Destination Type
Fishing Style
Spey, Wading
August - November
Fishing Days
Why We Go
  • Fish for some of BC's largest wild steelhead
  • Enjoy incredible accommodations and meals in the remote upper reaches of the Kispiox Valley
  • Experience a diverse fishing program with access to the Kispiox, Skeena and lower Bulkley
  • Spend time with multiple generations of the Allen family who have a long and colorful history in the valley
  • Fish with highly experienced local guides on multiple beats of the Kispiox which is arguably the most varied and interesting steelhead river in all BC

The Kispiox is a steelhead river of subtle moods, endless secrets, and staggering rewards. The family of head guide Jim Allen first homesteaded in the valley four generations ago in 1906. Since that time, they have become a part of the Kispiox River and the river has become a part of them. When you are with Jim and his crew of talented fly fishing guides, all of whom call the Kispiox River home, you are in very good hands.

Clients enjoy the lavish comforts of spacious, double-occupancy rooms at Bear Claw Lodge. A massive timber frame structure with panoramic views of the upper Kispiox River, Bear Claw has set a new standard for elegance in the Skeena River watershed. With exceptional meals, an open bar, and a hot tub, this is one of the finest luxury steelhead lodges in BC. Each day anglers float different sections of the Kispiox River in rafts and swing flies through a remarkable variety of water that is home to some of the largest trophy steelhead in the world. In addition to the Kispiox River, anglers typically spend a day on the Skeena and lower Bulkley Rivers, depending on conditions. For all who appreciate skilled guides, fine accommodations, and a shot at some of the world's largest wild steelhead, this is the place.

Fishing Program

The Kispiox is a Skeena River tributary and one of the most famous steelhead fly fishing rivers in the world. From late August through mid-October, the Kispiox River is an excellent dry fly and greased line fishery and as the season progresses and water temperatures drop, anglers spend more time fishing a variety of sink tips (Note: Many Kispiox anglers fish with sink tips regardless of the time of year).

The steelhead fly fishing can remain excellent through the second week in November and later if water conditions permit. Kispiox River steelhead are known the world over for their size and range from seven to well over 30 pounds, with the average steelhead typically weighing around 12 pounds. Small two person rafts access steelhead water, but all fly fishing is done while wading. While not strenuous, the wading is considered moderate and guests need to be able to climb safely in and out of the boats throughout each fishing day. The Kispiox River has over 50 miles of fishable steelhead water that varies greatly in nature. Around each bend, anglers will experience some of the most interesting swing water in the region. Guests at Bear Claw Lodge may also have the option of fishing the main-stem Skeena River and the lower Bulkley River, both via jet boat. Anglers will fish two per guide unless specified otherwise. All Kispiox River steelhead are wild and must be released unharmed as quickly as possible. Head guide, Jim Allen, and his crew offer skilled hands-on instruction in all elements of the sport and they have limited gear available on hand for guests to use.


Bear Claw Lodge is an elegant timber frame structure with floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the remote upper reaches of the Kispiox River. The lodge can accommodate up to 12 guests. All anglers share rooms with two queen-sized beds and attached private baths. There is a spacious common area with a wood fireplace and plenty of seating where guests can relax, exchange fishing stories, and enjoy cocktails during the evenings. This vast space also includes a pool table, card table, foosball, and darts. Additional amenities include a hot tub, wader drying room, lodge computer with internet access and a satellite phone (usage not included). Bear Claw ranks among the finest angling accommodations in all of BC; However, despite the lodge's grand design and elegance, it has a comfortable and welcoming atmosphere where guests feel like personal friends of the Allen family.

Meals at Bear Claw Lodge are as impressive as the accommodations. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner menus are printed each day and dinners are accompanied by fine wines. The chefs are masters at sourcing local ingredients from their region including fish and game, wild berries, mushrooms, herbs, and items from their gardens. Streamside lunches are hearty and feature hot soups.


Day 1: Arrive to Smithers and overnight at your elected accommodations (independently arranged, not included).

Day 2: Pick up in Smithers and drive to Bear Claw Lodge (about 1 hour, 45 minutes). Fish home waters unguided.

Days 3-8: Full days of guided fly fishing for trophy steelhead.

Day 9: Transfer in the morning to Smithers Airport for the flight home.

Rates & Details

2024 Rate: Per person based on double occupancy

  • 7 night/6 day package: $9,500

Included: Accommodations and meals at the lodge, morning round-trip transfers between Smithers and the lodge, guiding, house wine and alcohol, flies, BC taxes.

Not Included: Airfare, lodging and meals in Smithers, arrival and departure taxes, satellite phone charges, fishing licenses, laundry, rental gear, staff and guide gratuities.

Species: Steelhead

Season: August - early November

Capacity: 12 anglers

Fly Water Q&A

Who is best suited to this destination? This trip is best suited to anglers that like to swing flies for steelhead and enjoy a casual atmosphere coupled with great meals and accommodations. Due to the lodge offering one guide for every two anglers, it is a great destination for steelheaders of all skill levels and a natural destination for anglers in search of some of the world’s largest wild steelhead.

Where is the lodge? The lodge is situated in the upper reaches of the Kispiox River valley, approximately 63 KM upstream of the river confluence with the Skeena in BC.

