In Search Of The Soul Of Fly Fishing | AirSprint

The Soul Of Fly Fishing

1 Curiously Enslaving Sport
2 The Tug is the Drug
3 Beautifully Skilled

By Mike McPhee

Something strange happens when we find ourselves on the water with a fly rod in hand. Time stands still and passes in a mystical haze. Though it may sound cliché, hours really do go by like minutes and all the stresses of the modern world seem to wash away. Fly fishing is a curiously enslaving sport that really does have the ability to free us… and also hold us captive to its artful nature. Throughout the mountains of British Columbia, there are a number of hidden gems and fly fishing havens ready to hold you captive and provide that much needed escape from the noise of modern life.

The highly addictive qualities of fly fishing can be broken down into a few aspects. A never-ending learning curve drives us to always perfect our cast, gather knowledge of insect life and learn of trout behaviour. The art of stalking fish and feeling a bit of adrenaline as they rise to your fly speaks to our ancient hunter gatherer roots. “The tug is the drug” as they say. The places trout inhabit are of course often magical mountain utopias in their own right and provide solace from the clamour, stresses and screens of our everyday existence.  There is a philosophical aspect to fly fishing that leads us to re-evaluate and take stock of what’s most important in our lives.

Let’s talk about trout. Out West there are three main species. Cutthroat trout are the indigenous species of the Rocky Mountains and thrive in cold mountain streams and high places. Though they do not get as large as other species, they take dry fly’s (feed off the surface) like no other. This surface feeding or dry-fly fishing is the pinnacle of the sport for many anglers. Watching trout rise eagerly to the surface to your well-presented fly through gin clear water has the ability to turn a part time novice into a full-blown aficionado. Bull Trout, which are actually a species of Char, are also indigenous to the mountainous terrain of BC. And do they ever get big! Even smaller rivers can hold huge Bull Trout of up 15 pounds with the largest specimens pushing 20 pounds. They don’t generally feed on dry flies off the surface, but are apt to be fooled into a streamer fly pulled through deeper water. The last native species to mention is the mighty Rainbow Trout. Many lakes in BC are stocked with Rainbow and Kootenay Lake is the revered home of the Gerard Rainbow Trout, which has been traditionally used as a breeding stock species throughout the province. The ocean going variant of Rainbow Trout called Steelhead  can also reach “behemoth size” and can be found on select river systems on the coast.

British Columbia is home to many renowned fly fishing destinations, all with their own unique qualities.

Fortress Lake Retreat has garnered a reputation for trophy Brook Trout in a spectacular mountain setting. Fly in by helicopter through the dazzling peaks of Jasper National Park and Hamber Provincial Park to this “Rustic Luxury” lodge. The lake was stocked in the 1930’s with Eastern, Nipigon Coaster Brook Trout, which are adrenaline inducing to catch on a fly rod.

Known as “Trout Town”, Fernie BC and the Elk River system is known as one of the top five Dry-Fly destinations in North America. The area’s rivers and streams are full of both Cutthroat Trout and Bull Trout which can be accessed with a number of guiding outfits including Elk River Guiding Company, who offers both fishing from a drift boat and walk & wade trips.

Skeena River Lodge is one of several in the North West that offer a pampered lodge life with exceptional fishing for ocean going Steelhead and Salmon. Located just 16 Kilometers from Terrace BC, the new luxurious facility surrounded by rugged scenery is sure to impress.

Life is busy and full of sensory overload. The last couple of years have perhaps left us searching for a bit more meaning and new ways to find fulfillment. Make some time to slow down and explore the soul of fly fishing in the mountains of BC. It just might be exactly what you need. ✈

Photos courtesy of Mike McPhee.

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