Fly Fishing + Fat Biking in Tofino’s Backcountry
Tofino’s vast potential for outdoor adventure is inspiring, and one of the raddest details is the sheer variety of options. From Nootka Island in the north to the Broken Islands Group in Barkley Sound to the south, there are endless options for exploring new-to-you landscapes. Anyone with an imagination and the will can get outside can find a good time.
When Comox Valley-based photographer Haruki ‘Harookz’ Noguchi suggested we get the gang together and ride bikes up a remote river drainage to fly fish, we jumped at the chance. For almost two decades, Harookz has been at the top of the heap as a world-class mountain bike photographer. Fly fishing is his other passion. From Tofino Resort + Marina’s Adventure Centre, we loaded up a few fat bikes, a happy dog, and enough gear to get us out into the wilderness for a long day of swinging flies and ripping fire roads.
For the uninitiated, fat bikes are a sort of Frankenstein-ed version of mountain bikes that sport much wider tires. These treads are well-suited to mud, snow, sand and other difficult to navigate terrain. They are less “shred” and more “explore”…kind of like Tofino Resort + Marina. We like to see new places more than we like to get rad, but we still can’t help but giv’er along the way. And when you have Harookz taking photos, you try and get radder for the camera.
Fly fishing is a less-popular but arguably more passionate form of salmon fishing. There’s a unique rhythm to it. A magic that comes through in the delicate–some say frustrating–art of the cast. With a simple rod and no mechanisms to interfere, the fisher must rely on their five senses and a single-minded focus. There is no chilling out and waiting. That being said, many find the activity incredible relaxing. And it makes sense. Humans are not meant to do nothing. We are meant to live. Fly fishing finds us fascinatingly balanced on that strange line between doing nothing and doing everything all at once.
A good crew is crucial to a good time, whether deep in the backcountry, or simply enjoying a beach picnic. And on this trip we made sure to bring a couple good dogs along. First off, dogs are great companions on mountain bike rides. There’s a joy in their movement as you rip down a wide-open fire road. But a dog on a fishing trip is a whole other thing. The last thing we need as anglers is a pooch scaring away fish. Thankfully, these pups know better. They also keep the bears away. When you’re an hour-long bike ride and another 45 minutes by boat from town, that’s a quality well-worth its weight in dog treats.
Adventure doesn’t happen without determination. It takes planning and intent. But that’s what we do. We make ideas reality. Harookz wanted to go deep up a river valley by bike. We wanted dogs and fish and long hours stood casting in crystal clear waters. We made it happen.
Don’t let that idea stay an idea. Find some friends. Suggest something fun. Have a few beers and plan it out. Get your feet wet and face dirty. Sweat, explore, laugh.