Spring has sprung in Northern British Columbia and with it come the first steelhead of the year. As the snow slowly starts to melt and the rivers start to rise, the spring steelhead come surging up the coastal rivers and tributaries of the lower Skeena system. These are aggressive fish, fresh from the ocean. They are in and out quickly to do their thing. Timing is crucial. When the timing is right great fishing can be had.
Two weekends ago I was guiding some clients for Skeena River Lodge. Normally I do not fish myself when I am guiding because there are just too many things to do; help the clients with setting up their gear, make sure that they are mending correctly, casting instruction, untangle flies from the bushes and river bottom, lunches, etc.
It is not often that I am unhappy to catch a steelhead, but this was such a rare occasion. I was just showing my client how to fish a particularly slow pool when he asked me how he would detect the take when the line was moving so slowly. The guiding gods must have been pleased with me that day because just when my client finished his question the fish took. So I promptly replied: “just like that!”
When guiding I always feel pressured to produce fish for my clients, so naturally I was not all that pleased that I caught the fish that should have gone to my client. He was a real good sport about it though and was quite impressed that I caught a fish in just one cast! Luckily, there was another fish in the pool that he hooked and a few pools later he was ecstatic to catch the first spring Chinook of the year.