... all text and pictures courtesy of Doug Pullen (click on pictures to make them larger)
My brother-in-law Allen and I headed to Smithers located in northern BC, for our annual Steelhead fishing trip. September had seen a lot of rain so most rivers were blown out. However when we arrived in early October the rivers were dropping and clearing up quite nicely. We fished the Bulkley, Morice and the Kispiox Rivers in the Skeena River drainage. Over the course of 7 days, I got 8 hook-ups with 5 to the bank. Some past trips have resulted in zero hook-ups for an entire week, this year the fish gods were kind to me.
Being a Steelheader means enduring uncomfortable weather conditions and mastering the 2 step shuffle: Cast, Swing, Strip, then taking 2 steps downstream, repeating this all day at various locations as we drifted down the rivers. The day would start at 6am with freezing temperatures gradually becoming more comfortable by mid-afternoon and coming off the water by 7pm. It’s common for hours to pass with no action, until your heart stops when a Steelhead hits you fly with the reel screaming as your fly line departs with most of your backing. A steelhead often makes 2-3 runs, with jumping and head shakes sometimes ending with a fish becoming unbuttoned.
The landscape at this time of year is quite beautiful with the leaves in their full autumn splendor and the mountain tops covered in brilliant white snow. Most steelhead are bright and chrome with hints of their spawning colours appearing on their gill plates and full of piss and vinegar.
Steelhead are known as a fish of a thousand casts; more truth than fiction, a sport fish not meant for the fair weather fishermen. The adrenalin rush and heart stopping thrill is very addictive and is what draws me back each year.