The Late Season
Larry Falk and Jack Mason put things in perspective soaking up some solar comfort on a chilly November afternoon on the big water.

I will admit to being quite unprepared for the degree to which the river changed over the course of about a week at the end of October. While the river had certainly been slowly dropping, the mild weather had allowed for a very gradual decline in flows. With the advent of the first really cold weather of the season, which locked up all of the water running off the higher elevations as ice, the flows and water temperatures dropped dramatically.

Dean Anderson arrived to fish a few days prior to his week on a nearby river and we headed back up to the top for a three day tour of the upper beats. It had been about a week since I had been that high, and what a change . . .

Water levels must have dropped by close to two feet, and water temperatures now hovered right at freezing, with the air temperature never rising above 0 degrees C. for about four days. To say the least this slowed down the fish. In a very short period of time we went from very active, moving, and aggressive fish to lethargic, holding fish very much disinterested in a swinging fly.

The fish were there in great numbers. Some of the runs had as many fish as I have ever seen. It was quite a sight.

With patience and care one could always find a fish willing to take the fly. A quiet stealthy approach was often necessary as the fish were very spooky and would bolt at the slightest sight of the raft on the water.

The bright clear skies didn't help that aspect of the fishing but it certainly made for beautiful days with chilly frosty mornings and warm (relatively speaking) sunny afternoons. Meanwhile there was always the ice in the guides to contend with; to say nothing of ice in and on the raft...

A lovely late season doe takes a quick break before slipping back home.

The continuing freezing weather eventually caught up with the season. On Larry Falk and Jack Mason's first day we headed up the river only to be greeted by the first real freeze-up. The river was full of ice and slush choking it from one bank to the other.

So we headed to greener pastures and more open spaces free of ice.

And they were to be found.

But the entire system was still very low as several of these images shows.

The raft never thawed for four days, every bit of spray and splash added to the ice crust and icicles. Hardcore only please.
Larry Falk looking very much like...uh...Larry. Enjoying a quiet moment in a special place...
Jack Mason reflects on all things bright and beautiful, taking his place between the big sky and the big water.

Once the season is pared down to just Larry then I know I am well into the "late innings" and the real exploring begins . . .

The season did wind down in fine manner with Larry and Will Blanshard. We went on our annual pilgrimage to the holy waters . . . of which not a word can be uttered save to say that great spiritual angling revelations were had by all.

Here are a few more thoughts to wrap up this lengthy report . . .

It would not be the season that it was were it not for Kathy back at the house and guesthouse keeping the fires burning and the food on the table; to say nothing of the frequent shuttles she would run for me. It really was a big season for us, with the biggest change being at her end of things. The guesthouse added a lot of extra work which she rose to in her usual steady and solid way and pulled it off with grace and charm. She had the help of Lia and Rita Perry who were our housekeepers for much of the season. Hannah too got involved with her hostess duties by bringing the hors d'ouvres out to the cabin some of those days.

And it would not have been a steelhead season at all without my good friends John Flick, Will Blanshard and Tom Knopick hanging out in the "heritage cabin" at different times throughout the season; there to humour me at the end of the day, trade stories with and tie the odd fly or five. Thanks for being there guys, for helping with shuttles, broken down trucks, making me laugh . . . you know the usual guiding stuff . . .And a special thanks to Bob Clay for river access and especially for the open hearted sharing of the days fishing during all of those evening and early morning fishing reports that we share. was an extra special season as this was the year that I finally­it took forty years but I finally got there­turned forty. And for that occasion my parents came up from Vancouver, which is only the second time that Dad and I have been able to fish during the season since I have moved here. It was a fun time, those days just before the cold came and the river kind of shut down for a while.

I am hoping that we can make this an annual event.

Oh, and just for the record, Dad caught the last (and quite possibly the biggest) fish of the season on Christmas Day while he and Mom were up (again) for the holidays, down at the home waters while standing on the ice shore.

My first fishing mentor.

John Stockner riding the wave at "The Gap".

Showing us that life is indeed good.

Quote: "This is without a doubt the finest day of steelhead fishing in my life..."

(heard several times throughout this season...)


The first season with the new guesthouse was a real success. Thank you all for your patience as we worked out our new routine with this major change in our guiding season. A special thanks to David Sakura and Bob Dishman for staying there without the last minute "details" in place...

Now we are looking for a name for this building . . .

Finally, I want to thank everyone for making this such a season to remember. It was a roller-coaster ride to be sure, but it truly was one of the best seasons of steelhead fishing I can ever remember.
Photograph courtesy of Dean Anderson
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Todd & Kathy Stockner

Mykiss Guiding Services

Tel: (250) 842-6401


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