Written by Bob Melrose.
Local and visiting anglers often plan their fall trip to our Steelhead streams months or years in advance. Some of our guides have a limit of rod days and consequently have a waiting list of clients. Mother Nature with the help of "Murphy" often throws a wrench into the works with fall rains and clouded waters. All is not lost however with a little extra planning and/or research.
Although a good rain can muddy those plans there are usually alternatives available. For example a heavy rain in the Telkwa Pass area can colour the Bulkley below Telkwa the river can be clear above that junction. Rains on the Kispiox can discolour some of the creeks but be very fishable above those creeks. The Copper(Zymoetz) colours easily as the name implies but may be good in the higher reaches.
Our streams usually clear up within a few days and you can always find a place to fish within a reasonable distance. Place no faith in an old posting on some web site that is weeks old. Each year we would answer calls from an inquiring angler that he heard that his target river was out. Most often it didn't apply to current conditions. In many years of fishing these great rivers there were very few times that we said forget it.
Many times coloured water meant less anglers and some great fishing. We concentrated our efforts at the mouth of clearer feeder streams and in the shallow holding water. At times that we thought the water as close to unfishable the dark strip leeches were deadly. Looking down into the water was cause for despair however if you fill a glass jar with that water it isn't near as bad.
Much of our Steelhead country hides some real gems when it comes to trout fishing. Now, many anglers arrive equipped with their big fish rods and also their 4-6 weight trout rods. Trout in some of our local lakes can run into the 70 cm(28-inch). That is a good sized fish no matter where you fish. We have had anglers who used the opportunity to fish the lakes in dirty water situations that stayed on the lakes even after the rivers cleaned up. They had never had trout fishing so good and had it too themselves. Our lakes contain mostly Rainbow but we also have lakes with Cutthroat and some with Eastern Brookies. Resorts and boats are available at some spots. Pontoon boats are ideal for most of this fishing.
Heading out on that eagerly awaited fall trip to our western Rivers? Make sure you get current info at your area "value added" pro shop and ask about alternatives if the water is high or dirty. They will have up to date info to enhance your experience.
Fish Handling and Ethics
A recent picture appeared on the cover of a fishing magazine of a magnificent buck Steelhead. It was truly a fish of a lifetime and any angler would have wanted a picture of that fish. It turns out that there were 61 pictures taken of that giant Steelhead OUT Of THE WATER. My God, how many shots do you have to take. A fish out of water for sixty seconds may have a 60% chance of mortality. Is that any way to treat a catch and release fish like a Steelhead and that gene pool? Our responsibility as anglers and stewards of these fish demands better handling not only from ourselves but from fellow anglers. Keep the fish in the water. If you take a picture compose the picture beforehand, take a few quick pictures and make sure the fish is strong before releasing it. Don't play the fish to exhaustion with too light tackle. Do not skid fish up on the beach. Land in a couple feet of water and hold fish into the current until completely revived.
Never cut in below another angler. Enter the water upstream of other anglers. Ethical anglers will practise the rotation method. If downstream angler hooks up they will play fish and then step out of the run and return to top of run so the next downstream angler has a chance at fresh fish. If another angler comes into the pool you are fishing then move through the pool at a reasonable pace so they can follow you. Throttle down the jet boat when passing other anglers. Be courteous and respectful of others. You would be surprised how much you can learn from others on the river if you are one of the good guys.