Fishing Tackle

Author Topic: River Fishing Bull Trout in Northern British Columbia 'A Fine Line'  (Read 3044 times)


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Itís a rainy morning in the Peace Region, barely a few degrees above freezing.  Being the middle of October, it is a rarity that the open water season gets to be experienced with such beautiful conditions. Mother Natureís gift to an eager angler that just canít quite bare to think how much time sheíd have to wait for the next fishing season to spool up. Today I will appreciate the opportunity and give rest to the river valley property where I have spent countless kilometers and hours over the past few weeks in search of securing some winter meat.  Naturally my attention goes to the mountains I have been thinking about since my river fishing trip into the backcountry the week previous. My urge is to push further. To succeed in the mission I decided would happen early this spring. To reach one of the northern rivers that flow from the Rocky Mountains bordering the Muskwa Ketchika. Itís a little over 250km from home and I anticipate the fishing to be stellar, the scenery beautiful, and the experience to leave a lasting impression in my very soul.
As I pass the river mouth that produced some amazing Arctic Grayling and a steady bite of Whitefish the week previous; I reminisce the feeling, the clear water, the constant hot bite, the peace and quiet. I realize as I drive further that the clouds are awfully low as a sprinkle of rain keeps my windshield decently smudged.  What a tease! The mountains are hiding. Ok, so my next hope is a vision of what this river will look like and the fish it will give to me so generously!

I honestly thought I would be one of very few people way back into this single lane forestry road. Was I wrong! Being before noon on the last day of thanksgiving weekend I pass by at least 20 pickups with hunting camp supplies packed up and headed home for what I assume will be a hot meal with friends and family. One fellow who stopped to let me cross one of the single lane bridges first, made me aware that the only way to fish the only legal section of river is to cross it with my ATV. He cautioned me to second guess the task if it continued raining as the river is likely to rise leaving me on the other side. Wouldnít that be fun to sleep with my back against a tree... or likely not sleep with fear big foot decides to show up. I continue my drive imagining what the mountain range might look like if the clouds would just rise. Arriving I was stunned at what a magnificent river this turned out to be! The water was clear and blue and I instantly see where the quad crossing is. Itís time to make a choice whether I will cross and spend the day as happy as a fish in water, or fish not at all. I unload the quad, pack my gear on to the racks and drive to the riverís edge. Iím going to do it! I inch forward. Nope, Iím not. There is a fine line between determination and going too far, expecting too much and not wanting to feel disappointed. Accepting limitations and appreciating what we do have, what we can have.

Itís easy for me personally to go too far. Over analyze, over expect, get overly excited, have an urge to satisfy the itch that needs scratching, and over sacrifice. ĎLive in the momentí I have to constantly remind myself. Appreciate what is in front of me and let the river flow; so to speak. It is nearly torturous living with constant vision of what things look like, or perhaps what I want them to look like. Itís a weakness I work at as it not only causes some frustration within but in those around me as well. A famous quote was spoken to me not long ago by someone who has seen this weakness in me:  ďYesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery and today is a gift that is why it is called the presentĒ.  

I walk the river bank peacefully challenging myself to have no mission in mind, to just be there, me, myself and I. The air is crisp and sweet and smells of pine. I can hear leaves falling in the brush behind me. I love autumn. When the leaves begin to fall on the road in early season, it reminds me of confetti, triggering a celebration, autumn is here!
Feeling like I had accomplished some calming of my adventure seeking over eagerness, I pack my things and I am not disappointed. Sure I want more, Iíll be back, and perhaps I will be rewarded with a clear view of the beautiful alpine I so crave to see or maybe not. Tomorrow will tell.

It just so happens to work out that my choice to not satisfy myself dangerously is rewarded with plenty of time to stop at the river mouth 50kms back the way I came.  I gear up my fly rod with the stimulator fly that had done so well the week previous and chuck it into the amazing current that dances with my line. Right away a small Mountain Whitefish takes. He puts on quite the show jumping and thrashing about. As my catch gets closer to shore I see a shadow in the water come in and out of view, when all of a sudden my whitefish is halfway inside the mouth of a hungry Char.

