Wednesday, December 3, 2008

482nd Weekly Fishing Report from Nicholas Dean Lodge

NEW for 2009! Beginning April 20, 2009, we will be teaming up with Yellow Cedar Lodge to provide our clients with first class dining and accommodations - a great complement to the diverse angling experiences we already offer! Yellow Cedar Lodge Photo

Hello Anglers,

This week we are pleased to announce some very exciting news. Actually, we're ecstatic! Beginning April 20, 2009, we will be teaming up with Alf and Simone Leslie of Yellow Cedar Lodge, to provide our clients with the very best in dining and accommodations in northwest British Columbia. Yellow Cedar Lodge is an impressive facility that is situated on the banks of the majestic Skeena River, on the outskirts of Terrace. Here, the lodge sits amidst impressive mountain views and a wilderness setting - an ideal spot for anglers to relax in comfort after a great day of fishing. The lodge itself is appropriately named given its construction of beautifully crafted yellow cedar posts and beams, which give it a unique character and class of its own.

The lodge features a large dining area and adjoining bar, a mixture of private single and double beds with ensuite washrooms, a bar/games room, lounge, gym with cardio equipment and weights, a sauna, hot tub and a large covered porch overlooking the river. Dining is a major highlight at Yellow Cedar Lodge, as Alf is a master Red Seal Chef who goes to great length in providing gourmet, home cooked meals. Using the freshest ingredients, Alf makes home made breads and desserts, and prepares sumptuous meals including wild Salmon and Halibut from the Pacific Ocean, only a short distance away. Look for more information about Yellow Cedar Lodge in upcoming reports, or, visit our blog site at to see additional photos of this first class facility!

Until next week, tight lines and screaming reels...

Chad Black
Operations Manager
Nicholas Dean Lodge

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Introducing Yellow Cedar Lodge!

Yellow Cedar Lodge is a spectacular facility and we are very excited to be working with its staff, Alf and Simone Leslie, starting April 20 next season. Located right on the banks of the Skeena, Yellow Cedar Lodge provides incredible views of the surrounding coastal BC mountains in a comfortable, log style building that is just minutes away from world class Steelhead and Salmon angling.

From spectacular meals prepared by Alf, a Red Seal Chef, to all the amenities that Yellow Cedar Lodge offers, we are sure that you will enjoy your stay as you search for that trophy Steelhead or Salmon.

Cozy, single and double bed rooms with ensuite washrooms give you a sense of privacy as you relax after a great day's fishing.

After a cool day on the river, you might consider taking advantage of the hot tub at the front of the lodge, or relax for a few minutes in the sauna. The large, wrap around porch is a perfect place to take in the views while enjoying your favourite single malt scotch or cigar. Or, sit down and have a drink in the main bar or in the games room with your fishing buddies.

We are sure that you will enjoy the modern comforts, amenities, and attention to detail that Yellow Cedar Lodge provides. Contact us today for more information on how you can reserve your fishing trip of a lifetime - now with some of the best dining and lodging in the north!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

481st Fishing Report from Nicholas Dean Lodge

An intimate wilderness fishing experience is one of the elements we strive to provide guests, with old growth forests, inspiring mountain views, and wild fish. Here, Jim McDevitt plays a Steelhead taken on a dry fly from a remote river. Dale Bright Photo

Hello Anglers,

At this time of year, we are in a period of transition, with the brilliant change in fall colours to more subtle tones after a blanket of snow. It also signals the close of our guiding season, as we look forward to and prepare for another successful season only a few short months away. But it is also a time of year when the guides, including myself, get to go fishing. The only "problem" that we are to encounter at this point, is which river and type of fishing to choose from. Within a half hour drive from the lodge, there are several river systems that pull on you, making the choice all the more difficult. On one small, intimate river, we are likely to fish light fly rods with egg flies, to target the numerous Cutthroat, Rainbow and Bull Trout that gorge on the fruit of spawning Coho Salmon. Every once in awhile, one of these "trout" turn into a Steelhead too. Another river, more turbulent and typical of northwest BC rivers, even this late in the season will still give you an opportunity for Steelhead on waking dry flies, if conditions are right (and by that I mean water height and temperature). A different river, larger and more glacial and receives strong runs of late season fish, provides a great opportunity to fish large, 5 inch flies on heavy sink tips for Steelhead that push and often well exceed the 20 lb mark.

