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10 Painful Lessons I Learned On My First B.C. Steelhead Trip

The Lodge at Gold River

Getting Schooled

On B.C.'s Gold River, the steelhead learning curve is part of the adventure

Anyone who’s ever planned an angling adventure knows that travelling to fish is a tricky endeavour, fraught with perils. You need to pick a date that dodges work and family commitments, yet lies in a promising part of the season. You have to find a way to get to your destination and a place to stay, then hire a guide or take a chance on finding your own hot spots. On top of it all is a ticking clock counting down the time until you have to go home. And fishing being fishing, you can do everything right and still face disappointment thanks to the weather, broken gear, unusual fish behaviour or a hundred other factors.

The Lodge at Gold River
The Lodge at Gold River

Considering all that, I’ve been pretty lucky over the years. But on my first attempt to capture a wild B.C. steelhead, I finally resolved a question I had long wondered about, but hoped to never answer: Can you have a rewarding adventure without catching a trophy fish? The answer, I’m happy to report, is yes—especially if the place is gorgeous, the people are interesting and the fishing is physically and mentally challenging.

I was, in some ways, less prepared than I thought for my first trip to the West Coast, let alone the formidable Gold River. I had primo tackle, and I knew how to use it. I came outfitted for unpredictable weather. I knew the fishing culture was different from my home waters in Ontario. But there are some things you just can’t anticipate. In roughly chronological order, here are the lessons I learned last April during my first-ever steelhead adventure…

Scott Gardner

Scott Gardner

Outdoor Canada associate editor and fly-fishing columnist Scott Gardner is happiest when he's on the water fishing (especially from his kayak) or just surrounded by trees, preferably out of cell phone range. Since joining Outdoor Canada in 2010, Scott has won nine National Communication Awards from the Outdoor Writers of Canada for his adventure travel and fly fishing articles, and been nominated for five National Magazine Awards.

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