Smithers’ Ken Plumstead (left) and James from Armstrong practice spey casting

Smithers’ Ken Plumstead (left) and James from Armstrong practice spey casting

Celebrating Smithers’ angling community

This month, local businesses and Tourism Smithers are putting on a variety of events to highlight fly fishing in the Bulkley Valley.

Walking along the rocky shores of the Bulkley River on Saturday morning, there is a gentle calm that sets in.

The warm rays of the sun beat off the rapids, the quiet flow of the river and the gentle crunch of feet walking along rocks are the only sounds.

Then with effortless ease, old and young fly fishers wade into the river to cast their speys. The neon green and orange lines loop metres into the air and then glide gracefully into place along the surface of the water, waiting for a fish to bite.

Spey casting is a casting technique used in fly fishing that is growing in popularity among Smithers’ angling community.

This month, local businesses and Tourism Smithers are putting on a variety of events to highlight fly fishing in the Bulkley Valley.

Almost every week until Oct. 16, there will be special clinics, film festivals and classes open to local and visiting anglers.

“We’re just working really hard to create opportunities for the anglers on weekends,” said Gladys Atrill with Tourism Smithers.

In an effort to reduce the pressure on local rivers, the provincial government decided that if you were not a resident of Canada, you could not fish on Saturdays and Sundays.

Last weekend, the special event kicked off with a free rod and reel balancing clinic and spey casting classes with Chris Sepio, a prominent spey caster in Canada.

One of the most popular events is the International Fly Fishing Film Festival on Saturday, Sept. 13 at the Old Church.

The festival features several short films about fly fishing in various places around the world.

“People who have discovered fly fishing are extremely passionate people. Those people who haven’t picked up a fly rod before are intrigued by it. They consider it to be artistic or peaceful or very at one with nature,” said Chris Bird, president of the International Fly Fishing Film Festival.

“What you’ll find in this cinema environment is that all those people who are fly anglers will connect with [the films].”

According to Bird, some of the films include Landed, which was filmed on the Bulkley River and features fly fisher April Vokey; Mending the Line, about a World War Two veteran who travels back to France with a fly rod instead of a gun; and Change of Pace about three men from Utah who travel to the northern United States and south eastern B.C.

For Alex Bussmann, owner of Oscar’s Source for Adventure who helped organize the events, the films help open people’s eyes to the possibilities of fly fishing.

“If you live here you dream about catching a [Tarpon] somewhere in Mexico and if you live in Mexico you dream about catching a steelhead here,” he said.

“It gives you an overview of the other species that you can catch on a fly and it makes you dream too. It opens everyone’s mind a little bit, there’s so many other things to fish for and see.”

This year they are expecting the film festival will sell out its 80 seats.

“The anglers are highly social, it’s an opportunity to come together with people who are like-minded,” said Atrill.

“You’re speaking to the people who want to talk about the same things that you want to talk about.”

Tickets for the film festival are $20 and can be purchased from Oscar’s Source of Adventure, McBike and Sport, and Hetherington and Hooper.

 

Upcoming events also include a fundraising banquet, a fly fishing film tour,  presentations, and a Patagonia night where anglers can look and try the newest Patagonia Fly Fishing apparel.