Turkeys to Trout – A Natural Transition

Like fly-fishing for trout or wing-shooting waterfowl, hunting turkeys is all about anticipation and preparation – nerves and nirvana. The splashy take. The smell of burnt powder from an opened breach. The tick of an arrow being nocked.  Each reminds us, in its way, of why we choose to be outdoorsmen in an increasingly urbanized world.

West Kootenay Merriams
West Kootenay Merriams

Truth be told, as exciting as it is to “run & gun” crafty longbeards in the ponderosa pines, I’m especially taken by the nostalgic paraphernalia of the craft: chalked boxes and slate pots – virtually unchanged since the pilgrims pursued wild turkeys in the Appalachian hardwoods.  I suppose it’s akin to fly-fishing with bamboo, something I don’t do myself, preferring the fast action of graphite, but certainly appreciate when artfully performed by others.

Actually, all B.C. turkeys owe their origins to the great U.S. of A., having wandered up from Washington and Idaho. Their numbers increase annually as their northward push continues, and I’m anxiously awaiting the spring when we can harvest two Toms instead of the current one. We occasionally see turkeys while drifting the Columbia River, and last fall a client landed a chunky rainbow while curious hens watched from the bank.

Columbia River chrome

When the apple blossoms appear I know it’s time to hang up the bow and resurrect the drift boats. The May long weekend almost always coincides with the first strong caddis hatches on the Columbia – emergences so thick the streetlights in Castlegar are obscured by the swarms. “The moths are back,” you’re likely to hear in a grocery store lineup, the locals not being as enamored with entomology as we are.

Dave’s promised a stopover next month en route to Fernie from the Missouri River. We’ll shoot some video, post it on the site, and show you what you’ve been missing if you haven’t managed to make it out here yet. Our list of devoted Columbia clients continues to grow, but we still have prime dates available this season if you’re interested. One option more and more people are cottoning to is combining a West Koots trip with an Elk River stay; rainbows and cutties in one epic swoop, served up wild and native as always.

Ankle-deep in Columbia glass
Ankle-deep in Columbia glass

Late June and early July offer a myriad of Columbia possibilities. If the tailwater flows are down, you’ll likely spend a good part of the day and evening casting dries to trophy ‘bows on endless cobble flats. Ditch the waders, don the sandals, and be prepared for delicate presentations to mayfly-sipping redbands.

If the dam engineers turn the cranks and the flows happen to be up, the water will still run clear but expect flooded islands and “mangrove-like” fishing to trout using willows for cover.  Every so often a hooked trout will leap into the nearest tree, which poses the interesting problem of how to extricate a fish from a branch like a banana from a bunch. No one said fly-fishing was simple.

"Mangroves" in B.C.?
“Mangroves” in B.C.?

Yup, another season is upon us and I can’t wait. B.S. on the fly shop porch. George mooching biscuits and tummy-rubs. Boats gathered at the put-in as rods are strung and tales spun. Probably like it was a hundred years ago on Adirondack streams. Hopefully like it will be a hundred years from now, and a hundred beyond that.

… Chris