The Mid-Season
Dick Jacobsen, at one with "The Powers That Be", swings a fly through some of the big water.

Middle Season, Middle Earth, Middle Waters. . .

While for the most part the capricious river sprites held nothing back from us this year, they did give us a few weeks in the middle of the season to catch our breath and actually settle down to some consistant, steady fishing, with relatively dependable water conditions. Here are some of the facts, stats, pictures, and stories of those few weeks. . .

The Mid-Season Crew:

Oct 2nd to 5th: Conard and Pat Metcalf

8th to the11th: Steve Honnen & Co:

13th - 17th: Ted and Dick Jacobsen

18th: Todd Stockner and Bus Bergman

19th-25th: Ralph and Lauraleen Gaudio


Conard Metcalf catches his breath after catching this beautiful buck.
Pat Metcalf lays it on the line, fishing the big water on a bright sunny day.

Best lines:

- Rio Type 8 tip on my versi-tip system (single handed)

- Type 8 tip with the "Density Compensator" mid tip on Ray's double handed rod.

- Ralph Gaudio: he hooks a fish, I am watching the rod bend and he says: "Ah hell, it's just a dolly!". 15 minutes later we are photographing a gorgeous 39 x 20" buck.

- Jack Mason: we're standing watching dense ice packs float down the river, I say, "Well I guess it's time for plan B" , and he says, "What's that? Trophy Bass and hot chocolate?" Referring to the cool computer game that I got the kids, a virtual fishing game.

- Me. "Oh he's in there alright. . ." Said 1/10th of a second before witnessing the hardest slam take and run I have ever seen .

Pat (pink hat) and her happy guide banishing any negative vibes. . .
It's always nice to have new clients coming into the fold. This year we welcomed Steve Honnen and his fishing partners, Michael, Jack and Mark. I guided two at a time each day while the other two would find somewhere to walk into on their own. This seemed to work out just fine with everyone finding fish at one time or another. Including Mark catching his first steelhead on a fly.
In the deek. Steve Honnen making yet another perfect cast.

A lovely traditional salmon fly tied by Steve Honnen. At this time I don't actually remember what it is called. . . but it sure is pretty.

Steve actually fishes with 3-6" long bunny leeches, which sure do the trick around here at times. . .

A Big Fish Story

or "Another One Bites the Dust". . .

Ted and Dick are fishing this great run, my all time favourite of the upper beats. Dick is over on the sloping rock ledge, he has landed one fish, and Ted, having already landed one fish from the opposite bank, is now working down low in the run. Dick has already fished through the deek, and it is now getting to be time to go. So I am rowing over to pick him up from his Jedi steelheader angling perch, and I am very carefully looking into the water, not believing he could have fished through the deek and not hooked a fish. Carefully standing up and looking, cautiously ferrying across and drifting down to meet him on the far shore, I spot a very large dark form on the bottom, right where "they always are," dead center in the river I see this very big steelhead, just out of his casting reach. Immediately I back off with the oars, not taking my eyes off the fish; it didn't move. I pulled right back over to the other side, exclaiming to Dick that he needed to make the longest roll cast he could to try to reach the fish. He backs up the shore and makes about a dozen impressive roll casts that might have just barely covered the fish. Nothing. He says, "Todd, you try it. Go ahead, catch him!"

Guide moment: To fish or not to fish? That is the question.

I said "What about Ted?" and Dick says, "don't worry about Ted, he's caught a fish already, go ahead, catch him!" Nice bit of brotherly love there; but I'll take it.

The Jacobsen Bros.

Ted and Dick Jacobsen have known me and my ways (for better or for worse) for the past 22 years. Even I have to pause and ponder that fact . . . and it amazes me that they still come back year after year.

Most times they come here something happens, some fish story of some kind or another emerges, usually involving some huge fish or fishes. This year was no different.

Ted and Dick Jacobsen, welcoming the warm, morning sun, as they work through a rarely fished glide on an upper beat.

