The history of fly fishing on the the Bulkley and Morice rivers comes down to three legendary men, who each pioneered a section of the most productive steelhead waters on the west coast. The Miami heat have there big 3 with Lebron, Wade and Bosh, and the Bulkley Valley has our big 3 with Schadrech, Britton, and Makowichuk. The Bulkleys big 3 had many challenges to overcome to to create a week long fishing program for anglers from around the world to catch steelhead on the fly. Today we will be taking a look at Collin Schadrech, the Bulkley rivers Labron James.
Schadrech is the most famous guide and angler to ever fish the Bulkley. In fact today, almost every single outfitter, owner or head guide on the Bulkley worked for Schadrech. They had the distinct advantage to see the river through his eyes as they learned about steelhead. Back in the 70’s there were very little resources to learn about steelhead techniques. Each lesson was learned the hard way with time spent on the water.
Collin fished every nook and cranny on the river and kept detailed maps on catch rates, water levels, river clarity, weather and more. He compiled incredible amounts of data for him and his guides to draw from. He learned early that the only way to be a good steelhead guide was to fish every run, under every condition. To give Collin a CFS water flow, he could give you exact runs to look at, and describe the small buckets where the fish will lie without even looking at the river.
Collin pushed the limits and never took no for an answer when it came to the river. He floated the canyons for the first time in his rafts and driftboats discovering water that had never been considered even possible to fish. Hand lining the boats through the massive rapids at first he slowly gained enough river experience to row anything and everything and put his guests on some of the best water in the province.
In the early 90’s Collin was approached by Trey Combs as he was writing was to become the quintessential steelhead book even to this day. Trey wrote a lot about Collins Bulkley mouse which was at the forefront of the steelhead on a dry revolution.
Heres what Trey wrote in his book Steelhead Fly Fishing, “I don’t think there is another steelhead river in North America where dry fly fishing (for steelhead) has become such a basic strategy, where the many variations on the dry fly approach are so single-minded pursued. In steelhead fly-fishing circles, the dry-fly purist lives for the Bulkley.
Collin claims to have caught something like 4000 steelhead in nearly thirty years on angling, half that number on dries, nearly all from the Bulkley.”
We are proud to have this great history on the Bulkley River, and revere those like Collin Schadrech who paved the way for us to be able to do what we love to do. A big thanks you our mentor Collin Schadrech.