The heavily storied Northern BC Streams have called to me for a over decade. Ever since I saw the pictures of fish, huge mountain ranges, and fabled rivers, I knew I had to get up there one day and explore what the area had to offer. Northern BC is unlike any other place I've been. I'd liken the place to Washington on a Texan strain of steroids. Everything is bigger, and in this case bigger is better, as well as more beautiful. The mountains soar from the valleys like skyscrapers, the rivers all have uniquely fishy characteristics. The trees in their fall colors glow vibrantly on the hillside.
Over the last summer, Todd and I were having a few drinks with Danny(cobble cruiser), and over the course of an evening began crafting plans to finally make a trip north to see how the fishing was for ourselves in Steelhead Mecca. Tony (DriftfishNW) was also planning a trip, so it was natural for us to combine our plans and resources, pick a date, and prepare for a journey. Later we learned a few other buds were planning a trip too, & Coley G. and Kasier D. along with a buddy from Idaho joined the party.
We left Seattle at 5pm after a mentally damaging string of long work days for both Todd and I. Long hours, abnormal overtime....I was so overdue for a trip I screamed out loud when I finally set the phone down at 5PM Thursday and went outside to see Todd had our combined gear mostly packed and ready for takeoff.
We left town and headed to Vancouver, where I sold some film camera gear to a Canadian guy I had been corresponding with for some time. $500.00 Canadian richer, we put the tires on Hwy 1 and headed north.
We drove all night, with me getting to the "too tired to drive safely stage" around 3am, when Todd took the wheel. I couldn't sleep much due to the overall excitement, and because while we drove along the road was lined with the glowing eyes of many deer, coyote, fox, and who knows what else.
We watched the sun rise as we dropped into the upper Bulkley valley and stared out the window in awe at the mountains and scenery surrounding us.
We hit camp at around 11:00am after a few missed turns, set up shop as minimally as required to get out on the river fishing. Translate this to set up a tent, dump everything out of the car fast, then wader up. Priorities aligned and correct..
We had the afternoon to fish, so we blazed down to the big river in search of a tug or two. Not driving far to hit the first promising looking turnoff, the Veggie Patch, and hopped down the bluff to the shoreline for our first casts.
I brought a small hen to hand, a pretty little girl that zipped off as fast as she came. We worked down river.
I picked up another hen right above the picket fence pictured above, This fish was in the low teens, and really took me for a good ride in the tail-out, then down through the whitewater to the point where I couldn't chase her any longer due to branchy obstructions, resulting in a LDR.
We kept moving downstream, to the next riffle, where I managed to pick up this nice hen in shallow water on a black teardrop spoon. She was strong, and fought well, much more so than the fish I'm used to in Washington. After a good tussle, I got her to hand quickly and begged Ripley to do a 400 yard sprint up the river to snap a pic. I think he lost two pounds running all the way up where I had landed her...I mentioned this place was big, right? I hope my pictures capture that magic and grandeur of the place...
After landing that girl, I was pumped and kicked back to watch Ripley fish a bit. Didnt take him long to find the buck resting behind that pretty girl:
This fish had legs:
After another strong tussle including aerials, Todd landed his first BC Steelhead of our trip:
We Walked a bit more then turned around for an interesting hike back to the car, while trying to avoid where we had just seen a bear. We had to walk right along the same spot where I had seen the bear, it was getting dark. I needed a drink after beating bush while looking over my shoulder the whole way back.
It rained really hard. Then it rained harder, all night. This was good because the rivers were at 70 year record lows, and need water in a bad way. I welcomed the rain, as we had plenty of time to let the river rise and fall back into shape. Plus, there’s lots of options around it seemed.
Coley rolled in to camp from Alaska at some point that night, and we hooked up with Danny the next morning to set out for a float along the same stretch where we’d had success the night before.
A couple holes down I hooked something big, which solidly ran directly upriver until it broke off, then in a few more casts landed a real nice teener hen and damn near ripped my ACL while landing her
Left Knee is now a 2 on a scale of 1-10, but I ignored it & rallied.
Danny wormed up a bit later down the stretch:
We thought this fish had some serious balls as it flew downriver and Danny sprinted in tow, until this hen came to the surface.
Throughout the trip, where possible, we used a Frabill Conservation Series net to make landing’s quicker and keep fish in the water, off the rocks:
She was a big beautiful healthy girl, fought well, and one of the nicest doe’s we’d see on the trip. Hell of a great fish to start the trip Danny!:
The waters were on the rise from the previous night’s rain, and we didn’t touch another fish the rest of the drift that day. Of course, You don’t have to be catching fish to have a great day:
Passing a First Nation’s gill net pole:
Drifting downriver, low-holing your buddies
Who cares with this view:
The next day the local rivers rose, I had a flat tire, and supplies were needed, so we did a road trip to try and find clean water and a tire shop. We didn’t accomplish either, but had fun while messing around in town, and made a new friend Ryan, from Suquamish.
The crew saying “I’d run it in the toon”
We messed around while waiting for the river to get in shape by setting up camp:ColeyG Photo
& checking out the area for potential fishing spots:
Met up with some new friends that drove up from Key West, Florida!...start growing your beard at the beginning of that trip, and this is how big it is when you get to BC..