Skeena River

Buy some stuff, save the Skeena

 

Good people doing good things for good places. There seems to be a lot of that going around lately. Unfortunately that’s because there are bad people doing bad things to good places.  These good places need our help.

 

Photo by Brian Huntington

One such good place is the Skeena Watershed, in Northwestern British Columbia (that’s in Canada). If you look at a map of many rivers that make up the Skeena watershed, it reads like a Who’s Who list of world-renowned steelhead rivers: the Skeena is the namesake river of the region, with tribs such as the Morice, Bulkley, Babine and Kispiox, to name just a few. You’ve heard of them. If you haven’t here’s an article from Midcurrent that will get you in the mood to go: British Columbia: Rivers of Steel

I’ve never been (yet), but it’s near the top of my bucket list, and I have a preconceived idea of an area that is pristine and wild; unpolluted if not untouched by man. But like the Bristol Bay region in Alaska, another pristine watershed, the Skeena has been threatened by corporate greed. In a nutshell, here’s the scoop:

In 2004, Shell Canada (now Royal Dutch Shell) was awarded a 400,000 hectare tenure to develop coalbed methane (CBM) in the Sacred Headwaters in northwest British Columbia.  Due to massive opposition throughout the region and within the Province of BC, the BC Government made a great decision and imposed a 4 year moratorium stalling the development in its tracks.  That moratorium expires this December!!  Learn how to help—see more at Skeena Watershed Conservation Coalition Sacred Headwaters Campaign 

Which brings us to a special auction event taking place March 3-7, 2014: The Skeena Angler’s Auction. During this fund raising event you can buy some gear, the proceeds from which will go toward continuing to fight this battle. Check out the auction items here—surely there’s something you need or want. Or maybe you neither need nor want for anything, but you want to contribute to the cause. Whatever the case, please consider helping. There are some great items from Patagonia, Hardy, St. Croix, Rainbow Alley Cane Fly Rods, Loon Outdoors, Wilson’s Fergus Fly Shop, Skeena Wild Conservation Trust, Clear Cure Goo, Valley Custom Rods, a whole bunch of different fly selections.

Some great stuff for a great cause.

View the auction goods HERE.

 

Ode to April

I recently returned from a trip to British Columbia where I spent two weeks fishing the Skeena system. I hit every river on my BC bucket list, and can now die a happy man.  For those not in the know, the Skeena River is the second largest river in BC, and has a list of tributaries that read like a Fantasy Wish List: The Kispiox, Bulkley, Morice, Copper (yes the Copper River – the mere mention of which causes people to drive out of their way and spend ridiculous sums of money when the infamous King salmon from this river hit the Pike Place Market each year). If you’re not familiar with the area, the Skeena system is an all star lineup. Beautiful country, too.

kispioxbulkley

The chance to take a trip like this could be considered the pinnacle of one’s fishing career, and catching a monster steelhead from this river system might well be the ultimate feather in one’s lucky fishing cap. But for a guy like me it was just another few days on just another river, or two, or four: no big deal. I opted to forgo a professional guide, instead saving my pennies for daily filet mignon and 12 year old Scotch and the finest of Cuban cigars, which I enjoyed from the comforts of my brand new Earthroamer XV-LT, which I purchased specifically for this trip. Paid cash, too, since my royalties from book sales are astronomical ever since making Oprah’s Book Club and the New York Times’ Bestseller list. The Earthroamer is capable of going almost anywhere, and its offroad capabilities came in handy because I hit some weather on the drive north.

Earthroamer

As one might imagine, this vehicle garners a good bit of attention, and I had many curious folks ask to come aboard for a looksee.  While enjoying a beautiful early evening along the banks of the Kispiox, a rig pulled up and a very attractive young lady wearing an Olive the Woolly Bugger t-shirt and Goretex waders emerged from behind the wheel. I assumed she was stopping to eye the river and perhaps do a bit of fishing, but she actually stopped for the sole purpose of asking about the Earthroamer. Now I’m no dirty old man and this young lady was young enough to be my daughter (and Mrs. Unaccomplished Angler is reading this), so I didn’t invite her to stay for long.  But since she was already geared up, we decided to fish the run right below camp together. She was struggling a bit, so I gave her some casting and presentation instruction, which resulted in her hooking up with this cute little 17 lb hen.  Moments later I humbly landed one of my nicer fish on the Kispiox (a 40.75 lb buck).  Before she left, the young lady angler and I exchanged autographs, and I’ll be honest:  April Vokey looks even more beautiful in person than she does on the internet.  As she drove off I patted the fender of the Earthroamer and thought to myself, “Owning this thing is better than walking a puppy in a park on a summer day.” I’m sure I’ll have to sell it now that Mrs. UA has read this.

april_vokey_steelieAprilFools

I won’t bore you with the details of the fishing, but suffice it to say it was stellar. Actually, it was gluttonous. I quite honestly got sick of catching steelhead: 12 fish days were common, though on one day in particular I lost count after 23. By the end of the trip my hands were heavily calloused and I’d just about worn the cork off my Sage Z-Axis 7136. And speaking of the rod, the best thing of all on this trip was that my Spey casting was flawless – it was as if I was magically transformed into a gifted caster of masterful status. One morning another angler watched me from afar and snapped this photo of me in action. When I’d caught every fish out of that run and was making my way back to camp for a break, he waved me down and showed me the photo, which he later emailed to me.  “Don’t I recognize you from somewhere?  You’re Mike Kinney, aren’t you?”  I chuckled and replied, “No, but I get that a lot.”

Picture 141

Tightlines to all – I hope you’re enjoying this first day of April.