These magnificent sea-going trout enter their natal Skeena drainage in late July, and move upstream into the clear headwaters of the Bulkley River by middle of August. Fresh fish continue to accumulate in the river right through the end of 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! Fly fishing for these native steelhead can be fantastic from the 1st of September right through the beginning of November.
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 over look the late season potential this river possesses.
The Bulkley flows west from its head waters 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 main stem steelhead artery: The Skeena. One major advantage of selecting the Bulkley as your destination of choice is the amount of time the river takes to clear and drop 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, so anglers do not need to feel 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.Frontier Far West Lodge is strategically located near the mouth of the Telkwa River, (54.41.44 N and 127.03.00 W on Google Earth) which makes for minimal travel time to the various boat launches, whether you are fishing the upper or lower river. FFW is one of only 2 full service fly fishing lodges located on the Bulkley and has been operating successfully for over 25 years.
Accommodations at Frontier Far West are very comfortable. The rooms are private (shared by 2 anglers) with in-room toilet/shower facilities, and comfortable beds and linens. The lodge itself is very warm and inviting, sporting a comfortable array of fly-fishing decor, photos and antiques of yester year. Guests can expect delicious hearty meals both in the lodge and on the river. More importantly however, the fishing is 1st class!
What truly sets Frontier Far West apart from other operations on the Bulkey are the two overnight float trips that anglers have the opportunity to experience while staying at the lodge. These very comfortable, well equipped, canvas wall-style tent camps are located at approximately the mid point of two spectacular 20+ mile float trips that meander through the magnificent canyons of the lower Bulkley. There is nothing better than waking up on the rivers edge at first light to witness the steam rising from a beautiful steelhead run, knowing that the first fly those beautiful creatures will see is yours!
As with all steelhead angling, if you’re looking to catch obscene numbers of fish, this trip probably isn’t for you! Frontier Far West 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, 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 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!
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 Bulkley, we recommend making your reservations as early as possible to avoid disappointment!