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What we wanted to do on this trip was to attempt to catch Chinook by casting. We had booked three rivers for three days of guided fishing(June 28-30) but only the Kitimat was fishable...all the other rivers were too cloudy due to lots of rain he preceding weeks. Unlike the other rivers, the source of most of the Kitimat's water was mountain glaciers. The boat used was a flat bottom boat. Leslie and I both sat in the front. We got skunked the first day, not even a nibble. The main reason for this was that a week of rain forced everyone onto the same river. Leslie and I also fished liked two of the three stooges, we were not used to casting side by side and wasted too much time untangling lines and apologizing to the guide for attempted murder by fish hook! The Karma just wasn't right that day.

The second day was much better, the guide wisely anchored and let us cast from shore much more. The sun came out and we caught some small Dolly Varden and Cutthroat in the morning. At noon I cast under overhanging brush and made contact, rod tip up! This was one solid fish and I couldn't get the fish to turn. This is what I came for, to hook and battle this brute on a 2-dimensional battlefield of 3 ft of water. We got a good look at her while she thrashed shallow. The guide tightened the drag and I just leaned back and put of my considerable weight into it. There was no controlling this fish. I could neither turn it's head or get it to move left or right. It was a war of attrition where I gained a foot or two and then lost it. The guide tightened my drag more. After about five minutes of this I came upon the brilliant idea of pulling her up on shore and so I slowly backed up on the bank. That was my mistake, I should have been happy to simply tire the fish out. When this fish realized that I had some extra capability, it showed me another gear. It simply turned it's head and muscled it's way downstream 100ft in a mind blowing run. The final destination was wood and although I attempted to pull her out, the battle was lost as soon as she made her move. The guide estimated her to be 40 pounds. Afterwards, I attempted to pull the line from the reel to check the setting of the drag. It was so tight that the line dug into my hand which I had to do to get free line. Leslie took what she thought were pictures with my camera but instead of taking pics she unfortunately had simply "clicked" the on and off button repeatedly. Doh!!

On our last day of guided fishing, we got on the river a little earlier and I think that helped. We got to a pool early and Leslie hooked into a good one at 20 pounds. If you look closely you can see her wide opened mouth expressing disbelief and joy. This is why I fish with this girl!

Chinook have a lot of power. Leslie was reeling but no line was coming in. After a bit of coaching she learned more how to use her body and after a few runs and about 5 minutes hard work she had her fish. Smiles all around as we had the first one. After the fish was released, her hands were shaking and she was spent. She thought we would get into the boat and move on and she could rest but the guide kept us there. Leslie cleverly thought if she cast into the same spot she would be "safe" because she had just cleared the spot out but she immediately hooked into another 20 pounder with her first cast. She screamed for me, and I had to come a running to take her rod. It was fun to battle again and this fish took some runs downstream. No lumber this time so I followed the King downstream. By the time I landed her I must of been 150 yards away from first contact. Leslie had documented this one though. She was enamored with her camera's video capability and she successfully filmed her first clip ever of the landing from that initial spot upriver. Does it matter that I am only three pixels high and the fish only a pixel wide? The clip has great commentary to go along with the action. I had another take in that pool but that Chinook got free soon after the hookup.

Later in the day we got to fish this beautiful stretch of river. Single barbless hooks are the rule for all Salmon in BC. We split our time between casting and "backtrolling". In BC backtrolling means using crankbaits in the river while the guide paddles hard to hold our place in the current. We only got one hook up from backtrolling even though this is the preferred method for Chinook at that time of the year.

Our final day would be spent driving north close to Alaska to do some sight seeing and getting some fishing in on the side.

Our host at the Deep Creek Lodge told us there are bears there and he was kind enough to lend us bear spray. As we were getting ready to leave I told Leslie that were going to a Lava field and we would do 20 minutes of hiking to get to some pools along a small river. We stopped by the lava fields and it was beautiful but I wondered why Leslie was wearing flip-flops on a lava field. I asked her if she had brought good shoes for hiking. Apparently she had heard only the word "fishing" and assumed we would just get out of our car and fish from the side of the road.

