Adam’s Legends
The Steelheader
 Perched on a fine stretch of Little Shuswap Lake shoreline is a lodge called Quaaout. We stayed here for four days in late June. Shuswap Band members conceived the idea of a hotel in 1979 to spirit economic development.
 Elder and former chief William Arnouse named the lodge “Quaaout" which means “Where the sun’s rays first hit the water" in Secwepemec. Councillor John and chief Arnouse worked closely with the architects in designing the Kekuli (Shuswap Winter Home) that is now the hotels magnificent Lobby. The Quaaout Lodge held its grand opening ceremonies on June 29, 1992.
 The Shuswap nation has relied on Shuswap sockeye for food and cultural purposes for centuries.
 When the Adams River Sockeye make their journey to the Fraser and squeeze through the bottleneck confines of Hell’s Gate they are about 35 kilometers from the Mouth of the Thompson River at Lytton and well on their way to their natal river the Adams.
 Traveling at 29 kilometers per day it takes 18 days for a Sockeye to get to the Adams river from the mouth of the Fraser river.
 Things get tough on the Fraser around Yale. A small town on the Fraser that at one time had a population of 50,000 people.
Hell’s Gate, however, is the narrowest part of the Fraser river at 110 feet wide and at high water more than 200 million gallons of water per minute flow through this intense gorge. In 1914 a rockslide blocked the passage at Hell’s Gate filtering Sockeye runs to 36% of their former size by 1921. The pink salmon run was almost enilated at this time.
 To help stocks rebuild The Pacific Salmon Commission built the fishways at Hell’s Gate in 1944. These impediments slow the river to 5km/hr making it easier for all species of salmon and steelhead to pass Hell’s Gate on journey to their redds.
 Once sockeye have reached the Adams River, which flows into Shuswap Lake, they spawn. After Sockeye alevin emerge they spend a year in fresh water before heading for the ocean. The entire sockeye population of the area revolves on a 4 year cycle. The first year of the cycle is the smallest in size while the last or fourth year has the largest numbers of sockeye.
  Roderick Haig-Brown Provincial Park nestles on the mouth of the Adams and tourists from all over the world come to this location during the fall months to witness the sockeye’s return to spawn. Here during peak season in mid October the sandy beaches along Shuswap Lake and Haig-Brown park are strewn with sockeye carcasses dead, spawning and clinging to the last breath of life.
 During his active days Haig-Brown traveled to The Adams to witness the sockeye runs and I’d imagine to hook a few of the large Shuswap rainbows. Large ‘bows now as in previous days follow the sockeye up the Fraser and Thompson rivers. The provincial government couldn’t have picked a better name to describe this legend. Both the river and the man are legends. Haig-Brown, a magistrate in Campbell river, is still considered the Dean of Sportfishing writers to this day even though he has been dead for some 27 years. Haig-Brown has 27 books to his credit and for someone who was essentially self taught he still ranks as one of our greatest Canadian literary ambassadors to sportfishing and outdoor writing. He fished solely with a fly and used a floating line.
 It’s with this true honor that Shuswap’s Quaaout Lodge cohabitates with the legend of the Adams River sockeye forever enshrined with the presence of Roderick Haig-Brown’s name and reputation.
 If you have read any of Haig-Brown’s books you’d witness true greatness as his sentences range from simple meandering thoughts to the challenging but always charming chapters shelled in a book of fly-fishing adventures both on the Campbell river and other rivers and lakes like the Adams.
 We were lucky enough to flyfish the very waters of the Adams river that Haig-Brown fished.
 In the Shuswap Lake and Adams Lake region sport fishing is world renowned. In one edition of the Field and Stream magazine a writer referred to the rainbow in this region as “salmon eating trout." In a sense this is correct in that the rainbow that frequent the Adams system do eat sockeye fry. The hottest streamer fly here is indeed a sockeye fry imitation and trout up to 18lbs can be tricked into snapping at these offerings. The largest rainbow this writer has caught in the Adams area is 12 pounds and that is about 9 pounds more trout than I’d been used to catching.
 Finding rainbows here is not difficult unless you run into an off day. Because of bait bans in the region the most common sport fishing technique is fly fishing. We used a medium sinking line in the mouth of the Adams with a sockeye streamer imitation. When an aggressive rainbow over ten pounds hit the fly it’s a marvel to watch. You’d see a large rainbow doing cartwheels and back flips as he ravages your gear. I’ve seen a couple hundred yards of fly backing disappear into the deep green cool waters of Shuswap lake from the mouth of the Adams many times. The rainbows spare no mercy. They tear into your gear like tanks.
 On the day I went out I couldn’t find a fish if my life depended on it.
 We were at the tail end of freshet in Mid June and as with other systems the fish were lost in all the water. The only advantage we had was the fact that during the mid April to June time period Shuswap Lake trout were finishing up there spawning cycle. And indeed the young man that helped us at Chase True Value Hardware store told us that he’d pumped the stomachs of some ‘bows that he’d caught and found eggs. I assumed that these would be trout eggs.
 Nevertheless after spending the entire morning on my first day trying to find likely trout hideaways I settled on the outlet of Adams Lake. Here there is a 300 yard pool that holds trout before the Adams turns into a frothy white turbulance and smacks through the canyons on a 10 km + run into Shuswap lake.
 It was a classic encounter in that I was using the standard sockeye imitation streamer catching nothing while trout jumped all around my presentation. I switched to a half back - still nothing. I tried several trout patterns and still couldn’t create any interest.
