Tips and Tail Outs
Mission Accomplished - Oscar's Adventure Travel
Approximately one year and a half ago Alex and I set out to be the first Adventure Travel booking agency in the North. Beginning with Adventure Fish and then last winter with the introduction of Adventure Ski and now this summer with the completion of Adventure Play, we are happy to announce that we have come full circle and completed the “Construction Phase” of what is Oscar’s Adventure Travel. As always things take a little longer than you plan and there are always hurdles to jump and obstacles to overcome but at the end of it all we are very happy with our finished product and we hope that all of you will be as well. Now we can concentrate on the task at hand. Promoting the North and bringing people to our backyards to see and experience first hand the incredible place we live in.
Please take a moment to check out our new and recently completed website – www.oscarsadventuretravel.com. This address will take you to our landing site and depending on what type of adventure you are looking for – Fishing /Skiing /General Adventure, you will click on the appropriate link. We are very excited to now be able to say that we represent all of the premier Adventure Operators in the North. Take some time to explore the site and if you have any questions please do not hesitate to ask. We will be updating the site regularly and try and make every visit to the site a new one with regular updates, information and blog posts.
In addition to Adventure Travel we now also have an accommodations section. We have taken the time to find the best properties in the Valley and have secured attractive and exclusive rates solely available to Oscar’s Customers. Lastly, We are also doing property management. If you have a recreation property in the area and are looking to make a little extra money from renting it let us know. We will do our best to promote it for you.
The Crew @ Oscar’s Adventure Travel
What's Ahead - 2013
WHAT’S AHEAD FOR OSCAR’S ADVENTURE TRAVEL – 2013
Oscar’s Adventure Travel had a great inaugural season. With the launch of our FISHING website we were able to book many successful fishing trips with the many great lodges we represent here in the North and accomplished all of the goals we had set out for ourselves. As well as our week long lodge trips we also had great success with our DAY TRIPS for Trout, Salmon and Steelhead and are looking forward to repeating all these bookings and more for the 2013 season. It may seem like the fishing season is a long ways off but it will be upon us again before we know it. Truthfully speaking it is here already with fishing options being available 365 days a year here in the North.
Winter Steelhead Fishing @ Copper Bay Lodge
At Copper Bay Lodge, steelhead trips run from November 14 until March 31. Copper Bay Lodge is a small lodge catering to anglers looking for something different from larger steelhead camps. There are only four guests per week in camp which allows for a customized fishing experience. When fishing some of the smallest creeks each guest will have their own guide. If you love to catch wild steelhead you will want to fish the Queen Charlottes.
Dates: January - March
Price: 6 days / 7 nights - $4100.0 CDN + Taxes
Spring Steelhead Fishing With Nicholas Dean Outdoors
Starting in mid March and going until the end of May, you will find pools that are low and clear and loaded with winter run holdovers, fresh spring run chromers and a few dark fall run Steelhead. In most cases, these fish will chase down your fly and strike solidly, so hold on. There is also the opportunity to catch some different species during this time of the season, including fresh run spring Chinook which start to show up in mid-April. Fishing for Spring Run Steelhead is an adventure that should be on every ones must do list.
Price: 5 days / 6 nights - $4150.00 CDN + Taxes
Spring and Summer Trout and Salmon Fishing @ Bulkley Base Camp
How many places can you go in the world and say that you have caught a trophy Chinook Salmon and a Trophy Rainbow Trout all in the same week. Now you can with Frontier Farwest Lodge’s all new Bulkley Base Camp. Every year as salmon pour into north central BC waters, fishermen from around the world hit the rivers in pursuit of a king salmon. We are fortunate enough to have a river that gets a very large run of chinook salmon with zero guided pressure. This is in fact the Morice River, and we are the only guides on it. It runs quite clear in the spring run off and actually takes 30% of all chinook that enter the Skeena River, over 10 000 chinooks. This is a staggering amount of fish in a small picture perfect river for fly fishing. When fishing the Morice River we strictly use flies. We can utilize our lodge on the upper Morice (Morice River Lodge) depending on where the fish are at. We also have a camp on the Kitimat river which we fly to and spend the night fishing 2 full days for chinook that are tide fresh. Along with this excellent salmon fishery we also hit world renowned Rainbow Alley which is a great trout fishing river in between 2 lakes.
Price: 6 days / 7 nights - $3500 to $4500 CDN + Taxes (Depending on number of flyouts)
Note: Frontier Farwest & Bulkley Base Camp also offer day trips for both Salmon and Trout. Please inquire about dates and prices.
