No, this fish has not been through photoshop! Randy Marshall hooked and landed this monster Chinook Salmon on the Skeena in mid July this year with the help of Nicholas Dean guide, Greg Buck. The fish was esimated to weigh 70 lbs. Nelson Furtado Photo ___________________________________________________________
For the die hard angler who likes to pursue his or her addiction, this winter has not been a good one. For most of December, a cold snap where temperatures reached lows of -25 C was commonplace, making skating and ice hockey a much better and more successful pursuit than river fishing. January snowstorms blanketed Terrace in several feet of snow on numerous occasions and even getting to the river has been a difficult proposition! This is not to say that ice fishing isn't an option - it is, and I've heard some good reports of Cutthroat being caught - but my personal preference would be for catching up on some much needed fly tying to fill the holes in my fly boxes, and dream of days to come where I can launch a long cast over favourite pools, and anticipate the excitement of the grab.
It's also a time for us to reflect back on the fishing we had in 2008, and look forward to the 2009 season. Actually, when sitting down to weigh through my options for a photo for this week's report, I had a difficult time trying to decide which one to choose, owing to the great photos taken by our clients and guides. However, I finally decided to use a photo of Randy Marshall's (of Randy's River Guiding) giant Chinook that he landed in mid July with one of our guides, Greg Buck, for the simple fact that it's a massive fish. At 70 lbs, it's the biggest Chinook I've ever seen, and the story of how this fish was caught only makes it that much more impressive.
Back in the early Summer last year, water conditions were prime on the Skeena from late June all through the month of July during the typical peak Chinook fishing period, and Greg and his son Josh took advantage of this by being on the water nearly everyday. On this particular day, they had been backtrolling on the Skeena River near Terrace with some success, and Randy Marshall decided to join them around mid day. Instead of making their usual backtrolling runs down the river, they decided to back bounce slowly down the river, targeting the deep pools of the Skeena where Chinook like to hold. Having tried back bouncing last year with Dustin, I can say with all honesty that it takes a bit of getting used to, and that my ability to detect strikes needs a little work. Essentially, you attach a heavy lead weight (or lead substitute) to your line via a three way swivel, along with a big chunk of roe and a fluorescent coloured cheater, and you lift and drop this rig off the bottom as the current pushes you downriver. Takes can be very light, so you have to be very attentive - sometimes the only thing you'll feel is your line going slack on the way down.
After starting to back bounce down a favourite run on the Skeena, Randy hooked into what felt like a large fish. Large Chinook have a tendency to test the limits of even heavy action rods and level wind reels, and this fish was no exception. After several large head shakes, the fish sounded and peeled off line as it used the flow of the Skeena to its advantage. To give them the best chance of landing this fish, Greg expertly manoeuvred the boat downriver, following the fish, until he was able to find a good location on shore to get out. Once there, Randy was able to apply enough pressure to tire the fish and work him into the shallows. With what I'm sure was a triumphant moment, Greg netted the fish in one scoop before the fish had a chance to head back to the middle of the river. Afterwards, Greg told me that the fish was so large it was difficult to fit in the net! As they set about taking a few photos of the fish prior to its release, they realized that they were even more fortunate to have landed this fish after inspecting the mouth. Apparently, a large, silver hook was still imbedded in its giant mouth, likely a remnant of a Commercial Salmon fisherman's lines, and caught within the eye of this hook, was Randy's 4/0 Gamakatsu! Now, when you sit down and think of the odds of catching a fish this size, this feat almost defies logic. I mean, what are the chances that after a Chinook made a move for your bait, that you were able to catch the eye of another hook - and have this hook stay in place? I'm sure that Greg, Randy, and Nelson Furtado (the photographer) will not forget this fish anytime soon...
On the heels of a great Chinook season in 2008, we expect the 2009 season to be a fantastic one as well. Whether you prefer to back troll down the mighty Skeena (or back bounce!), or casting spoons on the Kitimat, you can be sure that some of the largest Chinook in the world will be ascending our rivers. Of course, if you're a fly angler looking to hook into these great game fish on the fly, we do have several options for you as well, including fishing on a remote, intimate wilderness river that holds fish up to 70 lbs. To find out more about our Trophy Chinook and Fly Fishing packages, as well as many others, please visit our Pricing and Packages page on our website, at http://www.nicholasdean.com/Pricing.asp.
Until next week, tight lines and screaming reels...
Nicholas Dean Lodge