Nicholas Dean Lodge

454th Weekly Fishing Report from Nicholas Dean Lodge

For Tuesday, November 20, 2007 to Monday, November 26, 2007


This large, 20 lb buck Coho found Derrick Ames’ flash fly irresistible. Courtesy of Dustin Kovacvich’s master guiding skills, it was a great way to cap off a memorable day on one of the most scenic rivers, arguably, in the world. Gary Bartholomew Photo


Fish Tales

Hello Anglers,

This report will feature the last of our “season-in-review” stories, this one describing the large Coho that Derrick Ames of my hometown, Fergus, Ontario, landed here in mid-October. But before I get to this, I thought it pertinent to relay a message sent to me by one of our long time repeat clients, Mike Kenyon. Mike was fishing with Yvonne Williams when she caught her giant Skeena Steelhead, and his message refers in particular, to “Yvonne’s Rock:”

“One part about Yvonne’s rock was that later the same day when we returned to the area, I hooked that 20 lb steelhead at the same spot and then Julian saw the rock the very next day, and he hooked one there too. It definitely marked a steelhead resting place.”

This just goes to show that Steelhead will hold in the most favourable locations in a river; I guess that Yvonne had the good fortune of being the first person to find this spot!

In mid-October, Derrick Ames arrived with his friend and lodge shareholder, Gary Bartholomew, to do some Fall Steelhead and Trophy Coho fishing. He had mentioned that the fishing back home had been a little slow, and rivers were flowing at near record lows. Combined with a busy work schedule, it was easy to see that Derrick was looking forward to a relaxing, and hopefully fish-filled holiday. With Terrace having received a few pounding rainstorms the day before his arrival, this meant that the majority of good Steelhead water in Skeena tributaries would likely be too high to be fishable. Taking everything into consideration, Dustin decided to take Derrick and Gary to a lower Skeena tributary that can provide fantastic Coho fishing. Dustin remembered the numerous days he’d taken clients there and had 20 or 30 fish days on flies, when conditions were right, with most Coho being sight fished. He hoped this would be the case today. After departing from the lodge, they traveled west towards the coast. The tributaries just on the outskirts of Terrace were the colour of chocolate brown and they hoped that their destination was of a different colour, preferably the emerald green it usually flowed at. Like the majority of rivers in the Skeena basin, this river began as a glacier high up in the mountains, and glacial silt was deposited in the meltwaters of the glacier. As they got closer to the river, the intensity of the rain also increased, and they began to wonder if the river would be in fishable shape, or not. Thankfully, this system tended to rise and fall quite quickly and, when they arrived, the water was in perfect shape. Armed with their single handed 8 wt fly rods, they began the trip upstream to a few of Dustin’s favourite pools.

The scenery was stunning. As Dustin powered the boat up the river’s lower section, both Derrick and Gary could see pods of chrome, fresh Coho rolling in the slower, meandering water. As they got further up the river, they passed what the guides call the “rock gardens,” a fast piece of water where large rocks, the size of small cars, almost reach the surface. It can be a tricky section of water to navigate, and is best negotiated by someone who has been up the river more than a few times. It was around this stretch that the vertical walls stretched higher and higher. The rainfall that they’d experienced on their drive to the river was now falling off granite peaks as waterfalls, starting at the tops of the mountains. This was, indeed, a special place and might be argued as one of the nicest, most scenic rivers in the world. Though Derrick and Gary decided that the ride through the valley made the trip itself worthwhile, they were also very excited about the fishing to be had.

After passing up through a fast, riffly section, Dustin slowed down as he moved into the tailout of a long, slow pool. Having tied up a few flash flies the night before, Dustin knotted the flies to Derrick’s and Gary’s leaders. The flies used for Coho were tied to emulate a spoon, for its flashy, large profile characteristics. With this in mind, Dustin had, in years past, tried to come up with flies to imitate this. The best result was a fly that had a large bead, varying colours of marabou and, most importantly, lots of flashabou. After walking stealthily up towards the heart of the pool, Dustin spotted a school of Coho sitting in about 4 ft of water. He instructed Derrick to wade in above the pod of fish, cast across stream and make an upstream mend to let the fly sink, then retrieve the fly once it got near the fish. Derrick stripped the line off his reel and let it coil in the water below him. The cast was going to have to be about 70 feet for it to sweep slowly into the pod. He began working out his line, and used a double haul to launch the fly where it needed to go. The fly landed on the water with the slightest little splash, and as instructed, mended the line upstream. As the fly sank, it swept towards the fish, and Derrick began a slow strip. Suddenly, a large fish broke from the pod and quickly started after Derrick’s fly. Dustin saw this, and commanded Derrick to strip faster and faster. With one final surge, the fish attacked the fly, and Derrick set the hook hard. If they hadn’t known the size of the fish before it hit, they knew it then. The big Coho bucked the rod convincingly, peeling line as it tore downstream. Using tactics similar to what is used for Steelhead, Derrick kept his rod tip low and to the side. This put more pressure on the fish and, by causing it’s head to turn into the current, put it off balance and forced it towards the shore. However, the fish was by no means finished. Just when Derrick thought that the fish was ready, it took line off his reel again, back into the middle of the river. At last though, the fish tired itself out and the 15 lb Maxima tippet held until Dustin had a chance to grab the big fish’ tail. At 20 lbs, it was the largest Coho that Derrick had ever caught, and the largest that a guest landed at the lodge this year. After a few quick photos, the big male was back on its way towards the pool from where it came.

That night when they returned to the lodge, both Derrick and Gary were jubilant and couldn’t stop talking about how great a day it was. In the midst of all this, Gary had managed to capture some of this epic battle on film, which we all watched later on that night while sipping a glass of scotch. It sure is tough to beat.

One of the great things about our Coho season is that the fish are typically quite large, and the fact that they run the rivers during peak Steelhead times. Also called “Northerns,” these fish are larger Coho on average than those migrating up the Skeena in August and early September, and provide a great option for those willing to try it. If this sort of story appeals to you, in combination with our incredible Steelhead fishing, give me a call today for more information on what you can get into for 2008…

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

The Steelhead of the Skeena and its tributaries continue to trickle into rivers near Terrace. With the colder temperatures we’ve been experiencing, the main channel Skeena and its tributaries have continued to drop and clear, enabling anglers to finally get in some quality fishing in good conditions. Though water temperatures in the rivers have been cooling off, Steelhead have responded well to large leech patterns fished down deep in slower moving pools, as well as other conventional techniques such as float fishing, bottom bouncing, and spoon fishing. Sky Richard was fishing on Saturday with Greg Buck and their friend, Frank Carpino, and experienced some great Steelhead fishing, with a few fish landed that were just shy of 20 lbs. It is still possible to see darker Coho spawning in many of the Skeena tributaries, but there are very few fresh Coho moving through. The eggs drifting through the current, along with the flesh of the spent Coho, will recharge the rivers with nutrients and provide sustenance to other trout species, as well as the emerging fry. Not surprisingly then, egg imitations and flesh fly patterns are excellent choices at this time of year when trout fishing.