Nicholas Dean Lodge

479th Weekly Fishing Report from Nicholas Dean Lodge

For Tuesday, July 15, 2008 to Monday, September 29, 2008


You can only use the word “epic” so many times when it comes to writing about fishing – sometimes, you simply need a picture to tell a story. This is one such picture: guest Bill Stanberry and Sky pose with a 55 lb Skeena Chinook. BJ Stanbery Photo


Fish Tales

Hello Anglers,

I hope that this newsletter finds you doing well and that you’ve enjoyed your Summer and the fishing opportunities it held. Please accept my apologies for the lack of stories and fishing reports on my behalf over the last few months – a very busy Summer and early Fall season unfortunately did not leave me with a lot of spare time, and taking care of clients during the season while they’re at the lodge is my number one priority! Now that we’re into the final home stretch of our Fall Steelhead and Trophy Coho season, however, I do find myself with at least a few minutes each week and will endeavour to keep up with my stories. For this week’s report, I thought I’d begin where I left off at the end of July, at the start of our Chinook Season. Below is an exerpt of the “tale” I’d begun but didn’t have a chance to finish…

“They were like porpoises.” This was the description that Sky Richard gave to me in mid July of the fish he’d seen when fishing the main channel Skeena River for Chinook Salmon – big Chinook Salmon. Fish so big that if I weren’t here everyday talking to the guides, I wouldn’t actually believe them. It’s not that the Skeena doesn’t have an excellent reputation for big Chinook – it always has, since the former 92 lb world record and current 99 lb catch and release record was caught there – but this year seemed to be an exceptional one for large fish. For anglers plunking on favourite bars, or others backtrolling and back bouncing in the heart of the river, the fishing was nothing short of epic. Take for example, Bill Stanberry and BJ Stanbery from Texas (and no, the spelling of their last name is not a typo -you need to ask Bill about that one!). Being first time guests with us this year, we had talked about the type of fishing they wanted to do, and the experiences they were looking for. In particular, I recall BJ saying that he wanted to try and beat his former big fish record – a 30 or 35 lb fish he’d landed in the US Pacific Northwest. At the time, I knew that Sky and Greg Buck had caught several large fish in previous days, with the average being 30-45 lbs, but I knew better than to relay this to BJ. Deep down, I knew that he was going to break this record, but, owing to my previous guiding history, was aware of the dangers in saying “well, the last time I was here we caught a huge fish.” Rather, Dustin and I just sat at the table, content in knowing that they were probably going to enjoy the fishing the next day.

I’m just glad that things worked out the way they did, because the first fish that BJ landed the next morning was a 60 lb Chinook. Not to mention the other 40 and 45 lb fish he landed as well. And that seemed to set the tone for the rest of Bill and BJ’s trip. While working up and down several of our favourite pools and bars on the Skeena, Bill and BJ experienced some of the best Chinook fishing one could reasonably expect to have. Each day, they had many opportunities and boated at least one Chinook over 50 lbs for each of their 5 fishing days. Arguably, one of their most memorable days was their last – the grand finale. Early in the morning, Sky rigged up the stout rods for back bouncing and set out to do a long backwards drift through one of the Skeena’s hallowed pools. Mid way during the first drift, the slow up and down motion jigging of BJ’s rod was interrupted by the slight tapping of a fish – a subtle, not-so-obvious pull that BJ did well to feel. Setting the hook quickly so as to prevent the fish from spitting out the bait, BJ began to fight the large fish, with line ripping off the reel towards the depths of the Skeena. By following the fish at the start of the fight and playing the fish from shore, BJ was able to maneouvre the fish into Sky’s waiting net. At 65 lbs, it was the biggest fish they’d seen on the trip, and a fantastic example of why Skeena fish are the unique race they are. What makes this fishery even the more impressive is that Bill landed an even larger fish later in the afternoon – a Chinook estimated to be in the 70 lb range – truly a trophy fish, and one that Bill and BJ likely won’t forget. We’re always glad when the fishing meets or exceeds an angler’s expectations, and this couldn’t have happened to two nicer guys.

Since late July, there has been a variety of fishing, methods, rivers, and seasons here at the lodge. One very positive aspect that was evident early in the Summer was Steelhead numbers were the highest they’ve been in the last 10 years. This has been reflected in our fishing, both personally and with our guests at the lodge and Skeena Camp. And some of the fish have been very big. Chris Gilles found out first hand why Skeena Steelhead have the reputation they do. While at the Skeena Camp in mid August with his fishing buddies, Chris hooked into a large fish on his single hand rod. At the time, I was teaching fellow guest, Jim Johnson, how to Spey cast, and can recall looking upstream thinking, “wow, that was a big headshake.” Over the next 40 minutes, Chris was a nervous wreck as he had to contend with a strong, powerful fish, and 6 other excited anglers who were trying to coach him at the same time. Just when the fish looked like it was spent, it would make another 100 ft run back into the Skeena. It was moving a lot of water. When I did see the fish for the first time I had to personally contain my own excitement and coach Chris during those pivotal last few moments. When I tailed the fish, and couldn’t fit my hands around its wrist, I could tell it was easily a fish in the mid 20s – pounds. With many hoots, hollers and other unprintable shouts of encouragement being thrown around, Chris and I admired the size and beauty of this fish before releasing it back into the waters of the Skeena. Not bad for the first Steelhead that Chris had ever landed on a fly, wouldn’t you think? Our good friend Noel Gyger managed to get a video clip of this experience, and can be found on his website at www.noelgyger.ca/video-clips-web.htm, titled “MASSIVE Skeena River Steelhead on the fly.” Look for this photo, and many others in upcoming reports. Finally, be sure to check out our promotion for the 2009 season below…this is a great opportunity for you to experience the world class fishing available in the Lower Skeena region at a discounted rate!

Until next week, tight lines and screaming reels…

Chad Black

Operations Manager

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NICHOLAS DEAN LODGE PROMOTIONS

***Special Pricing for the 2009 Season***

If you’ve ever thought about seeing why the Steelhead and Salmon fishing in the Lower Skeena watershed is considered world class, this is your chance! If we receive a 50% deposit prior to October 15, 2008, you can book for the 2009 season at the ’08 rates. Increasing fuel and operational costs being what they are, the 2009 rates will be going up and will apply after October 15, 2008. Moreover, by booking early, you will also have the opportunity to book during what are arguably the best weeks of the year. Email me at chadblack@nicholasdean.com, or give me a call at (250) 635-5295 to reserve your trip of a liftetime today!

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Nicholas Dean Lodge 2008 Season Records To Date:

Steelhead: 25 lbs, Caught by Chris Gilles of Arizona, on the Skeena River

Chinook Salmon: 70 lbs, Caught by Bill Stanberry of Texas, on the Skeena River

Coho Salmon: 20 lbs, Tommy Strom of Norway, 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
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