Summer Steelhead Fishing @ Nicholas Deans Summer Camp
Starts in late July and goes until the middle of September. This season is characterized by strong runs of Steelhead straight out of the ocean that have hit the river for the first time this season. They are fresh, aggressive, white chrome and viciously attack your fly. These are the hottest steelhead you will find anywhere. It is not uncommon to get knuckle busted and have your reel warped and emptied by a Skeena Steelhead many times a day. These fish are mostly bound for the Kispiox, Babine, Bulkley, Sustut, Morice, and Copper Rivers the difference is, you get to catch them before anybody else does. On the main stem Skeena, it is not uncommon to hook many steelhead in a day, landing them is another story. The weather this time of year is beautiful, you can start out in the morning with polar fleece on and by noon be in your Gortex waders, rolled down to your waist and a T Shirt, fishing in 75 Fahrenheit plus weather. We see multiple plus 80 F degree days so bring your sun screen.
Price: $2750.00 CND + Taxes
Steelhead Fishing Day Trips with Frontier Farwest & Oscar’s Adventure Travel
Jim Britton and Derek Botchford will be once again working together for the 2013 season to help promote local fishing opportunities in and around the Bulkley Valley. Together they will continue to provide innovative fishing programs. Join veteran guide Jim Britton on the Bulkley River where wild steelhead move through some of the worlds finest fishing waters. Let us show you why B.C.’s wild steelhead are considered the strongest fish in freshwater, and why the town of Smithers is the place to be.
Dates: August - November
Price: Starting @ $550 PP + Taxes
Custom Trips With Oscar’s Adventure Travel
As well as the above trips we also offer a wide range of other lodge adventures but for those who are looking for something a little more adventurous than the typical structured fishing vacation we are happy to announce that for this year we will also be offering CUSTOM TRIPS. What’s a custom trip you ask? A custom trip is a trip that we tailor to your every need and will allow you to experience multiple fisheries in a one or two week stay. Please see below a sample itinerary:
Day 1 – Arrive in Smithers B.C.
Day 2 – Fishing the Bulkley River with Jim Britton & Frontiers Farwest
Day 3 – Heli Fishing the Coppoer River with Keith Douglas
Day 4 – Taveling to Bell 2 Lodge in your pre-arranged rental vehicle and fishing the Cranbeery, Meziadin and Bell Irving Rivers.
Day 5 – Returning to Smithers fishing the Cranberry, Meziadin and Bell Irving Rivers.
Day 6 – Fishing the Morice River With Ray Makochuk
Day 7 – Fishing the Bulkley River With Denise Maxwell
Day 8 – Depart Smithers B.C.
These trips are totally customizable and can be set up to allow you to do most of it on your own but with the convenience of us arranging rental vehicles, accommodations and water craft for you or as well we can set it up so that you are guided somewhere different everyday by some of the best guides in the business. The choice is yours!
2012 Fishing Season Recap
2012 Fishing Season Recap
There you have it. Just as quickly as it came it has come to an end and our first fishing season operating as Oscar’s Adventure Travel has come to an end. We are happy to report that it was a successful year on many fronts. Both fishing and business wise.
We began our season with some Trout fishing trips to Babine Lake and the world famous Rainbow Alley with Outfitter Frontier Farwest Lodge. Derrick and his crew did a great job in doing whatever they could to get the fisherman into some first class trout fishing. They started the season working the yearly smelt migration that always produces trophy fish in the 20 plus inch range. By mid June the smelt migration was coming to an end but then we had the Stonefly hatch that when hit right can only be described as epic. We are already looking forward to next season and working with Frontier Farwest again. We are planning on putting together some over night trips to the Ally so book now because space will be limited.
Trout season transitioned into Chinook Salmon fishing nicely this year although we had a bit of a slow Chinook season. The reason was two fold. We had a later and smaller than normal run and then had later and higher than normal run off which meant they were hard to get to. Once again the Frontier Farwest Crew did a great job and with less than stellar conditions always found the clients fish. For next season we will be offering along with our day and week long salmon fishing excursions a combo Rainbow Alley and Kitimat Chinook Salmon fishing trip that will be a blast.
Steelhead season started early for us this year with us doing a hosted trip to Terrace with Nicholas Dean Lodge. I had never fished for Steelhead this early, mid August, and was excited for the potential and I was not disappointed. I have never caught steelhead that pulled this hard before. Being only 5 to 30 miles from the salt water and many of them still having sea lice meant we were in for some incredible battles. As well as hooking into multiple Steelhead everyday we also hooked countless Coho, Sockeye and Pink Salmon. All chrome bright fresh and mean. What a great experience. We will be hosting another trip for this Aug. so please do inquire and we will answer all you questions. This is a great trip for younger anglers or people just learning to fly fish as there are so many fish the action is none stop.
