Exploring British Columbia: Fly Fishing on the Skeena River

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Andre Jr. Ayotte’s adventures are guided by his rod and reel. His search for the perfect cast – and the perfect catch – has taken him across Europe and Iceland, and from the California Sierras to Quebec’s Gaspé Peninsula. His journey to Northern BC in search of the legendary steelhead was no less epic: he travelled almost 5,000 km (3,107 mi) from his home in Toronto, Ontario, for the chance to fish the Skeena River. “It’s part of my goal in life, as a flyfisher,” he says, “to catch a BC steelhead.”

Andre on the dock at Dennis Lake, near Smithers, BC.

Andre on the dock at Dennis Lake, near Smithers, BC.

Andre’s quest would not surprise anyone with a passion for fishing. “A steelhead is so magnificent on the fly, it’s very aggressive,” he explains. “It’s such a tough fish to catch. You come with the hope to hook one, but even if you don’t, it’s the whole experience. Prepping for the trip, being in the wild, hanging out with good friends, sharing moments. And if you get lucky, you’ll catch one.”

By day, Andre, 31, is an entrepreneur and co-founder of JM & Sons, a furniture maker. Fishing has always been in his blood. “I learned to fly-fish with my dad, my mom and my sister, so it’s moments I’ve been sharing – with my father especially – since the age of 9. Fishing reconnects me with my roots, it reconnects me to my family and friends, and gives me balance.”

Andre makes a cast near Smithers, BC.

Andre makes a cast near Smithers, BC.

He found visiting BC’s pristine northern wilderness a way to escape the stresses and distractions of daily life. “It’s very peaceful. It’s just the river flowing, the sound of the line coming through the rod and reaching that perfect spot that you’re aimed at, just as you visualized.”

A boat along the Skeena River in Northern BC.

The Skeena River in Northern BC.

While in Northern BC, Andre stayed in Terrace and Smithers, and did guided fishing on the Skeena River while staying at Skeena Spey Lodge. “The communities in Northern BC are definitely part of nature,” he says. “It’s nice chatting with people who share the same common ground in terms of what they appreciate in life, such as being in the wild, being exposed to beautiful mountains, rivers and wildlife.”

At the end of his visit, Andre appreciated the steelhead all the more, after landing two fish that both got away. “Not only would I come back, I would stay,” he laughs. “It’s hard to leave.”

Watch the video of Andre’s trip:

Plan your own fishing trip in Northern BC on HelloBC.com