October 27, 2020
Podcast Show Notes: Ep. 33: Fly Fishing and Spey Fishing with Brian Niska of Skeena Spey
Podcast Show Notes
Date: October 29 2020
Title: Fly Fishing and Spey Fishing with Brian Niska of Skeena Spey
Guest(s): Brian Niska
Show Link: Watch YouTube Video Here or Listen to the Podcast Here.
Blog Link: You can find our Blog post for this Episode Here.
Brief Summary of Show:
In this episode of The Silvercore Podcast, Travis speaks with Brian Niska of Skeena Spey Riverside Wilderness Lodge in Terrace, BC. Brian is a fishing guide, certified fishing instructor and designated master castor and designer of the Metal Detector series of Pieroway.
If you have a story that would be of value to the Silvercore audience, or know someone who does, email us at [email protected]. We would love to hear from you!
Topics discussed in this episode:
- Intro [00:00:00 – 00:01:22]
- Brian’s passion for fishing & experiences as a kid [00:01:22 – 00:02:24]
- Master Castor Instructor Certification & guiding in Chile [00:02:24 – 00:06:35]
- Fly fishing, trolling & spey casting [00:06:35 – 00:08:56]
- Getting into spey fishing & equipment [00:08:56 – 00:12:39]
- Different types of people that fly fish [00:12:39 – 00:19:00]
- Pieroway Rods, other gear & trademarking the letter ‘X’ [00:19:00 – 00:27:09]
- Brian’s influence on spey casting & best fly fisheries in the world [00:27:09 – 00:29:37]
- Brians passion for fishing & building a business our of his passion of fishing [00:29:37 – 00:35:40]
- Fishing seasons around BC [00:35:40 – 00:37:56]
- Spey casting for pink salmon on the Fraser [00:37:56 – 00:39:08]
- Fishing Etiquette [00:39:08 – 00:46:52]
- Outro [00:46:52 – 00:47:23]
Explore these Resources
In this episode, we mentioned the following resources which may be beneficial to you:
- Silvercore [00:00:10] [00:00:21] [00:00:24] [00:00:31] [00:01:14] [00:32:01] [00:52:43]
- Brian Niska [00:00:53]
- Skeena River [00:00:54] [00:01:10] [00:17:32] [00:24:12] [00:32:23] [00:36:59] [00:37:12] [00:37:20] [00:41:22] [00:42:39] [00:45:32] [00:46:34]
- Spey Fishing [00:00:44] [00:07:06] [00:09:06] [00:35:42] [00:36:03] [00:36:29]
- Skeena Spey Riverside Wilderness Lodge [00:00:54]
- Metal Detector series [00:01:04] [00:22:49] [00:25:20]
- Pieroway Rods [00:01:05] [00:19:02] [00:19:07] [00:19:08] [00:25:28] [00:26:10] [00:26:18]
- DeBoville Slough [00:02:07]
- Pitt River [00:02:12]
- FFF Fly Casting Instructor Certification [00:02:32] [00:03:28]
- Grouse Mountain [00:03:02]
- Pete Caverhill [00:03:23]
- Kingdome [00:04:28] [00:04:33] [00:04:34] [00:06:05]
- Hexagraph Fly Rods [00:04:45] [00:05:02] [00:05:12] [00:05:17]
- Bruce and Walker [00:05:03]
- Walt Powell [00:05:07]
- Harry Briscoe [00:05:15]
- Mike & Denise Maxwell [00:05:56] [00:05:57]
- Bonaparte Lake [00:06:40] [00:12:43]
- Pennask Lake [00:07:22]
- Bow River [00:19:53] [00:26:19]
- X-Series [00:25:26]
- Sage Fly Fishing [00:25:29]
- Renegade series [00:25:58]
- Jerry French [00:25:59]
- Skagit Guides [00:26:02]
- Copper River [00:29:00]
- ZEC [00:29:13]
- Nicklaus North [00:29:58]
- Squamish system [00:36:01]
- Fraser Valley Tributaries [00:36:11] [00:36:16]
- Vedder River [00:36:15] [00:41:08]
- Kitimat River [00:36:51] [00:36:52]
- Bulkley River [00:37:17] [00:37:28]
- Mamquam River [00:38:34]
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- CORE Training Management Resources (TMR)
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Travis Bader: [00:00:00] I’m Travis Bader and this is The Silvercore Podcast. Join me as I discuss matters related to hunting, fishing, and outdoor pursuits with the people in businesses that comprise of the community. If you’re new to Silvercore, be sure to check out our website, www.Silvercore.ca where you can learn more about courses, services, and products we offer. As well as how you can join The Silvercore Club, which includes 10 million in North America wide liability insurance to ensure you are properly covered during your outdoor adventures.
[00:00:43] Fishing, spey fishing, tips, tricks, etiquette, and gear. Buckle up cause that’s this week’s podcast. Tonight with Brian Niska at the Skeena Spey Riverside Wilderness Lodge in Terrace, BC. Brian is a fishing guide, certified fishing instructor and designated master castor and designer of the Metal Detector series of Pieroway Rod.
[00:01:06] I’ve had the pleasure of spending the last few days, fishing the Skeena River with Brian and his guides here in Terrace, and I’m excited to be sitting down to record a podcast with you now. Brian, thank you very much for taking the time to do this podcast.
Brian Niska: [00:01:19] Right on Travis, thanks very much for coming up to visit us.
Travis Bader: [00:01:22] So in the short period of time that I’ve gotten to know you, I can tell you are extremely passionate about fishing.
Brian Niska: [00:01:29] Yeah. You know, it’s something that’s always captivated me ever since I was a kid, I remember being quite young, probably three, four years old, if that, and just, you know, sneaking into my grandfather and my father’s tackle boxes and checking out all the lures. So, so I think that’s probably where it started.
Travis Bader: [00:01:45] Really, that soon?
Brian Niska: [00:01:47] Yeah. Just maybe it was the bright colours or some of those salmon plugs were pretty neat, I still remember them, so.
Travis Bader: [00:01:53] Yeah.
Brian Niska: [00:01:53] Yeah and then fly fishing got into that when I was about 12, my parents bought me in inexpensive fly setup and away I went.
Travis Bader: [00:02:01] So where were you fly fishing at 12 years old.
Brian Niska: [00:02:03] Well the first fish I ever caught on the fly was in a slough it’s called the DeBoville Slough. It’s in, Northeast Port Coquitlam alongside the Pitt River there.
Travis Bader: [00:02:13] Okay.
Brian Niska: [00:02:13] And it was a Christmas present, so it was out, you know, literally Christmas morning with a little silver fly and caught a cutthroat. That was the first fish I ever caught on the fly.
Travis Bader: [00:02:22] Wow. Oh, that’s not too bad.
Brian Niska: [00:02:23] Yeah.
Travis Bader: [00:02:24] So tell me about this Master Castor. That’s, not exactly an easy thing for a person to get is it
Brian Niska: [00:02:31] Well that that’s part of the FFF Fly Casting Instructor Certification. There’s three levels, there’s a basic, the master’s in the spey instructor.
Travis Bader: [00:02:39] Okay.
