If the steelhead of a lifetime is something you’ve been dreaming of, look no further than the streams of Northern British Columbia — the home of the largest steelies in the world.
My top pick for an outfitter in the area is Gill McKean’s West Coast Fishing Adventures, who caters to small groups of anglers and has many, many, many fish over 30 pounds (including this jumbo hawg in the photo) to his credit. He’s also hooked at least one steelhead that would have gone over 40 pounds and guided an angler to a 28-pound world line class record.
Twenty pounders in this area are very common and the folks up here don’t even bat an eyelash at a 15 pounder, eh!
What to expect
My B.C. outfitter has a very comfortable lodge that features nice rooms, TV, a game room and more.
After breakfast (typically 7-8 AM), you’ll hop in the truck and be whisked off to one of many streams where the largest anadramous rainbows on the planet live. Most rivers are close by and only require a short drive. However, there are a few streams that take up to 2 hours to drive to (well worth the ride, by the way!).
Some spots, you’ll fish from driftboats, while others require rafts or jet boats. There are also many streams that are walk-in only. Each morning, you’ll get with your guide to discuss options and then you’ll be gone all day (sack lunches are provided). Upon return, you’ll be treated to a down-home meal which often consists of locally-taken game such as moose and salmon.
The outfitter provides round-trip airport transfers and all meals and tackle. You’ll have to purchase a Canadian fishing license. If you’re a gear-head like me, I’d suggest taking you own gear just for fun.
There are lots of opportunities to swing flies and fish eggs and nymphs under indicators and, during certain times of the year, the big steelies will rise to a dry. We’ve also take plenty of fish on eggs, yarn flies and pink worms under floats on conventional gear over the years as well.
There are steelhead here throughout the spring, summer and fall. I’ve always fished in April and have had outstanding luck. Keep in mind that steelhead is, well, steelheading, and there are no guarantees, but there enough streams around to keep you going in case the run’s late or a river’s blown out or whatever.
The area is also home to giant kings, chums, silvers and lots of dollies, big rainbows and cutthroat.