Fishing the mighty Babine river is a steelhead experience you will never forget. This is one of the greatest rivers on the face of the Earth, hands down. If you ask any hard-core steelheader to list the best rivers on the planet, the Babine will be at the top of the short list. The Babine represents the ultimate British Columbia steelheading experience, for some of the biggest, wildest steelhead that have ever swam upstream.
These magnificent sea-going trout enter their natal Skeena drainage in late July, and move upstream into the clear headwaters of the Babine River by the end of August. Fresh fish continue to accumulate in the river right through the end of October and into November. The Babine produces some of the largest steelhead to enter the Skeena system and it is a river known for its truly monster specimens! Fly fishing for these wild, native steelhead can be fantastic from the 1st of September right through the end of the season.
Floating lines and dry flies, or very light sink tips with small unweighted wet flies are the name of the game for the better part of September and into October, due to the fact that the Babine is one of the warmest of the Skeena tributaries. Heavier tips and large flies seem to be more productive through the later part of the season when the water temperatures become increasingly cooler and the fish are more reluctant to move long distances to a hit a fly. While many who visit the Babine year after year do so strictly for the top water action, one shouldn’t overlook the late season potential this river possesses when the entirety of the run is holding in the pools you are casting into.
The Babine flows west from its headwaters below Babine Lake, and winds downstream for 60 miles (100km) where it enters the Skeena just upstream of the confluences of the Bulkley and the Kispiox. One major advantage of selecting the Babine as your destination of choice over other renowned steelhead fisheries (like the Bulkley, Sustut, Kispiox, Copper) is the amount of time the river takes to clear and drop after a big storm, which can be common in the fall in British Columbia. The upper Babine comes right out of the lake and will come back into shape in even the heaviest of rains. The Babine generally remains fishable in all but the worst of weather. It is also one of the fastest dropping and quickest clearing of all other rivers in the Skeena region, so anglers do not need to feel too threatened by the thought of traveling all this way and not being able to fish. The river can virtually be blown out one day and fishable the next.
Babine Steelhead Lodge guided trips are conducted with 18 foot jet boats to provide access to the very best runs, riffles, and tail outs the river has to offer. Fishing on the Babine is strictly catch-and-release. There are literally hundreds of runs on the Babine and with minimal pressure from the general public and other lodges, anglers enjoy a rare opportunity to fish untouched water every day of the week. With 9 rods in Camp per week, with 3 guides and boats, there will be 3 anglers per guide every day.
Each day anglers are rotated on 3 different beats of the river so that every day is a fresh exciting new adventure. Everyone fishes each beat twice per week, many times in different runs (Except the exceptional. runs you will want to fish twice!) Days are long at Babine Steelhead Lodge, as our guides understand the importance of taking the time to fish each piece of prime water as thoroughly as possible in order to maximize your steelhead catching potential. Babine Steelhead Lodge prides itself on having assembled an elite guide staff that possesses the instructional skills and knowledge of the Babine River system to ensure a memorable experience!
Babine Steelhead Lodge is strategically located a little more than 10 miles downstream of the weir, below the lake. This creates the ideal location to minimize run time in the jets every day, whether you are fishing the upper or lower beats of the upper river. Babine Steelhead Lodge is one of only 2 full service fly fishing lodges located on the upper Babine, and without public access, there is plenty of water to go around!.
As with all steelhead angling, if you’re looking to catch obscene numbers of fish, this trip probably isn’t for you! Babine Steelhead Lodge clients generally average 1-3 hook ups per angler per day, but keep in mind this is not always the case! There are many days that accomplished anglers and good students will grossly exceed these numbers, and other days when even the best effort won’t come close to putting a fish up. Steelhead fishing is not a numbers game, it is about catching the most prized freshwater game fish that swims. Anglers willing to fish hard, cover a lot of water, listen to their guides, and put in a long day, will have the best potential of landing a trophy.
Steelhead on the Babine average between 8 -16 lbs. Specimens up to and exceeding 20 lbs are caught almost daily, at least weekly, by someone. The first fish arrive in August, and by the 1st of September, top quality fly fishing is in full swing. The big bucks are usually in the river by early September and fish continue to accumulate in prime holding water right through the end of November. So when is the best time to visit the Babine? The answer is whenever you have time to come!
This British Columbian jewel has been declared so rare and valuable by the Canadian Government that a special classified waters angling license is necessary for all anglers that fish the river. These strict regulations translate into a very limited amount of guided rod days available to lodges and outfitters on the Skeena and her tributaries, so if you are seriously considering a trip to the Babine, we recommend making your reservations as early as possible to avoid disappointment!
Reservations & Rates
The cost of the week-long (Friday-Friday) Babine Steelhead Lodge package is $6,800.00-$7,400.00 per person, depending on the week. Plus a $100.00 donation to the Babine Conservation Fund.
Included in your Babine Steelhead Lodge package are all accommodations and meals at lodge, guiding, round-trip transfers between Smithers and lodge via helicopter, HST, room tax, wine.
Not included in your Babine Steelhead Lodge package are airfare to and from Smithers BC, accommodations and meals in Smithers, fishing licenses, gratuities, beer and alcohol (BYOB).
The Fly Shop® is not in the insurance business, but we recommend Travel Guard coverage as a service with a desire to see your best interests protected. It is impossible to know when an unfortunate situation (loss of luggage, fly rods, illness in the family, or an accident) may occur. However, such things can and do happen, and this insurance can provide a means of recourse against non-refundable financial losses.