Then, there's the Skeena itself - still quite large by most standards - but a fraction of its size during average Summer flows. Here, you might find a pod of trophy Cutthroat trout, as my brother Chris and I did last year, or you might find a few Steelhead, chrome bright, waiting along its edges temporarily before shooting up into a tributary river. More often that not, I do find myself reaching for my 9140 Spey rod, a powerful Burkheimer blank that helps throw my favourite offerings into deep, secluded boulder fields and slower moving tailouts. There's just something to be said about the enjoyment of stretching out with the double handed rod, whether it's a 40 ft cast or 100 ft cast, making that ever important first mend to set up the swing, and following through in anticipation. You have to sort through a variety of different factors to get to this point - which pool might fish best given the water height and clarity, proper placement in the pool, how deep you want to fish your fly, the type of fly itself. A large fly would certainly move the most water and invoke the attention of a resting Steelhead, but it might also spook them if they've been fished over a few times. It is choices like these that make Steelhead fishing so alluring - searching, trying to find the answers, and there's only one thing to be certain - that it will be different each time you step into the river. Being in the position I'm in has allowed me to fish with and learn from some of the best anglers around, particularly our guides. Not only is their first-hand knowledge of the water and fish second to none, they are also very good teachers and have taught me both by example and by observation. In this light, it is certainly evident why guests almost always rave about our guides.

Personal reflections aside, I must say that it has been a very successful year for us, and this is directly attributable to you - our clients. It is a priviledge and honour to be able to take you out on our favourite rivers, share in the wilderness experiences to be found there, and enjoy the camaraderie that always seems to stem from an enjoyable day of fishing. As we look ahead to the 2009 season, we will continue providing our first class service and dedication to a profession that we all love, and we hope that you'll consider joining us. Whether it's swinging large flies for Spring Steelhead, backtrolling for Chinook on the mighty Skeena, waking a dry fly over boulder studded runs, or sight fishing to fresh pods of Coho Salmon, we'll undoubtedly have a package or style of fishing that you will enjoy.

Until next week, tight lines and screaming reels...

Chad Black

Operations Manager

Friday, October 10, 2008

Promotion for the 2009 Season ~ Update

Based on the positive response we've had from clients looking to book for the 2009 season, we have decided to extend our "prebooking" offer until November 1, 2008. For this promotion, you can book for the 2009 season at the 2008 rates by securing a 50% deposit with the lodge. New pricing for the 2009 season will be effective November 2, 2008. Email me at, or give me a call to reserve your trip of a liftetime today! photo

480th Fishing Report from Nicholas Dean Lodge

When you swing your fly long enough and are attentive to a river and its many moods, the rewards can be great. Being on the greatest Steelhead river on earth doesn't hurt either, as client Chris Gilles found out. photo
Hello Anglers,

We are finally starting to experience the telltale signs of Fall. Shorter days, the shift from green to yellow forests, and a dropping mercury level are all indicative that Summer is over and that Winter isn't all that far away. Not to mention the snow capped peaks on the coastal mountains surrounding Terrace. Strange as it may seem, I often welcome this change in season, for it is usually synonymous with prime fishing conditions for both Steelhead and Coho. Rain that would normally fall high up in the mountains tends to fall as snow, limiting the amount of runoff and making often unpredictable rivers more predictable. The cooler weather also has the effect of detracting the fair weather anglers, making rivers less crowded and that much more enjoyable. Plus, what would good Steelhead fishing be like without a little nip in the air?

River and fishing conditions have continued to improve following some heavy rainfall events earlier in the week. Our favourite Steelhead rivers that were a little high and off colour last week are now in prime shape, and the fishing has picked up considerably. One of the unfortunate difficulties that we as guides have to contend with is the often changing balancing act between rain and river levels. When rivers are low and clean, the fish tend to be spooky and can develop "lock-jaw," while high, muddy waters make it difficult for fish to see your presentation. So, we're usually hoping for something in the middle, with rivers on the drop most conducive to the bite. At present, our clients have had some incredible days while fishing for Steelhead using dry flies on smooth, glassy tailouts, to deep pools swinging large, intruder-like wet flies. Just ask Alvaro Orejas and Jose Ardavin, two Spanish clients of ours. They hiked into a few of our favourite Steelhead pools on a remote river, and found ideal conditions for skating dries. Imagine casting your dry fly down and across on a slack line, then seeing a large, chrome object rising from the depths, as you slowly and meticulously skate your fly across the pool. This is surely one of the pinnacles in Steelhead fly fishing, and Alvaro and Jose seemed to time their trip perfectly. They each landed two Steelhead on dry flies, and Alvaro hooked one substantially larger that broke off on the hookset. Sky, who was watching intently from a higher position put the fish at close to 20 lbs. A 20 lb Steelhead on a dry fly - certainly an opportunity of a lifetime!

