My parents are very supportive of me fly fishing but have never had the patience required, trout farms in Devon aside. This meant I learnt to fish under the supervision of family friends, more recently my friends, and when travelling expanding my knowledge by using guides. As a result I am usually the least experienced rod and am told how and where to fish with what set up etc.
Today however would be different. When my friend Rory’s stag do Cat-Skiing trip was cancelled I thought this would be suitable alternative. He had never been fly fishing but mentioned he was keen to try so off to the Squamish we were going. It was still a guided day, so I wasn’t completely in charge, but on the way I got to share my knowledge and for once answer questions rather than ask!
We met Pat, who I have fished with a few times, on the Lower Squamish, wadered up and set off in his jet boat. Rory would be targeting trout with the possibility of a Steelhead, whereas I would be continuing the Steelhead mission.
I love fishing the Upper Squamish but with the conditions Pat thought the best chance for Rory would be on the lower section. No complaints as I haven’t fished the lower as thoroughly and it is still a beautiful section of river. Additionally I feel I am nearly ready to fish the Squamish alone so the more exposure the better!
Unlike my last trip in March we were lucky with the weather and treated to a beautiful sunny day, which combined with good water visibility meant confidence was high. My fly tying is coming along nicely and Pat gave them the green light as he sent me off to fish the tail of the first pool. While I started fishing Pat was giving Rory his introduction to casting as they worked down towards a very trouty looking log.
While fishing I kept one eye on the casting progress and it was frustratingly successful. It took me years to get even vaguely successful at casting but Rory was getting the hang quickly. They were trying both singel handed casting and Spey casting and while the distance wasn’t always reliable Rory was covering the water. Unfortunately the fish weren’t playing ball. Pat even tried some very targeted nymphing under the tree but either the fish weren’t there or they weren’t hungry.
After a fair crack we moved on to a second pool slightly upstream. Pat dispatched to the top of the beat while he and Rory fished the bottom.
I fished the riffle and the seam, where Steelhead supposedly sit (I still don’t know for sure), before moving down to the slower water. I was a couple of casts from going to check in with Rory when on the swing I got the unmistakable feeling of fish on. Immediately it was obvious it wasn’t a monster but a fish is a fish. It swam towards me which made keeping the tension tricky, forcing me to run backwards out of the river. This commotion caught Pat’s eye and he jumped in the boat and came haring upriver. It clearly looked more dramatic than it was and he slowed as he realised from the lack of splashing and my reaction it wasn’t a Steelhead
I maneuvered the fish to the shallows so I could safely unhook him without the risk of escape. After a quick photo he was safely on his way.
Not the fish I was after but always nice to experience the fight and get a fish on the bank. The problem was my priority was getting Rory a fish and so far they weren’t being very nibbly.
Shortly after we moved upstream above the areas I knew, I guess to the upper Lower Squamish, close to where the Cheakamus River comes in. It wasn’t the largest spot but had a great head and tail, with a nice central holding pool for trout.
As usual I took the tail and Rory the pool where he finally encountered some action. Within his first 20 casts he had 3 nibbles. Unfortunately none of them set but at least it was some excitement. We both fished through a couple of times but it turned out those where the chances on offer. I am used to fishing alone or with a guide, which I enjoy, but it made a nice change fishing within speaking distance of a friend.
We had fished hard which meant we had a time for a couple more spots. At this point I was more interested in fishing with Rory, hoping to be there for his first fish, and followed him down through the pools. There wasn’t much to report apart from Rory locating some sinking sand, catching a few trees and laughing with Pat how quickly Rory had adopted the pose of the expectant fisherman, bent over holding rod and line, coiled like a snake waiting to strike on the swing or strip.
We tried one last spot giving me the opportunity to test one of my super heavy flies in some deeper faster water. The fly looked delicious so there can’t have been any fish as they wouldn’t have been able to resist. At least my fly tying is coming along with some more advanced variety and styles.
Finishing the pool brought another beautiful, very hot and sunny, day on the Squamish to a close. Unfortunately Rory didn’t get his fish but he appeared to enjoy his day. Casting is hard work and he seemed to appreciate that fly fishing isn’t all about fish, and a major part is enjoying the wilderness and process. While I don’t think he will be rushing to join me on my fishing adventures he did mention he would join me on a day this summer and enjoy the wild as we switch in and out.
Some company appeals as it was a great change fishing with a friend but unfortunately, like most activities in British Columbia, fly fishing has high entry costs which prevents people from easing in to it. Here most my friends seem to ‘waste’ their money on ski touring kit than than fishing kit. What can you do…?
I don’t currently have any further fishing planned for this summer, triathlon is taking center stage again, but I’m sure I will go back in the Summer/Autumn for the Pink and Chum salmon runs. Maybe Rory will be able to join me on that adventure in pursuit of his first fish. I feel the odds would be way higher if he had been able to catch a fish though, as that is how to get people hooked!