The Finnish Fishing Team
Record Steelhead Caught On A Fly
The trip starts with a introduction at the Terrace Airport then off to the Kitimat lodge we go. We decide to fish a remote micro-stream from the Kitimat arm and into the Douglas Channel we roar with two jetboats.
We arrive at the 60KM location from Kitimat the wind blowing the saltwater thru our skin on route, man how we have prevailed from the past. Upon entry into the Sanctuary the seas calm and the film crew rises from the depths and records history. Canadian Geese lift off the water as we enter the remote wilderness of the Douglas Channel. Large boulders await our entrance in this small river giving us a sign that your entrance is very dangerous, I feel like Indiana Jones, my senses on high alert as we obligate ourselves in to the small trickle of a remote Salmon stream. Waterfalls spew along the rivers bank as we film the land before time, if a Dinosaur would have drank from the rivers edge it would have not surprised me, we are in no mans land! A motor failure would be a major concern, I cross my fingers thinking of a non issue. The Finnish crew is so remote that they are unaware of the dangers lurking in the bushes along the emerald river basin. We arrive at our destination some 10KMS up river, this is where we will set up our camp for a few days of filming coastal Salmon. Upon arrival I notice fresh steaming Grizzly Poo, the guys laugh under their breath as I tell them to sleep tight tonite as we may have company.
The avid anglers set up the rods immediately as the river calls with the smell of fish. Barkely and I set up camp, 3 tents and a large fire with minimal wood available. We venture downstream to gather a bonfire of deadfall, as well set the crab and prawn traps in the saltwater for the evening feast.
The camera crew sets up the tri-pods on the beach in anticipation of a frenzy of Salmon. Not as predicted, as the fishing is slow, two fish on the fly is all the day brings. The nite arrives quickly and the fire is welcoming, as it chases away the swarm of black flies that menace the entire crew all day. This is our first nite together, Canadian boys with the Finnish fishing crew. Small talk is not on the menu as we watch the fire blaze and the remoteness sets upon us. The darkness blankets us, but we are a team. The beer and fine Scotch starts to take affect as we start our friendship with open conversation, we talk about fishing, of course, our countries, our people and stories of the world. All surrounded by good laughter.
The next AM I peer out of my tent and Antti has already been casting for who knows how long, the mist of the AM rises and the rain starts to pellet down on us. Antti sees me and comes out of the chilling water, his shirt soaked. He tells me of the soft sand in this pool that took him deep beyond his protective fishing waders. He is soaked to his socks. Off with the clothes and I start the fire that has a small hot ember minutes from exhaustion. Once the smoke starts to rise the fire takes effect and the group joins for the AM sit down.
We decide to take the boats thru a maze large boulders to the upper pools in a chance to catch some nice numbers of Salmon. This section of river is very breathtaking as the glaciers and waterfalls are as close as you'll ever get. Dense brush and Grizzly prints keep us near the waters edge, no hiking for us guys.
We fish two pools none with the fly as the Salmon are finicky. We decide to try with the Kuusamo Lures, Fish On! as Pasi hooks a large male, our cameraman quick with the action gets it all on tape. Another fish rolls downstream, ok we have found a pod. Pasi continues to comb the pool with his lure and is into another, then another. We have a celebrating taste of victory Scotch and decide to have lunch. We join the others back at camp pool and make the decision to breakdown camp, our rations get gobbled up and the crew seems very happy to leave this rain forest for the hot showers. Our ride home is a long one, our gear soaked but our guys are happy. We stop at Jesse Falls and the guys wander up to the lake, another site of beauty along the BC coast.
We take a day off dry our gear and get ready for our next adventure. We decide to try the Steelhead fishing as the Salmon run has been slow this year but we have some nice footage. Steelhead fishing is a new experience for these guys, except Antti, he has been here before. I try to explain the importance of the Steelhead and its life cycle compared to a Salmon as they are a Trout. I take my team and Barkley takes his team to the pools of interest. I spend the entire day in one pool as it has many Steelhead rolling on the surface. Pasi lands his first Steelhead on the fly, a big fresh male pushing 20lb, a lifetime fish for sure. Then Kimmo lands one on his special Finnish lure, it represents his country colors of blue and white. The BC Steelhead like finnish lures as he is instantly into another chrome hen. We document every moment, the cameraman gives me a wink and a thumbs up, we have hit paydirt. We end our day with another Steelhead and two Coho. We hear another jetboat coming, its Barkely and his team they are very happy and excited as they arrive alongside our boat. Tales of monster Steelhead downstream are all we hear and we continue thru the nite with the party and cheers at Kitimat Lodge. We fish for Steelhead two more days and the Steelhead come to the fly and the spoon again and again, as well some nice Coho. Our trip is a success and below is the story of the record Steelhead told my the man himself Antti. I would like to thank the guys for the excellent trip and the class we showed while shooting this week. My young son sings this song he has learned from television and it was our motto, What's gonna work, TEAMWORK! It took a 4yr old boy to make us kids at heart to not only believe we could make it happen, and with a bit of luck it did happen.
