DISCLAIMER: The steelhead fishing in Canada is well documented, with dozens of lodges, including some of the most fancy and famous in the world, and hundreds of guides promoting its many rivers. I will not reveal a single name in my blog—not a river name, not a town, not even a province (except Saskatchewan, I'm writing about Saskatchewan). My goal in this blog is to share with you how OPST products work, to give you an idea of how to approach different types of water, and to share with you some of my experiences, some of which might actually be humorous. If you recognize a picture, it's because you've seen it before. Even the towns themselves have signs like "steelhead capitol of the world" and "steelhead paradise" and such. None of what I'm writing about is a secret.
It was go time. It was late summer. Leaves were just beginning to turn. A certain steelhead count index showed that, in the mid summer, 2018 was the best year in over a decade. Of all years to make the 14 hour drive north, this was the one. I sequestered my beloved sea run cutthroat gear, loaded my camping gear, clothes, about 14 different rods, ranging from 6-weight switches to 8-weight single handers to a 13'8" 8-weight which I probably won't use. I bought several floating tips from OPST to round out my kit. I was now more fully outfitted with OPST products, including five reel cases, which for some reason I thought I needed, than I had ever been. I had to go to work to print out a couple documents, so I didn't reach the border until about noon. If you've never tried to drive over the Canadian border, especially as a young male with a car full of gear, consider yourself lucky. You might as well have stamps from Iran, Afghanistan and Syria on your passport for the CSI-level investigation they give you. These Canadian border agents do not mess around. They cross examine you as thoroughly as any defendant on law and order, rattling off questions so fast that you eventually crumble and break eye contact, at which point they divert you inside to sit there all alone in a sterile office while desk agents somehow manage to ignore and glare at you simultaneously. Half hour to hour long searches of your car are common. They will search your phone and your laptop. If you've got any incriminating text messages, you had better delete them. It's amazing how they can make an innocent person feel so self-conscious. Alas, I had an easy time this go around, as I maintained eye contact and had my answers at the ready. The hard part now over, I crossed the border and started trying to adapt to km/hr speed limits as cars backed up behind me. Maybe I'm overly cautious, but I'm disinclined to speed in a foreign country. I was now looking at about a twelve and a half hour drive to my destination—Saskatoon, yeah. I stocked up on two red bulls and an A&W Chubby Chicken sandwich. The dominance of A&W is something I find amusing about Canada. In the US it's maybe the 8th most common fast food chain. In Canada, from what I have seen, it's number 1. Try the Chubby. It's simple but amazing, kind of like the BK Original Chicken Sandwich, but I digress.
If I have a seriously long drive ahead of me, I prefer to do it all in one shot. Honestly, it is partly an excuse to drink copious amounts of Red Bull, something I couldn't bring myself to do in ordinary circumstances. As it got dark, I penetrated deeper into the interior of Canada. I find this part of the world awe-inspiring and romantic, and more than a little creepy. The idea of breaking down out here, out of cell phone service, tens of even hundreds of miles away from any sort of town (where everything is closed in the middle of the night, even gas stations), as temperature falls below freezing in late September, gives me chills. Around about midnight I got a text from my girlfriend. I looked down at my phone for a couple of seconds, then looked up, and RIGHT THERE THERE WERE TWO DEER IN MY LANE. I had barely enough time to brake, and honk at these deer that I surely would have hit had I texted while driving. Which I don't do. Don't text and drive. I could have died or had my entire trip ruined had I texted back to my girlfriend. I probably shouldn't have looked at her text at all, but I'm not perfect. A couple of hours later, a big black bear crossed the road and made it to the other lane by the time I got there. It's one thing to hit a deer. It's entirely another to hit a bear. The prospect of having a wounded bear attack my broken down vehicle is enough to convince me not to text and drive.