BC-Yukon

Here are all the posts for the trip, BC-Yukon.

BC and Yukon Photos

Here are some of my favorite photos from my trip to British Columbia (BC) and Yukon. Click any photo to see slideshow.

trip summary for BC-Yukon

bisonI had been to Alaska and southern British Columbia on several different trips and wanted to see northern B.C. and the Yukon Territory. I traveled during July and August, drove my 4Runner and covered 6,500 miles over eight weeks.

I saw lots of lakes, rivers, valleys, mountains, glaciers and wildlife. I spotted the following wildlife: grizzly and black bear, moose, deer, lynx, red fox, arctic fox, bison, Stone sheep, mountain goat, bald eagle, golden eagle, least squirrel, arctic chipmunk, American beaver, mountain beaver, coyote, least weasel and Arctic hare.Nass River pink salmon

I went fishing and caught Arctic grayling, lake trout, rainbow, bull trout, pink salmon and sockeye salmon. Some of the best places were: Nechako River, Frances Lake, Faro area, Dease River, Kispiox River and the Babine River.

For sheer beauty and diversity of outdoor experience, the Atlin area was the best.

  • Although I drove 1,000 miles on the Alaska Highway, it was all in Canada. I spent only three hours in Alaska.
  • With the northern summer sun, it really is light all the time. It doesn’t get dark at night and there are rarely stars.
  • Mosquitoes are horrendous, large and numerous
  • B.C. and Yukon were on fire. Forests were burning everywhere. I moved several times to escape the smoke.
  • The Yukon is remote; there are few services. You need to plan carefully in advance.
  • Canadians generally are very friendly, hospitable and helpful.

Route–I drove to Prince George (about the geographic center of B.C.) and made a wide loop, going up the east side, picking up the Alaska Highway, crossing the Rockies, then into the Yukon, went north on the Campbell Highway, returned south to Whitehorse, crossed back into B.C., visited Atlin, picked up the Cassiar Highway going south through Dease Lake, went west into the Nass Valley, picked up the Yellowhead Highway in Terrace, visited Babine Lake, returned to Prince George and returned the remaining 1,000 miles home.

Debrief–This trip covered a lot of miles, maybe too many. It’s three days solid driving just to get to the beginning of the tourist route. Although I am glad to experience the Alaska Highway, I would not seek it again. I really like the North where the sun shines all day, bit it is a long way and probably is better accessed with a truck, trailer and boat rather than a SUV. Next time, I would pick a more focused (smaller) area such as the Lake District, Tumbler Falls, Atlin or the Campbell Highway and stay put for longer.

For camping, there are limited opportunities up North for car camping off the highway. More often than not, I found my tent nestled among R.V.s, coaches and campers rather than trees. Backpacking is an option, but consider the bears.

new trip, BC-Yukon

Nechako Lodge cabinwest of Prince George, British Columbia (B.C.). Bright, sunny morning. Wood stove starting to take the chill out of the cabin. Percolated Sumatran coffee tastes good. It was light at 3:30 a.m. Earlier it was kind of dark. I could see stars and the glistening, yellow light of the setting moon rippling like oozing lava upon the lake. As we drove the bumpy gravel road to get here, we came upon a large brown-colored bear that looked at us and then jumped into the woods. Earlier we saw deer and rabbits. Pilleated woodpeckers are nesting in a tree behind the cabin. The birds are the size of crows, but have a white collar below a flaming red head.

home made rod holderGetting started–From Oregon, we drove 1300 miles to get here. It took four days. We  left Monday. The amount of gear we planned to take was far larger than our vehicle. With considerable reluctance, we left beind the float tubes, fins, neoprene waders, face masks, snorkels, extra tent and some clothing. Even leaving these items behind, the Toyota 4Runner was packed to the gills.new cargo holderIn Seattle, we stopped at REI headquarters and bought a Yakima Rocket Box, a cargo box to put on the roof. With the sleeping bags and lighter gear above, I could see out the the back once again. I couldn’t feel much difference in the vehicle aerodynamics.

