Nicholas Dean Lodge

459th Weekly Fishing Report from Nicholas Dean Lodge

For Tuesday, January 01, 2008 to Monday, January 14, 2008


Despite heavy rains, Bruce Barlow and his guide Cam Thiessen were successful in subduing this powerful Summer Steelhead. The fish of August on the Skeena are amongst the hardest fighting Steelhead you are likely to ever encounter. Michael Mathis Photo


Fish Tales

Hello Anglers,

Happy New Year! I hope that you all have had a good start to the new year and that you’ve made a few goals and resolutions for 2008. I’ve made a few myself and just have to make sure that I stick to them! With the beginning of the new year, we are busily preparing for the start of our season in late March, which is really not that far away. And if the current fishing is any indicator of what the fishing will be like for our Spring Steelhead opener, then the fishing should be quite good! Probably not surprisingly, our guides have been out fishing as much as time and weather will allow, and have experienced great fishing on Terrace’ local rivers. There was a long, cold spell in Terrace around Christmas time, and when the weather warmed up later on, so too did the Steelhead and their affinity for flies and lures! Greg Buck and Randy Marshall were out conventional fishing last weekend, and landed several chrome Steelhead. Even though the water was very cold, they said that the fish fought quite hard and “ripped it up.” The same goes for Sky and for Dustin. Sky was fly fishing one of our favourite Spring and Winter locations on the main channel Skeena, and on one day, landed 6 silver-sided Steelhead, one of which was 20 lbs. I can attest to the quality of fish that can be found at this spot, so to have a day where you hook even more than one Steelhead is an incredible experience. Dustin fished with Sky a few days after this banner day, and he landed one fish around 14 lbs. Is there really any wonder why the Skeena and its tributaries are so world renowned?

So when I returned to Terrace on Friday afternoon of last week, there was really only one thing on my mind – get to the river(s)! Like the good boss he is, Dustin had already predicted this and had made plans to do some Spey fishing on a local river with Sky and Andrew Blix, another of our great guides. Despite the poor, slushy road conditions, we found ourselves parking the vehicles at a large bluff that overlooked some great coastal BC mountains. To get to the river, we had to trudge our way through some heavy snow and across a few river channels and beaver ponds – a small sacrifice to pay for fishing on one of the best Winter Steelhead rivers in the world. In all honesty, I appreciated the hike in, as it was a relaxing way to see the river and her surroundings, and a way to start working off some of the extra Christmas goodies that probably shouldn’t have been consumed. Ruger and Sky’s new puppy, Bear, lead the way as we arrived at the river. It was in gorgeous shape. Though low and clean, it retained its typical aquamarine colour, given to it by the glacial silt it receives higher up in its headwaters. Another benefit of the low water conditions is that we could easily wade through the smooth tailout without being swept downstream through the rougher water below. Such a wade would not be possible in more average conditions.

We sat down on the bank to discuss where the four of us would fish, which flies we were going to use and the appropriate sink tips for the job, and set about to getting things ready. As always, Sky was the first one to get his line in the water, and he had opted to wade across a shallow riffle above us and fish where two seams came together, allowing Dustin, Andrew and myself to fish through the heart of the run. Before I could even string my fly line up my rod I could hear Sky hollering in excitement. A typical scenario, Sky was tight to a fish that was quickly peeling line off his reel. Applying side pressure helped keep the fish in the upper section of the pool, and by the time that Sky landed the fish, I had made the wade across with my camera. The fish was a beautiful hen, around 8 or 9 lbs, silver with pink hues in her cheeks. Unfortunately though, a seal had had some dealings with the fish and she had a large cut on one side of her flanks, and a few rays from her caudal fin had been ripped out. This just goes to show you how impressive a Steelhead can be – this fish had about half a tail, and other war wounds, but still put up a great fight, fighting harder than other Steelhead we’ve seen in good condition. All the more reason to respect them for the scrappy survivours they are.

Over the course of the day, Dustin landed a fresh buck that was nearly white-chrome – an indication that the fish was just days from the Ocean. Sky also managed to hook into 3 other Steelhead in an upriver pool, but they proved too hot to handle and spit the hook. Still, hooking 5 Winter Steelhead in a day is about as good a reason as I can think of to be out in the colder, snowy and rainy conditions. And though the Steelhead may not have taken my fly, you can be sure that I’ll still be out there every weekend, and sooner or later, there will be a grab…

At this time of year, we also focus a lot of our energy on Steelhead and Salmon conservation issues. Though the Skeena does remain a stronghold for some of the most impressive runs of Steelhead and Salmon in the world, they are faced with certain challenges and require our care and attention. To this end, I encourage you to visit the North Coast Steelhead Alliance website (www.ncsteelheadalliance.ca), peruse through their mission statements and objectives, and consider becoming a member. The fish of the Skeena and northern BC will be the better for it.

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: 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
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

Winter Steelhead fishing continues to be a favourite pastime for myself and the guides here at Nicholas Dean Lodge, and the fishing has been quite good. The Skeena and its tribtuaries that we fish in the Winter are now running low and clean, and with all the snow and ice around, you can bet that water conditions are quite cold. So while Steelhead will be somewhat lethargic and you probably won’t have the “I’m going to rip the rod out of your hand” type grabs, the fish are there in good numbers so that the patient angler can be rewarded. Chinook fishing in the near shore waters near Prince Rupert can provide decent fishing for “feeder springs,” which although smaller in size than a typical Skeena Chinook, make up for in taste. Trout fishing has been outstanding in a few Skeena River tributaries, and small olive nymphs and streamers have been the best presentations for these fish.