Presented by Fishing BC
To most fly fishers, fishing in the fall is much like the playoffs for a sports fanatic, or for some of us women, a great sale at a particular store. It’s the season so many of us wait for year-round, a duration of time filled with warm drinks, energetic spirits, and a phase when the season permits a display of fall leaf colors that are spectacular. This weather signals the end of summer and the start of winter’s cold and often icy rivers, which sends migratory fish like salmon and steelhead through the waters to spawn before winter, which in turn is ultimately the peak of any piscator’s year. Here are ten tips and tricks I learned on my adventure to British Columbia this past fall.
Tip 1. Make Sure you Have a Reputable Guide.
Having the ultimate fishing guide is key to a successful fall fly-fishing trip. The best guides will assist you in making sure you are well stocked for a successful exploration, packing equipment you might not even know you needed until you do. Not only is it important to find a guide who knows what they are doing and what to prepare for, but it’s also crucial to find one that connects with you on a personal level. (It can be a long day for both of you otherwise) Communicate with your guide as to what your expectations are and hopefully they are realistic ones that can be obtained. Remember this is their passion and they want you to catch fish just as bad as you do. If you take the time to prepare yourself for the reality of the adventure you are about to embark on; the expenses, the weather, travel time, it will help to ensure you have an enjoyable and successful experience. Good guides come in many shapes and sizes. I was lucky enough to find some of the best of fishing guides who all mentored me in different ways throughout my entire experience in B.C. The guides that I was blessed to encounter were Clint Goyette and Brandon Higgs from Valley Fishing Guide, Kate Watson out of South Cariboo, and Doug Mooring from Cariboo Rivers Trout Fishing and Wilderness Adventures.
Tip 2. Get the Right Gear for Fall Weather.
Preparing with the correct gear is essential for fly-fishing in cold and unpredictable weather. Your gear or lack of can be one factor that can make or break a great experience on the waters. Making sure you have a good waterproof jacket, comfortable wading socks, cold weather pants, a cap with a full bill for eye protection, plenty of extra long sleeve shirts, fleece fingerless gloves, heavy duty wading boots and a tight wading belt, will add to your comfort and safety on the river during the colder seasons.
Tip 3. Know Your Local Regulations and Ethics.
Fishing in B.C. is a large industry and is a big part of their ecological community. Every region has their own regulations when it comes to seasonal fishing and not just everyone passing through can cast a line whenever and where-ever they wish, and when fishing is permitted it is a single barbless fly only. Having your licenses (and there can be a few needed) is highly important when coming to British Columbia to fish. Licenses can sometimes be costly, but most of the license fees go directly into funding for your protection and to keep the waters safe and clean. If you are fishing for steelhead in particular, it would be wise to do research on the different types of licences that not only enable you to fish legally but detail how you are allowed to fish. All of the ins and outs of the license system and the rules of fishing in B.C. may seem a bit intimidating at first but the entire process is the goal of keeping the British Columbia waters pure and wild for generations to come.
Tip 4. Bring and Know How to Use Bear Spray
British Columbia is known for its wildlife, and especially its bears. There are two species of bears in canada; the black bear and the grizzly bear. The most common is the smallest and the one that likes to avoid conflict, the black bear. Although this bear is titled the color black, they can sometimes be anywhere between a light brown to a bluish- black shades. These animals don’t generally like human confrontation, but it is important to be aware of wildlife and respect their personal space. Getting to close to these creatures can cause alarm and fear which could potentially result in a dangerous situation, and if an aggressive event were to occur, taking the proper safety precautions and having bear spray on hand could be life saving. Also educate yourself on proper food storage, etc.
Tip 5. Travel Planning, Have Locations To Stay and Fish.
Having some locations prearranged before your expedition into the wilderness and unknown territories is a necessity! I stayed at Loon Bay on Sheridan Lake 100 Mile House B.C., a cozy overnight stay. Close by are quite a few different lakes, resorts, and must-see locations such as Succour Lake, Christmas Lake, Ponderosa Resort and Howard Lake. I also stayed at the Howe Sound Inn and Brewing Co., a delightful stay in Squamish, B.C. Howe Sound Inn is not only a fantastic place to stay overnight on a fall fishing expedition but also a great place to host weddings and private events. The last place I stayed on my adventure in British Columbia was at Corbett Lake, an absolutely gorgeous location to settle for the night and get ready for a big casting day!
Tip 6. Choose Your Experience.
You can fly fish in and on so many different locations using a few types of transportation. It is pivotal to choose the correct form of travel in order to enjoy your expedition all the more. Heli-Fishing in B.C., Canada by helicopter can be a life changing experience for some or a terrifying event for another. There are also other enjoyable options such as fishing by jet boat, raft, plane, or DIY. It’s valuable to know which scenario you think you would feel most comfortable in.
Tip 7. Be Prepare for All Weather and River Conditions.
The weather in British Columbia is known to be very unpredictable, one minute it could be warm and sunny and the next thing you know it’s pouring down rain. Due to the constant change in weather conditions, the river circumstances can vary. Some Rivers can “ blow out” and your clear water conditions will change rapidly. Most of Vancouver experiences about 290 days a year of sunshine, mostly in the spring and summer. However, the average monthly forecast is rainfall with some irregular hours of sunlight. It’s important to be aware that air levels below 60F can lead to hyperthermia if you are wet. It can be extremely beneficial in ensuring your safety and fishing experience by paying close attention to the weather and river conditions as you launch into your British Columbia experience.
Tip 8. Proper Mode of Transportation.
So you’ve planned an entire fly fishing trip to a foreign land and your ready to take off and all of the sudden you remember that you aren’t going to have any means of transportation once you land. Not to worry, I have the perfect life-hack for you. Hastings Overland is the company I used to get my very own Jeep Wrangler which comes equipped with an easy set up roof top tent, backroad maps, custom tailgate kitchen fully loaded with all the cooking equipment essentials, and overlanding and camping gear. This website truly saved me a lot of trouble finding transportation on my ventures into the wilderness and there isn’t any more efficient car to take fishing in B.C..
Tip 9. Enjoy Yourself.
Although taking the proper safety precautions, planning your trip, having the right gear, and finding the perfect guide is important, so is having an absolute blast. You have put all of this time, effort, and hard earned money into this fly fishing escapade that you are about to embark on and now is the time to enjoy that experience to the fullest. Make sure you take in every new perspective and admire each last encounter because those are the moments you are going to remember for the rest of your life!
Tip 10. Disclaimer!
I had an absolutely incredible first time in British Columbia with Flylords, an experience I will truly never forget. I attained more knowledge, skill, and appreciation for a sport that I already carry a burning passion for. All that aside, it was my first time encountering the wonders and beauty British Columbia possesses and I am definitely no professional at fly fishing. I encourage anyone interested in the sport or traveling abroad to angle, to seek out more information and to truly indulge yourself in the entire exhilarating adventure!
Article by Chelsea Baum (@cherokeeflygirl) photos from Jesse Packwood of Team Flylords on their recent adventure to British Columbia.
Thanks to Fishing BC and all their partners for hosting us on this awesome adventure!
Special thanks to Tourism Squamish, and Valley Fishing Guides for helping put together the trip!