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BULKLEY RIVER

Fishing Haida Gwaii by Joel Gourley

As a ski instructor in the winter, i don't often find myself pulling out my waders and heading for winter steelheading grounds, but this February an opportunity arose that I could not pass up. Derek invited me up to fish some winter steelhead in the Queen Charlotte Islands, now called Haida Gwaii and experience the Copper Bay Lodge program.

I stepped of the plane at 3pm and we were in the water by 4:30pm for an hour and a half of fishing before dinner. It took a little adjustment fishing the smaller rivers with old growth forest branches ensnaring any casts not showing them proper respect, but with a little fine tuning and situational experimentation I really started to enjoy the challenge.

We fished for three days on several different rivers, each with their distinct own personality. The second day I landed my first Yakoun steelhead and experienced a steelhead fight of exceptional power and enthusiasm, as these fish are not for from the ocean and still have full energy stores.

One fish would have been enough to satisfy my winter craving for fishing, however I was granted several more encounters by the river gods over the next few days.

 What a great reprieve from the snow and cold of the ski season, I feel fired up on steelheading for next season on the Bulkley, and may have to go back to Haida Gwaii for Easter to get another taste to tide me over.

Joel