Brian Niska: [00:02:40] So the master’s would be the second level of the single hand instruction. And currently there’s just the one level of spey casting.
Travis Bader: [00:02:48] You just fish so much that you decided, I know what I want to do, I want to open up my own business. You started in Whistler didn’t you?
Brian Niska: [00:02:57] Yeah. You know, previous to that, I was a ski instructor. I grew up working at Grouse Mountain. My aunt worked there and so I was lucky enough to get jobs at a young age, started out selling ice cream, did a variety of jobs there, but teaching skiing was one of them. And so teaching fly fishing was just same, like an obvious extension of that, you know.
[00:03:18] The casting instructor certification was something that was available locally through a gentleman named Pete Caverhill and Pete Morrison. These were both master instructors. So with the FFF, the basic exams, are handled by two masters.
Travis Bader: [00:03:32] Okay.
Brian Niska: [00:03:33] To be honest with you, I failed the first time because I was like, I can cast a long way, I’ll pass this, it’s a piece of cake. But it’s really, like a lot of instructors exams, it’s more about being able to demonstrate correctly, being able to identify and explain casting faults and, you know, basically being able to show beginners proper technique.
Travis Bader: [00:03:52] Well, how old were you in when you did that?
Brian Niska: [00:03:55] Great question. Let’s see, that would have been probably about 18.
Travis Bader: [00:04:00] 18 years old?
Brian Niska: [00:04:00] Yeah. Maybe 18, 19 something.
Travis Bader: [00:04:03] Is that common for an 18, 19 year old person to be a designated master castor?
Brian Niska: [00:04:08] Well, that was a master’s, that was the basic.
Travis Bader: [00:04:09] Oh okay.
Brian Niska: [00:04:09] So I got that.
Travis Bader: [00:04:10] Okay.
Brian Niska: [00:04:10] So the story is, I got the basic and I got it prior to going to Chile to guide down there because I felt that, you know, this was going to be something to be useful down there. And when I came back from Chile, then I did the masters test. Which was, I believe it, I want to say the kingdome it’s the, it was the stadium in Washington that they, ended up, I think it.
Travis Bader: [00:04:33] Yeah it’s the kingdome.
Brian Niska: [00:04:34] It was the kingdome?
Travis Bader: [00:04:35] Yeah.
Brian Niska: [00:04:35] Yeah, okay. Perfect. Here’s what I remember about it, I’m not a drinker, this is true.
Travis Bader: [00:04:39] Yeah.
Brian Niska: [00:04:39] I’m not a boozer at all. When I was in Chile, I met the owner of a company called Hexagraph Fly Rods.
Travis Bader: [00:04:46] Okay.
Brian Niska: [00:04:47] Now Hexagraph was kind of a neat thing. So bamboo is a material that a lot of people know about.
Travis Bader: [00:04:53] Sure.
Brian Niska: [00:04:54] And bamboo has an exceptional feel for casting and bamboo has power fibers on the outside and a bit of a pithy core. And there’s a material called Hexagraph, which was from Bruce and Walker. They’re making these big, heavy spey roads out of it.
Travis Bader: [00:05:06] Okay.
Brian Niska: [00:05:07] And Walt Powell used his taper, taper bars with the Hexagraph material and sold that company to a gentleman named Harry Briscoe and Harry had the Hexagraph Rod company, and he was one of my clients in Chile. And you know, Harry caught a really exceptional fish with me and I think that sort of solidified our relationship. And you know, I helped them out at some trade shows and one of the trade shows was in Seattle.
[00:05:32] And so I went down there and the test is going to be there and as it turns out his rod builder liked tequila and, you know, we were down there at some. This was like, I think if I remember correctly, this was like, when grunge was really popular in Seattle.
Travis Bader: [00:05:45] Sure, sure.
Brian Niska: [00:05:46] And we ended up at some dive bar, drinking tequila, hanging out with people and you know, the next morning I was like, Oh shoot, I got this test. So what I remember distinctly and Mike Maxwell and Denise Maxwell were there and Mike was an old veteran with this, so he knew what my issue was. But there I was in the basement of the kingdome and they have these concrete pillars, I’ve got my head pressed against the concrete pillars, just to get rid of this throbbing stinking headache to pass this test. And like I said, I’m not a drinker, this is totally not something that would normally happen.
Travis Bader: [00:06:17] Yeah.
Brian Niska: [00:06:18] But yeah, stupid day to choose to be hung over. But I did pass the masters test, probably barely. And I feel like I’ve put it to good use since then so, so yeah. And. I don’t know if I really drank tequila like that in my life.
Travis Bader: [00:06:30] You gotta learn to condition yourself a bit better.
Brian Niska: [00:06:32] Yeah. But yeah, that was a long time ago.
Travis Bader: [00:06:35] So growing up, my family had a part share in a fishing lodge up in the Bonaparte Lake area.
Brian Niska: [00:06:41] Cool.
Travis Bader: [00:06:42] Lake fishing, beautiful area, you hike in or helicopter into it. And as a kid growing up, my idea of fly fishing was, you tie a fly on the end of the single hand casting rod, and you troll that behind a rowboat until you catch a fish. And that’s how I fly fished for many, many years. And just recently I’m being turned on to this spey fishing. What would draw a person to take up space fishing over top of, I don’t know, just casting a spoon.
Brian Niska: [00:07:16] Sure. Well, hey you had me at the trolling cause I grew up trolling a fly. We used to do family vacations on Pennask Lake.
Travis Bader: [00:07:23] Right.
Brian Niska: [00:07:23] And there’s something really exciting about a fast troll and the fish just slamming that rod and that rod just goes like that.
Travis Bader: [00:07:29] Sure.
Brian Niska: [00:07:29] Boom. And you know what, with the spey, it’s kind of the same in the sense that you’re always waiting for that take. And it’s all about the anticipation of that take and what you you’ll often hear people say is, Oh, I really felt like I was going to get one there.
[00:07:42] And perhaps they felt that because, you know, the way the fly was moving, the way the water was nice and smooth, whatever it was, it’s that anticipation, that’s the thing right. And if you can go out and fish all day, and you spend a decent amount of that day feeling like you’re going to get one, you like the water, you like the way you’re fishing it, you know, that’s the thing.
[00:08:03] And you know, so far as throwing a spoon, a spoon is a great way to cover a lot of water. Out of all the different techniques to fish for steelhead spoon fishing will allow you to fish all of the water. And you know, there’s something about the wobble of that spoon that you just can’t replicate with the fly.
Travis Bader: [00:08:18] Right.
Brian Niska: [00:08:18] And trust me, we tried that with the flies. Today’s flies are, you know, they’re like lures, right? But I think the big thing was spey casting is, is in-between swings. We call it a swing while you’re fishing, in between swings, you have the cast and some people really get into the cast. And if you’re casting well and you like the water you’re fishing, I mean that’s the whole deal, right?
Travis Bader: [00:08:41] Right.
Brian Niska: [00:08:42] Unfortunately, there are times when you catch fish on casts that you’re not very proud of.
Travis Bader: [00:08:46] Sure.
Brian Niska: [00:08:46] I don’t know if it diminished the whole experience, but it, you know, it’s nice when you’re casting well and you’re not catching anything. And you’re like, yeah, that was alright, that was a good day.
