Nicholas Dean Lodge

478th Weekly Fishing Report from Nicholas Dean Lodge

For Tuesday, June 17, 2008 to Monday, July 14, 2008
Backtrolling plugs can make for a long day when you're on the oars, but it all comes together when you see results like this. Here, my brother Craig and his girlfriend Abby pose with their first BC Chinook Salmon, a 25 lb Kitimat hen. Chad Black Photo
Fish Tales Hello Anglers, About the only thing that I can say right now about fishing is that it's very very good. The Skeena, Kitimat, and other tributary rivers are fishing very well for Trophy Chinook, and Sockeye Salmon are being caught in good numbers on the Skeena. Essentially, our Summer fishing began in early June, and has only improved as water levels have reached ideal heights and clarity, and Salmon runs have continue to build. Needless to say, when the fishing is as good as it has been, you have to pick and choose which fish stories to tell - not necessarily an easy thing to do when there are several! Let's start with the story of my little brother Craig and his girlfriend Abby, who were visiting me in late June. After doing a little sight seeing on their first day and getting used to the change in time zones, we made plans to wake up at 4:00 am and be on the road by 4:30. Though getting up this early in the morning can be a little painful later in the evening and sometimes the day after, it's worth it to ensure that you get to the river first, as you are able work through some of your favourite pools before other anglers. Besides, sunrise was around 4:30 am, so it was already light out anyways. As we drifted down a shallow stretch and approached the first pool, I was getting excited. Both Craig and Abby hadn't really experienced "west coast fishing," big Salmon, and long, hard fights, and I was hoping that we'd at least hook into a few fish so that they would understand why I get so excited about the fishing out here. After casting spoons into some of my favourite pools and seams without any signs of fishy life, we decided to change tactics. Though I'd never "pulled plugs" (also known as backtrolling) before, I had watched Sky on more than a few occasions and at least had an idea of what to do. So, for the next long run, I decided that we'd send out a fluorescent yellow and orange Kwikfish, as well as a Hot Shot, and row them back into some of the preferred Salmon holding lies. I'm not going to lie - it took a little getting used to - figuring out how to slow the boat down, using each oar stroke to your advantage so that you weren't overexerting yourself - but after awhile, it started to make sense and I could see the plugs were reaching bottom by looking at the rod tips. We didn't hook anything at this first pool, but as we reeled in the lines and prepared to drift to the next run, I saw a good-sized Chinook roll on the opposite side of the river. There wasn't a lot of time to tack the boat over, but the fact that we saw a fish roll was a good incentive. After scrambling to reach the far side, Craig and Abby expertly sent the plugs drifting down river, and I tried my best to manoeuvre the plus tight to the logs where I'd seen the fish. As I double checked my positioning, I looked back at Abby's rod, only to see that it was keeled over, rod pumping, as the drag on the reel began to scream! Now, you have to understand that when you have a fishless morning and the first bite of the day comes, adrenaline often gets the better of you. I started screaming "grab the rod, grab the rod," but unfortunately, Abby's fingers had gotten caught in the rod holder. With Craig on the other side of the boat, he had to scramble over top of Abby, get the rod out and set the hook before the fish got away, as I was continually hollering (hey, us "guides" get excited too!). Somehow, the hook held after this melee, and as the fish surged upstream towards a sunken log, Craig responded by directing the fish away from the log and downstream where it would be easier to land the fish. After finding refuge in a slower back eddy, Craig and I were able to get out of the boat and play the fish on solid ground. Amidst a lot of whining that his arms were sore, Craig was actually doing a good job playing the fish, and it was beginning to tire. Waiting for an opportunity to net the fish head first, my chance eventually came and I seized the opportunity, breathing a sigh of relief and a yell of excitement at the same time. Both Craig and Abby were ecstatic at landing this fish, and I was too. It was a gorgeous Chinook, about 25 lbs, and still bearing sea lice. That they landed a great fish like this after an epic battle will no doubt stay with them for a long time. To this day, they both argue about whose Salmon it was - it was hooked on Abby's rod but Craig played and landed the fish - but, in the end, I'm sure what will remain is the common bond, friendship and experience that rivers, fishing, and the outdoors bestow upon us. Until next week, tight lines and screaming reels... Chad Black Operations Manager ________________________________________________________________________________________________ NICHOLAS DEAN LODGE PROMOTIONS ***NEW*** Nicholas Dean Blog Site Over the past month, we have been busy developing a new blog site where we could post timely information, more photos, how-to articles, lodge promotions, and other information. We are happy to say that the new blog site is ready for release and can now be found at For those of you who have had problems in the past receiving the photos in each weekly fishing report, fear no more! After each report is completed, we will be posting the "Fish Tale," along with the featured photo on the blog site for your convenience. The blog site will no doubt undergo a few changes as we add things along the way, but we encourage your feedback, and be sure to check back often as we continue to showcase the incredible fishing that the Lower Skeena watershed offers! ________________________________________________________________________________________________ Nicholas Dean Lodge 2008 Season Records To Date: Steelhead: 23 lbs, Caught by Martin Walker of San Francisco, California on a Skeena River Tributary Chinook Salmon: 40 lbs, Caught by Bob Cusick of Edmonton, Alberta 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
Chinook Salmon
Coho Salmon Out of season
Pink Salmon Out of season
Sockeye Salmon
Chum Salmon
Sea-Run Cutthroat Trout
Dolly Varden
Bull Trout
Rainbow Trout
The fishing for Chinook Salmon the last few weeks has, in short, been epic. Good numbers of fish are being caught by anglers employing a number of methods, including plunking (bar fishing), back trolling plugs (and jet divers), back bouncing and spoon fishing. While most fish have been averaging 20 to 40 lbs, there have been several fish caught by our guides during their time off in the 45 to 50 lb range, and there is always the potential of a fish over 60 lbs. The Tyee test fishery has indicated that there are good number of Sockeye Salmon moving through the Skeena system, and targeting these fish in shallow riffles with flies or bottom bouncing gear are popular methods of choice. Chum Salmon have been reported in the lower end of the Kitmat River, but our guides have had limited hook ups with these fish thus far. A few Steelhead have even been reported in the lower Skeena river, but have not entered the Skeena in high enough numbers to provide good fishing. Trout fishing always takes a back seat this time of year to the Salmon species migrating upriver, but if you were to target Rainbow or Cutthroat Trout in lakes and shallow rivers, you'd probably find rewarding fishing.