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Of Mooses and Men

Posted: Thu Sep 28, 2017 1:06 pm
by yard4sale
My Dad used to tell me this story and I laughed every single time.

A thousand miles. 20 hours of wheel time. Each way. I swear there is a moose warning sign every 2 KMs and for good reason. It just looks like moose territory. I’ve done this drive twice now and the only fucking moose I saw was roadkill. Bears? Yeah, plenty of those. But not one stinking swamp donkey. Even though I have yet to spot one I am damn glad for their hair.

With the poor run forecast we almost pulled the plug on any Skeena trip this fall. In the end we decided that you go to heaven even if you don’t get to screw an angel. And if fishing was hot then hook less skaters would keep everybody happy. Besides, after two weeks of living 10 miles down wind of a massive fire it would be good just to get out of town and breathe some clean air.


Its just such a pleasure to fish with Bill and his brother Mark. Launches were promptly at 10 ish. Or 10:30ish. Or 11ish. Food was as god as any restaurant I’ve been to. Crab Cakes, Ribs, Pastas. Bill even let me cook one night:


Best beer I found up there. Thats not saying much but I did dig the Rasta can

View out my back door

Camp Water

Last year, my first in this part of the world, I could only describe the river as perfect. Mile long runs of perfect speed and depth. It really felt like you could just start working down stream from the put in and fish all the way to the take out. This year I came to realize that there can be too much of a good thing. There is simply just too much good water. This year I began focusing on the spots within the runs rather than the entire enchilada. This is why Bill and Mark run the watermasters. They can pull over, stand in their boat, fish the best 100 feet of a mile-long run, then sit down and continue on.



Canadian Drift Boat

Some nice houses

Seemed like it was raining all around us but we never did get wet

We fished some known floats and found some new waters. Unfortunately, we didn’t find any fish the first part of the week as the water dropped and cleared. I half-heartedly swung a few runs with a tip Monday but that’s not why I make the trip so it was back to floating lines and dry flies after that. Worked on my long line casting and got comfortable with the Delta lines again.




Finally, on Thursday Bill unlocked the code and got a couple fish in one run. After 3 days of skunkedness it was great just to remember that it is possible.

My version of Bill's version of Harry Lemire's caddis, aka the good shit


So that evening Mark and I snuck down to Harry's old run and fished the last light


Friday came and I still hadn’t even had a bump. Bill decided to spend the day getting his beautiful airstream ready for the drive home and was kind enough to drop Mark and I at the put in so we could float back to camp. As soon as we got our boats down to the river things just felt different. That quiet gurgle of the river. A crow cawing in the distance. The brutal upriver wind was replaced with hanging fog. And nobody around. No jet boats. No walk in guys. No other drifters. For once it really felt like we had the place to ourselves.

Mark: You should fish up there, Bill likes that spot.

Me: OK, what are you going to do?

Mark: Well, I was going to pass up my rocks but…

Me: Last chance dude!

Mark: Yeah, I’ll probably start there.

Me: Cool. I’m going to hit up that river right spot if its open. Haven’t been able to get into it all week.

Mark: I always see boats there but never seen anybody take a fish yet.

Me: That’s because you haven’t seen me fish it yet!

It was false bravado of a Trumpian magnitude. 4 days of diligently flogging the waters and not even a sniff. I guess I had comes to terms with my scenario and was just in a happy place anyway.

I fished above the bridge but soon decided to head down to that spot. Mark had already moved downriver so I was all alone. It had rained a bit the night before so the fresh footprints in the sand told me I wasn’t the first one there. That happens when you put in at 10. I didn’t care, I just wanted to fish that run.



Re: Of Mooses and Men

Posted: Thu Sep 28, 2017 2:54 pm
by stillsteamin
Why I hang around this shit hole... you've built the suspense now make with the payoff.

Re: Of Mooses and Men

Posted: Thu Sep 28, 2017 5:58 pm
by yard4sale
stillsteamin wrote: Thu Sep 28, 2017 2:54 pm Why I hang around this shit hole... you've built the suspense now make with the payoff.
Love to, if the fucking site stops crashing...

Let me guess, its just me...

I'll try again.

Re: Of Mooses and Men

Posted: Thu Sep 28, 2017 6:06 pm
by yard4sale
I worked out my line and began to soak in the scenery with that bittersweet feeling one gets at the end of a long trip. I was just glad to be in such a beautiful place. I was thankful to have such great friends to share it with. I hadn’t thought about work, the twittler, the forest fires back home. I really do just enjoy the process and a full week of it puts my mind right in a way nothing else does.

As I worked into a greasy little spot my focus moved from the Osprey circling above to making the best cast and mends I could. A Pluck, follow by another, and then heavy….heavy….explosion! Right away the fish made me glad I had dutifully re-tied my leader at the start of the day. Details like that can get lost in a week of skunkage. It was a bruiser of a hen and didn’t seem to think much of me. No long screaming runs, just heavy head shakes and cartwheels. The first time she came in close I realized this was the fish I had been dreaming of. Bigger than 90% of my winter fish and not a scale out of place. A minute later I brought her in again and went for my leader. As soon as I grabbed the leader a big thrash and she was gone without even shaking my hand. Perfect!

