Nicholas Dean Lodge

450th Weekly Fishing Report from Nicholas Dean Lodge

For Tuesday, September 11, 2007 to Monday, October 22, 2007


Jason Hartwick admires a 17-18 lb chrome Steelhead that he landed on a Skeena River tributary under the guidance of Nicholas Dean guide, Greg Buck. Gary Hartwick/Jason Hartwick Photo


Fish Tales

Hello Anglers and Fellow Readers,

Though it has been awhile since my last report, I trust that you have been keeping well and have been finding as many excuses to be near good fishing water as possible. As I write this, we are winding down for the fall 2007 season, and are greeting the first onslaught of cold weather and Early Winter Steelhead fishing here in Northwest BC. And a great fall season it has been. There were many weeks where the weather man was forecasting rain, chance of showers, rain, then cloudy periods, then more rain, and to be honest, each time Dustin and I were thinking to ourselves, this is going to be it for the week. The rivers are going to rip. And like so many good cliches, the weather man was, in most cases wrong. While the fall was characteristically dominated by rain, it usually didn’t amount to torrential rains or significant snowmelt (yes, snowmelt in early September), so in most cases, the rivers did stay in shape and most of our guests did experience good fishing.

In Steelhead fishing, it is common to hear the phrase “you shoulda been here yesterday,” or the like. In the case of Skeena Steelhead this year, it would probably be more accurate to say “you shoulda been here tomorrow.” Particularly in July, August and the early part of September, anglers and certainly the media had heard reports of poor Steelhead returns in the Skeena tributaries. While the number of fish returning is probably not where it should be based on the 10 year average and indeed historical levels, I have heard good reports recently from anglers fishing in both the upriver and lower tributaries, and the evidence from our guide reports seem to support these observations. Moreover, the Steelhead landed this year did seem on average to be larger specimens than perhaps those landed in previous years.

This fall was also a diverse one, with anglers from all parts of the globe, from the US to Finland, to Spain and the UK. The majority of anglers were seeking the shade of bullet chrome – the term used to describe the flanks of a hot, fresh Steelhead from the Ocean. And a good number of anglers were pleasantly rewarded. The late fall from Mid-September on saw a good bump of Steelhead migrating up the Skeena and into its tributaries. Though the main channel Skeena itself was a little slow compared to what it’s like in most years, its tributaries often gave up multiple fish days. Take for example Stuart Forsyth and Andrew Fairclough – they experienced a slow day fishing for Coho on their first day, but the next more than made up for it. They hooked 10 Steelhead and landed 7, with several in the 15 to 18 lb range. Such a day is what dreams are made of, and is something that I’m sure these anglers won’t soon forget! There were also a few lucky anglers who manged to land wild Steelhead on waking dry flies, and in a few instances, dead drifted dries. When Jeff Bright and Ismo Uosukainen of Finland were in Terrace in mid September, they found Steelhead hell bent on slashing and attacking anything that moved on the surface. Haig-Brown’s Steelhead Bee, Grantham’s Sedge, a unique fly of Ismo’s called the Surf Board all enticed Steelhead to the surface, the largest of which was 17 lbs.

While Steelhead were the main draw for anglers during our Fall season, a number of anglers also tried fishing for Coho Salmon, aka Silvers in the lower Skeena tributaries and more than a few opted to go back for a second day. In the rivers we fished, it was common to see schools of Coho numbering in the hundreds, and you would slowly pick apart each pool and run, targeting pods of fish within the school. It is exciting fishing, with most being sight fished, and the fight of a Coho is comparable in intensity to that of a Steelhead right off the start, with just a little less stamina.

On a more personal note, the past week has been a great one for me and my brother, Chris. Chris has been visiting since Wednesday of last week, and we’ve been out hounding some of the lakes and rivers in the Skeena valley over the last few days. We both grew up fishing a lot during our younger days for Brown Trout on Ontario’s Grand River, and for Steelhead on the rivers of Southern Ontario, and it’s been very enjoyable getting out with him on one of the best rivers in the West. Getting out fishing with family and friends is definitely hard to beat…

A special thank you also goes out to one of our sponsors, Mike Cummins from The Red Shed Fly Shop in Peck, Idaho on the famed Clearwater River. For some of the best advice on Spey Fly Rods, Spey Casting and everything Spey, Mike, also known as “Poppy” is a wealth of information and we highly recommend visiting him at his fly shop or contacting him directly. For more info on The Red Shed Fly Shop, please go to: http://www.redshedflyshop.com/

We are also starting to gain a lot of momentum for bookings in the 2008 season, and a lot of the prime time spaces are going quickly, so if you are interested in a trip to the Skeena Region in 2008, please contact me today. The 2007 season has been a successful one for us, and I, along with Dustin and the rest of our staff, look forward to another great year in 2008!

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

Coho Salmon: 15 lbs, Caught by Erkki Kainulainen of Ilsalmi, Finland on a Skeena River Tributary


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 Out of season
Coho Salmon
Pink Salmon Out of season
Sockeye Salmon Out of season
Chum Salmon Out of season
Halibut
Sea-Run Cutthroat Trout
Dolly Varden
Bull Trout
Rainbow Trout

Steelhead fishing has steadily improved since the early part of September, and when water conditions have been right, some great Steelhead have been caught. From mid September up until now, the Coho fishing has been reasonably good on the lower Skeena tributaries. However, it still remains the opinion of Dustin and of our guides that there might not be as many fish in the rivers as there maybe should be. Likely due in large part to the significant return of Pink Salmon in the Skeena System, the trout and char this year appear to be very well fed, and fishing has been excellent over the last few weeks. Nymph, egg and flesh fly patterns have produced well and we expect the trout fishing to only get better from here on in.