Flow like a river

Canada, Upper Copper | Canada

Catch the
brown trout

In September 2014, I experienced some truly exceptional moments on the Upper Copper, and I'm eager to recreate that experience.

The Upper Copper is a small river with an optimal size. I prefer broader rivers because there, with some intuition, you can locate the prime spots, and often, the bite comes where you anticipate it. The width is usually such that you can cast to the other side with a good cast. The water depth is often not much more than a meter. So, with a floating or intermediate shooting head and a longer leader, you generally have what you need. A shooting head with a light sink tip should suffice as well.

I've booked with Stan Doll of Skeena Wilderness Fishing Charters again, as I was quite satisfied last year and because Stan is a genuinely likable guy. I've also reserved my single room at his house. This year, I'm a week earlier. I'm hoping for better weather and wishing for a clear Kalum and Skeena River. Last year, these two rivers were, at times, unfishable due to high water or turbidity. I recall rain, rain, and more rain. I've planned my trip to have eight days of fishing, including five days with a helicopter.

Canada, Upper Copper | Canada
12. - 19. September 2014


Day 1 - 4


On the first fishing day, September 12th, I head to the Kalum. While the water isn't clear, it's fishable. It rains all day, so I hardly take out my camera. Consequently, there are no photos from this day. I catch two silver salmon and an old, unattractive king salmon, but unfortunately, no steelheads. The good pools and runs are filled with old kings, which isn't to my liking.


On September 13th, I go to the fairly clear Skeena with Stan's son. I'm not particularly fond of fishing large rivers. Cory takes me to a few promising spots, and I catch my first Skeena steelhead. The difference between a Skeena steelhead and one from a tributary is obvious: The fish in the Skeena are fresh, often just in the river for the first day, frequently covered in sea lice and full of fighting spirit. The fight is impressive, even though it's only a 4.5-kilogram fish. It's a shame that I don't get another steelhead opportunity on the Skeena in the following days to savor that experience.


On September 14th, I take a helicopter ride with guides Cory and Mike to the Upper Copper. There are two more helicopters there, and we spot two anglers with an inflatable boat. The weather is beautifully sunny. Due to the other anglers, not many spots on the Upper Copper are left unfished, but I still manage to catch four steelheads, losing two in the process. Naturally, I'm quite content with that.


 On September 15th, it's back to the Upper Copper. This time, I'm alone with Matt, the helicopter pilot, who's also a passionate and skilled steelheader. Another fantastic day! I catch five steelheads and lose three more!

Our Travel-Group


Day 5-8


On September 16th, I'm with Stan, Mike, and two Italians on the Lower Skeena. Unfortunately, I only catch a few cutthroat trout and dollies; there's no sign of steelhead biting. Mauro lands a beautiful steelhead and loses one.


 Since the Lower Copper was already turbid from the rain the previous day, we suspect the Upper Copper is also murky. Therefore, we fly to the Upper Nass, a location only accessible by helicopter. Mauro and Marco join me, with Matt as our pilot and guide. The Nass is a fantastic river with an ideal size, featuring picturesque runs. The first run we fish for over an hour yields no fish. We fly upstream and notice the river is becoming increasingly muddy. I manage to catch a very small steelhead, and that's it for the day. The river becomes almost unfishable; the weather has played a trick on us. Due to the lengthy flight time (90 minutes each way), the flight from Skeena to the Upper Nass is quite expensive. Next time, I'd consider bringing a tent and staying overnight.


On September 18th, I head to the Upper Copper again with Matt and Kelly (Stan's youngest son). Despite the relentless rain and the turbid Lower Copper, fishing at the Upper Copper is still somewhat feasible. The water is slightly murky but still fishable. Another helicopter from Smithers is already there. We decide it's better to fish lesser-known spots than to follow the other two helicopter groups. And so we do. We fish small runs and pockets, and to my delight, I catch six steelheads and lose three more during the fight.


On the last day, I want to visit the Upper Copper once more. In the morning at the helipad, we have to wait due to the fog. When it clears up a bit, we give it a shot, but as we fly over the confluence of Copper and Skeena, we turn around: The Copper is completely muddy. Back at the landing site, Cory picks me up and takes me to the Skeena, where I spend the final day with Stan and two Americans. To wrap things up, I might not have landed any steelhead, but I do manage to catch two silver salmon.


All images
of the trip

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    On the boat
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    Fishing Details
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    Top View
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    Have a Break
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    In Action
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    On the way
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    Great Nature
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    Starting an adventure
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    Upper Copper
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    Nice Catch