Morice River. Smithers, British Columbia. October 1997

Steelheading in Smithers was a little different fourteen years ago than it is today. For starters, there were very few spey rods. Also, a hotel in town was about $80—a week. But then, as now, as always, which river you fished was sometimes decided by the weather. We’d hauled a skiff all the way from Jackson—Morrison Simms, Trask, and myself—in order to meet Morrison’s dad, John, and his wife, Barbara. But after four days jetboating the Bulkley, heavy rains blew it out, causing us to head south to the clearer water of the Morice—the river John Fennelly, in his classic book, Steelhead Paradise, called “the closest approach to the dream river of a dedicated fly fisherman that I ever hope to see.” We left Trask inside the van while we enjoyed our best day of steelheading we’d had all week.

Trask

It was a long day on the water, so I knew Trask would be excited to see us. Only Trask wasn’t there when we got back. We’d left the window open only inches, yet somehow this Houdini of a dog managed to escape. We’d been gone more than nine hours. He could have been anywhere. This was late October, in one of the wildest stretches of British Columbia, surrounded by mountains on three sides, with grizzlies and cougars and wolves, and winter coming. Millions of acres of wilderness. I couldn’t leave. After searching frantically for a couple of hours, I decided that I would stay up there, alone, and keep looking. I would camp until I found him or froze to death. Ten minutes later Trask came running down the road.

Continued in the Summer 2011 issue...