Sign up for free epic news

Articles

< >
<
>

Anticipation

I try not to have expectations about a fishing destination to which I am about to travel.  But I do get major attacks of anticipation.  Especially when tying flies for new fishing waters.  Even with excellent advice about what to tie, I still try to out-think the target fish about what they might put into their mouths.

I am preparing for a trip to the coastal waters of BC, the middle of July (now tomorrow).  Should be chrome, dime, platinum, silver, full-moon-bright kings, chums and...

< >
<
>

Chef Brandi Collins: The food that fuels the adventure

  Article written by Amanda Follett Hosgood 

My first impression: Brandi Collins has a pretty sweet office.

It’s a bluebird June day, sunny but not too hot, and light streams through the wall-to-wall, floor-to-peaked-ceiling windows at Frontier Farwest’s Bulkley lodge. Outside, a breeze brushes the electric-green meadows that epitomise early summer in the Bulkley Valley. Brandi brews me up a strong coffee from the Brevill espresso maker and leans a hip against the kitchen’s granite-...

< >
<
>

Tarpon Fever: Multiple Outbreaks

Outbreaks reported in Big Pine Key, May 2017 by Joel Gourley

By now the CDC has probably dispatched some representatives to investigate reports of this recent epidemic, but it may be too little, too late.  It was widely reported that symptoms of an attack of this year’s Tarpon Fever included increased heart rate, loss of coordination, difficulty speaking, tunnel vision (on the lead fish), loss of hearing (guide instructions).  As the peak virulence of this exotic contagion subsides, those...

< >
<
>

The Line Is Drawn in the Gravel: When It Comes to Industry, Choose Carefully

Article by Amanda Follett Hosgood

We all know that industry is part of living in northern BC: logging trucks roll past on the highways, trains carrying cargo rumble through our communities, and thousands of tourists visit every year in airplanes and RVs. Even the fishing industry contributes to the clatter with motorized river access and fly-in camps. All that said, these are our jobs and livelihoods and what makes life in the north possible.  

But we believe,...

< >
<
>

Big Pine with Shallow Phins

When you head out to fly fish the ocean you are completely at the mercy of the weather.  Since we live and die by the weather for steelhead we certainly understand our trip was going to be a roll of the dice. 

Luckily for us the storms parted and we were able to hit a perfect weather window for tarpon fishing. We also lucked out by surprisingly catching a may long weekend worm hatch.  Prepared for the worst we lucked out on all fronts. Here is a photo blog of some of the highlights of...

< >
<
>

Fishing the Frog Water

To be a better steelhead fisherman you need to find an approach to fish the less than ideal pieces of water. Any novice can walk up to a run called “Gett’n Em 9000” and put on a show but elite anglers fish more water, better.

Soooo the frog water… steelhead typically don’t mind being around it but MAN steelheaders do. Some people just flat out refuse to fish near it and others just make their guide suffer through never-ending puzzled looks, spastic mending and...

< >
<
>

Epic Waters is hiring for all lodge positions

We have employment opportunities at all our lodges for 2017 and 2018 seasons.  If you have ever wanted to work in the fishing industry we have jobs for every scenario.  Housekeepers, servers, chefs and apprentice guiding opportunities at your choice of lodge.  Just select the position you would like to apply for and the lodge that most interests you.  Email us at info@epicwatersanging.com

If you like to stay in town for work Frontier Farwest...

< >
<
>

Spring in Review

Normally when our winter steelhead program in Haida Gwaii shuts down we get some free time to catch up on things, but this year one program rolled right into the next.  We worked with guide/outfitter Nomads of the North in Terrace BC and longtime friend Mike VanWormer (AKA VDubs).  As usual he produced incredible trips for guests lucky enough to go.  The April spring fishery worked out perfectly for us.  

Going on at the same time as this was our Kings of Spring program targeting one...

< >
<
>

Telly's Grill

When you walk into Telly's Grill, you can already get a sense of what this restaurant will look like once it is fully completed.  At first glance, you notice the details on the ceiling.

Straps that have gone through a kiln are placed creatively on the ceiling and wall.  Giving a modern but homey feel, the restaurant reflects an inviting feeling, allowing you to feel like everyone is welcome. And that is exactly what owner and chef Peter Karnouskos wants.

"I really wanted a warm...

< >
<
>

Cruelties of mother nature

We just finished up nearly two weeks of rare temperatures on Haida Gwaii. Just like Vancouver has been getting pummeled by unlikely snow storms, to our dismay, so have we. Our March fish are much like our guests from sunny California: they hate the cold.  When water temps edge toward 33 degrees, our fair-weathered ocean friends turn their noses up and push back out to seals-ville. Facing the relentless pursuit from seals and sea lions is even more appealing than gracing us with their...

< >

Skeena steelhead for $650 a day

Weather directly effects our lives in a ver intrusive way each and every day.  Over the past year it seems we have hardly had any luck at all.  The Bulkley season saw one of the most pervasive blow out seasons we have ever seen.  Every time the river started to clear - along came another storm.  Unfortunately that came after a very cold and wet summer.  Even last spring was too hot and dry making the freshet come nearly 6 weeks early utterly running our lives for a spell.

Needless to...

< >
<
>

Getting back to single hand rods for steelhead

If you could step into a steelhead time machine, you would probably end up fishing some of the greatest runs in history and have them all to yourself. The one thing that would surprise you as you stepped out of the time machine all wadered up is that your spey rod would have turned back in time as well and is now a single-hand rod. 

Now, single-hand rods have seen a major resurgence in the steelhead game due to some great companies like OPST and others that have designed excellent...

< >
<
>

Haida Gwaii

Haida Gwaii is where we call home during the winter months, and anyone who has ever been here knows how incredibly special it is.  It is one of the truly unique destinations in Canada   that offers something for everyone to relate to.  Whether you choose to come in the summer, winter, for fishing or touring you will have a very memorable and wonderful experience.

Here is a photo blog of a day Chris George and I took exploring the coast.  It started off as one of those magical days but...

< >
<
>

How to Consistently spot Steelhead

No, sorry, this isn’t a dissertation on my youth and its addictive lifestyle, nor is it about swimming into toilet bowls and/or breaking the law to get a fix.…

Actually, wait—maybe I could write a dissertation on some of that, at least as far as youth and addictions go.

Growing up on the Canyon Rivers of the North Vancouver, rivers dominated by deep pools and tail-outs, giant boulders and cliff faces, I found waters that fit my addiction to fishing like a glove, as they had my...

< >
<
>

Swinging with spey rods for chum salmon

Everyone seems to be on a quest for the “best” of something in the fishing world: the best rod, the best reel, the best line, or the best rive. Whenever someone uses the cliche word “best” with anything related to fishing I immediately tune out.  

The Qualifier

The other day, a guest asked one of the most well-informed  fishing questions I’ve ever heard. Usually, people ask the question: “What’s the best river to catch a steelhead on, or when is the best time to come steelhead fishing...

< >
<
>

Stranded on a desert island with 3 rods

Yesterday I had a conversation with a guest about spey rods, and it raised a point regarding rod selection that I thought was interesting.

He indicated that he was contemplating buying several rods, and he asked me to name my 3 “go-to” spey rods.  Immediately I resisted answering—not out of fear of sharing my rod preferences but because I know that my preferences rarely match other peoples.

What’s wrong with that?  Well if he goes with my selections, it presumes that he and I...

