Nicholas Dean Lodge

485th Weekly Fishing Report from Nicholas Dean Lodge

For Sunday, February 22, 2009 to Sunday, March 01, 2009


Though hiking and wading along a rugged coastal tributary can prove to be a difficult challenge, the rewards are often worth it. Here, Jason Smith cradles a well earned 18 lb Steelhead, which took a lightly weighted Comet. Heather Smith Photo


Fish Tales

Hello Anglers,

I hope this newsletter finds you all doing well and pursuing your fishing addictions with rod and reel. Though there are a variety of reasons why, I must unfortunately report that my fishing adventures have been much too few and far between. This would, in all likelihood, explain why I’ve been experiencing this nagging twitch every now and again – cabin fever is certainly getting the best of me! Kidding aside, my lack of fishing has translated into some much needed time at my fly tying vise, and dreaming of those picture perfect days on the river. A day where I can feel the warmth of the sun as it rises over the mountain peaks, and sense my homemade Intruder fly, most likely the fishy two-tone pink colour that worked so well last Fall, as it swims its way through the deep slot in front of me. The tug of a Winter Steelhead -whether it’s the smashing grab of an aggressive buck, or a simple tightening of the line- is one that I think of often, but do not necessarily need for a successful day on the river. Simply spending time on the water on one’s favourite run, making long, graceful casts to the far bank, and smelling a forest coming to life after a long, cold winter are some of the other great experiences that Steelhead fishing offers. Witnessing the sound of a reel as it screams in protest under the pull of a strong fish, and admiring a chrome bright fish brought to hand isn’t all that bad either…

Thankfully, Winter seems to be loosening its grip in the Lower Skeena valley, giving way to warmer Spring conditions. Though it’s still possible to get those rogue snowstorms in this part of the country as late as early April, the general trend is for warming temperatures and longer daylight hours. Translation: better Steelhead fishing conditions. After a long, cold winter, water temperatures are just a few degrees above freezing and Steelhead can be very sluggish on the Skeena and its tributaries, but as these temperatures increase, so too does the activity of Steelhead.

So, based on the present conditions, what do I anticipate for the early season? Because the Spring season through late March and early May sees some of the most reliable, consistent water flows over the course of the Steelheader’s year, and the bulk of the Summer, Fall, Winter and Spring run fish are holding in classic runs and pools, I expect the fishing to be good. On our favourite local river, in most cases, we don’t have to guess whether there are Steelhead in a particular run, or not. We know they’re there. It just depends on the mood of the fish that day, and if you have the fly or lure that that particular Steelhead wants. Moreover, reports from regional biologists have suggested that when a river’s Summer and Fall Steelhead runs are strong, this often correlates with Winter and Spring run fish as well. Given that the 2008 Steelhead run was one of the better ones in the last 5 years suggests that this Spring should provide reliable fishing.

Plus, the last few days that our guides have been out fishing could best be described as “epic.” Sky Richard and Cam Thiessen floated a wilderness river a few weeks ago using pontoon boats and Abel crafts, which enabled them to reach waters seldom fished this Winter, and the results were worth the extra effort. Cam landed 3 Steelhead, ranging from chrome bright to lightly coloured, and Sky landed 6 of the 10 Steelhead he hooked. A week later, Dustin landed 2 Steelhead out of the 4 he hooked in a mere 3 hours of spey fishing. One was a smaller hen of 7-8 lbs, and the second of the two bright fish were 14 lbs. With water conditions only improving as we approach our March 22 Spring opener, we look forward to another great season ahead as we provide the very best in guided fishing adventures in Northwestern BC.

Until next week, tight lines and screaming reels…

Chad Black

Operations Manager

Nicholas Dean Lodge

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NICHOLAS DEAN LODGE PROMOTIONS

***Late Spring Openings – Adventure Steelhead!***

During the last 5 years, we have been developing an “Adventure Steelhead” program, in which anglers have a chance to fish small, not-to-be-named remote coastal rivers with epic fishing for Steelhead in the 8 to 20 lb range. These intimate rivers, which carve their way through stands of old growth forests on their way to the Pacific, attract fish which are very much comparable in size to those from the renowned Skeena and its tributaries. But, we have to be honest about this type of fishery. It’s often not an easy one, nor one for the faint of heart. By their virtue, these small streams are remote, can be somewhat tricky to wade and hike along, and Steelhead often enter the systems during late April and early May – very close to the late May and June spawn – making it a short window of opportunity to pursue them. However, when timed right, this fishery can provide some of the most memorable angling experiences you’re likely to ever encounter. Add to this the opportunity to fish for aggressive Spring Chinook averaging 20-35 lbs on a local Skeena tributary, and this makes for one of the most exciting fishing packages we can offer!

If you’re interested in this Adventure Steelhead and Chinook program, be sure to contact me today for more details. We currently have two (2) spaces available during the week of May 3 to 9, but expect these last spaces to fill quickly. I can be reached by phone at (250) 635-5295 or by email at chadblack@nicholasdean.com. For more information on our Spring package, and the rest of the packages we offer, please refer to www.nicholasdean.com/Pricing.asp

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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
Coho Salmon Out of season
Pink Salmon Out of season
Sockeye Salmon Out of season
Chum Salmon Out of season
Halibut Out of season
Sea-Run Cutthroat Trout
Dolly Varden
Bull Trout
Rainbow Trout

Steelhead fishing in the Lower Skeena valley has been quite good for some anglers who’ve accessed rivers on ideal fishing days. If you can find a warm, sunny day, and rivers aren’t flowing with ice, chances are the fishing will be good. With water temperatures still very cold, the best presentations are those where your fly or lure is very close to the bottom throughout the swing or drift. Large, bright flies in pink, orange, and black and blue are good choices and my personal favourites. Though I haven’t personally been on the Ocean recently, I’ve heard good reports of feeder Chinook being caught in the Ocean near Prince Rupert. Trolling cut plug herring is the preferred method for targeting these fish. Finally, as rivers begin to warm in the Spring, this usually marks the downstream migration of Salmon fry, and Bull Trout, Dolly Varden, Cutthroat and Rainbow Trout take advantage of these relatively easy prey. The next time you’re out fishing for Steelhead, bring your 5 or 6 weight fly rod and swing small fry patterns in front of log jams and deep pools. You won’t be disappointed…