The 2017 steelhead season was incredible! Kitty and I had both set out goals to complete in order to make the fishing this season more interesting. We decided that we would have from December 15th until the end of April allotted to complete our “Quests.” Many ups and downs were experienced, and often times, we feared we would not achieve our desired (hefty) goals. Below is a video – a compilation – of all of our favourite, on film, moments of the 2017 season, that capture what the Quest for 20 was all about. Enjoy the short film, and check out the photos for each river we checked off this season down below!
Kitty, being able to only fish about as half as much as I could, wanted to accomplish:
- 5 Brand new river in the season
- 10 Total steelhead rivers
Kitty was able to accomplish both of the goals she had set for herself. Her first fish (river #1) was tailed on December 23rd. Her fifth new river (river #9 on the year) to complete her “Quest for 5 new ones” was completed on March 27th, and her “Quest for 10” was completed on April 15. Below are the 10 rivers (plus one bonus river to bring her to 11) from her (our) adventures! Not only did she land fish from 11 rivers, but she lost fish from another 4, which could have brought her to 15 total.
My one and only “quest,” as many know, was to tail a winter run fish out of 20 different systems. I knew from the start it wouldn’t be easy. I had tried it last year – but tough fishing (fairly low fish numbers island wide) and miserable conditions for much of the season made it difficult. I had failed miserably by only getting to 12 rivers.
This year, I was incredibly lucky with time on the water, weather conditions, water conditions, and fish presence. I was able to land fish out of 21 different rivers, and lost fish out of another 4 as well. My first fish (river #1) was tailed on December 15, and my 20th rivers fish was tailed on the Vedder river (my home river, that I grew up on and learned to steelhead fish on), on March 29th. I had achieved my Quest for 20 over a month earlier than allotted.
I was also able to tail fish out of 8 brand new rivers that I had never previously caught a winter run steelhead out of. Overall, the entire season was a great success! Below are the pictures of the 20 fish, from 20 different rivers, that helped me achieve an incredibly “epic” season.
The fish were’t the only highlight of this season though. Although the fish were an obvious integral part, there were a number of other experiences that I’m sure will stick with me for life. One such experience was when we were approached by a pack of wolves. Previously, I had never even managed to get the camera out in time for any of the wolves I had seen (before they had rushed into the bush and out of sight). These ones were surprisingly curious – almost too curious. After a few pictures were taken, I hastily rushed to put our gear away to make our escape, and soon they were standing on our footprints. You can read in more detail about the experience here: Quest for 20 – Part XIII – The Trout Bead Saga
Another amazing experience involved coming head to head with a big bull elk in an extremely intimate encounter. Often timid like the wolves, this bull actually stayed in place and posed for me before rushing his 11 ladies off across the river into the thick forest. That experience was recounted here: Quest for 20 – Part IX – The Halfway Point
It’s hard to say which trips were my absolute favourites, but two in particular stand out to me the most. Both of them included big numbers of fish, but that wasn’t really the reason they were special. Both of those “special days” were due some sort of surprise. In one case, it was our third and final river at the end of the day that lead to huge success – one that we never dreamed such numbers were possible on. After a long day of being skunked and running into unfavourable conditions or other anglers, finding a huge school of aggressive fish makes for a pretty memorable trip. That trip can be read about here: Quest for 20 – Part VII – Swing… and a Hit.
The second memorable/favourite trip was a great day all around. Myself and a couple of close buddies were able to check off two rivers in one day. We went against the old adage of not leaving fish to find fish, and left a river where we encountered 5 fish in a few short hours to check out another one a good distance away (it was a commitment). Upon our arrival, the run that I had wanted to fish had anglers just finishing up. To our surprise, it didn’t matter, and the run provided multiple hook ups with hot fish. To make things better, we ended up finding our way into a canyon section that I had been trying to figure out access into for nearly 2 years. Once out of the trees and into the rock walled valley, we were greeted by two amazing runs that we knew would have fish. It turned out to be the best day of the year – and we managed to hook fish nearly every cast out of our last run until it was too dark to stay any longer. That run will prove to be a good find for years to come I’m sure. That trip can be read about here: Quest for 20 – Part XI – Two at a Time.
And, of course, we can’t forget about the rivers I was able to explore. They often provided spectacular scenery and incredible moments. Half of my most memorable experiences this season were simply finding our way out of thick bush into stunning canyon settings. On numerous occasions I found myself simply sitting, observing, and taking it all in – even when there were fish to be had (as demonstrated by my friends). Being able to share the excitement, adventure, and sometimes heartbreak, with my closest fishing buddies and my amazing wife just made the experiences that much more special. British Columbia really is a spectacular place, and I encourage everyone who has followed along with this blog to get out and explore this incredible province. It need not even be for the steelhead fishing – just to hike along the various rivers and streams, and see places and landmarks that not many people have had the pleasure of viewing. So many of these places are relatively untouched – and special – and they will be forgotten and written off as raw “product” by our province unless there are people who know, and care, about their existence.
I’ll end this off by leaving you with a compilation of my favourite fishy photos from the season. I hope you’ve enjoyed following along with our adventures, and that it’s inspired you to chase your own.
Wishing you all the best in the upcoming (already currently started) summer run and spring/summer Chinook fishing seasons. Tight lines!