Discovering New Waters || Heli-fishing with Northern Outback Adventures

"If there was a fish there, we walked our flies through their front doors, down the halls, around the living room and out the back door" -Kate Watson

I asked again slightly skeptical, slightly astounded, “sorry, how big are they?” It was about mid conversation, talking politics of conservation and deforestation in British Columbia’s northern interior, when I interrupted our local biologist talking to me about his latest project, tagging bull trout in the headwaters of a remote river. Questions began to pour out of me, asking if anyone has ever guided on it, or if it was even sustainable to allow for guiding, where are they spawning, how far up do they go, and could I be involved in the tagging project? We began to talk logistics; he assured me this system was stable and sustainable enough to expand our guiding outfit, Northern Outback Adventures, and that the headwaters had potentially never seen a fly before, unless of course someone flew in on their own dime. My mind raced, stirring with excitement and anticipation. Bull trout have typically been by-catch whilst steelheading, but this was a different fish, these were not just Bull trout, these were monsters, lurking in gin clear pools.

What felt like an eternity of emailing, coordinating schedules from across British Columbia, and Australia, and planning everything from transportation to flies, for fish who have possibly never taken a fly; what could be better than exploring new interior territory with three friends, April Vokey, Jeremy Koreski and Brandon Kelly. Arriving at the lodge, it is easy to see that we live life simply, but enjoy it to its fullest. Moose sheds hang off the sides of cabins, the smoke from the wood fired hot tub plumes into the setting light and the loon’s chorals echo across the lake.

That morning, filling our mugs with hot coffee and our plates with a full breakfast, we get the call; the fog hadn’t let off yet, forcing the pilot and us to wait it out. We put on a another pot and waited as nervousness, apprehension and the sanguinity of adventure lapped at the clock.