Juro and the boys,
I'd love to tell a fish tale. As well, this tale could prove to reduce some apprehension re this fall's run on the Thompson (as well as other rivers). To start, this year's salmon run in the Charlottes was way up with lots of fish and there were so many sockeye in the Fraser that they were forced to open a significant commercial and sport fishery. This all points to a vast improvement in ocean survival rates. This improvement is consistent with the normal ocean temperatures - finally! If the salmon survival was unexpectedly high it would follow that steelhead survival would exhibit a similar pattern. This is exactly what I found on my trip to the Morice/Bulkley River in the last week of August!
Now it is important to note that commercial fishing on the Skeena was once again severely reduced to protect the coho, but never-the-less the fishing was scary. Not since the early 80's - when I was still gear fishing AND the Squamish River still had a sgnificant return have I had steelheading like this. It was without question the best steelheading I've had on the fly! I stayed higher up in the Skeena as the lower river was rained out and the Morice is renowned for its early run. These fish are also known to be small in size averaging 5-6 lbs. In 4 1/2 days fishing I was into 20 fish. Two were small Morice fish, the rest were chromers between 10 and 18 lbs! All but 3 were dry line fish and a couple of those on the skated Steelhead Booby. My best day was 5 to the beach, the weather was great and with the jet raft I rarley saw anyone (yes Brian - KICK YOURSELF - you could have been there).
Obviously I'm pretty jazzed up over this trip. However, I do think that it bodes well for the rapidly approaching Thompson season. Being ever the optimist I think that ocean survival for the Thompson will be consistent with the rest of this year's returns. I have reliable reports of large steelhead (in small numbers) showing up in Fraser River commercial nets in mid-August - that is NOT usual - so who knows? What I do know is that Dana and I will be hauling the "Martini Bar" up to Spence's Bridge on September 30 and leaving it there until late November. If we can get a Thompson Clave happening it would make a great base! Talk to me.
Tight lines - tyler.