Long Days And Long Hikes In British Columbia
A LESSON IN TYPE THREE FUN
When I think of fly fishing, the image that instantly comes to mind is walk-and-wade fishing a creek or river. But as a resident of Prince George, BC, I am fortunate enough to have over 1600 lakes in the surrounding area, so it wouldn’t make much sense to ignore them all.
In BC, there is a lot of work done to make fishing more accessible, more successful, and all around better. The government stocks over 800 lakes, builds roads through the thick bush, and maintains docks on various waters. At the same time, I’ve always been the guy who likes to get away from the crowds and avoid others on the water, but with all that amazing access, it is almost impossible to have the “easy to access” places to myself. I guess it’s a good thing for me there are so many lakes to choose from, eh? (Apologies for my proudly-Canadian turn-of-phrase.)
On a recent outing, my friend Mike and I picked out four lakes to fish over the course of two days, with a decent amount of hiking and driving to make it happen. In theory, the fishing would be amazing, the access would not be that bad, and we would have the places to ourselves.
On day one, we parked on the side of a gravel road at 5 a.m. on a day in late June, unloaded float tubes, assembled some Sage X rods paired with Spectrum LT reels, and lathered on sunscreen and bug dope. The days are long up here this time of year, and the mosquitoes can be the size of small birds—intimidating for even the hungriest of trout.
The hike in led us through thick vegetation and thicker mud. There was the odd sign of visitation, but I would have bet this water didn’t see many anglers. How many people would be willing to wade through knee-deep, nearly impassable mud—as I caught Mike doing—for a fish, while packing a pile of gear on their back?
After the rodeo getting in, we stood on the lake’s edge eager for what was to come. Wasting no time, we donned flippers and kicked float tubes away from shore. Optimism soared from the first cast.
“Oh yeah, this one will work,” I said to Mike, casting, stripping, and casting again. And then, nothing. We ripped through an assortment of flies, hoping something would entice these rainbows into latching on. There was one small problem. When we’d booked time for this trip, we don’t have a forecast. But it was getting hot, and when it gets hot the fish hit the bottom, which is not ideal for two stubborn anglers who would rather do anything aside from nymph a lake. Our purist approach didn’t do us any favors.
It took a bit of time—and a lake change—but approximately 197 fly changes later, we started to get into them, “them” being some ridiculously aggressive (for their size), 3-inch-long rainbows. Not quite what we were looking for, but as anyone looking to shake a skunk knows, you have to start somewhere.
The weekend continued with a familiar routine. Gravel Road. Sage X. Bugs. Thick underbrush. Thicker mud. Pristine lake. Repeat. A purple leech finally proved to be the sub-surface fly of choice, with just enough mayflies cruising the surface to cause the odd trout to emerge from the depths to smash one. We were working for ‘em, but it was a good work.
Did we catch fish? Sure. Did we have to work 10 times harder for those fish than normal? You bet. Could we have chosen an easier path and caught more and bigger fish? I’d put money on it. But at the end of the day, that wasn’t what we were after. We were after adventure and new water; we shared laughter and more coffee than any person should in a 48-hour period. Summer days are long in the north, and fishing sunrise to sunset requires fuel.
ALL AROUND STILLWATER FLOAT TUBE
Conditions can vary greatly when fishing stillwater, often changing by the minute. Wind and weather changes can come out of nowhere, hatches can erupt in short order, or fish can move to a different part of the water column. Having a versatile rig for backcountry stillwater is essential, and paired with a SPECTRUM LT 4/5 Reel and Elite RIO Gold WF5F fly line, the X 590-4 is the perfect all-around setup for the job.