< >
<
>

2017 program availability

Babine Steelhead Lodge –

Few places in the world of steelhead fishing boast such an impressive resume as the Babine. The river can support 10,000+ steelhead each year with many of the very largest in the world. The surroundings are true British Columbia wilderness, the runs are perfect for swinging and the fishing is incredible. Newly renovated Babine Steelhead Lodge sits amongst a grove of old growth cottonwoods, beside on of the most impressive pieces of camp water anywhere. Come fish the...

< >
<
>

12 days of Christmas gifts for the fisherman

On the first day of Christmas, my true love gave to me a partridge in a pear tree.
On the second day of Christmas my true love gave to me two turtle doves
And a partridge in a pear tree.

Ok we may be last minute shoppers but our gifts are WAY better than a pear tree and turtle doves.  We would like to thank all our friends, readers and guests for a great year.  We will work hard in 2017 to improve in all facets of the industry.  In the meatime if you need to get out and...

< >
<
>

PINCH ME, PLZ!

At first I thought I had downloaded a dream then after the first couple of paragraphs my vision became blurry, I had to stop reading. It was overwhelming!  It was the first thirty five pages of layout for my book I was viewing.  Now I know how others have felt after years of writing then finally seeing their works in real time.  Mine spanned over 15 years of research, gathering pictures and climbing out of bed at all hours of the night to place a thought in my manuscript.   Derek had asked me...

< >
<
>

Wandering November

The end of the season is an awesome time of the year for the staff. It signals the time to step back from the draining season and get back to basics on the rivers.  Great friends throwing some lines, catching a few fish and sharing in some old and new memories.  You never know what the weather will do and this year it was high and brown from a rain on snow event creating the largest flows since spring freshet. Oh well, we still made it work! A good friend of mine from my days in Alaska came...

< >
<
>

Winter Steelhead just isn't for you

Too many articles have been written about winter steelhead, so I shall tread lightly.  As most readers know, this is a very difficult fishery for those who do it on a swung fly.  Not to take anything away from indicator warriors or float fisherman, but swinging up a big, chrome tide fresh steelhead in absurdly cold temperatures is not an easy feat.  We often bite our lips on the Bulkley when guests utter a dreaded comment about slow fishing under their breath after “only” catching two fish...

< >
<
>

SILVER AND GOLD – SOUTH OF THE BORDER

I try not to build high expectations for any trip.  But sometimes it is impossible for me not to attach some goals to another adventure.  This trip had been 50 years in the making and 5 years of saving for it.  My wife, Judy, and I planned to celebrate our 50th  (Gold) wedding anniversary at Isla Holbox, Mexico.  We planned it to coincide with the presence of large and baby tarpon literally surrounding the island.  Tarpon are found close by; to the East, South, West and North of our second...

< >
<
>

Epic Waters Fall 2016 #PhotoEssay

 

This fall was as predictable as picking lottery numbers. The weather came in constant waves, boats died en masse, fish were there one day and gone the next and each day brought some new set of problems around the lodge. We often found ourselves on the @epicwaters instagram account using #seasonfromhell or #soyouwanttobeaguide to describe the onslaught. That said, we wouldn't trade it for the world and the good moments far made up for the struggle (#thestruggleisreal...

< >
<
>

The Truth behind Canadian Thanksgiving

Not too many holidays land smack in the middle of prime fishing weeks, but the biggest one of note is Canadian Thanksgiving. It is here this weekend, and if you live up north you are either hunting or fishing with your time off. Many of our fantastic American guests are quite curious about this Canadian holiday-weekend. In fact, many Canadians have no idea why or even how we celebrate it. With one holiday a month all year, and many more that are way more made-up than this one, we hardly care...

< >
<
>

Life, Death and Steelhead

Some trips out on the river are easy pickings, while others are so hard it nearly seems futile. Fishing is very much like life in that sense. 2016 has been filled with ups and downs for both me and my family. During our winter steelhead season in Haida Gwaii, I received the call that no one ever wants to get. The one that tells you your mother has passed away. In a very cliche way, I experienced a sensory overload, a loud, deafening ringing in the ears that slowly faded into a dark silence....

< >
<
>

A Black Wolf, Ava, Madoff and a Grizzly + Sam McGee

A few short years ago, aside from the steelhead fishing while guiding at Damdochax Lodge under the supervision of Hannah Belford some noteworthy incidents occurred.  The experience, probably one of the most physically demanding guiding jobs of its kind was right down my alley although i admit some of it put me to the test.  When the helicopter arrives it lands at the bottom of a steep hill so all of the gear is hand-bombed to the cabins not to close-by.  Most of the week is hiking up or...

< >
<
>

2016 - An #EPIC Year

  2016 has been really good to Epic.

I’ve had the privilege to be involved with and spend time at every operation Epic owns, manages or represents. Over the past 8 months I’ve travelled to some of British Columbia’s most amazing gems and spent time with the incredible Epic crew and our loyal clients.

 

Some of the highlights this year include…

- Finishing the final touches on the Bulkley Basecamp. Complete with hot water on demand...

< >
<
>

Epics Day on the Skeena : Photo Blog

   

 

Heading out from Smithers : Frontier Farwest

Andrea doing some pregnant sockeye fishing : Due date mid Sept

 

< >
<
>

Epic Beer Blog

 The Beer Blog

As everyone knows, fall in the Bulkley Valley is hard-core steelhead season, and our families and significant others know not to expect to see very much of us. What you probably don’t know is that our family time on the Skeena system takes place in May and June. This is because it is bar fishing season. Bar fishing is the technical term for bank fishing with a fixed line (basically a system designed to let a fisherman drink beer). 

Bar fishermen even go so far as...

< >
<
>

3 Epic fishing vacation fails and how to avoid them

Imagine this, you have just booked a trip to go trout fishing in BC at a beautiful lodge with a wonderful lake and river right out front.  At the sport shows you saw video and photo proof that you would be catching 100 trout a day all on dry flies.  The owner who was at the show was nice enough to let you in on the secret that if you didn't put a deposit down right than and there with your credit card you were like to miss out on the spot.  You spend the next several months preparing, tying...

< >
<
>

Guide Talk

There is a lot to know about fishing for Steelhead but you do not have to know it all otherwise this person would not have survived 37 years on the Babine River! How the fisherman rates his guide is what matters.  It would be interesting to hear their view of what constitutes the “perfect” guide.  My hunch is it might be quite different from the guides’ view of themselves.  A guide first should realize the client knows his capabilities and his expectations coincide with his knowledge.  He or...

< >
<
>

A Steelheader goes Tarpon fishing

For most of us serious fly fisherman there is nothing more exhilarating in this world than chasing silver, chrome fish that bite a fly and jump like hell. I can’t say a day on the ocean can match a day swinging flies for wild steelhead, however I am hard pressed to remember anything that caused the type of adrenaline rush that occurs when you see giant tarpon surfacing. There are many unbelievable places to satisfy the tarpon urge but for us, heading to Pine Key in Florida was an easy choice...

< >

It's Okay to be Drifter... but Nobody likes a Creep!

.....

From somewhere deep in my twisted mind is the best shirt design ever! It reads "it's okay to be a drifter... but nobody likes a creep."

 

It would have the "drifter" face of Tom Hanks from Castaway months, NO years after a haircut and beside, a close up of creepy Anthony Hopkins from Silence of the Lambs or that guy playing a banjo in Deliverance. People would probably conjure up images of drifting fish bums and creepy anglers a little too detached from society to be...

< >

Best New Thing: OPST Commando Heads

Best New Thing is a new section dedicated to products and services in our industry that switch up the game, make things easier or are just sweet!

