Angling BC – A Guided Steelhead Trip on the River

I manage to hit the river regularly during the winter months to enjoy the wonderful steelhead fishery we are blessed to have here on the Island.. My son who loves fishing as much as me, unfortunately due to hockey commitments, doesn’t have the time to spend on the river during the winter months as I do. One of the traditions we have started together is to have a guided trip on the Stamp River every Christmas break. This is a great way for us to get out together, spend a day on the river, and experience Steelhead fishing with a very knowledgeable guide. Nick Hnennyj of West Coast River Charters has been our guide of choice and he has always manage to provide both of us a tremendous Steelhead fishing experience . The ability to spend a day on the river with a guide has many advantages. The knowledge that a guide can provide is invaluable. Experience is an important item when hiring a guide. Ask questions and get a feel for who you are talking to, as first impressions are very important. A Guide has all the tips and tricks anyone could ever ask for. I have learned a lot from the times we have spent on the river with Nick. My son who rarely gets to enjoy the fishery has also had his best Steelhead days fishing on these guided trips.

Our most recent trip this past winter was no exception. Two days before our scheduled trip, I received a phone call from Nick and he expressed his concern over the lower water levels and passed by me a few options in attempt to ensure our day was one we would never forget. We decided, on the advice from him, to fish the lower half of the river and to split into two boats as the water levels were extremely low for this time of year. We arrived early in the morning and enjoyed a hot coffee together before we headed off to the river. My Buddy took off with one of Nicks other guides and Myself and my son went with Nick. Nicks boat was neat and tidy and fully loaded with gear ready to go. Although we use our own rods Nick had plenty of top quality rods and gear ready to use in case ours gave us any problems. Once on the boat he took us to the first spot. He went over the water conditions with us and instructed my son on what his leader length should be, what bait to use, and how he should best drift his gear in these low water conditions. Nick ensured that he kept a steady retrieve as to not get caught on bottom and pointed out a shallow ripple where he felt a fish would hold in. My son, being a relative beginner steelheader used Nicks advice to perfection and after only a few casts into a shallow fast moving ripple, was into his first steelhead of the day. After a 5 minute battle, he had a nice 7 pound steelhead in the boat. My attempts at first were not as productive but Nick quickly pointed out the me that my leader length was probably a little too long for these conditions and to shorten up. That was the tonic, as two casts later I was into a nice Steelhead myself. Although it was a battle I quickly lost, shortening up my leader length definitely increased my odds of a strike. We moved slightly further up river where my son was into his second fish. Again Nick instructed him as to where the fish should be holding and to ensure he cast well above the ripple so his gear would properly drift through that area. He had a great battle on his hands and he soon had number 2 in the boat, a beautiful 8 pound chromer. With the water levels so low, it really limited the spots that would hold fish. Nick provided us with some great tips on how to fish these low water conditions and pointed out exactly where Steelhead hold up.

After a productive morning we stopped on the bank and had some lunch. We spent the break discussing steelhead fishing strategies and looked back at the trip we had the previous year when the water levels were very high and how our strategies that day were much different than todays. The afternoon continued to be productive and what we thought could be a slow day was anything but. Nick continued to provide little tips throughout the day, explaining why things are done certain ways that definately help us better understand how Steelhead act in these conditions. At the end of the day both myself and my son were into 6 Steelhead. It was a day we both won’t soon forget. Can’t wait till next year.

Whether you spend the day walking the banks of the river or having a guided trip as we experienced this past winter, enjoy BC’s fabulous Steelhead fishery and conserve our waters. It will provide memories for a lifetime.

by BoB Waldhaus

 

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