Nicholas Dean Lodge

493rd Fishing Report from Nicholas Dean Lodge

For Sunday, January 03, 2010 to Saturday, January 09, 2010


Starting in January and building through March, fresh Steelhead like this mint bright hen enter the Skeena River and its tributaries. These fish are amongst the largest of the year and with warming water temperatures can be incredible fighters…


Fish Tales

Hello Anglers,

First off, I’d like to wish you all a Happy New Year and hope that you had an enjoyable holiday sesason this year with your family and friends!

You know, I’ve been told by a few people that I might have chosen the worst couple of years to pick up and move to northwest BC, at least by Winter Steelhead fishing standards. Both this Winter 2010 and the Winter of 2009 have certainly been challenging in the sense that fishing conditions have been less than ideal. Starting in mid-November this past year, the weather was, for lack of a better phrase, just plain bad. Very cold (down to -20C was common) temperatures, and winds consistently in the gail force range are two very tough opponents when trying to spend quality time on the river, and a few fishing buddies have said that this lasted all through the holidays.

So, upon my arrival back in Skeena Steelhead country late last week, instead of finding the Kalum, Copper and Skeena Rivers in fishable shape, I unfortunately found the opposite: rivers mostly frozen over and little in the way of fishing opportunity. Or, so I thought. I’d based my observations on driving over the local bridges, and hadn’t gone that extra step at checking in at my favourite pools. Jeff Langley and Sky Richard had, and said that the rivers were very much fishable if you did some hiking, though there were still sections frozen over. Apparently Sky has done quite well trout fishing on a few rivers in the area and had managed to land a few Steelhead as well. I suppose the moral of the story is always do your “due diligence…”

For the past few days, I’m happy to report that temperatures have risen and steady rains have helped to melt shelf ice and open up our best Winter Steelhead fisheries. With rivers on the rise and the fact that there is generally a strong push of Winter Steelhead into the Lower Skeena and its tributaries at this time of year, I’m optimistic for my chances on the weekend…

With the start of the new year underway, and to help give our readers information and direction on the best techniques, tackle and presentations when targeting Salmon and Steelhead on the Skeena and its tributaries, I’ve also decided to add a new section to our fishing reports, titled: “Skeena River Fishing Tips.” Whether you’re a spey caster who loves swinging large Intruder flies for Steelhead or a trophy Chinook angler after the leviathans of the deep, there will be something for you to enjoy which just might help you land that next big fish you’ve been dreaming about. This week’s tip is on the Hawaiian Punch fly, a popular and venerable pattern that has helped our guides and guests get into many, many Steelhead and Salmon here on the Skeena.

All the best for a successful and enjoyable year ahead and, as always,

Tight lines and screaming reels.

Chad Black

Operations Manager

Nicholas Dean Lodge

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SKEENA RIVER FISHING TIP: The Hawaiian Punch Fly

The Hawaiian Punch is a wet fly pattern used for Steelhead and Salmon and was devised several years ago by Nicholas Dean Lodge manager and head guide, Dustin Kovacvich, when he was experimenting with flies to target the large Steelhead of the Kalum River. When Dustin first arrived onto the Skeena scene in Terrace 15 years ago, he had been very successful during the months of August and early September using a bottom bouncing rig that consisted of orange, chartreuse and cerise yarn. Combining this colour combination with materials that impart movement in the water – a key consideration when tying Steelhead flies – namely, rabbit strips and marabou, Dustin figured that he had the making of a great pattern. After a few successful outings and several Steelhead hooked on the fly, Dustin started having clients fish this fly with confidence on rivers such as the Kalum, and Skeena which have a slightly murky, glacial green colour, or, during high water conditions when visibility is reduced. To see a photo of the Hawaiian Punch fly and its recipe, check out our blog site at: http://www.nicholasdean.blogspot.com

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NICHOLAS DEAN LODGE PROMOTIONS: Spring Steelhead Fishing

The scenery is breathtaking; snow-capped mountains and towering conifers dominate the landscape. Fishing conditions are prime; the rivers are running low in a seductive shade of light green. Alders are budding red and ruffed grouse are drumming in the thickets; the land is coming to life after a long winter. It’s Spring Steelhead season in beautiful Northwestern British Columbia, a wonderful time of renewal — and a wonderful opportunity to hook the fish of a lifetime! From July to May Steelhead enter the Skeena system. In spring, the culmination of the year’s run will be holding in tributaries such as the Kalum and Copper. These fish are the large, wild Steelhead for which British Columbia is world famous. They average 8 to 15 pounds, but a few leviathans pushing the 30-pound mark may very well be lurking within casting range. In this season, you’ll find chrome-bright fish only days from the sea, fish with prominent red stripes and fish of every coloration in between. This is Spring Steelheading at its finest. Around the third week of April, super-aggressive “Springer” Chinook begin to arrive. These chrome-fresh Salmon average 15 to 40 pounds — but can exceed 80! Known for their savage takes and powerful fight, Springer Chinook are world-class fly rod gamefish. Our Spring Steelhead and Chinook packages are among the best values we offer — and among the best to be found in guided angling for trophy Steelhead and Salmon.

If you’re interested in our Spring Steelhead and Chinook program, be sure to contact me today for more details. I can be reached by phone at (250) 635-5295 or by email at chadblack@nicholasdean.com


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
Sea-Run Cutthroat Trout
Dolly Varden
Bull Trout
Rainbow Trout

With rivers opening up from Winter’s icy grip, Steelhead fishing has been improving and there have been some fresh fish caught in the Skeena and its tributaries. Though I have not fished personally in the Ocean yet this Winter, I have heard of good catches of Winter Spring Chinook in the Prince Rupert harbour, and in Douglas Channel near Kitimat. Trout fishing can be exceptional if you know where to look for fish; many times they hold in the slower back channels near the main current. Streamer patterns incorporating rabbit strips and flash are good bets.