Hunkering down beside a 500 year old fallen Sitka spruce, my felt-sole shoes dig into the gravel bottom of Moresby Islands Deena River, one of the last great havens for catching fresh wild steelhead in a small stream. Fishing the rivers of the Queen Charlotte Islands is an exciting challenge that offers anglers the chance at chrome steelhead that have just entered freshwater.
Through my polarized shades, I studied two lavishly bright wild steelhead -- each about 12 pounds -- mauling around in a cauldron-like pool across from me. At my feet lies enough fly line for a cast; the small of my back tightens in anticipation. The warm sun and the whooshing of the unassuming creek are hypnotic, and my mind wanders across The canopy of the ancient rainforest I am standing in.
As always, a dialogue with myself begins to ensue in my mind. "Put a cast upstream from them, but do not make a spash!" I whisper out loud to myself. I snapped out of a trance and was ready to try my luck. This was my first attempt at fishing this sapphire stream and I did not want to farm these fish. I raised my right arm slowly, gently cradling the fly line in my left. Struggling for balance as I reached out past an overhanging branch, I fired a roll cast about 25 feet upstream, hoping I didn't spook the fish in the process. The larger of the two steelhead spots my peach tube fly drifting by after a proper mend. It wasn't an aggressive attack, but more of a melodic suck as my fly disappeared in her mouth.
When I responded I realized the leech is firmly locked in its jaw. The magnificent fish made several acrobatic leaps before muscling downstream and taking me into my backing. "My first Queen Charlotte Steelhead!" I holler emphatically, now pursuing the fish on foot.
Without question, the Queen Charlotte Islands remains one of the world's great angling destinations, and the Deena River, nestled on the rim of Moresby Island is a thriving and sustainable winter steelhead fishery. Far from the maddening crowds, the clear tea colored water of this isolated and unspoiled creek is a hidden jewel definitely worth discovering.
Surrounded by a dense old growth coastal rainforest that offers fishermen complete tranquility and privacy -- important elements that will bring guests back time and again -- the Deena and other rivers of the Queen Charlotte Islands are a fisherman's dream, featuring some of the most productive fly-fishing imaginable. The meandering streams provide a pristine, nutrient-rich environment as well as an exhilarating photographic encounter with a virtual barnyard of bald eagles, island black bears, deer and even elk.
On this day, after a long battle where I had to go in over my waders to get the fish off a log, I landed that chrome hen that I had spotted. She was a jewel of a fish that I will never forget. As things tighten in this economic crisis and we all feel the wrath of the state of the world, it is moments like this that we treasure forever. One of the best thing about fishing are the destinations it brings you to, and the Queen Charlottes is one that will provide you with a wonderful and unique experience that will resonate for years.