On the advice of a friend, I wanted to fish “Rainbow Alley.” As we checked into a cabin at Ft. Babine Lodge, the manager asked if we were here for the sockeye. She directed me to the “fence,” an area downstream (north) of Babine Lake where the Nilkitkwa Lake empties into the River. Sure enough, cars filled a parking lot and a line of fisherman were throwing flies at sockeye salmon. From the bridge, you can see the salmon moving around. The “fence” is a fish counting station.
After watching awhile and talking with the locals, I grabbed my rod and hurried down to the river. Lots of peple were catching salmon. The best beats were all taken. I found myself casting in swift current, trying to get my unweighted fly to the bottom. Nonetheless, I soon hooked one and broke my leader as the fish jumped in the air. I got several more strikes, but no fish to the net. I decided to move to another spot and tripped while straddling a tree that had fallen into the water. I was now wet with several liters of water in each wader foot. I went back to the car, took everything off and wrung it out. I found some heavier tippet and returned to the river. I fished another hour with many strikes and views of salmon leaping in the air in front of me, some with my fly in their mouth. Just before I left, I had one on and played it enough to get it into the shallows. But it too made a great final leap and broke my line. I thought about the advice I received on the Skeena: if you have the right equipment and you know what you are doing….
The following morning, we met a gentleman, Brian, who was anxious to show us Rainbow Alley. He took us on a boat ride for five hours and showed us the entire Rainbow Alley, Lake Nilkitkwa and the mouth where the river starts flowing below Lake Nilkitkwa at the “fence.” Unfortunately, the wind made it difficult for casting and put the fish down. We landed several fish, but the fishing was slow.
The next day, we used a borrowed, inflatable boat with a 15 hp Yamaha motor to return to the alley. At first it was slow, but once we got out of the wind and the sun warmed up the water, the bugs started moving around. By late afternoon, there were rises all over the river. We caught quite a few that day–but nothing as large as Rainbow Alley fame.
The next day, Monday, I went back to try and hook a sockeye at the “fence.” There were fewer people than Friday evening. There were plenty of fish, but just as difficult to catch. I could hook them, but couldn’t land them. Eventually we met a local that wanted to walk downstream, but did not want to do it alone–for fear of bears. There was a good fishing hole with shallow water and a landing spot. I finally hooked, played and landed one. Yeah!
We fished the Alley again for a few more days, the sockeye once in the evening and after six nights enjoying the area headed out.