At Deneki, we are lucky to have some incredible staff members in place that help make our lodges among the best in the world. Kara Knight is our BC West Operations Manager and a huge part of what makes the program so special. Kara took some time out of her busy schedule to sit down with us and go over her background and why the Dean River is why a bucket list destination. Get to know Kara below!
-Kara where are you from originally and how did you get involved in the fly fishing world? I’m originally from Calgary, AB and grew up camping, hiking & paddling in the Canadian Rockies. Although I remember catching my first fish as a child I wasn’t really into fishing until 2007 when I worked at King Pacific Lodge (KPL). While there I was exposed to ocean fishing and met a number of steelheading guides from BC who over time became my good friends. Without those friendships I doubt I would have gotten as involved in fly fishing as I have. Those people taught me everything, from casting to fly tying, and introduced me to the incredible steelheading rivers BC has to offer.
-How long have you been the Lodge Manager of BC West? One of the friends I met early on in my fishing days was Scott Baker-McGarva who, at the time, was the head guide at BC West. I had been fortunate enough to fish the Dean late in 2010, what turned out to be a banner fishing year particularly in the late summer – needless to say it blew my mind. In 2013 I learned from Scott that Deneki was looking for a new lodge manager at BC West, in my mind a once in a lifetime experience. My career path had led me from guiding sea-kayaking & heli-hiking at KPL to lodge management for Canadian Mountain Holidays, one of the largest heli-skiing companies in the world, so it seemed like a great next step….6 years later, here we are.
-Year after year, BC West is our first lodge to book up for the season and the hardest lodge to find open spots, what makes the program and the Dean River so special? Of course the most obvious reason is the fish – they’re incredible. The canyon combined with the proximity of where we fish in regards to the salt water means that when you hook into a Dean River steelhead you’re experiencing an absolute athlete of a fish that’s in its prime. The backdrop is spectacular too – huge peaks that rise right off the edge of the river and drop into the ocean a few minutes away from the lodge. But one of the most unique things about BC West is the fishing program – it’s the only lodge on the Dean permitted to fish both above and below the canyon. This allows our anglers to hook into hot, down river fish that are known for leaving the run, as well as to experience some of the most incredible dry fly steelhead fishing around. Many of our return guests say they also enjoy the partially un-guided program which gives them opportunity for both instructional fishing with a guide and time to put things into practice on their own. It’s pretty unique.
-What would you rather swing flies for, Dean River Steelhead or Chinook? Oh man, that’s a tough one – I’ll just say I’d rather be on the Dean early season so I could do both, hah! Steelhead are so much fun to fish for, I’ll never tire of them. There’s something incredibly raw about the power of a chinook though, especially on a fly rod when they’re fresh into the river – you want to make sure the boat is nearby!
-Rumor has it you can occasionally fish dry flies to Dean River Steelhead, is this true? Absolutely, the river above the canyon is well known for dry fly fishing through mid-late summer. The steelhead tend to slow down a bit more once they’ve made it up river and many of those runs lend themselves more to dry fly fishing.
-What is your favorite meal that the lodge cooks up? Being on the coast we have great local suppliers for fresh seafood – I’ll never say no to salmon!
-Any packing items you see consistently see guests of BC West forget to bring? First timers to the Dean are often surprised by how hot it can be there during the summer – we frequently see temperatures in the 85-95F (30-35C) range and even occasionally over 100F. Light, long sleeved shirts are essential to ward off the sun and keep the biting horse flies at bay.
-If you had a week to fish for yourself in the Bahamas or Alaska, which location are you picking? I’d have to say Alaska, AK West in particular. I’ve been to both Andros South and Rapids Camp lodge but have been unable to visit AK West due to the overlap of its season with BC West – I’d love to see the Kanektok and pull on some big Kings up there!
More from BC West: