Exploration: Sometimes It’s Worth It

So I am sure that I am not the only one that spends hours on Google Earth in the evenings looking for that next great spot. In fact I know I am not, as my brother was the one that pointed this one out to me. A couple years back my brother went fishing with his friend and his friend’s father. He recalled hiking across a large field, down a long steep hill and finally into a deep narrow canyon. He had told me this story a few times and how the fishing was absolutely unreal, though he never seemed quite sure where this spot was. He had finally narrowed it down to a spot on the river via Google Earth so naturally we had to go see.

It was almost a year from the time we decided to check it out before we had actually executed the plan. The spot was roughly an hours drive from my brothers house, which wasn’t all that bad. We had arrived to find a fence blocking our progression in the Jeep. Turns out the province of British Columbia purchased the large field area from my brother’s memory and had turned it into a nature reserve. Lucky for us we were still allowed on the land, but we were now on foot. We had always known we were walking in on this one, but this added a fair bit to the trip.

Hand on a post in a meadow in British Columbia

Our gear now on our backs we headed out across the field in the general direction of the river. It was still early enough in the day that it wasn’t too hot, but we could have gotten there earlier for sure. The field was fairly uneventful, but honestly much larger that I had imagined. We arrived at the beginning of the hill, down to the river. Now this was astronomically larger that I had ever imagined in my mind, even my brother was put back and he had been there once before. We pushed it out of our minds and headed down the hill to the valley bottom where the river awaited our arrival.

Meadow in British Columbia

We had finally arrived and we discussed how we doubted this section of the river saw much pressure since the walk in was fairly daunting. We saw the start of the canyon only 400m away, but we decided to try our luck right where we stood. We figured we deserved to get a quick fish on the line after the trek down there. Sadly it was just a bunch of casting practice we would put to use later in the day. Rods back in hand we continued down river to the beginning of the canyon.

I am not even going to begin to lie, my brother is in better shape than me. I ended up around 100m behind him as we continued to the canyon. I can clearly remember the stupid grin on his face when we looked back at me after he had peered into the canyon. This was the spot he was at years ago and he knew how epic it was going to be. He continued on ahead as I slowly caught up to get my first look. I stopped, pulled out my camera and started taking shot after shot as he made his way down river. The first fishable pool was in eyesight.

Fly fisher walking along a river in British Columbia

My brother stopped at the first fishable seam he saw, it wasn’t even 5 seconds of the fly being on the surface before a fish had gobbled it up. I didn’t even have time to catch up to grab a picture of the fish, but I believe it was a little Brook Trout if my memory is correct. I had caught up by the time the second fish was released and we decided to continue on to where the better pools were.

Man fly fishing in a British Columbia river

We were now standing above the first major pool and it looked really good. We were extremely eager to get into some bigger fish as the journey to this point was fairly strenuous and the day had seriously heated up. We both started with fairly large foam based flies, a chubby chernobyl and a BC hopper, neither disappointed. We were getting decent strikes right on the surface, but the bigger fish were hitting them after the current pulled them under about 20cm or so. We were landing a healthy combination of Westslope Cutthroats and Cutbows. I find the Cutbows to be something special as they will hit a dry fly with reckless abandon like a Cutthroat, but still fight and jump like a Rainbow.

Fish caught in British Columbia

As the day continued we switched tactics from time to time. My brother started dead drifting a Wooly Bugger on a naked line and boy did that work. My guess was it was something similar to when we were letting the big foam flies get sucked under, but the Wooly Bugger was at least twice as effective in this manner. As usual I was on the hunt for a big Bulltrout so I started throwing some meat on the 7wt. Within the first 2 casts I had something on! Turned out to be a fairly large Whitefish oddly and I never did find a Bull.

Fish caught in British Columbia

As the day progressed we hopped between pools with great results. Honestly we were on so many fish I just stopped pulling my camera out of the bag as I wouldn’t have had time to cast if I took pictures of them all. The afternoon crept up on us and soon it was time to go. The thought of retracing our steps out of there had been on the back of my mind all day as it was going to suck. Sadly we had no choice and eventually packed up all our gear and headed out. The trip was totally worth it and showed that exploration really can be worth the effort. We will be back next year without a doubt, but may choose a day that isn’t supposed to hit 35c.