Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Canada Fishing Trip 2016

(Written by Jason)

I wasn't too excited about the 14 hour drive, BUT I could barely wait to get back on the river again to target some Bull Trout.  This was going to be our third trip, and the first year was great, but the second year was amazing. So I was nervous for this trip to see if our luck would continue or not.  

The river we fish on is very protected and local authorities instigated "limited" fishing days, if you weren't local. LUCKILY, we got licenses back in April, so we didn't run into any problems.

Because the fishing was so great last year, we were determined to fish on the same parts of the river, but were hesitant taking the truck back in on the crazy trails.  Parker ended up buying a 4-wheeler with his dad, and so we brought it with us so we could more easily travel from our camp spot, and also save a lot of time.

John wasn't able to come last year, but he was determined to make it this year, and he did.  It was fun for Parker and I to introduce him to the world's best bull trout fishing (but seriously, it is).

We left around 6:30 am on Tuesday, but by the time we figured out the lights on the trailer, and got some last minute food items, breakfast, and filled up gas, we were leaving around 8:30 am.  Oh, and Parker squirted gas all over himself, clothes and face, so that was the first real live-action of the trip.  

We arrived at our campsite around 10:30 PM.  We set up our awesome tent, which was on loan from John's father-in-law.  The tent was canvas, and had plenty of room to spare with three of us all on cots.

Camp the next morning

I was beyond excited for the next day and what it had in store.  Before we get to the river, we have to take the 4-wheeler for almost 7 miles from camp.  All three of us fit on the 4-wheeler with one person on front.  Parker got a hitch "trailer", or cargo hold that went on the back that was very helpful for carrying all of our gear.

Once we finally got to the spot to park, we were stoked to not see anyone else.  Best bull trout river, during the best season, and no one around! We got our lines set up as quickly as possible and made our way down to the river.  It was a sight for sore eyes! Okay, now for the fishing!

We got into the fish fairly quickly.  John had a blast landing his first bull trout, that measured around 28", which is incredible!  Our first year, the largest Bull Trout we caught was around that same length.  Our goal was to beat last trip's record, which was 31", so we were shooting for 33". The deal was that whoever caught the largest fish would get their lunch bought for them on the way back home.

We each landed a fish or two in the first hole, so we were off to a great start.  Bull Trout are not easy to catch, and we have talked to multiple fishermen who didn't land any Bulls over a two or three day period.  

The coolest catch for me was on the first day, at the second hole.  I climbed on top of a big log that stretched across the river, so I could get a better view of the fish in the hole below.  I saw a few really, really nice fish, so I targeted them.  Well, after a few annoying tangles, and much persistence on one particular fish, I ticked him off enough that he randomly took the hook!  I couldn't believe it.  The layout of this hole is kinda crazy with the tipped trees and branches everywhere.  It makes for landing a fish, a really big fish, very hard.  Well, it started to get crazy, and I was putting as much pressure on the fish as I felt comfortable, to keep him away from the "danger" zones.  It wasn't enough pressure and it swam under a really thick tangle of branches to where we couldn't even see through the water.  It took a lot of line as well.  I was bummed to think that I was going to lose this fish, and possibly a lot of my line.  It was messy.  Parker and I kept looking for it, and checking the line to see if it was still on, but it was hard to tell.  After a few minutes I was somewhat losing hope, as well as Parker.

I happened to just glance past Parker, and took a double take, as I saw my fish was in the water just above the crazy branch and log jam.  It was swimming in only about 15" of water.  There was no way to use my rod and try to land it, so I grabbed the net, handed the rod to Parker, and tried to stealthily sneak up from behind it.  Not surprisingly I didn't get close enough before it got spooked and swam further up the pool area.  I was convinced that when he did this the line would break, but shockingly it didn't!  Instantly, I thought to at least try to find the line under water that was coming up from where the rod still was down river.  I eventually found it, and used it to somewhat control the fish.  I slowly walked up with line in hand, and was just hoping I could net it myself.  I was only five or six feet away when I started pulling on the line with my hand to get the fish's head to turn back towards me to more easily net it.  With my arms stretched in both directions, one with line in it, and the other with the net out as far as I could go, I got the head, body, and tail in the net!  I had landed the biggest, baddest, coolest looking fish of my life.  I could not believe my eyes!  Neither could Parker or John! John and Parker were filming while all of this took place.  The fish measured out to 32" and was bright orange with a crazy kype! We got some good footage and pics, and sent it on its way!

