Whistler has always had a kind of appeal as a ski resort; the image of beers in hot tubs outside in the snow alongside the cutting edge of snowboarding certainly has its followers. Whilst I can ski, and was taught when quite young, I have to say it gets in the way of either back end or early spring salmon fishing, and frankly I am limited both by available holiday and funds as to what I can do.
On returning from a skiing holiday in Whistler, I got a very unusual call from my fishing buddy, Mr Cox. He was not full of how the snow was, but about the fact that even during the skiing season, you can catch steelhead in a ski resort. Unbelievable.
But as he talked, the more I thought about it, the more I thought what a great idea it was. I phoned up â€˜Brianâ€™ in the Whistler fly fishing shop. Now Brian is not normally the name you would associate with words like â€˜radicalâ€™ and â€˜far outâ€™, but it seems that fly fishing for steelhead in Canada is as cool as snowboarding off piste.
Brian seemed to think that my dates would be just fine for the steelhead. From what I could see, the numbers were a little like spring fishing in Scotland. The prices however were exceptional. A permit covered you for steelhead for a locality in any of the rivers, at a pretty nominal price compared to what we are used to.
I arrived at Vancouver around a month later. Zoom airlines stayed in business just long enough to offer me a very good fare, and Whistler has a backpackersâ€™ hostel. All cheap, so there was plenty of cash left to spend on guides and a hire 4wd. Which turned out to be the size of my flat. I opted to have a guide every other day for the week. When I was picked up by the radical dude who was guiding me, in a very functional 4wd pick up, I knew I was in for a treat. The ceiling was festooned with steelhead flies, and there were photos of fish all over. This was no Tweed ghillie. The half hour drive to the Squamish River was a delight of stories of big fish. Oh, and bears.
Yes, they were just about waking up. So my timing was great. Actually it was great, because as the days get warmer, the snow melts and the rivers can â€˜blowâ€™, our equivalent of a winter flood. I looked to be just about to miss this in most of the rivers by the skin of my teeth. And with the warmer weather also came the bears. To be continued…
Check back soon for part 2 of Salmon Fishing in a Ski Resort