When invited like that I thought a few casts couldn't hurt. I hadn't done much fishing this season anyhow. Besides, Ted hadn't finished the bottom part of the run, where I often see a fish. Or so my excuse went . . . I anchor the raft, grab my rod and head into the river to get position on the fish. First cast was good, maybe a bit short. Nothing. Second cast, this one perfect, swinging, swinging and . . . a nice slow steady pull. I thought "There he is!" Came up on it and . . . high vibrational throb on the rod. Small fish: a dolly comes almost willingly to my hand. I look down at Ted, he has lost his vibes down in the tailout and is walking back up the bank. Dick is sitting back on the rocks on the far side soaking up the sun and the moment; waiting for the show to start. What to do? Make another cast? Or call Ted? Well, when both of your anglers are not fishing there is only one guide call you can make . . .

I call downriver: "Ted, come on up here, there is a great fish up here. Come on up and make a few casts before we go."

He makes his way up the bank (it is a very long run, walking up from where he is takes some time). I made no more casts, I just held the position, held my rod. Ted wades out with his rod and stands next to me, "What fly?" he says. I grab his rod to look over the leader and fly; we're going to be prepared for this. The leader has a wind knot, there is no wind. No time to change that, I simply hand him my Sage 9100 RPL, the best singlehanded steelhead rod known to steelhead flyfishing. There is a nice 5" long articulated leech tied on, one that I call "The Unforgiving Mistress" that just loves swimming, and the line: the Rio Versatip with the Type 8 15' tip ready to go. The leader, Maxima 12lb. is in good shape, the trailing hook is an Owner, new and sharp as a razor.

He sets up and makes one cast. A bit short. Nothing.

He makes a second cast. Mends. Makes one more small mend. The fly and line are now set up perfectly. It is swinging deep and fine: it has that perfect speed and tension, giving the line that "any minute now" look and feel . . .

Ted says, "He's probably not even there any more"

I am standing right next to him, on his upstream side, his left; I am watching intently, my vibes are red-lining; totally maxed out.

I say, "Oh. . . he's there alright."

My mouth has just finished forming those words when I watch the hardest take I have ever seen. I mean ever. The rod slams down to the water, just barely staying out of it, and it bucks and throbs deeply and wildly, then the Waterworks reel starts wailing and singing as this huge fish slams the fly and heads straight down river and never stops. Clearly, this fish has a one way ticket right back to the feeding grounds of the north Pacific.

Ted is just holding on for dear life. I say, "Holy shit! Holy shit! That is one huge fish." Then I yell, "RUN!!"

Richard Jacobsen, just hanging in there with a fiesty doe on a foggy morning

The line is peeling out so fast, the fish is now, eight seconds after nearly jerking the rod out of his hand, down in the tailout, at least 80 yards downstream of us. As we move back to shore covering those many yards of water (we had been standing way out in the river) as quickly as possible, the fish is now exiting the pool. We have barely started to make our way down the river, and now it is imperative that we do just that; precious little backing is left on the reel. The run is not deep, there is very little deep water for a fish to run and hide in; the only way out is to swim somewhere else, far away and fast, and that is exactly what this fish is doing.

Ted gets going. The fish hasn't let up, it is still moving fast down river. There are some guide logistics that have now come into play: Dick is still on the opposite bank, we are more than likely going to end up way, way down river, and will likely need the raft with us to aid in the landing of the fish should we end up having to ferry across the river, which, looking at the steep shoreline below us, is likely. I send Ted on his way, "Get going, you need to gain some line on him." We have lost sight of the flyline, it is somewhere way, way downstream from us.

Then I pick up the anchor and row across to get Dick. Ted is moving steadily down the river; the fish seems to have finally let up a little and is not racing down the river, just pulling slower now but constantly, the line still going out, just not as fast as before.

No problems, I pick up Dick, and start down and back across the river to help Ted, who has now worked his way down very low in the tailout. As I go over the little slot down low in the run where he had been fishing earlier I take a quick look in the water, and sure enough a ten pound fish glides out of the way of the raft.

Ted is now really digging in, holding the shore on his own; the fish has now moved well into the fast strong current in the middle of the river; he has gained enough that we now have a visual on the flyline, and closing.

