Sunday, December 6, 2015

Canada 2.0

(written by Jason)

Ok, so Tuesday morning came around and it was time to go.  The crew was going to be John, Parker and Me.  John texted first thing saying he was sick - so I hurried and had to finish a job up, broke the news to Parker, and then quickly got my last things together and hurried out the door.  

We had just gotten a "new" truck and that was going to be this year's ride to Canada.  I headed over to Parker's house and we loaded up and were on our way - around 11am or so.  Our plan (although, it seems like we never have a definite plan) was to go all the way up to our destination, and depending on timing, maybe sleep somewhere along the way.  Thirteen hours later, we were past the border and had started driving on the dirt road - we were getting close.  It was dark, and after 1am, we were very tired, and of course we took a wrong turn.  Fifteen minutes later, we realized our mistake, turned around and found the right road.  After another fifteen minutes we were in big trouble.

The BRIDGE was torn down and in the process of being replaced.  This was the only bridge, on the only road, going back to where we needed to go.  We still had another 40 minutes of driving past this point!  We were frustrated, delirious, and confused.  We decided to go into town, and crash in the truck for the night in the parking lot of the motel we stayed in last time.  We were hoping to get WiFi connection - assuming the password hadn't changed.  The password hadn't changed, and we slept in the truck.  WiFi worked too, and Parker messaged our "connection" to ask what the deal was, and how we could get up to the river with the bridge out.  This was a big deal, and we were very very freaked out that we would not be able to fish our river.  Luckily, the kid messaged back, and told us about a different route.  We were off in a hurry - no time to waste.  All the dirt roads are logging roads, and just as we got on the road, we came around a corner and about hit a massive truck filled with logs.  We got really lucky.  

We made our way to the spot we stopped at last time, and then decided to keep on going as we heard the fish were spawning much further up the stream.  This was an unknown road to us, and all we knew is that it could get rough....and rough it got.  I was driving, and Parker could attest to my high stress level as we went through some really gnarly roads and terrain.  It took another hour to drive back on this road.  We were in the middle of no where.  We finally decided to park at a turn off, and make our way down to the river to start fishing.  We had no idea where we were, but very stoked to FINALLY be close to actually fishing.  We got to the river, and I got the first fish, but it was snagged and came off. 

To say the least, we caught the same amount of Bull trout this first half day, then we did combined for the whole trip last year.  It was amazing, and although we caught about half on streamers, we caught the other half on nymphs.

We set up camp in a random spot, and started cooking our dinner - which was an amazing tri tip roast from Costco.  We freaked ourselves out though, because we were barbecuing and the smells were strong, and supposedly "lots" of bears are in the area.  We cleaned up well, and had a good nights rest, with no attacks.  

Thursday - We fished the spots, but our money hole was taken by a raunchy native, who was ticked when he first saw us.  The conversation started off like "Eh, you guys just going to skip me and take the next hole?".  We didn't know what to say.  He then said, "If you're true fishermen, you will skip the next two holes for me, and keep going".  We were amazed by this guy, and that he could be such a jerk.  We kept talking to him, and he eventually opened up.  He said he guided the river for 20 years, and told us some stories and showed us some pics.  Afterwards, Parker and I realized that we had found THE HOLE this native guide  goes to on his days off!  We totally scored.  This hole easily has over 100 massive bull trout - and the crazy thing is we almost walked right past it the day before.  It is more of a giant spawning bed, but you would never guess there to be fish there. Unfortunately, we didn't get to fish it again Thursday. We decided to head back to last years spot to get a better camping area and hit up some old trusty holes. 