We continued down river, although I felt like I was floating on a cloud after that last fish.  We came up on what we call our "money hole", since it is where we had our most luck the previous trip.  We all caught quite a few more fish, and landed some beauties!  I was able to land another massive 30" Bull from that hole.  

We got back just before dark, and quickly grilled our seasoned pork tenderloin medallions - which were delicious. We were exhausted, and didn't last too long around the campfire.

The next morning, as always, we slept in, but decided to try some of the classic holes just below camp.  They are really beautiful looking holes, with some great fish in them, but for whatever reason they are just really hard to fish. We did catch some cutties on dry flies, so that was good.  Long story short, we fished in that section until about 3:00 pm, when we decided it wasn't worth it any longer, and hiked back up river to get on the 4-wheeler again and go up to the better holes up higher.  Upon passing camp, we realized some other dude had arrived and set up his camp and tent like 25 feet away from out tent. We were all really annoyed given how much space there is in the area, and after talking to him for five minutes, he then became the butt of our jokes for the rest of the trip.

That evening we had some great fishing.  Parker had a really big fish on, easily 31-33" size, but as Parker was landing it, it busted the line!  He was ticked, and no one can blame him.  We had a "power hour" that night, where we caught around 10 bull trout in just one hour!  It was incredible.  I was able to land another 32" bruiser of a Bull Trout, that also had awesome color on it!  So far in the trip, we were all amazed, especially Parker and I, of how many male Bull Trout we were catching.  In years passed it was always a treat to catch the colored up males.  That night we cooked up our Tri-tip and scalloped potatoes, which were fantastic.  But, for some reason we couldn't get the grill to work and thought the gas was out, so over the campfire they went, and it took significantly longer, but possibly tasted even better!

Day three had some more fishing in the similar area with some good fishing, although it was probably the slowest of the days we had.  We all caught great fish that day, and ran into some weather.  I was of course the only one too lazy to bring my rain jacket, but luckily I didn't get too soaked, thanks to the thick trees along the shore.  We explored a little further down river and found a pretty good hole, but with the way the current came into the hole, and the underwater structure of the hole made it was difficult to get our lines where we wanted them. Later, and upstream, John ended up getting into a huge fish.  Unfortunately, earlier in the day we had left the net at the log jam hole.  So we ended up fishing several holes without the net, which was very challenging.  John trying to land this massive fish without a net was not easy. But land it he did, and it was 33", and overall a beast of a fish! That evening we left the river later than normal, and ended up getting back to camp when it was already dark, and it was lightly raining, so we quickly made dinner (warmed up pulled pork with an Italian noodle salad).  It was really easy to cook, tasted great, and will be a duplicate meal for next year.  

The last day on the river.  We decided to not camp another night, so in the morning we quickly packed everything and loaded the truck.  We wanted to be able to fish as late as possible, and then just head back to camp and take off. As we headed up the trail the "hitch trailer" came flying off because the hitch pin came out.  This delayed us a little, but a little engineering from John and Parker got it fixed, while I fixed the torn next with zip ties.

I was determined to find a new section/hole to fish that would be more productive than the hole we had found the previous day.  I convinced Parker and John to hike down river with me.  We didn't have to walk too far until we came across another hole. We quickly found it to be a really good hole with some awesome fish in it.  Several of the fish we caught here had the most orange bodies, and blackest heads and necks of the trip. We were all stoked about finding another great hole, and we had some good luck using streamers rather than nymphing.  It was fun to see how aggressive the Bull trout could be attacking the streamers.  We eventually made our way back upstream, fishing a few holes along the way.  We were really tired and exhausted, but ready to head back home to see our families.  We had had a wonderful trip, caught incredible fish and lots of them.


A less than fun part of the drive that night was when the border stopped us and made us wash off the thickly plastered four wheeler from all the mud we had accumulated over the past four days. The mud was more like clay, so trying to wash it off with an extremely leaky, low pressure hose took us about 40 minutes.  We finally got to our hotel around 2:00 AM.  John was beyond tired since he drove that whole distance (something I can appreciate after having done the same stretch the year before).  We hadn't eaten dinner, so McDonalds had to suffice.  It felt great to take a shower and properly clean up, rather than using toilettes. We slept well, and the next day we made the longer trek back home.  Once again, we stopped by the amazing taco truck and feasted.  

The trip was AMAZING.  We are lucky to have each year get better and better with unique adventures one after another.  One of the most incredible things about the trip was that while fishing for four days we didn't see one other angler on the river with us!  Unbelievable.

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