From Nass Camp, drove to Terrace on the Skeena River. Terrace is a (relatively) large town with auto dealerships, Canadian Tire and grocery stores. I visited the local fly shop and was directed to the Island Campground. On the northeast end of the Island, the fishermen were stacked up. I met a fisherman who talked with me while he put his (5-meter, 16-foot?) spey rod and related tackle together. He said the Island was as good as anywhere else on the Skeena and the top of the riffle was the best. The pinks were running; there were some sockeye; and the springers were mostly gone. “If you have the right equipment and the right technique, you catch them. If you don’t, you don’t. There are lots of fish.” He was a tall man and took off with long strides with me struggling to keep up with him. Over his shoulder, he said, “The China man is the best. He is the real expert.” Once we arrived to the sand bar and he saw the top of the riffle above the China man was open there was no keeping up with him. Like a lynx after a hare, he bounded forward.
I watched for an hour as the spey rods rhythmically beat the water. My tall buddy caught a fish within ten minutes. Others caught fish as well. A number of fishermen sat on shore, resting. When a fisherman tired, he called to his friend. Like a tag team wrestler, the friend substituted and took over the beat (and prevented another fisherman from taking it). The line of fishermen stretched down to under Highway 16 bridge.
The Skeena is a “classified” river, meaning alien non-resident fisherman pay $20 per day for the privilege of fishing. The Island at Terrace and a sand bar north of town, just below the Zyometh (Copper) River are the sole exception to the hundreds of kilometers of river. “My country, my river, my taxes,” said the fly shop owner. The $20 per diem applied to foreigners only. Locals pay $15 per year. It’s to reduce fishing pressure. The number one language you will hear at the Island is Italian. It’s true.”