We stayed the first night in Everett, WA only about 300 miles from home. The border crossing included a surprisingly long and comprehensive inquiry into the purpose of our visit. The two-month duration and lack of a specific destination may have triggered a flag. Ultimately, it ended with questions about what fish we had previously caught in Canada and suggestions for future fishing locations.

Fraser River, muddyWe stayed the second night at Cache Creek, a small town above the Fraser River. The Fraser is the largest river in British Columbia. The first pioneers followed the Fraser and the first Canadian trans-continental railroad was built through here. It heads in the vast central interior with runoff from the Rockies and ends in Vancouver.Fraser River valley The canyon is spectacular. The river is powerful with many rapids. The walls are a myriad of colors–red, orange, black, white, tan, and yellow.From Cache Creek, we drove to Prince George, the northern B.C. provincial center, with a population of 80,000. I felt like I had finally arrived in northern B.C., the North.

BC-Yukon route

mapLoopI’ve wanted to take a road trip up north for sometime. I’ve flown to Alaska a bunch of times and driven to southern B.C. In British Columbia, the northern part of the province is regarded as “the North” (the east side is “the Interior”).

I plan to visit the north by vehicle to sight see, fish and camp, an outdoor, wilderness adventure. I expect to see glaciers, rivers and mountains, eagles and bears. I hope to catch trout, salmon, char, grayling and pike.

I probably will go the Prince George, Whitehorse and Prince Rupert. From Prince George, there is a loop, up the Alaska Highway and back down on the west side via the Cassiar Highway. Maybe, take sidetrips to Whitehorse, Haines, Aitlan, and even a bit of the Yukon.

B.C. Fishing #1

Cheslatta FallsA fish broke my tippet on my second cast. And then attacked my drift indicator. Several broke off in the current–and then I landed my first B.C. rainbow. My wife had just landed her fish. A double!

Below the falls, where the Cheslata River turns into the Nechako River is a pool full of wild rainbows. The water from the lake plunges through rapids, a canyon and into a pool. Green caddis and yellow stoneflys were in abundance. Green elk hair caddis, stimulators, Royal Wolff patterns, prince nymphs, brassies and copper johns all worked well.

There were so many fish, there were more fish than mosquitoes.

To get there, park at the campground and follow the loop trail. Be prepared for steep, slippery slopes. Take a camera.

N54′ 00′

Just north of my home in Oregon lies a large sign, 45th parallel. This are is the 54th, a nine degree difference.

Nechako, again

Cheslatta Falls-1Fished north side of Nechako River, below the falls. Walked down steep terrain to get below Falls. Caught dozens of rainbows 12″ to 16″. Spent more time fighting and releasing than casting and hooking. Used #5 floating/sinking tip line and a muddler minnow pattern. Maybe bait fish were stunned by the Falls and the big fish were used to feeding on the smaller fish. Probably other patterns would have worked.

Beautiful spot. The mist from the Falls kept me cool. The canyon stretched to the south and the main river wound to the north. Kingfishers twittered about while an eagle hovered overhead, looking for food.

Nechako River

Along the Kenney Dam Rd. from Vanderhoof to the dam is an interpretive kiosk. Near there is a trail to the West. After hiking about an hour, you arrive to a junction. Take the trail down to the right to the Nechako River. The beginning of the trail is well marked, but has many places with fallen trees. The lower trail is very difficult and has not been maintained for at least five years. The markers are far apart and some are on fallen trees.

Once I arrived in the canyon, I felt like I was in the middle of nowhere, the great North of B.C. I was concerned about finding the markers for my way home. But, the water looked inviting and I soon caught five rainbows on an elk Hair Caddis. I explored a long, curving riffle, but that wasn’t as productive as the pools between carved rock walls. The day had been cloudy and turned bright in the late afternoon. The bite was off except whitefish.

