Every year our friends at Fishing BC produce some incredible content in the British Columbia area, some of which we get to experience ourselves! On a recent Fishing BC adventure, our good friend Katy Watson – had a chance to horseback into the backcountry of the Cariboo in search of wild trout. She was accompanied by some incredible guides as well as some of our favorite content creators Jeremy Koreski and Brandon Kelley. With such an incredible adventure we wanted to ask Katy a few questions about what this trip was like – enjoy the interview and make sure to follow along on Fishing BC’s latest adventures.
Flylords: What region of Canada were you in for this project? Had you been there before?
Katy: We were in the Cariboo region, which is in British Columbia’s southern Interior. Actually, I just moved here! I didn’t know the region at all before moving here but I packed up my house a month prior and moved down with my partner, Bryan. I hadn’t even been here five days before I had to turn around and head north for the guide season, so this was a beautiful introduction to this region.
Flylords: Why did you need horses for this particular area?
Katy: Horses truly are remarkable creatures. When I started doing pack trips as a teenager, I would try to control my horse, and force him to take what I naively thought was the easiest route; I quickly learned that they will always find the best possible route though.
This is a region, rich in cowboying and has a long pioneering history of using horses to access hard to reach places. We took these horses through some rough British Columbian terrain, full of blowdown and thick muskeg. I wouldn’t have called it a trail per se, but it was more like an old outfitters trail of years past. Using horses cut our time down, and allowed us to pass over that blow down which would have been exhausting crawling over.
Flylords: Tell us about the fishing on the trip?
Katy: It was great! The first day we took the horses into the backcountry and fished a beautiful remote lake. It was a pretty wet day out there, but that didn’t inhibit our fishing, particularly with dry flies. The second day we took the drift boat down a pristine trout river that I have always wanted to fish.
It was a really interesting fishery, and unlike I had experienced before. Every time I would cast to what I thought was a trouty piece of water under the brushes or behind structures, Stu would correct me to tell me to cast in the complete opposite spot. It was a great introduction to the river because otherwise, I would have continued to cast to what I thought were trouty spots.
Flylords: Do you have one memory that stands out as your favorite highlight?
Katy: So people have to understand, the outfitter, Stu, is legendary in British Columbia in terms of cowboying and outfitting. Mostly, he’s known for his humor, his uncanny ability to ALWAYS find what seems like the hardest way to do things and his wild stories. Anyone who hangs around these parts for just a short while will have heard a ‘Stu story‘. Stu is tremendously fortunate to have miles of river access along his farm to a beautiful trout stream, where he has a perfectly graveled and groomed boat launch. Stu asked me to guide his trailer back but stopped and asked if there was gravel on the launch. I assumed he was asking for gravel so his tires wouldn’t sink into the sand, but no, that was not the reason he was inquiring about. When I said it looked great, there was lot’s of gravel, he put his truck into gear and jack-knifed the trailer sideways and started wildly backing up towards the bank with a 6 foot drop off. I started screaming stop because he was dangerously close. Picture a river with high sandbanks, with grasses and tussocks craning over the edges dropping down 5.5-6 feet below into the river. That was what I was looking at. And finally after the third of fourth time I screamed stop, he whipped out his window, exasperated, and asked me why he had to stop. I told him about the drop off and he exclaimed that’s what he wanted.
I have been launching a drift boat for nine years now, and have launched in places where there were no nicely grated launches, or in places where we had to drag it over log jams or down hills, but this was new to me. With the trailer and boat still attached, Stu launched, and I mean launched, the trailer over this drop-off into the water. I shouldn’t have asked, but I was just so curious how he was going to get his trailer back on land. He got it on, pretty much as he sent it off- pedal to the floor and step on it. I have seen many jack-knifed trailers, but I have NEVER seen a jack-knifed trailer in the air before. And that was just launching the boat, loading the boat at the end of day was a whole other story. I was educated the Cariboo way that day.
Flylords: What species were you targeting? What did your rod and fly setup look like?
Katy: We were targeting Rainbows. I actually brought a new bamboo rod to try out. It was a progressive style 7’9″ 5wt and I paired it with my Hardy St. George fly reel.
Flylords: What was it like working with Jeremy and Brandon?
Katy: They’re so awesome. I’ve worked with both of them before, and they truly are the kindest and easiest guys to work with. Jeremy has this way of capturing stills that tell so much more to the story without the movement, while Brandon takes in so many aspects throughout the days and curates them into a story. Both are wonderful artists in their trade. Jeremy introduced us to the crunch factor, by adding Cheetos to our wraps. I wasn’t a believer until I tried it….I think he’s onto something.
Flylords: Would you recommend others to come up and take a trip like this?
Horses, fly fishing, backcountry?
Katy: How could you say no? It would be a wonderful experience for those who have riding experience or not.
Flylords: Anything else you think is worth mentioning about this particular adventure?
Katy: I have kind of a full circle connection. So I have known of the outfitter, Stu, for years. My father and him are both hunting outfitters and Stu’s nephew is one of my fathers’ guides. I would hear ‘Stu stories‘ every hunting season at the lodge or at conventions we’d go to, but had never actually met him. Years later, I met my partner, Bryan who had been guiding Stu oddly enough and who was good friends with said nephew. Bryan actually joined us on this trip as a wrangler and to fish of course. It was such a perfect moment to share together with him as an introduction to our new home.
Interview from Katie Waston(@katywat).
Pictures courtesy of Jeremy Koreski.