After having a short break we began our Fall Steelhead season around Smithers, offering Day Trips out off the shop guided by Jim Britton or Maxwell Steelhead Guides. What a season it was. With memories still fresh in our mind about the tough water conditions of the previous year our hopes where high and we where not to be disappointed. We had a strong early return of fish and this meant great catches right from the get go. As early as the 20th of August I was out with my son and having multiple hook-ups. Fishing stayed great right up until……..That’s right there is always something………about the 20th of October and then that’s when mother nature took it at us. Winter had arrived. We had a 10 day period where the daytime temperatures did not rise above 0 and as a result the fish went down and didn’t want to budge for the fly. There was a day here an a day there where it would show promise again but it just never really turned on again. I have always said that Steelhead is never a season it is a lifetime of experiences put together as one.
Oscar’s Source For Adventure and Oscar’s Adventure Travel were able to end the fishing season with a great honor. We were awarded the Most Innovative New Business of the Year by Northern BC Tourism. What a way to finish up our inaugural season. That said there will be no rest for us. We will be launching our new Oscar’s Adventure Travel Ski site in a matter of days and are super excited about all of the possibilities this is going to bring us. Stay tuned for updates on this and as well the many new fishing packages we are going to be offering for the 2013 season. See ya on the water/ and on the slopes!!!!
Fishing Fry For Rainbow Trout
Fishing Fry For Rainbow Trout By Derek Botchford Frontier Farwest Lodge
There are many great trout fisheries in BC based on salmon including the renowned Chilko and Stellako fisheries. However in the Bulkley Valley we are blessed with the Rainbow Alley fishery located on Babine Lake, only an hour away from the town of Smithers (when roads are good). It is a small river in between Babine Lake, and Nilkitwa Lake and is actually considered to be the upper Babine river in the fishing regulations.
Although the make up of Rainbow Alley is very unique to BC, small salmon based rivers in between lakes are very common to the north in Alaska. Kulik, Ugashik, Brooks, and Agulapak are all legendary rivers that have a similar make up to Rainbow Alley. Extremely short rivers that facilitate massive migrations of sockeye salmon, which in turn create an incomparable quantity of food sources for the trout that live there.
Babine Lake is about 500 km upstream from the ocean and drains through Nilkitkwa Lake and Babine River into the Skeena River. Babine Lake is the rearing area for the second largest sockeye salmon population in British Columbia (although this run is predominantly man made).
This man made sockeye run was created (enhanced) by the Babine Lake Development Project in the 60’s and consists of two spawning channels on Fulton River, one channel on Pinkut River and flow control on both rivers.
Babine Lake has the largest sockeye stock in the Skeena River system, usually comprising more than 80% of the Skeena Run. Total spawners ranged from 60,000 to 910,000 before enhancement and 265,000 to 1,235,000 since the construction of the spawning channels at Pinkut and Fulton streams. This number is a bit skewed from the huge commercial fishery at the mouth of the Skeena River.
This man made run is also very controversial as it has really changed the political landscape of the relationship between DFO, commercial fisheries, and sports fisherman. Steelhead bi catch while commercial fishing for sockeye are a hot button topic in the region.
What this man made run has meant to the rainbows is an enormous supply of food right at there fingertips.
Traditionally Rainbow Alley is a fishery that starts with the big sockeye fry migrations at the end of May. The rainbow trout that live in Babine Lake, and Nilkitkwa Lake ease into this small narrow section of river to feed heavily in the spring, and put on some much needed weight after a long winter. There is no specific date to hit this magical time but it can occur anytime from the ice melt off until the end of june.
Most fry migrations from spawning areas to nursery lakes take place in the spring, when harsh winter conditions in lakes are moderating and the growing season is beginning. The time of smolt migration is correlated closely with latitude: migration is earlier in southern streams than in northern streams. Since 2012 was a bit of a late spring, the big fry migration seem to start in mid June, which is considered to be a couple weeks late.
The smolt exodus is rapid and regular in single-lake systems but irregular and extended in multilake or multibasin systems. Babine smolt are considered a mutillake system as they have to navigate both Babine lake and Nilkitwa. This makes this run irregular and extended. The migration on the Babine can last well into July. Most migrations commence as water temperatures near 40 F and are over when temperatures approach 50 F.
Migrations of smolts and especially fry are mainly confined to the darkest hours of the night. Underwater observations of smolts at night during migration show that they are schooled, travel in the upper water levels in shallow rivers and deeper (but not near the bottom) in deeper rivers, and usually face downstream and swim as they migrate.
The reason to travel at night during migrations, is that fry and smolts are both often subjected to an intense predation by birds and fish. As they swim through the lake they are in essence a shmorgishborg of food for predatory fish such as Lake Trout, Bull Trout, White Fish, and Rainbow Trout. It is basically running a gauntlet.
