Steve Kyle fishes for legendary steelhead in British Columbia

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My ace steelhead correspondent Steve Kyle sent me the following report this week:

“Greetings from Smithers, British Columbia, where the people are kind, polite, interested in what you have to say and if you let them, will treat you like family.

“Along with this delightful populace and a jaw-droppingly-beautiful alpine environment, Smithers is ground zero for anyone who wants a shot at catching a wild steelhead. Within a short drive, you can fish some of the major tributaries of the Skeena River system. It is the ‘super highway’ for salmon and steelhead in this part of the world. Come fall, every species of salmon and wild steelhead returns from the ocean to begin the spawning cycle.

“Fellow Sonoman Steve Starke joined me for three days of fishing on the Morice and Bulkley rivers. Steve and I managed to land five in the 32-inch size range.

“Next, I head into the bush for a week on the Sustat River, a stream so remote that you can only access it by small bush plane and what looks like an even smaller dirt air strip.

“I’m seeking Walter, the legendary fish of On Golden Pond. Up here, Walter would come in at more than 40 inches and weigh more than 20 pounds. A couple of years ago I came close with a steelhead that was 39-1/2-inches long. It still needed a half-inch to be called a Walter.

“Weather has been pretty good but the area needs rain. Temps are cold and trending colder, with this morning reading a tropical -2º. Some might say that’s a bit extreme for wading in rivers but the water is warmer and with enough warm clothes, anything is possible.

“Some gear notes: For those of you who walk and wade streams and rivers, check out Rock Treads ( I think Leland’s ( carries them online. After years of slipping and falling in these cold rivers, I found Rock Treads and they are the most awesome non-slip wading boot studs you will ever find. Honest. After three days of wading on some slippery rocks, I stayed dry the entire day. These things are that good.

“If I get lucky enough to find Walter on the Sustat, I will let you know.”

Locally, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife will be planting rainbow trout in Santa Rosa’s Lake Ralphine starting Oct. 28. Rainbows will also be going into Marin’s Bon Tempe Lake and the East Branch of the Russian River above Lake Mendocino.

Keith Fraser of Loch Lomond Bait and Tackle in San Rafael says fishing continues to be very good in the Bay for salmon near California City, for halibut near Red Rock and the Sisters, and everywhere for striped bass. Call Keith at 415-456-0321 for the most current report.

Capt. Rick Powers of Bodega Bay Sportsfishing is having another fantastic week of combo trips for his clients, bringing home limits or near limits of king salmon virtually every trip, along with limits of rock fish and lots of ling cod. He added the weather has been nearly flat calm and beautiful. Call Rick at 875-3344 to book a trip.

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