We, Billy Labonte and Carrie Collingwood, are pleased to introduce ourselves as the owners of Babine Norlakes Steelhead Camp. We are the third family in fifty-two years to own and operate this extraordinary Steelhead lodge on the world famous Babine River.
Who are we?
Billy Labonte spent his childhood with a fishing rod in his hands. In 1992, he met the Wickwires, who at that time were the owners of the Silver Hilton Steelhead Lodge. In the fall of that same year, at the age of 16 he started his guiding career on the Babine. The Lower Babine and the Silver Hilton Steelhead Lodge was his introduction to the guiding world, and under the tutelage of “Babine Bob” Wickwire, master jet boater Jud Wickwire and steelhead guru Lani Waller, he had an unfair advantage and a sharp learning curve as a guide. He guided each fall on the Babine until 2004 and part time until 2010. In 1998 he started summer trout guiding for Spatsizi Wilderness Vacations and met his wife Carrie Collingwood. Today he is an accomplished fishing/hunting guide and bush pilot and together with Carrie and their two children they guide, manage and operate Spatsizi Wilderness Lodge. Those who know Billy best, understand steelhead have always been in Billy’s blood, and he is really excited to be back on the Babine!
Carrie Collingwood comes from a family that has been in the lodge business since 1969. She received her BA in Recreation Management from the University of Victoria in 1997. She worked in public sector recreation for several years then moved to Smithers to work for her father’s family business, Spatsizi Wilderness Vacations & Collingwood Bros. Guides & Outfitter. Carrie has handled the marketing, reservations and office management for the last 16 years and co-manages & guides at the operating lodge with Billy during the summer months. She has a passion for fly fishing and although she is a true “trout” fly fisher she loves the thrill of a 20lb steelhead on the fly.
“We are excited at the opportunity to start a new venture and provide exceptional service, and many memorable angling adventures. We invite you to join us on this magnificent river.”
Babine Norlakes Steelhead Camp goes back to 1965 when Ejnar & Joy Madsen built the original camp. The introduction of the jet drive in the mid 60's changed everything and gave Ejnar the ability to take his fisherman down the rocky Babine river without damaging his outboards and props and planted the seed for the first Steelhead Camp on the world famous Babine River. Ejnar and Joy started a Steelhead legacy on the Babine River that remains strong 52 years later. Most of the runs and pools are named from the pioneers who fished the Babine back in the late 60's. In memory of Ejnar, the home run at the camp is named after him “Ejnar's Pool”. Joy's attention to detail and homemade brownies are still raved about!
Pierce and Anita Clegg bought the operation from the Madsen's in 1986 and have operated both the Steelhead Camp and Trout lodge. Their love for the river, the bears and the steelhead and hard work to protect this magnificent river is unsurpassed. The Cleggs legacy includes being an instrumental player in protecting the Babine River Corridor Park and the establishing the Babine River Foundation and Babine Monitoring Trust Fund. They operate Rainbow Alley Trout Lodge at www.rainbowalleytroutfishing.com. Pierce also co-authored “Babine” a 50 year Celebration of World Renown Steelhead and Trout Fishing.
“Anita and I believe that Billy and Carrie are a perfect fit for the furtherance of the steelhead camp, and for the continuation of stewardship efforts on behalf of wild watershed values... Billy and Carrie have much experience in wild places and their combined angler/hunter-guiding skills well suit them for serving the guests. Together they have the skills and connections to keep Norlakes a top rated steelhead destination for years to come.” __Pierce Clegg, A River Never Sleeps.
It is our great honour to continue the legacy on the Babine and follow in the footsteps of the Madsens and Cleggs. We will continue to protect the Babine and offer top quality angling experiences.