Coho fishing has also been quite good for anglers willing to employ a range of techniques. When fresh fish are encountered, particularly lower in the the rivers, they are very aggressive and aggressive fishing tactics are often the most successful. Sight fishing to pods of Coho that range from 8 to 20 lbs can be thrilling, especially when a large fish breaks from the pod to pursue your fly. Keeping the fly animated, and activating the Flashabou material within the fly is key to success, as is a progressively faster stripping tempo. If you weren't on a river with two thousand high mountains rising abruptly from the valley floor, and numerous waterfalls cascading around you, you'd think that the fishing would resemble sight fishing for pike or other saltwater species. As water levels begin to drop however, conventional fishing tactics such as float fishing and jig fishing are often more productive. One of our good friends and booking agent, Jeff Bright, landed one of the largest Coho that we've seen this year - a 20 lb fish that fought remarkably well, and came to a fly stripped beside a drowned log. More stories to come next week...

Until next week, tight lines and screaming reels...

Chad Black
Operations Manager

Thursday, October 2, 2008

479th Fishing Report from Nicholas Dean Lodge

You can only use the word "epic" so many times when it comes to writing about fishing - sometimes, you simply need a picture to tell a story. This is one such picture: guest Bill Stanberry and Sky pose with a 55 lb Skeena Chinook. BJ Stanbery Photo
Hello Anglers,

I hope that this newsletter finds you doing well and that you've enjoyed your Summer and the fishing opportunities it held. Please accept my apologies for the lack of stories and fishing reports on my behalf over the last few months - a very busy Summer and early Fall season unfortunately did not leave me with a lot of spare time, and taking care of clients during the season while they're at the lodge is my number one priority! Now that we're into the final home stretch of our Fall Steelhead and Trophy Coho season, however, I do find myself with at least a few minutes each week and will endeavour to keep up with my stories. For this week's report, I thought I'd begin where I left off at the end of July, at the start of our Chinook Season. Below is an exerpt of the "tale" I'd begun but didn't have a chance to finish...

"They were like porpoises." This was the description that Sky Richard gave to me in mid July of the fish he'd seen when fishing the main channel Skeena River for Chinook Salmon - big Chinook Salmon. Fish so big that if I weren't here everyday talking to the guides, I wouldn't actually believe them. It's not that the Skeena doesn't have an excellent reputation for big Chinook - it always has, since the former 92 lb world record and current 99 lb catch and release record was caught there - but this year seemed to be an exceptional one for large fish. For anglers plunking on favourite bars, or others backtrolling and back bouncing in the heart of the river, the fishing was nothing short of epic. Take for example, Bill Stanberry and BJ Stanbery from Texas (and no, the spelling of their last name is not a typo -you need to ask Bill about that one!). Being first time guests with us this year, we had talked about the type of fishing they wanted to do, and the experiences they were looking for. In particular, I recall BJ saying that he wanted to try and beat his former big fish record - a 30 or 35 lb fish he'd landed in the US Pacific Northwest. At the time, I knew that Sky and Greg Buck had caught several large fish in previous days, with the average being 30-45 lbs, but I knew better than to relay this to BJ. Deep down, I knew that he was going to break this record, but, owing to my previous guiding history, was aware of the dangers in saying "well, the last time I was here we caught a huge fish." Rather, Dustin and I just sat at the table, content in knowing that they were probably going to enjoy the fishing the next day.

I'm just glad that things worked out the way they did, because the first fish that BJ landed the next morning was a 60 lb Chinook. Not to mention the other 40 and 45 lb fish he landed as well. And that seemed to set the tone for the rest of Bill and BJ's trip. While working up and down several of our favourite pools and bars on the Skeena, Bill and BJ experienced some of the best Chinook fishing one could reasonably expect to have. Each day, they had many opportunities and boated at least one Chinook over 50 lbs for each of their 5 fishing days. Arguably, one of their most memorable days was their last - the grand finale. Early in the morning, Sky rigged up the stout rods for back bouncing and set out to do a long backwards drift through one of the Skeena's hallowed pools. Mid way during the first drift, the slow up and down motion jigging of BJ's rod was interrupted by the slight tapping of a fish - a subtle, not-so-obvious pull that BJ did well to feel. Setting the hook quickly so as to prevent the fish from spitting out the bait, BJ began to fight the large fish, with line ripping off the reel towards the depths of the Skeena. By following the fish at the start of the fight and playing the fish from shore, BJ was able to maneouvre the fish into Sky's waiting net. At 65 lbs, it was the biggest fish they'd seen on the trip, and a fantastic example of why Skeena fish are the unique race they are. What makes this fishery even the more impressive is that Bill landed an even larger fish later in the afternoon - a Chinook estimated to be in the 70 lb range - truly a trophy fish, and one that Bill and BJ likely won't forget. We're always glad when the fishing meets or exceeds an angler's expectations, and this couldn't have happened to two nicer guys.

