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Fishing in BC's Wilderness

Photos by Dave & Rick Andrews

 

Twenty or more years ago the coastal waters of BC were teeming with salmon. It was difficult to go out fishing and not come back with a good sized Coho, or Sockeye, or a large Chinook (Spring). Salmon are presently a diminishing resource - and there are many reasons for that, almost all man-made, including the fish farms which produce lice which attach themselves to wild salmon - but they're still out there if you know where to look, and you have to go further afield.


There's few other fish that give such a thrill of a fight as a member of the salmon family. Fishing has somewhat of a bad rap. Perhaps it's the few rowdies who catch more than their limit, or use fishing as an excuse to go out and over-limit on beer, but most people who fish do it for the enjoyment of being part of nature. There's nothing as wonderful as being in the waters, surrounded by wilderness, mooching for salmon, with eagles overhead; or fly-casting in a wilderness river, with naught but the sound of birds chattering, and the gentle lapping of the river against your thighs.

 

And there's few things as exciting as the big strike. That moment when the Steelhead you've been wooing with your fly, or the Chinook who decides that your lure looks quite delicious strikes with a lightning surge and dashes away with an alacrity that seems almost magical. It has your line, which starts spooling out making that zeeing sound, that vibrates like some wild siren.

 

That's when the fight begins, and that's when the adrenalin hits, but at the same time you know that you've got to remain cool and collected if you want to reel in that ten or forty pound animal, which is mostly muscle dashing this way and that, trying to get that infernal hook out of its mouth. It's a battle between man (or sometimes woman) against wild animal. And the salmon is a wild, carnivorous animal, who lives most of its life travelling thousands of miles in the oceans, then returns to the river of its birthplace to spawn.

 

Now that's not true of the Steelhead, who stays mostly in the river systems, and behaves and looks more like a rainbow trout. But when you get a bite from a Steelhead it's as ferocious a one as any salmon, and they can reach much the same size as many of their sea-faring cousins. The Chinook is the largest of the family and weighs up to 70 lbs. But even a relatively young adolescent at say 15 lbs takes a good half-hour to reel in, if you're doing it right.

 

Naturally, one of the greatest pleasures of fishing is the fish story. For novices here's some very good advice that originated with the writer Charles W. Morton in an Atlantic Monthly article back in 1950. The beauty is the basics haven't changed a bit since that era. All you have to do is fill in the blanks and change locales:

 

'I've fished for the mighty_____ on the Fraser (Nechako, Bella Coola) River, and the ferocious ____ along the shores of Chilko (Great Slave, Harrison) Lake. I've seen a tremendous____ tear the rod out of my hands fishing off Haida Gwaii (Port McNeill, Oceans Falls), but for the sheer power and gameness I've seen nothing that can equal, pound for pound the ____.'

 

All photos taken in Ocean Falls, BC

http://www.oceanfallslodge.com

 

More photos by Dave Andrews: Dave's photos