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.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Changing Gears

Well, a lot has happened since the last time I updated the page, so this is gonna be a long one. I left Dillon last Thursday after sleeping in nice and late, and headed for Coeur D'Alene, Idaho. The drive was going great until I got to the top of the pass coming into Idaho. Luckily I was only a mile from a town when I got a flat on I-90. I pulled off, filled the tire with a can of "Fix a Flat" and rolled into the town. When I got to the gas station the tire was flat again and I tried to fill it up at the air compressor and it just blew out on me. So I put on the spare and limped it into Coeur D'Alene.

I met up with my buddy Jay in CDA at the Castaway Fly Shop. That night we grilled out, drank a few beers and hung out for a while before crashing. Friday we headed into Washington and met up with a couple of his buddies on the upper Columbia. It was pretty late in the afternoon when we put in, and the plan was to float until about an hour after dark as that's when the Hex and Drakes would start showing up.

About an hour into the float I hooked into this guy. It's a bizzare experience trying to fish a river that massive, but Jay knew exactly where he'd be and coached me right into him.

After a hell of a fight we got him into the net. I wish I could say I was the first person this guy ever met, but he had a floy tag in his back from BC.

Sunset on the Columbia.

Jay, rowing my ass around

Unfortunately, the hatch never really materialized that night, but it was an awesome experience never the less.

Saturday was pretty much wasted dealing with my tire. After only a year, and 16,000 miles I had completely worn out an entire set of tires! With the pro-rated warranty it ended up costing me $200 for the new set, but on the plus side at least I should be set for another year. I spent the rest of the day tying flies and BSing in the fly shop.

Changing Gears: Steelhead

Sunday, Jay, his fried and coworker Adam and I were supposed to head down and fish the Clearwater for some steelhead. But Saturday, Jay found out he had to work, so Adam and I rolled down by ourselves. Since I missed 3 days of fishing so far, there were a few things I still wanted to do that I haven't had time to get to yet. So I was on the fence about going to the Clearwater. But I decided to go anyway and I'm glad I did.

With Adam's help I got my spey rod dialed in and got some much needed instruction and casting practice. I hooked into one fish prety shortly after getting my cast working, but lost it after just a moment. I got a few more bumps on my fly and just as the sun was setting over the town of Lewiston, I hooked into another fish. This time I remembered to give the fish the loop of line I was holding and it was on.

Once she realized she was hooked, the little girl put up a fantastic fight, taking several good runs. But I eventually got her into the gravel and Adam snatched her tail.

It may just have been a small hatchery Steelhead, but it was awesome! What that fish did for my confidence for BC was tremendous.

Adam and I called it a night at that and rolled into town for dinner. We got some food, set up camp and got a few hours of sleep. We were back up at 4 in the morning to put in for a first light float back to the prime water. We both had a few bumps just as the sun was rising, but couldn't turn any of them into hook ups. We ended up pulling off the river around 8 in the morning and then we went our separate ways. Adam headed back to Coeur D'Alene and I headed up east. Adam sent me up to the North Fork of the Clearwater and I broke my new "Clearwater" rod in on some nice West Slope Cutthroats. I didn't find any of the big Bulls I was looking for, but it was gorgeous and I had a great time.

Yesterday I made it from St. Regis Montana up to McBride, BC, by way of Kootenai, Banff, and Jasper parks. It was an amazing drive, but I was bushed by the end of it!

Today I finished the last leg of the drive up to Smithers. And tomorrow I begin a week of Steelhead fishing in one of the most beautiful places I've ever been.

Thursday, August 20, 2009


Well yesterday was a bit of a bust. I just spent the day lounging around the hotel waiting to get in to see a doctor. I finally got in late in the afternoon and got some antibiotics. The bite is already starting to feel a bit better. I spent the rest of the day reorganizing everything and tying flies and now I'm off to meet up with my buddy in Coeur D'Alene, Idaho. Jay is another extremely cool guy and if things work out I'll be either floating the upper Columbia for huge rainbows with him tomorrow or heading to the Clearwater to fish for Steelhead!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Denver to Dillon

Hey everyone,

Here's my first update from the road. As is typical for me, I had way too much to do and no where near enough time to do it before I left. So instead of leaving Thursday afternoon I left early Friday morning. I got on the road just as the sun was coming up and hauled straight up to Jackson. I fished Flat creek for a few hours then went to meet up with my friends Matt and Eric at their camp site on a small cutthroat stream. We made some dinner, drank some single malt and tied some flies by the campfire before finally calling it a night. In the morning we gathered up our fishing gear and hiked over the hill into the stream's meadows to fish.

