We are excited to have 3 spots available at Steelhead Valhalla.
Prime Dates. October 2019.
Don’t hesitate to get in touch with us as these spots will fill up fast.
British Columbia is a special place to visit, especially if enjoy swinging a fly for steelhead. The mighty Skeena River and its tributaries provide some of the best opportunities to fish for big, wild steelhead in the world. For many years my friends and I have been fortunate enough to explore various waters along the Skeena system. Every year when I board the plane to leave BC for home I find myself already mentally planning my next trip.
Two seasons ago, in October 2016, I had the opportunity to host a group of anglers for a week on the legendary Sustut River, one of the uppermost, and perhaps the most remote of the Skeena tributaries. After that first trip I knew I had to come back to the Sustut, and made the necessary arrangements for fall of 2017 as soon as I was able. Now, with two trips under my belt, I’d like nothing more than to make this trip an annual pilgrimage.
To get to the Sustut we depart Smithers, BC on small plane with all of our gear and travel north for about 45 minutes. We land on a remote runway in the middle of the mountains and travel another 30 minutes on quads/four-wheelers to the remote lodge. Aptly named Steelhead Valhalla, the lodge is located right on the banks of the Sustut River, with an awesome piece of steelhead water running right in front of the cabins.
The river is spectacular and the fish that make it all the way to the Sustut are truly special. Neither photos nor words do them justice, but I will try my best. One often thinks of sheer size when they imagine steelhead. On the Sustut, 10 to 14 pound fish are common, and large males that tip the scales at and above the magical 20 pound mark are hooked and landed every year. But these fish are special regardless of size. They are summer run steelhead, and in October, they are full of the strength and vitality gained from multiple years at sea. In his unmatched work “Steelhead Fly Fishing”, Trey Combs reported that the steelhead of the Sustut are impressively robust regardless of their length and carry more weight than all other races of Skeena steelhead with the exception of the Kispoix River fish. Untainted by hatchery genetics, Sustut steelhead remain that way to this day. Their coloration varies from the bright chrome of the sea, to blushed pinks and iridescent teals on some of the hens, to deeper shades of red and olive on big mature bucks. Each fish is unique, they are all wonderful, and they are all very strong.
We approach the river mainly with wet flies in October, both unweighted and weighted, swung on either light sink tips or floating lines. Skating or waking dry flies does work on the Sustut as well, and one of our friends found success on the surface this past trip in water right around 40 degrees! That’s very cold: too cold for dry fly fishing on the rivers in the States, which makes me think we should be fishing more dries and tiny wets near the surface when we are up north in BC. As long as the water temps were on a warming trend, as they often are in the mid-afternoon, I think there is always a real chance of success on or near the surface.
One of the real joys of fishing the Sustut is the diversity of water types you can explore over the course of a day. We fish water ranging from broad, classic runs to slottier, pocket water and canyon sections. Every run provides a wilderness experience, surrounded by beautiful trees, wild animals, birds, and more.
Even deep in the wilderness, steelhead fishing is still a game where success is not measured in large numbers, and the catching depends on a sound mix of angler skill and probability. We fish hard each day for as long an as well as we are able, both to take advantage of our time there, and also to honor the steelhead, which deserve our best effort and utmost respect. Some days you return to the lodge with only stories and memories of a “pull” or two, a lost monster, or a black bear that walked by on the far bank. On other days everyone celebrates hooking and landing several fish.
What sticks with me most about this trip is the remoteness of this river. There is something really special about standing in a place few have been. If anyone wants to experience a true wilderness steelhead river this trip is a must!
And the best part of my experience, hands down has been the lodge staff and guides that make up the Valhalla Lodge team. They are among the best I have seen. As a guide myself, I really value guides that are so passionate about what they do, and also so knowledgeable about the nuances of their home water. That knowledge often makes the difference in steelhead fishing, because you spend your day concentrating your skill on the runs and buckets that are known to be A+ steelhead water.
I have been thinking and planning our next trip to BC (Fall 2018) since I got on that plane back to the US last month. I’ve even started a list of the flies and lines I want to be sure I have. I’m getting excited just writing about it! If anyone ever wants to visit with us about steelhead fishing, either in BC or the Pacific Northwest, please don’t hesitate to call or email. We are happy to do all we can to get you on the right track.
All the best,