Every now and then an idea of "wouldn't it be great if we went "x"" takes root and becomes a year-long goal, a step outside of comfortable stomping grounds into a new arena of the flyfishing world. Well 60 plus hours of driving, countless rivers past, and an uncountable amount of beer later we made it back into the states from BC steelhead camp. Six months in the making, it started as talks on the banks of the Salmon river as Jed and I enjoyed the last of the spring steelhead season before a long summer on the sticks. Everything is bigger somewhere else so might as well go and see for ourselves!
Arriving in Houston BC we chose the Morice River and Camp By-Mac as our first stop for learning British Colombia water. We preformed a quick survey of town for licenses, beer, fuel, and all other fishing trip necessities. Armed for bear (literally) and fully self sufficient we were ready to begin the learning of a new river. With a lack of fishing pressure due to being late in the season we sought out all leads from both reliable and shady sources alike: Mention to anyone that you are a steelhead fisherman and the advice seems to start coming from all directions. We struck early when Jed hit a nice chrome hen, taking a classic hairwing pattern on the swing and giving us our first taste of sea run gold. Only takes one little tug to make everyone fish with confidence, combing the runs and deep pools looking for the next silver bullet to go airborne.
The Morice gave up some steel but proved to be hard-cracking nut : Mile after mile of awesome steel green water all begging for a swung fly and little clue as to where the fish actually were. Having struck only a few fish by day three and wondering where the rest of the fishermen were we struck out for a reconnaissance day further west, to the river whose legends brought us to this country in the first place : Kispiox Country. Tucked into a mountainous arm of the Skeena system the Kispiox is a formidable sight, a beast of a river even during winter time low flow. After a half day of swinging new water and no tugs Jed finally struck paydirt and opened up our account on the second river of the trip with one of the fish that we were really looking for in Canada.
OK then Canada, now we are talking. Thats all she wrote for Camp By-Mac : Pulling stakes and moving camp took up our next day, moving down the system with giant buck steelhead now firmly in our sights. Funny how one fish can change mood and course of a trip overnight and that one whopper buck certainly did. We doubled our efforts towards learning a new river, swinging flies from sun up til sundown through some of the famous runs we had all read about. A new favorite fly and muttered incantations reinforce each other as step follows step down a juicy run. The joy and madness of steelhead fishing is the damm shock and luck of actually running into one of these giant, migrating, non-eating animals face to face and weight on the line. "Like finding a damm unicorn". Damm straight, but theres Yetis in them hills too I hear.
Time passes quickly in steelhead camp, the ease of daily routine and the constant search for elusive quarry combine to create an ethereal atmosphere. With food pre-prepared, phones long dead and calendars far away there is little to interfere with the swinging. The low light angle of early November helps the vibe along as days blend seamlessly into one another. Day three on this river or is it only two? How many meals of mexican are left to go? Only the supply of beer in coolers and propane for heat bring us back around to the distant, foggy reality of non-camp living.