 

OPST Commando Heads- How Shorter Than Super Short Isn't Too Short

So here it is... time for another installment of stuff I thought would never work... skagit heads that are shorter than already short skagit heads.

Skagit lines are great. We all love em despite our reluctance to say so while...

< >
<
>

Dominatrix Guide listings

As I sit here packing for my trip to the florida keys next week I quickly realize I may not have everything I need.  I have heard the stories of tarpon guides tearing strips off rookie fisherman who just cant hit the casts in a timely fashion.  If my guide is female she would surely be a dominatrix.

I decide I need to reach into my sadsim and masochism Mr Dressup ‘tickle trunk’ and be completely prepared for total guide domination.

In all seriousness, it is an interesting...

< >
<
>

Full Circle By Babine Bob Wickwire

It was an historic time for Jerrie Lou and I to work at Babine Steelhead Lodge during the fall of 2015. 1984 was the last time we were there. It was because of Tom Derry that we were there.  He tabbed it Full Circle and so it was.  We, the Wickwires, built BSL in 1967-68 close to when Enjar Madsen constructed Norlakes, now owned by Billy and Carrie LaBonte. 

We left BSL in 1984 to be even more secluded by building Silver Hilton Steelhead Lodge about 12 miles further downriver.  We...

< >
<
>

Fisherman's 5 with James Reid

James Reid is a highly respected bamboo rod builder from North Vancouver, British Columbia. His rods have been described as "the closest feeling to graphite out there" which despite them being all wood and proudly so, is a testemant to the ongoing research and development he has put into hollow built bamboo. We are no longer surprised at the number of his rods that come through our lodges as everyone seems to be in line for the next one.

 

...

< >
<
>

A Dog’s Best Friend

Gawwwwwwwwwd!!!!!  I have writer’s block.  I have stared at this computer for three nights in a row without laying down a word.  Not even a letter.  This has happened before but not as severe as this.  It is like a palsy.  My hands are frozen in the “start” position over the keys.  I know what I want to write about.  I don’t know where to start.  I’ll just start writing stuff down and see what happens.

I want to write about my chocolate lab. This was during the 70’s.  Her name was...

< >
<
>

Fisherman's 5 with Sean Johnson

The Fisherman's 5 is a new series we are running here at Epic Waters, so keep your eye out for it in the upcoming weeks.  We will be asking folks who have been in the fishing industry for many years 5 questions to answer honestly.  Expect to hear from guides, marketing experts, casting champions, rod and reel builders and much more.  Our industry has changed a lot over the last decade and many of these people have been leading the way. 

Our first guest in the fisherman 5 is Sean...

< >
<
>

EXPLORATIONS

 

Ex-plo-ra-tion  -  To travel (in a little-known region) for discovery.  To examine (something) carefully; investigate.   Doesn’t it just send chills up and down your body to relate that word to your flyfishing adventures.  It does for me.  I can’t help it.  I once conducted an experiment.  I would ask fishers if they were given a choice of two maps; one with a possibly finding a pot of gold or the other, finding new, unfished waters with a possibility of finding fish, which map...

< >
<
>

5 terms to avoid when steelhead fishing

The quality of your steelheading trip is typically based on expectations.  We often see anglers get so dejected from the sport that we have to put them on suicide watch, hiding all ropes, knives and pills.

To avoid depression while steelheading try to stay away from terms that can send you down the wrong path on your trip.  Trust us, an excellent method to avoiding the pitfalls of steelhead depression is to follow our list of the top 5 words to never say when fishing. 

1. "Just...

< >
<
>

Spey Fishing Nepal

Coming into this adventure, my ultimate goal was to fish the entire country of Nepal and document what I saw.  

Here is my epic journey - start to finish on one the best and most meaningful trips I have ever taken. If you love adventure fishing there is nothing more exhilerating than exploring new rivers in a foriegn country.  

If you would like more information on my trip, or have some questions about Nepal in general please let me know and I will be happy to help. 

...

< >
<
>

Fishing a Short Line

Many accomplished spey fisherman love to cast long, tight loops that sail across the river while the sun glimmers off the shimmering long belly line.  Perfect posture, effortless strokes while activating their glutes like the finest Tiger Woods golf swing in his prime.  This scene with the right light is a photographers dream.  However when the steelhead see this they typically snicker in delight.

Fishing a short line is an art form all to itself, and if you can do it correctly it...

< >
<
>

Winter’s Spey

It's not always necessary to have a huge fly, a heavy fly, or the latest and greatest style.  Even in winter, there are certain runs that are pretty straight forward to swing.  They’re not deep, fast or technical.  Im talking about the classic runs, the ones we’ve all read about in our steelheading bibles.  “That run" with a perfect 3 to 4 foot depth, with a sexy catwalk pace flow.  

Im talking about sun warming your fingers, water temperature on the rise, and steelhead senses going...

< >
<
>

HOW THE MOW SYSTEM CHANGED THE GAME

I’m guilty of being a little opinionated. When I'm guiding its not a my way or the highway thing just confidence in what works and it can make everything else seem fruitless. Sinktips are no exception.

When I started swinging for steelhead, like most people I learned with “those RIO tips” and the system was so ingrained in me water was often referred to as a “type 3 spot” or a “type 8 bucket.” From slow to quick sinking these 15 foot tips covered just about every situation. Just about...

< >
<
>

Pink Polar Tube

The Polar Tube series is tied like most steelhead flies; to resemble nothing in particular, yet look incredibly edible. It has enough wiggle for slow currents, yet has just enough resistance to fish faster flows.  It has the attribute guides love, simplistic yet dynamic. You can work this fly at any depth in the water column with simple mends.  It drops well under a large mend, and has enough movement to fish well on a down and across shallow swing.   

It fishes well for chrome...

< >
<
>

Bulkley Special Fly recipe

The name says it all really.  Its another egg sucking leech in classic Bulkley River colors.  In case you’ve never fished the Bulkley, its a bit of a goldilocks river.  The way it sets up for the swung fly in every sense is "just right". The river is just large enough to fish a fun length of line, just clear enough to see a few fish here and there.  Its just far enough up the Skeena that the fish are still bright, yet very trout like with dry flies.  I may be slightly biased since I have...

< >
<
>

So you want to guide steelhead….

Fly fishing guides are always attracted to the job initially from the misconception they will be able to fish the best and most productive waters of the world.  Although you may hear about them often from your guests, you will be hard pressed to access them yourself.  Although I did once train a guide on the Alagnak in Alaska for a 7 day float trip in which he fished the entire time instead of working.  The last day he caught a 28 inch rainbow and quit the next morning claiming he just...

< >
<
>

OLD FRIEND AND NEW WATERS

A few weeks ago, I had a chance to meet up with an old (actually he’s pretty young) friend to fish new waters.  Our plan A was to go to the Thompson, but it closed after the first of November.  We planned to leave on the 18th.  What to do??  I called a friend (Jeff Jarrett) in Orofino, Idaho to see what the Clearwater was doing.  He told me to get my ass up there.  So Plan B turned to the Clearwater and as it turned out, the Salmon River, in Idaho.  My friend (Justin Miller of northern...

< >
<
>

FIRST DAY BLUES

Whenever I take a steelheading or any other fishing trip, I get the First Day Blues.  I can prepare all I want and I will have a major fuck-up on my first day.  I don’t know why this happens.  I can get to my destination camp or room or lodge with all of my equipment and necessary items; clothing, camera stuff, fishing gear and toiletries.  I have everything to make a successful trip.  But I guess I get so excited to actually be where I’ve been planning for a year (more or less) that my...

