A First Timer’s Take on Fishing in Smithers

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Growing up, fishing was never a huge part of my life. The strongest memory I have of fishing is a family trip, a boat filled with kids and little fishing rods, and my dad with a screwdriver and fishing line. So to say I approached  the task of writing about fishing in Smithers as a rank neophyte would hardly be an understatement. Smithers is blessed with world-class fishing waters, and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed learning a little more about it. Follow along as I share my fishing adventures and tales, along with recommendations on where to fish.

The Coal Seams

Boat launch at end of Lunan Road in Smithers. Photo: Curtis Cunningham

Launching the boat at end of Lunan Road

My fishy adventures started early one morning at the boat launch found at the end of Lunan Road (two lefts after you cross the bridge heading out of Smithers). It was fun travelling upriver in my friend’s flat-bottomed boat, avoiding close-to-the-surface rocks and even watching some mule deer swim across the Bulkley River. Roughly 30 minutes later, we arrived at our destination, an area known as the Coal Seams.

Fly fishing at the Coal Seams in Smithers. Photo: Curtis Cunningham

Fishing at the Coal Seams

One of the first things my friend told me while I walked beside him on the rocks as he started casting was, “Don’t leave to go fishing expecting to catch something.” Just seconds later, his rod bent in protest and he proceeded to catch his first fish of the day. When things like this happen, he told me, nothing much else matters for the rest of the day.

Hooking a fish at the Coal Seams in Smithers. Photo: Curtis Cunningham

First fish of the day.

The natural beauty that surrounded us provided an amazing backdrop for our adventure, and the scenery is one of the main reasons my friend and so many like him enjoy fishing in Smithers so much.

Trout and Toboggan Creek

In late September, I was just getting out of my car at Eddy Park in Telkwa, less than 15 minutes from Smithers, to take some photos of Hudson Bay Mountain when a stranger who was just leaving greeted me. We got to talking and it turned out he was a blues musician from Chicago who was in Smithers to play some local concerts. His real passion though was fishing, and he proceeded to tell me about some of the fishing adventures he’d had and was planning to have over the coming week. I ended up going to his show that evening, and over the course of the next few days I ended up getting to know him a little bit, and apart from his music (which was great), I really got to know his passion for fishing. Before each show in the evening, he’d go out to various locations around Smithers and fish for a few hours, then he’d send me photos of his day. It was a great experience getting immersed a little bit more in the fishing culture this way, and hearing about a visitor’s perspective on why fishermen from across the continent (and even the world) keep coming back to Smithers. According to Keith Scott, the blues musician from Chicago, the confluence of Trout and Toboggan Creek and the Bulkley River is an excellent spot to cast your line.

Highlights from the Babine River in Smithers. Photos by Keith Scott

Highlights from the Bulkley River. Photos: Keith Scott

From Keith Scott’s journal: “20 kilometers (12.4 miles) or so south of Smithers, Trout and Tobaggan Creek enter the Bulkley River. This is good holding water for fall coho, steelhead and bulltrout; I caught my best fish of the trip here!”

Chapman Lake 

During his time in Smithers, Keith also managed to get to Chapman Lake, a popular fishing spot just east of Smithers where you can find lake char, rainbows and cutthroat, and fly fishing, spinning and trolling are all options.

Highlights from Chapman Lake in Smithers. Photos: Keith Scott.

Highlights from Chapman Lake. Photos: Keith Scott.

From Keith Scott’s journal: “At 38 kilometers (23.6 miles) down the Babine Lake Road sits Chapman Lake. The fall colors are brilliant, and the lake waters are crystal clear and filled with cutthroat trout. The outflow winds through brush and timber flowing over gravel bars and speaks loudly of bear and moose.”

So what did I learn about fishing in Smithers? I learned that getting up early is a way of life for those who like to fish. It’s no fun getting out to your favourite spot and finding some other angler already there. I learned that it’s important to have a good attitude, and to be open to the beauty and peace of the scenery that surrounds you when you’re standing in the water, often casting for hours; for without that, the days when you don’t get a bite can get awfully discouraging. Lastly, I learned that getting out and meeting like-minded people in the pursuit of a fish is a truly rewarding experience. The relationships you build out on the water help to make the time with a rod and reel that much more enjoyable. If you love fishing, I highly recommend a trip to Smithers.

Featured Photo: Catch of the day by Keith Scott.