Nicholas Dean Lodge

474th Weekly Fishing Report from Nicholas Dean Lodge

For Tuesday, May 20, 2008 to Monday, May 26, 2008


During Trophy Chinook season, large chrome fish ascend the Skeena River and will test every ounce of your gear and stamina. Here, a Nicholas Dean guest and Dustin pose with a bright fish prior to its release. Jim Stephenson Photo


Fish Tales

Hello Anglers,

The past week in the Skeena region has, for the most part, been a little on the slow side when it comes to fishing. The Skeena River has swelled from bank to bank, and its high, roily flows make fishing in some areas a difficult pursuit. Still, with knowledge of how fish behave in high water, combined with seasons of experience, our guides know some great places to fish, even given more difficult conditions. And presently, my prediction is that conditions look favourable for the remainder of the season. During the last few weeks, the snowpack has melted substantially, and it’s easy to see the differences in colour on the mountains around Terrace as they turn from white to dark green. Perhaps most importantly, this should mean that water levels in June through August should resemble more typical annual flows, which is in stark contrast to last year. As many anglers are aware, last year featured record snowpack conditions, and the ensuing snowmelt elevated rivers to such an extent that many homes were flooded in Terrace, and the meltwaters still had influence on fishing until mid August. With lower flows in June, July and August, fishing conditions for Trophy Chinook Salmon should be quite good in 2008, and I for one look forward to setting out on my first foray for the Skeena’s fabled Chinook!

On this note, it is worth mentioning that we still have several spaces available here at the lodge in late June through the first few weeks of July. In this time period, the Chinook run is well underway and, in a week of fishing, guests can expect to fish the upper and lower drifts on the Kitimat River, the Kitimat estuary if conditions are favourable, as well as the main channel Skeena. I can still fondly remember two days of great fishing last year on the upper drift of the Kitimat while fishing with Sky Richard. Dustin had suggested Sky give me some pointers on the basics of rowing a drift boat, and to get a little more experience on the oars. It just so happened that we were in the middle of the prime Chinook run, and we intecepted several fish between 15 and 30 lbs. If that’s what you want to call it, I’ll gladly “learn” anytime! Though we sometimes pulled plugs through deeper pockets and along current seams, the majority of the fishing we did (and my personal preference) was casting heavy Gibbs spoons tight to logjams and near side channels. For me, it was one of my first experiences in seeing just how aggressive these fish can be. On many other rivers, my experience has been that your fly or lure has to be down deep, at the fish’ level, on a dead drift. On the Kitimat, however, I had good success casting downstream and actually retrieving my spoon up current seams. It is experiences like these on the water – the behaviour of fish, and how each fish seems to have its own individual qualities at times – that really intrigue me. More often that not, you can always come away from a river having learned a lesson if you pay close enough attention…

As for the Skeena, you also have several different options for fishing. One of the most popular ways to angle for Chinook in the big river is to plunk on the bank (also called “bar fishing”) or out of an anchored boat. Back trolling with planers is also an incredibly effective presentation, as is back bouncing. Also, for the upcoming season, we intend on setting out with Spey rods in tow to swing large, bright flies on heavy sink tips and stout tippets to see if we can’t entice a “King” to the fly. We’ll be sure to let you know how it goes. Or, why don’t you give it a try yourself? Along with prime dates being available, we are also offering a 5% discount off selected week packages. So, if you’ve ever wanted to try fishing for these impressive game fish, there isn’t a better time. Contact me here at the lodge for more details…

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 Out of season
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

Water conditions in the Skeena region have been poor over the last week, as rivers are running high with Spring meltwater. As a result, Chinook Salmon have been difficult to access, making fishing a little slow. However, with rivers like the Kitimat that tend to rise and fall quickly, we expect the fishing to pick up soon as waters recede. And when this happens, the fishing will likely be “epic.” For the adventurous angler, or at least one who is willing to hike into remote lakes, trout fishing can be excellent, and standard lake imitations such as chironomids, scuds, leeches and damselfly nymphs will attract many Rainbow and Brook Trout. I have also heard good reports of anglers tying into Chinook, Halibut and Red Snapper in the Ocean near Prince Rupert and in Douglas Channel. Fishing cut plug herring for Chinook and bait on spreader bars for Halibut and other bottom fish are successful tactics at this time of year.