Since late July, there has been a variety of fishing, methods, rivers, and seasons here at the lodge. One very positive aspect that was evident early in the Summer was Steelhead numbers were the highest they've been in the last 10 years. This has been reflected in our fishing, both personally and with our guests at the lodge and Skeena Camp. And some of the fish have been very big. Chris Gilles found out first hand why Skeena Steelhead have the reputation they do. While at the Skeena Camp in mid August with his fishing buddies, Chris hooked into a large fish on his single hand rod. At the time, I was teaching fellow guest, Jim Johnson, how to Spey cast, and can recall looking upstream thinking, "wow, that was a big headshake." Over the next 40 minutes, Chris was a nervous wreck as he had to contend with a strong, powerful fish, and 6 other excited anglers who were trying to coach him at the same time. Just when the fish looked like it was spent, it would make another 100 ft run back into the Skeena. It was moving a lot of water. When I did see the fish for the first time I had to personally contain my own excitement and coach Chris during those pivotal last few moments. When I tailed the fish, and couldn't fit my hands around its wrist, I could tell it was easily a fish in the mid 20s - pounds. With many hoots, hollers and other unprintable shouts of encouragement being thrown around, Chris and I admired the size and beauty of this fish before releasing it back into the waters of the Skeena. Not bad for the first Steelhead that Chris had ever landed on a fly, wouldn't you think? Our good friend Noel Gyger managed to get a video clip of this experience, and can be found on his website at, titled "MASSIVE Skeena River Steelhead on the fly." Look for this photo, and many others in upcoming reports. Finally, be sure to check out our promotion for the 2009 season below...this is a great opportunity for you to experience the world class fishing available in the Lower Skeena region at a discounted rate!

Until next week, tight lines and screaming reels...

Chad Black
Operations Manager

Monday, September 22, 2008

SkeenaWild Sockeye Salmon

Here at Nicholas Dean Lodge, we are all in support of selective commercial fisheries that promote the conservation of Steelhead, Coho and other non-target species. So when we recently heard that SkeenaWild Conservation Trust [a conservation-based group that encourages economic and ecologic sustainability within the Skeena watershed] was developing a pilot project for selling selectively harvested smoked Sockeye Salmon from the Skeena River, we had to jump on board. If you would like to purchase fresh Sockeye from SkeenaWild, be sure to contact us here at the lodge at (250) 635-5295 or Cost is $26.75 USD per fillet, with a minimum of 4 fillets per order. For more information on SkeenaWild, please go to: .

Promotion for the 2009 Season!

For those anglers who have thought about casting their favourite fly or lure in some of the most hallowed Steelhead and Salmon rivers in the world, this is your chance! Nicholas Dean Lodge is now offering a promotion for the 2009 season. In addition to having first choice for the best weeks in 2009, securing a deposit with the lodge prior to October 15, 2008 will enable you to book your trip for next year at the 2008 rates. With rising fuel and operational costs being what they are, the rates will be increasing for the 2009 season and will apply after October 15, 2008. Be sure to take advantage of this special pricing today by contacting the lodge at (250) 635-5295 or . photo

Monday, August 18, 2008

Trophy Summer Steelhead on the Skeena

Chris Gilles and Chad Black pose with a chrome bright, trophy Summer Steelhead landed on the Skeena River early last week. It is now prime time for these large, strong fish and, because of ideal water temperatures, are often the "hottest" fish of the year. Noel Gyger Photo
Chris joined us this year for the first time as part of our Skeena Camp - a camp that is ideally situated on the banks of the Skeena River to intercept the strong runs of Summer Steelhead and Salmon that migrate upstream each year. With the ability to hook into Steelhead and all Salmon species, including Coho, Sockeye, Pink, Chinook and Chum, the camp is a fisherman's paradise where you can fish from early in the morning to late into the evening at your leisure. For more information, be sure to check out our Skeena Camp package and the incredible Summer Steelhead and Salmon fishing available this time of year on our website, Noel Gyger Photo

