H2O Magazine

British Columbia Fishing Travel Diary

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One of the most beautiful rivers 

One of the most beautiful rivers just 20 miles away from Downtown Vancouver. Whoever is passionate about fishing knows B.C.’s legendary waters, in particular those North of the region, such as the Steelhead rivers in the Skeena valley, where besides the Skeena, are other mythical rivers for fly fishing such as Kispiox, Babine, Copper, and Kalum river. On beautiful Vancouver island you find other legendary rivers such as Campbell river, the Gold River and in the centre of the island the prolific Stamp River. Not many are aware that one of the best locations for fishing in the pure wilderness is actually just a few kilometres from the beautiful Vancouver. Only 20 km away from downtown, going east towards Port Coquitlam, you reach one of the protected Regional Parks, Grand Narrow at Pitt Medow.

Pitt lake

From this area well known by bird watchers we depart with a fast motorboat and we cover 25 km of the spectacular Pitt lake. This lake of glacial origin is a tributary of the great Fraser river whose estuary on the Pacific Ocean is only some 10 km south of Vancouver. This renders the lake unique, with a powerful tide of salt water that raises the level, sometimes up to 5 feet. The lake is formed by water originating from the glacier of the Costal Range, that covers all of B.C.’s coast, from north to south.

On the other side of the lake you reach Alvin dock, it was once used by the logging companies that have been active here until 1993. Alvin village has his legendary history. Named after one of the major character of a small and not very successful local gold rush, the Slumack Gold Rush, that took place at the end of 1800, this small village came to be thanks to the mysterious and never found gold vein. At its peak splendour it counted just 200 souls, and became in mid 1900 a bustling working area for various logging companies, the last one, the Jones Timber, shut down in 1993. The village was then dismantled and those same logging roads that once connected the area directly to Vancouver where now taken over by the forest. From then on the area is slowly gone back to its role as frontier town, with very scarce human marks. In this paradise with such old Far West stories, flow a spectacular and prolific middle size river, the upper Pitt River. It can be drift with inflatable rafters for 25 km in this uncontaminated area  flowing through a sequence of large pools, between beautiful valleys of thick green grass and high canyon, made of clay sculpted by the force of the river. At its sides are stunning white peaked mountains. 

Super Sockeyes, Bull trout, and Rainbow Leopard trout.

This river is home of some of the healthiest and numerous species of trout and salmons of the region. Besides the beautiful Rainbow trout, here named Leopard trout due to their special coating, we find large size Dolly Varden, Bull trout and large local Sockeye salmon. Due to particular environmental conditions, both the Bull Trout and the Sockeyes are here of exceptional size and extremely tenacious.   Particularly those trout that swim up river in June/July reach up to 10/12 pounds, and Sockeyes can even reach 18/20 pounds.

These Sockeyes from Pitt River have some genetic differences from the others that return in different Fraser tributaries. At the time of  going upstream to spawn , infact, their return occurs when they are 4 years old and not the usual 3 as other sockeyes. Besides them, we find all the other species of salmon, except Chum, such as Pink, King and Silver who also in great numbers return up this great river.

Geraks Pine Lodge and the guides of their charter.

Situated in this paradise, untouched by man,  the only construction is a characteristic fishing lodge  named after the river. The history of this lodge is tied with Far West tales of this area, such as the next to last owners who won the property at a hand of poker. From 1988 the Gerak family has taken over this

Lot by building a large lodge, which the young Dan Gerak and his wife have in 2000 transformed in the only fishing lodge of the area . Dan, in love with “his” river, has been struggling for years with the local administration in order to maintain this area “a paradise”, trying to avoid arrival of full civilization with its hotels, restaurants, roads and has so far succeeded. His knowledge of the river united to an extensive fishing experience, due to his previous job as a professional fisherman in the Fraser river, enabled him to set up an efficient and experienced charter service for sport fishing. This service is based on a group of extremely expert local guides, led by Dan, equipped of boats and rafters complete with radio telephones. Tools useful to communicate between fishermen to get knowledge who is doing better catch, but also for unexpected emergencies, as the fishing is in complete wilderness. With the rafters these expert guides go down almost 30 km of the upper Pitt River giving their clients truly unforgettable days of fishing.

Fish on! a never ending sequence of great catch.

Lets begin by saying that the Upper Pitt River is a river ruled by catch & release and single barbless hook . Besides fishing in the higher stretches, we have even fished pool only 5 minutes away from the lodge, hooking giant Rainbow trout measuring up to 50 cm..In two days we drifted on the river, with rafters, more than 20 km down this extraordinary river, taking photographs and fishing. At times stopping at the shore with beautiful pools such as Canyon Pool and other time fishing on the run while descending, enjoying ourselves by throwing the spoons inside the pools that we found at the sides of the river run. Alexey one of the youngest, yet expert, guide, enabled us to very numerous catches. An average of a Rainbow or a large Bull trout, every two or three pools. But the most exhilarating experience comes from Fly fishing which in this river reaches its greatest expression.

Silver gave in with yellow streamer Brazilian style

As we stopped at some larger stretches of  the river we often targeted Coho going upstream who got caught by our yellow and green streamer. In some stretches during the season of first run upstream and during the summer, when water was scarce, the activity of the Silver is concentrated on the central area of the river. This is the way the Silver feel more secure and swim swiftly up river. Only with the action of a heavy sinking line can have good chances of interception. We have used streamers in the shape of a big shrimp of diverse colours, from dark pink, purple, to  yellow-green.

As Dan Gerak loves to repeat: the fishing seasons on the Pitt River never ends. Besides the summer you can fish in October/November with clear water and low levels. You can also fish in February/March with the first Steelheads and again, the big fishing season restart between April, June, July with large Bull trout and abundance of Salmon, once again to complete an exciting cycle in one of the last paradise next to civilization.

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