Pilgrimage to Mecca [Archive] - Fly Fishing Forum

: Pilgrimage to Mecca

09-28-2001, 06:10 PM
Just returned from the Holy Land of the Skeena. Myself and five friends left last Saturday for a planned 6 days on the Kispiox. After 16 hours of driving we stopped along the Bulkley to pick up our liceses before our final hour drive into the K. The lady informed us she was sold out as the Kispiox had blown out that morning and all the anglers had headed to the Bulkley. We would have to backtrack to Smithers to find the paperwork.

We decided to go on into the lodge and check things out, dump off all the stuff we brought and get the rafts set up for the morning. A couple hours later we were headed back to Smithers and then to find a nice Bulkley run. Finally with only a couple hours left of daylight, we wet our lines into the famous waters. The first night resulted in only one coho to hand but we did see a couple of nice steelhead caught and one monster hooked and its aerial display before it finally found freedom. As we drove back to the lodge that night with our 11-mile float planned for the next morning, our spirits were high.

The next morning found rain falling but we were still sure of a great day as the Bulkley seldom goes out. Just before sunrise we gazed at the river at the put-in to see maybe one foot of vis and the river up dramatically from the night before. Thanks to Trey Comb’s book and my reading it habitually, I thought we might find better water up above the Telkwa. Up river we headed. Sure enough the Telkwa was puking mud but the Bulkley above it was looking sweeeeet! Now to find a place to launch from. An hour later we were easing the rafts into the current. It wasn’t long before we realized that every angler from around the area was concentrated into this section of the Bulkley. Competition for runs was fierce.

Finally about 1:30, Rob hooks into some BC Steel. After a grand fight, he eased a 16-17 lb. Hen into the shallows. Sore muscles and tired casting arms were suddenly healed. A short time later Kevin hooked a nice fish that jumped and spit the hook. Rob followed this with a good yank but no hookup. The rest of us were shutout but went home confidant that the next day would be rewarding.

Daylight the next morning revealed the river up over a foot and visibility down to 2’. We were still hopeful though as we pushed off and floated by Harry Lemire casting a skater on a nice run. Soon there was so much junk in the water that one needed to clean flies off after every 3-4 casts. Despite all this, Carl managed to hook and land his first steelhead ever: a 4-5 pound buck apparently one of the run of smaller fish that return to the Morice every year. As the day went on, the river deteriorated. Rob and I each managed a good pull but the river was quickly going out and with it our hopes.

Rain fell all that night and the next morning and with it went our last hope for finding any water to fish. With all the guides predicting at least a week before the rivers were in shape, we broke camp and headed south.

While this was not the report I hoped to write upon my return, I would not have traded it for anything. Over 2000 miles driven for 2 fish among 6 guys might seem a bit extreme but it was worth it. Besides, we have started planning for next year.

Keep the faith –

09-28-2001, 06:31 PM
You have seen, touched and swung a fly in the steelhead mecca... I can sense it in your words! I will go there too as soon as I can. It might seem extreme when you look at the numbers, but what about steelheading is not extreme and it's never, ever about the numbers.

For instance some of my fondest memories about the Skagit are at Steelhead Park - at camp (as well as on the river of course). Seeing and meeting the old legends with names like Green and Wintle as well as young legends with names like Hogan, Ward and Farrar is as much a part of the experience as a big-shouldered chrome bright butt-kicker 20 pound spring native steelhead for me.

You're lucky to have had that experience and I truly look forward to the day I can post a report about a trip to the Skeena system.

09-29-2001, 02:04 AM
Sorry to hear about the far from decent water conditions...

But it sounds as though if one was to be given horrible water conditions it should be on the Skeena system-considering the fact that you have already rebooked for next year.

October Caddis
10-01-2001, 09:20 AM
Let's see, 6 guys, two cars, 16 hours up to Mecca and another 16 back. That would come out to one 6 dollar cigar every 2 hours per person. That's 24 cigars up and another 24 on the way back per vehicle if I did the math right.
There's no way your wives are ever going to get in those vehicles again.
But still sorry that you didn't get to fish much. Knew a dentist in Livingston MT that shut down his practice for an entire month to go to Mecca. Said it was the only way to guaranteed enough time on the river.

