Nicholas Dean Lodge

451st Weekly Fishing Report from Nicholas Dean Lodge

For Tuesday, October 23, 2007 to Monday, November 05, 2007


Two happy anglers – Peter McLeod and his guide, Dustin Kovacvich, share a funny moment courtesy of this 18 lb Steelhead and photographer Henry Gilbey. Henry Gilbey Photo


Fish Tales

Hello Anglers,

Today we were greeted with a large blanket of white, fluffy stuff, which has been somewhat expected. The snowline has been dropping a lot in the numerous valleys near Terrace, and with the weather getting colder and large quantities of precipiation, it was bound to happen anytime! It couldn’t have been timed any better in our case though, because our last guests of the season departed for their warmer weather in California yesterday. Jeff Bright returned to the lodge earlier last week for his 6th trip of the year (which, needless to say, had made a number of his clients very envious!), and Martin Walker for his third trip of the year. The first day, they travelled to fish a remote river in the Nass basin with one of our guides, Jeff Langley, only to find that the river was a little high. Though they did not find the Steelhead in the river to be very active, the next day on a Skeena River tributary yielded two Steelhead. Jeff, a photographer, graphic designer, and trip host, does a fantastic job on his trip reports, which can be found at: http://www.jeffbright.com/travel/tripreports.html

A few days after Jeff and Martin’s arrival, Chris Welch and Patrick Marlborough arrived to fish the waters of the Skeena and its tributaries. On their first day of fishing, both Patrick and Chris landed Steelhead – a great way to start a trip! During the middle of their week, a combination of rain lower down in the valleys and melting snow up in the mountains raised the level of the rivers to borderline fishable, and conditions were tough. The last few days of their trip made up for it though, as they landed 3 Steelhead their second last day, and 2 on their final day. Patrick mentioned part way through the trip that he was a novice Spey caster, having only been out with the long rod about a half dozen times, but this was certainly not evident, at least to the fish that he landed! All of our guides are avid Spey casters themselves, and having Sky Richard teach Patrick probably helped him out a little…

For Jeff and Martin, their final day proved that the best is always saved ’till last. Dustin, along with his little buddy, Ruger (for those who don’t know him, he is Dustin’s 130 lb Rottweiler/Akita cross), hiked Jeff and Martin through a few steep river valleys, likely over some of the not-well-liked devil’s club, and into a few prime pools on a turbulent Skeena River trib. Such is the price sometimes for good fishing. Martin tied into two hens, 8 and 14 lbs respectively, which came to his well tied Intruder style flies in Pink and Purple. These fish were still in good shape, with a hint of pink on their gill plates. Jeff fared quite well with his shank/Intruder style flies, with an aptly named “Little Elvis” fly doing most of the action. Yes, this fly has multiple connotations and there have been quite a few laughs shared at the lodge because of it! The Steelhead approved of the fly on this day though, with an 8 lb hen landed, and a buck that was pushing 20 lbs gave Jeff a good “run for his money.” The fish was hooked in a run that is shrouded with logs on the bank, but then proceeded to peel line downstream 100 yards. This was one of the highlights of Jeff and Martin’s trip, and was certainly a great way to end our season.

In review, the 2007 season was a successful one, full of fish stories, lots of laughs with great clients, and a learning experience for me. Early in the season, there were some very big Steelhead caught in conditions that were probably more Winter-like than Spring-like. In particular, Yvonne Williams landed her first Steelhead ever on the Skeena, a huge buck that was conservatively estimated at 27 lbs, and which would remain the largest Steelhead caught at the lodge this year. And for Jerry Comingdeer, he had a glimpse of a Steelhead that will in all likelihood haunt him forever. While spoon fishing in early April, he hooked into a big fish, presumed to be a Spring Chinook, only to find that it was a Steelhead that would have been in the high 30s or low 40s. Pounds, not inches though! The Spring Chinooks provided great fishing towards the end of April and early May, but the melting of a 200% snowpack and warm Spring rains quickly curtailed fishing on the Skeena for a solid two months until Mid-July. The Kitimat fished well in late June and late July for Chinooks, and the Skeena started producing its legendary fish at the end of July and early August, just before the Middle Skeena Chinook fishery closed. It was in this time that Mike Bingham of Sheridan, California landed his big 55 lb Chinook. The Sockeye run turned out to be more numerous than was initially expected, and these strong fighting fish provided excellent sport on the fly, and were even better as table fare! The Summer Steelhead run was slow early on, and good numbers of fish were not seen until early September, despite the fact that the fish landed seemed to be larger on average than most years. It was our experience that the Steelhead run peaked about 2-3 weeks later than it might have in past years. And despite the fact that Coho fishing was better this year than it was last year, Dustin mentioned that the run was poor in the grand scheme of things. There were some pools that did have large numbers of fish in them, but these pools were few and far between. Nonetheless, some big Coho were caught, and Derrick Ames for Fergus, Ontario (my hometown!) landed a 20 lb monster a few weeks ago.

At this point, I would like to take the chance to say thank you to all of our guests who attended the lodge this year. This year was a fantastic one for us, owing largely to the great clientele who fished with us. Thank you for being patient when the fishing may have been on the slow side, and for sharing all of your on-river stories whether they were fish related or otherwise. From all the staff here at Nicholas Dean Lodge, we wish you all the best in the winter months, and we look forward to hopefully casting a fly or lure with you at some point in the near future.

Until next week, 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: 20 lbs, Caught by Derrick Ames of Fergus, Ontario 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 Out of season
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

With the closure of the Coho fishing on the Lower Skeena tributaries and the departure of our last guests for the season, both myself, Dustin and the Nicholas Dean guides will be turning our attention to the plethora of trout fishing opportunities in the Skeena drainage, as well as Early Winter Steelhead fishing. The trout fishing has been great for Cutthroat, Bull trout, Dolly Varden, and resident Rainbows. My brother Chris landed a gorgeous Cutthroat last week on the Skeena that was just shy of 20 inches, a special fish indeed. And he did have another come “unbuttoned” that was quite a bit larger – too bad that we didn’t get a chance to see it up close! Most of the trout are actively feeding on Coho eggs drifting with the current, but the Cutthroat can be particularly prone to nymph patterns fished just off the bottom. Finally, depsite the fact that the weather conditions are less than favourable, this is classic Early Winter Steelheading at its best – snow, rain, and chrome fish, and almost always without the crowds. Some of the Skeena tributaries get Steelhead trickling through all Winter long, and it is these rivers that we focus on for our personal fishing.