If you take the hike, I recommend taking a compass or GPS, going with another person, and taking insect replellent (better a potective shirt). There were many signs of bear, so make noise or wear bear bells.

The river is flood-controlled and large amounts of water are let out to keep the Fraser River cold enough for salmon, so check locally (usually water release occurs middle of July to middle of August).

Stellako River

muddy RiverWhen it started raining on the Nechako River, I drove to take a look at the Stellako, one of the renowned B.C. trout fly-fishing streams. According to a local, the bite was off because of the rain. The stoneflys had been hatching, but no longer. According to B.C. fishing regs, non-resident aliens must purchase a $20 per day license in addition to a regular license.

I also learned that the salmon runs are better in August than July–and therefore decided to return east to Prince George and start the “loop” on the east side. Drove to Chetwynd. Spent a day looking at rivers: the Moberly, Peace, Pine, Murray and Sukunka. Unfortunately, the rain came down even harder. The rivers were high and muddy with entire trees floating down in the main current. The Tumbling Falls are looked like a good base for fishing the area. Local info suggests the Burnt River, a tributary of the Sukunka is especially good for fly-fishing.

Alaska Highway

start of AK HwyFrom Chetwynd, I drove east to Dawson Creek, milepost zero of the Alaska Highway and then drove to Fort St. John. I crossed several muddy rivers that normally would hold some interest: Halfway, Buckinghorse, Beatton, Sikanni Chief, and Prophet.

Continued driving to Fort Nelson. This section of the highway is long, flat and not particularly interesting. It was 45 degrees F  and raining. When asked when it would stop raining, the hotel manager replied, “never.” When I told that to the waitress, she said, “You are lucky it isn’t snowing.”

Tetsa River

Toad River ValleyBeyond Ft. Nelson, the highway ascends into the Rocky Mountains. I stopped at a Provincial Park on the Tetsa River. It was relatively dry for the afternoon, but started raining again the next morning.

I tried fishing and hooked a few small fish, but a rainstorm moved in and made conditions above and below water imposible. The mosquitoes at the campground made things worse.

farNorth, 62 degrees

On July 24, after 3,200 miles of travel, turned the 4Runner to the south. Coordinates N 62 degrees 16’22” W 136degrees 20′ 33″

Muncho Lake

Muncho LakeIn the morning, I pulled up stakes and continued north, stopping at Summit Lake, a picturesque if barren spot exposed to the wind. Arrived at Munchon lake for a beautiful sunny afternoon. In the morning, I searched for access to either the inlet or outlet of the 7 km lake. On the southern end, past the airstrip, I followed a stream flowing through a culvert under the highway to a creek that flowed into the river that flowed into the lake. I could not find any fish in the creeks, but was rewarded with a good-sized lake trout where the river merged into the lake. But, again, the rain blew in with large gusts of wind. I got chilled at the high elevation and followed  moose tracks through the bog back to the highway.

It rained all night and in the morning it was cold and wet. I broke camp and continued north, passing bear and bison.

end of the Rockies

Terminal Range, RockiesMuncho Lake is in the Terminal Range, the end of the Rocky Mountains. The Rockies don’t extend into Alaska; they stop in northern B.C. The alluvial fans, vast flows of rock and gravel disappeared as I drove north and were replaced with conifer forest, lower elevations and relatively flat land.

I crossed the Liard River and arrived in the Provincial Park and campground complete with natural hot springs. The weather at the lower elevation was warmer and after one last rain, the sun came out.

Liard Hot Springs

Liard Hot Springs-1The hot springs are justifiably popular. The campgrounds are roomy and comfortable. I tried to fish Smith River Falls, but a forest fire recently destroyed the access and made the area dangerous from falling timber. I fished the Huele Creek near the Liard Bridge and caught my first grayling. The creek runs clear and the fish were stacked up in a hole where the clear water ran into the muddy Liard. They took Elk Hair Caddis and Prince Nymphs about size Liard Hot Springs16 (just like normal). I also fished the falls at Teeter Creek, about a 2 km hike through a mosquito-infested area. The grayling were in a pool below the falls and eagerly took dry fly caddis imitations. Whenever my fly didn’t get stuck on branches, I got a take.

