Atkinson (I scanned it for you) from March 1, 2001. This will give you an idea of tidal change. When the level rises, the current goes up the river, slowing the current from run (also cause confluence ... such tidal rips and eddies in the fraser). You want to pick a time when the tide is rising. Currents and tides can be estimated by plotting the tidal heights at Point Atkinson and then joining the points together (make a sine wave look between the points) and this serves as a reasonable estimate of the tide level. Now you can predict how much influence tides have on currents at any point in the day. The points where the tide changes from falling to rising (or vice-versa) is called slack water. When the tide drops, the current will be coming out of the Fraser, and up the fraser when rising. A good estimate of the effects of the drop or rise is the amount that the tide drops/rise in the amount of time ... i.e. drops 30 feet in 6 hours ... results in 5 feet/hour

Tides - Point Atkinson (March 1, 2001)
0250 HRS - 8.9 feet
0850 HRS - 14.1 feet
1600 HRS - 5.2 feet
2245 HRS - 12.5 feet

I not trying to be a party pooper, but it's better to know a little bit more about the river's behavior before getting out there and possibly risking your life in a rubber boat with no real draft. Remember too that there are other boats out there (really big ones in some cases) that may not have the control they normally have depending upon the current at hand. i.e. A boat going against the dominant current has more control, but a boat going with the current has less control because the water is coming in from behind its rudders. This might even help you to get yourself off the river if anything were to happen.

Hope this helps. I just don't want to see something happen because a couple FISHERMEN at a store tell you that it's completely safe without knowing (or even mentioning) to check the currents and their timings before going out.
Have fun fishing.


The Yak

Thats a lot of info... And something I think you should reaslly consider Alex...sounds like he knows what he's talkin' about...

You might want to read this article by Ian Forbes:

Also, I don't recall where I read this, but I remembering reading about the strong undercurrents of the Fraser and how it can pull down logs, launching them like torpedos, posing even a threat to boats. If I find the article, I will post it here.

Alex et al,

The undercurrents are real. I was in a wooden minesweeper (made to avoid magnetic mines) and yes there are definitely log popups. The undercurrents are caused by a flow difference between the river's natural downward flow and an opposing current caused by the rising tide. It would be quite nasty to find oneself in the path of a rising log. I know that we were always keeping a watchful eye for these and other occurences when we wanted to come up the fraser and dock at New West for the weekend.

Take care,

Here's some information on undercurrents, currents, etc. for the Fraser River:

(Article on tides and currents mentioning Fraser River)

(This guy had a life jacket)

(Fraser River and its undercurrent in this document)



The Yak,

I may have a lotta info in that area ... but my wooly bugger sure as hell blew up in my face yesterday when my wife came in and started talking to me while I was trying to learn to tie. I bet you have a lot of info in the tying department. Too bad this place doesn't have a chat room yet because I know I would have asked you a few questions.


The Yak,

One really screwed up fly



But I did manage to tie a couple 1/2 right. 1 Olive wooly bugger and 3 caddis. The top caddis is the first fly I ever tied, and the wooly is the last sucessful one tied.



Basically all we are trying to say Alex, is we like to have you around and don't want to see any harm to you, and as for you Ozzy,I just want to say I admire your knowledge and wealth of information you provided us.

Thank you

I just believe in an informed decision-making process and I want to see our admin safe and keeping up this site

Tight lines,
fish on

Great insight Oz, Apreciate the time spent! A pontoon on the Fraser would be an adventure, Use a Cat 11 or equal though if inexpieriened.pre plan all your spots so you can manouver across to the other side of the river.
Some spot the river moves 35kph, you hit that after a stillwater and hold on.
Watch for other baots, tugs towing log booms comming down river, you have not to much to propel your self to get out of the way.
Sure would like to try it, it would take alot of planning. One day though.

Wow! Ozzy, that will take me some time to research and get into details. What is obvious is that starting the second part of February it will be probably too late to think about such a journey because of melting snow.

I'll try to draft a chart and the plan. Cutties like slow water anyways. So do I


I forgot about a useful little tool I've been using since I started sailing again 3 years ago. I don't know if you can get a PC version, but the program is called "Tide Tools" and it works on a Palm Pilot. There are some Palm emulators out there for PCs. For Vancouver, you can pick "Vancouver", or "Point Atkinson" for your tides. I know I used to get the exact currents for leaving Granville Island using this tool. If you select any region in BC waters, it draws the tide table for you (not perfectly accurate, but it saves you the $20/year in publication costs. You also don't need to find out the tidal heights because the program does it for you. The program is freeware and it rocks!


This is the quite an easy way to figure out the tides for you fishing trips so you know where rocks are going to awash. It's not perfect, but it will help estimate the tides and currents for the day within reasonable accuracy.

I guess I didn't think of it right off the bat because I am a dedicated rainbow trout hunter

Tight lines,


Check it out
The Yak

HEY Oz..

Ive got time to answer questions about tying. I'm a bit of a hack myself at it but I find that when I look at the stuff I tied a year ago to the stuff im tying now... wow..there is a big difference. It only takes practice, patence, and a lot of money in hooks and materials

The guys at Jaymers have a bunch of tying stuff on sale I think. (i suggest them so much Im afraid that people will think I work there... I'm in there so much too they probably think im nuts...hehehehe..)

I was able to download the program you are talking about for my Palm from near Dive Shop. Most of them w'll download it for you for free.

That's why I said:

The program is "freeware (free) " and it rocks!


There's also a website that offers tidal information. It's not as cool as the pda tide tool, but it might save some of you who buy the tide booklets a bit of money.
Also useful for those that fish for cutties.

Fishing forum > Pontoon boat in Fraser river


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