Steelhead, Summer Steelhead
Destination Type
Safari Tent Camp
Fishing Style
Spey, Wading
September - October
Fishing Days
Why We Go
  • Fish the lower Bulkley canyons and the main Skeena with excellent guides
  • Enjoy an incredibly cool, comfortable tent camp near a prime steelhead run
  • Fish some of the Bulkley's most interesting big fish waters
  • Enjoy great meals and evening campfires
  • Spend long hours on the water with very little drive time
  • Have the option to add on helicopter fly-outs to the upper Skeena, upper Copper and Damodochax

The Bulkley Basecamp is an under-the-radar program created by Derek Botchford, owner of Frontier Steelhead Experience (formerly Frontier Farwest Lodge). This operation is the most versatile steelhead fly fishing operation in the Skeena watershed, providing guests easy access to the lower Bulkley and Skeena near Hazelton as well as optional access to helicopter fishing on the upper Copper, upper Skeena and Damdochax.

Bulkley Basecamp consists of a complex of deluxe wall tents with a large safari-style tent serving as the main dining tent. Anglers sleep two per wall tent within earshot of the river. Tents have nice beds, full lines, carpets, wood stoves, covered porches with chairs and basic lighting.This camp is limited to six anglers per week and offers guests a unique steelhead fly fishing experience with seasoned professional guides.

Fishing Program

Bulkley Basecamp has a wide range of available fishing options designed to set up anglers for success with the ever-changing conditions in the region. The two pillars of the program are fishing reaches of the lower Bulkley and the main Skeena near Hazleton and the mouth of the Kispiox. Both venues are near Bulkley Basecamp and are easy to reach early in the morning. Additionally, anglers can purchase classified water tags and fish the home waters of the Suskwa unguided on weekdays. Please note that guests need to figure their way around the home waters on their own, as guiding on the Suskwa is illegal and strictly enforced.

All anglers will have the option to charter a helicopter for an upcharge and fish the remote upper reaches of the Skeena or Copper or Damdochax with a guide. Guests can heli-fish as much as they like without making reservations in advance. This type of pay-as-you-go flexibility is unique to this program and makes Bulkley Basecamp BC’s most versatile trophy steelhead program. All fishing will be traditional down and across swing fishing while wading. While not overly strenuous, guests need to be able to wade all day and climb safely in and out of jet boats. All fish must be released unharmed and the lodge strongly encourages a “Keep ‘Em Wet” policy in which the fish’s head is never removed from the water.


Bulkley Basecamp is a comfortable tent camp consisting of three double-occupancy wall tents and one single-occupancy tent, all of which have wood-burning stoves, comfortable bedding, and towels. The camp also has a main safari-style dining tent as well as a bar cabin with a covered outside seating area and heaters. The facility has spacious porches, a fire circle, two cedar hot shower facilities, and two vented cedar outhouses. It is the ideal glamping set up for serious steelheaders.

Breakfasts and dinners are served in the main dining tent. All meals at Bulkley Basecamp are thoughtfully prepared, freshly cooked, and delicious. Lunch is served streamside by your guide during a mid-day break.


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

Day 2: Guides pick up guests at 7:30AM and head straight to the river for a full day of guided steelhead fishing.

Day 3-7: Full days of guided fishing.

Day 8: Depart the lodge in the morning for the Smithers airport and fly home.

Rates & Details

2023 Rate: Per person based on double occupancy

  • 6 night/6 day package: $6,810

Included: Accommodations and meals at camp, guiding, round-trip transfers between Smithers and lodge, GST, hotel tax, and limited wine and beer with dinner

Not Included: Airfare, accommodations and meals in Smithers, fishing licenses, staff and guide gratuities, arrival and departure taxes, leasing fees for upper Skeena and Babine rod days, helicopter time, hard alcohol, and beer

Species: Steelhead

Season: September - October

Capacity: 6 anglers

Fly Water Q&A

Who is best suited to this destination? Any anglers keen to swing flies for wild steelhead, who like wall tents, challenging wading, and campfires.

Where is the lodge? The Bulkley Basecamp is located on the Bulkley River roughly 15-minutes upstream from the town of Smithers BC.