I also drove about 10 miles on a rough 4WD trail along the Liard, but aside from negotiating the creeks, hills and wash-outs, the tour wasn’t exciting.

Black bear in clover

black bear in cloverThis black bear stopped eating clover long enough to take a look at me. Note the swarm of mosquitoes flying around it. I took this photo along the Alaska Highway in the Yukon.

Driving the Alaska Highway

big-rigsI probably missed an issue of National Geographic, but most of the people driving the Alaska Highway are driving the Alaska Highway. They are not going to Fairbanks to visit relatives or to Anchorage to start school. They are not wanting to fish or hunt or even go to a specific landmark, lake or glacier. They are not backpackers, kayakers, climbers or cyclists. They are driving.

All the talk is about 16 hours of straight driving, 500 klicks (kilometers) per day and “I drove straight through from Ft. Nelson.” “Do they have diesel or only gas?” There are vans, campers, occasional tent campers and cyclists. But mostly, it’s big rigs: coaches,big-rig-parking-lot trailers, 5th wheels, and RVs. Many pull cars, enclosed trailers or boats. Many are larger and longer than Greyhound buses and semi-rigs. They can’t be easily backed-up so they drive the main roads and “pull-throughs.” At an information office, one tourist interested in finding a restaurant asked for one with RV parking rather than Canadian, Western, or Chinese fare.

In the morning, the generators are going at 6 a.m. and the diesel engines are warming up by 7 a.m. By 8 am. the parade of vehicles has departed and the campground is empty. Around 5 p.m. they start pulling in and keep arriving until about 10 p.m.

It’s a stereotypical joke, but many of the coaches ARE driven by 80-year-old men. Maybe it’s a Great Generation thing conceived during World War II consturction times. Whatever, maybe if I make it to 80, I will be happy to drive a bus the thousands of miles. (more…)

Watson Lake

mapCampbellHwyA good place to get provisions, Watson Lake has two small lakes in the center of town and Watson Lake itself north of town by the airport. After driving 613 miles of the Alaska Highway, it was time to do something different; try the Campbell Highway. The Campbell has a reputation as unsuitable for RVs. Certainly the highway consturction north of town made it so. The uncompacted dirt was difficult to navigate.

Money Creek

Money-CreekStopped on the Campbell Highway to look at Simpson Lake and Frances River, but continued to Frances Lake Campground. The campground at Simpson Lake was empty, so I was surprised to see so many people at Frances. Turns out Frances is a popular destination and several large RVs park there each season.

Fished Money Creek which runs into the lake just Frances-Lakenorth of the campground. Nice, clear grayling water. Caught lots of fish, largest at 17 inces (42 cm). Around 3 p.m. each day, there was a baetis mayfly hatch. Above the bridge, the beavers are at work and they are fun to watch, even if they do put the fish down.

Most people have boats and troll the lake for lake trout. The lake is somewhat unusual in that it forms a “U.” It is typically long and thin, a result of glacial scraping.

Flat Tire and Faro

Faro BridgeAbout 40 miles north of Frances Lake, we got a flat tire. I fixed it quickly enough and was happy I had checked that I had proper tools before I left home, but then I no longer had a spare. Watson Lake was over 100 miles behind us and Ross River was over 100 miles ahead. I flagged down a passing car and was assured someone in Ross River could fix my flat.

The confluence of the Pelly and Hoole Rivers looked very fishy, but I continued to Ross River. The service station said the tire fixer was gone for five days, working at the mine, and I needed to continue to Carmacks, Lapie Canyonanother 104 miles. I stopped to look at the view in Lapie Canyon and then continued another 32 miles to Faro, where a highway worker stopped us and said there  was a forest fire ahead.

