Our Man In Canada
March 3rd, 2003

Fly-Ins, Part 3

By Dr.Martin Lamont
From Fly Fishing Canada From Coast to Coast, Published by Johnson Gorman Publishers. We appreciate use permission.

Coastal Inlets and Heli-Fishing Day Trips

I am not good at waiting when I want to go fishing. On this gray spring dawn, standing in an empty municipal while waiting for my three tardy fishing buddies, I was restless and impatient. The lights of the little Cassna finally appeared on the horizon, and as it descended my spirits rose. Our party now complete, fly-fishing gear was transferred into a Bell Jet Ranger and the day's adventure began.

A chopper is quite a contrast to a fixed-wing aircraft, and my Cessna pilot friend was thrilled at the verticle lift-off and maneuverability. In no time we were heading east toward the sunrise still beyond the Coast Mountains, which were blanketed with fresh snow. The flight was spectacular. Under an hour's flying time took us over glaciers and snow pinnacles, past white mountain sheep high on patches of alpine pasture, and then a rapid, slightly scary descent down a U-shaped valley to where the Homathko and Southgate rivers flow into Bute Inlet.

The green river water was low, clear and very cold - as was the early morning air. It is surprising how quickly enthusiastic anglers can prepare their equipment - rods with sinking lines and fly patterns resembling emerging salmon fry still with their yellow-pink yolk sacs. We knew there were big sea-run cutthroat trout and Dolly Varden targeting chum fry on their outward migration to the ocean.

All rods were soon bent into strong, fighting cutts and Dollies to 5 lb (2 kg), beautifully colored with pale silver tones of fish fresh from the sea. After fishing through one section of accessible pools, it was easy to board the chopper and quickly relocate further downstream. We covered a lot of water that day without any need for strenuous hiking through rough coutry - lazy fishing at its finest.

As the day progressed, the sun warmed the snowfields higher up. As snowmelt increased the volume of flow, the water lost its clarity, clouding slightly with glacial silt. By early afternoon the bite slowed; then with cold downdrafts off the mountaintops, the fishing abruptly stopped. Nobody cared. The day was already complete and our homeward helicoper flight happily anticipated.

The Chilcotin Fly-In and Rainbow Paradise

The Chilcotin, a vast plateau surrounded by the lofty Coast Mountains, has Nimpo and Anahim lakes at its center. They are 250 air miles (400 km) north of Vancouver, and over 180 miles (300 km) by road from the city of Williams Lake. Nimpo Lake is an active aviation center, servicing the local area and points north. It is home base to many lodges that provide good local fishing and daily fly-ins to remote outpost camps, some with cabins that have full-service, boats and motors. There are several charter services and all resorts operate their own floatplans. In the northeast arm of the lake, those with private floatplanes will find moorage facilities and aircraft services including fuel, oil and servicing. Anahim Lake, just 10 miles (16 km) away, has a 3,000' (900 m) airstrip for wheeled planes.

Fly Fishing Canada

This area offers exceptional wilderness fishing for rainbow trout in lakes and rivers. The Dean River is world renowned for summer steelhead, as are the Atnarko and Chilcotin rivers, and the Blackwater River for its wild rainbow trout. Lakes like Eliguk, Kappan, Hotnarko, Crazy Bear amd Gatcho are all rainbow trout paradises, and Knot Lake yields Dolly Varden to 10 lb (4.5 kg), as well as coastal cutthroat trout.

Fly fishing is best in spring and fall, but some big trout are regularly caught during the summer by fishing deep with black Doc Spratley or Olive Scud patterns. When colorful rainbow trout that average 2-3 lb (1-1.5 kg) catapult high into the air, you understand why this is considered a fly-fishing paradise.

Continued Next Time

Credits: Excerpt from Fly Fishing Canada written by Outdoor Writers of Canada, edited by Robert H. Jones, Published by Johnson Gorman Publishers. Used with permission.

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