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Life, Death and Steelhead

Some trips out on the river are easy pickings, while others are so hard it nearly seems futile. Fishing is very much like life in that sense. 2016 has been filled with ups and downs for both me and my family. During our winter steelhead season in Haida Gwaii, I received the call that no one ever wants to get. The one that tells you your mother has passed away. In a very cliche way, I experienced a sensory overload, a loud, deafening ringing in the ears that slowly faded into a dark silence. Everything immediately felt different and sounded different. The crash of the tide that we hear all night long sounded different. The chirping of the birds that I listen to every day was unrecognizable. The world had changed for me in an instant. I knew life would go on, but that I would never be quite the same.

Shortly after this, we hit the three-month period of our pregnancy and were able to spread the great news of expecting our second child. Life and death issues aren’t something us fishing guides face very often, but they eventually catch up with all of us. Days on the water tend to bring things back into perspective, and this certainly helped me in those times of need. Living in Smithers, BC, year round, it is easy to take things for granted; however, I am often reminded of how deeply important it is having pristine environments and wild fish accessible to those of us who need them. Obviously, since we use this resource the most, and treasure it as much as anyone if not more, we need to be the leading force to help protect it. We have been working on a proper foundation for our conservation efforts for the last two years and hopefully will be able to make a difference soon when we start up officially.

Rolling through the last few months was difficult, but with the support of everyone close to me, it ended up being a very positive time. Our team at Epic is now working around the clock bringing five lodges up to our standards for the steelhead season. We have had the same crew for the past six years, plus some great new additions who are working extremely hard to get up to speed on the ebbs and flows of our steelhead beats. Our mission has always been to surround ourselves with the brightest, most passionate, hard-working, blue-collar fly fishing guides in the province, and to offer everyone opportunities they may not find elsewhere in the industry. We provide enough slack in the rope to let people shine doing what they love. It has been quite amazing to see what an environment like ours can do for those that are called to the river.

At this time of year, when the paint is drying, the waders still glimmering, and the sun is shining, it is easy to remember why we all do what we do. Guides make a lot of sacrifices, leaving their families for weeks at a time, living in tents for months, and working seasonal jobs. It’s hard to ever regret it, though, for one second when you get to cast for the wildest, most spectacular fish in the world. It’s now officially the start of the 2016 steelhead season, and no one can wipe the smiles off our faces. With a September steelhead due date, I am ready for the call at any moment. When I’m guiding now, my guests get the warning that we may all end up in the hospital, delivering this baby in waders. It’s the risk they take each day stepping into my boat right now.

We have had death, life, and now come the steelhead to fulfill a very eventful 2016. In fact, as I am writing this, Andrea has gone into labor. Have a few stops to make on the way to the hospital!

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