I pulled into the Aspen Recreation Site just before 10 a.m. on Wednesday, October 3rd, after a 13-hour, nearly nonstop rental-car bender from Vancouver. The site is the lowest of three B.C. Ministry campgrounds along the Morice River, sitting about eleven miles southwest of Houston—home of the world’s largest fly rod, the world’s largest sawmill, and, when heading north on the Yellowhead Highway, the first fishy town in the Skeena Valley.
I hadn’t fished the Morice in 16 years, but the river was as beautiful as I remembered it; an endless glide of exceptional water flowing from one perfect run to the next, all surrounded by a shoreline of autumn color. A light drizzle was falling, and the campground was full of steelheaders, many of whom were already back at camp after a three-hour morning session. I was exhausted from the drive, but far too amped for sleep. While rigging, I dropped leaders and flies, fumbled with various spey tips, and could barely tie a knot, being reduced to little more than a mess of anxious energy. After a brief ten minutes of test swinging, I headed upriver, as happy and filled with anticipation as I’ve ever felt in my life.