Steelhead Fishing on the Skeena River

Updated on March 8, 2018
steve-bc-ca profile image

Steve is currently a stay at home father and home taker. He enjoys playing in the sand, flying kites and spending time with his children.

Our Family Trip

My first steelhead of the year
My first steelhead of the year

I had another great fishing season in Hazelton this year. My family and I food-fished with dip nets on the Kitwanga River and smoked over 100 sockeye in the smokehouse. We did canned salmon, smoked salmon, and frozen half-smoked. And then I spent a week fishing and camping on the Skeena River. When I wasn’t fishing I was in my lawn chair under an umbrella watching others fish.

At the end of the trip I've fished so hard that my hands are blistered sore and stiff. The pain is worth every minute and when I get home I spend the rest of the year dreaming about the next trip and how one day I’ll move there.

I’m looking forward to my boys being big enough to salmon fish soon. Even though they’re not fishing the boys love the river too. They have their cousins to play with and they run up and down the river playing Lord of the Flies. If the kids do decide to fish I take them to the creek, where we fish for trout and pink salmon.

My Fishing Gear

I mostly fish with salmon eggs and use a float, unless I’m fishing for sockeye and bottom bouncing.

I’m usually fishing with one of my 10'6 Fenwick rods and a 6500 ambassador baitcasting reel. I use roe and a barbless 2 or 3 aught hook, on a 2-3 foot long leader, using 20 lb stern line. I run on average 9 feet of float.

The odd day I’ll fish for sockeye and use a 1-2 aught hook with wool. I’ll bottom-bounce using a three way swivel and a rubber led weight. The sockeye don’t go after roe in the river and they swim with their mouths open, so the trick is to snag them. I catch a lot of steelhead bottom-bouncing, but it's a lot of work casting and reeling in constantly. I enjoy float fishing more.

Steelhead

The boys playing with a steelhead we caught in the gill net.
The boys playing with a steelhead we caught in the gill net.

The steelhead trout is an endangered species, so in most places they are catch and release. You have to get a license to fish them and it costs about 20 dollars. Their lifespan is 11 years and they can reach up to 55 lbs in weight. Fishermen have nicknamed these beautiful fish the "river rockets" and having one on your line is a real thrill. I enjoy catching steelhead the most, but it's also good when your catching fish you can keep, especially when its a doe and you can top up your bait box. The biggest steelhead I’ve landed was 20-25 lbs and they average around 10lbs. Next year I’m confident I’ll get the big one!

Beautiful Country!

Smoking Our Salmon

Heres a look inside the smokehouse where we have our sockeye smoking. It takes a day to prepare and hang the fish and about 3 days to smoke them. We let them soak overnight before we clean them. My job is to watch the smokehouse and that's a lot of work, making sure the wood dosn't burn and keeping it smoking. The dip-netting, gill-netting, and smoking is the part of the vacation I don’t like and the sooner its over the happier I am. I get restless waiting to get my rod wet, but work first and play later. It's well worth the wait though, as I cook the half-smoked salmon for dinner at least once a week.

Some years we use the gill net to food fish and others the dip nets. This year we spent a day dip netting for the second year in a row and had much better results this time. The sockeye were bubbling and we’d dipped on average 10 at a time. It was a long day and lot of work packing fish but it was also a lot of fun. My wife's family really goes out of their way to make sure our freezer is full for the year, and I’m so grateful.

Jonah washing the fish
Jonah washing the fish

The People

Family on the Skeena River
Family on the Skeena River

One of my favourite parts of our vacation is the family and friends we get to spend it with. Family travels from all over to spend a few weeks together and the family that lives there is very hospitable. The people I meet when fishing are amazing. I love talking to the old pros getting tips and listening to their stories. One old timer in particular is 84 years old and is the first one in the river nearly every morning fishing like a 20 year old. Some days he visits our camp with his banjo. This year we spent two weeks in Hazelton, which has been our shortest trip yet, and it broke my heart having to leave.

Hazelton, BC, Canada

If you ever plan on visiting Hazelton make sure to bring lots of rain gear. We were very fortunate last year when it hardly rained for the two weeks we visited. Most years it rains nearly every day. A little rain doesn’t bother me when I'm fishing; it's only when the river gets muddy and begins to rise that I get upset. Depending on the weather the fishing can go from hot to cold overnight.

I live in the Okanagan where it's very hot and dry all summer, so going up north where it can get a little cold and wet in the summer is a big adjustment. The beautiful scenery, community and the fishing always make up for the rainy weather.

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, skyaboveus.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://skyaboveus.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)