How do I get there? To get to Bulkley Basecamp guests will need to arrange flights to Smithers, BC which will require initially flying to Vancouver, BC. Overnight in Smithers at a hotel of their choosing. The following morning a lodge representative will pick anglers up early and transfer them to camp or straight to a put -in. On arrival, anlgers will fish a full day with guides.

When should I go? September through October.

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. Both the Bulkley and Skeena fish very well with skated dries, standard wets flies, and larger patterns fished on sink tips. Guides will take two anglers each and move guest between prime run with jetboats. Guests are served well by carrying two rods with them each day. One might be a dry fly set up and the other a tip set up.

Is there wade fishing? Yes, all fishing is done while wading.

Where will I fish? Most of the fishing will be done on the lower Bulkley near Suskwa and some will be done on the main Skeena around the mouths of the Bulkley and Kispiox.

How long does it take to reach the fishing grounds? The guides will trailer a jetboat to one of many put-ins. The nearest is less than ten minutes from camp and the most distant put-ins on the Skeena are about 45 minutes away.

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 this operation offers a great chance for both large fish and decent numbers of fish. On good years/good weeks the lodge often averages more than two fish landed per person per day.

What are the guides like? The guides are full-time professional fish hunters. All are Canadian. They know the rivers intimately and they are excellent boatmen and instructors. Guides at Bulkley Basecamp are very serious about keeping steelhead wet and in the water and will help guests take pictures of their fish without ever lifting them out of the river.

Will I see other anglers? Yes, expect to see other anglers each day but there is never a shortage of quality water. With that said, the lower Bulkley canyons are lightly traveled as compared with many of the region’s waters.

What are the physical demands? Guests need to be able to wade all day and climb safely in and out of jet boats. The wading is moderately difficult and might rank 6-8 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 respectable wading skills. Guests are well served by a willingness to fish confidently for long periods in between fish, as is common in steelhead fishing.

Does the lodge provide equipment? The lodge has a limited number of loaner rods and reels for guests to use but guests are encouraged to bring all their own equipment.

What is your favorite setup for the trip? We recommend 7- to 8-weight Spey rods in the 12-to 14-foot range. Having two set ups is nice as one can be rigged with dry, Scandi style head and the other with Skagit head for fishing sink tips.

What are the top flies? Mid-sized black and blue tube flies and intruders are popular as are a host of other steelhead patterns. Many guides prefer unweighted flies as they are much easier to recover from bottom structure. Also be sure to bring some skaters along.

What are the options if water conditions become challenging? In the event of high dirty water, a portion of the guests may be able to move upstream to the upper reaches of the Bulkley or Morice, which are very stable by BC standards.

What is a typical day like? Breakfast will be served early in the dining tent and guests will load into trucks right around sunrise. Lunch will be served streamside. Guests are typically back at camp by 6PM and dinner is typically served at 7:30PM.

What is the general vibe, atmosphere, and style of the lodge? Camp is very woodsy, casual, and welcoming. Guides ang guest are always together enjoying one another’s company around the fire.

Is there an on-site owner, manager, or other point-person at the lodge? Yes, manager Steve Morrow or Chris George are always on-site and willing and able to help in any needed fashion.

Where do we eat, and what are the meals like? Meals are served in the main dining tent. All meals are thoughtfully prepared, plated, and delicious.

What is the alcohol policy? The camp provides wine with dinner and guests may also bring their own beer and hard alcohol.

Where do we stay, and what are the accommodations like? Bulkley Basecamp is a comfortable tent camp consisting of two double occupancy wall tents and two single occupancy wall tents all with wood burning stoves. They have porches, bedside tables, and basic lighting. Meals are prepared and served in the main safari style dining/cook tent. The facility has spacious porches, a fire circle, hot shower facility and vented cedar outhouses. Comfortable beds with full linens are provided as are towels and turn down service.

Is there internet and/or cell service? Bulkley Basecamp has wireless broadband internet access at their bar cabin but does not have strong cell reception or a land line.

Are there other activities? No

Are there any other expenses? Guests will need to pay for their overnight accommodation in Smithers, fishing licenses and gratuities.

Do I need a visa? No

Are there any health concerns, dangers, or annoyances? There are risks associated with jetboating and wading wild rivers, but they are negligible. There are black bears and rare instances grizzly bears, but they do not pose a significant risk.

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