 Then I remembered Phil Rowley’s trout seminar from Hub Sports in Abby. Rowley suggested that you look around the area and carefully observe Mother Nature’s Plan. Chances are the trout will be tuned into this scheme of things. Rowley was right –– I observed hundreds of dragon flies doing the wild thing and every once and a while you could see them fall into the river and wham, they disappeared in a silver-mirrored flash as a trout nailed them from the surface. You could see the long slender females planted on leaves of the surrounding shrubbery often with a male glued on its back.
 I had a fly imitation of this very act –– two dragon flies in ecstasy and boy I tell you the trout must have developed a peeping trout instinct ‘cause just about every cast produced a rainbow from one to 6lbs. !!!
 I tossed the imitation into the slow moving current and mended the floating line to get a dead drift (natural imitation) and Bang- fish on. These fiesty rainbows came out of nowhere and hovered under the fly like aggressive line backers. Some ‘bows shot up from the bottom of the pool and hit the presentation cartwheeling, spiraling and spinning in mid air up to 15 feet above the rivers surface.
 I left my rod unattended with the fly still in the water –– of course a fish hit the fly and the rod started for the river - I hopped and jumped about twenty yards and just caught the rig before it went into the river- no bull - the reel was just going over the railing of a bridge –– sage rod, floating line and all.
 After an afternoon of this amazing show of catch and release I went back to the Quaaout lodge tired, sun beaten and hungry. I felt as if I had just revisited a bunch of old friends. Previously I had spent at least 7 spring/summers on the lake while writing columns for local newspaper.
 Because of the popularity of the Shuswap system and its close proximity to Vancouver things have changed a little in the area.
 The Hopps from Little Shuswap say the lake isn’t the same as it used to be. It’s a lake playland. Anglers can no longer keep fish at Little River or at the Adams - it’s all catch and release says the family.
 Until just recently the Shuswap Band hadn’t renewed land leases and some lakeside cabins went real cheap. One prime cabin went for $30,00.00 and is worth at least three times that now as the Band recently renewed leases on Little Shuswap for another 49 years. A similar scenario happened on the Adams Lake. Although angling opportunities have diminished on the Shuswap lake system there is still good angling in the area.
 The alternative for anglers wanting to retain fish outside of Shuswap no-retention boundaries is to fish Adams Lake.
 Adams Lake is 10 minutes north of Shuswap. Access to this 43 mile long Lake is by ferry if you don’t have a boat. The Ferry service runs 24 hours and is on demand; in other words they’ll come and get you when you park at the dock with your headlights on.
 You can catch Rainbows up to 20 lbs in Adams Lake. The lake is 43 miles long and as much as 1500 feet deep in places and feeds the Shuswap system. Adams lake itself is fed by The North Adams river which can be accessed either by boat or the road that skirts the northern shore of the lake itself. Tum Tum Lake feeds the north Adams river.
 I spent the afternoon with guide Rick Sanford who works out of the Adams Lake Indian Point Resort. I’d recommend Rick if you are going to this area. He can be reached at the resort Telephone- 250 679 3441. Sanford lives on Adams lake and has his finger on the pulse of what’s going on with the fish. A six hour charter for 2 people costs only $200.00. When we went out with him we enjoyed the luxury of a 28' Marlin cruiser imported from Mexico.
Aside from the popular Adams river and lake you’ll find a little less known but productive creek that spills into the Shuswap lake called Scotch creek.
 Scotch Creek is world famous for having the richest ever “11 kilometers of gold nuggets’’ but nobody knows the location of the mother load.
 Scotch creek has a good run of sockeye as well which comes in about two weeks ahead of the Adams River run. The Adams River run trickles into Scotch creek in mid September whereas the Adams run starts late September and runs into the third week of October.
 Ken Salter who lived in Scotch Creek for several years caught Gerrard rainbows in the mouth of Scotch creek. He caught about twenty-five of these big hatchery rainbows ranging up to an unbelievable 25lbs. A lucky sports angler caught the largest spring salmon at 2 mile creek in Anesty Arm (Shuswap Lake). It was 39lbs. Incidentally, an angler caught the world record Kokanee in North Barrier Lake just over the hill from Shuswap and Adams Lakes weighing 22lbs.
 Tony Eberts oldest family friend was from Scotch Creek. North of Scotch creek it’s as wild as heck and at the foot of 7,300-foot Pukeashun mountain hides Grizzly Lake.
 The Momich river which is about 8 or 10 miles from top and east side of Adams flows into the big lake.
 After removing a dam at the foot of Adams Lake the sockeye now return to the Momich lake system and upper Adams, and on to Tum Tum Lake.
 When Tony Eberts was 16 years old he and two pals went on a trek to the Scotch creek area up the mountain to the head of Momich river to Adams lake. They built a raft and made their way down the lake but ran out of food by Momich lake. Tony saw a couple of salmon close to shore - he was packing a 22 calibre revolver but that old saying ‘‘it’s like shootin’ fish in a barrel’’ didn’t quite pan out –– he missed supper.
 If you are planning a trip check in at Quaaout Lodge Resort “Hear the Legend feel the Spirit.” Coming from the Coast, you drive through Chase and then turn left, over the Little River bridge, and look for the road on the left that takes you to the lodge.
 It's a place so rich in tradition and hospitality, it is unlike any other resort on earth. Quaaout offers unique sights, aromatic delights, a fascinating culture and a people as warm as the sun.
 A good consideration for company conventions, seminars, getaways, fishing and golfing.
 For reservations call toll free in Canada and continental USA 1-800-663-4303. Telephone 250 679 3090 fax 250 679 3039 
PO Box 1215 Chase BC Canada V0E 1M0

Writing and Photos by Terry Hanson, Edited by Tony Eberts.
[last pic -- sockeye -- angler releasing an incidental sport caught sockeye]


Go to The Great Outdoors


Copyright Steelheader Magazine™ All Rights Reserved.