Spring Fishing for Steelhead – A Hidden Gem
Skeena is justifiably world-renowned for its summer and fall steelhead fishing. But perhaps the hidden gem in the region’s treasures is the spring fishery in the lower valley tributaries around the town of Terrace. Here, as the alders bud and ruffed grouse drum in the forest, fresh steelhead push into pools to join the nearly yearlong run and the fly fisher has an opportunity to connect with what are often the largest steelhead of the year.
The relatively low flows of late winter and early spring give the fly fisher access to classic runs, riffles and flat-water glides that are typically obscured by the higher, glacial flows of summer and fall. If you’re after the meanest, hottest, sea-lice covered, monster Steelhead — you’ll want to be on the Lower Skeena and
tributaries during this part of the season.
These awesome fish average 8 to 15 pounds, 20 pounds is not uncommon and a world record catch is not beyond imagination (in 2014 Salmon Junkies long term friend Franco Sirtori landed a Fresh Steelhead estimated to 29 – 30Lb). It’s typical for even average fish to go on unstoppable runs, leaping all the way. These ultrachrome rockets have left many an angler with shaking hands and wanting more.
Besides having the hottest, strongest Steelhead and Chinook in the world, there is so much more that defines the total fishing experience in this unique frontier – Jump on the “Skeena Wagon” and get a kick you never will forget.
Many people believe that the Skeena watershed is easily accessible and relatively easy to fish, but that is not true if you really want to get to the fish. Many of the best rivers and spots are impossible to access without a guide and special license, and the only way to get there is by powerful jet boats and local knowledge. Some of the most attractive rivers are licensed with limited access. Salmon Junkies has access to all classified water plus well-selected numbers of coastal rivers. Skeena river has become quite a popular destination for a growing group of international hardcore Spey Jedi´s, and even more so after we launched our short movies during the last years.
At a towering 6’6” and 300 lbs, Dustin Kovacvich – Nicholas Dean’s head guide extraordinaire – shares perhaps more similarities to that of Sasquatch lineage at first sight than he does the makings of a world class fishing guide. But, underneath his Bunyan-esque figure, Dustin is one of the most knowledgeable anglers you’re likely ever to encounter. His unrelenting desire in pursuing Steelhead, Salmon and trout in often remote, difficult to reach places has made him a pioneer in exploring some of the furthest reaches of the Skeena system and northwestern BC. He also possesses a rare ability to find fish in difficult conditions and is an outstanding caster. A devout outdoorsman, well read and spoken, Dustin is also an excellent teacher and his ability to elevate novice anglers to a higher level within a short period of time is exemplary. These skills and abilities make him the natural leader as head guide of the Nicholas Dean team.
Rock’n’Roll is the flavour that comes to mind when you talk and fish with Scott Young. From his long hair pulled back in a pony tail, to his brand new Thunder Jet guide boat – that he loves to drive at mach 10 – Scott is a bundle of energy which translates well into his drive to put clients on fish. Scott’s love of Steelhead and Salmon fishing is as conspicuous as a bull in a china shop. He moved to Terrace eight years ago to live in year-round Steelhead country and has a cabin on the banks of the Kalum River, on one of the river’s juiciest runs. Consequently, to say that Scott knows the Kalum, Skeena and its many tributaries well is an understatement. A superb caster and teacher, Scott is a veritable fish magnet and clients always come back to the lodge having enjoyed their day with him on the river.
The ‘man with the plan,’ Chad is the glue that keeps the Nicholas Dean guide team and operations running smoothly and efficiently in front of, and behind the scenes. His personable, likeable demeanor and focus on dedicated customer service is second to none in the industry. He’s also a very seasoned angler, guide and fly tier who can put clients on fish as well.
If you’ve ever hiked through the rugged northern BC wilderness with guide Sky Richard, you’ll come to realize that he’s part mountain goat, part river elf, part spey fishing jedi. He is a complete natural when it comes to navigating waters and leading clients to the best fishing around, whether by foot, raft or boat. Though quiet by nature, he is one of the most skilled anglers and guides you’ll meet, period. When he talks about fishing, you listen with both ears wide open. Sky literally grew up on the banks of the Skeena just upstream of Terrace and has spent so much time on the river he’s practically a fish. And, if you do happen to find yourself on the river bank with him, ask about his more harrowing river experiences – you’ll be entertained for hours
Kaid is a young, highly enthusiastic guide with a witty sense of humour, balanced with the knowledge and skill set to convert absolute casting newbies into fishing machines in a short period of time. If you plan to joke around with him, prepare to get it back in spades; this young man likes to throw down. As such, there’s rarely a dull day on the water with Kaid. A natural when it comes to reading water and knowing where fish live, Kaid brings a great deal of fishing mojo, focus and the highest of customer service to his job. Kateen, his canine companion, is one of the best fishing dogs we’ve ever come across and will keep you entertained when the fish don’t.