Travis Bader: [00:08:56] It seems completely foreign thing to most people, who’ve spent some time fishing, to now learn about the brand new way to cast and all the different accessories that go along with spey fishing. It’s kind of intimidating, honestly. I mean, there’s whole brand new lingo and there’s all this extra gear that you have to get into. What’s the easiest way for someone to kind of dabble in and get into this?
Brian Niska: [00:09:19] Well, the truth of the matter is, there’s really no such thing as bad equipment right now, and lines have come a long ways. So you can’t go wrong, any, pretty much any spey rod can work as long as you have an appropriate line on it. And by appropriate, I mean, the line should be a length that relates properly to both your height and style of casting and the length of the rod. So in short, If you’re fishing a 12 foot rod, a shorter head, like a Skagit head is going to pair better than a long belly line and vice versa.
[00:09:47] If you’re fishing a 15 foot rod, you’re going to want something with a longer head because the, you know, the longer rod will move more line in the sweep.
Travis Bader: [00:09:55] Sure.
Brian Niska: [00:09:56] The sweep is by the way, the portion of the spey cast where load is created. So for those listeners that don’t know spey casting, all spey casts start the same. They all start with a lift of the rod tip that clears the line off the water and then you have a move, a set move and what the set move does is it positions the anchor and the anchor is a fancy way of saying, where the line’s going to be in contact with the water.
[00:10:17] And from there we sweep the rod, which is basically your back cast, and this is where load is created. And load is a fancy way of saying bend. So we’re basically trying to put a bend in the rod and then as we complete the back cast, there’s not a hard stop. Like we’re single handing, that’s more of a transition into the forward cast. And what we’re always trying to do is maintain as much of that load as much of that bend, by keeping tension on everything as we transitioned from the back cast into the forward cast.
[00:10:42] And the really cool thing about it you know, and it, to me, it has more in common with a golf swing within a single hand cast, but it’s all about getting the rod to carry the load and then releasing that load. So if you apply your power too quickly, the load isn’t there for the full length of the forward stroke, you know, you’re not going to get the best possible result.
[00:11:03] So the equipment will do the work for you when you’re casting well, and I think we learned, I think you’ve learned that now that applying power, I mean, you’re a big guy, hitting it hard doesn’t necessarily give you line speed.
Travis Bader: [00:11:16] Totally.
Brian Niska: [00:11:17] Line speed is what gives you distance.
Travis Bader: [00:11:18] Right.
Brian Niska: [00:11:19] You know, so it’s all about loop shape, which means, what we want is the line to go out in a very tight pointed arrow. And what’s going to cause the line to take that shape is the path of the rod tip when it accelerates. So if the rod tip accelerates in a straight line path, then you’re going to get that nice tight loop. If you use too much of your top hand, chopping wood, we might say.
Travis Bader: [00:11:40] Okay.
Brian Niska: [00:11:40] The loops going to open up cause the rod tip now is traveling in a convex path, rounded like the top of a basketball. So it’s all about not applying the power too quickly. Saying something like no power before midnight or explaining to someone about trying to use their bottom hand, as opposed to their top hand.
Travis Bader: [00:11:58] Right, just operate on the fulcrum a bit better.
Brian Niska: [00:12:01] Yeah. You know, at the end of the day, just like golf, you know, you’re going to have some of them that don’t work out exactly the way you want.
Travis Bader: [00:12:10] Sure.
Brian Niska: [00:12:10] Right. But it’s consistency and consistency is something that comes with mileage and understanding when things aren’t working out, how to break down the cast. So in the case of spey casting, the foundation of the house is your anchor. So if the cast isn’t working, is your anchor in the right spot? So, this is just a very simple thing. And I bring that up because today, when we were on the river, there was a where your anchor was too far back.
Travis Bader: [00:12:32] Right.
Brian Niska: [00:12:32] And then as soon as you made the adjustment to put it where it was supposed to be, boom, the cast started to work for you.
Travis Bader: [00:12:38] Totally. Now I’ve noticed a trend in the fishing lodge up in the Bonaparte Lake area. One of the owners was a lawyer, another one was, had his own accounting firm, another guy was a securities trader. And it seems that fly fishing tends to attract a certain type of person or a couple of different types of people anyways.
[00:13:01] It seems to me from my, sort of casual observation, and not in it as deep as you are, that’ll attract people who are very particular about the way that they like to have things done right. That may be very methodical in their approach. And it also seems to attract the type of people that just absolutely love being in the outdoors and experiencing it in as, I guess, as rustic as possible. Is that a fair observation?
Brian Niska: [00:13:30] Yeah. You know what I think within fly fishing itself, I think that there’s a lot of differences. Hey, I can say the same thing within spey and you know, if we were to come up with some stereotypes, let’s break it down this way. Let’s say that, you know, when I first started fly fishing, I really wanted to have a fishing vest. And when I got a fishing vest, I wanted to fill that vest with as many boxes of flies and knickknacks and this, that, and the next thing.
[00:13:54] I’m not sure what my motivation was, I think I just wanted to be prepared, but you know, what I learned over a very short period of time is that it’s not comfortable to wear a vest full of a bunch of crap, no matter how important that stuff is. And if you’re trying to spey cast that’s stuff is going to be in your way. Now, if you’re trout fishing and someone who, and there’s different types of trout fishing, okay. So if you’re the type of trout fishermen who has a vest full of stuff, and you know, you’re, let’s say you’re really technical kind of guy.
Travis Bader: [00:14:21] Sure.
Brian Niska: [00:14:21] And very organized and all your boxes have little labels, and these are your nymphs and these are your dry flies and, you know, you’ve got everything you might possibly need. You know, spey casting is going to give you a bit of a relief from that, because the truth of the matter is you don’t need a vest, you need three or four flies. Like really well, you don’t need a lot of flies.
Travis Bader: [00:14:42] Right.
Brian Niska: [00:14:43] You need maybe a couple of sink tips to cover the water. If you have sort of a plan already where you’re going to be fishing, you might not even need that. Just the one that’s on there, a spool of 15 or 20 pound maximum Altra green and you’re good to go. So it’s very minimalist and it’s very free in that sense. And once you move away from having this vest rain down on your shoulders and you’re trying to fly cast, and you’re just, you know, you don’t have to worry about that and where it’s, yeah, it’s very liberating.
[00:15:08] So I think that within fly fishing, you’ve got, you know, the people who pursue big game in the warm water, saltwater environment, like your tarp and fishermen, your permit.
Travis Bader: [00:15:17] Sure.
Brian Niska: [00:15:17] Fishermen, these are very dedicated bunch. These are like the trophy hunters. Then you’ve got the technical trout guys, and these are the type of guys who, you know, they understand why the fish is feeding, when it’s feeding. And they’re very, very good at observing what’s going on in the river all the way around and, you know, they’re essentially trying to give the fish exactly what the fish wants to eat. Then you’ve got the trollers at the Lake like you were.
Travis Bader: [00:15:43] Totally.
Brian Niska: [00:15:43] You know, they’re, you know, they got a fly which they believe in and they put it on there and they drag it around. If it doesn’t work, they change it up. Maybe not quite as in tune with what’s going on, hatch wise, you know, maybe they’re, you know, socializing. It’s a fun, it’s a fun day out.
