The Mykiss Guiding 2003 Season

The early season...

When you get all the little things right. . .

Another season begins, the hopes, the highs, the lows, the forecasts.. We all want to know what is coming, what will the season hold for us? Anticipation waits on every turn of the river, every cast, every run. The pulls, takes and hook-ups on the end of our lines our only real answers to any of the perennial questions we have of the river.

Of course you have to just go out there and do it. And so we did.

And like any other season we embarked on the adventure of a steelhead fishing season, with all the highs and lows that come with it. Every one is an adventure and this one was no different.

My "tune-up" season could not have been much better. In the week or so that I have before my first clients arrive, when I am hanging out on the river as much as possible (in between tying flies, and getting gear ready), I had the great company of my good friend Adam Lewis, who joined me for a couple of days of fishing this year. Many of you will remember Adam from having stayed at the "Steelhead's Rest" bed and breakfast before we got our little guesthouse built. Adam is the former owner of that establishment.

And to my great excitment, my youngest brother, Eric, joined me this year in the pre-season tune-up activities. Eric is a very, very keen neophyte steelhead angler. In fact he was (now I can emphasize the was) a double neophyte as he is also new to flyfishing. He finally caught a very fiesty early season buck to initiate him into the world of steelhead flyfishing.

Sharing the beauty of these rivers with my family is the central reason why I live here . . .

My brother Eric, as green as the leaves on the trees, laying into the high water.

Eric, Adam and I got out on the river just as it started to rise from what had been some very low, clear early September flows.

There was time for a little family fun as well as the serious work of "tuning up" for the season . . .

Hannah, Simon, and Telkwa having fun with the "Humpies". Hannah releases one while Telkwa investigates.

The real guiding season began when Jim Peterson and Joe Bankofire dropped in for one day with me on the river. What a fine pleasant way to start the guiding season.

Next up were my perennial early season anglers, David Sakura and Bob Dishman. These guys have been such patient souls over the past few seasons, often slogging through some difficult early season conditions of high water. They have persevered and this year was the payout . . . or so it began. Our first day out was really fine, with a great flurry of activity right in the home pool. There were fish everywhere in the home waters. One very memorable moment ( actually an hour or so) had David and Bob into a double header (see picutre below). While helping Bob land his 361/2 inch buck, David's fish drew my attention. It was hard to miss, actually, as I saw a sight I had not seen before: as the fish (which by now was starting to behave suspiciously like a very, very large fish) headed way up and across the river, two other steelhead jumped clear out of the water to get out of the way. It was as if the Alpha fish was clearing a path for himself. We landed Bob's fish and then my attention could be properly focussed on David's. When that happened, what became clear was that we did indeed have a truly huge fish on our hands here. During the time it took to get Bob's fish to the beach (15 minutes), the substantial creature on the end of David's line had only been warming up, just feeling him out. Now it was time to head down the river, and there was nothing we could do about it. With great effort and a "Come in or get off" kind of pressure and attitude, we battled this fish all the way down to the tail-out and through the fast water into the little mini-run right in front of the campground. There we made our stand. After five minutes of ths incredible tug-of-war stand off, where we only briefly saw a huge red side down deep in the water, the line went slack, the hook pulled out.

Some come in and some don't. This fish, however, would turn out to be the first of three fish that were hooked that were definitely in that class of extremely large fish. Somewhere around thirty pounds.

What a start to the fishing for David. Unfortunately, David got back to the house that evening only to receive news from home that called him back on some important family matters. So Bob Dishman had to step up and fish without David for the rest of the trip.

Bob did land what would stand up as the largest fish landed for the season in my boat, a 39 3/4 inch buck. It was close, oh so close to 40, but we couldn't have lived with ourselves had we stretched that tape to 40; it just wasn't quite there, even on three different attempts at taping it.

Double Trouble: Eric's first steelhead and first fly caught fish . . . So much for peace and quiet around here in the early season, from now on . . .
Double Header: One down, one to go. Just when Bob beaches his fish, David's fish reveals its true size and nature and the battle really begins.

It was my good fortune this year to re-connect with an old friend and fishing mentor from my years on the Babine, Bus Bergman.

We began emailing last winter and carried on through the spring kind of "getting caught up" on the news of the last decade or so. It was during that process that Bus had clients with him who happened to be looking for a steelhead guiding opportunity in my neck-of-the-woods.

And so it was that Bob Imbernino came to fish with me in the later days of September. What a pleasure that was. We were constatntly amazed by all of the common fishing and guiding connections we had in each other's pasts. From the Hodsen camp on the Dean river, to the Madsens who started Norlakes Lodge on the Babine; to our stories about Bus. There was no end to the stories and the laughs the whole time we were in the boat together. Oh yes, there were a few fish in there as well.. . .

Bob seemed to experience the "feast or famine" aspect of steelhead fishing during his time with me.

One day striking it rich with a nice little "pod" experience and the next day having to work a lot harder for the grabs. Nothing that anyone with a little steelhead experience hasn't seen before. I hope to see Bob again in the future.

Bob Dishman, quelling his quarry; a nice, bright, 39 1/2+ buck.

More Bobs were on the way even after Mr. Imbernino had left me. Ray Christensen and Bob Pauli arrived just in time for . . . rising waters. We got one good day in before a familiar theme to these two hardened veterans began to emerge: that of high, coloured water. We fought with it last year, and I really had high hopes that the rivers might co-operate for these two fine gentlemen. Well, it wasn't quite as bad as last year. Let's see. . . what's that saying. . .?

"Things are never so good that they can't get a little better, but things are never so bad that they can't get a little worse"

That would be a good way to summarize the week that Ray and Bob were with me. . . if not a good part of the season.

River conditions once again played havoc with the best of our intentions. Last year these two really fought it out with the river, and while things were certainly not as tough as last season, we did have a day or two where we were looking to greener pastures for our luck.

But with Ray and Bob along there is always a positive attitude and chuckle just around the corner, when the fishing is slow.

We did find some consistant fishing here and there, and in fact our best day of fishing was in very marginal water conditions.

Ray Christensen with a mighty early season doe, pulled from very marginal river conditions.
Bob Pauli cradles a fine early season buck

Finally as Ray and Bob were just leaving the river started to shape up. That would set things up for the Mid-Season.

Click on the links below to move on to the Mid and Late Season, where the story continues. . .

And just for the record I thought I would include this link to last year's report: 2002 Mykiss Angling Report

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Late Season

Todd & Kathy Stockner

Mykiss Guiding Services

Tel: (250) 842-6401


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