"Suddenly things got a little western and the water was buckshotted with shot gun shells, as we came around the corner in little green inflatable rafts."
Autumn in the north is an assiduous time; a time when day light is a precious commodity and mornings are crisp with thin layers of frost and ice impinging the land in seemingly inconvenient ways. It is not a time of idleness nor fallow. The trees talk of change, and the stiffness begins to settle into our bones from the cold. It is a time when we busy ourselves preparing and gathering harvests for harsh winters, and stock piling wood for those cold nights. It is a season for hunters and gatherers and a time of prosperity and abundance, with salmon filling the rivers and forests scurrying with wild critters.
From across the continent in New York State, Jared Zissou, owner of Fly Lords landed in north central British Columbia, ready for two days of fishing on one of my favourite trout rivers. I had hired a local woman from this small community to shuttle us and our boats up river. She greeted us in true northern fashion; immediately asking if we could make room amongst our gear to collect a fox that had just been hit on the side of the dirt road so her and her husband could make use of the fur; "welcome to the north," I grinned. As we began to pump up the boats, the wind howled down the chute creating waves capped in white and forcing us to continue layering on down jackets. The water was low and clear and speckled red with tens of thousands of sockeye salmon.
Our bodies acted as sails sitting low in our Watermasters, with the wind pushing us back up the river, fighting the natural currents pulling us down. Nothing seemed to be in our favour, the wind, the cold nor the fish. I knew if we could get down river, we would find shelter from the wind tunnel and we would start finding fish, so we paddled, with the skin on our knuckles exposed to the air, white and beginning to crack under the cold front. Passing what seemed to be hundreds of thousands sockeye salmon below, we floated over what Haig Brown described as "the last true sample of immense natural abundance of the North American continent." Sockeye salmon flood the river, with large rainbows following suit to gorge on eggs; compelling the trout angler to follow their suit as well.