Nicholas Dean Lodge

495th Fishing Report from Nicholas Dean Lodge

For Sunday, March 07, 2010 to Saturday, March 13, 2010


 

Fishing ReportProspecting along remote northern coastal rivers for large Steelhead is one of my favourite ways to greet the Spring season. Here, Nicholas Dean guide Sky Richard gets ready to fish the deep water on the far bank. Chad Black Photo


Fish Tales

Hello Anglers,

Spring is nearly here and for myself and the crew at Nicholas Dean Lodge, this can mean only one thing – the start of our season is upon us and fresh Spring Steelhead are our quarry! After the cool Winter months (which in reality haven’t been all that cool this year), we all look forward to the start of our guiding season and getting clients into the memorable and trophy fish the Skeena system is recognized for.

In our quest to provide some of the most exciting and productive fishing for clients, we’re always going that extra step in reconnaissance work. And, I use the term “work” lightly. Really, recon is just plain fun and a great excuse to go fishing. So, last Saturday, Dustin, Sky and I piled all of our gear into the back of the truck and headed north to check on a few coastal rivers that often hold Steelhead in early March, so long as river levels are adequate. Unfortunately for us, the rains that we’d had in Terrace had fallen as snow in the mountainous terrain that we were targeting, so rivers were low, clean and not affording the best of Steelhead conditions.

Instead of making the drive back to Terrace right away, we decided to do a little prospecting where a few small streams enter the main river, as we’ve found that Steelhead will often hold at the mouths of these rivers while waiting for the creeks to rise. Though the first two creeks and their mouths did not produce, on the third we hit the fish jackpot. Walking up the floodplain, Dustin found a small slough which varied in depth from a few feet to well over six. A remnant from higher waters during the Fall, the slough was slightly turbid and stacked full of Coastal Cutthroat and Dolly Varden averaging 12 to 18 inches…with a few in the 20 inch mark.

In all my years of trout fishing, I’ve had some fantastic days, with large fish on my home waters, the Grand River in Ontario, and caught good numbers of fish on a few Skeena tribs during the Spring and Fall. However, I have not yet experienced anything like we did in that small slough last weekend. I landed three trout on my first three casts, and that set the tone for the rest of the morning and afternoon. When we hadn’t had a strike in half a dozen casts, we’d say to ourselves that the fish must’ve gotten off the bite, then catch several others in subsequent casts. All told, I hesitate to say how many fish we actually caught because it defies common fishing sense. It was that good. So, while we didn’t exactly go looking for trout on this day, they certainly were a good “Plan B” and more than a pleasant surprise.

Since finding this trout haven, we’ve already made plans to go back and check it out with lighter gear. And you know what? For just this once, the trout will be Plan A, and Steelhead will be “Plan B.”

Until next week, tight lines and screaming reels…

Chad Black

 

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LODGE NEWS:

One of the biggest requests that I get and some of the most frequent hits to our blog and website revolve around photos of the Skeena’s big fish. With this in mind, I have added a small collection of photos highlighting the experience of anglers during the Skeena’s Early Spring Steelhead season on our blog. Also, we’ll be partnering up with Deep Creek Lodge for the first month of our guiding season, which is a rustic, yet modern lodge located within walking distance from some of the best water on the Lower Kalum river. Clients have raved about the food, accommodations and hospitality provided by Verena and Dario Taglio and we’re excited to start our season there.

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WEATHER AND RIVER CONDITIONS:

The weather this past week, like many weeks before, was mild considering the time of year, averaging 5-8 degrees C during the day and hovering around zero at night. Heavy rains later in the week caused rivers to rise and muddy quickly, but low evening temperatures have since helped bring them back to fishable shape. See the upcoming Terrace 5 day weather forecast and keep track of river levels in the Skeena region at the Water Survey of Canada.

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NICHOLAS DEAN LODGE PROMOTIONS: Spring Steelhead DISCOUNT

Over the past few years, our Spring Steelhead program has grown to become one of our most popular fisheries. Large, wild Steelhead, ideal, consistent water conditions and the opportunity to fish a variety of rivers make this season a very productive one. Starting in mid March, we focus on the Kalum River, Lower Copper and Skeena Rivers, and in April through mid May, also turn our attention to the Kitimat, and several remote coastal rivers as part of our “Adventure Steelhead” program. Hard fighting, aggressive Spring Chinook are also available starting mid April, and are prime targets for the well swung fly or spoon.

One nice bonus of the relatively warm winter this year? Many of the roads we use to access our favourite coastal rivers are now open, giving early access through the full range of our Spring Steelhead season. So, if you’ve wanted to fish the Skeena and its tributaries for hot coastal fish, this is the year to be here.

We still have a few spaces available in select weeks, and are offering a 10% discount off the 2010 rates. If you’d like to join us during our prime Spring Steelhead fishing, contact me directly by phone at (250) 635-5295 or by email at chadblack@nicholasdean.com.

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SKEENA RIVER FISHING TIP: How to wrap Lady Amherst feathers on Steelhead Spey flies.

When I first started tying big, west coast Steelhead flies, I was intrigued by several qualities of the Lady Amherst feather. First, its fibres were heavily mottled and helped create long, tentacle-like plumes that are common on many Steelhead flies and, second, it had good movement when swung on a tight line. However, it was also a material that I found exceedingly difficult to work with. I didn’t (and still don’t) like splitting the stems of feathers, and tying the fibres around a hook just didn’t create the hackle-like effect that I was going for. Moreover, the fibres tended to collapse and stick together. That all changed when I bought a deluxe dubbing loop twister and saw a video on youtube. By using the dubbing loop twister and one of Marc Petitjean’s material clips (in his Magic Tool set), I’ve been able to create Steelhead flies with flowing Amherst hackles that are both functionally and aesthetically appealing. Follow this link to see how to wrap Amherst feathers for Steelhead Spey flies.


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 warming water temperatures and rivers slightly on the rise, Steelhead have become much more active over the past week in several Skeena River tributaries. We’ll be looking for a push of fresh Steelhead in the next few weeks as they join the other Fall and Winter run fish in classic holding pools. Though myself and the guides have not fished for Winter Chinook much this year, I have heard scattered reports of catches in the Douglas Channel and near shore waters of the Prince Rupert harbour. Trout fishing has been nothing short of epic, and anglers fishing olive leeches, nymphs, and fry patterns will likely tap into the great fishing available now.