There is something to be said for getting away from the mainstream,in the fly-fishng world that usually means ditching the tailwaters and the fly-shop buzz that goes along with them for something totally off the radar and it usually is a Freestone river where the trout population is counted ” hundreds per kilometer ” versus “thousands per mile”.It also means no shuttle services,no Simms hats and definitely lacks the River Groupies.
A Friend and I headed west out of Fernie B.C. ,trading weekend traffic for solitude and cold ones on the cabin deck.The valley we ventured into is a little to far from Calgary and Vancouver so it lacks the weekend getaway crowd.The People that live there are on Valley Time, thing happen when they get around to it, punctual means showing up,cell phones don’t work but you adapt by chilling out.
We went there to fish the lovely little river that cuts thru the valley.Before the dams where built lower down on The Columbia River Steelhead and Chinook Salmon would run up the river every Fall.Now the river is only home to a few Bull Trout and native Red Band Rainbows, pure as the air we breathed as this river has never seen a stocking truck.Of course the river maintains the “Steelhead look” with it’s swift runs and glides,added is the coastal look of the lush vegetation that lines the river bottom.
Based on the water temperature and weather we launched the boat in the afternoon and began our journey.Yellow Sallies,Golden Stones,Green Drakes and P.M.D.’s where hatching but in true freestone fashion there where no blanket hatches just a few insects hatching here and there,of course in a river where everything has to count including calories,the Trout where on them.Slowing coming off shelves and out of the depths to eat our flies.Epic it was.Not judged by numbers of fish we caught,the status was based on the fact that we had the river to ourselves,the fish where eagerly eating our dry flies and that we where the first drift boat down this year.
Several stops where made where we got out and fished the shelves and inside corners or we would anchor up on a small pod of rising fish who ate our flies provided they did not drag.The patterns we fished where everything from Drakes to Chubby’s ,I stuck to a #12 Parachute Caddis with good results.Like rainbow trout everywhere these fish fought hard, the difference was they did not give up and swim to the net,they kept fighting as they had no hook marks or scars.
My friend who lives in the Valley thought the fish numbers and size has been going up,I agreed as it appeared there where more rainbows compared to previous visits.The average fish on this river is 14 inches,with 18 inchers being common,although we did not catch any on this trip there are now more fish in the low 20’s.The Five Weights got it done,however a Four Weight is perfect.
As we floated downstream we laughed at one and another especially when fish where missed,often stopping to take in the views of the surrounding mountains and watch a variety of wildlife includingBald Eagles and Ospreys that where also out fishing, picking up the occasional coarse fish and leaving the trout to us.
At the Cafe later that evening we noted that that the three of us where the only Flyfishers in the crowd,a welcome opposite from my last six weeks working on a Tailwater.Perfect.