Besides her flip-flops she only had her "flower-power" boots so boots it was for our hike. Apparently they had gummy bottoms and it hurt to walk on rocks.

When we got to the river there was a sign warning about Grizzlies and that you should put all fish guts in the river and not on the banks. The real danger from bears was in the fall with the salmon run. We had our can of bear spray so I wasn't that worried. Leslie on the other hand was petrified. I brought water, food, the bear spray, and fishing gear. Leslie brought oil paints and brushes, apparently flesh eating bears can be appeased by appealing to their vanity. Our visions of the morning were not gelling at all!

The path to the pools were over the lava fields. There were several different paths as there was no simple obvious way. Some paths veered earlier to the river to access different points and some paths were further out from the river and led to the pools. You could see the paths because no lichen grew on them but the trail was not marked. Unfortunately the hike was longer then the 20 minutes that I had been told it took to hike and after about a half hour Leslie declared us lost about every minute or so. At one point she declared "this is ridiculous", and she turned and walked back. That is, until she realized I wasn't going back with her. Remarkably I watched my wife age 40 years in the span of a half hour. Her pace slowed to a crawl. She was unable to hop from one stone to another and she complained constantly. I paid no heed to her rapidly growing list of psychosomatic complaints and we made it to the first pool. Before I had my first cast in she looked at me in an unfriendly way and said, "how long do you plan to fish here"?

The river was achingly beautiful. The first pool had too much current and I told Leslie we had to move on to the next one. She looked at me in disbelief and wondered out loud, "there is more then one pool"? The canopy got denser with lush growth as we walked further. We startled a giant bald eagle who was having dinner directly in front of us. This bird had a huge wingspan which I would estimate to be close to 8ft and the bird showed us it's full plume as it scrambled to get away. Leslie was vindicated, a giant creature had attacked us and it was pointless to argue. Danger lurked everywhere and it was time to turn back. What could I do, she was afraid. As we turned around, instantly her ailments left her body and her mood brightened. I on the other hand became silent. She beguilingly extolled me to fish the first pool as we passed it but this moment of time was lost, such is the art of fishing. There was no way the table could be reset. It was time to go home. In a way you are a hunter when you fish and like a hunter you wait for opportunity. If you are lucky opportunity presents itself and from there it is up to you to take advantage. Other times you get a glimpse of what could be but it slips through your fingers before you can take advantage. This was a missed opportunity but I wouldn't fish with anyone else if forced to make a choice.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Yes I believe that is the river, it is not too far from a native reserve, a bit further, on the right. As far as native reserves go it looked good with a gas station, variety store, and cool native sign. A bit further on still is another native reserve that looks derelict in comparison. So how dangerous is that river for grizzly? Back here in Ontario the women who heard about this river think we were nuts. There is a sign with a clear warning about grizzlies, not leaving fish guts on the banks, and making noise while you are on the trail. I think it mentioned something about spawning season. Would you see grizzlies at that time of year or they mainly around when the fall salmon are running? Also are the encounters similar to black bear encounters or are grizzlies aware that they are on top of the food chain and not so shy as black bears. I felt relatively safe in that season with the bear spray. We only got to fish the first pool. Water levels were high and the first pool was not ideal. I heard there are another 5 or so pools so I am left wondering what I missed.

I did enjoy the Chinook fishing. It was a thrill to to hook into a Chinook casting. I do like to use my brain when fishing and I've done far too many trolling outings for Chinook. This one was under some overhanging branches and I wonder if shade was part of the attraction for it's location. It was a thrill to battle a 40 pounder and that battle is seared in my memory, it makes me want to come back for more. I guess with the early summer the fishing is hit and miss as far as river conditions go, and ultimately Chinook conditions go. In three days of guiding we landed two Chinook and had two others on. Not a high percentage but we did catch some cut throats and dollies. Part of the problem was that all other rivers were unfishable due to high water levels. That forced all the guides on the kitimat and a number of bar fishermen, and I believe reduced opportunities. I've heard that late summer has the main run. Is it easier to target Chinook then, and are they so spunky at then?
 
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