April 2012, steelhead are working their way up the Skeena and Kitimat rivers to spawning grounds, fresh from the salt. So we headed Smithers-way.
Our reception at the Clong household was warm, as usual.
The rivers are closed around Smithers until later in the summer, so after some eating we headed west to Terrace, Smithers' ugly, yet charming larger sibling. We spent a couple of days on the Kitimat River.
|... a lot of which was spent scouting. Hypothesizing.|
The Kitimat is alleged to have one of the strongest runs of early spring steelhead, aided by returning hatchery-origin fish that you can bonk. This was an attractive feature.
|But for all the effort, we saw only one pull.|
So we spent a few days on other rivers, one of which is renowned for its cutthroat and Dolly Varden fishing. They feed heavily in the spring on out-migrating salmon alevins, and the fishing would happen in these insane pulses as clouds of them were pushed though by the current. It was also one of the most beautiful places I've fished.
And back on the steelhead front, there's a bit of a story. A while back, in the midst of a tying frenzy, Oliver sent me this video of some guy talking up this fly called the Squidro. I think it was this one. Anyways, I watched it, couldn't fucking stand the guy, and might have said something to the effect of "I'll never fish one of those, what a douchebag". So Oliver ties up a bunch, I think in part as a joke. But he was fishing them.
Anyways, we're fishing pretty hard for a few days, without so much as seeing a steelhead. Apparently this is classic steelhead fishing. I go to sleep on maybe night 5, and have this vivid dream of fishing an orange Squidro, and catching a steelhead. I wake up with this burned into my mind. But in some weird bout of superstition, say nothing aloud. We fish a new piece of water that day, and I inexplicably (to Oliver, at least) tie on one of the orange Squidros.
Cast, swing, step, repeat.
Until I get to this fishy looking back channel. Cast, swing, PULL, jump, fish on. A hard fight, a lot of acrobatics, and we land it, a silvery fresh-from-the-ocean steelhead buck.
Release, exhale. And then "So you might wonder why I was fishing that Squidro..."