After I just stood there staring at the hole in the water she left me with I eventually reeled in and walked back to my boat for a well deserved IPA breakfast. Shaky hands barely got my last fish whistle going and I contemplated what to do. I thought about heading back and getting my rig put together for the drive. I thought about catching up to Mark and watching him fish a while. Finally I decided to put back in and finish the run.
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There was a nice bolder just under the surface a ways down I wanted to fish. The night before Bill and I had talked about structure and how we fished it. I have never had a fish from in front of a rock even though everybody says it happens and I was trying to figure out why. So I fished down to this rock and tried some new things. Nada. 2 more step casts and just as my fly hit the V wake behind that rock my fly suddenly took off downstream. Then nothing. I couldn’t believe it. 4 days of nothing and now 2 encounters in one run!

Time to head down and see how Mark is doing. It wasn’t until I sat down in my boat, gently drifting along mid river, cracked another beer, and just soaked in the scenery that what had happened began to sink in. Finally I let lose a huge “YEAH!!!” that had been building deep inside all week. There was nobody to hear it, and that made it feel all that much better. For the rest of the day you couldn’t have wiped the smile off my face with a 2x4.

I caught up to Mark and enjoyed watching him cast and work through some of the best steelhead water there is on earth. We ate snads and laughed about my good fortune. Eventually we caught up to some fellow floaters and the sun began to fade. I had one more spot I wanted to fish so I busted on ahead. It was the run I got my first and only fish on last year. It too had been taken each time we had passed it during the week but today it was open. With a nice beer buzz going I started my way down. I knew it was good water but my focus just wasn’t there. Perhaps it was the beer. Perhaps it was the relaxed mind from a week of fishing. Perhaps it was the relief of finally solving the riddle. For some reason, my head was just up in the clouds. Then this little punk tried to steal my rod right out of my hands. Not the biggest fish but by far the hardest grab I’ve ever had and just the perfect way to end the trip.
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Well, that and the moose fajitas cooked in an awesome key hole fire pit we were invited over to enjoy that night. Appropriate given the flies that now hung in my truck next to the other memorable flies I had retired. Charles kept the laughs rolling as it seems only an Aussie can and April told us about the bear that lives on their property. We traded fish stories and drank until well after Bill’s bed time. It was the perfect ending to the perfect day.
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Driving home I dutifully watched each bog and lake I passed for the big brown fukrs but again I saw nothing. A long day behind the wheel and I made it to this sweet little campground along the Thompson river. Pulling in just after dark most of the spots were taken but I found one and quickly set out my chair, cracked a beer, and finished off that fish whistle. As I sat watching the starts emerge and listening to the river all felt right in the world. Then the tree above me shook a bit. Odd given how still the wind was. Back to daydreaming and I heard it again. I look up and the tree is swaying back and forth. Hmmm, that’s not right. Back lit against the last light of the day I could just make out a rather large object trying to get comfortable about ¾ of the way up the tree. This was no raccoon so I jumped in the camper. Bear or cougar? Or???? I grabbed my light but it wasn’t enough to get through the branches. Finally a medium sized black bear poked his head of the branch as if to tell me to knock it off. Glad it wasn’t a cougar I gave him a few minutes to settle in and went back for my beer. With one eye in the tree I shared the evening with my new friend, eventually turning in for the best night of sleep I can remember.
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Can’t wait to do it again next year!

Re: Of Mooses and Men

Posted: Thu Sep 28, 2017 6:22 pm
by chadroc
what a wonderful story and experience. good on you yard. glad you shared this here.

Re: Of Mooses and Men

Posted: Thu Sep 28, 2017 7:18 pm
by fatman
fuck. yes. :smile

Re: Of Mooses and Men

Posted: Thu Sep 28, 2017 8:35 pm
by Bigguy
Hell yeah!

Re: Of Mooses and Men

Posted: Fri Sep 29, 2017 5:54 am
by Ginseng Sullivan
Nice. Perfect length to finish my oatmeal to so thanks.

I'd trade all the Moose in Ontario for the fish. You ain't missin nothin! :coffee


Re: Of Mooses and Men

Posted: Fri Sep 29, 2017 7:23 am
by fly-chucker
most excellent!

Re: Of Mooses and Men

Posted: Fri Sep 29, 2017 8:52 am
by ironman
Awesomeness. Nicely done.

Re: Of Mooses and Men

Posted: Fri Sep 29, 2017 11:49 am
by root wad
Matt, thanks for helping to make a sorta tough year up there as special as always. Let's hope the run gets the chance to rebound in years to come. Regardless, just being on the river is a true privilege. You camped just a couple miles down the road from us on the way back. We saw no bears but "it takes a bit more than that to take a nick out of me, mate." To next year. :cool :cool

Re: Of Mooses and Men

Posted: Fri Sep 29, 2017 11:51 am
by Wingnut
You still driving that old Taco?