Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Wow, I have been delinquent on my blogging. Life has intervened of recent. Between some physical challenges and trying to keep work coming in, time has gotten away from me. So without any further delays here is a story about a trip my friend Dave Keiser and I took a few years back.

This all takes place in British Columbia about 80 km. out of the northern town of Smithers. Dave had told me about a place where there were very big Steelhead, in the range of 20 to 30 pounds. Well that certainly caused me some whiplash. Just the mention of Steelhead is usually sufficient enough to get my attention. So the seed had been planted and it wasn't long after when we were making our travel plans for the Babine River. The year was 1987 and the month of September.

We booked our reservations at Norlakes Lodge and got busy tying flies for our adventure. I had only been flyfishing for Steelhead since 1985 and Dave was an old pro at it. So I spent a fair amount of time picking his brain about what fly patterns to tie and so on. He was helpful as always and before we knew it we were air born. Landed in Smithers then travelled by van for 80km. to the Babine River. From there we were jet boated down stream to camp at Norlakes Lodge and got settled in.

The next morning we awoke early, had breakfast, packed lunches and then headed out in jet boats. It was illegal to fish from a boat on this section and it was fly fishing only and, catch and release. The guides would drop us off one or two to a hole, throughout the 15 or so miles of river that we were able to fish. They came back a few hours later to check in with us to see if we wanted to try another hole or if we needed anything. Typically we started fishing standing back from the bank quite a ways and casting just a few feet into the river from the bank. Eventually working our way out to deeper faster water. Often their would be Steelhead lying close to the bank in the calm water before the sun was up and on the water. I was surprised to catch them only 5 feet out from the bank on several mornings. Those fish are big and strong, really strong. Acting somewhat more like Salmon in ways like sulking and going deep and not jumping. At least the really big Steelhead didn't jump. It took a fairly heavy rod with stout leaders to get them in. The largest I landed was pushing 30 lbs. It had a girth of 22 1/2" and was 39 and1/2 L. and it took me 45 minutes to land. That is what I called a "slab" of a fish, just amazing. Dave's largest was also a slab and much brighter than mine. He estimated the weight to be at 30 lbs. and the lenght 41 1/2".

The Babine River is in a remote wilderness and we saw bears daily and heard them thrashing about at camp each night. Definitely had to be attentive to your surroundings at all times. We had our share of rain although still managed to catch fish daily. The Babine is fed by glacial run off, so it doesn't take much precipitation to blow it out of shape and ruin the fishing.

I remember the first day I was wading about hip deep and casting when something bumped into my lower leg. I just about flew out of my waders not knowing what it was or being able to see what just bumped into me. Eventually I noticed portions of dead Chum Salmon floating by me that had spawned and were returning downstream. Some had bear bites on them while others were only half of their former selves, having been eaten by bears. Yea, I was a bit concerned for sure about my safety. That was when Dave told me I had nothing to worry about as long as I wasn't the slowest person in camp. Not so sure I was comforted as much as I got a laugh out of his comment and realized the truth of it. None the less we had a great time swinging flies and catching monster Steelhead.

Women's Hunting Journal Integrity For The Hunt


Kristine said...

Looks like a fun trip. I'm not sure I'd be too glad to see all the bear sign around, but you're still here so I guess they didn't eat you.

Terry Scoville said...

Kristine, for sure I had a couple close encounters, although if I was able to afford it I would jump at the chance to do it again. Well worth it!

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