In the summer of 2016 I had the opportunity to fish the Dean river in British Columbia and it made a distinct impression on me. As an avid steelheader it felt like coming home in a way. Don't get me wrong I love my local waters and have learned so much from them. But the wilderness of the Dean and the whole experience of BC was like a visit to the promised land and I was hooked. I made it a point to try and get back to that country the next opportunity I had.
This process always begins as an inquiry to my good friends at Fly Water Travel and in this particular case, Ken Morrish. Ken has been sending anglers to BC for years and has a great understanding of the area, its steelhead fishing and run timing. He pitched me on a late season, under the radar operation in the Nass watershed which is just to the north of the Skeena valley. I was a little concerned about weather issues that far north but as Ken explained it could really work in our favor because we would potentially get snow and not rain and this would keep the rivers in shape. Little did we both know how right he would be. I began work on assembling a group right away.
A day of travelling from Medford, Oregon put us in Terrace, BC at around 6pm and ready for the last leg of the trip which was a 2+ hour drive north. Once at the lodge we eagerly began assembling our equipment for the 5 1/2 days of fishing ahead. The Bell Irving and the Meziadan were the two tributaries to the giant Nass river that we focused on and the Bell in particular as it was in perfect shape. The short jet boat ride up river put us into a dreamy set of classic steelhead runs and I was into my first fish within minutes. Incredible. I believe we all touched or landed fish that first day and the remainder of our days on the Bell were fairly similar. The entire west coast was suffering diminished returns this year and the Nass was no exception. The assumption was the runs were down by half. With this in mind we still found the fishing to be fantastic.
For the next several days we reveled in the wild place we found ourselves. Fresh wolf tracks along the shore, Bald Eagles flying overhead, vertical peaks disappearing into the low clouds, snowstorms and of course Wild Steelhead. Our guides Steve & Ryan were incredibly hardworking keeping us out of harms way and onto fish, which was no small feat at times. Destination trips are of course about putting you in front of great fishing opportunities but at their best they give you an overall experience of a place. A sort of immersion therapy... with fishing. Experiencing these wild places while standing in a river wishing for a fish is what keeps me looking forward to my next adventure.