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Skeena Steelhead Conservation

I didn't really expect to catch much when I decided to go fishing last Saturday, rather, I viewed it as an opportunity to practise my double spey casting techniques and to enjoy the steady step and cast of steelhead fly fishing as I worked down through the run. As fate would have it though, a magnificent Steelhead decided to grace her presence and took my black and blue tube fly for a good run. It was not a large fish, at 6 or 7 lbs, but it held some significance - it was my first Summer Steelhead of the year, and for lack of a better phrase, it made my day. What did distract from my overall experience with this fish, however, was the net marks seen on its flank - areas where its shimmering scales were ripped off -a common occurrence seen on steelhead during the peak of the commercial fishing season.

To date, the return of summer steelhead to the Skeena River and its tributaries has been above average, and our fishing thus far has seemed to reflect this. Whether plunking on the lower river, or fly fishing our favourite riffles and pools, there seem to be fishable numbers of steelhead and, optimistically, we hope that this trend continues into late summer and fall. However, commercial fishing interests seem intent on maximizing the extraction of enhanced sockeye salmon to the detriment of other non-target species, most notably steelhead and summer run coho salmon.

It's the same old story - one of blatant ingnorance of the very principles that the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) themselves created to minimize the impacts on steelhead and other non-target species. And while I could go on about all the bureaucracy, political interference and lack of enforcement that seems to surround commercial fishing each year, rambling or complaining to like minded individuals might not change things much. By forming a united stand on these issues and taking action though, we can have a positive influence on steelhead and salmon in the Skeena. In case you haven't done so already, I highly recommend joining and supporting the North Coast Steelhead Alliance (NCSA) - a group whose voice continually fights for the preservation and conservation of these wild fish. The NCSA can be reached via their website at Also, for timely and up to date information regarding the commercial and tyee test fishery this season, be sure to check out the NCSA blog site at

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Nicholas Dean Lodge Weekly Fishing Report - No. 478

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
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

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Nicholas Dean Lodge Weekly Fishing Report - No. 477

Chinook fishing was EPIC in a few select pools of a local river yesterday - here, Sky is in awe as he cradles a chrome 40 lb fish. If you think this fish is large or put up a strong fight, you should have seen the one that got away! Chad Black Photo


Hello Anglers,

Every once in awhile as an angler, you need to "throw caution to the wind" and simply get out fishing no matter the conditions, and sometimes you'll be pleasantly surprised. Well, in my case, yesterday happened to be one of those days. Last week had previously been a tough one for clients on our rivers, owing to low, clean conditions on the Kitimat and high water on the main channel Skeena. Not much had really changed yesterday, and in days before, as we hadn't received any appreciable amount of rain. Still, I had made plans to fish with Sky Richard and wanted to stick with them, even just to get out for a pleasant day of fishing. Early in the day (as in 4 am early!), Sky and I spoke about the conditions we were likely to be facing, and he suggested if we hooked any fish at all, he would be surprised. Not to be discouraged, we launched our drift boat and set off towards the first pool, likely before others had even entertained the idea of getting up for work. Whether this was an omen of what was to come, we couldn't be sure, but as we stepped out of the boat and rigged our spoons, we saw a Chinook roll in a smooth seam on the far bank. We began working our spoons through this seam, and through other likely areas, and after about 10 minutes of fishing, I felt my spoon stop half way through its drift. Setting hard on the hook, the Chinook began a strong, dogged fight with several short runs through the pool, but with one last headshake, the fish spit the hook. This was definitely not the outcome I was hoping for, but was a good start to the day. Since we knew that fish were in this pool, Sky changed tactics and began bottom bouncing through the deep trough at the head of the run, and was rewarded when a strong fish hit his hoochie. Unfortunately, his outcome was the same as mine - his line went slack and the fish was gone. Having worked through this run quite hard, we set out towards a few other pools, with a renewed sense of enthusiasm at the prospect of seeing more fresh fish.