After spending the night in Faro, I visited the interpretive center and was pleasantly surprised the town maintenance crew could fix my flat for a fee. They did. Problem solved, kind of. The gravel is sometimes sharp gravel. When it is crushed, little arrowheads are formed that randomly insert themselves into tires and cause a flat. Nothing to do about it except carry spares. I met someone who had two flats at once and heard a story about someone with three flats.

Blind Creek and Rose Creek

Rose CreekAfter getting the tire fixed, I fished Blind Creek and caught lots of grayling, mostly on caddis fly imitations. Decided to stay in the town campground. Ironically, the campground was quieter and felt more like the wilderness than the wilderness with the RVs.

In the morning, took an interpretive walk to the waterfalls. Faro was once a larger town of 1,500 people, but is now only 300. A large open pit mind for lead and zinc operated from 1968 to 1998. The town bills itself as Yukon’s best kept secret. Aside from the vacant apartment buildings and mine site up the road, it is really nice with good views of the Pelly River Valley and the surrounding mountains.

French Toast at Fisheye LakeFished Rose Creek outside of Faro, above the mine site . Excellent grayling stream. Once you get past (and get over) the mine works, you are in a wonderful wilderness in the Tintina Trench. The Trench today is a migratory route for birds and other wildlife. Supposedly during the Ice Age, it remained ice-free and was the highway to Asia via the Beringia land mass (now the Bering Sea). Anyway, there was a baetis mayfly hatch and (more…)

Yukon Facts

Average Daily Hours of Daylight in July: 20 hoursForest Fire

Motorist Requirement: Drive with headlights on at all times

Population: 33,000

Number Moose: 50,000

Number Caribou: 160,000

Longest River: The Yukon River

Capital: Whitehorse

Europe When I’m Old

Whirlpool-RapidsI met an inspiring couple at Whirlpool Rapids on the Liard River. They were gathering firewood to put in their aged camper. He was 78; she was 76. They were from Juneau, AK and were traveling on a road trip. As we talked, we found they were international travelers. In the past few years, they had gone up the Amazon, visited Antarctica, traveled to China, Tibet and Nepal (same trip I took), hiked the Annapurna Trail and spent six months throughout Peru.

When asked about Europe, he replied, “I’ll go to Europe when I get old.” After reflecting a few moments, he grinned and said, “Maybe, I better go soon.”

our route, so far

Our completed route, as of August 7.

stone sheep, photo

Stone sheep in B.C.

Faro, forward

canoe in Five Finger RapidsLeft Faro, following Campbell Highway. The forest fire was still burning. Checked out several places. Drury Creek Campground (site #10) looks good. Frenchman Road with Frenchman Lake looks good. Tatchun Creek Campground is too close to the Klondike Highway to be appealing (although an outfitter was setting up tents for some German tourists). Across from Tatum Creek is a rough road that leads to a First Nation Fish Camp and the confluence of the creek with the Klondike River. South of there is Five Finger Rapids which is worth stopping for and taking the hike down to riverside.

Whitehorse

WhitehorseWent to Whitehorse to get provisions. Lots of people are in Whitehorse getting provisions, starting a trip, ending a trip and getting outfitted. The airport and visitor center are busy. Many tourists are from Germany and other European countries. Whitehorse is on the Yukon River with mountains all around it. I watched a parade on Main Street as I sat in the barber chair getting a haircut.

Atlin

rock and lakeFrom Whitehorse, drove to Atlin, the “Little Switzerland” of World Was II fame. Stayed at the Art Center with Gernot. Gernot apparently has some international fame as an artist, photographer and teacher. He is an outdoor enthusiast and at 74 is in better shape than most people (me). His school was based upon “living on the edge” whereby students had alpine experiences that influenced the way they see and create art. He personally built all the lodging including a guest house with two one-bedroom apartments. The view is stunning and panoramic. He has a large jet boat for excursions and a wealth of knowledge about the area; he provides charters.Atlin, B.C. glacier

I fished the stream between MacDonald Lake and Little MacDonald Lake and caught lots of small grayling. Also fished Surprise Lake where it drains into the creek and caught larger grayling. Reportedly Palmer Lake holds pike (more…)

Little Rancheria River

From Atlin, drove back to Alaska Highway. I stopped to check out the Tagish River where it comes out of Tagish Lake near Highway 8 near Jake’s Corner. The Marina was flooded out and is now being rebuilt. It was very hot (over 30 degrees) and the fish were reportedly 30 meters down. Under the right conditions, this would be a good fishery. Little Atlin Lake looks like it will be good after road construction stops.

