Bulkley Basecamp is the newest addition to the Northern BC angling scene. From the excellent outfitters of Frontier Farwest, in prime position on the Bulkley River, this simple but comfortable little camp was built for the anglers who put the fishing first.
The magnificent sea-going trout of of Northern BC enter their natal Skeena drainage in late July, and move upstream into the clear headwaters of the Bulkley River by the end of August. Fresh fish continue to accumulate in the river right through the end of the season in late October and into November. The average annual return to the Bulkley River is between 25,000 and 45,000 Steelhead, which represents approximately 50% of all steelhead returning to Skeena watershed!
Floating lines and dry flies, or very light sink tips with small unweighted wet flies are the order of the day for the better part of September and into October, due to the fact that the Bulkley is one of the warmest of the Skeena tributaries. Heavier tips and weighted flies seem to be more productive through the later part of the season when the water temperatures become increasingly cooler and fish are more reluctant to move long distances to a hit a fly. While many who visit the Bulkley year after year do so strictly for the top water action, one mustn’t overlook the late season potential this river possesses.
The Bulkley flows west from its headwaters well above Houston, where it is joined by the Morice and nearly doubles in size. This magnificent river eventually winds its way west for approximately 100 km and empties into the mainstem steelhead artery: The Skeena. The Bulkley drops and clears very fast compared to many of the other Skeena tribs It is one of the safest bets for optimal water conditions after a big storm, which is common in the fall in British Columbia. The Morice runs pure and clear in even the heaviest of rains and the Bulkley 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. Anglers can feel a little more comfortable when fishing the Bulkley system.
The Camp is perfectly located in about the middle of the Bulkley system, which makes for minimal travel time to the various boat launches, whether you are fishing the upper or lower river. Accommodations at Bulkley Basecamp are very comfortable. The heavy duty, double occupancy, canvas wall tents more than keep you warm and dry, even in the later season. All wall tents are equipped with comfortable beds and heavy duty bedding and comforters for a goods nights rest. All tents are erected with solid wood frames on elevated wooden platforms. All Tents have wood burning stoves and propane heaters if needed, to keep you toasty warm, even late in the season. The Camp has a wonderful shower facility to get you all prettied up after a long day on the water. Flush toilets put the finishing touch on making this camp over the top. The Kitchen/Dining room itself is very warm and inviting, with a great little covered porch area out front that is arranged for cocktail and relax time after a long day on the water. Guests can expect delicious hearty meals both at camp and on the river. Most importantly however, the fishing on the Bulkley and other rivers of the area is 1st class!
As with all steelhead angling, if you’re looking to catch obscene numbers of fish, this trip probably isn’t for you! Bulkley Basecamp 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 on the bank. Steelhead fishing is not a numbers game, it is about catching the most prized game fish that swims in freshwater. Anglers willing to fish hard, listen to their guides, and put in a long day, will have the best potential of landing a trophy.
Steelhead on the Bulkley average 8-12 lbs, with chromers up to and exceeding 20 lbs caught on a semi-regular basis. 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 the 2nd week of 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 Bulkley? The answer is; when you have time to come!
All guests that visit The BBC have Right of First Refusal for the following season, and many return the same week, year after year. If you are seriously considering a trip to the Bulkley, we recommend getting on the waiting list more than a year out. At the conclusion of the season, if some people release their rods, we will go down the list to fill in the new holes. Make your reservations as early as possible to avoid disappointment! It is extremely hard to get into a good BC operation at the last minute.
Reservations & Rates
The cost of the week-long Bulkley Basecamp package is $6,500.00 USD per person (double occupancy) plus a voluntary $100 donation to FFW’s Conservation Trust
Included in your angling package at the Bulkley Basecamp is meet and greet at the your hotrl in Smithers on entry day, round trip transportation to and from the camp, daily guided fishing in drift boats/rafts/jet sleds, accommodations, meals, and alcohol.
Not included in your angling package at Bulkley Basecamp are flights to and from Smithers, hotel accommodations and meals in Smithers, fishing licenses and steelhead stamps (approximately $250 USD per angler), and gratuities.
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 Bulkley Basecamp
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 is
continued through September into the first part of October with sink tips working when the fish won't move to the surface. 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 and it is the time for truly big steelhead.
Getting to Bulkley Basecamp
Travel from Vancouver-Smithers can only be arranged now via Canada Air. Upon arrival in Smithers you will need to arrange a shuttle to get you to your hotel in town for that first night.
Bulkley Basecamp offers a Full day of fishing on your arrival day, Friday. In order to take advantage of this you'll want to arrive into Smithers on Thursday and overnight at one of the town's many fine hotels so you can
get picked up early the next morning to start your week of fishing.
Please remember that you will need to coordinate transportation from the airport to your hotel. Most Smithers hotels offer airport shuttles which you can arrange with a simple phone call from the airport. Schedule your departure from Smithers for the early morning the next Friday, after your 6 Full days of fishing. After breakfast, BBC staff will deliver you to the airport to catch your departing flight to Vancouver, usually departing at 8:30 am, arriving 9:37 am (weather depending).
Lodging at Bulkley Basecamp
The Bulkley Basecamp is located on an exclusive beat of one of the Bulkley’s best tributaries. A prime mid river location to access the Bulkley up and downstream, eliminating long drive times to your beat. In addition you have the added bonus of the exclusive home water right out the flaps of your tent!
