Nicholas Dean Lodge

464th Weekly Fishing Report from Nicholas Dean Lodge

For Tuesday, February 12, 2008 to Monday, March 10, 2008
One of late winter and early spring's greatest rewards - a large male Steelhead, full of fight and irridesent hues. Chad Black Photo
Fish Tales Hello Anglers, For an angler who enjoys getting out fishing as much as possible, the last few months have been a bit of a long stretch. Rivers were frozen over for the latter part of January and the majority of February, restricting anglers to tying flies or other indoor activities! At some level, this lack of fishing opportunities makes it a little more difficult to write a fishing report! I'm happy to finally say, however, that Spring seems to have arrived. As I write this, the sun is shining outside, illuminating the incredible snow-capped mountains surrounding Terrace. And, I have a confession to make - on days like this, my mind wanders to Steelhead, Steelhead-green rivers, and long casts with my Spey rod, and away from the task at hand. I suppose it's the angler inside, wanting to get outdoors and take advantage of bright days whenever they come. And perhaps some of it is knowing that some of the best Winter Steelhead fishing on earth is just a 10 minute drive away! Since my return from Ontario, river conditions have much improved and the fishing has been consistent. On one particular day, I found myself getting up at the crack of dawn to meet with Sky Richard for a day of fishing. We had planned on drifting the lower end of a Skeena tributary, but a friend of ours had to cancel the night before because of an illness, which prevented us from being able to complete the vehicle "juggle" at the end of the day. Instead, Sky and I drove to one of our favourite sections of river and began trekking our way down to the river. Trek might not have been the right word though - workout would probably be a little more applicable, at least for me (for those of you who know Sky, you know just how good of shape he's in). Owing to the warm, above zero temperatures, the snow that day was heavy and on each step, you never knew if you were going to break through the snow or not. It was a long hike-in, but the feeling of a good workout afterwards more than made up for it. Plus, the river was in perfect shape. We started fishing through a long run, with Sky honourably letting me fish through the pool first. I was fishing with one of my favourite rods, a 9140 Echo Spey rod (from The Red Shed Fly Shop in Peck, Idaho;, and the upstream wind was making it difficult to perform the popular double spey cast. Needless to say, the upstream wind, combined with my lack of spey casting practise over the previous month took its toll. Just when I thought that my spey casting was progressing nicely, with 70-80 foot casts coming fairly easily, it just sort of fell apart. My anchor placement was in the wrong spot, the D loop was too wide, and the resulting cast was inefficient, piling up in front of me. However, I tried to take a step back, think about what I was doing, and to figure out how to correct my cast. Then, I remembered some advice that Dec Hogan gave to readers of his book, A Passion For Steelhead. Two simple words - SLOW DOWN! I did just that, and things finally took shape, with my casts generally reaching its intended destination. Sky and I fished through a few more inviting pools without so much as a sniff. And it was good water. In most of the pools, you could see huge boulders along the bank, sometimes 5 ft wide, and we knew that these same rocks would be in the middle of the river, hiding the Steelhead that we were trying to find. At our third pool, our luck changed. After stepping and casting my way through a short seam in a tailout, my large Hawaiian Punch coloured Tandem Trailer Leech Fly was attacked, and I knew it wasn't a rock that had taken hold. The Steelhead immediately came to the surface and thrashed around, sending water spray in every direction, and I applied side pressure to keep the fish off balance and in the pool. There was a fast section of water below that would have made landing the fish difficult, and I tried to keep the fish from heading in that direction. These tactics worked, and I found myself reaching for the leader against the bank. If I were a little smarter about it, I probably would have gently beached the fish in a few inches of water so as not to dislodge any scales or slime, but it seemed wise at the time to simply grab the leader and tail the fish a little further out. Well, the fish didn't like what was going on too much, and made one fast, hard headshake, and that was it. The 12 lb Maxima snapped at one of my Surgeon's knots and from that point, I vowed to fish 15 lb Maxima. Though I didn't get a chance to connect with another fish, Sky landed a nice looking male Steelhead that put up a great fight, especially considering that Sky really knows how to "put the boots" to fish. On the whole, it was a great day. Fantastic sunny weather, getting to fish some of the most incredible pools on the river, and sharing a few good laughs with a friend is as about as enjoyable as a day can get. Seeing two Winter Steelhead certainly didn't hurt either... Finally, our Spring Steelhead promotion is still on and if you would like to take advantage of our 10% discount off the 2008 rates, be sure to contact the lodge at your earliest convenience to reserve your space in the prime weeks. Until next week, tight lines and screaming reels, Chad Black Operations Manager
Fishing Conditions The chart below provides an overview on the current river fishing conditions by fish species:
Fish Species Poor Marginal Fair Good Excellent
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 air temperatures and spring rains, Steelhead continue to enter the Skeena and its tributaries in waves. There have been reports of chrome fish being caught, suggesting that the Spring run has indeed arrived, to complement the summer and fall run fish that have already made the long journey up the mighty Skeena. The fresh fish tend to be a little more aggressive than the winter holdover fish, and can be caught with a variety of methods, provided that the presentation is close to the bottom. It appears that Bull trout in the Terrace area rivers are anticipating the downstream migration of salmon fry, as there have been more Bull trout caught in the past few weeks than other periods over the winter months. As we get closer to the major fry hatches, trout fishing should steadily improve. Though we have not been out ocean fishing for the feeder springs near Prince Rupert, they are available and can provide great sport for those trolling cut plug herring or similar rigs.