Wandering the Bull River

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This has been a year of many memorable fishing trips which started in November last year. British Columbia my neighbouring Province has some of the most incredible scenery, fishing but always open  for visitors. Its greatest asset is the people, so gracious are they and willing to share their part of the world with whom ever happens along. 

Recently I had the opportunity to drive into an area so 70 miles back into its depths to a place known as Tanglefoot in the Sheepfoot mountain range. The Bull River is what is called a Classified Area. This meaning only a limited number of fisherman are allowed entry. The cost was prohibitive, especially considering I am a Non Resident. That set aside I would go back at the drop of a hat. 

The bull River is the home of the Cutthroat Trout an amazing fish to withstand the forces of the river. Access to the pools where they live is not for the fainthearted. This river will show you its strength the very second you test it. The fishing is well worth the challenges it offers, once you are hooked into it’s offerings all else slowly fades away. A human in an element where all your cares fade. The scenery is breathtaking and the area is steeped in history.

In the early 1900’s as the Canadian Railway was being built it was the area timber was cut and railways ties were made. Then floated down river to be distributed. Again keeping in mind the river itself changes from slow to a raging torrent in places. From the history I have been able to learn through a book published called “Ties to Water” it took real men to do this daunting task. In total there were 42 camps set up along the way. Each new camp working through the giant timbers to maintain keeping the ties moving. In places man made flumes were built to bypass major water falls. There are still many remnants left today. The particular area I was in is known as Tanglefoot Camp 6, it was one of the main camps which became the supply depot for the remaining camps up river. All provisions needed to be brought in by packhorse on some very sketchy and unsafe trails. It is said one place known as Dead Horse Gulch has the bones of a 100 or more horses. I hiked a few miles up river and found many small artifacts. None are allowed to be taken and must be left as found.  

As the area was opened there was found to be gold and many other precious metals so it became a hub of activity. Even today if you are willing to work a gold pan and shovel traces of gold can be found. Freezing cold waters limit your time in the river. I did manage to get baptized in a rather unceremonious way the last day I was there. I slipped on a rock in about 3 feet of water and went head first to my hands and knees. Funny thing is I am certain God has a sense of humour as a fish decided my fly looked tasty and took it. If you get the picture I can assure you the water is but a few degrees above freezing. 

Thankfully my chest waders are of good quality. There is a reason they come with a tight fitting belt around the waist. If not they would have filled and I would have floated away. Some water managed to get inside, in the fall of the year without a great deal of sun the late afternoon fishing ended early that day. 

Needless to say I will be back, so steeped in history and it offers so much to the avid outdoorsman. I am thinking of hiking the entire length from Camp 1 to Camp 42 some 56 miles of rough terrain. Beauty beyond measure, solitude beyond silence and most important, humbling beyond belief reminding a man just how small he truly is….   

© Rolly A. Chabot

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