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"Wilderness Fishing: Bull Trout and Other Delights"

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Ronan's report


Saturday 8th September, 2007

Noone ever complains when another member of the FP team has to miss a day because of a big fishing trip. So, many thanks to Eric, who filled in for me on wednesday while I was off in the wilds of Canada. Today I am paying him back.

Last year, Paul and I spent a week trying to find our way around the BC wilderness in seach of bull trout and other delights. I got a taste of the wilderness on that trip, and couldn't get enough. So, at the last minute, I took a couple of days off work and headed back to Canada for some more exploring with my buddy Niall. We followed old logging roads and game trails deep into the backcountry and spent hours hiking up and down rugged canyons in search of the next riffle, run, or pool. One day, 10 miles, the next day, 15 miles or more. All on steep and rough terrain. Someday I'll be too old for this stuff.

Despite the general lack of anglers, the backcountry is not a place where catching fish is guaranteed. There are just too many variables. And when you are off the beaten path, on water that doesn't have fishing reports posted daily on the internet, you never know what you are going to find. The rivers are wild, the runs and pools changing every year. Access is so difficult that fishing a pool twice is a rarity. Learning the secrets of the backcountry takes more time and effort than most have or care to spend. Sometimes you find fish. Sometimes you don't. Either way, around each bend there is a new sight, and a new experience.

So it went for us. With pristine scenery as the backdrop, we encountered three bears, all on separate occasions. They were all kind, and ran the other way in response to our shouts of "Hey Bear!". One night, two young wolves appeared on the gravel bar that I had just fished down. They frolicked and wrestled like young Golden Retrievers, betraying their wild side for a few magical moments. Deer were everywhere, and elk sign common. We encountered low, clear water and challenging fishing conditions everywhere we went. We found fish. Beautiful fish. Mostly small cutthroats and bull trout. They were fewer and more spread out than we expected, but working hard to find them made our successes that much greater. It was, as always, a joy to experience wild trout in their native rivers.

Every time I come back from a backcountry/wilderness fishing trip I find myself drained physically, but recharged mentally and spiritually. Knowing there are such incredible places left inspires me to work hard to protect the pristine places we have left, and try to restore those that that have been scarred by our actions. It makes me remember to wash my wading boots when I fish a new river in order to avoid spreading invasives. It makes me want to do all the little things that save energy and natural resources. And it makes me hope that my words can inspire others to do the same.

A couple of links to try...

Saving the Wrong Fish

A Poor Showing for the USA

A Story and Song about Portland, OR

Until next time,

Cheers,
Matt


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