< >
<
>

Twisting Feathers In Camp

On a recent steelhead trip we were lucky enough to have some calm, warm evenings around a fly tying table and close to a campfire.  We quit fishing before dark (for a change) and got back to camp in the late afternoon.  So often, Steelheading is a schedule of up before dawn and back after dark.  If there is one thing more years on the rivers than I care to count has taught me, is to cheat on one end of the day or the other (or fish during midwinter when the days are so short).

On...

< >
<
>

Just a Yiddle Bit

Fly fishing is a game of inches, and subtleties that ultimately determines success.  Actions typically need to be small and never exaggerated from casting, to mending, to setting the hook and to fighting the fish.  Too big of a sweep and you can blow your anchor, too big of a stroke and you get rainbow loops, and too big of a mend you get a fly that never fishes.  To big of a hook set you and you will break off and to much power on a cast will shock the rod. 

My three year old has...

< >
<
>

IT’S IN THE AIR

It is the 5th of September and we have a cold front moving through Seattle with a bit of rain.  It feels like fall.  Yesterday when there were a few hours of sunshine making its way through the trees, I recognized the angle of the shadows as a forecast of autumn a few days or weeks ahead.  Within the last couple of decades I would go into a funk because of the diminishing daily sunshine.  Some years it would develop into a serious depression.  I don’t do that now (thank God).  I have learned...

< >
<
>

The dangers of fishing, no really

Every so often in the fishing game, you are going to end up in some horrible and dangerous situations.  Usually it is due to a bad decision somewhere along the way. Charging through water that manute bol couldn’t wade, rafting class 5 rapids in a float tube or hiking through miles of devils club all spell disaster.  In the fishing world we all do a lot of exploratory trips, and with all the available resources some good research goes a long way.  

However, if you do end up in a...

< >
<
>

STICK ‘EM UP!

I have chosen to never take up golf.  I know I would like it and I don’t need any other activity to take away my limited time on the river.  My hat goes off to those who can combine golf and flyfishing.  I just get too obsessive when starting a new activity or sport.  And besides that, every sport I’ve taken up as an adult has brought me within a 7x tippet’s width of death.  Only because I’ve had a guardian angel on my shoulder, am I still able to sit here tonight and write this.  Mountain...

< >
<
>

Simply good product at a good price

Have you ever wanted to take a trip doing something new?  If it’s your first time doing something you are often inclined to buy cheap gear as you have no certainty on how many times you will use it.  In the fishing world this can end in sheer disaster.  You may end up being a walking version of an epic toyota recall, a ticking time bomb.  The drag blows up on your reel, rod snaps, wader seams break leaving you in utter chaos.  If you want to stay in the river fishing and go light on your...

< >
<
>

ALONE

I heard a song today that reminded me of a fishing trip I was on in the early 70’s.  The song doesn’t remind me of myself and my life but of a specific trip.  I was by myself at an eastern Washington lake in late April.  I was by myself and set up a camp along the shoreline.  On the drive over, I heard “I Drink Alone” by George Thorogood.  I’ve always liked that song because of the way it sounded.  So, that night on the shoreline with the stars shining as bright as they could, I sat by a...

< >
<
>

When things go from bad to WORSE.

Every so often in the fishing game, you are going to end up in some horrible and dangerous situations.  Usually it is due to a bad decision somewhere along the way. Charging through water that manute bol couldn’t wade, rafting class 5 rapids in a float tube or hiking through miles of devils club all spells disaster.  In the fishing world we all do a lot of exploratory trips and with all the available resources some good research goes a long way.  

However, if you do end up in a...

< >
<
>

HITCHIN’ A RIDE

I was lucky enough to be one of the first fly fishers in Los Roques, Venezuela.  There were no guides ; only local fishermen who would take us out to fish for raton (bonefish).  I was with a video production company shooting a video of this up and coming bonefish destination.  It was actually unbelievable fly fishing for bones. Once we got it across to the fishermen/guides what we were after (very little Spanish and zero English).  I started working for a company organizing group trips there...

< >
<
>

Best Running Line for Shooting Heads

There is always a ton of debate among spey casters about what is the best running line on the market. Which one is the easiest to hold? Which one is the slickest, or the thinnest or the most supple and which one tangles the least… Everyone has an opinion, and this is just mine. But, I am pretty sure I am right.

I have used a million different running lines. Each one usually did well in one category or another but fell short in others. I never found a running line I thought would be...

< >
<
>

BC's best little secret, The Cable Cookhouse.

My love for BC spey fishing started in Port Hardy on Vancouver Island many years ago. This is why my road trip had me leaving the Skeena watershed to be among the great North Island rivers of my past. I packed my Subaru, picked up my brother, and made my way to the ferry. Our destination was Sayward Junction on the beautiful Salmon River. Upon arrival at Sayward Junction the rivers were very low. The upper parts of the Salmon had my brother asking me why were we here? I replied, "I timed...

< >
<
>

THE DAY THE TRUCK SUNK AND THE BOAT BURNT

I guess if you fish long enough some pretty strange adventures await.  One of my favorite saltwater bonefish areas for wade-fishing is Christmas Island in the Pacific about a 1000 miles south of Hawaii.  I have been there a few times and have some very memorable days of fishing.  I want to tell you of one particular day while fishing for Trevally and a few bonefish.  It was the day the truck sunk and the boat burnt.  I am not shitting you, this is a true story.

I wanted to dedicate a...

< >
<
>

LEAP OF FAITH

This is a concept that we steelheaders deal with every time we head to the river.  Just the act of traveling (sometimes hundreds or even thousands of miles) proves that we have taken a leap of faith; we have faith that the fishing might, could, should – WILL be worth the trip.  If you have ever fished with a guide, you know how much faith you have in what he/she may tell you about the river or fishing.  The guide will say, “Jump in here.  It is deep near the bank but head toward the middle...

< >
<
>

Don’t fish a bad cast

Warning: This post is bad advice for beginners.

In the guiding business patience is a virtue.   All guides have there own variety of “go to” phrases that flow out so naturally and often you don’t even notice them being said.  Should of been here yesterday, never leave fish to find fish, A bad day's fishing is better than a good day at work. All of these can be heard echoing along every river system in North America daily.

However there is one phrase I am trying to put a stop to and...

< >
<
>

What to do when you fall in

Steelhead fishing is often done is cold or crappy weather unless you are lucky enough to squeeze in some summer fishing where falling in certainly isn't a big issue.  However if it’s fall or winter you can expect bone chilling water and air temps that are so cold hitch hikers hold up pictures of thumbs.  Falling in the river anytime can be horrible but in the cold it can even be dangerous.  If you are camping and you fall in you need to take it very seriously.  Here are the the things to...

< >
<
>

Pinky Out Steelheader

My buddy Lightnin' always says that when someone is being uppity or sophisticated that they are carrying themselves with their "pinky out". It is a reference to the posh tea drinker that sips all snooty like, with one pinky out, straightened and off the handle of their cup. There are many things besides tea drinking that one can call someone out as being pinky out, but only one that I will proudly claim I am dead guilty of.

I swing flies for steelhead. Period. There is no other method...

Top 5 photos captured

1.  Ken Morrish of Flywater Travel makes a living following the best fish in the world, from snarling freshwater golden dorado to the Finest BC steelhead rivers to supercharged King salmon all on the fly.  With his great eye for photography it’s not surprising he captured this incredible photograph on the Bulkley River on one of FFW’s Steve Morrow Canyon trips.  Pretty much sums up the reason Steve and his Bulkley river beats are receiving rave reviews year after year.

 

...

