Nicholas Dean Lodge

472nd Weekly Fishing Report from Nicholas Dean Lodge

For Tuesday, April 29, 2008 to Monday, May 12, 2008


The first wave of chrome Spring Chinook have entered the Skeena and its tributaries, providing great sport for fly and gear anglers alike. Here, Sky Richard poses with a 25 lb beauty caught by repeat guest Julian Smith. Julian Smith Photo


Fish Tales

Hello Anglers,

First off, I have to say that it’s been a very memorable couple of weeks, both for the staff here at the lodge, and likely for our clients as well. During the last week of April, in particular, all of of our guests experienced fishing that can best be described as “epic.” Take for example, Greg Delucchi. Greg joined repeat guest Adam Chelini for a week of Steelhead and Spring Chinook fishing, and hadn’t really fished much prior to the trip. He had drifted the Rogue River for Steelhead, but aside from this, was a newcomer to the sport. For the first few days, it was a tough go for Greg – though he always sounded in good spirits at the end of each day, you could tell that he wanted to catch a fish badly. Though he had hooked a few Steelhead, the experience of tailing a fish in the shallows and posing for a few glory shots had eluded him. However, this was all about to change. Veteran guide, Greg Buck, had decided to take him and Adam for a drift on the Kitimat River – a larger coastal river for this area – and one with an abundance of shallow, riffly runs dispersed between slower moving pools. Having “gotten the feel” for casting the baitcasting reel and learning how to mend, Greg saw his float plunge violently and responded with a strong hookset. In the chaos that followed, Greg was coached by both Adam and Greg B., and after a strong fight, eventually the fish was landed in the shallows. The fish was huge. Just by looking at it, Greg B. and Adam knew that the male Steelhead sitting in front of them was over 20 lbs. If there were ever a fish god, surely he or she must have smiled upon Greg that day. The first Steelhead he ever landed was a 20 lb fish – a rare feat to be sure – and from this experience we can surmise that Greg has been inflicted with Steelhead fever! On a subsequent day, Greg landed another sizable fish, a 15 lb Steelhead, and Adam jokingly made the comment that if he were to quit fishing now, his average catch would be 17.5 lbs! Way to go Greg, and we look forward to seeing you again next year.

A few days earlier, Adam also had a very memorable day while fishing with Greg B. Adam has been fishing for many years, and caught hundreds of Steelhead between the rivers of British Columbia (including a few days where he landed over 15 fish) and his home waters in California, but despite his dedication, had never landed a fish at or over the magical 20 lb mark. This all changed early in the week when he landed a chrome hen Steelhead just over 20 lbs. This couldn’t have been any more deserved, especially after putting the amount of time in to fishing that Adam has. Congrats, sir.

Meanwhile, several of our fly fishing guests were busy with tight lines as well. Julian Smith, as mentioned in my last report, landed a chrome Spring Chinook in the 25 lb range. When he first hooked the fish, he knew something was different, and said to Sky, “this is a Chinook, isn’t it?” With a big grin, Sky confirmed. After that, Julian knew that he was in for a battle, and a battle it was. Chinook are hard fighters on conventional gear, and even moreso on fly fishing gear. They headshake, roll, and make long, line-peeling runs, and it’s typical to land your fish a large distance from where it was hooked. Though Julian did not catch the Chinook on the freshly tied Hawaiian Punch tube flies I’d made for him in previous nights, I know that they’ll work and intend on testing them out myself in the coming weeks…

Perhaps most memorable for the intrepid fly fishers during their week, however, was the small stream fishing that Jeff Bright (jeffbright.com) describes as “Adventure Steelheading.” The rivers near Terrace had provided reasonably good fishing for Steelhead and trout, with 1-3 fish per day on average, but Dustin had wanted to take guests to one of his favourite little coastal rivers to see if there were any Spring Steelhead hiding in its tea-stained pools. With Dustin and the guests having not shown up, I remember checking my watch around 10 pm and thought they might be late for either one of two reasons: either there were some truck problems, or, I hoped, that the fishing was good and Dustin couldn’t peel the clients away from the river (which does tend to happen sometimes!). I am glad that it was the latter, and sitting down with them at 11 pm, you could just sense the excitement in their voice. Between the two of them, Martin Walker and Ron Mallory had hooked 10 Steelhead and landed 8. At one point, Ron had hiked upstream from Dustin and Martin, and landed a 20 buck on his own. Perhaps even more striking was that the majority of fish were between 12 and 16 lbs. “Epic,” no doubt, by any standards. Following this exciting day, Jeff and Julian wanted to give the remote coastal rivers a try, and also had a spectacular day. They landed 10 Steelhead, including a few that can best be considered “white chrome,” and Jeff actually landed one in a tide pool. Both anglers seemed very much content (to put it mildly!), so they even let Dustin fish a few pools as well. Lucky guy…

All in all, it was a week of happy anglers, new experiences, and incredible fish. To be in an area with as many diverse fisheries and unique rivers as there are, we consider ourselves very lucky indeed, and it a privilege to guide on some of the best waters holding Steelhead in the world…

Based on the fantastic fishing experienced during the late Spring this year, both Jeff and I anticipate that his week in April 2009 will book up quickly. If you want to join Jeff on an adventurous, rewarding Steelhead trip where you fish a variety of waters, I suggest you contact him directly. He can be reached via his website, jeffbright.com. And, last, but certainly not least, if you’ve had visions of trophy Chinook dancing through your mind – those 50 to 70 lb plus fish – we still have some space available during our July fishery. Enquire today by email or by phone…

Until next week, tight lines and screaming reels…

Chad Black

Operations Manager

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Nicholas Dean Lodge 2008 Season Records To Date:

Steelhead: 23 lbs, Caught by Martin Walker of San Francisco, California on a Skeena River Tributary

Chinook Salmon: 40 lbs, Caught by Bob Cusick of Edmonton, Alberta 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
Sea-Run Cutthroat Trout
Dolly Varden
Bull Trout
Rainbow Trout

Fishing during the past few weeks has been good to excellent. Fresh Steelhead were caught in the lower end of our rivers, and the first Chinook of the season have been encountered in reasonably good numbers. Steelhead are now spawning in many of the upper portions of our rivers, and for ethical reasons, these portions should not be fished, leaving fish to pass on their valuable genes to the next generation. Trout fishing has been excellent, and fishing fry patterns and small nymphs, depending on the water type and fish activity, are likely bets. Though the Skeena River appears to be rising and now carries some colour, it is borderline fishable, and a number of anglers have been seen plunking for Chinook in likely areas.