Travis Bader: [00:15:58] Sure.
Brian Niska: [00:15:59] You know, then you’ve got the steelhead crowd and the steelhead crowd is like, some of them come across as kind of the spiritual thing, because steelhead fishing is hard. Most of the time we don’t catch anything. If you’re a numbers guy and, I’m not going to pass judgment about what it means to be a numbers guy, but steelhead fishing isn’t for numbers people. Numbers people are happier fishing for pink salmon or bass or coho in Alaska.
Travis Bader: [00:16:23] Right.
Brian Niska: [00:16:24] If you’re a steelhead person, you know, you’re an optimist and you probably enjoy crappy weather cause a lot of times steelhead fishing takes place in, you know, challenging weather conditions. And I suppose it’s almost like a communal suffering thing when you have a lodge full of people who are soaking wet and cold and.
Travis Bader: [00:16:41] Yep.
Brian Niska: [00:16:41] Maybe two of them have had a bite, but everyone’s really happy. And isn’t it nice to come back to a warm lodge at the end of the day, that there’s maybe something to that, but the longer you go without a bite, you know, you go three, four days with a tug, and then all of a sudden you, a fish rips your arm off and away it goes, you don’t forget that. Versus some guy who caught 32 bass today, right.
Travis Bader: [00:17:01] That’s a good point.
Brian Niska: [00:17:02] So it’s a different kind of deal, it’s it’s more about the hunt. And I say it’s about the hunt because you really have to believe that what you’re doing is going to work. So this is, it’s really a mental thing, right? So it’s, you know, you don’t necessarily change your approach too much. You have a plan, you believe where the fish are, you have a fly on there that you think is gonna work and, you know, you just execute that plan versus running through your fly box with a bunch of different flies and hoping someone will bite.
[00:17:31] Most of the time out here on the Skeena there’s not a fish in front of us, but we’re always doing what we believe to be the right thing, meaning we’re fishing the right fly that we believe in, in a spot that looks great to us and we’re doing it with confidence. But you never want to feel like, okay the river owes me something, I need to get a bite, I need a fish.
Travis Bader: [00:17:53] Right, right.
Brian Niska: [00:17:54] You just have to be kind of open to that happening. And, you know, keeping that fly in the water. However many years of guiding this is been, I don’t know, I think it’s probably 28 or something like that. I can tell you two things, first thing is that the best casters, the people that can throw out the farthest do not catch the most fish, this is true. And it’s very important because you know, the fish are not that far out. The second thing is, okay sure, you can go fishing for an hour and catch something. But the folks that spend the most time with their fly in the water encounter the most fish.
Travis Bader: [00:18:28] Sure.
Brian Niska: [00:18:29] And you know, this has been proven time and time again. It’s okay to take a break, but from a client standpoint, the more time you keep that fly in the water, the better your chances of success because you fish eight, 10 hours, you have fish in front of you, maybe for a quarter of that time if you’re lucky, that would be huge. And if that happens to be when you’re sitting in the boat having lunch, might not be the best use of your time unless of course the lunch was fantastic.
Travis Bader: [00:19:00] Let’s talk about gear a little bit.
Brian Niska: [00:19:01] Sure.
Travis Bader: [00:19:02] So these Pieroway Rods, you’re a designer for one.
Brian Niska: [00:19:05] Yeah. So Jeff’s a good buddy of mine. That’s Jeff Pieroway, Pieroway Rod company, he’s got an interesting story. He was a rod builder, actually he was a stockbroker, to be fair. He was a stockbroker from Newfoundland who was working in Calgary and rod building was a hobby. And he had a friend who lived in South Korea where a lot of rods are built.
[00:19:24] And so he was over there on a fishing trip and also sourcing some hard to find rod material, like rod building material. And he ended up becoming friends with a gentleman who had a rod factory, who was building rods for a lot of big name companies. And, you know, probably, knowing Jeff, maybe it was maybe over a few beers or what have you, he, you know, he carved out a little niche in this guy’s production schedule and he was off to the races.
Travis Bader: [00:19:48] Nice.
Brian Niska: [00:19:48] And the development of his business is pretty cool because if you’ve been to Calgary, you know, that the Bow River runs right through it. And a lot of folks who fish the Bow, float and drift boats right.
Travis Bader: [00:19:59] Okay.
Brian Niska: [00:20:00] But a lot of the younger people don’t have drift boats.
Travis Bader: [00:20:02] Right.
Brian Niska: [00:20:02] So a lot of the younger crowd is, you know, there are these dog parks, like dog-walking parks where you can access the river, footbridges, that type of thing. And they’re fishing from the bank and so Jeff would kind of patrol these sort of areas. And, you know, he was basically selling his rods out of the trunk of his car and picking up garbage as he went and helping people with their casting. It was really a grassroots kind of deal.
Travis Bader: [00:20:23] Wow.
Brian Niska: [00:20:24] But a lot of those folks were the early adapters of spey casting in Alberta because, and it’s a little different than here. What a lot of those folks are doing are fishing like, you know, San Juan worms or whatever, and they can fish more than one fly underneath the bobber and the spey rod fishing from the bank made it easy to cover the water.
Travis Bader: [00:20:41] Right.
Brian Niska: [00:20:42] So, you know, Jeff was in on the, for Alberta, Jeff was in on the spey really early and I met him at the Canadian Fly Fishing Show and, you know, struck up a conversation with Jeff’s rep and he said, Hey, what do you think of the rods? And I said, Oh, they’re all right, but have you ever considered maybe making the butt of the rod a little bit softer in relation to the middle section of the rod and making that a bit stiffer. Now, most rods, most spey rods, and actually most, fly rods are progressive in flex, meaning the tip is softer than the button.
Travis Bader: [00:21:12] Okay.
Brian Niska: [00:21:13] When we spey cast, as we’ve talked about earlier, we’re creating load in the sweep and we’re not stopping the rod to release the load on the back cast. What we’re trying to do is keep the load within the rod on the back cast and load comes into the rod from the tip, goes to the butt and when it leaves, it goes out the opposite. And the problem with a conventional progressive action rod that stiffen the butt and soften the tip, is it doesn’t want to keep the load in the butt, and that’s where most of the power is.
[00:21:39] So, you know, the concept was to build the flex pattern so at 12 o’clock, meaning at the part of the forward cast where the rod would essentially be straight up and down, and this is where the rod has to be the most bent, has to carry the most load.
Travis Bader: [00:21:55] Okay.
Brian Niska: [00:21:55] So if you look at a flat roof line, a horizontal line and you think, okay, if my rod tip is going to accelerate in a straight line, this is essentially the path that it’s going to take. So, you know, look at this beam and you think, you know that rod tip is on that. At what point is the rod going to be most bent? Is it going to be most spent at 12? Let’s call it 11 and 1, or 10 and 2, three options. And if you think about it, it’s gotta be when it’s straight up and down for.
Travis Bader: [00:22:21] Sure.