Wanting to gain some experience on the oars, I had volunteered to row the Clackacraft, and it was a relaxing way to see the river as Sky fished through its many pockets. Coming around a sharp corner, we saw a run that looked picture perfect for holding Chinook: a long riffle dumped into its head, creating a deep slot near the top, followed by a smooth uniform flow through to the tailout. Perhaps more importantly, there was a particularly fast section of water below the run, and fish would have to rest after passing through it, giving us a good chance at connecting with any migrating Salmon. I had just released the anchor when we both saw it - a large fish roll on the surface half way down the pool. Hands shaking, I unhooked my spoon and Sky gave me the opportunity to fish through the run first. The cast and slight wobble of the retrieve was intoxicating, as at any time through the swing, a huge Chinook could be following or ready to pounce on the spoon. Before I'd had a chance to work through the whole stretch, I heard Sky holler "here's one!" He had fished in behind me, again with a bottom bouncing rig, and this slower, more subtle presentation seemed to be key. But, just as the fight started quickly, it also ended quickly. It was shaping up to be a repeat of last year's trip, where we hooked a number of fish but only landed a fraction of them.

I didn't even get my spoon back in the water before Sky was already into another fish, and this time the hook held. After clambering back to the drift boat over several logs to retrieve my camera, I managed to snap a few photos of Sky fighting the fish. Being up on a high bank also allowed me to have a higher vantage point to see the fight play out, so when the fish rolled on its side and revealed its true extent, I got excited. It was easily a 40 lb fish, and Sky knew it as well. From this point on, it was tense, as we both wanted to land this fish badly. Unfortunately, in our haste to get to the river early, we had inadvertently forgotten to bring a landing net, so we had to improvise. There was a beach right below where I was standing and, given the nasty logjams below, seemed like the best place to land the fish. After several episodes of Sky bringing the fish in and it making a few last runs, I managed to tail the fish near the beach. Exhausted, but excited, Sky noticed the hook fall out right away and admired the fish for a few moments, as I furiously shot some photos. As we saw it swim away in the shallows, we both couldn't help but be amazed at how thick the fish was across the back. It wasn't until we started back at the top of the run, however, that we realized just how lucky we were in landing the fish. Sky checked his hook to make sure it was still sharp, only to find that the hook point and half the bend was broken off! Looking back, he figured that the first fish either broke the hook or came off because of the hook bend. So, the fact that he landed a 40 lb Chinook on half a hook, after an intense 15 minute battle is incredible and definitely unlikely! I'll chalk that one up to the horseshoe that Sky seems to have surrounding him, and will add this to the growing number of interesting "Sky stories..."

If this wasn't memorable enough, my day got even better after this. You see, I've been determined to at least hook a Chinook on a fly or Spey rod, and given that we'd seen two fish hooked and three others roll on the surface, figured that this would be as good a chance as any to target Chinook with a fly. Using a large fly known to a select few clients as the "Black Rainbow," I worked through the top of the run, quartering my casts slightly upstream, and allowed my fly to swing through the deep pocket in front of me. As I worked downstream, I could feel my sink tip touch the bottom every once in awhile, so I knew that the fly was where it needed to be. With the smooth, more "fly-friendly" water in front of me, I swung my fly towards the shore closest to me, and just like the first fish I'd hooked on the spoon, my fly and line stopped dead in the water. Pinching the running line down on the cork, I anchored my line firmly and set the hook, fully expecting chaos afterwards. Just as I expected, this was the case. Somehow, my running line had found its way around the back of my head, and with a fresh Chinook in front of me, I knew it was only going to be a matter of time before the line tightened! Scrambling like a mad man, I knocked my hat in the water, fumbled with my jacket and fleece, and finally managed to free my line before the Chinook went on a 60 foot run. I was in my element, and Sky seemed to be just as excited as I was at seeing a Chinook on the fly. Without getting into too many details, the fish, like most Chinook, fought well and admirably so until Sky had it tailed on the beach. It wasn't quite as big as Sky's (which I was somewhat thankful for later on, as I didn't want to lose my fly line!), but the 20 lb Chinook in front of me was chrome, fresh, and still bearing sea lice, and one of the nicest fish I've ever seen. You have to appreciate it when something like this comes together, and I realized just how lucky I was.

As if this weren't enough, there was more to come. Sky landed another huge fish in the 40-42 lb range, which fought even harder than his first, and lost another that could have possibly been 50 lbs. I'll save these stories for another time sure to check out next week's report!

All in all, it was a tough day to beat. We hooked into some absolutely gorgeous Chinook, the biggest I've seen yet, but we wouldn't have done so unless we were attentive to the conditions, and able to adapt our fishing techniques to each pool. With the low, clear water, the Chinook weren't willing to hit spoons in the "glory pool," but readily attacked a hoochie bounced slowly off the bottom. This just goes to show that having a willingness to change your tactics if necessary is, in effect, the hallmark of a good fisherman. You learn something new every day on the water if you pay close enough attention, and when you fish with some of our great guides like Sky, the learning curve seems to be that much shorter...