< >
<
>

Swinging is like Baseball

Swinging flies for steelhead, like baseball, is not for everyone. It is a love developed by only the minority of both sports fans and anglers. It is just too complicated and tedious for the casual spectator or participant to appreciate, so those that are into it are usually hard-core. Most true believers in either sport acquire a real passion over time, passed down from family and friends from the generations of passionate fans before them. The vast majority of people think it is boring to...

< >
<
>

Fishing BC? here are the Cana-dos and the Cana-don'ts

 If you have finally saved enough money for the insanely expensive BC angling licenses, and the steelhead season up-charge for rental cars or fishing guides, you should bone up on the “Canadian” ways. 

To start you will want to load up your spotify playlists with Neil Young, Tragically Hip, Feist and Michael Buble. Toss on some Stompin’ Tom Connors and Leonard Cohen for some bonus points.  This will immediately get you through any border line ups faster than a canuck on skates.

...

< >
<
>

Top 5 King salmon flies 2015

Those who target king salmon on the fly often, have endured through much pain in there fishing careers.  Throwing big heavy rods and fast sinking tips is usually key to success.  The new lighter, high module, graphite rods have made life easier on the river while casting endless hours waiting for the saltwater wrecking balls to come into the river. Last summer our favorite rod was the 10130-4 Sage One. For a 13ft 10wt rod, it is phenomenal. Short, lightweight and powerful it launches tight,...

< >
<
>

Our top 5 winter steelhead flies

Swinging flies for winter steelhead in BC is certainly not for everyone, but if you have enjoyed many years of successful summer run adventures it is time to add it to your repertoire (its all about the challenge).  Fly selection is much more critical when winter steelheading because the fish tend not to move as far for your fly.  The strike zones are smaller so having a fly that will hit the deep water column is critical whether the fish is holding in deep slow water or a fast tailout....

< >
<
>

Steelheaders New Years Resolutions for 2015

Now thats its 2015 we all need a few resolutions that will help us catch more fish. The best way to do that is to get some good karma going to appease the steelhead gods.

When people talk about steelhead as the fish of a thousand casts, they often persuade you to believe that catching them is all about perseverance and time on the water. Many people have attempted to figure out why some people catch a lot more fish than others.  Some people will tell you they carefully paint the...

< >
<
>

Epic in Movember

Mid-October

While having coffee at the Packing House in Spences Bridge I said to my friends, " Once I land my Thompson fish I'm leaving."  They jokingly replied, "You could be here for ten days or more,"  as they looked and laughed at my 'handful' of grease lined flies. Armed with only five deer hair flies I began swinging toward the  lake hole. After a full day of casting my 70 foot spey line I started to think my friends were right. To boost my spirits I kept telling  myself, "You...

< >
<
>

Official end of an era in Telkwa BC

On the Bulkley river sits a lodge steeped in time honored traditions, and rich in history and lore.   Frontier Farwest has been around for 50 years and under the guidance of founder Collin Schadwrech FFW has placed its stamp on the steelhead world forever.

Schadrech is the most famous angler to ever guide the Bulkley River. In fact today, almost every single outfitter, owner or head guide on the Bulkley worked for Schadrech.   A character rich in personality Colin exhibits the most...

< >
<
>

Rio Marie Big Bass

Big Peacock Bass are the junkyard dogs of the jungle. They will defend their little piece of structure or bed or wherever they call home from any invader, for any reason. Pull a fly through  their kitchen while they are on guard and they are guaranteed to try and hurt it, and you, real bad. It is just their nature. All peacock bass are tough as nails, but the really BIG ones are impossible to forget and are a whole different animal when you put them at the end of a fly line.

The Rio...

< >
<
>

Lacrosse training for fishing guides

Lacrosse is a growing sport out west, but out east where I grew up it was pushed on us harder than the french language.  At an early age lacrosse sticks were put in our hands and we were taught how to scoop up grounders, cradle, and hum an indian rubber ball a country mile.  I still love the sport, but looking back now I realize it taught me a skill set I would use the rest of my life, netting fish.

After working in Alaska for 12 years I figure I have probably netted a couple hundred...

< >
<
>

Home River Fun

A few weeks ago, I got a chance to meet friends on my old home waters; the Wenatchee River.  The river was perfect and we all were excited.  When I lived in Wenatchee in the 90’s, I learned the Wenatchee River and learned to love it.  I would start fishing it for steelhead in August and my earliest fish caught was August 14th.   It usually got better until the end of September to mid October and would then fish ok until late November.  I would get up at 4:00 am in the summer and get to the...

< >
<
>

Wild fish or pass thank you

Since I was 10 years old there has not been one time in my life when wild fish stocks did not need our help wherever I was fishing.  I grew up fishing in the Catskill mountain streams during probably the worst climate for native fish in the history of the region. The famed rivers had been greatly effected by habitat destruction. At the time the common ideology  was to pump the systems full of hatchery trout and promote people to catch and kill these fish.  It was obvious the brown trout were...

< >
<
>

Girls are taking over - embracing the growth of Spey fishing.

In the words of Pete Pettos "I can't wait to get home so I can burp and fart in the privacy of my own home. THERE ARE TOO  MANY CHICKS ON THIS RIVER!."  Nick Karol's reply  "I SHALL embrace the growth of spey fishing. Never before could a bushman such as myself be so lucky! I just had two blonde girls on my boat. I LOVE  STEELHEADING."  Pete Pettos replies  "Nicky, I came here to fish with you, so stop running  off into the forest with Lauren."  Nick Karol replies  "Lol". 
 

...

< >
<
>

Swinging the Dream - Summer Runs.

As I lay here in my Subaru I write this blog until my cell dies. I have been camping up on logging roads of two great river systems since mid-August. The sun nor rain or snow had stopped me from my pursuits at first light

This season I was ready for action! My fly box was full of deer and elk hair flies. The reason behind my preparation was that I like using caddis flies and they're super easy to tie. 90% of my fish catch this season had been landed on the grease line caddis. Multi-...

< >
<
>

The difference between men and women and steelhead and trout

In the fishing world trout are the men and steelhead are the women.  Trout have one track minds living their lives searching for ways to feed as much as possible while expending the least amount of energy.  They generally don’t like to work very hard for their food.  If you study the feeding habits of a man while his wife and kids are off visiting the inlaws, you will notice a very close correlation to trout.  Like a trouts lie, a man will have his lazy boy chair fully set up to expend the...

< >

Is your guide a stud or a dud?

Sometimes in the fishing business you book a trip with someone and they stick you with the guide of their choice.  You are often at the mercy of ‘luck of the draw’ at this point.  Its like when you go to a trout lodge and half the guides are young, fresh out of college kids, taking a year off to full fill a bucketlist dream job for a year before they get a “real job”.  You know you are going to catch less fish that day than the guy who has been guiding there for 10 years and is a lifer.  Day...

< >
<
>

The Spey Casters Grand Slam

I learned how to cast a Spey rod to swing flies for steelhead. Steelhead have hands down been my favorite target species for a long time now and there is no option on method to use. Once you swing flies with a Spey rod there is no going back. 

The efficiency of Spey casting is hard to argue against. They basically cast farther with less effort, more often. Spey casting covers the most water in a day when fishing for anadromous fish.  The calm rhythm of casting a 2 hander all day is...

< >
<
>

Fishing between the runs

One of the reasons a lot of people prefer early season steelhead fishing over late season is that the fish are much more aggressive to a dry fly.  However another attraction to catching steelhead in warmer water temps is having the opportunity to fish some very interesting water . With warm water the fish will search out fast, highly oxygenated spots to hold. With even a couple rocks to lay behind the fish will find extemely fast water to relax in.  Often times these are very random spots...

