Bring Your Bay Boat to Kitimat

By Lois Beath

Editor's Note: This kind of basic information is invaluable for those on a tight budget or who simply prefer to go it on their own. I'd like to point out that wise boaters should consider a guided day when they first arrive. Local guides help you find good spots, avoid rips and other dangers, and eliminate a lot of dead stream or bay. Wilderness areas like the Skeena country are wonderful, but require "self-rescue" ability rarely needed in more populous climes. That's one reason the fishing's so good! That's a reason to check gear carefully too!

Companies like Spring King Charters combine cruising and fishing

PHOTO: JOHN BEATH

While visiting Skeena country, a trip to nearby Kitimat with a trailerable boat brings many rewards. Majestic snow-capped mountains tower skyward from the sea. Dark blue waters beckon anglers to fish its depths. In springtime, frothy waterfalls cascade into the sea. Shrimp and Dungeness crabs are plentiful and call many nearby bays home. Occasionally, king crab find their way into large ring-type pots.

Tshimshian Natives, wintertime visitors to the region centuries ago, gave Kitimat its name. They saw only the heads of the local Haisla people moving back and forth as they walked along deep paths in the snow. The Tshimshians called the area Kitimat -- "People of the Snow" in their native tongue. Kitimat is located at the head of Douglas Channel and its two local sports stores, City Centre Hardware (604) 632-3522, and Schooley's Sports (604) 632-3466 provide a wealth of information on current fishing conditions. Both are located in the City Centre Mall, and carry licenses as well as fishing gear. Motels are plentiful for those wishing to spend a night in town. Boat launches are located at Moon Bay Marina, and M. K. Bay Marina. Both marinas offer overnight moorage, and M. K. Bay Marina also has fuel, showers, and a campground.

A trek through Douglas Channel to Devastation Channel brings you to the hot tub built around Weewanie Hotspring. Venture farther down to Bishop Bay off Urusula Channel to find another natural hot spring hot tub. Bishop Bay also has a dock, log boom, sheltered picnic table, barbecue pit, and pit toilets. So it's a great place to spend the night. For longer trips, fuel is available at the Native villages of Klemtu on Princess Royal Island, and Hartley Bay near the end of Douglas Channel. You may need cash at times.

Wildlife roams freely on many islands and throughout the mainland wilderness. A lucky few spot one of the rare white Kermodei bears, who live on Princess Royal Island, Gribbell Island, and the mainland near Terrace. Deer, Elk and moose inhabit the forests along with mink, otter and other small animals. More likely, you will see aquatic delights like whales, seals, or sea lions. Playful porpoises enjoy following in the wakes of boats for short distances. Many types of birds populate the region, including eagles, herons, loons, seagulls, and ducks. Sea lions can compete for salmon.

John Beath with a nice yelloweye rockfish

PHOTO: LOIS BEATH

Fishing holes abound. Drop a line, and if a fish doesn't bite quickly, move on to another spot. While just about any jig catches bottomfish including Halibut, Ling Cod, and Yelloweye Rockfish, they seem especially attracted to Luhr Jensen's Krocodile jig. Salmon are seasonal and, of course, when the salmon come, the anglers aren't far behind. May - July is the peak of the salmon season.

Crabs and Shrimps offer succulent treats in many of the area's bays. Shrimp and prawn pots do best 150 to 250 feet down, and crab pots are most productive 40 to 100 feet deep. Crab pots placed near the outlet of a fresh water stream produce the most crabs. Scraps of the day's catch of fish make excellent crab or shrimp bait. You can bring your own or buy gear in town. Other saltwater options include various clams.

While you do well on salmon and steelhead in salt water most of the year, anglers catch many large salmon and steelhead on the Kitimat River during fishing season. The river runs through Radley Park, home of Kitimat's oldest resident, a 500+ year old Sitka Spruce tree. Radley Park also offers a campground and excellent river fishing a few steps from your campsite.

Charters offer more options and the chance to get out on saltwater when small boats might not be comfortable. Then too, if you would like to fish the Kitimat area, but are unable to bring your own boat, Kitimat has many charter services including, Spring King Charters (604) 632-7431.

There's lots more to do too, but too many details could ruin your sense of discovery that's far too rare in these coddled times. This is big country with big opportunities and incredible rewards.

For more information about Kitimat, or other charter options, contact the Kitimat Chamber of Commerce 1-800-664-6554.