Ted is finally starting to gain some line on the fish, but the angle is still not good. The fish is just holding like a boulder in the heavy current, unmoveable, and way too far downstream from us. I hop out of the raft and hand the stern line to Dick who walks the raft down behind us, as I run ahead and now join Ted and we start to move quickly down river to gain line and get an optimum angle on the fish, which would be directly across, or even downstream from it. We have walked down, maybe another sixty yards, the run is now well above and behind us, the river is all strong heavy current from bank to bank, the fish is still holding, "resting" right in the middle of all that heavy moving water. It is not deep, the river is maybe 31/2 feet out there at the most. But still too much line and too much angle lies between us and our quarry.

We are walking down, holding tight, when. . .yes, that dreaded instant slackening of the line takes place. And yes, there is no more dramatising necessary; the hook has pulled out.

Some come in and some get away. This one got away.

In spite of having seen situations like this many, many times, and even though I have lost my own fair share of big fish; I will admit that I had jumped a bit ahead of myself with this one. In my mind's eye I was picturing this fish and I really, really wanted to put a tape on that fish. So I don't know who was more crestfallen Ted or me. And make no mistake, Ted was pretty much a mess for the rest of the day after that one. Understandably so.

Oh well, we did eventually get over it. At least I can speak for myself on that one, I am not so sure about Ted . . .


Not the fish in the story. . .but it is the place and almost the time.
And how big was that fish? Well we will never know will we? We really never did get a good look at it; but I am confident that we had another of the huge, huge fish that were in the river this year. I am saying minimum that fish was high twenties; and more likely another 30 lb + fish. That's pounds, not inches, centimeters or kilograms. But who knows . . . the big ones often seem to get away, don't they?

Meeting old friends and the roll cast. . .

I had the pleasure this year of reconnecting with an old friend and fishing mentor of mine, Bus Bergman. It had been eight or nine years since last seeing Bus on the Babine river, when I last put in a full season guiding there. Many of you are familiar with the roll cast that I use when I am fishing, the one I know as the "Aerial Roll Cast". It was while watching Bus, who is a real master of that cast, twenty years ago on the Babine, roll casting shooting heads long distances into those classic runs, that I was inspired to learn that cast. He showed me how to do it and gave me pointers over the years to help me hone my skills. I would likely not have that cast today, if I had not crossed paths with Bus throughout those great years spent on the Babine.

It happened to work with our schedules this year for him to drop by, along with Ned Patton and Jeff.

We had one day of fishing together, and talked old times from the Babine days. It sure was great to fish with Bus again. He also is a guide and runs two operations: one is in the Florida Keys in the springtime for Tarpon, Bonefish, and Permit and the other operation is in the summer running float trips in Alaska for trout and salmon. Here is a link to his website:

Ralph and Lauraleen

By the time Ralph and Lauraleen Gaudio arrived, I was thinking that we might really be able to get into some fish. The river conditions were perfect; but by then it was obvious that we just were not looking at large numbers of fish this year.

It would take a lot more than low fish numbers to dampen the spirits of these two, however, and we managed to always find something to laugh at, talk about, and of course even catch a few fish . . .

There was this one fish. . .

We're fishing the home waters, having put in right in front of the B&B where they stay, and Ralph is well into the rhythm of the run, working it carefully, as always. Lauraleen and I are doing the sensible thing on that chilly October morning, and having tea and cookies at the raft; when Ralph says, "There's one!" (what else would Ralph say when he hooks a fish?). Then he immediately says, "It's just a dolly! Yep. Dolly!" The rod was bending in a suspi-ciously un-dolly way. He says, "oh, wait . . . I don't know what it is, dolly I think . . ."

15 minutes later we landed and photo-graphed the lovely 39 1/2 x 20 buck in the picture to the right.

Nice Dolly, Ralph.
This year it seemed like we were riding a see-saw of fish numbers, one day hitting things just right with some good numbers and the next day numbers dropping off, only to find a few the next day. Ralph and Lauraleen's week was like that, a microcosm of the entire season.
photo: Lauraleen Gaudio
Ralph Gaudio fishes through a favourite run
photo: Lauraleen Gaudio
The most beautifully coloured doe I have seen
Early Season
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Late Season

Todd & Kathy Stockner

Mykiss Guiding Services

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