Monday, August 31, 2009

Thursday morning I rolled into the fly shop in Smithers and got my fishing licence and a few flies then headed west toward Terrace, BC and the Copper River. I drove up the river a couple km and took a walk down to the water to check things out. As I was scanning the river I noticed a fish tucked into a log jam. As I looked a little closer at it I noticed it was a steelhead, and a pretty nice one at that. So I went back to the car and rigged up my Clearwater rod with an egg sucking leach and threw my waders on. I slowly worked my way into position and started casting at the fish. It took a few casts with all the debris to get a good drift at the fish, but finally I did and he was on! Hooked into a steelhead within 10 minutes of fishing in BC! The fish faught pretty good in the shallow pool and eventually I got him close enough to try to grab his tail. I took a swipe at him and he bolted out like a maniac, pulling 60 feet of line off in a heartbeat. Now he was out in the fast current and running for the narrow rapids below. A few seconds later, the backing started rolling off the reel and a moment after that, the line went loose and the fish was gone.

The Copper River

After that I tied on another egg sucking leach and started covering the rest of the run. I hooked and landed several whitefish and bull trout. I worked the run the down to the bottom, then hooked into something big! I couldn't see what it was at first, but after about 20 minutes I had a monster King Salmon laying at my feet. Not bad for a 7 weight bamboo rod!

The King went nearly to the ferrule on my 8' rod. I didn't put a tape on it, but I'd guess it was about 44-46" long and probably around 40lbs.

I found a few nice looking runs and swung them through with the spey fly before the sun started to set behind the mountains. I fished for a while after dark, then called it and set up camp.

Friday I spent the day covering a handful of runs and getting pretty frustrated by the people with no fishing etiquette either floating over the run I'm fishing in their boats, or jumping into the run I'm fishing downstream of me. But finally I found a nice quiet little run all to myself. It was a small side chanell where the river had split around an island and I was able to cover it easily. After getting about halfway through the run, I decided to switch from the sink tip to a floating tip and skate a few dry flies over the tail out of the run. I fished the tail out with the dry and walked back up to where I switched over and tied on a small wet fly, still on the flaoting line. After about 2 or 3 casts a boat appeared and startled me as it floated right through the water I was fishing. But just as soon as the boat had gotten 100 yards down the river I noticed out of the corner of my eye a steelhead rising and eating a gray drake mayfly off the surface. The fish was less than 30 feet from me and way closer than where I had been casting to. So I stripped in a bunch of line and flopped a cast out and swung the fly right in front of the fish. As the fly reached the spot where I spotted the fish I felt a suble bump and I lowered the rod and let a few feet of line slip out. I waited just another second then turned the rod toward the bank and started stripping line in. At first the fish just came in towards me, then all hell broke loose. The fish took a few blistering runs and made half a dozen jumps out of the water, some nearly as high as my head! A few times I got the fish in close enough to grab its tail only to have it slip away again. Eventually I was able to glide it into some shallow water and get a firm grasp around its tail. Finally, after endless anticipation, I had landed my first British Columbia steelhead!

A beautiful slab of wild BC chrome!

Another shot of the beautiful Copper River with some glacier covered peaks in the background.

I camped as close to the run as I could that night and in the morning I got up early and got on the water just as the sun started making its way above the mountains. I worked the run from top to bottom with a dry fly, then with a small wet before moving on to explore. I might have thought the river was busy on Friday, but Saturday was practially a zoo. I managed to find a few runs to myself, but only after a lot of hiking.

I didn't manage to find any other steelhead on Saturday, but I did find some nice Bull Trout.

After calling it quits on the Copper, I headed back east toward the famed Kispiox river. I made it to Hazelton just after dark and found a quiet little spot to camp for the night. In the morning, I headed up the valley a little ways and dropped in to meet Bob Clay. Bob has guided the Kispiox for over 25 years, and makes bamboo spey rods. I got to spend a little over an hour talking with Bob about his spey rods, and steelhead fishing and evenutally he sent me off to a few spots to check out. The Kispiox River doesn't start seeing good numbers of fish until about the middle of September, but Bob told me they usually start seeing a few by late August. So I spent the day working a couple runs and about halfway through a nice looking run, about had the rod ripped out of my hand. I dropped the loop of line and when I started to pull it in there was nothing on the other end. I don't know if it was a Steelhead or a Coho, but it was definately a fish. I passed a few more casts over the same spot, and even tried throwing a few other flies at it, but I wasn't able to elicit another strike. It would have been awesome to land a monster Kispiox steelhead, but it was pretty cool just to get a big pull like that. After fishing out the rest of the day, I stopped into the a campground on the river and set up for the night. I made dinner, tied a few flies then spent the rest of the evening swapping fishing stories with a couple of the guys I met at the campground.

Today turned out to be a pretty interesting day. I got up later than I planned and headed on down toward the Bulkley. I found a pretty nice spot to fish and starte working the water. A little ways down the run, the guy who owned the land near the river came down and started chatting with me. He told me about a few good fishing spots to check out, then gave me a ride most of the way down one so I wouldn't have to hike as far. I spent the rest of the afternoon fishing the bulkly and when I got out of the water I noticed my waders were full of water up nearly to my hips. And of course, this was the only time so far this trip I forgot to leave my cell phone in the car. When I reached into my pocket to check my phone, my entire pocket was full of water. I pulled the phone out and it was soaked through.

A bit of a frustrating day today, but I still have two days left. I'm hoping I can find another steelhead or two, but who knows what's in store.

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