Nicholas Dean Lodge

488th Weekly Fishing Report from Nicholas Dean Lodge

For Sunday, September 06, 2009 to Saturday, September 12, 2009


Dennis Channing and guide Sky Richard hold one of the giants of August – a Steelhead in the 23 lb range. Steelhead ascending the mighty Skeena river during the Summer are in peak fighting condition and often stretch past the 20 lb mark. Jack Shannon Photo


Fish Tales

Hello Anglers,

As I write this, while looking out the window from my office in Yellow Cedar Lodge at the swirling currents of the Skeena River, part of me wants to be out there, fishing on one of my favourite bars on the big river, or on a remote pool in the upper stretches of a favourite tributary river, waking a dry fly across a smooth tailout. The ironic reality of working at a great fishing lodge is that you unfortunately don’t get out fishing nearly as much as you’d like, or as much as others think you might. So, when opportunities arise that you just can’t pass up, sometimes you have to forego the demands of the office and get out fishing. Such was the case last week for me. Dustin had taken a few clients camping the week prior and had forgotten one of his favourite fly rods at the trappers cabin they stayed in, so a return trip was in order to retrieve the rod. And, if you’re going that far, you might as well do a little fishing, right? At least that’s what Dustin, our summer student and junior guide, Connor, and I were thinking.

The trip in itself could not have been more picturesque. Despite the choppy seas and overcast, rainy conditions, the stark beauty of the north Pacific was evident everywhere you looked. Precipitous mountains reaching skyward from the sea bottom created steep shores, where both old and new growth trees had taken hold. Numerous fjords, smaller channels and waterfalls snaked off towards their own river systems, and if you looked close enough you’d see the odd waterfall from the mountain sides. Half way through the journey we started our fishing by slowly drifting into the shallow estuary waters of small creeks, motor off. We were searching for Coho (Silver) Salmon, fish that are particularly wary when it comes to excess noise. Casting small Gibbs Coho 45 spoons was our preferred method of finding fish, after which we planned to switch over to our fly rods.

After seeing a few fish roll farther out in the estuary, Dustin connected to a small Coho in the 8 lb range, which served well in picquing our interest. Not long after, Connor hooked into a fish of much larger proportions. Now, for those anglers who have not caught chrome bright Coho Salmon, I can assure you that they are not pushovers and, in many cases, often fight harder than some Steelhead do. Connor’s fish fit in this category. Once hooked, the large buck was immediately airborne, jumping four times, trying to free the spoon, and then raced towards the boat. Deperately trying to regain the slack line, Connor reconnected with the fish as it passed under the boat, and there were more than a few times I thought the rod might suffer the consequences. After a strong fight that lasted over ten minutes, I scooped the fish up in the net, and Connor posed for a photo with the large buck – a fish that was well over 18 lbs.

Our final destination for the day was one that made me shake, quite literally, as I stood on the back of the boat. Even half a kilometre from the river mouth you could see one fish after another splashing on the surface. We did not need the spoon rods – we knew the fish were there. So, we’d slowly move the boat to the epi-centre of the action, quietly put the anchor down, then rip our fly line off the reels in preparation for the next splash or a pod of Coho to move past us. It was, quite simply, sight fishing at its best, and not unlike sight fishing for pike, carp, or other saltwater flats species. And the fish were big and in good numbers. Most fish averaged 10-14 lbs, but all of us hooked into fish just under the 20 lb mark.

The highlight of the day for me came shortly after we’d checked our crab traps placed in the deeper waters of the estuary. Anchored a short distance from shore, we could see several pods of Coho milling around 30 ft from the bank, and I placed a 90 ft cast with my Orvis T3 rod at the edge of the pod and started stripping like mad. One Coho broke from the pod and aggressively chased after my flash fly as I increased the stripping tempo. Setting the hook hard to the side as the fish took, the next few seconds were slightly awkward and I heard a resounding snap. My rod had broke just below the ferrule on the hookset, but the Coho was surprisingly still tethered to the line. Grabbing the upper half of the rod, I stripped in line to keep the line tight to the fish, leaving the reel and butt end on the floor of the boat. Determined to get this fish in, I instructed Connor to make sure the line I stripped in did not wrap around any objects in the boat, in case the fish made a long run. After several short runs and sticking my arm in the water to let the fish pass beneath the boat, Dustin was able to make a quick lunge for the fish. With a few hoots and hollering, we landed the fish – a male of 12-13 lbs – and a fine example of team work at its best. And you know what? I couldn’t have cared less about the rod…

For a visual story of this epic Summer estuary Coho fishing, be sure to check out the Nicholas Dean Lodge Blog site.

