Nicholas Dean Lodge

491st Fishing Report from Nicholas Dean Lodge

For Sunday, November 01, 2009 to Saturday, November 07, 2009


A hard won 18 lb Skeena Steelhead: after the fish left the confines of the remote pool he was fishing, Jim Zondanos had to chase it through heavy pocket water and massive boulders. Who said that Steelhead Fly Fishing was easy? Scott Runciman Photo


Fish Tales

Hello Anglers,

You know, most anglers and certainly non-fishers wouldn’t consider fly fishing to be a full-on contact sport, complete with battered shins and bruises the size of grapefruits. For the most part, luckily, such injuries usually happen infrequently. But, we Steelheaders can be an eccentric lot and sometimes seek out pools, rivers and fish that keep us on the tips of our toes – quite literally at times. Such was the case for Jim Zondanos, one of our last guests of the season.

Both Jim and Scott Runciman decided to fish one pool that holds some very sizable fish this time of year and, having caught a few fish there earlier in the week, hiked the 1 km stretch to the river along an old logging road. This particular pool has all the makings of a classic Steelhead holding run: at the head, heavy, turbulent flows from the class three rapids above spill into a narrow chute and quickly dissipate, creating a slower inside seam that has large boulders scattered in succession. A third of the way down the pool, a large boulder cleaves the river in two and creates a second seam line that, in high water, continues through the rest of its length. Fish most often hold in the seams adjacent to, and below this large rock – the bucket – and it was here that Jim hooked into a very sizable Steelhead.

When Jim described the fight, you could tell he was reliving the whole thing. He knew that it would probably be wise to keep the fish in the pool so as to avoid the heavy pocket water which carried on for several hundred yards below. But as Steelhead often seem to do, when it at last appeared that the fish was spent, it made one last effort and with a swipe of its big tail, propelled itself over the lip of the pool. From here on in, Jim had a decision to make – either break the fish off or stumble his way downtream through boulders the size of a small car. Jimmy chose the latter, hence, the bruises and sore shins. As you can tell from this week’s photo, however, you can probably surmise that Jim was happy with the choice he made.

The ironic thing? When Jim first arrived in Terrace, he asked me what the wading was like, to which I replied: “most of the wading is fairly tame as long as you take your time, but there is one pool in particular that can easily make you go for a swim.” Anyone care to hazard a guess as to which pool that might have been?

To me, Jim’s story painted a vivid picture of the importance of Steelhead and the journey that we as anglers embark on when searching for these fish. It’s usually not an easy journey, with many obstacles along the way. Weather, run timing, fishing conditions and other variables can either work for or against you while on the river, and even making time to fish for Steelhead from a busy work schedule can be a struggle. But, when all these variables align and you’re able to cradle a Steelhead in the shallows of a wild river, you know that the journey, though long and varied, was worth every drop of sweat and hardship.

Until next week, tight lines and screaming reels…

Chad Black

Operations Manager

Nicholas Dean Lodge


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 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

Steelhead fishing has been excellent during the past week, with several fish landed each day. Average size has been 8-14 lbs, but larger fish in the 18-19 lb range have been caught. With water temperatures in the 36 degree Fahrenheit range, the best presentation is a slow one where Steelhead don’t have to move far to reach your fly or lure. Thus, big leeches fished through deep, slow pools, or spoons fluttered along the bottom are a great way to target these fish. With Coho Salmon spawning at its peak, trout fishing should, by most standards, be excellent at this time of year. My personal experience on the last few outings seems to suggest otherwise, however, which I presume is a result of there being TOO many Coho to effectively target the trout eating drifting eggs. That being said, I’ve heard of others having good fishing for Cutthroat and Rainbows on several Skeena tributaries, so perhaps I just wasn’t looking in the right spots! If my hunch is correct, when Coho numbers thin out, the fishing should be out of this world. I’ll keep you posted…