In the wild and remote areas of western Canada, they use the term ‘fly-out’ fishing; as the only way to get you to most of the best streams and lakes is to ‘fly-out’ from base camp – in a small plane, with floats attached to the landing gear. At the end of the day’s fishing, you fly back and make plans to fish a different river ‘tomorrow’ -- in another remote location. The daily plane rides between base camp and the fisheries become something to look forward to, as they provide a spectacular view of the scenery and wildlife.
When fishing the rivers, there are often three choices – each generally being a single destination for the day; you can fish the outlet of the lake, where the river begins, the inlet, or along the course of the river -- if the pools are large and deep enough to accommodate the landing and taking off of your float plane.
The Firesteel River runs out of Tatlatui Lake and drops several hundred feet over its 15 mile journey into the Finlay River – to the northeast. Adventurous fishermen could probably navigate the entire length of the river, with a good raft or a canoe and the ability to portage the various falls and rapids, but we just waded and fished.
Years ago, fish biologists came up with the term ‘fish per mile’ along with survey techniques to produce accurate estimates for fishermen and fisheries managers to work with. The number they use on the Firesteel is 6,000 rainbow trout per mile – a possibly unmatched number of fish, anywhere in the world.
Son Russell and I fished this magnificent river for a couple of days – first, at the outlet of the lake, where 100 fish per person was the expected day. Then we fished the main part of the river, below and between some falls, where we caught fewer, but bigger fish. Russell is a more serious fly fisherman than myself. I took one fly rod, he took five. Mostly we used dry flies and the fish would readily take them, even if there were no apparent rises. Everything was catch and release, with barbs down, but we did enjoy fresh rainbow trout during two different shore lunches.
The Firesteel River may not be on your bucket list, but if you’re a serious fly fisherman, it should be.