H2O Magazine

Interview with Alberto Giovanelli - My first 1000 steelhead

Many of us have never seen 1000 steelhead, not even in photos. There is someone, however, who has caught this many, counted them and even taken a photo of most of them. He is Italian and his name is Alberto Giovanelli. Over the last twenty years, he has spent the month of October fishing in British Columbia. Let’s see if he will reveal some of his secrets…

Well then Alberto, what’s the exact number?

1346, to be precise.

When did you first go to British Columbia?

In September 1990, and from then on every year for about one month, in October. That’s 25 travels in total. We must keep in mind that October, until some years ago, used to be a full month. But now, as a result of the latest  regulations and limitations, fishing days are fewer. On the other hand, it must be said that, compared to some years ago, there are now more steelhead in the rivers and almost everybody practises catch and release.

Of course we would like to know which is your favourite fly and the technique you apply.

As for the fly, I’ve got a favourite one every year, which promptly won’t work  the year after, when I have planned to bring two boxes with me. I think that, in the end, the most consistent result is the imitation of a salmon’s egg.  The violet and black leeches never fail either. I always fish with one-hand rods that are quite long,  11 feet for 7, 8 tail. As for the tails, I would say the Teeny 130 and 200 and the Rio 150 work well.

You have known Canada for about twenty years now. Has fishing got better or worse over the last 10 years?

The fish have increased for sure, there is supervision and fishermen are quite fair too. Nevertheless, there are more poachers and almost nobody follows the “catch and release” rule. Wherever they fish, they leave very little behind. 25 years ago there was a more educational and respectful approach. The rivers have remained more or less unchanged in their structure, but over the years there has been a radical change in the fishing technique: you use lighter equipment and fish close to the surface. In this area there are 7 main rivers, every river is very different from another and the fish are morphologically different as well.

For example, a 1 meter fish in the Kispiox river can weigh over 10 kg, whereas in the Copper river it reaches 7.8 kg at most. Personally, I have caught the biggest steelhead in the Kispiox and in the Babine rivers, whereas in the Morice I caught over 400, but they were never longer than one meter…and there is a big difference between 90 cm and one meter!  Moreover, it must be said that it’s a very aggressive fish and it has often happened to me to catch the same fish twice on the same day.

Is there anything you don’t like in British Columbia?

Until recently, I liked everything. Now, non-residents cannot fish during weekends if they don’t stay in a lodge and don’t have a guide, even though I know the rivers better than many resident guides! However BC has a unique price-quality ratio, if you are not bound to a lodge and if you know the rivers.

Tell us an anecdote:

Once I was fishing in the Morice river at km 4 and, to help my friend Luca, I crossed the river downstream, which was a 2 km walk. After I had caught a couple of steelhead, two fishermen reached us. I went on catching other fish, so at some point they asked my friend if I was fishing with a worm. I furiously crossed the river right through the middle (“he’s crazy”, they must have thought).

Once I reached the other bank, I asked one of the fishermen to give me his fly. I moved about 50 meters away, where they had already been fishing, and I hooked 5! At that point the two fishermen apologized and left…

 What would you recommend to those who venture to British Columbia for the first time?

First of all, find someone who shows you the good pools. The rivers are very long (70, 100 Km) and each one has got good pools in every area, but fish keep moving. What makes the difference, is to know where to fish. There are long stretches of river where there may be no fish one week, but a lot one week after. It is essential to know the movements of the Steelhead. If you venture on your own, you risk losing too much time.

Are there any other places you would like to fish?

New Zealand, for the colour of the water and the way trout are fished there, as well as Iceland.


Thank you Alberto.

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