Nicholas Dean Lodge

449th Weekly Fishing Report from Nicholas Dean Lodge

For Tuesday, August 21, 2007 to Monday, September 10, 2007


It’s hard not to smile when posing with a fish like this – Nicholas Dean Lodge guest Bill Ellis and guide Sky Richard proudly cradle a white chrome Skeena River Steelhead – 20 lbs plus. Susan Conard Photo


Fish Tales

The fish of late August and early September are freight trains. Take one of our English clients and friend, Jim Birkbeck, for example. While fishing on the Skeena a couple of weeks ago, he was having a fantastic day, having hooked numerous Sockeye, Pinks and a few Coho. In fact, when some of his fishing comrades tried to pry him away from “his” spot, it took a few beers to entice him to leave. In all, one moment comes to mind which typifies the fighting qualities of Skeena fish:

On this day, I had left the solace of the office to help guide a few guests on the river. Having been one of my first full day guiding experiences, it was something new and a lot of fun. At one point in the middle of the afternoon heat, I was helping fellow angler Mike Aymar learn the basics of bottom bouncing when I looked downstream to see Jim’s line start to pull tight and the rod accelerate as he set the hook. Although what occurred next happened in mere seconds, it was almost like it was played out in slow motion. The hook was set, and whether the line was caught around the rod or if Jim did not have enough time to take his fingers off the line we’ll never know, but all I saw was a 15 foot spey rod, complete with line and reel launch out of his hands. Not dropped or anything like that – launched. It was a comical situation and the blank, confused look on Jim’s face was worth the price of admission. Meanwhile, from my position about 40 feet upstream, I could see that the the rod was moving swiftly into the middle of the Skeena. Of course, there was not much else to do but take chase after it, so I rushed downstream to try to recover the rod. Alas, the weight of the rod finally took hold and disappeared from sight below the surface. Jim and I looked hopefully in the middle of the river with the jet boat, but the combination of deep water and a swift current made our task a little more difficult. Perhaps the worst part of this story though is the unknown fish. Was it a bright 10 lb Steelhead or Coho with a mean attitude, or perhaps one of the 30 lb Skeena giants that has made the river famous? We’ll never know the answer to this question, but at the very least, Jim now has a great story to tell around a campfire…

During the same week that Jim had this unfortunate experience, the fishing was generally quite good on the Skeena. Both and Jon and George Honore from San Jose, California landed some bright chrome Steelhead up to 16 lbs, as well as large numbers of Sockeye and Pinks. Steve Fransen, a fisheries biologist from Washington State had always wanted to fish in the Skeena Region, and on his first trip, hooked into a few gorgeous Steelhead on a scenic Skeena River Tributary. Bob Owen also joined half way through the week and caught a 14 lb Steelhead that put up a great fight on the Skeena. And then there was Mike Aymar, Jon Millichap and Bob Tacy, three great guys who did a great job in livening up the dinner table with their hilarious stories and anecdotes. Both Jon and Bob had been on the Kispiox last year and had found the river to be much too crowded with relatively few hook ups. They are now convinced that fishing on the Skeena near Terrace is the way to go because instead of fishing all week for one or two grabs on the Kispiox, you can have multiple hook ups from other Salmon species in between the takes of Steelhead. Hard to argue with that! This week also marked the first week of our Skeena Camp, which was hosted by one of our booking agents, Jeff Bright. Although the fishing at the camp was a little slower at times, there were also some great fish hooked. Jeff Bright himself fought a large chrome fish and had it in the shallows, just waiting to be landed, when the fish made one more headshake and was gone. Jeff estimated the large Steelhead to be around 25 lbs…

If you would like to come to fish the Skeena and ply the waters for its trophy fish, but don’t have a large budget, I highly suggest the Skeena Camp package. It is about 2/3 the cost of our main lodge package, and has several advantages. First, you are on the river for the whole week, so you can virtually fish anytime you want. If you want to get up at 6 am to fish for a few hours before breakfast, or fish late into the night, that is an option. While guides will be helping you throughout the day, you are generally on your own schedule and can fish as much as you like. Second, we have developed several amenities that make it much more than a “typical” campsite. There is running water to wash your hands, a pit privy, and even a shower. Third, this is more of a wilderness experience, with the sound of the gurgling riffles on the Skeena putting you to sleep. If you would like more details on this package please go to our pricing and packages page at: http://www.nicholasdean.com/Pricing.asp The camp is getting quite popular, and I expect that there will be a lot of demand for the 2008 season, so if you are interested in this option, please contact me as soon as possible.

Also, a note for those of you entertaining the idea of a trip to Skeena Country for 2008: we are once again offering a limited promotion whereby you can book a trip in the 2008 season at the 2007 rates if you secure your 50% deposit before October 1, 2007. Given the rising cost of fuel and an unfavourable US exchange rate, our 2008 prices will be increasing to $3495.00 USD for the main lodge package, $2195.00 USD for our Skeena Camp package, and $695.00 USD for our day booking package after October 1, 2007, which makes this promotion very worthwhile. Contact me here at the lodge now to reserve and ensure your space in the prime time weeks of 2008.

Finally, we have just a few more spaces available in the 2007 season for some line peeling, reel smoking Steelhead and Coho fishing in Mid to late October and the first couple of weeks in November. During the October weeks, the fishing opportunities for Trophy Coho on the Lower Skeena Tributaries are incredible, with the largest fish of the year. Underrated by many anglers, this is sight fishing at its best, with large flash flies stripped rapidly to exploit the Coho’s aggressive side. Then, try your hand at the hot Steelhead moving up the Skeena to upstream tributaries, or travel to the Nass region to fish the scenic Bell Irving and Meziadin for Steelhead and Coho. In November, the main draw is Steelhead. More specifically, Steelhead on the Copper. After November 1, it becomes unclassified, so you can enjoy the fantastic fishing that this river and season offers for as many days on your trip as you like. Fish on…

I hope that this report finds you doing well and with a bend in your rod, and as always, tight lines and screaming reels!

Chad Black

Operation 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: 55 lbs, Caught by Mike Bingham of Sheridan, California on the Skeena River

Coho Salmon: 12 lbs, Caught by Adam Chelini of San Francisco, California on the Kitimat River


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
Chinook Salmon
Coho Salmon
Pink Salmon
Sockeye Salmon
Chum Salmon
Halibut
Sea-Run Cutthroat Trout
Dolly Varden
Bull Trout
Rainbow Trout

There was cause for considerable concern in the first part of the Summer with low numbers of returning Summer Run Steelhead, but fortunately it seems that the run has started to pick up. Although some rivers have been producing more than others, Steelhead have generally been caught in decent numbers each day on the Skeena. While some Skeena Tributaries have been marked with slow fishing for Steelhead, they will likely continue to improve as they are fed by more fish from the Skeena. Though Chinook Salmon can still be caught in certain sections on the Skeena, most are now quite dark and not the great sport fish that they are when fresh and chrome. Coho fishing has been very good at times on the Skeena, but at other times very slow. Skeena Coho are very strong fish that seem to come through the Skeena in pulses, unlike Pinks and Sockeye which return en masse. Fortunately or unfortunately (depending on how you look at it!), the number of Pinks and Sockeye are decreasing in the Skeena, with the bulk of the run having reached upstream spawning tributaries. While this means that you won’t hook into as many fish on the Skeena, it also gives you a better chance to hook into Steelhead and Coho. Trout fishing can be rewarding, but the majority of our guests have one or two fish in mind: white chrome Steelhead or Coho!