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