< >
<
>

Guide Training

It is not often that a position opens up for a new steelhead guide, however when it does it is important to bring them along as quick as possible. Each steelhead river has its own personality and the most important thing to learn is where and when the steelhead like to lie.  A big mistake many guides make when training new additions is taking them from run to run having them memorize where they are.  If you are a guide that goes from point A to point B everyday you will quickly see you are...

< >
<
>

I heard it through the grapevine

I was driving home from elk hunting the other day and I heard a song on the radio that beamed me (Scotty) into the past.  In 1970, I was driving with a friend south from Seattle to fish for three days.  That day we were headed for the Toutle River.  About halfway to the river, I heard a new version of a song I knew very well.  This version was 11 minutes long, though, and sung by Credence Clearwater Revival.  It was “I Heard It Through The Grapevine”.  I was blown away by it at the time.  It...

< >
<
>

Fishing is Fishing

Last week I finally got to realize a goal.  In addition to an addiction to steelhead, I have to get a fix of throwing flies at carp every summer.  My brother and I took off from Seattle in a pouring-down rain for the drive east to meet our friend Darc Knobel in Ephrata, Wa, for three days of chasing scales on the flats of Banks Lake in Eastern Washington.  The type of fly fishing for carp we have been following for 20 years is sight fishing only, in shallow water that is fished by a poled...

< >
<
>

Spey rod for the big ones

I have a new favorite setup for the big ones.

It used to be that when we went after big salmon we had to fish 14 to 16 foot rods in 10wt. As a steelheader, I have gotten very comfortable with my shorter 12.5 to 13.5 ft rods and do not like casting the extremely long rods that much any more. I like the compact lines and compact casting strokes that go with the shorter sticks.

This summer I got to fish for monsters in a few amazing places, and fell in love with a new heavy duty...

< >
<
>

King Salmon on the fly

Although we all dream of swinging grease lines, or skating dries, the reality of the game is if we plan on fishing often throughout a calendar year one has to come to terms with a sink tip. Once you get used to that idea an entire world of spey fishing opens up, one that we have been fully immersed in for the past 5 years. 

Swinging for kings is technically similar to winter steelhead.  Depth and speed of the swing are very important to be successful. Similar to winter steelhead,...

< >
<
>

5 tips for swinging for kings with spey rods

Keep your line as straight as possible on the swing, kings are deep, and absolutely hate(in a good way) slow moving flies passing through there personal space. The longer your fly stays in that window the more likely you will be to entice a strike. Don’t set to quick. The slower the current the slower the set has to be. Kings are like big dumb jocks on steroids, they will chew that fly long and hard before ever letting go. Wait as long as it takes for them to turn before setting (within reason...

< >
<
>

Its all about the staff

Anyone in the service business knows they are as only good as their staff.  Here at Epic we are the management team that operates several lodges in BC. The guides, the chefs, and everyone else involved work hard as a team to make each one of our operations a success.  It is the same group of guys working the Bulkley/Morice in the fall at Frontier Farwest as it is hiking the many rivers of Haida Gwaii in the winter at Copper Bay Lodge.  Working together throughout the year at multiple lodges...

< >
<
>

Haida Gwaii

              For several years a friend of mine who lived on Queen Charlotte Islands, constantly told me stories of fantastic fishing in the primal streams flowing through the thick rain forests surrounding him.  Another friend of mine and I decided to visit him and see how much of what he had to say was BS and how much was possible.  We discovered no BS and all kinds of possibilities.  We fished small rivers and streams every day for a week.  While we did not find huge numbers of fish, we...

< >
<
>

Atlantic Sea-Run Browns and Steelhead

Several years ago I read a statement that I found unbelievable – Steelhead were being caught in a river in Argentina that, naturally, emptied into the Atlantic ocean.  No such thing, I thought. Steelhead are a Pacific ocean product. Then I started researching the possibility.  A friend of mine and I were planning a trip to Rio Gallegos, just south of the Rio Santa Cruz (where the steelhead were reported to ascend).  After talking to the lodge owner at Rio Gallegos (Alex de Tomaso), we...

< >
<
>

Fishing With Johnny

I like to think of how fly fishing has enriched my life.  One of the ways that it has, is the people I have met, fished with and who are my friends because of throwing feathers and fur at fish. It used to be all about the fish and the fishing with me (sometimes, it still is), but more and more it is about the people I am with.  One of these guys I met because of fly fishing is Johnny.  Now, this is not “little Johnny” who is the brunt of so many stories.  One of which goes like this:  Little...

< >
<
>

Any Color As Long As It Is Purple

I don’t know why the color purple has so much appeal to me for steelhead flies.  Probably, because I’ve caught so many steelhead on purple flies.  There are two flies of this color that I have used the most; Purple Peril and many variations of it and my own Purple Haze. At the time I named it, I didn’t realize there was another (maybe more) with that name.  But I decided to keep it; one, because I was into Jimi Hendrix and the name suited the fly.

Here is the recipe for the Purple...

< >
<
>

Skunk Up

Original Skunk pattern (from Steelhead Fly Patterns and Flies by Trey Combs):

Tail    -    Red hackle fibers

Body -    Black chenille ribbed with silver tinsel

Hackle – Black, sometimes tied as a beard

Wing -    White bucktail or polar bear

Skunk Up pattern (Marts pattern):

Hook -   AJ 1 ½ , 3 or 5

Tail   -     Red polar bear

Eyes -    Dazl Eyes Silver (size - proportional to hook size)

Body -   Black Polar Bear...

< >
<
>

Flies, Then And Way Back Then:

I am tying steelhead flies for an upcoming trip (in October).  I only have about 4 million steelhead flies dating back to the 80’s, but I could always use a couple hundred more.  I tie several dozen to hundreds of flies for major trips (major trips for me are any time I can get on the river).  I do enjoy tying for upcoming fishing, so any river time is a good excuse for tying up bunches of flies.  I’ll tie my standard patterns, but I always tie up new patterns to try.  Some of them really...

< >
<
>

Tools of the Trade

One of the fun things about guiding is having the ability to target all kinds of species throughout the year. As much as I love steelhead I also enjoy all the other fish that we catch.  In the summer I find myself chasing kings one day, and trout the next, and in the coastal camps we have to be ready for our nightly dungeness crab and BC spot prawn missions. To be ready for any of this on a moments notice it takes serious organization.  These are the items and systems I use that make life...

< >
<
>

River Dipper

I used to have a river-friend on the Tolt River out close to Carnation, Wa.  For a long while, this run on the river was a favorite steelhead haunt of mine.  It was close to my home in Woodinville.  I could get there when I only had a few hours to fish.  I usually saw my friend when I was least ready.  That is the reason I have no pictures of him (check out http://vireo.acnatsci.org and search for American Dipper).  I wished I had the patience to photograph this bird, but it is usually a low...

< >
<
>

Crotch Deep In Fast Waters

Wading is not one of my favorite fishing subjects, but it deserves some comments.  It is one of those evil necessaries associated with steelheading.  Unless one fishes solely from a boat, river anglers have to develop skills needed to move about in the currents.  If one is dedicated to cast from the best possible position to put a fly in front of eager steelhead, he (she) has to do whatever is necessary to get to that spot.  But it should not be done without a plan or at least a quick look...

