Nicholas Dean Lodge

453rd Weekly Fishing Report from Nicholas Dean Lodge

For Tuesday, November 13, 2007 to Monday, November 19, 2007


Mike Bingham and Dustin Kovacvich hoist the 55 lb monster Chinook that would end up being the largest fish caught at the lodge in 2007. Mike Bingham Photo

According to Kip Kreutzberg and the rest of the crew at Sisler and Sisler Construction, Mike did not catch the largest Chinook, as this photo might suggest…


Fish Tales

Hello Anglers,

As promised, this week’s report will continue on with a few more highlights from the 2007 season. Today’s story centres around a large Chinook Salmon caught by Mike Bingham of Sheridan, California, and of a certain rivalry between him and a few of his fellow fishing buddies. Mike works for Sisler and Sisler Construction out of Sacramento, California, and him and the group were at the lodge in late July/early August to tackle the monster Chinook of the Skeena, as well as Sockeye on the fly and Halibut and Red Snapper in the Ocean. From the first day of the trip, you could tell that there was a rivalry, though friendly, between several members of the group. The fact that the group had established bets for the largest fish probably enhanced this even more. However, the true extent of this was not evident until after the group had departed home…

On the first day of fishing, half the Sisler and Sisler group traveled with Dustin and myself to Prince Rupert, to fish with Ernie Webb for halibut and other groundfish. Mike was part of this group, and the fishing and scenery that day was fantastic (As an aside, the drive from Terrace to Prince Rupert is an experience in itself, and the views are incredible, on both sunny and rainy days. When it’s clear, the views of snow-capped mountains are second to none as they reach up from the Skeena, and when it’s raining, the valley yields waterfalls extending from the mountain tops down to the river.). Though a little slow in the morning, Ernie quickly found some wiling halibut on a 200 ft hump surrounded by depths of 800 ft. Meanwhile, the rest of the group were on the Skeena River and its tributaries targeting huge Chinooks. Of particular interest to this story, Cliff “Kip” Kreutzberg was fishing with Sky on a Skeena River trib, plunking out of their jet boat. For those who haven’t heard of “plunking” before, it is a technique used on either the shore or from a boat, whereby a heavy weight is cast out and which anchors the bait on the river bottom. The bait is tyipcally a large piece of salmon eggs, coupled with a “corky” or Spin’n’Glo, which is an ideal presentation for large Chinooks migrating up the Skeena. As is often the case with plunking, big Chinooks hit the bait quite softly, and the only thing that registers a strike is the slight movement of the rod tip. Sky and Kip noticed this happening, and slowly took up the rod until they could feel the headshakes of the big fish. The hook was set with the expectations that the fish was going to run, and it did. After a strong battle, the heavy action rod finally subdued the fish, and Sky netted the big Chinook. At 50 lbs, it was the biggest fish caught at the lodge to date, and caused quite a buzz at the lodge between the Sisler and Sisler group. The bar had been set, and a number of guests in the group wanted to beat this…

The second day of the trip was similar to the first. The other half of the group did some halibut fishing with Ernie, and Mike opted to go for a second day as well. It was a great day, with our limit of halibut caught, along with a few huge red snapper. Taking one of my favourite shore lunch recipes from my previous guiding history, I made a few different batches of halibut and snapper coated with dijon mustard and then fried on Ernie’s boat. Though it might not sound like anything special, there is something to be said about the flavours that the dijon mustard takes on once fried. Though I had planned on being a good host and taking some back for the other guests at the lodge, all of the plates came back empty! At any rate, the fishing back on the Skeena had been good, but nobody had managed to land a Chinook larger than Kip’s.

On the third day though, this was all about to change. Dustin, Greg and several guests were plunking on a bar on the Skeena just west of Terrace, with each rod having a different colour of Spin’n’Glo and/or bait. In late morning, the rod tip closest to Mike started the familiar “tap tap.” Mike quickly picked the rod out of the holder, tightened up the line, and waited. Depsite the fact that the rod was quite heavy and the line was 50 lb monofilament, he could feel the fish’s every movement through the rod. So when Mike felt another sharp tap on the line, he knew that the fish had taken the bait, and set back on quickly on the rod. When doing this type of fishing, it is difficult to set the hook too hard, as you have to pull the weight off the bottom before connecting directly to the fish. The other anglers in the group quickly reeled their line in so as not to get tangled in Mike’s fish, as it began to pull downstream. It was easy to tell that it was a big fish, because it was difficult to turn its head, even with the heavy action rod. With Dustin closely keeping an eye on the fish, and on Mike, the fish began to tire, and after a valiant fight, was netted in the shallows. The Chinook had started to develop a large kype, and even Dustin, being the strong man he is, struggled to hold up the fish for a photo. The fish was a fine Skeena River specimen, and a prime example of the wild fish that ascend the river each year. The great fish, like all fish of this size should be, was released to pursue its journey upstream, and to spread its superior genes to future generations of Chinook. For Mike, it was definitely a “winner.” The fish was 55 lbs, a little bigger than Kip’s, and which remained the largest fish of the Sisler and Sisler trip, as well as the lodge record for the season. I guess you can say that Mike had bragging rights after all…

After the Sisler and Sisler group left, I received a few emails and photos of what Kip and the group claimed were the “real” photos of Mike’s fish. I’ll let you be the judge of that one…though I suspect that photoshop might have something to do with it…

The Chinook of the Skeena are amongst the largest in the world, as the 99 lb catch and release world record can attest to. These fish average from 20 to 50 lbs, and there is a legitimate chance that you can catch substantially larger fish, perhaps the next world record! Contact us today for more details…

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
Sea-Run Cutthroat Trout
Dolly Varden
Bull Trout
Rainbow Trout

For better or worse, depending on how you look at it, cold weather has arrived in Terrace. For Steelhead anglers, this is a positive thing! After a very wet fall and early winter season, the cool weather has helped hold the snow in the mountains and reduced both runoff and rain into the rivers. As a result, the rivers near Terrace have been in great shape over the past week, and the Skeena itself has finally started to show signs of dropping. Personally, this is most welcome, as there are a few places that I like to haunt which fish best in lower water conditions! And with the lower, colder water conditions, Steelhead are generally more receptive to large flies fished slow on heavy sink tips. Sitting at my fly tying vise last night, I made several 4-5 inch Popsickle/Intruder style flies that I can just picture, swaying seductively through the heart of my favourite runs…

Though snow in the mountains has made access to certain Skeena tributaries near Terrace a little more difficult, the fish are there in a big way, and Sky Richard, Jeff Langley and I experienced great fishing on Friday of last week, with 6 Steelhead hooked and 3 landed in a half day’s fishing. And with the last Coho Salmon spawning in local rivers, there is still a lot of eggs and flesh moving through rivers, causing Rainbow, Cutthroat, Bull Trout and Dolly Varden to go on feeding blitzes. Dustin and I targeted these trout the other day using egg and flesh fly patterns, and were pleasantly rewarded with several fat, healthy fish up to 3-4 lbs.