Brian Niska: [00:22:21] The rod tip to be on that line. So, what we did is we work backwards from there. So we wanted our flex patterns to be nice and balanced end to have the rod carry of the deepest bend. And by softening the butt of the rod, basically underneath the cork, we came up with a rod that would very easily keep its load through the transition, at the end of the sweep into the forward cast. And so you get a ton of line speed without having to you know, work very hard. The rod does all the work for you and that’s the Metal Detector series.
Travis Bader: [00:22:50] Yeah.
Brian Niska: [00:22:51] We started out with, well we were going to start out with a couple of different rods in it and we ended up starting out with three. So we did a 12 foot 510. 510 grain rod, which is kind of like a seven eight.
Travis Bader: [00:23:07] Okay.
Brian Niska: [00:23:07] Okay. So this is kind of your all around trout, light salmon rod. Then we did a heavier rod, which I think you were fishing today. That’s the seven 20,13 foot 5 inches. This was purpose-built for Chinook and large steelhead. Then we also had a switch rod, now switch rods, a rod that can be cast single hand or a spey.
Travis Bader: [00:23:27] Right.
Brian Niska: [00:23:27] It’s a compromise rod.
Travis Bader: [00:23:28] Sure.
Brian Niska: [00:23:29] So generally speaking a switch rod doesn’t spey cast as well as a two hander and it doesn’t single hand as nice as a single hand, cause it’s a little bit bigger.
Travis Bader: [00:23:36] Right.
Brian Niska: [00:23:37] And the failure of a lot of switch rod designs are that they’re too long to single hand without, you know, getting tired.
Travis Bader: [00:23:44] Right.
Brian Niska: [00:23:44] So 10 and a half feet is sort of the magic number and that’s pretty much where we were with that. And that’s a 400 grain, so that’s a six seven, perfect rod for fishing the Bow. And so those were the three initial ones. And then we wanted to kind of like a heavier steelhead rod to fill the gaps. So we came up with a 600, which is 12 foot, 10 inches.
Travis Bader: [00:24:04] Right.
Brian Niska: [00:24:05] And I think you actually own one of those.
Travis Bader: [00:24:07] I do have one of those, yes.
Brian Niska: [00:24:08] Actually you have a couple of those pardon me. And that’s my favourite rod for fishing the Skeena, that’s just the perfect all-around-er. And now we have a couple rods in the six piece series. We have a 675 grain, which is basically, you know, a total middle of the road, salmon steelhead rod, just a little bit beefier than the 600 and a bit of a de-tuned version of the Chinook rod. And, you know, that’s a real popular one with Atlantic salmon guys.
Travis Bader: [00:24:36] Totally.
Brian Niska: [00:24:36] Because.
Travis Bader: [00:24:37] You fly with that, throw them in your backpack.
Brian Niska: [00:24:39] Yeah so, it’s so easy. I think that’s the way of the future, because it’s not that people don’t trust the airlines, but they just don’t want to give them extra money for another bag. So being able to stuff it in their suitcase, makes it a lot harder for me when I’m at the airport, by the way and I’m trying to pick out who our guests are.
[00:24:53] Usually you’re looking for the rod tubes and these guys just have like briefcases with rods in ’em. But, and now we have a new one coming out, which is a different material, I’m not probably supposed to talk about it yet because it’s not out, but it’s definitely something to watch for this year, hopefully.
[00:25:07] And that’s going to be a lighter stiffer steelhead rod. And, I forgot, we also have a competition rod, a 15 foot, 1200.
Travis Bader: [00:25:16] Geez.
Brian Niska: [00:25:17] Grain thing that, so this is a bunch of them. There’s a bunch.
Travis Bader: [00:25:19] No kidding.
Brian Niska: [00:25:20] Of metal detectors.
Travis Bader: [00:25:20] Started out for three and you got like what, like six, seven.
Brian Niska: [00:25:22] Yeah. It’s added up and then we’ve also done the X-Series. Which by the way, Pieroway had before Sage copied him on that name. Yeah, yeah, true story. And they sent him a letter saying you can’t, he didn’t, he never did trademark or anything, but they said, Hey, well it’s a letter, you can’t copy right it.
Travis Bader: [00:25:42] No.
Brian Niska: [00:25:42] You can’t trademark it.
Travis Bader: [00:25:43] Totally.
Brian Niska: [00:25:44] I thought it was cheesy to be honest with you, but copycats and.
Travis Bader: [00:25:49] Yeah, you just can’t get away from that. It doesn’t matter what business you’re in.
Brian Niska: [00:25:52] Yeah, it’s, so we took it as a compliment gesture though. He’s also done a shorter space series called the Renegade series. And this is with Jerry French, who’s one of the originals Skagit guides, one of the originators of the Intruder fly and just an all around a magician on the water. So yeah, Pieroway coming on strong and he’s got a different business model because he doesn’t really sell to dealers.
Travis Bader: [00:26:17] Okay.
Brian Niska: [00:26:17] If you want to buy a Pieroway Rod.
Travis Bader: [00:26:18] You gotta be on the Bow River.
Brian Niska: [00:26:20] You got to go see Jeff at his shop, which is basically his workshop in a little retail store in Calgary.
Travis Bader: [00:26:25] Okay.
Brian Niska: [00:26:26] And then, you know, a few lodges and stuff, sell them where people use them. So yeah, happy to be involved with Jeff. Jeff’s just a really good dude, but you’re hard pressed to find a bad Newfie, that’s true.
Travis Bader: [00:26:36] So on the side of that rod, there’s a picture of a fish sort of flames on the fish or what is that?
Brian Niska: [00:26:43] That was the logo for Whistler fly fishing, so that was a design my brother came up with many years ago and we sell lots of hats and t-shirts, and that type of thing with i.
Travis Bader: [00:26:54] See I was told that people who weren’t into fishing at all, would come by and purchase this gear just for that logo.
Brian Niska: [00:27:01] You know, Whistler’s funny, people are always buying souvenir type things. So yeah, we sold a lot of stuff with that fish on it for sure.
Travis Bader: [00:27:09] Fly fishing, spey casting, this has typically been in days of old, associated with more stodgy old men on the river, but you’re definitely seeing a transition over the years. You’re seeing a much younger crowd getting into it, a much wider demographic. I’m wondering how much you had to play in all of that with Whistler spey casting. I mean, locally anyways.
Brian Niska: [00:27:33] Yeah okay. So I think the first thing to understand is that the best swung fly fisheries in the world are places like Argentina, Russia, Iceland, Norway. Sure BC, right?
Travis Bader: [00:27:46] Sure.
Brian Niska: [00:27:47] And the big difference between BC and a lot of these other places are the access. So I’ll give you an example, so might as well start here. Spey, Scotland, right?
Travis Bader: [00:27:57] Sure.
Brian Niska: [00:27:58] To fish in Scotland on a really good stretch of river, typically, perhaps not always, but typically requires a fair amount of money okay.
Travis Bader: [00:28:08] Sure.
Brian Niska: [00:28:09] This is not something you can just like buy rod and go.
Travis Bader: [00:28:11] Yeah.
Brian Niska: [00:28:11] You know, you need to have the rights to fish there.
Travis Bader: [00:28:14] Some land access.