We got to the water a couple hours before the Green Drakes started hatching so we started with some dry dropper rigs and picked up a few fish here and there. But once the Drakes started hatching the fishing was on!

The Rods

The Stream

The Fish

After fishing Saturday the 3 of us cruised into town to get a good meal. Then Matt and Eric got back on the road for Steamboat. I camped out again and Sunday morning headed up a small creek on the north side of Grand Teton National Park. There were no Drakes around, but the fish responded just fine to some big Stimulators and Hoppers.

That evening it was up to Island Park, ID. I decided to head through Yellowstone and take a look at some of the sites.

Storm clouds over the Fire Hole
Monday morning was cold in the tent, so I slept in a bit. I finally got up a little after 8 and headed down the road to the Henry's Fork Angler. I picked up my Idaho License and a few flies then headed to Harriman State Park to fish "The Ranch" on the Henry's Fork.

When I got to the water, not much was going on, but I ran into another bamboo fisherman. We sat on the bank and chatted for a while and finally got back to fishing. As we were walking out we spotted a few nice fish rising and in succession he caught a beautiful Henry's Fork Rainbow then I got one.
Then it was back to the car for a little lunch. While I was eating lunch, I got a painful bug bite. Thinking nothing of it I went back to the river. Once I got to the water I spotted several risers in the Millionaires Pool. I slowly worked my way down to the water and ended up landing a few more nice fish.

Afternoon on the Henry's Fork

After fishing on Monday I hooked up with a friend of a friend. JD Miller is a guide for Henry's Fork Anglers and one hell of a cool guy. We had an awesome dinner and talked steelhead until I passed out on his couch.

Yesterday I left Island park and cruised through Twin Bridges Montana and stopped in at the Sweetgrass shop. Glen and Jerry were out for the day, but I got to meet Mike, Sam and Dan and had a great time talking rods with them and checking out the new building they're constructing to house the Sweetgrass rod company.

After leaving there I cruised over the to Beaverhead below Clark Canyon Dam. I fished until dark and managed only a couple of the smaller fish from the river, which is known for some massive trout.

After getting off the water I noticed my entire forearm had swollen up from the bug bite on the Henry's Fork so I rolled into town and got a hotel room. Now I'm stuck in Dillon Montana waiting to get in to see a doctor to figure out what the hell that bug did to me.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Out The Door

Well, it's finally here. In about an hours time I'll be heading out the door for distant waters. I got 3 new bamboo rods finished and a new reel. It's been a crazy few days getting ready but it's going to be a blast!

See you next time.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Getting ready

Hey everybody. I'm getting ready to take off on a month long trip from Colorado to British Columbia. I decided to throw a blog together so people can follow me along my trip and keep in touch with me while I'm on the road.

The first leg of my trip starts Thursday August 13th, when I'll be leaving Denver and heading towards Jackson Wyoming. When I get to the Jackson area I'll be meeting up with a couple good friends and fishing some small streams for wild Snake River Finespot Cutthroats. The word is the Green Drakes should be hatching pretty heavily by now and we should be in for some kick ass dry fly fishing.

From Jackson I'll be winding my way up through Idaho and Montana before meeting up with my sister for a day or two in Glacier National Park, and then finally onto British Columbia and the rivers of the Skeena system to swing some flies for giant wild Steelhead.

The next few days before hitting the road are going to be a total scramble to get everything ready. I'm finishing work on 3 new bamboo rods that I'll take with on the trip. The first rod is an 8' 5 weight rod, called "The Neversink." This baby is ready to put into the dip tube for its first coat of varnish any minute now. Next is my favorite 7'6" 4 weight, "The Big Creek". Right now I have both of the tips ready to get their first dipped coat of varnish, and the butt is waiting to be wrapped. The third rod is an 8' 7 weight that will hopefully be my single hand Steelhead rod. I can already picture using this rod to skate dry flies to aggressive fall Steelhead on the Bulkley or the Kispiox. It might take a bit of a miracle to get this rod done though, as it is just out of the string. I'm hoping to get into the machine shop tomorrow to make a set of ferrules and a reelseat for it. If I can get that done I'll be fitting the ferrules and gluing up a grip tomorrow night and if all goes well I can get it wrapped and into the dip tank by Wednesday night.

Here's the Rods

On top of the rod building I still need to get everything organized and tie a ton of flies. Like I said, it's going to be a serious scramble, but the trip is worth the preparation.