Continued south on AK Hwy through Teslin, stayed at a noisy campground, near the Rancheria River. Fished the Little Rancheria near the bridge and caught grayling. Tried to find main stem by following logging roads to the north, but never did.

The two of us had burgers for lunch with water for $50 at Junction 37 and headed south on the Cassiar Highway. The weather was hot and dry. One local said, “All of the south Yukon is burning.”

bison, photo

bison

Dease River and French Creek

rock, river and treeCamped several nights at French Creek Recreation Site, about Milepost 415. This small campsite is designed for canoers paddling the Dease River. It’s a primitive site. We really like it. One night no one else was there. The other two nights, only one other party was there. Beware, there are lots of mosquitoes in a land where lots of mosquitoes are commonplace.

Caught large grayling, to 16″ at the campground. Hiked down to the confluence with French Creek and caught bull trout.

Darkness. Dark, at last. Around 10 p.m. in my tent, in the trees, in the rain and clouds, it was so dark, I used my flashlight to read.

Fishing Equipment

rod-holder-designI didn’t know what fishing equipment I would need, but wanted to catch rainbows, grayling, Dolly Varden, pike and salmon. For the two of us, I took six fly rods (1-3 wt., 1-4 wt., 2-5 wt., 2-7 wt.) plus 2 salmon rods, 2 steelhead/pike rods, 2 lake rods and several spinning rods.rod-holder

To carry all these rods, I built a special rack for the floor of the 4Runner. Made from plywood and 2x4s, it allows several 3″ plastic sleeves (irrigation pipes) to hold all these rods. It keeps them available, prevents breakage and hides them from theft.

wildflower, photo

wildflower on Ruby MountainPhoto taken on Ruby Mountain, near Atlin, B.C.

Telegraph Creek

Telegraph CreekDrove to Watson Lake and stayed in a motel. Took a day trip to Telegraph Creek. The Stikine River carved a narrow canyon that is worth seeing. At the confluence of the Stikine and Tanzilla Rivers is a natural basalt image of a bird with outstretched wings, an eagle. At that place, I watched as two eagles flew along the cliffs, caught a warm updraft, and circled higher and higher until they were almost out of sight.

The land belongs to the First Nation people, the Tahltan. They catch salmon with gill nets for a commercial fishery and have special rules for sports fishermen.

Eddontenajon Lake

Eddontenajon LakeDrove south from Dease Lake on the Cassiar Highway to Iskut. Stayed at the Red Goat Lodge in a cabin for a few nights. No goats, only llamas. Canoed around the lake catching average-size rainbows–lots of them, as of 30 or 40 in a day. See www.redgoatlodge.com .

Stewart

Bear Glacier outflowDrove south on the Cassiar from Eddontenejon Lake near Iskut stopping at Kinaskan Provincial Park. Continued west to see Stewart and Hyder, AK. On the way to Stewart, stopped to see Bear Glacier. The Stewart Bear Festival was in progress, but was not particularly interesting. It was raining. The boardwalk on the estuary was enjoyable. Staying at the Prince Edward hotel was comfortable. Sockeye dinner at the Bitter Creek Cafe was wonderful. In the morning, drove 2 km. to Hyder, Alaska. Saw a bear (but not in the fee area for seeing bears). The bear ran, swam and chased some eagles away from a fish. Saw pink salmon spawning in the river. Unfortunately, the road to Salmon Glacier washed out several weeks ago and was closed.

