“Sorry about the slow fishing today, guys,” said our guide Justin Gyger of West Coast Fishing Adventures after our first day of steelheading on the Kitimat River in Northwestern British Columbia last Thursday. “It’s normally not this tough.”??I couldn’t help but laugh out loud. Our “slow” day of fishing consisted of four steelies hooked and two landed. As any steelheader from the States would attest, that’s not at all a bad day of fishing. Especially when you consider that my fish, at 14 pounds, was the minnow of the day.
Just after lunch, my buddy Fred Contaoi beached the largest steelhead I have ever laid eyes on — a 22-pound behemoth. And to top things off, we also picked up a half-dozen incidental dolly varden to nearly five pounds and a beautiful four-pound sea-run cutthroat trout.??If that was tough fishing, I couldn’t wait for the action to heat up.
On the second day of our week-long jaunt, Gyger and his brother Rob Gyger took us to Bacardi Creek (also known as the Red or Plume River), a tiny coastal stream. There, we fished the last couple miles of creek before it dumps into saltwater. Shrouded by a lush cathedral of spruce, Bacardi Creek is worth the visit just for the scenery.
Spectacular setting aside, we were there to fish and I couldn’t help but notice the shallow, rushing pocket water looked perfect for rainbows. Indeed it was — we landed a bunch of 15- to 20-inch wild leopard-spotted rainbows in the first hour or two. But that was just the appetizer.??The next few hours were a blur, but when the smoke finally cleared late in the afternoon, we’d hooked nine beautiful steelhead up to 14 pounds and landed about half of them. In the confines of the small brook, those fresh-from-the-sea steelhead were almost unstoppable and, with all the tail-walking and cart-wheeling, it’s a wonder we landed any of them.
The next day, Sunday, we hiked into the Goat River, which was yet another incredibly beautiful piece of water surrounded on all sides by snow-capped peaks that would make those around Lake Tahoe jealous. The fish obviously were not yet in the system in big numbers, but in just a couple hours of bank fishing, we managed some cutthroat and, oh yeah, the second largest steelhead I’ve ever seen, a 20-pound buck that Gyger pulled from a picture-perfect run below a steep bank. Another 20-pounder. Ho-hum.
We were back in the driftboat on the Kitimat River again on Monday and we hooked nine screaming hot steelies (none under 12 pounds!), including a rampaging 20-plus pounder that managed to throw my hook right at the net and a 17-pounder that munched our pal Clint Bailey’s spey fly.
Our last day was Tuesday and we drove out to the Marathon River, which Gill McKean, (Gyger’s partner) had a hunch about. The pair hadn’t been into the river yet this season, but McKean was sure it would be full of steelhead.??The only problem was the road was still impassible, so we had to do a four-mile round-trip hike through the snow to get there. It was a bit of a muscle burner of a trip in, but we were handsomely rewarded when we got to the water.
In about four hours of fishing, we landed 33 steelhead to 17 pounds and lost a bunch more. Surrounded by steep snowy peaks and knee-deep in wild steelhead, we were in hog heaven. If we had gone at it for a full day, I bet we would have landed 100 fish. Simply amazing!
To learn more, contact them at www.westcoastfishing.ca (notice it’s .ca not .com) or by phone at (250) 635 5005.