There is one quality that no business owner or entrepreneur could survive without and that is the ability to adapt. We have always felt successful lodges are the ones most responsive to change. Catch and release fishing has always been seen as sustainable tourism, attempting to make a low impact on the environment and local culture while helping to generate income, employment and the conservation of local ecosystems. However recently with the acceleration of the decline of British Columbia wild steelhead everyone has to wonder are we doing enough.
2 years ago we began to initialize a pivot with our operations. We focused on the the 3 C’s. Conservation, Community Outreach, and Continuity with our brand. We launched our Non Profit Organization Coast to Clouds to raise money for our local resources. Each operation now chargers our fishing guests an additional surcharge to be specifically designated to protecting fish, wildlife and habitat from the the mouth of the skeena to its upper most reaches.
We also began to promote guests and guides alike to keep fish in the water at all times. A quick search of social media shows how many different ideas there are on what keep em wet means. For us it strictly means the fish never comes out of the water. We also promote the idea of limiting your catch. If an angler catches 3 or more fish in a day we suggest switching to a more difficult technique like dry fly fishing, or long belly line grease lining. By limiting our catch on the river we again limit impact to the fish.
We live in the community year round so making our operation more accessible to the town of Smithers was an obvious plus. We began to host events at the lodge like our Canada Day kids event to help show children how special the fish that swim in our rivers actually are. We host weddings, conferences, local business staff parties and much more. Our unique lodge is located just outside of Smithers so it has been a wonderful opportunity to engage more with the community.
The last of our initial phase was a way to tie all our operations together with a common thread. We created our hashtag friendly company Epic Waters Angling to oversee all operations and make sure community, conservation and customer satisfaction was at the forefront of every decision made. Our ultimate goal is to become completely engaged with the community of Smithers in which we are very passionate about promoting. Push the idea of sustainability as far as we can take it to help protect the fish we love, and move into the next decade as leaders in our industry with a new path towards protecting our watershed and its fish more than ever before.