The Late Season
Will Blanchard changes the magic, on a late season afternoon ,with full knowledge that he is in the "deek."

Fishing conditions could not get much worse than what we saw in late October and then into early November, and I am certainly not talking about the above image. That was when the conditions were relatively good, I mean what's a little ice, when you at least have some managable flows and decent clarity. No, I am talking about the images below . . .

Yes folks, we had ourselves a geniune high water "event" during the last week of October.

The "River Event"

There was a day with Ralph Gaudio, Oct 24, when the snow fell wet and heavy right to the valley bottom. You could feel the warm air. I said then that the gun was loaded; all that remained was for a big warm front to pull the trigger. The next day the river started to rise, but the air wasn't as warm as it was going to get. That night the trigger was pulled when a real "Pineapple Express" – as we call the big warm fronts that sweep up from Hawaii – blew in. Waking up, I could feel the sickeningly warm air, and I said to Kathy, "We're in for a river event." And we sure were. It had risen about six feet over night and there was still another six to eight feet to go before the crest. This is the highest I have ever seen the river here; others were saying this was the highest level since 1992.

"The Boiling Mass"

The view from the Mitten bridge on Sunday, Oct 26, 2003

Philip Young could not have timed it much worse. New to the river, and new to me this year, Philip was looking forward to some fine late season fishing, getting a good look at these rivers and seeing these beautiful fish. Well he sure got a good look at the rivers . . . the ugly side. He arrived a day early, the day before "the levee broke" and while fishing on his own down from the house here did in fact hook a large buck that he played for some time, getting it close, before the hook pulled. That was however the end of his steelhead opportunity here. With the situation clearly so unfishable here, we took that opportunity to explore some other water.

It is to Philip's credit that he stuck around and followed through with my game plan of going exploring over to a lake and river system not far from here that at least had some encouraging clear water. Fish were still a bit reluctant to show themselves, but the change of scenery and location was a much needed fix to the high water blues that we were suffering.

The weather eventually changed to a cold front moving down from the north, setting the stage for the real "late season"

Double Whammy

What looked like an ideal cure for the absurdly high and dirty river condtions, that is clear skies and cold air, within a week presented yet another set of obstacles for one's angling aspirations: ice. Ice everywhere, in the water, in the guides, all over the rod, and coating the line.

We went from warm wet weather producing the flood conditions, to very cold freezing weather nearly shutting down the rivers; in the space of a little over a week.

To add to the mix of angling conditions we were thrown a new ugly twist: dirty (essentially "out") water with slush ice coming down. I have never seen that combination in all my time on these rivers. It seemed that there was so much raw earth gouged out of the banks of the river, that it was like a big "gravel washing machine" and it took much longer to clear than any other high water event I have seen.

So we went down to the big water, which while still icing, at least it was clear. And there were fish to catch, so long as you worked through all of the other icy problems that were standing between you and those fish.

Bring it on! Larry Falk battling the odds and the elements, prepares the beach for a bright November doe.

Larry and Jack

Finally the late season could really begin. The water was finally dropping and clearing (on some rivers and in some places . . .), the fish were still there and of course, Jack Mason and Larry Falk were with me; the most significant sign that the "late innings" had begun.

While the late seaon always has more than its share of difficulties, this year was more challenging than most because of all the aforementioned conditions.

For the past few years November has in fact been relatively mild, with little trouble with ice in the water; or if it was slushing one day, you could wait a day or two and things would warm up, clearing up the river of ice.

This year was different, our options were severly limited due to the cold and icy conditions that prevailed, but we kept at it and during this time got fish every day.

Here are a few of the images from the late season . . .

Larry mending his line through the low, clear, icey waters on a gorgeous November day.

Overall this was a season that will go down in my books as one requiring more work and effort for the fish than many in recent years.

The story was essentially fish numbers and river conditions, fighting those two important factors was what made or broke your days of fishing here.

However, like every season it was an adventure with its highs and lows like any other. Sitting here now in the comfort of my office reflecting back on the season it is hard to remember the difficulties. Every day on the river has something to offer; and one tends to remember the better moments and forget the troublesome ones. Even when the flood was at its crest, with nothing to be done about the water conditions, it was enough to just go to to the river and watch the awesome forces of nature at work. There is little else that can humble you the way that natural events such as this can.

Already I am looking forward to next season; another adventure, another season of unknowns.


photo courtesy of Ralph and Laualeen Gaudio
A pair of typically colored late season fish. The doe pictured above is the most beautifully coloured fish I think I have ever seen.

Favourite Lunchbox Desserts: (according to me. . .)


1) Sour Cream Currant Cake

2) Danish Apple Bars

3) Lemon squares

Rarely do any of these make it through the day . . .

Larry handles a cold, clean, bright November doe.
Towards the end, the river just seemed to be telling us that it was all over. See you next year.
Jack Mason finds some solace and some openings in the icy river.

The Last Words

I missed some fishing friends that usually drop by and spend some time in the "Heritage cabin." Tom Knopick and John Flick were missed; hopefully they will be back in the future.

However, as always, Will Blanshard's presense was welcomed. We always seem to find some adventure to get ourselves into, be it hiking into some remote part of the watershed, pulling trucks out of the muck, shuttling for each other; just all of that stuff that makes up the adventures of a season. Having Will along, or just back at the cabin at the end of the day really helps me keep my humour throughout the season, especially one like this.

Also a special thank-you to Pierce Clegg for inviting me out to his camp on the Babine. It had been seven years since I last was there and it meant a lot to me to reconnect with that river where I learned my rivercraft. It was great to see Darcy, Gary and the "gang". What a great way to unwind after my season here, I hope to do it again one day. What a great few days those were . . .

Thanks also, as every year, to my friend Bob Clay for the river access allowing me to put in and take out on his property.

Of course, tons of thanks, love, and caresses to my beautiful wife Kathy who runs the show back at the house, and guesthouse, and as always pulls it all off with flying colours; managing the housekeeping, either doing it herself or

The cook and the gilly getting a little sunshine in the early season.

supervising our staff housekeeper. Baking all the lunch (and dinner) desserts, making dinner, as well as being a full time Mom. Our daughter Hannah, continued her tradition of often bringing the snack tray out to the guesthouse before dinner, and Simon occasionally stacked some wood (but still preferred to play with his "soldier guys").

And last of all, but foremost in my mind, thank you all for again making this another successful season, full of adventure, pleasure, challenge, and great memories. Thank-you, and see you next year.


Early Season
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Todd & Kathy Stockner

Mykiss Guiding Services

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