Until next week, tight lines and screaming reels...

Chad Black
Operations Manager
(250) 635-5295

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Fly Fishing for Giant Chinook

Fly fishing for giant Chinook on the Skeena River and its tributaries is, simply, a fun sport. Like most other forms of fishing, you have to know your quarry well, where they swim, some of their behavioural tendencies, and of course have the right tackle to pursue them. Guide Jeff Langley (pictured above) and I recently spent an afternoon targeting these fish, and though they were, for the most part, elusive, Jeff did manage to tangle with one briefly for a few moments before the giant Chinook was able to spit the fly. Today I wanted to take a few moments to describe my choice of tackle and tactics for fly fishing for Chinook in the Lower Skeena region.

To start off with, I used a 9143 Burkheimer Spey Rod that was wrapped by Martin Walker of Wind River Fly Rods. This rod is extremely powerful and has the necessary backbone to cast heavy lines and large flies, and subdue all but the largest Chinook. As with Steelhead fly fishing, my favourite reel is an Islander FR4, which has the capacity to hold 250 yards of backing, plus long, thick Spey lines. Though in most conditions I prefer longer belly lines such as mid-Speys, the Airflo Northwest Skagit was ideal for casting the 4 and 5 inch flies to Chinook. Depending on the water depth and speed, I favoured using lead core sink tips in lengths of 7.5 to 12.5 ft, from the Nicholas Dean Descension Sink Tip System. Having different lengths of lead core enabled me to adjust the drift of my fly to ensure that I was consistently in the Chinook strike zone, but always just off the bottom. Maxima ultragreen, in 15 or 20 lb test was my preferred tippet.

Chinook flies can take on several different forms, but one thing tends to remain: the flies are usually, large, very colourful and have lots of flash. If you were to take a look at my fly box below, in particular, you would see flies ranging from 3 to 6 inches, and the majority of these would be chartreuse, orange, blue, pink, purple, black, or some combination of each. The materials making up these flies are predominantly marabou and flash, which move a lot in the water and tend to work better than more rigid flies.

For determining the best holding water, look for a stretch of long, fast pocket water that is followed by a smoother, slower moving run. Like all migratory species, Chinook rest after negotiating a rough section of water, and it is in these slower pools and runs that they are most susceptible to flies. Within these slower runs, look for an inside seam which is slower than the main current. Indeed, when Jeff and I first arrived at a similar run, we saw a fish porpoise right away on the current seam, indicating that there were at least a few fish around. Just be sure that when you hook into one of these giant Chinook, you aren't afraid of sprinting a long ways down a bar...

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Nicholas Dean Lodge Promotions

Chinook Salmon have long been called the "King" of Salmon, and for very good reason. These fish are the largest of the Pacific Salmonids, and can reach weights of 100 lbs or more. Science has shown that the largest of these species, for some unknown reason, spend an extra year in the Ocean, giving them more time to feed and grow. The Skeena River, in particular, is blessed with a robust run of these large multi year fish and, as a result, can provide some of the very best Chinook fishing in the world. And, because these massive fish are concentrated in the margins of the river, you have a better chance of hooking into a trophy here than anywhere else. So if you've ever considered going on a trip for large, tackle busting fish, and you have some holiday time booked off this year in June or July, this is your opportunity. We are now offering a 5% discount off the regular main lodge package rates for the following weeks:

~ June 29 to July 5, 2008
~ July 6 to 12, 2008
~ July 13 to 19, 2008

These dates are set in the middle of our prime time Chinook fishing season, and we expect that the remaining spaces will fill up quickly. Contact me at the lodge at (250) 635-5295 or email me at to reserve your space today. For more information on our Trophy Chinook package, please click here.

Who knows, you could be the next angler in line to set one of the "Nicholas Dean Lodge 2008 Records," or, better yet, a world record...

