It’s Tuesday and I’m freshly back from our second shop trip of the season to Smithers, BC, steelhead fishing with Epic Waters. I pulled into my driveway Friday evening after a relaxed travel day of 2.5 hours in the air and 3 hours on the road. Since then I’ve enjoyed a perfect weekend with my family. Going for walks out in this beautiful Fall weather. Preparing dinners. Losing at Candy Land. This afternoon my physical body is slouching behind the counter at the shop, attempting to check off tasks from my lengthy “to do” list. The kind that builds up after being away on a fishing trip for nine days. My mind on the other hand is still wandering all over Skeena country, launching casts over legendary water, hunting for the steelhead of my life.
I was fortunate to share the adventure with a handful of gems… beauties as they say up North. Guys that I’v spent a good amount of time with on the river chasing steel over the years. They didn’t all know each other before the trip. But I knew them each and couldn’t wait for their paths to cross.
We arrived in Smithers mid day and were greeted by one of the administrative staff and a large passenger van. After a quick 15 minute drive to our hotel in town we settled in and headed straight for Smithers Brewing. The proprietors, Aden and Blaine, were both there as they were last year and greeted us with open arms and full pints. For dinner we headed across the street to Telly’s Grill and enjoyed a fantastic Mediterranean-inspired meal with some of our guides. The executive chef / owner Peter also showed us generous hospitality. We were watered, fed, and ready to fish.
The first morning of the trip is the longest morning of my life. We enjoyed coffee and breakfast prepared by our hosts at the Stork’s Nest Inn at 7:30 am and spent the next couple of hours biting our fingernails before the guides picked us up at 10:00. Off to the Frontier Steelhead Experience, formerly known as Frontier Farwest Lodge. We unloaded our bags, strung up a few rods, and enjoyed a gourmet lunch before heading out with the guides to fish for a half day.
The rest of the trip followed a predictable schedule of: wake up at 6 am. Breakfast at 7 (or to go several days when we had to travel a bit). Fish our asses off. Soup and sandwiches or salads for lunch (they always bring a ton of food on the river). Back to the lodge for apps and dinner around 6 pm. Rather than try to describe each day, river, and fish, the images should speak for the experience.
Fishing was tough this season. Last year we experienced an all-time record steelhead run. I was certain we would have more modest action this time around and I was right. More so than expected. No matter where you’re from, a little bit of steelhead love goes a long ways. Canadian steelhead love hard. Collectively as a group we did pretty well. Nobody got skunked, and the guides worked they’re butts off to make sure of it.
Time is fun when you’re having flies, and the week flew by too fast. At the end of the trip I believe everyone had a ton of fun fishing, became better casters and anglers, and left with new fishing friends. On the first flight home from Smithers to Vancouver I started to doze off when my right elbow jerked back towards my seat. I had just got a grab. Or maybe it was just the bottom. Hard to tell. 352 days to go.