Brian Niska: [00:28:15] Yeah. And you know, I think Norway is even more complicated. Iceland’s become less complicated, but there’s a common theme here and that usually you’re going to have some money to do this. And BC is totally different because in BC you’re not restricted where you can go fishing. And so the average age of a swung fly salmon angler here is much lower then say England as an example. Which is a tremendous investment in our future. It’s just the way it worked out. I mean the whole public access thing here is just superb, right?
Travis Bader: [00:28:48] It’s phenomenal.
Brian Niska: [00:28:48] Yeah, as a BC resident, you buy your license once, you can go wherever you want. Sure, we do restrict the non-residents a bit. You know, there’s certain rivers where can’t fish on a weekend or, or one day of the week or whatever it is, at the Copper it’s three days they can’t fish, but they still got lots of other options.
[00:29:04] So in Eastern Canada, we have, you know, Quebec’s got some of the best Atlantic salmon fishing in the world and the way that they control access there is for something called the ZEC. And essentially what they’re doing is limiting the amount of anglers on a particular section of river. So it’s almost like you have to make an appointment to be able to go fish a piece of water. Whereas in BC, we can travel around and fish at our whim provided we have our license.
Travis Bader: [00:29:26] Right.
Brian Niska: [00:29:27] So I guess where I’m going with all this is, you don’t have barriers for people to access the water. So they have to buy the gear and they’ll probably get some waders, but then they’re good to go.
[00:29:37] And, you know, for myself, skiing and fishing always been my passion. We talked about, you know, how I started out as a ski instructor, so obviously I’m in Whistler and what am I going to do for the summer? Okay, well, I know I’ll be a golf pro okay. I’m not a bad golfer, but I’m not a good golfer. And so I got a job on the golf course, right. Nicklaus North, and I was golfing all the time.
[00:30:01] I was like, I’ll figure this out. Like a couple of rounds a day, I’ll be pro before you know it. And meanwhile I had done some fish guiding previous and you know, I ended up starting to work fish guiding. And so I was volunteering at the golf course, trying to bang out, or, you know, let’s say 10 rounds a week because I wanted to be a golf pro.
Travis Bader: [00:30:18] Yeah.
Brian Niska: [00:30:19] Cause it would supplement my skiing in the winter. And then meanwhile, I was sort of spending a little bit of time fish guiding, which had already been doing. And I realized, Hey, there’s a lot of potential here. And the golf course, I was also figuring out that unless you’re a really great golfer, a golf pro is going to stand next to someone at the driving range right.
[00:30:41] Whereas when you’re teaching skiing, you’re out on the hill, when you’re guiding fly fishing, you’re out on the river. It wasn’t quite as exciting as I sort of pictured it. I mean, I wasn’t.
Travis Bader: [00:30:49] That’s a good point.
Brian Niska: [00:30:50] Like imagining I’d be like out on the tour or anything, but, you know, I just decided that, okay. I was going, golf was going to be a recreational thing for me, besides it’s really hard, I’m not that good. So, you know, Whistler at that time, we had a ton of tourist traffic that was looking for an activity in the summer. And, you know, you could pick a thing, I mean, ATV tours, horseback tours, mountain bikes, it’s all there okay.
Travis Bader: [00:31:14] Right.
Brian Niska: [00:31:14] But float tubing, so sitting in the floating tube on the local lakes and there’s some good lakes there, but that was kind of your standard guided trip, but there was some river fishing. It wasn’t right in Whistler, but there was some river fishing and it was pretty good at the right time. But here’s the thing the right time wasn’t really in the summer, the right time was actually in the spring, the winter and the fall okay.
[00:31:38] So the float tubes in the summer, a lot of those people, you know, they’d never done it before. So we put them in the float tube and they kicked around and they were trolling like, like you, like, you were only there in a float tube.
Travis Bader: [00:31:47] Yeah.
Brian Niska: [00:31:48] But they all wanted to learn how to cast. But learning how to cast in a float tube is not the ideal situation.
Travis Bader: [00:31:53] Right.
Brian Niska: [00:31:53] Because you’re sitting down right.
Travis Bader: [00:31:55] Yeah.
Brian Niska: [00:31:55] So it was like, you know, never-mind being a fishing guide, I’m going to start a fly fishing school and I will teach these people on the grass, how to cast. And then if they want to go in the float too, we’ll sell them a guided trip. But this is, this is kind of the whole thing started.
Travis Bader: [00:32:07] Very smart.
Brian Niska: [00:32:08] Yeah. And, and then we did our real fishing in the other three months, especially in the winter, that’s when the good trout fishing was. And so over the course of a decade or more, you know, we built up a pretty good winter steelhead clientele, and a lot of those folks are still with us today here at Skeena spey.
[00:32:24] But, you know, certainly the local Whistler residents. And, you know, I want to say your average Whistler resident is probably in their thirties. I don’t know if that’s true or not, you know, there’s.
Travis Bader: [00:32:36] Seems that way.
Brian Niska: [00:32:37] Yeah. You know, it’s a young town, even old folks seem young there, it’s a young town. It’s a great place, tremendous sense of community, but everyone is really outdoors orientated, looking for something new to do outside. And I can’t count the number of ski and snowboard pros that came through my shop and wanted to get into fly fishing. And some of them now are really accomplished, fly fishers.
[00:32:59] A lot of times it would be because they had an injury. They, you know, they couldn’t ride up on the glacier in the summer so they were going to fly fish and learn how to fly fish. But, you know, I think I did sell a lot of people their first fly rods. I definitely sold a lot of people at first spey rods and you know, overall our clientele at, out of that shop was much younger than say, you know, your typical hardy’s crowd right.
Travis Bader: [00:33:23] Right, right.
Brian Niska: [00:33:24] And I think for the lodge too, I should mention this, your typical steelhead lodge in BC. Sure, old, rich white guys are there.
Travis Bader: [00:33:33] Right.
Brian Niska: [00:33:33] This is what you would expect.
Travis Bader: [00:33:35] Yeah.
Brian Niska: [00:33:35] And I think our clientele here is much more diverse than that. We do get a lot of couples, we get a lot of families, we get a lot of kids, lots of females.
Travis Bader: [00:33:43] Yeah.
Brian Niska: [00:33:43] You know, we’ve had female guides, still have female guides and, you know, I think it’s just good business if nothing else, because if you limit your clientele to one type of client and they’re older, how many more years are you going to get out of them?
Travis Bader: [00:33:58] Totally.
Brian Niska: [00:33:58] Right. If you have a client who’s in their twenties, right?
Travis Bader: [00:34:01] Yeah.
Brian Niska: [00:34:02] And if it’s some.
Travis Bader: [00:34:03] You’ve got the rest of your life.
Brian Niska: [00:34:04] Yeah, yeah, yeah, totally. And you know when you have couples as clients, they tend to be well-behaved, they don’t keep the rest of the guests up seeing who can get the drunkest. If the wife’s into fly fishing and she’s trying to get her husband into fishing, and he’s doing it, she’s happy. Regardless of whether the river’s full of fish or not.
Travis Bader: [00:34:25] Right.