< >
<
>

The Magic Time

It is strange to me why I love being on the water during certain times under different, but specific conditions when I know other periods of the day have accounted for more fish.  I don’t know about everybody else, but the best time, for me, to hook steelhead has been between 10:00 AM and 3:00 PM.  I have caught and my clients (when I was guiding) have caught more steelhead during that time than either pre-dawn to 10:00 AM or 3:00PM to after sundown.  Why is that?  Pre-dawn on any river...

< >
<
>

I Prefer My Reels To Click

If you have read any of my previous posts to Epic FlyFishing you know that I am a little “old School” when it comes to my equipment.  Especially, my reels.  For all of my freshwater fishing I use a click/pawl-drag reel.  My favorites are the old Orvis CFO reels (made by Hardy in the 70’s and early 80’s, by the way).  I also use a Bougle (Hardy made) reel and CFO VI’s for my two handed rods.  I also have two click and pawl Abel TR series reels that I got in the 90’s for trout fishing.  There...

< >
<
>

Don't always judge a run by the surface

Throughout a calendar year we spend a lot of time guiding on many different rivers with wildly opposite characteristics.  The micro runs of Haida Gwaii to the marathon runs of the Skeena all make for new and interesting challenges. It is easy to fish a river once and point out the “A” water where you can watch your undulating fly walk through at a perfect speed.  However life just isn’t always so simple. 

Rivers are always rising or dropping, and this can really change the features of...

< >
<
>

Single-Hand Rod vs. Two-Hand Rod

Why use a single-hand rod when a two-hand rod can fish more efficiently?  Pure enjoyment, that’s why.  I have to admit I use a two-hand rod more often than a single-hand for steelhead, but I am slowly coming back around to the pure fun of casting, fishing and catching on a single-hand.  Here is what I wish.  I wish I could have the casting and fish-playing fun of the shorter rod and the line handling qualities of the longer rod.  The feel of the strike on a one-hand rod; you can actually...

< >
<
>

Curiosity is the single most important trait of a fly fisherman

Curiosity is the attribute that drives the sport of fly fishing.  It is why we start in the first place and it is what drives us to continue the pursuit until our legs stops working and beyond.  It is the single most important factor in the sport, and it is the common denominator among all of us that fly fish. 

Just like everything else in life, fly fishing has so many elements one can only find the time to focus on certain aspects.  Some folks become enamoured with casting which...

< >
<
>

THE DAY I QUIT FISHING AND THEN THE DAY I CAME TO MY SENSES

The day I quit fishing for steelhead was a normal Washington, December day (drizzle and upper thirties air temp).  My friend and I got to the Barrier Dam launch on the Cowlitz River at 4:30 AM and we were 5th (5TH!!!) in line to launch my drift boat.  We were not fly fishing.  I could hear some arguing about who was in front of whom and statements like “Where did you learn to back up a trailer.  Go home and practice.”  The mood was as dark as the clouded night sky.  But the fishing reports...

< >
<
>

The Old Trail

The trail never gets easier, only more familiar.  I anticipate the meadows with calm pleasure and the cliffs with fear and dread.  I keep trekking it season after season with my fly rod in my hand.  The end of the trail is always welcome and the resultant fishing is always beyond my expectation.  I remember when I first found it.  I was glancing over a map of the no-road access areas of not-very-popular river with direct access to saltwater.  The map was well worn (I had fished the river...

< >
<
>

INVEST YOURSELF FLYFISHING FOR STEELHEAD

To this day it is still important to me to be invested in my fly fishing.  This could mean many things to different anglers.  To me it was tying my own flies, building my own rods (I no longer do this), learning to cast and teaching thousands of people over the decades these same skills.  When I first got intensely interested in fly tying and fishing, I got an aquarium, caught some aquatic bugs and put it all on my tying desk so I could observe the movements and actions of the bugs.  I even...

< >
<
>

A Beautiful Spring..

Now that it's spring, I comb the coastline in search of the elusive spring run steelhead. One place that peaks my interest is a point where Canada and Alaska are one. Canada is to the right and Tongass to the left.  It's a spiritual place where the aboriginal people fight to keep the land and their traditional practices alive. It's a place where as a Canadian I found myself truly having a cultural experience. I made a pact with the locals and no names shall be repeated.

Tobacco for...

< >
<
>

A beer lovers guide to fishing BC

If you are coming to BC to swing flies for winter or summer steelhead, or trying your luck for king salmon on the fly there is one very important thing you should study up on before your trip.  In the end it may be more important than your flies, rods, reels or any other research you have done.  I am of course talking about beer! What to sample immediately upon arrival.  The craft beer world in Canada is much more limited that the wonderland many states in the US enjoy. Pennsylvania, Illinois,...

< >
<
>

The thrill ISN'T gone

The most important thing about targeting any anadromous fish is timing. Water conditions and run timing are far and away the most important factors to catching fish. Beyond how far you cast, or what your beautifully spun flies look like, or how well you know a river. Timing is everything. This fact is true of many things in life, and when timing is good and opportunities abound you better get after it and take advantage.  

Anyone who has ever read Negley Farson’s books will quickly...

< >
<
>

Keeping the fight for our coastal fish simple

Many things have contributed to the great decrease in salmon populations up and down the coast.  There are plenty of arguments to suggest we should sit idly by with our hands tied. Many   believe we understand so little about the causes that it’s a waste of time and money to try to stop it, or maybe they just give up thinking its things we can’t help like loss of habitat, or climate change. Others have been lulled to sleep by being handed yearly batches of hatchery fish.  Many simply believe...

< >
<
>

Spey Fishing Seasonal Diary

Winter 2014:

As I look back at the lower Skeena, winter started on November 16th. That was the day I stopped chasing the summer steelhead run on the upper tributaries. My sights were set on the fall/winter run on the lower Skeena system. Unlike most anglers I was determined to stay with my long head spey lines throughout the winter. The reason for this decision was that I found the mainstream Skeena remained at an all time low. There was no reason to use heavy tips!

During November...

< >
<
>

Lot of ways to get beat in this game

When you think of tough winter steelheading you think of low water, cold water, no water, snow, ice and freezing temps.  Unfortunately for us we saw all of these at one point or another this season. As our guest Mark Bale pointed out, “there’s a lot of ways to get beat in this game.”  

As our winter steelhead season on Haida Gwaii comes to a close we can start to reflect on what we saw and learned the past two months. Most winter steelhead seasons will have at least one patch of...

< >
<
>

'Be like water my friend' - Bruce Lee.

Back before there was a mad rush to simply try to catch one and post it online to show your 'friends', good anglers would take the time to do a little observing before simply barging in and wading deep and casting far.

Observation of water, or waters, is sorely lacking in many anglers, and, like the saying, 'the grass is always greener on the other side' apparently, so it is with water!

Fish doesn't know what bank you are on, they just know what's comfy and secure. With...

< >
<
>

Kola Peninsula: Varzina River

Join Justin Miller, The Fly Shop Sea-run Travel Specialist and Spey casting junkie, as he makes the leap between the Steelhead world and Atlantic Salmon. Justin has fished and guided steelhead from California, all the way around the Pacific, to the Kamchatka Peninsula and is excited to explore some of the best, most remote salmon rivers we can get to, and swing flies for some of the biggest and brightest fish in the Atlantic.

The Kola Peninsula is home to the strongest remaining...

< >
<
>

Steelhead don't skip rope!

As long as anglers have pursued Steelhead mending the line has been part of the process of presentation. Now one could dig up some encyclopedia reference to the term 'mend' and although it won't say anything about fishing, It will describe the need 'to fix or repair' something.

So this begs the question, 'how does one tell if a cast requires a fix?' Some anglers don't even wait for the need to appear before they start mending line like they are skipping rope, and it's function or...

