The Sustut River in northern British Columbia is one of those remote locations that for a long time was been kept a secret held by only a few. Every year a core group of Steelhead fanatics have returned to the river to prowl for its giant Steelhead and the largest average Steelhead of any river in North America have been caught on the Sustut.
Because the Sustut River is located in the upper reaches of the Suskeena watershed, it is one of the first rivers to get into shape after a heavy downpour that will leave most other rivers muddy for days. The river and valley are simply stunning and the views overwhelming. Each bend of the river brings giant cottonwoods and low lying alder in all their fall splender.
The backdrop is almost always a snow dusted peak. The contrast is unbelievable and flowing through it is a gin clear steelhead river with fish that grow to well over 30 pounds. With little outside pressure, anglers enjoy a rare opportunity to fish relatively untouched water every day of the week. If catching a 30 lb Steelhead is on your bucket list then one of the Skeena River tributaries needs to be on your radar, and the Sustut is your best bet.
The Suskeena Lodge which sits on the banks of the Sustut River, is a 9 person lodge that is so remote that it can only be accessed by charter air transportation as there are no roads to get you there. The Sustut has great runs of Chinook, Coho and Sockeye Salmon but Steelhead are the specialty of the lodge. The season is very short and only runs from the third week of August till about the first of November. The days are still warm but the nights are getting colder and the corresponding cooler water is making the fish more active. We at Wild On The Fly feel that the Sustut is the finest tributary in the Skeena drainage for trophy Steelhead.
At a Glance
Target Fish: Steelhead
Location: Northern British Columbia
Seasons: Late August through October (dates can vary)
Lodge Capacity: 9 guests
Nearest Airport: Smithers BC where you will connect with a private charter to the lodge
Electricity: 110 volts
Documents needed: Passport
The fish are all wild, and numerous. The Sustut Steelhead average 14 lbs and run on average twenty miles a day during their migration to their spawning grounds. They reach the Sustut less than a week after they arrive on the Bulkley, Babine, Kispiox and because the fish are so fresh out of saltwater they maintain their ocean learned survival characteristics and will put up a fight like no other fish that you have ever had on the line in fresh water.
Keep in mind that the fish will be in the river for 6-8 months. On a typical day guests have breakfast at 7:00 PM, meet their guide depart for their day on the river. Lunch is prepared by the guide and served stream side. One guide is assigned for each three fishermen.
Steelhead are a great fish that are aggressive and catchable for an angler of any skill level. You do not need to be able to throw a hundred feet of line or fish a 500 grain sinking line until your shoulder gives out. Without exception, if you listen to your guide, he will steer you into fish within your ability or interest.
Fishing a dry fly is something that everyone should try for a few days. It is effective on the Sustut and is the most exciting way to catch a steelhead. You may lose a higher percentage of your fish, but the take is well worth it.
Best Fly Fishing Seasons
Late August through October
The main lodge is a charming, custom built log building. The cabins are by far some of the nicest cabins in B.C. for steelhead fishing. Cabins are warm and well furnished. Clients stay two to a cabin. Each cabin includes a stove, attached bathroom with a shower, flushing toilet and sitting area. There is also a drying rack next to the stove to hang wet garments.
In addition to the bathrooms in each cabin, there is an additional wash house with three showers in the event that you and your bunk mate seem to need to shower simultaneously or one of you needs to sing loudly. All cabins have porches with benches for removing or putting on waders. is ample room to relax for drinks after fishing, enjoy great meals or read by the fire place. With just nine anglers, the atmosphere is just right
On Site Amenities and Activities Include
Satellite TV and VCR
Even though many steel headers are so taken by the fish and country that they pursue the fish like their lives depend on it, and in some are willing to spend months at a time eating canned meats and old bread by a fire while in pursuit of these monster fish, you can be assured that at the Suskina Lodge they pride themselves on serving their guests fabulous food. After all such an adventure is not only about catching fish but also about enjoying all of the little things that make for a memorable trip.
The lodge is best reached by flying on domestic airline on Sunday (generally from Vancouver BC) to Smithers BC. Air Canada usually has two flights a day. When you arrive at Smithers there are several lodging options though most stay at the Hudson Bay Lodge.
On Monday (fishing packages run from Monday to Monday), departure from Smithers to Suskeena Lodge is scheduled for around 12:30 p.m., depending on weather. You will need to make arrangements to get to the domestic airport where the charter flight originates, on your own.
At the airport (Central Mountain Air Hanger) a representative from the lodge will meet you. On departure from the lodge you will be returned to Smithers by the charter plane. A lodge representative will be there to help you with information about connecting flights back to Vancouver or to other destinations. They can also point you the right direction if you need lodging.
7 days/6 nights: $6,900.(Plus tax) per person.
Included: round trip private air charter from Smithers, accommodations, meals. Package Price is based on double occupancy cabins. Also included are: One experienced guide for every three anglers, daily jet-boat transportation on the river and fishing rights from the time of your arrival until you depart.
Not included: flight to and from Smithers, hotel in Smithers, alcohol for consumption at the lodge, fishing licenses and steelhead stamps (Approximately a minimum of $450.00 C.A.D. plus tax) and gratuities.