Nicholas Dean Lodge Weekly Fishing Report - No. 476

Hello Anglers,

I'm happy to report that I can finally say, "hello from sunny Terrace, BC." It's been an unusually cool spring this year, so having several warm, sunny days in a row has been a definite plus. The delay in warmer weather has also had its own implications, however, as it appears that the early runs of Summer Chinook Salmon that typically appear in late May and early June are late in arriving. Over the weekend, and for several days this week, we had clients out fishing on the Skeena and Kitimat Rivers, and though a few fish were caught, it's been slow fishing for this time of year. The Skeena River still remains high even though its levels are dropping, and was borderline fishable last week. The the Kitimat was at the opposite end of the spectrum. Owing to its relatively small watershed when compared to the Skeena drainage, the Kitimat tends to rise and fall faster than the Skeena, so conditions between the two rivers are often quite different. Last week, the Kitimat was low, clean and dropping - not necessarily the best conditions for bringing fresh Chinook in from the Ocean. However, Ron Wakita of City Centre Hardware in Kitimat, has mentioned that there have been some higher than normal tides, which should bring more fresh fish into the rivers. Moreover, with all the rain forecast for the weekend, flows in the Kitimat will likely rise and bring with it a wave of fish waiting in the Douglas Channel harbour. And, as the season progresses, the Chinook run will continue to build, and provide more reliable fishing for anglers wanting to feel the headshakes of a heavy fish...

Over the last week, we've also had a few "celebrities" in our boats. Gionata Paolicchi, a renowned journalist and writer from Italy, as well as famous soccer player, Ighli Vanucchi, joined our friend and Italian booking agent, Stefano Gay, of Le Reve House Adventures (, for 4 days of fishing. Gionata has been an avid angler throughout his lifetime, and has written for several different magazines in Italy. Ighli is a famous midfielder and also team captain for Empoli, and fishing just so happens to be his favourite pastime when not training or playing soccer. Both anglers were successful in hooking into Chinook last week on the Ocean and in the Kitimat. After a slow first day of fishing on the Skeena, we arranged for them to fish with guide Wes Owen aboard his boat in Douglas Channel, and Ighli started the day off right by landing a 28 lb chrome Chinook. Not long after, Gionata followed up with another Chinook around 20 lbs. When Chinook Salmon are bright and in good physical condition, they are renowned for their fight whether it is in the Ocean, or the river, and this day was no exception. When I picked up Gionata, Ighli, Stefano and group in Kitimat, you could tell that they felt a little more rejuvenated after having a successful day on the Ocean, and tying into Chinook for which the northwest is well known for.

On a different note, you never really know what a day of fishing can bring, whether it's the number of fish caught, or other rare, humourous expriences. After having dinner one night, I asked Stefano if the group had had a chance to take some good photos. In response, Gionata picked up his laptop and we started going through several of the photos. There were some great pictures of fish and of the group, scenic river shots, and panoramas, but there were a few pictures of a bald eagle that caught my eye. Earlier that day on the Kitimat, one of the guests had been fishing a spoon, and a small trout had been hooked. Without warning, this particular bald eagle swooped down to the river's edge and scooped up the trout in its talons and flew off. Well, it's not every day that you see this happen, but it's even more rare to actually see your line flying through the air! With the hook from the spoon still embedded in the trout's mouth, it was a precarious situation, as you certainly didn't want the hook to come out of the fish and into the eagle. So, Sky decided to take action, and I will always have the picture that followed etched into my mind. On a large gravel bar, Sky is holding a stout Chinook spinning rod, which is bent quite heavily down to the cork, and at the other end of the photo, a large eagle is flying desperately in the opposite direction, trying to get away from the force that is pulling on its prized catch. Luckily, for both the eagle and Sky and the guests, the eagle dropped the fish and wasn't hooked. I guess you never really know what to expect on a day of fishing...

If you are interested in receiving the Nicholas Dean Lodge Weekly Fishing Report directly, you can sign up by clicking here.

Until next week, tight lines and screaming reels.

Chad Black
Operations Manager
Nicholas Dean Lodge
(250) 635-5295

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Introduction to Nicholas Dean Lodge in the Lower Skeena Region

Welcome to the Nicholas Dean Lodge blog site! Here, you will find a wealth of information pertaining to the world record Salmon and Steelhead of the Lower Skeena Region near Terrace, British Columbia. Weekly fishing reports, high quality pictures of Salmon and Steelhead, and conservation issues will be just a few of the many features of this blog.

Nicholas Dean Lodge is focused on providing expert guiding services on the Skeena River and its tributaries, including the Copper River, Kalum River, Kitimat River, and other remote coastal rivers. Whether your fishing preference is for Steelhead fly fishing or Salmon conventional fishing, or anything in between, you will likely find this blog to be a good source of topical information for the Lower Skeena watershed. Be sure to check back frequently!

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Blogging for the Lower Skeena begins

Nicholas Dean Lodge introduce 'blogging for Steelheaders' to the Lower Skeena Region, the last best place for steelhead