Sunday, October 31, 2010

We had eleven Fly Nation episodes done and were contemplating where to film our lucky #12.
I'd been itching to get the Fly Max crew to BC....hell, it'd only been close to 6 years of harassing poor Nick Pujic to come and play with wild steel in a wild province with a wild girl...he'd been a tough nut to crack.
Since the day Puj and I met under the fluorescent lights of a crowded Vancouver trade show, I'd been teasing him with steelhead photos, stories and animated play by plays...
I loved watching the look of excitement splash across his face when I explained how our fish fought and bucked like wild stallions trying to throw their rider.
He would wince and grit his teeth in anticipation....then smile and throw his head back to laugh as I shared my fishing stories with him.
I saw the look in his eyes when it came time for him to go back to Ontario and leave BC... he hesitated and we vowed to make it a mission to bring him back.'s pretty hard not to love it.
We always toyed with the idea of bringing the Fly Max crew out my way to film our unique steelhead fishery....but with unstable conditions and a tedious filming environment, it was looking like BC steelhead were going to have to wait for a while.
So when the Fall of 2010 rolled around and I was on my way back up to Terrace, BC to fish with my friends and guides atNicholas Dean Lodge, it seemed only right to see if I could tempt Mr. Pujic one last time....
"I really think we can do it justice Nick..."  I pitched.  "We'll do it right, I'll bring up my best girlfriend Andrea Charlton and we'll show you how the two of us do it..."
Maybe he knew how cute Andrea was, because he booked flights for himself and cameraman Tim Myers several days later.
Miss Charlton.  (Nick Pujic photo)
Andrea and I went way back....
Back in the days when we were waitresses at the Langley Olive Garden, suffering with the pain of "soup, salad and breadstick" combos and 5% tippers (seriously folks, be nice to your server!)
She had contacted me several years after quitting and wanted to try out this "whole fly-fishing thing".  She was a natural on the fly rod and a comedian off the water..... together the two of us ripped it up on the river.
I had brought Andrea to Terrace several years earlier to try and get her into her first steelhead.
Fishing had been tough when we were there and we had since spent some challenging days on the local rivers in search of winter-run steelhead and anything else we could get ourselves into trouble with.
We were an interesting mix... she always made my ribs hurt with laughter and I always drove her crazy enough to beat me into submission (thank God graphite breaks easier than bones do)... so I figured that the two of us could provide Fly Nation with some entertainment.  (Scroll to the bottom of the page for a short teaser of our trip!)
So the 5 of us (let's not forget Colby...) packed up the perv van and made the 14 hour trek to BC's interior.
Myers taking a peek.
First stop was the small city of Hope...
At a gas station fill-up, we were fortunate enough to run into celebrity and Jeff Bridges lookalike, Randy TJ.
We were hoping to use his beats as our Fly Nation soundtrack but his agent, the Chevron cashier, was asking for more than we could afford... So, Puj opted simply to purchase the disc and get back to our excursion.  :)
We didn't make it very far before Redbull forced us to take our next pullout.  The Thompson River was closed to angling but open to rest stops, so Andrea and I took advantage of the break to see if we could spot any fish from a nearby cliff.
The guys played with camera gear and Colby stretched his legs...
We were on our way to the boys at Nicholas Dean and they were expecting us to arrive at approximately 3:00 in the morning.  At this rate it was going to take us until 3:00 the next afternoon...
So we settled into a game of truth or dare, learned way too much about each other, and finally reached the lodge at 6:00am.
Our final destination....good food, good people...these guys do it right!
We got a little shuteye and several hours later were on the boat with head guide Dustin Kovacvich, rods rigged and cameras ready.
We were headed to the Skeena where the water was looking good and the sun was lighting up the day.
Nick Pujic photo.
C'mon sailor, get those legs back... Nick Pujic photo.
An 18 pound buck had our trip off to the right start (thanks to Dimitri Roussanidis of West-Coast Fly-Tying, for the pattern that took this bad boy down.)
Nick Pujic photo.
Nick Pujic photo.
The rest of the week was filled with some of the best steelheading I have ever seen....
Dustin is one of the best steelhead guides/anglers I've ever menaced the water with, and his giant body had all of us feeling pretty safe out in grizzly bear country.
Nick Pujic photo.
He made Andrea and I feel like hobbits from Lord of the Rings and it made making fun of him all the more enjoyable in a sick kind of way.
Dustin and I had fished together before and understood each others sarcasm and humor.  Adding Andrea to the mix only made it more hysterical and poor Puj and Myers looked like they were going to be sick if they laughed any harder.
Dustin and Andrea even landed a double header!
Nick Pujic photo.
Nick Pujic photo.
As the sun warmed the water and the bugs began to hatch, we turned our attention to dry flies.
I had been trying for ages to land one of these babies on a dry and always came up short.
As I rigged up my rod for some dry fly action, Dustin saw a rise at the bottom end of a tailout and made his way down the run, dry-line setup in hand.
Nick Pujic photo.
He dead-drifted a size 8 mayfly through the pool, making sure the drift was natural and free of any drag.
The fish flashed and boiled under it.... He cast again and let the fly drift smoothly through the current.
A small steelhead churned the surface and ate the mayfly in true trout was perfect.
Nick Pujic photo.
I squirmed watching the action below me and my fingers shook with excitement as I tied on my fly...
Dead drifted may flies?!  For real!?  I wanted one on a dry so bad that I hurt in the pit of my stomach.
Dustin sensed this and walked with Andrea and I across the river to fish the pool from the other side.
The boys set up and waited patiently to catch the action on tape.
Nick Pujic photo.
Nick Pujic photo.
The pressure was on and I nervously snake rolled under the overhanging brush, trying desperately to land my fly without disturbing the water...
A flash in the current caught the sunlight and my heart stopped.  Dustin was so cool...
"Hmmm, try again...."
I listened and made the cast again.  The flash happened in an instant and a large steelhead looking close to 15 pounds (with Dustin as my witness), ate my fly and launched itself into the air.
I fought it, petrified that I would lose my first steelhead caught on a dead drift dry.
Like a true farmer, I didn't take into consideration that a size 8 light wire hook can't handle the same pressure as my streamer hooks and with one good run my fish was gone, my hook was bent out, and I was dropped to my knees in an instinctive gut-wrenching and self-loathing blow.
It was awful.  Even Colby couldn't bear to watch...
Nick Pujic photo.
Nonetheless, the week was still exceptional...Fish after fish, Andrea, Dustin and I, all agreed that we couldn't be having better luck or a better time with better company (photos by Nick Pujic).
I should probably save some element of surprise for the show, but I will tell you this...
Fishing was incredible, Dustin laid the smack down (on the fish, though I'm sure at times he was tempted to redirect...) and Andrea and I both got steelhead on dries!!!
The official Fly Nation TV: Series Opener & Sponsor Reel will be premiering on WFN & WFNHD on Tuesday, November 2nd @ 8:30pm EST (prime-time).
Stay tuned and we hope you enjoy the show!