Since Rainbow Alley is shallow, the fry tend to be up very high in the water column. This explains why fishing floating lines, and fishing early or late in the day is almost always the most effective way to fish the fry migration at Rainbow Alley.
Fishing the fry bust at Rainbow Alley is truly an amazing experience. To see such a massive density of trout feeding on the surface is an amazing sight. Since all fry tend to migrate mostly at night it is very important to be fishing early in the morning or late in the evening. If you are fishing during the day it may be a time to cast some different flies other than fry. Try leeches, or nymphs, or patterns that the fish are not used to seeing to catch them. However, when the fry bust starts put on your best imitation and cast towards working fish.
One of our guests compares Rainbow Alley to flats fishing as you are looking for fish actively feeding on the surface. Use a floating line, long leader and cast your fry into the residual rings left from the trout. Ideally you will place the fly in the direction the fish is working. The very second your fry hits the water begin to strip the line, and if you get a hit don’t stop stripping until the fish is on. Strip speed can vary from fish to fish so continue experimenting until you get its attention. With so many fish feeding it can be distracting to focus on one fish, but we work the fish one at a time. This is a very exciting way to fish for trout and the action can be fast and furious.
When selecting a box of fry patterns, you want to make sure you have many sizes accounted for. The massive Babine Lake has several arms each with its own run of sockeye. These distinct populations each have different sized fry. For example the sockeye in the main arm are native, and wild fish that have about 18 small tribs to spawn in. The fry that emerge from here tend to be larger than the ones coming out of the enhanced channels of Fulton and Pinkut. In general the higher the density of fry in an area, the smaller average size you will see.
Therefore sockeye fry at the same age are not always the same size. Combine this with various ages of fry migrating through it quickly becomes apparent you need to represent a few sizes of fry to target these finicky trout. In general the sockeye fry migrating through Rainbow Alley are fairly small. We tend to always start with a small pattern when trying to “match the hatch”
After filming large, dense balls of fry underwater we came to understand that one of the most distinguishing characteristics on a fry were the eyes. The gold eyes illuminate underwater and certainly play a big roll in attracting fish. It may take some time to work out your own fry pattern, but a well tied fly at home almost always out fishes a store bought one.
Fishing Regulation Changes for Skeena Watershed
Introducing Oscar's Adventure Travel
Blog #1 – Introducing Oscar’s Adventure Travel
A new business, a new fancy website, a new Facebook page and a new Twitter account (and yes some of us are already addicted to Twitter).....but who are we and what is Oscar's Adventure Travel all about??? Well……… the three of us (Jim, Steve, Alex) share a passion for the outdoors, in particular a passion for fishing. Steelhead fishing, salmon fishing, trout fishing - we do it all and we love it! But let's get the facts straight right of the bat; some of us are better at fishing than others:
Jim Britton……... Tough to trump someone who caught his first steelhead on a fly at the tender age of 5..... Jim and his family owned and operated Morice River Steelhead Lodge for over 30 years meaning fishing is in his blood. As well as being a third generation Smithers resident, Jim has also been a guide for over 20 years and loves sharing his passion for fishing with his guests!
Steve Hidber…….An expert fisherman as well. He may not catch as many fish as Jim but he knows his stuff when it comes to fishing gear. Steve and family have owned and operated a sporting goods store/tackle store in Smithers since 1958..... Steve loves fishing bling..... Most of his reels are gold in color. Pop Quiz: how many fishing rods does Steve own? Answer: 1254 the current inventory in his fishing store!
Alex Bussmann…It took Alex two seasons to catch and land his first steelhead on a fly... Since then he has not looked back. Originally from Switzerland, Alex and family owned and operated a lodge in the Okanagan for over 10 years before moving to Northern British Columbia. Although not a fishing god yet he is working on it....one fish at a time.
……….And there you have it. The three of us are Oscar's Adventure Travel. We all bring something different to the table, complementing each other well and allowing us to provide an experience to you that no one else can.
The strengths of Oscar's Adventure Travel, or what sets us apart from the other "booking agents", is that we are local. We can give you up to the minute local weather conditions. We can tell you what the rivers look like - we fish them or look at them every day...... Need a ride to or from the airport? No problem, we are here. Have tackle questions? We can help. Looking for a special fishing program that no one else is offering. We have one. In short, we promise that we will go above and beyond to ensure that you have the trip of a lifetime. A trip that’s built to suit you.
It will be our pleasure welcoming you to Northern British Columbia. We would love to book a fishing trip for you! Contact us if you have questions….and we will get right back to you.