Fresh, shiny and chromed-up. I fell in love with these fish many years ago. When I was in high school I was always watching YouTube videos and dreaming to fish for them one day. After I finished university, I was lucky enough to get working visa in Canada. I’ve spent more than one year in Vancouver, BC and got my first steelhead on the fly. The addiction was set. I simply needed more. Steelheading around Vancouver isn’t easy despite the low numbers of fish so I tried luck in Northern BC. I hooked 3 in one week of my DIY trip. Landed all of them and yet I was completely lost in the idea of getting another chance. A few months later in my homeland, the Czech Republic, the dream came true, I received a one-year working visa to New Zealand. Long story short, after many days on the water, I ended up spending 15 months in that amazing country. After that, I had to leave in the beginning of April. My shortcut from New Zealand to the Czech Republic went through Canada. I split the long flights to two shorter ones, which gave me the chance to fish for steelhead again!
Back in Vancouver. What a feeling. The city changed a lot but good vibes survived. Fishing is best with friends so I gathered some steel headers in my country and managed to put together a group of 4 Czech fly fishermen. I traveled from NZ, Jiri from the Czech Republic, Vojta who lives in Vancouver and Michal from the Yukon province. The funny thing is, except me and Michal, none of us had met before, but the same passion connected us.
Me and Jiri started the trip at a Spey Clave event. Good opportunity to try many setups, meet new people and practice casting with double hand rod. The next day, we went to the river where I got my first steelhead ever. After an hour of fishing, I had landed the first steelhead of our trip. Same spot, same fly and even the same size of fish. I was absolutely stoked. What a start! The following day, each of us hooked another steelhead. We lost them but I was still thinking that I living in a dream. This river system has a pretty small run and every hooked fish counts. Anyway, the first three days were just the appetizer before our main trip to Northern BC.
After long drive, we finally met together in Terrace, BC to make some plans for our 10-day stay, of course over a beer or two. The rivers changed a lot, so the start wasn’t easy but in the end, everybody got his fish (or four). For Michal and Jiri, these were their first steelhead ever, and for Vojta, his first-ever steelhead on the fly. Our 4 person group hooked 16 fish and we landed 9 of them. I would say thats not too bad of a result for a completely DIY trip. Somebody can say it’s not much, but for us, it was an absolutely perfect trip. It’s not just about catching fish. It’s about to be with friends, having good times on the water and the time spent together after fishing. 10 days passed by very quickly. Time to say goodbye to Northern BC and moved back to work.
But, not for me and Jiri. We still had some days left. Our plan was to spend them around Vancouver. We met up with my good friend Tom. He lives in Vancouver and I used to fish with him when I was living there. On the first day, we didn’t have a single bite.
The next morning we woke up to a rainy day. After a lazy morning, we started on our “home run” close to the campsite. Jiri went first through the run and I was following him with a different setup. In the middle of the run, my line suddenly came tight. I set the hook and the fish showed it’s tail fin. My heart stopped. It was enormous. My legs were shaking and the line was peeling off my reel. Jiri ran for Tom and came back with the landing net. Right on time. After few runs, I managed to move the steelhead to shallow water and Tom scooped him up like a pro. My yelling had to be heard down in Vancouver. I cannot really describe my feelings. My secret dream came true. One of the legendary big bucks from this river system and it happened to me! After a few quick pictures, the fish was free again. I was absolute stoked and done for the trip. It couldn’t be better!
The guys continued fishing into the evening. I was enjoying living in this moment than fishing. After fishing, we set up the fire, made some food and were sitting around the fire with some cold beer. What more you can ask for?
I went to the tent around midnight. I suddenly woke at 3 AM with the feeling that something is outside. I woke up Jiri with words: “I think there is a bear outside and he’s trying to break into our car.”
We opened the tent and had a look at our car. It seemed to be okay but I indulged myself and had a look from the other side of the car. Unfortunately, my feelings were right. The car was opened like a can of beans. The bear destroyed both left doors, dented part of the body and ripped the driver seat. What do you do in the middle of nowhere with no cellphone reception? I was pretty sure, the bear was still around.
First, we woke up Tom, who was sleeping in the car next to our tent. We started both cars, put lights on and tried to set up a fire. That was the first time the bear appeared again. Less than 10 meters from us. We started yelling at him and blaring the horn. He ran off.
Finally the fire was going and we got a little bit more confident. Otherwise, we were armed just with bear sprays and an ax. Tom went to the city to call police or rangers and we stayed by the fire watching the surrounding. The bear showed up one more time.
Fortunately, the horn and yelling worked again. Definitely, one of the longest nights I ever had. Tom returned with a message that the police cannot arrest the bear for the damage and we have to call the rental company in the morning. Rangers wrote down the case but nobody showed up.
The bear was probably a vegetarian. How other you can explain he ate 2 loaves of bread (including the plastic), chocolate, dry pasta but, yet, he didn’t eat the shaved ham? You may think that leaving food in the car is not the smartest idea. But that’s what was written on the board by the camp entrance. Lock it in the car… We met our neighbor camper in the morning. He was living in this campsite for a few weeks and he said that a similar accident happened the week before. But the car alarm spooked the bear. He also said, that some people were leaving garbage here and the bear used to feed on it. No bear is born bad, it’s always people who fail and leave garbage out. Quite ironic, in my opinion. I would never leave any litter where I adventure and I’m always collecting garbage others leave behind. Sometimes, life is not fair. We’ve spent many nights in that campsite and similar ones. Always with food in our car and never had a problem. Also, all my Canadian friends were surprised and never heard of something like this happening here.
If you think we stopped fishing, you’d be wrong. We just took a day off in Vancouver for rest and came back to the river. We moved to another campsite a couple of kilometers upstream. At the end of the stay, I hooked two more steelheads but didn’t land them. That’s almost the end of the story. Just one thing left. The damage on the car.
Long story short, none of our insurance could cover this damage so in the final we paid over 5500 CAD for damage. It hurts now but we were lucky to survive. One day it will be a good story to tell our kids.