10-05-2001, 01:19 PM
Steelheading on the Skeena system is about as important as anything else in their life. What could possibly be more important than fishing in the most important location on Earth?? All i am saying is that compareing the Skeena to Mecca is like compareing God to Homer Simpson

10-05-2001, 04:58 PM
Wow - I wonder how Homer (and his family) feel about this unexpected association with Mecca?? <g>

Of course, God and the Skeena are compatible in any analogical reference!



10-05-2001, 05:56 PM
Never thought about the alternative definition - or is it the real definition, ???

OK - count me in the ranks of those using the term "mecca" as a generic, vanilla, kind of faraway chic slang name for a place of recognition, a target of people's journeys of conviction - not any misunderstood link to any religious holy place in the middle east...

I did a search on the definition and found:

Definitions of mecca:

noun: a city in western Saudi Arabia; as the birthplace of Mohammed it is the holiest city of Islam
noun: a place that attracts many visitors

YIKES! We use the term in the second sense, although more succintly something like "a place that is worthy of utmost recognition and respect, a place where people visit with a spritual bond", like the Mall of America to a teen age girl with a gold card or Las Vegas to a gambling addict, or Scotland to a Scotch connoiseur, etc, etc...

I am not sure I really understand the first definition and it's ramifications in these troubled times.

I guess it's like this - just like it's important for us not to confuse the Sheiks from the Shazams (no distrespect intended) people gotta know when we call a secret spot on Cape Cod or a hallowed river system in the British Columbia steelhead country "mecca" we're not referrin' to some Islamic religious place in the desert!

Back to the regularly scheduled program. ;-)

10-05-2001, 06:25 PM
hee of course my post was meant as somewhat humorous. I was just saying what mecca means to Islam is nothing compared to what Skeena means to a steelheader.

10-06-2001, 01:44 PM
Ok, I admit my middle east history and islamic theology knowledge is a bit rusty. Almost 18 years removed from those college classes and 14 from that stage of my professional life but if I remember right, it is the duty of every Muslim to make the pilgramage to Mecca, the birthplace of the prophet. At least in my mind, it is the duty of every true steelheader to at least once in their life, make the pilgramage to the Skeena, if not the birthplace, at least the high alter of steelheading. (Sorry for mixing my theological analogies.)

I have now made the journey and my soul is richer for it. Richer but now somewhat empty because its over. As a true fundamentalist, and I'm surely that now if I wasn't before, I will return to the holyland.

Sorry if anyone is offended by the tone of this thread and its allusions to spirituality. In all seriousness, for me at least, there is a religious experience in steelheading. It is more spiritual than about anything I know. How else do we explain our fanaticism around getting up in the middle of the night, standing in near freezing water through snow, wind and rain only to return home empty handed time after time. Does this disuade our desires? No, it only makes them stronger. In that regard, maybe our "sport" deserves comparison not to religion but to a narcotic. Doh! -- I don't think I want to go there.

Have a good weekend all, I am out the door. God but I need a fix! :)


October Caddis
10-09-2001, 10:39 AM
How many times in our lives have we used the word Mecca as Sink Tip did. And he rightfully explained his feelings about Steelheading when he used the word Mecca. Both definitions that Juro came up with are correct and we should honor both.

10-10-2001, 08:48 AM
Mecca it is!

Funny, a one-year wonder spot on Cape Cod has affectionately been called Mecca by the northeastern region salter crew too.

Sort of like Wahl's Valhalla on the Skagit.

Fred Evans
10-10-2001, 03:18 PM
Actually doubt someone of the Islamic Faith would take offense at our use to the term "Mecca." The term is being used in the context of great reverence, to go to a 'Mecca' is to take a pilgramage (sp?). What could be more natural?