I'm not an expert fisherman, but I know that choosing the right equipment is important. That's why I went with the helicopter.
The increasingly popular sport of heli-fishing, it turns out, doesn't involve herding salmon from the air. The flight is more a means to an end. And in my case, the end was a rain forest stream as spectacular as it was remote.
I had arranged my angler's adventure through the luxurious King Pacific Lodge, located 300 miles north of Vancouver on British Columbia's beautiful northern coast. Heli-fishing trips are offered in a handful of wilderness areas, including the Lake Taupo region in New Zealand, Russia's Kola Peninsula, and the many lakes of Yellowstone in Montana, but B.C.'s natural splendor and solitude and teeming seas and streams make it the granddaddy of them all. In fact, fishing is a $600 to $800 million a year industry in B.C., with approximately 600,000 licenses issued annually.
The beauty of the helicopter approach to the sport works two ways, and the first has nothing to do with fishing. It's a thrill simply to rise up and soar over some of the most gorgeous scenery on the planet. Secondly, the heli-option brings you, in minutes, to areas that could otherwise take days to walk into (rugged terrain with little or no roads). Anglers appreciate, too, that the rivers aren't stocked, so they get a genuine wild fishing experience.
My salmon-seeking soiree began with a brief fly-fishing lesson. The next day, after being outfitted with all the necessary gear (including fishing licenses), I joined two other budding anglers, the pilot, and a fishing guide aboard a Bell 206 chopper carrying our equipment, an emergency satellite phone, chairs, snacks, and a couple of packed lunches.