Nicholas Dean Lodge

442nd Weekly Fishing Report from Nicholas Dean Lodge

For Tuesday, June 26, 2007 to Monday, July 02, 2007


The author poses with his largest Chinook Salmon taken on the Kitimat River last week. Inset: wildlife such as this Eagle are commonplace on the rivers in the Terrace area. Chad Black Photos


Fish Tales

Last week was definitely an enjoyable one for both Sky Richard and myself. On Wednesday, we got up at 4:30 am and left the lodge at 5:00 am to target big Chinooks on the upper drift of the Kitimat River. And while I wouldn’t necessarily like to make it a habit of getting up that early every day, it was definitely worth it. All in all, we hooked 8 bright Chinooks that averaged 15-25 lbs, which took Gibbs Koho spoons in sizes 55 and 65. There were also a few pools that we drifted over and saw fish that were substantially bigger – there were a few fish that looked about 40-45 lbs to me, and to make sure that I wasn’t making things up, I asked Sky. He agreed. Personally, it was of the best fishing experiences I’ve had to date so far – Chinooks are a great gamefish and are so strong that even in smaller sizes landing them can sometimes be an issue! And while I have hooked into some Steelhead and the odd Chinook back in Ontario that “rip it up” (a phrase often used by Sky and Dustin ), it was really one of the first times that I’ve seen a fish be somewhat in control of the battle. Some highlights included: having the river mostly to ourselves, the relatively nice weather and, of course, the take of the Chinooks. I’ve fished for a lot of different species that bite light, such as a trout taking a nymph, or a walleye mouthing a jig, and I can assure you that when a Chinook hits, there is little doubt that there is a mean fish on the other end. Needless to say, based on our first day, both Sky and I were very excited about going a second time!

Even though we thought that the Kitimat might be a little crowded because of the long weekend, we still found ourselves putting the boat in at the Orange Bridge around 6 am. Initially, we had thoughts about trying the lower drift, but because of the good fishing we experienced last time, we decided to do the upper drift again. Right away, Sky hooked into a fish at the first pool we fished, a smaller Jack Chinook around 15 lbs with a little colour. Then, after quickly moving through some unproductive water, Sky again landed another good fish of the same size in the next good pool. On the other hand, I had not had much success for most of the day, until around 3 pm. We fished the seam where a small side channel with clear water entered the murkier water of the main channel Kitimat – perfect conditions for Chinook holding water. After losing a Blue Fox spinner, I returned to the drift boat to stock up on spoons, and to grab some lunch. For some reason though, I just had a good feeling about the water in front of me, so I postponed lunch for a few minutes, tied another spoon to my line, and walked back down to the pool. Sky had already fished down through the water already, but the slot just under the overhanging tree looked too good to pass up. One minute I could see the spoon fluttering down towards bottom, and the next, I saw a huge flash of silver! The big fish tried to take my line into the trees several times, but by applying side pressure and leading the fish away from the snags, I was at last able to tail it. I estimated the fish to be 25-30 lbs, and Sky figured it was somewhere around 27-28 lbs. The number didn’t matter to me though – it was the biggest salmon I’d ever caught! And to top things off, we did have a few great wildlife experiences that day. There was an Eagle perched about 100 ft away from us on a log, and since there was another log in front of it, I had a chance to sneak up on it without seeing me. After getting within 15 ft of the Eagle, I couldn’t wait any longer; though I only had a chance to get one photo, it turned out fantastic. Towards the end of the day we also heard some crashing in the bushes not 50 ft away from us, and a minute later, a small Moose emerged. The little things eh?

Stories aside, there are a few other items to mention. The Skeena River has seemed to maintain some of its volume, but does appear to be dropping. Perhaps more importantly, it is starting to clear up and is now a shade of “grey” as opposed to chocolate brown. Dustin has mentioned that while the fishing may be better when the water is fairly clear, there is good fishing to be had in grey-coloured waters, especially near clean seams where tributaries enter the main river. Each day that I’ve crossed the Skeena in the afternoon there has been a lone angler working the waters near Ferry Island with a spey rod, which is a positive indicator. If Chinook or Sockeye are taking flies (which don’t move as much water as spoons and plugs, or emit scent like bait does), they will undboubtedly take lures fished with conventional gear in these water conditions. And while “higher” water conditions (compared to previous years at this time of season) may prevail for a few more weeks, we expect the fishing will be very good – it’s just that much more important to know where the fish like to hold.

And don’t let the high waters of the Skeena scare you from coming on a trip to the lodge this year. One of the cornerstones of our business is that we have many different Classified and Non-Classified rivers and streams on our guide license, some of which other lodges and guides do not. What this means for you is that we can offer some of the most value-based and unparalleled trips in Skeena Country. Even if one river blows out or the fishing is slow, there are almost always other options to consider. With this in mind, we still have some space available during the Trophy Chinook season (as well as the first runs of Summer Steelhead and All species of Pacific Salmon) from July 21 to 27 and August 4 to 10, 2007. As a “last minute” deal, we will be offering trips at discounted rates – give me a call at (250) 635-5295 or email me at chadblack@nicholasdean.com for more information.

Until next week, tight lines and screaming reels…

Chad Black

Operations Manager

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Nicholas Dean Lodge 2007 Season Records To Date:

Steelhead: 27 lbs, Caught by Yvonne Williams of Vancouver, BC on the Skeena River

Chinook Salmon: 40 lbs, Caught by Bob Cusick of Edmonton, Alberta on a Skeena River Tributary

Coho Salmon: Out of Season


Fishing Conditions

The chart below provides an overview on the current river fishing conditions by fish species:

Fish Species Poor Marginal Fair Good Excellent
Steelhead Out of season
Chinook Salmon
Coho Salmon Out of season
Pink Salmon Out of season
Sockeye Salmon
Chum Salmon
Halibut
Sea-Run Cutthroat Trout
Dolly Varden
Bull Trout
Rainbow Trout

Chinook fishing continues to be very good on the Kitimat River and in the near-shore saltwater environment. With fresh fish coming into the Kitimat nearly every day, fishing should continue to be very good in the coming weeks. And although it is a little early, Sockeye have started to make an appearance on the Skeena, though due to high waters, have not been caught in good numbers. The start of the Chum Salmon run is imminent on the Kitimat River, and should peak in the next 3 weeks. Trout fishing has generally been rewarding for those willing to seek out small lakes near Terrace and in the Nass Valley. Halibut are being caught in good numbers in the Ocean near Prince Rupert, and I have heard rumours that a halibut around 200 lbs was caught near Kitimat last week.