I’m sitting in a hotel in Vancouver right now, with a canceled flight, trying to get back to school in time. I have all day to spare so I thought I’d get my last blog post from this trip up before I get back into my life at school. Two days ago my dad and I woke up at 5:30 to the pitch black early morning sky and sound of waves crashing to shore at the resort we were staying at in Tofino. We drove eastward across Vancouver island through the narrow twisty, nausea-inducing roads and arrived to “Canada’s Best Fishing Town” (as a sign in town declared it) or Port Alberni. We met our guide Rollo in a dark parking lot. We followed him back out of town, through the fish hatchery to where his boat was docked on the Stamp River. We introduced our selves and then were confronted with a tough question to hear before a fishing trip, “Do you want to fly fish, or actually catch fish?” I glanced over to my dad and we both said “Fly fish.”
He informed us that the water has been really low and clear from the recent lack of rain, resulting in spooky (er), hard (er) to catch steelhead. We were up to the challenge. Rollo still seemed to doubt our answer and still started us off with spinning gear. After about thirty minutes I basically begged him to use one of the 7 weight switch rods he brought so he tied me on an orange egg pattern and let me cast away. We motored down stream to a nice, 3-6 foot deep long wide section of the river with slow moving water. I’m not sure if it’s ever common to steelhead fish like this but it was all sight fishing to relatively close-by fish near our anchored boat.
It was just a few cast later when I started to slowly change Rollo’s mind when a beautiful steelhead swung out from behind a pod of old Coho salmon and followed my egg for almost 10 yards before turning back. Several young Coho’s ate our eggs but I was still eager to get my first steelhead.
About 20 yards downstream to the side of the boat was a LARGE steelhead sitting off a drop-off above a sand bar. I set up my line anchor upstream, brought back the D-loop, and shot the line forward across the river. The egg went on its slow swing past the holding fish. I watched it come out of its lie, felt the sudden pull on the line, waited till I saw it turn it’s head back to it’s lie. I set the hook and the water erupted into chaos.
We snapped a couple photos and released it back to the gin clear water. That was the only steelhead for the day but I was happy with just that. My dad got several trout and salmon, including a cutthroat.
I stalked what I thought was a steelhead for a while but once I caught it realized it was just a river rainbow. We then stalked an absolutely massive steelhead just 10 feet of the side of the boat. It was very active and feeding on something. My dad threw egg sucking leeches at it, got a bite but didn’t hook up. After tying on a stonefly nymph, I put a drift right by it’s nose and from the back of the boat I heard Rollo and my dad yelling “set the hook!”, but there was no tension to the fish after I threw the rod to the air. We examined the fly and saw it was rusty and the hook had fallen off. Somehow the fish wasn’t spooked so we tied on another stonefly, drifted it by, set the hook, watch the water boil, saw the fish fly into the air and the line went slack. At least I had one steelhead for the day. It was altogether a fantastic trip to BC with three days of fantastic fishing for all species of fish and highly recommend anyone to find some time to come out here and catch some amazing fish.