Brian Niska: [00:34:25] If people are trying to get their kids into it and the kids aren’t bored, they’re stoked. And I think the crew of the team that we have here, what would they do exceptionally well is, is teach. You know, there’s some lazy fishing guides in this world and everyone can have an off day and some fishing guides think their job description is to sit in a boat and drink coffee and if you hook something, they’ll come with the net.
[00:34:49] Other fishing guides, they’re going to stand at your shoulder and do their best to, you know, if nothing else, improve your casting or make you understand why they have you fishing in particular spot at a particular time.
[00:35:00] So if you don’t catch something today, at least there’s some value that down the road, maybe this knowledge will still be there for you. So I think, one thing we’ve done well as a business is get new people into it.
Travis Bader: [00:35:11] Right.
Brian Niska: [00:35:11] And of course that’s creating new clients. So that’s way better than, you know, trying to steal clients from another lodge or something like that.
Travis Bader: [00:35:18] Totally.
Brian Niska: [00:35:19] So yeah, I think, you know if your client, if you’re looking at your clientele and your lodge owner, and it’s all a bunch of old, rich, white guys, you should be really freaked out right now.
Travis Bader: [00:35:30] Yeah, that’s a good point.
Brian Niska: [00:35:31] Especially if they’re not Canadians, cause quite frankly, I think we’re going to be dealing with domestic clientele for another year at least.
Travis Bader: [00:35:38] I think you’re right on that one. For somebody wanting to get into spey fishing. What does a season look like if they’re willing to travel around BC a bit?
Brian Niska: [00:35:47] Oh man. It’s year round, for sure.
Travis Bader: [00:35:48] Really?
Brian Niska: [00:35:49] So let’s pretend that they live in the Lower Mainland cause most people do.
Travis Bader: [00:35:53] Totally.
Brian Niska: [00:35:54] Right. Sometimes you get a real winter, but let’s say January, so January you, you can be up the Squamish system and spey fishing for trout and then steel head tend to start showing up in February, March. So you’ve got steelhead fishing up there. You’ve also got steelhead fishing out in the Fraser Valley, out in the tributaries of the Fraser as well as the Vedder itself, obviously Fraser tributary too.
Travis Bader: [00:36:17] Yeah.
Brian Niska: [00:36:18] Once we get into the first bit of summer late spring, say like May, your usually dealing with high water okay.
Travis Bader: [00:36:26] Yeah.
Brian Niska: [00:36:26] So this is, this would be the time when you know, your spey fishing options do get a little bit limited. Now there’s certain systems that are Lake fed and I don’t want to add pressure to them, so I’m not going to put them to name right now, but there’s certain systems that are Lake fed that fresh it’s not quite as abrupt.
[00:36:43] And you can often fish through May. June is going to be the tough one, but then you have other rivers that are quicker to recover and the Kitimat is a good example. The Kitimat is a great river in June for Chinook right.
Travis Bader: [00:36:55] Okay.
Brian Niska: [00:36:55] That’s a prime time to fish it. Then we get into July, now you can fish the Skeena for chinook salmon and steelhead .Lots of, pretty much any Chinook river is, that’s open is good in late June, early July, August is prime time for steelhead migration through the Skeena so that’s happening.
[00:37:14] Once we get into September and October, the tributary start fishing good. You know, the Bulkley has almost half of the Skeena steelhead returned in the summer and it probably has at least half the steelhead anglers. So, you know, with almost a hundred fishable miles, the Bulkley is really easy access and a great choice, especially for a first, you know, do it yourself type steelhead trip, just because the access is so good around Smithers.
Travis Bader: [00:37:36] Yeah.
Brian Niska: [00:37:37] And you know, the latter part of the fall, you could be back down on the Fraser system, or you could be down on the Squamish fishing for coho and chums, or you could still be up here, fishing for steelhead in the big Northern coho.
Travis Bader: [00:37:48] Wow.
Brian Niska: [00:37:49] So yeah, I mean, it really, it goes on and on. You don’t have to have an off season because our, typically our climate so mild.
Travis Bader: [00:37:56] So here’s a question for you, so every odd year in the Lower Mainland, the pink salmon will run up the Fraser and it’s always fun. We live in Delta area, it’s real close, easy access and people in Richmond and Delta and up the river will just spin cast and catch some pink salmons, put them in the smoker. Would you spey cast for something like that? I’ve never seen somebody do that.
Brian Niska: [00:38:20] Sure. You know, you can swing flies for pinks. In the Squamish it’s very popular. So Squamish gets pink at the same time you would get them down there generally.
Travis Bader: [00:38:27] Right, okay.
Brian Niska: [00:38:28] And so this would be typically fishing the lower reaches of the Squamish, the popular area would be around the most of the Mamquam.
Travis Bader: [00:38:34] Right, okay.
Brian Niska: [00:38:35] And yeah, just swinging little pink flies, like a six, seven weight spey rod works beautifully.
Travis Bader: [00:38:41] But on the Fraser?
Brian Niska: [00:38:42] You know, I’ve done it.
Travis Bader: [00:38:42] I’ve never actually seen it.
Brian Niska: [00:38:43] I’ve absolutely done it on the Fraser a long time ago, but it was near Chilliwack. I’ve never fished down your way on the lower river.
Travis Bader: [00:38:49] Right.
Brian Niska: [00:38:50] I don’t know, you know, what the depth would be like, or if there’s gravel bars there or, you know, if you’d be trying to cast from a boat, but I imagine it’s possible.
Travis Bader: [00:38:59] Yeah, I guess so. I’m going to try it.
Brian Niska: [00:39:01] Yeah, you should. You absolutely should.
Travis Bader: [00:39:04] Absolutely I will. I’ll take a picture of it and I’ll put it up on the website. How about etiquette? Like a little bit about basic etiquette. Cause that’s one of the things that as, a getting new into any sport can be intimidating for people. Like where do I, where do I step in? Like, what’s the right thing to do and I mean, everyone talks about these fights breaking over, out on rivers that are crowded over improper etiquette.
Brian Niska: [00:39:29] That’s a superb question. And it’s a complicated issue because different rivers have different systems, but generally speaking, most people are fishing down the run. And what I mean by that is, if you approach a run and there’s a big run, but there’s already one person fishing it, but it’s a big run there’s room for more than one. The appropriate thing to do would be to go in behind that person.
Travis Bader: [00:39:52] Right.
Brian Niska: [00:39:53] Now, the actual appropriate thing to do would be to go up and have a brief conversation and say, Hey.
Travis Bader: [00:39:57] Right.
Brian Niska: [00:39:57] Do you mind if I hop in behind you? And that person would say, no, go ahead. And what’s great about doing that is, often there’ll be an exchange of information that’s going to be beneficial for you. So that that person might say, Oh, by the way, I caught a fish earlier, I had a bite or I’ve seen a few, you know, at least.
Travis Bader: [00:40:13] Right.
Brian Niska: [00:40:13] You’ll have a better understanding of what’s taking place. You know at that point you’ve identified yourself as a decent human being, and you’re not trying to wreck this person’s day and you’re saying, Hey, do you mind if I fished behind you? And they’re going to say, sure, go ahead. The wrong move would be to walk in below that person, meaning downstream.
Travis Bader: [00:40:31] Right.