• Travel Guard Insurance
Seasons at Babine Steelhead Lodge
The main steelhead season on the Bulkley River starts in mid to late August and builds through October and the first part of November.
If skating a surface fly to raise a steelhead to a fly is your dream or favorite method of pursuing them, you'll want to reserve dates at the beginning of the season through the middle of September. The warmer waters keep the steelhead active and looking up! The dry line action can
continue right through September into the first part of October. As it cools down, fish might still look up from time to time, but most of the work will be with sink tips in the back part of October. Mid September through mid October is a very popular time because the river is generally loaded with fish and while the waters are cooling, the fish are still very active. From Mid October into November the waters definitely get cooler, as Autumn gives way to early winter conditions. The trees on the mountainsides are in beautiful coloration or may even get a dusting of snow. This is an exciting time to be there, the entire run is holding in front of you, and it is the time for truly big steelhead.
Getting to Babine Steelhead Lodge
Travel from Vancouver-Smithers can be arranged via Canada Air, a United affiliate. Once you arrive catch a shuttle or taxi to your hotel in Smithers for the first night. You'll be met at the hotel the next morning by a Babine Steelhead Lodge Representative and transported back to the airport by van to catch the helicopter into camp. Helicopter departure will depend on weather clearance and safety.
At the end of the week, the helicopter will drop you off back in Smithers around midday, but is impossible to know exactly when, as weather will dictate flight schedules. You may want to overnight in Smithers again that night and then schedule your departure from Smithers all the way home, for the early morning the next day with a departing flight to Vancouver, usually departing at 8:30 am, arriving 9:37 am (weather depending). You can arrange to depart the same evening you get back to Smithers on the heli, but you will likely just have to overnight in Vancouver anyway.
Contact Alicia at Holdy Tours to arrange your flight itineraries into and out of Smithers BC:
Lodging at Babine Steelhead Lodge
Babine Steelhead Lodge is located about 15 kilometers below the weir at Babine lake, in the heart of the upper river. The Camp style lodge is rustic, but extremely comfortable. Accommodations at the camp are cabin style, with 3 guests per cabin. Extremely comfortable bunk beds with cozy beds & linens and in-room heaters keep the rooms as warm as needed. Each cabin has its own bathroom with a sink and toilet. The shower facilities are separate, with 4 stalls to prevent a bottleneck before dinner. The water gets as hot as you need after a long day in the river. The lodge
itself is very warm and inviting, sporting a comfortable array of fly-fishing décor, photos and river history. Guests can expect delicious hearty meals both in the lodge and on the river. More importantly however, the fishing is exceptional, and the boats and equipment are 1st class.
Your days start with hot coffee and juice in the dining room. You may order the breakfast of your choice, cooked to order. Lunch is served on the river accompanied by hot homemade soups, and your selection of drinks.
After a full day of fishing, pour a cocktail, enjoy a hot shower, and relax. Fishing tales are told around the table or the campfire while the hostess serves you delicious hors d'oeuvres. The gourmet food will leave nothing to be desired. Fresh fish, succulent steaks, desserts and more – their famous luxurious dinners have it all.
The daily schedule is flexible at BSL. If you want to charge hard all day, Babine Steelhead Lodge’s guides will gladly accommodate. However you can also sleep in and have a leisurely outing if that is what you desire. BSL will work hard to accommodate all your needs.
The lodge is equipped with wireless internet access for your use. The guides carry satellite telephones on all overnight trips to ensure your safety.
Fishing at Babine Steelhead Lodge
Babine Steelhead Lodge (BSL) offers a half day of fishing on your arrival day.
All anglers will arrive on Thursday and overnight at one of the town's many fine hotels. Friday morning should see you delivered to the lodge around mid day. You will be assigned a cabin upon arrival, get unpacked and organized, and after a quick lunch you will string the rods, pull on the waders, and head out for a half day of fishing that afternoon.
All of BSL's guided trips are conducted with high sided jet sleds, specifically designed for operating in this rugged river. These boats allow anglers access to the very best runs, riffles, and tail outs the river has to offer. Fishing on the Babine is strictly catch-and-release. There are literally hundreds of runs on the river, and with minimal pressure from the general public and only 1 other lodge in the upper river, anglers enjoy a rare opportunity to fish untouched water every day of the week.
Each day anglers are rotated on different sections of the river so that every session is a fresh exciting new adventure. Days are long at Babine Steelhead Lodge, as the guides understand the importance of covering as much water as possible to get the most out of your trip and maximize your steelhead catching potential. BSL prides itself on having assembled an elite guide staff that possesses the instructional skills and knowledge of the Babine River to ensure a memorable experience!
This is a rugged river, be aware that the wading is not for the faint of heart. Bring wading sticks if you use them back home and wear cleats to give yourself the best stability while wading the Babine. There is no fishing from the boats, all wading. We swing flies exclusively on the Babine, down and across, tight line presentations with either skated dries, or streamers. 2 handed Spey rods are the go-to tool of most anglers these days, but the river is still fished well with a single handed rod by a few anglers each year.
Lodge rods may be used if necessary, but you will want to come with your own gear for the most part. Bring rods you are familiar with casting, and have a good selection of flies with you when you arrive. They are cheaper and easier to come by before the trip, and you never know what happened the week before if you come unprepared… someone might have wiped them out of flies and broken the loaner rods!
As with all steelhead fishing, the best thing you can do is stay in the water and keep casting. The anglers that cover the most water usually get the most grabs. And, every grab on the Babine has the potential to be the biggest steelhead of your life! Be relentless and be ready for it!