Our second early spring week at Nicholas Dean started with fireworks. First-time guest (but long on big fish experience) Taft Ring scored a 20-pound plus fish (see marquee photo) with guide Greg Buck. Meanwhile, Skeena fixture and English gent Julian Smith joined the host on the cold and stark lower Skeena in a search for fresh fish. The wind was biting, but the fish, if present, were not.
Day two dawned to a picturesque dusting of fresh snow. Jules and the host fished the high bank of this often productive run to no avail. the day's second pool, however, proved...
more generous. Jules guides a strong steelhead toward shore and Greg, arms bared, prepares to brave the icy water for a tailing.
Speaking of the ladies, later in the day, the host contributed with a pretty doe taken from a deep, slow pool. A light tip and a downstream mend, coupled with a slow strip, kept the fly swinging and triggered an aggressive grab.
Mid-week the host had the pleasure of fishing with repeat-guest and renowned artist Lance Boen. Lance's leather fish sculptures are highly prized creations...If he was looking for inspiration, Lance found it in the form of a hard-pulling steelhead on the lower Kalum. The fish, taped at...
14-15 pounds, grabbed Lance's pink fly and gave a fair account of itself before tiring and rolling over in the shallows.
After a brief respite from his big fish early in the week, Taft was back in silver on day three. With Guide Sky Richard, he landed a clean female fish...
Then returned to the same pool that yielded his previous trophy for another buck steelhead. A slightly smaller cousin to his earlier fish, this one would go 16 pounds.
but the fates were not aligned with our wishes and the fish pulled free only a few minutes into the episode...Those same fickle fates were miles upriver smiling on Jeff Reinke. A long-standing Nicholas Dean guest, Jeff had diligently put in his casts each prior day. But not until the last afternoon...
did the payoff arrive. Well done, JR! A solid fish to ice the cake for two challenging, but rewarding weeks in the steelhead capital of the world.
A real highlight of the trip was the presence of writer and steelheading legend Lani Waller. With NDL's head guide Dustin Kovacvich, Lani prepares for a morning on the big Skeena.
The mighty river was running very low and clean and the soft morning fog filtered the light — great conditions for finding holding fish waiting to ascend their home tributaries. While this broad tailout set up perfectly and each slow swing promised a grab, our flies did not find a fish. Nonetheless, the day was magical in every other way.
Sadly, every trip has a final day, but this one was a beauty. The morning broke clear and crisp and Lani hooked a good fish in this tailout...
It was a full-colored buck in pre-spawn form. With it's elongated jaw and showy flanks it must've been very attractive to the ladies.
Lance was all smiles and respectfully handled the fish for a gentle release. Off it swam upriver...

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Thanks to Taft Ring for contributing photos to this report.