Move over birdwatching. Fly–fishing is having its moment. You know something is suddenly hip when Brooklyn has its own urban fly–fishing club. It’s easy to see why the sport is surging in popularity and spawning a dedicated new following – a day on the river spent wading currents, selecting that perfect fly and casting elegant lines is equal parts meditative, challenging and creative. Getting a fish to strike is exhilarating, but the soul of the sport lies deeper. It’s in the experience of being literally immersed in nature and sharing a deep connection with your surroundings. Fly–fishing also offers up community, camaraderie and endless new frontiers to explore, like the world–renowned, pristine trout and salmon rivers of B.C. They are an angler’s paradise. Here are the bucket–list waters you will want to hit with rod in hand. So, throw that “Gone Fishin’” sign on your door and head west.
These fly–angling spots are the reel deal.
Fly–fishing in Revelstoke, B.C. —While Revelstoke is legendary as a destination for skiing lines in winter, it’s also gaining status as a mecca for casting lines when the snow melts. Within 50 kilometres of town, you will discover over 200 rivers, creeks and streams swirling with rainbow trout, bull trout and kokanee salmon. To access prime holes way off the beaten path, let Ken Bibby, owner and operator of Stonefly Guiding Company, take you there, whether it’s by foot, boat or helicopter.
Adams River. Photo: Wikimedia Commons
Fly–fishing in Adams River, B.C. —If chasing rainbows (of the trout variety) is your thing, then point your rod toward the Adams River in the B.C. Interior. In the fall these shimmering beauties follow the sockeye salmon’s run on the river and feed on their eggs. Be prepared for some serious fish envy from your friends, since pulling in 100 trout in a day isn’t uncommon on the Adams. Let the gang at Trout Waters Fly & Tackle shop gear you up to reel them in.
Fernie. Photo: Tourism Fernie
Fly–fishing in Fernie, B.C. —Fernie’s moniker of “Trout Town” is well–deserved. The nearby Elk River is considered one of North America’s finest dry (when the fly floats on the water’s surface) fly–fishing destinations. With its clear–as–gin, trout–filled waters, the Elk and its tributaries are an angler’s utopia. While you’re busy casting for rainbow or bull trout, don’t forget to soak up the pristine backdrop of the Rocky Mountains. The Kootenay Fly Shop or St. Mary Angler in nearby Cranbrook are your one–stop spots for guides and gear.
Skeena River, Terrace. Photo: Province of British Columbia
Fly–fishing in Terrace, B.C. —Terrace is located on the banks of the mighty Skeena River, home to some of the best salmon and steelhead returns in the world. This area is blanketed by a mist–shrouded, ancient cedar and hemlock temperate rain forest and marked with cascading, braided waterfalls. Each sensory detail hits the right ambient notes for a perfect day on the river. Monster fish get pulled from the Skeena. To help you hook one, connect with Darren and Missy at Steelhead House, your dialed–in boutique guides for the Skeena and Kitimak rivers. Make the Skeena River Lodge your home off–river, where in a hot tub under the stars, you can soak away those sore forearms from a day of reeling in beasts.
Headwaters of Dean River in Bella Coola. Photo: Wikimedia Commons
Fly–fishing in Bella Coola, B.C. —Located in the heart of the Great Bear Rainforest, the Bella Coola Valley is deep, lush and surrounded by towering snow–capped mountains. Home to some of the most stunning scenery in the country, it’s the ideal setting for that trophy fish photo. The storied Dean River (just north of the community of Bella Coola) is renowned for steelheads. While you’re waist deep casting its waters, be sure to keep an eye open for others fishing, like grizzlies and black bears. The Blewett family of the Lower Dean River Lodge have been guiding this river for over 50 years. Big fish make better fish stories, and their lodge’s dining room is the perfect setting to tell them, while sampling the region’s finest farm– (and river–) to–table cuisine.
Campbell River. Photo: Dolphins Resort
Fly–fishing in Campbell River, B.C. —There’s not a bad time of year to wade into Vancouver Island’s Cowichan River, designated a Canadian Heritage River. Depending on the season, anglers are rewarded with rich pockets of rainbow, brown and cutthroat trout, as well as steelhead and salmon. A day of casting for the big one can work up a fierce appetite. Aprés fish, head to the Anglers Dining room at Dolphins Resort in Campbell River for its upscale Pacific Northwest cuisine and spectacular ocean views.