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 in the course of a day. Two fish in one day is epic for a winter steelheader. When we hear comments like that we quickly know we are not dealing with a true winter steelheader.
Winter fishing is for those who will drive by huge schools of tarpon to make a couple of casts at a permit that likely won’t bite. These are the anglers who enjoy the adventure as much as the fish themselves, and live for the renewed solitude that only a quiet, solitary pool with light snowflakes falling can provide. Wherever you choose to do your winter steelheading, you will catch glimpses of what I am talking about. You can focus on the fishing, and even more importantly you can focus on the moment.
Although in the U.S. there is much debate over wild versus hatchery populations for winter steelhead, this isn't an issue that arises in B.C. In fact, in B.C. winter is a time to fish in peace without the drama of politics. There are no commercial fishing nets at the mouths of the rivers. There are fewer social media rants about how people hate fishing guides, and considering we hardly catch any fish our impact is quite negligible.
The best part about winter steelhead is the sheer volume of coastal streams that receive a run of fish. Although the numbers are often insignificant and many times fairly unknown, with a little work exploring you can find your own playground to enjoy. Winter steelhead doesn’t carry the political baggage that comes with summer runs; there aren't any commercial fishing opportunities for bicatch and the rivers aren't overcrowded. With that said, there are many reasons why most of the general public dislikes winter steelhead: it is very cold and won’t catch many fish. If that doesn’t deter you, consider trying it.
For those who want to come to Haida Gwaii with us fishing we usually start by trying to change your mind. We travel far distances to fish just a few short runs at times. Instead of racing to the water to be first, we instead race to Jags for an amazing cup of coffee and a delectable treat. We pound our vehicles and our backs over the poorly graded roads. We slip and slide hiking on icy trails, often making our way to high and coloured water. We can go days without so much as a tug. If you are still reading and have an inkling of interest, maybe you really are a winter steelheader. If you would give up a five-fish-day fighting the crowds on the Kispiox for catching a single fish without seeing another angler, then you may actually love our lodge.
Copper Bay Lodge has a cult following, but finding anglers who fit the mold isn't always easy. We provide a unique and special experience and I guarantee that if you fish with us you will improve your technique. This is a technical fishery in every way.
The fish are spectacular, the culture enriching, and the fellowship soulful. When you find something special in life you want people to share in the experience, to discover what you discovered. Haida Gwaii is close to our hearts and our passion for it is contagious. If you need a trip like this on your calendar shoot us a message and come see what we are talking about.