I now very jazzed and my body is pulsing with excitement while my mind slips into a dream I had of a Bull Trout like this months ago!

I see it vividly, fishing on an amazing blue green river. When I realize a tug on my rod and discover it is a beautifully large Bull Trout thrashing about with an aggression that does not provoke fear, but promotes the type of adrenaline only this type of moment can produce. Being reeled in with neurons firing 'too tight, how big is this beast?, oh its small, oh no its not!, slack... reel reel reel!í, The pictures of this moment, this slice, will go on for all of time. Once etched into my very existence it can never be lost. Never! It seems so real! While floods of dopamine and adrenaline surge through my body like electricity, itís firm, defined, smooth and amazingly beautiful body being taken into a firm grip while my hands tingle with excitement. My every sense is absorbing this being, this heart beat that is not my own. Then with a gentle hand, and grace I allow it to go, to make its impression once again. Every sense I own has been caressed by this stimulating vision.

Focusing back to the water in front of me, I see the lines on the chin of this shadow of a beast where the gill plate meets the jaw as he flips around letting go of my tiny fish and gives it a swipe with its huge body. Just like that he is gone. My heart is pounding! I did not expect to see a fish like that today. I was perfectly happy thinking I might catch a Grayling or two. How can I catch that fish!?  The picture of what that little whitefish looked like as it struggled pops into my mind. I drop my fly rod and run up the cliff side to the truck, fling open the door, grab my spin rod and one lure. In my mind this was the only one I would need!  It is a 2.5Ē blue fox spoon, half silver, half blue, scales engraved throughout the colored surface and single shimmery eye ball. The sexy lure that I was confident will make the fish come. If I have one thing that looks like a yummy Whitefish, this is it! I am throwing the spoon into the rolling water quicker than you can imagine. ĎTake it, take it!í Just like that an 18Ē Bull Trout takes on my spoon. Itís a good sign! As I get the little Bull closer to the shore, again this beast comes in. This time far more aggressively. He is literally beating up my decent catch! He comes in four or so times with his gills flared and body thrashing. I honestly think he stunned the hooked Bull as with each round form Rocky himself, it became increasingly easier to convince Mr. Small to come ashore. I remove the lure from the beak of this funny looking fish. You know, their heads seem far too large for their bodies before they mature, just saying.  

Heís now revived and is eager to get the heck away from the shore that provided quite the beating for him.  A few casts later my line is retrieved with reprieve. I get clever and think, he likes to come in along the river bank where the water drops off into the deep. So the jigging ice angler in me takes over. Curiously I decide to fight an imaginary fish along this drop off, thrashing the spoon back and forth, up and down, even go as far as jumping it out of the water. Duu-na... Duu-na... Duu-na, Smack! Fish on! I was startled at the sight of the strike and I think he was taken back a little. It took him a little while to realize he was hooked. For the first 2 minutes he literally held ground. I pull and he pulls harder yet calmly. He doesnít budge from the small area where he sits like a log. Soon though he realizes what has happened and he becomes very animated with violent headshakes and rolling belly up and swimming away in a manner that can easily pull a good hook set.  Tug and reel, tug and reel, finally his tail is in my hand.  I am oh so satisfied! I canít help but to thank him and tell him how beautiful he is. I take a minute to feel his smooth body, admire the orange spots along his midsection, gander at his tiny eyes, and gnarly teeth as he gapes his mouth wide, and I feel extremely appreciative that his girth was more than I could wrap 2 hands around.  Yes, my hands are tingling, not just from the cold October water either.  

This day turned out more than I expected.  There is always a lesson to be had, always things to consider. Itís a series of fine lines, finding those fine lines and where to leave them strung or how to repair the ones that I break.  Itís never just about the fish. Itís about the experience! ~Ooberfish~

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