Friday - A day of walking and rain!  So, the previous year we had walked really far up, and we wanted to go even further to see what was around the next bend - a fisherman's weak spot.  We fished some of the same holes we were familiar with, and we were still hoping to land a colored up bull trout - one with more red on the belly and tail. We found a group of six or so fish hanging out at the back of one hole, and Parker spotted a beauty.  I fished upstream.  Not before long I hear "Jay, I got the big colored one".  I ran back down, and was quickly getting the camera ready.  I couldn't believe he had gotten it!  All of a sudden....SLING...the fish popped the hook.  Parker was ticked to say the least!  We kept moving up stream.  There was one particular hole that we remembered from last year that was particularly fun for the rising cutts and throwing dry flies.  We made it up there and realized there were not only some good size cutts, but also a lot of bull trout too!  We were stoked.  Not before long...we had both caught several fish.  And then the rain came in really quick and really hard.  I booked it for the trees, and Parker said he had to get one more.  And sure enough he did.  We huddled under some tall trees along the bank for about 40 minutes until the rain subsided. 

The whole time we had been fishing this particular hole we had noticed a big bull sitting towards the opposite bank of the river hanging out under an overhanging branch.  It was the fish of the hole, but it didn't seem interested in eating anything.  After the rain stopped, we headed back to see if we could catch some more.  I threw on the nymph setup we had been using and started targeting the big bull.  Cast after cast, no luck - but I did catch another smaller decent sized bull.  After a few more casts, WHAMMY!  Out of nowhere the big guy went right for my fly.  I hooked him with a size 16 hook - barbless - and right on the top of the mouth!  I was using my six weight, and this guy was putting up a good fight.  We were both stoked, and I was extremely nervous.  I knew I didn't have on the thickest line and that the hook was small.  I was as patient as I could be.  The closer it got to shore, the more Parker and I realized how big it was!  We finally landed it after about 15 minutes, and it was a beauty!  It taped at 31" and must have weighed around 13 to 14 lbs.  We were so excited.  We snapped a few pics, and then set her back!  It was the biggest fish I had ever caught in my life - about 3 miles upstream - in the middle of nowhere in Canada

The rain continued after that, and we made our long trek back to our campsite, where we found the tent was somewhat leaking.  We quickly prepared a ton of spaghetti, which was delicious, and then went to bed.  We were beat. 

Saturday.  Parker was set on going back up the gnarly dirt road again so we could fish the money hole up top, along with some other ones.  I wanted to as well, but was concerned about taking the truck back on the road, especially after it had rained.  It was something I was legitimately nervous about.  If something happened, we would block the road, and maybe not see anyone for a while.  And...Canadians don't really like us Americans on their sacred and beloved secret river.  I decided to go for it, and to try it again.  Luckily my skills had improved, and we didn't hit bottom nearly as much.  We did come across a fallen tree from all the rain, and had to drive around it, which was literally the only place on the trail that was wide enough to do so. 

We made it to the river, and began our last day of fishing.  It started off pretty good.  At this point, we were overwhelmed with how many fish we had caught so far - probably around 21 or 22.  We fished some of the upper holes that had been productive on Wednesday and Thursday.  The first hole, Parker ended up landing the most colored up fish of the trip.  The lighting of the day didn't do it justice, but it was a really pretty fish and good sized too.  We then made our way down to the money hole.  We couldn't believe it when we came upon it.  Two guys a little younger than us were already fishing it.  We went down anyways and talked to them for a little while.  They were locals and pretty nice.  They had already fished it for a while, and were cool with us fishing it, as they were going to make their way down further.  We began fishing it, and absolutely killed it.  We each caught 8 or 9 fish in a matter of 2 hours - which is incredible for bull trout.  We had a couple times that we both had fish on!  It was a blast and a PERFECT way to end the trip.  I did have one on for about 5 or 10 minutes that felt massive.  I fought it well, but at one point it took off down river a little bit and swam right into a big half submerged bush.  We both did our best to try and get it free, but eventually my line broke - "the fish that got away". 

We made our way back down the crappy dirt road, and I was beyond relieved to not have to drive that road again.  We quickly packed all our wet gear, and decided to drive half way back that night, so that our Sunday drive was shorter.  Coming back through the border was a lot harder than going into Canada.  The border patrol officer was a total creeper and beyond weird.  Parker had a free night voucher at a Marriott and it was heaven being able to shower and then sleep in a real bed.  

We had an amazing trip, and couldn't have asked for better fishing.  We got very lucky finding an alternate route up to the river since the main bridge was out for maintenance. 

Until next time Canada.

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