The Bulkley Basecamp has a very comfortable, warm, and inviting
atmosphere, and is absolutely bomb-proof! Sturdy, double walled, canvas wall tents, with elevated, solid wooden floors and frames protect you from anything Mother Nature can throw at you in Northern BC in the Fall. The dining room and covered porch is the perfect place to relax and talk with the group, and the outside fire pit is as good as any you have ever sat around telling stories. With a max capacity of only 6 guests, camp always feels small and close and never overcrowded.
Your days start with a wakeup tray of juice and hot drinks served in your tent. You may order eggs to your choice, cooked to order, with a variety of other breakfast options. Lunch is served on the river accompanied by hot homemade soups, and your selection of drinks. After a full day of fishing, enjoy a hot shower, and relax. Fishing tales can be heard nightly around the fire or on the porch and at the bar, while camp staff serves you delicious hors d'oeuvres. The gourmet food will impress you for being in “a Camp”. Wine, beer, bread, fresh fish, succulent steaks, desserts and more... dinners have it all, and leave nothing to be desired.
Our daily schedule is flexible. If you want to wake up at first light and fish until dark, the relentless guides of the BBC will gladly accommodate. However you can also sleep in and have a leisurely outing if that is what you desire. BBC staff will always work hard to accommodate all your needs.
The camp is equipped with wireless internet with wifi telephone access for your use. The guides carry satellite telephones on all trips to ensure your safety.
Fishing at Bulkley Basecamp
You will want to arrive into Smithers on Friday and overnight at one of the town's many fine hotels. You will be picked up early in the morning on Saturday to begin your first full day of angling. Each day anglers are rotated on different sections of the river so that every day is a fresh exciting new adventure. Days are long at at the BBC to maximize your steelhead catching potential. You will have 6 Full days of fully guided fishing on the Bulkley River, with the possibility of fishing others such as the Morice and Skeena as well. Your week will consist of floating and
fishing the river by drift boat with your guide on a daily basis, enjoying excellent streamside shore lunches and casting to pure BC chrome!
Bulkley Basecamp prides itself on having assembled an elite guide staff that possesses the instructional skills and knowledge of the Bulkley River to ensure a memorable experience!
All of Bulkley Basecamp’s guided trips are conducted with high sided, dory style drift boats, or rafts, or sturdy jet sleds which offer anglers remarkable access to the very best runs, riffles, and tail outs the river has to offer. Fishing on the Bulkley is strictly catch-and-release. There are literally hundreds of runs on the Bulkley and with minimal pressure from the general public and other lodges, anglers enjoy a rare opportunity to fish relatively untouched water every day of the week.
What Makes This Destination Special and Unique?
• The Bulkley and Morice Rivers offers one of the finest steelhead fisheries on earth – with a run that exceeds 40,000 fish on average each and every season – Mid August through October. That translates into hundreds of steelhead in every pool you swing your fly through, looking for the “grab”. There is no better river system with the potential to hook as many steelhead in a week in the entire Pacific Northwest.
• The Bulkley’s steelhead average and honest 12 pounds and always has the potential to have the highest fish count in BC. If you are looking to get some of the best action in swinging, and fast track your learning curve with the swing method, the Bulkley and Morice drainage is the spot. There is no finer fishery to cut your teeth in swinging flies for steelhead. Or, if you are just used to much lower catch rates in the lower 48.
• The Bulkley is a massive drainage with many options to adjust for conditions. In most weather, even rain events, the guides are able to find fishing conditions in the system to keep you in the game. This much access helps make sure you will be swinging your fly over sea-run missiles, each and every fishing session, when others will be blown out.
• The Bulkley Basecamp is one of the most comfortable and well appointed fish camps you will ever see. This new program was erected in 2015 with wooden raised platforms with sturdy double walled canvas outfitter tents that will keep you dry and warm in even the worst weather. Each tent is spacious, set for Double Occupancy with 2 comfortable twin beds, and plenty of space for all your gear. Wood burning stoves keep you comfortable, even late season when it can get cold.
• Bulkley Basecamp is located downstream of the town of Smithers, only a 45 minute drive from the airport. Easy access to camp insures you are never delayed in starting or ending your steelhead adventure.
• No outfitter on the river knows the water better than Frontier Farwest! These guys know every inch of the Bulkley, from the top of the Morice, to the mouth at the Skeena, including the 2 difficulty accessed canyons. When fishing with these guys, you know they have you in the bucket, where they have seen hundreds of steelhead landed before. You are never in the dead water that looks good.
• The camp is set up on the banks of one of the Bulkley’s best fishable tributaries. The river is extremely protected, most of it on private land, and the government does not let guides work on it. The camp though has private access to 3 miles of this hidden treasure, giving you the opportunity to take advantage of one of BC’s best kept secrets before and after your full guide days on the Bulkley. Bonus time, and amazing home water!
• Anglers at the BBC will also have the opportunity to take advantage of custom add ons using helicopters to access some very remote water outside of the Bulkley system. If you choose, you can fly into the babine for a day or 2, the upper Skeena, or even do 4 day custom floats in these remote waters. This place is all about the access and options at your disposal