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Autumn in northern BC: a freshwater fishing paradise in spectacular settings


September 17, 2007

Prince George, BC --  For fishers in northern BC, the challenge isn't landing a big one. With endless miles of crystal clear streams, rivers and lakes in northern British Columbia, the hard part is choosing where to put a hook in the water.

"Northern BC offers freshwater fishing at its best, for people of all levels of experience, with abundant stocks in glorious settings," says Anthony Everett, CEO of the Northern British Columbia Tourism Association. "Fishers in this region find themselves in some of the most pristine and beautiful natural areas BC and of the whole world."

Fall is a great time to fish for a number of reasons. One is that because fish are feeding in preparation for winter, they're biting. Some species are more active as autumn water temperatures cool. It's also a great time to be outdoors, says Everett. "The mornings are crisp and refreshing, and the afternoons are warm. A little less heat can make a day in the sun more enjoyable. And nature is putting on a show in the north. The leaves are changing and the forest colours are brilliant," he says.

September and October are the best months to fish for steelhead trout in the Morice, Bulkley, Babine, Sustut, and Kispiox Rivers. These rivers have produced record steelheads of up to 37 pounds, or 17 kg. Visitors to Idiot Rock just outside Moricetown off Highway 16 on the Bulkley River often witness steelhead fishing done in the First Nations tradition, using spears and nets.

The Skeena, in the western part of the region, is another of the region's popular freshwater fishing destinations, especially for steelhead. The Skeena river system is located between Kispiox and Prince Rupert, off Highway 16. Terrace is one of the main gateways to this rugged terrain territory. As well as, all five species of salmon, Dolly Varden and cutthroat trout are found in the Skeena river system.

The Spatsizi Plateau Wildnerness Park north of Smithers has some of the best 'trophy lakes' (a commonly used term for remote lakes with the biggest fish) in northern BC. The only access to this smorgasbord of rivers, lakes and parkland is by air. The main species are rainbow trout, Arctic grayling, bull trout, char lake trout, and whitefish.

The Atlin area offers an amazing variety of freshwater fish, and many of the best lakes and streams are accessible by road. Lake trout and northern pike up to 30 pounds aren't unusual. The region offers of the healthiest Arctic grayling stocks found anywhere. Short flights from Atlin takes fishers to lakes full of fish with double-digit weights, and rivers teaming with sea-run steelhead, bull trout, chinook and coho salmon.

In the Lakes District, Babine Lake joins Nilkitkwa Lake and narrows into the Babine River to form Rainbow Alley is a legendary stretch of water that offers some of the best rainbow trout fishing in the world. Around 300 lakes make up the Lakes District, including Babine Lake - the longest freshwater lake in BC - and Francois Lake. Other species to be found are char and Kokanee.

Inexperienced anglers or those with limited time should consider hiring a guide no matter what area they choose to fish. Everett reminds all anglers to have the appropriate licenses, and to follow the regulations outlined in the BC government's Freshwater Fishing Regulations Synopsis 2007/2008, found at  Current information on closures and restrictions can be found there.

Everett says tourists from around the world are discovering nothern BC's natural treasures. "What many people are looking for, northern BC has in abundance. People are seeking wilderness experiences, and some of them want to combine that with comfortable facilities and plenty of services. We've experienced an amazing surge in interest in this region," he says.

Visit for information on how to get there, where to stay and where to go in northern BC.

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