Charles St. Pierre is a good friend of Deneki Outdoors. He’s not only one of our spey instructors during our king salmon season at Alaska West – he’s passionate about anadromous fish and the rivers they swim in, and he’s one of those guys who understands that fishing is about a lot more than just fish.
Charles visited us at BC West on the Dean River this past summer, and has written a great piece for us about the river and its surroundings…and there’s even an actual ‘fish story’ thrown in for good measure. We’ll be running Charles’ writeup in 3 pieces over the next 3 weeks, and we think you’ll like it.
With that, we present Dreaming of the Dean – Part 1, by Charles St. Pierre.
You don’t have to spend much time within the steelhead fly fishing circles of the Pacific Northwest, British Columbia, and the known universe, before its name is dropped rightfully from the sky above and all ears tune in. Legendary rivers like the Skagit, Deschutes, Thompson, and Kispiox have much deserved reputations, both past and present, for good reason; archetypal steelhead fisheries and glorious holding water surrounded by rugged and beautiful landscapes. But within the same steelhead circles one river alone represents the best of all that encompasses what a steelhead fishery can and should be.
It is the Dean River and it is the “Valhalla” of steelhead fishing for the entire planet. Dreamed up, created, and guarded by the higher powers of the known and unknown universe, it is rugged, it is remote, it is eye-wateringly beautiful, and its steelhead are revered and reputed to be the strongest of the species to swim, anywhere. So when Andrew Bennett, president and “recently hooked steelhead junkie” of Deneki Outdoors, asked me to travel with him to visit BC West the second week of August there was only one answer I could give him. “Well, I’ve got two solid weeks of work scheduled, four ongoing home improvement projects to finish before the end of the summer, and the differential of my truck sounds like a medium size bag of broken marbles, shaken not stirred.” Extremely short pause lasting an entire millisecond, “OK, I’m in.” Christmas in July is without a doubt my favorite holiday.
I’ve been very fortunate to have visited the Dean before. Floating and camping the upper river (Zones 4 and 5) in mid and late September is adventurous, uncrowded, and can be very rewarding if conditions cooperate. Floating lines, classic flies, including riffled dries, and other low water techniques are what make this time of year in steelhead country the experience it is. This is the “magic time.” But truthfully my previous fishing experience this far up-river in late September has not lived up to my expectations, or the reputation, of what a Dean River steelhead should look and act like.
I’ve never fished the lower river before, specifically Zone 1 and the water almost immediately above the canyon known as Zone 2 where in late July and August, BC West anglers concentrate their efforts, and I’m told is where I’m going to find what I’m looking for – the fish that define and distinguish this river from any other. My previous impressions of these fish was about to change – dramatically.
…To Be Continued.