Brian Niska: [00:40:32] And if they’re trying to work their way through the run, cause a lot of times when people are spey casting, they’ll cast swing, take a step, you know, they’ll work their way, cover the water. And you’ve just like made this roadblock in front of them. And if you’re just gonna stand there, man, that’s even worse.
[00:40:46] It’s bad enough if you jump in in front of them and you’re moving, right. But if you’re going to stand there then it’s, but I think a lot of times when this sort of situation happens, not all, but I think a lot of times it’s not that the person’s a real jackass or that they’re doing it on purpose, I think it’s just, they don’t know.
[00:41:05] And some fisheries, like I use the Vedder in salmon season as an example. It’s a crowded river, people aren’t moving through the run. People just get their rock and they hang out on their rock and they hope that the fish are gonna come by. And you know, if you’re bar fishing on a river, like the Fraser or the Skeena, obviously you’re set up in one spot, right, you’re not moving.
[00:41:26] So it’s important to make that distinction. Is this an angler who’s staying in one spot, is this an angler that’s moving? So back to our initial river conversation, you walked in, there’s a guy fishing, the run, that’s okay. There’s lots of space, hey, how’s it going? Are you moving through? I’m moving through, okay perfect. Okay.
[00:41:41] Do you mind, I’ll hop in behind you? Or if the person’s like, no, I’m just, this is my spot, I’m just going to hang out here. They might say, you’re welcome to go below me. They might say, you’re welcome to go above.
Travis Bader: [00:41:49] Right.
Brian Niska: [00:41:50] But at least you’ve had the conversation right. They’re not going to say, Hey, this is my run, beat it.
Travis Bader: [00:41:54] Right, right.
Brian Niska: [00:41:55] Right. But you know, at least you have a better understanding. And if for some reason you don’t want to talk to them, at the very least, instead of hopping in, observe them. And if it looks like they’re moving through the run quickly, then by all means, you know give them lots of space and go well above them.
Travis Bader: [00:42:10] Just jump in.
Brian Niska: [00:42:10] Yeah. Angler etiquette is, it’s sort of a funny thing because once again, I think a lot of times there’s misunderstandings at play when there are problems. And it is somewhat localized, meaning there are certain stretches of river where, you know, people just kind of walk in and do their thing. But it’s a funny thing because if you and I were fishing just any river. How about the river right here? A little.
Travis Bader: [00:42:37] Sure.
Brian Niska: [00:42:37] Tributary of the Skeena and we were driving along it and we wanted to fish a spot and there was a car parked there, we would probably keep going because.
Travis Bader: [00:42:46] Right. You don’t want to be around.
Brian Niska: [00:42:47] We’re not trying to go and make me, we’re just going fishing right.
Travis Bader: [00:42:51] Right.
Brian Niska: [00:42:51] We’ll go to a different spot. But as density increases, as every parking spot we go by seems to have a car, now we’re like, Oh, well there’s only one there, so maybe we’ll go there. And when it gets really bad with, Oh, there’s only five, there was just so there’s still probably room for us. So you know, when we talk about regulation and I, this ties in nicely with what we said before, about how they’ve addressed maintaining equality, angling experience in other places by limiting the number of participants. And we don’t want to go down that road in BC.
[00:43:23] You know, we don’t necessarily need a law that says, okay, there’s only X amount of people allowed to fish a particular stretch of water. In a period of time because most people will go, okay, well, this part is kind of crowded, this isn’t the experience I’m looking for.
[00:43:37] I will drive 20 minutes further, or go to a different spot or I’ll get up earlier or I’ll fish later. They will adjust their own, you know, their own day in a way to avoid the crowds. And some people, like I think some people like the crowds, I think some people will seek out places where there’s lots of people fishing.
Travis Bader: [00:43:55] Yeah I don’t get that.
Brian Niska: [00:43:56] Because that must be a good spot right.
Travis Bader: [00:43:58] Oh totally.
Brian Niska: [00:43:59] But you know, there we are, we’re driving along the river, okay. There’s not a car here, perfect, we’ll go in right. So I think that certain rivers, when they have space, when they’re not over, let’s say oversubscribed, you know, you have this real orderly way that people conduct themselves, where they don’t impede each other’s access or negatively affect each other’s day.
[00:44:20] And when we find ourselves in a situation where, you know, the density is such that, you know, it’s not really the experience we’re looking for, it’s a great excuse to go elsewhere. And I also find that a lot of times crowds are somewhat reactionary. What I mean by that is if fishing has been productive, if there’s been a lot of fish caught, following that period, days, or week, whatever, you’ll see an increase in people fishing.
Travis Bader: [00:44:47] Sure.
Brian Niska: [00:44:48] But often the fishing will then slow down right. And then people say oh fishing, then they’ll stop fishing for a bit and they’ll wait for the next push of fish to come in, but they’re not out there all the time. So the folks that are out there will reap the rewards, so to speak, and then other people will hear that, Oh, there’s a bunch of fish around and then they will descend on the river and by then it’s kind of over. So there’s no substitute for time on the water.
Travis Bader: [00:45:11] Just getting out there.
Brian Niska: [00:45:12] Yeah. And you know, in this day and age where the learning curve is pretty quick, in the sense that you’ve got Google Earth, you’ve got message boards. You can hit up the tackle shop. It’s very easy to get information about where to go. So there’s no such thing really, as a secret spot, it’s all about timing.
[00:45:30] And what I love about the Skeena and our experience out here is, you know, today, the river’s still kind of high for this time of year.
Travis Bader: [00:45:39] Okay.
Brian Niska: [00:45:39] But looking at our forecast, it’s going to be dropping. It’s going to drop eight, 10 inches a day probably. So seven days from now, the river will be, you know, five feet lower vertically than it is today. And there’ll be new gravel bars and new spots. And, you know, existing spots will change. So, you know, from one day to the next, you know, you really have to be paying attention to what’s going on to understand where to spend your time.
[00:46:05] Cause a huge river, you know, you can’t fish everything. So you have to pick the spots and the spots within the spots that you want to concentrate your effort. And it’s such a dynamic thing with the water level changing so dramatically here. And then also, you know, fluctuations in run timing for fish, especially how it relates to tides.
Travis Bader: [00:46:24] Right.
Brian Niska: [00:46:24] Yeah. You know, it’s not quite as simple, perhaps as a smaller river that might have, you know, this is the meat hole and.
Travis Bader: [00:46:31] Yeah, yeah, yeah.
Brian Niska: [00:46:31] You know, this is the spot that everyone wants to go. On the Skeena that, with the fish moving through, it’s really about timing.
Travis Bader: [00:46:40] Wow.
Brian Niska: [00:46:41] And you know, there’s no substitute for confidence, keeping your fly in the water.
Travis Bader: [00:46:47] Just fishing with intent.
Brian Niska: [00:46:48] Believing. Yeah. Just fishing, you know, making a plan and then fishing your plan.
Travis Bader: [00:46:52] Well, Brian. Thank you very much for taking the time to talk to me and to share your passion of fishing with The Silvercore Podcast listeners.
Brian Niska: [00:47:01] Cool. Hey, it’s been fun having you guys here and look forward to doing it again.
Travis Bader: [00:47:04] Absolutely.