Tracey John Hittel
Kitimat BC Canada
250 632-9880 hm.
250 639-4277 cell.
The story from Antti Pirinen who caught the Monster Steelhead
Regarding the Monster Steelie… I’ll share the story with you. You can think it is fucking weird but this is how it went:
When I started preparations for the trip I downsized all my expectations because that’s what I have learned about fishing trips. There was only one quiet dream inside me and it was catching a monster steelie of 30 lbs. Fishing was challenging and the Coho game wasn’t working properly, so it was a big relief for me that we changed our focus to steelhead. During the first steelhead day I fought with big fish, lost it and caught 15-16 lb fish. Pasi caught that 20 lb hog. I accepted that OK, Pasi´s fish will be THE fish of this trip and it went to right guy. I was truly happy about it.
Next steelhead day begins. We are driving from Kitimat to River X. Guys are partly sleeping, partly recovering from hangover. Barkley plays a CD with some mellow Tom Petty songs. We don’t need to say a word, we are connected and we feel good. I am in total peace and my confidence is growing, this is going to be great day no matter what happens. I even allow myself shortly think about my ultimate steelhead dream of 30 lbs. Then I shrug these thought away from my shoulders and just enjoy the moment. At the river morning is beautiful, glorious sun shine is warming body and soul. Our camera man Kossu has some shaman blood in his family. He sacrifices some beer to land, water and air. He pours beer under a rock, into water and throws it to air. We are all together in this game. This is our team and we function well.
In the first pool after some 50 yards of fishing I hook into first steelhead, nice hen and Barkley nets the fish with good confidence. Good start. After a short break I continue fishing the same spot because I have this feeling there is more to come. After reaching same sweet water I hook into another nice hen and we land it for some more photos and video footage. I am feeling humble and grateful for such a wonderful fishing. I feel this same water is holding a big buck. After fishing it thoroughly twice I know it is not interested in my egg pattern. I switch to big ugly blue, purple and red fly which I tied at the jet boat before we hit the first pool. I wanted to give it a try, it was made for this kind of occasion. I felt confident that this fly would explode aggressions of the bad boy of this pool. And it did, after few casts I hooked into a huge steelhead. Fish turned immediately upstream and pulled me into backing. Leader broke and I lost that fish. However I felt sincerely good because my strategy worked so well in this spot and I got that big boy biting my jet boat side tied fly.
Down stream Jani caught his first steelhead on the fly. He was in seventh heaven after trying hard for so many days. It was fantastic! After 12 pm fishing slowed down and nothing happened for more than two hours. We decided to move on. Barkley took us down to the parking lot pool. He was a bit sceptical about the place but we wanted to give it try because Tracey insisted so. I let Jani to choose his fishing water first and he took the upper section. I was happy because I wanted to fish the lower part anyways. In the beginning I wasn’t sure about the place but continued. Then my fly tangled with fly line and as I tried to roll cast it there was a steelhead following the fly. That was highly motivating sign for me. After some more casts I hooked into bright hen and we successfully landed her in bouldery water. Team was happy for all the good action. There was absolutely no pressure after such a great fishing day, no expectations left.
I had time to admire the beauty of this place. There was pure magic in the air. As my sight wandered the scenery I noticed two big eagles watching me from the tip of the trees. One was across the river and the other one down stream. They didn’t move and I could see their intense look when they stared to my direction. For me this was some kind of sign, very strong sign. I continued to comb the water, knowing that something would happen. And then it hit, monster Steelhead bite my small egg fly. He run down and across the river and made series of huge leaps to air. I was staring the fish with awe. There nothing small in this fish. From the first moment it was all brute power, monstrous proportions and rage. As it jumped again water splashed pure silver and bright pink. I managed to stop the run and started walking down stream under the fish to give him pull from other direction. It worked nicely and I could pull the fish from main current to slower water. I sensed his needs and gave him only the line he really needed. I didn’t want to give him another chance in fast water. Some more breath taking jumps at the close distance and we got him close enough for Barkley. I turned the fish and Barkley smacked this bad boy into net. We made it!
That was perfect day of steelhead fishing and we got it all on tape under the eyes of professional filming crew. Catching a big steelhead on a day like that is a gift and something to be appreciated. I discontinued fishing, knowing that what we just had experienced was just pure magic. God, if there is such thing was smiling at us.
Maybe it was Kossu´s sacrificing, maybe it was just luck. Nevertheless I know my own feelings and felt connected with the nature on that day. Having a day like that makes you think about life and it makes you feel genuinely humble. Thank you River X, thank you Mother Nature.
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Tracey Hittel //
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