How do I get there? To get to Bear Claw Lodge guests will need to arrange flights to Smithers, BC which will require initially flying to Vancouver, BC. Overnight in Smithers at a hotel of your choosing. The following morning a lodge representative will pick guests up at the airport and transfer them 1 hour and 45 minutes to the lodge. On arrival, anglers may fish the home waters unguided.

When should I go? Late August through early November.

How will I fish? All fishing revolves around swinging flies while wading. Spey rods are by far the most popular and both floating and sink tip lines are employed. Typically, guests will spend four days rafting various sections of the Kispiox and two days trailing jetboats to the Skeena and or lower Bulkley. No fishing is ever done from the boat.

Is there wade fishing? All fishing is done while wading. Boats are used only for transport.

Where will I fish? Typically, guests will spend four days floating the Kispiox in small rafts, one day jetboating the Skeena and one day jetboating the lower Bulkley.

How long does it take to reach the fishing grounds? At times guests might put-in right behind the lodge or a short drive away. It takes roughly 40 minutes to get to the lower beat on the Kispiox and over an hour to get to the most distant put-ins on the Bulkley and Skeena.

What type(s) of fish will I catch? Wild Summer steelhead and the occasional bull trout or salmon.

How many fish will I catch? The nature of swinging flies for any anadromous fish is that there is a lot of variation in catch rates, and few anglers return home complaining about having caught too many. That said, we feel that guests should go into the trip with the expectation that hooking 1 – 1.5 fish per day is a great trip.

 Will I see other anglers? Yes. The rivers are accessible to the public, but this guide crew has lots of tricks up their sleeves that lead to their guests doing far better than freelance anglers.

What are the guides like? The guides are full-time professional fish hunters. Given variations in personality, the guides all do their best to put their clients onto the best water at the best times. This is veteran staff, many of whom have dedicated most of their working lives to understanding the Kispiox and the surrounding rivers.

What are the physical demands? While not strenuous, guests need to be able to wade all day and climb safely in and out of jet boats and rafts. The wading is moderately difficult and might rank 6.5-7.5 on a scale of 10.

Are there any special skills required? The ability to cast a spey rod with sink-tips is helpful as are decent wading skills. Guests are best served by a willingness to fish confidently for long periods in between fish.

Does the lodge provide equipment? The lodge does have loaner gear available free of charge. This includes rods, reels, lines, and wading gear.

What is your favorite setup for the trip? The staples are 7- to 8-weight Spey rods ranging from 12- to 14-feet in length. We encourage guests to string up two rods so that they able to fish a floating line or a sink-tip throughout the day.

What are the top flies? Mid-sized black and blue tube flies and intruders are popular as are a host of other steelhead patterns.

What are the options if water conditions become challenging? Guests will have three primary systems to choose from and several much smaller systems that may be used in the event of really challenging conditions.

What is a typical day like? The guides like to be on the water early so guests should plan to be up early. After a full hot breakfast, guests will pile into trucks and head to their sections of river. Lunch will be served streamside and folks will get back to the lodge in time for a pre-dinner cocktail. Dinner is typically served around 8PM.

What is the general vibe, atmosphere, and style of the lodge? Despite Bear Claw Lodge’s grand design and remarkable craftsmanship, the lodge has a very casual vibe where all guests are made to feel like personal guests of the relaxed and colorful Allen family. This juxtaposition is one of the things that makes Bear Claw such a special experience.

Is there an on-site owner, manager, or other point-person at the lodge? Yes, typically the lodge managers Gene and Joy Allen are on-site, and except for one week during the season their son and head guide, Jim Allen is most often at the lodge. Kaleigh Allen, daughter of Gene and Joy is one of the chefs as well as an on-site hostess. Sindee Serle (Joy’s sister) is the on-site gardener, reflexologist and herbologist, and if most often on-site. Shannon Mcphail, daughter of Gene and Joy is the recreation manager and the CEO of Skeena Watershed Conservation Coalition. She fights to keep the Kispiox pristine.

Where do we eat, and what are the meals like? Your chefs Kaleigh Allen and Heather Muir are seasoned local professionals. Their food straddles the line between refined and rugged and they are masters at sourcing the finest local ingredients from their gardens and the valley. This includes local fish and game, wild berries, mushrooms, and herbs. Here literally everything is homemade with love and then thoughtfully paired.

What is the alcohol policy? All alcohol is included, and folks are also welcome to bring their own.

Where do we stay, and what are the accommodations like? Guests stay in very comfortable double-occupancy rooms with attached bathrooms. There are a limited number of single rooms available on a first-come-first-served basis and an up-charge will apply.

Is there internet and/or cell service? Bear Claw Lodge has electricity available 24 hours a day. There is a lodge computer with wireless internet access and a satellite phone is available for guest use (usage not included). There is no cell service at the lodge.

Are there other activities? During steelhead season this best thought of as a serious fishing lodge but were there a companion that elected not to fish and they brought along a rental car, there would be some interesting day trips.

Are there any other expenses? On top of the package price guests are expected to pay for fishing licenses, satellite phone charges, laundry, and gratuities.

Do I need a visa? Guests do not need a visa but will need a valid passport.

Are there any health concerns, dangers, or annoyances? Rafting, jet boating and wading all come with some risk but they are negligible. There are black bears and the occasional grizzly bear in the area, but they are not a serious concern. Biting insects are rarely an issue and are primarily limited to the summer months.

We recommend that guests always consult with the U.S. Department of State and the Center for Disease Control websites for general travel information and guidelines.

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