New Aiyansh

Nass River pink salmonTraveled south to Cranberry Junction and followed the Nass Forest Road to New Aiyansh. This is the Nass River Watershed, noted for its First Nation population and wilderness. A new road, the Nisgaa Highway was constructed during the past few years, creating bridges and opening up the area. We stayed at Nass Camp, an old logging camp from the 50s. It has the infrastructure to serve hundreds, but we were the only guests.

The river contained fish, pink salmon. Locals were fishing at the boat launch and at the confluence of the Ksi Sii Aks River (aka Tseax) and the Nass. We took a ride, stopping at the villages to look at totem poles. We drove to the end of the road to Gingoix at the estuary where the Nass runs into salt water, the Portland Canal. After watching the villagers and eagles, we headed back. On the way, we noticed lots of seals and eagles at a particular spot. We crossed a bridge over the Iknoule River aka Xnutsk River, stopped and looked down to see hundreds of pink salmon. After double-checking the (complicated) fishing regulations, we scrambled down through the dense undergrowth and were soon into them. Colored maribou streamers stripped slowly in the seam between fast and slow water did the trick. The following day, we timed our visit to low tide and fished the incoming tide. Around the bend below the bridge are a couple of pools at a bend. Dozens of fish would swim upstream in a pod, working their way to the spawning grounds. They were active and aggressive, visibly chasing down my fly. They were far easier to hook and fight than to land. My 7-weight bent double and the fish just pulled line out the drag. A couple of times bigger fish (or maybe a steelehead) took the fly way downstream. Many fish wouldn’t fit into my net.red fox

In the area, we saw lots of wildlife. Lots of eagles, maybe hundreds. I took a short walk after dinner and startled a large, black bear. One morning, we saw a bear cub with its mom. Mom marked its territory on a tree and the cub did the same. Also saw coyotes and red fox.

Skeena River

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. (more…)

Kispiox River

Drove from Terrace to New Hazelton and stayed the night. In the morning, the woman at the visitor center directed us  to the Kispiox River near the village of Kispiox. I fished the stream downstream of the rodeo grounds. The river was thick with pink salmon and I caught quite a few.

Smithers

Drove to Smithers and stayed the night. Got provisions an washed the car. Cute town. Good place to start a vacation.

Babine River

Babine LakeOn 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.

Babine RiverAfter 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, (more…)

Trip Home

After one more try for sockeye, we drove to Gandisle and Topley and took the Yellowhead Highway east to Prince George and then south on 97, eventually crossing the border and taking I-5 back home.

Arctic Grayling, video


Caught my first Artic Grayling. They generally live above 60 degrees latitude. They occupy roughly the same biological niche as trout, but in a colder, more northern environment. Like trout, they hold in the river and primarily eat insects. They seem to like the slower water and their bite isn’t as fast or definitive as a trout. This video shows a grayling I caught in Blind Creek.

Bull Trout, video


The video shows a bull trout, commonly known as a Dolly Varden. I caught it at the confluence of French Creek and Deese River. The tourist guides and locals all call the fish, Dolly Varden. The regulations make a point of clarifying there are two distinct species, Dolly Varden and bull trout. There isn’t much obvious difference between the two. The bull trout has a flatter, more triangular head (like a bull?) and a downturned mouth. The head is more dominant relative to the body. Typically only one species exists in a drainage. The Liard River/Peace River/MacKenzie Rivers ultimately flows into the Arctic Ocean and only contains bull trout, not Dolly Varden.

Pink Salmon, video


This video shows pink salmon fishing on a tributary of the Nash River in British Columbia.

Ruby Mountain, video


This video shows Ruby Mountain, near Atlin, B.C.

Monarch Mountain, video

Climbed the trail up Monarch Mountain. It starts near the Atlin Art Center where we stayed. Gorgeous panoramic view of the lake.

Bear Footprint, video

map, final route BC-Yukon

map-final-routeThis is a big image so you should be able to zoom in and see the locations of my various posts.