Nicholas Dean Lodge

452nd Weekly Fishing Report from Nicholas Dean Lodge

For Tuesday, November 06, 2007 to Monday, November 12, 2007


Yvonne Williams and Sky Richard pose with the largest Steelhead caught at Nicholas Dean Lodge in 2007. The 27 lb buck was caught on the Skeena River in early April during our Spring Steelhead season. Michael Kenyon Photo


Fish Tales

Hello Anglers,

The past week has been a very wet one for us in Terrace, and the few glimpses that we’ve had of the mountains through the low lying clouds have been stunning! The snow line has been dropping as of last week, although the large snowfall that we had in the valley has all but melted now. It is a great time to sit down, tie some flies in between fishing days, and to reflect on the season we’ve had. With this in mind, I thought that I might focus a little more on the “big fish of the Skeena” during the next few weeks and provide an account of the largest fish that have to come to the beach for our guests in 2007. This week, I’ll start with Yvonne Williams’ huge Steelhead, which was caught in the first few days of the season…

It is the picture perfect story, when everything finally comes together in one moment and makes all previous frustrations a little less painful. It was in early March when I received a few emails from Michael Kenyon, a long time repeat guest from the lodge. He mentioned that he was bringing along his girlfriend, Yvonne Williams, and that he really wanted to get her into a Steelhead. He quite clearly stated that he wanted to fish where the greatest possibility existed to catch numbers of Steelhead. Yvonne had been on three other Steelhead expeditions with Michael, and though a dedicated Spey fisher, the Steelhead gods had not surrendered any fish to her. Definitely a little discouraging, but Yvonne was optimistic, and as we were later to find out, was pleasantly rewarded…

On their first day, Yvonne and Michael fished a Skeena River tributary known to fish well in the Spring months for Steelhead – big Steelhead. It was a cold Spring day, and rain pounded down for most of it, making it difficult to focus on the slow swing of the fly as it passed through the “bucket.” Still, Yvonne was determined and soon got in the familiar rhythm of step-cast, step-cast with her new CND spey rod. Her guide, Sky Richard, patiently waited besider her, pointing out which locations through the run were most likely to hold fish. And despite fishing some of the best water on the river, both Yvonne and Michael returned to the lodge later that day without the grab of a Steelhead. Although perhaps a little disappointed at the day’s fishing, Yvonne knew that Steelhead fishing can be tough at times, and was anxiously looking forward to the next day.

Based on the previous day’s fishing, Sky decided that a change in venue was needed. Instead of fishing the Skeena tributaries, he opted to take Yvonne and Michael onto the main channel Skeena, a broad expanse of water that could be somewhat intimidating to anglers new to the river. However, Sky knew that the majority of fish on the Skeena travel up the edges of the river, and not up the middle as some might expect, and were easily within casting range of a well placed Spey cast. As they approached the run, it was easy to see why this stretch was excellent holding water. The smooth, uniform flow on the surface, which flowed at approximately walking speed, enabled Steelhead to hold in the current without having to expend much energy. The flow was also punctuated by several large boulders further down the run, breaking the stream bottom into a complex set of vortices and depressions, allowing Steelhead to sit comfortably in front of and behind these features. Sky explained that it was very important to not wade out very far and to complete the swing so that the fly was practically on shore at the “hang down.” More than a few times, both with clients and in his personal fishing, Steelhead had taken flies very close to the bank. In a few cases, he had waded out too far, and upon walking back towards the bank, had spooked large Steelhead holding in less than a foot of water. Yvonne began working out her line, using the double spey cast to send her large marabou fly into the swift waters of the Skeena.

And although I was not there to witness the take of the fish per se, I can visualize it, and the circumstances leading up to it, quite clearly. Perhaps it was something like this: Yvonne would have worked down the run using about 7.5 ft of leadcore line and a large, dark fly. The water at the top of the run, while very good and had certainly yielded a fair number of fish in the past, was not as productive as the broken water further down. To Sky’s dismay on a number of occasions, his clients had fished through the upper water without a take, only to get to the prime water and give up. Fortunately, Yvonne did fish through and follow Sky’s recommendations. The water was very cold, like the air coming down off the mountains, and as her purple and black fly landed on the water directly in front of her, she mended once to let the sink tip hug the bottom where she knew the Steelhead would be holding. Following the fly through, it began a slow swing through the water towards shore, when all of a sudden, the line stopped abruptly. Not the arm wrenching take of a Summer or Fall Steelhead, but it was obvious enough to Yvonne that this was not a rock. Indeed, far from it. The fish did not like the fact that it was stung with this large thing that had invaded its space, and signalled this with a few deep, rod thumping head shakes. Though Sky was not one to admit it right away, he could tell by the way the fish was fighting that it was a big fish. There was no need to get Yvonne and Michael too excited though. The fish used the large volume of the Skeena to its advantage, and made a fast dash downstream, forcing Yvonne and Sky to move downstream with it. A little sluggish because of the cold water, the Steelhead bulldogged in the shallow water, and it wasn’t until the fish rolled on its side that the anglers knew the true extent of the fish. As the fish began to tire, Yvonne skilfully pulled the fish closer towards shore, where Sky was waiting below. When at last the fish had tired itself out, all Sky had to do was tail the fish in the shallows. Michael proceeded to take as many photographs of the experience as possible, and captured this week’s photo amongst them. The fish was huge. It had the girth of a fish much longer than the 39 inches it taped out to, and Sky conservatively estimtated the fish around 27 lbs. It must have been a very exciting moment for Yvonne to hold the fish, then watch the flicker of its fins as it slowly moved back out into the Skeena.

Just prior to hooking the fish, Sky had noticed that Yvonne had been working through a stretch where one prominent boulder was exposed above the river’s surface. Owing to the great fish she landed there, she stacked one rock on top of another on the shoreline and, as a group, they decided to christen it “Yvonne’s rock.” The water is currently too high to know if Yvonne’s rock is still there, and given the flooding that occurred this past Spring, it might be doubtful. However, I’m sure that the rock will forever be etched into Sky’s memory, and most certainly Yvonne’s and Michael’s, as the place where Yvonne landed her first Steelhead ever, a 27 lb monster.

The Spring Season on the Skeena and its tributaries is a special time – there are probably more Steelhead in the river than any other time of year, and though the weather can be cool, the rewards can be well worth the effort. Who knows, it might be your turn to hook into a fish the same size as Yvonne’s, or perhaps one that is even larger…

Contact me today for more information on our 2008 Spring Steelhead season…

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

There has been a lot of snow and rain during the past week in the Skeena Region, and as a result, most rivers have been running higher than normal. This has made Steelhead fishing difficult, but when the rivers come back into shape again, Steelhead should be very receptive to a well presented fly or spoon. There are those rivers with lakes in their drainages that are better at resisting high waters, and it is these that have provided the most consistent fishing for us. The few days when these rivers have been fishable, the trout fishing has been outstanding, and it is certainly nice to see trout that are broad shouldered and “mean.”