< >
<
>

The Grease line Caddis and the Bulkley River

The "Greased Line" presentation is a cast with a sub-surface fly. The caster mends the line in order to control the speed and depth of the fly as it is presented broadside. So what does this mean to the fish? It sees the body and not the back-end of a fly. If I am wrong, then I will forever be a student of the mend and swing. 

A few seasons back I found a written editorial about Harry Lemire. His flies are called the Grease Line caddis and Harry's photos struck a cord with me. My...

< >
<
>

traveling the world for off the grid steelhead

I like swinging flies for steelhead. Anywhere. Everywhere. I have been fortunate to chase wild steelhead throughout their range, from the virgin growth redwoods of California, to the stark deserts of Idaho, to the fabled rivers of BC. But the most ridiculous steelhead expedition I have ever been on was by far and away, literally, the Russian Far East, guiding for the Kamchatka Steelhead Project

Every steelheader gets exited for the road trip. The prep; the tying first, then the...

< >
<
>

When the world is stacked against you

Steelhead fishing can be a torturous sport where sometimes it seems the entire universe is out to screw you.  For winter steelhead fisherman this truth is echoed several times each and every week.  

After surviving the past couple difficult weeks here in Haida Gwaii our guides are trying to keep spirits high.  The problem is that at times like this it seems the entire galaxy is plotting against you, and everyone is in on it.  The weather man himself seems to target us with evil...

< >
<
>

The Dos and Don'ts of swinging flies

Be grateful for every fish. The big, the small, the tiny. Fishing any time is a precious gift. The pleasure, the pain -- it's all part of why we love it. Subtle shifts in presentation will transform your success rate.  When feeling angry that your not catching crap, simply choose to try something different. Every steelhead comes into our life for a reason. It is up to us to be open to the lesson they are meant to teach.       Trust....

< >
<
>

Come hell or LOW water

Make it Rain

This is no joke. I am going crazy.  It should be the heart of the winter steelhead season in Northern California, and I should be making all kinds of excuses to be on the coast, chasing big dime bright steelhead just coming in from the Pacific.

But it won’t rain…

This time of year I am usually looking at the flows of dozens of different rivers within 300 miles, trying to figure out which one will have the magic combo, for the perfect conditions, to intercept...

< >
<
>

Twerk your fly

Although some of our runs here in haida Gwaii are big wide open gravel bars akin to the Bulkley or Morice with enough room to carelessly fling flies in any direction, others are quite opposite. With grabby trees above your head, and looming over soft bouldery buckets, each cast we make has to be well constructed from its conception. 

Every week our guests have a learning curve to get in tune with this. No matter how experienced you are, your first time through runs like Lumberjack, or...

< >
<
>

ISE Sportsman show update

It’s showtime! I have been running around dragging booths, TV’s, business cards and guides to promote The Fly Shop and the amazing places we represent for over a week, and we are only half way there! The ISE Sportsmen’s Show continues this weekend in Denver Colorado.

Last weekend we were down in Sacramanto California promoting our local guide service in Northern California and I did a presentation on Steelhead Fly Fishing for some pretty big crowds. The turnout was great this year. It...

< >
<
>

Why you should swing a fly through water you hate

On any given guided day you are most likely going to find yourself in a run where you really don’t like the water. Too fast, too slow, or too whatever, its a piece that if given the chance you would pass on.  Unfortunately for those of us that love to swing flies, sometimes we have to target steelhead in some water that is not an ideal swing.  That means once in a while you will have to fight your way through a head of a run that undulates your line like a heart beat monitor.  Or you will...

< >
<
>

2013 Bulkley/Morice year in review

The entire skeena system is famous for having steelhead that are eager to take a dry fly and the 2013 season showed us just how good it can be. It was far and away the best dry fly season in the past decade.  

The season started out well for us as the early return in the Skeena was quite good.  For a short period of time fish counts entering the system were keeping up with the last 2 years which were exceptional runs.  These early fish are typically destined for the highest tribs in...

< >
<
>

Swinging flies for Trinity Steelhead

The Trinity River in Northern California is my home river.  I have had the pleasure of swinging flies for steelhead all the way around the Pacific rim, from California up and around through the States, BC and Alaska, and down into the Kamchatka Peninsula in Russia, but the Trinity always feels like home.

The Trinity, for me, is a summer run river. We fish it in the late summer and fall, when the water is gin clear and the perfect temperature. The dime bright fish enter the Klamath...

< >
<
>

Winter Steelhead Comeback Fly

In the summer and fall when swinging for steelhead we get a lot of first takes from fish that can be lackluster and tentative at best.  We often watch steelhead mouth a fly during the swing so softly the fisherman won’t even feel a thing.  Its amazing how delicate they can be at times. Everyone has their own techniques for a fish like this. Some count to 50 and re-cast, others take 5 steps up river and go through again. 

However if you are going to properly play the “game” their is a...

< >

Winter steelheading

Winter steelhead fishing on the Queen Charlottes Islands now known as Haida Gwaii.  This trip is for intermediate to advanced anglers looking to target steelhead off the grid. The rivers are small walk and wades with fish up to 20lbs. Ever dreamed of having a steelhead river to yourself and fishing under old growth 700 year old trees. This is one of the most unique destinations in North America and we will be swinging bright flies for tide fresh, trophy, wild BC steelhead. If this isn't on...

< >
<
>

Threats to steelhead

A 1996 study of all anadromous or ocean-going fish stocks in British Columbia and Yukon documented that 142 separate stocks or runs have already gone extinct out of a total of 9,662. In the United States, which has endured far more human impacts to Steelhead and salmon rivers and their watersheds, have lost over 400 indigenous stocks (29%) of the 1400 that originally existed. The majority of remaining native salmon and steelhead runs are endangered or highly threatened with vanishing forever...

< >
<
>

Justin Miller hosted trip winter steelheading

Every year more and more trout fisherman are learning that they have been missing out for years not swinging flies for steelhead. However as more people are drawn to the sport, those of us that have been steelheading our entire lives have been in search of more challenging situations with a spey rod.  These are the trips that I like the most. I host trips around the world where great challenges equals great rewards.  This winter I am hosting a trip to just such a location.  

Winter...

< >
<
>

King salmon on the fly

Although people have been targeting kings on a fly for many years it is becoming quite apparent that what we thought we knew 20 years ago was mostly incorrect.  In modern fly fishing we are constantly redefining what is considered “fly water” or a “fly species” every day.  Advances in technology, techniques, and a better understanding of fish in general has allowed us to start targeting fish successfully in waters that were often overlooked or once considered impossible on the fly. 

...

< >
<
>

Rainbow Alley

We just completed our first week guiding at Rainbow Alley fishing the sockeye fry bust.  As the year old smolts migrate down river, and the fry hatchlings emerge from the gravel , the large lake rainbow trout residents move into the alley to ferociously feed.  

The fry migrate mostly in the morning and evening so we base our day around hitting the peak fishing hours.  That means an early morning fish from 6am-10am and back to camp for a hearty breakfast.  After a siesta and some...

< >
<
>

Low Water Steelhead Fishing

Low and behold the Bulkley River has been blessed by the grace of God a low water year.  How does that translate to fishing you ask? When you figure out where they are hiding it is incredible.   Fishing low water has usually been pure joy for our guide team.  To see runs that we haven’t been able to fish since 2008 has been exciting, exhilarating, and very productive.

Fishing in low water is challenging but with the proper mindset you can be very successful. Fly selection is key as it...

Mailing list