Until next week, tight lines and screaming reels…

Chad Black

Operations Manager

Nicholas Dean Lodge

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NICHOLAS DEAN LODGE PROMOTIONS

***Fall Steelhead and Trophy Coho – Last Minute Openings***

Simply put, our Fall Steelhead and Trophy Coho fishing is hands down our most popular fishery from year to year, and most prime weeks are booked over a year in advance. However, largely due to poor economic conditions over the past year, we have openings in weeks that can provide some of the best fishing of the season. Depending on the week and river conditions, you’ll have the opportunity to fish the best waters in the Lower Skeena region, which include the Lower Copper, Upper Copper, Kalum, and Skeena Rivers for Steelhead, as well as other smaller tributary rivers with sight fishing for large Coho Salmon. And, with Steelhead numbers rumoured to be significantly higher than the 8 year average, this is your opportunity to experience first hand the trophy fish of the Skeena system. If this doesn’t convince you, consider this: we have more rod days available this year for the Copper system than in past years, giving you even more opportunities to fish this world famous river.

If you’re interested in skating a dry fly on one of the Copper’s renowned runs or swinging a large Intruder on a Kalum River pool, be sure to contact me today for more details. We currently have four (4) spaces available during the week of October 11 to 17 and October 18 to 24 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 Fall Steelhead and Trophy Coho package, and the rest of the packages we offer, please refer to our pricing and packages page at http://www.nicholasdean.com/about/pricing-and-packages

***Promotion for the 2010 Season***

Ever wanted to fish the world renowned waters of the Skeena River but just haven’t made it there yet? Whether your preference is fishing for dry fly Steelhead on the Copper River or targeting the giant Chinook (Kings) of the Skeena River – this is your opportunity. We are offering a promotion now that will save you money on trip costs and get you fishing. It goes like this: if we receive a 50% deposit prior to October 1, 2009, we will book you on a trip for the 2010 season at the 2009 rates. Contact us today to reserve your space during the best weeks in 2010 and see why the Skeena River and its tributaries have the reputation they do…

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Nicholas Dean Lodge 2009 Season Records To Date:

Steelhead: 23 lbs, Caught by Dennis Channing of Washington, USA on the Skeena River

Chinook Salmon: 80 lbs, Caught by Ron Kostich, of California, USA on the Skeena River

Coho Salmon: 20 lbs, Caught by Jeff Bright of California, USA 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
Sockeye Salmon
Chum Salmon
Sea-Run Cutthroat Trout
Dolly Varden
Bull Trout
Rainbow Trout

Though many of the prolific salmon runs, including Chinook, Pink, Sockeye and Chum (now closed to angling) that dominate the Skeena’s flows through much of the Summer are now tapering off, the exact opposite is true for both Steelhead and Coho (Silver) Salmon. Steelhead and Coho Salmon numbers have peaked this year and, in short, if there’s ever a year to be on the Skeena, this is it. Steelhead fishing remains excellent on the main channel Skeena itself, and the fishing on its tributary rivers near Terrace have been producing well. The report from our guides is that the fish do seem to be of a larger size this year, on average, compared to other years. Sight fishing for trophy Coho Salmon has been the best we’ve seen it in years – one of our clients fishing with Dustin last week, Geoff Haslam, landed 18 Coho on the fly in one day late last week. Though this is well beyond an average day, most competent fly fishers will hook 4 to 10 fish per day, amidst stunning coastal mountain scenery. Look for trout fishing to peak over the next month as they feed on the eggs of spawning Pink and Coho Salmon.