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Skeena - Biggest and Meanest Steelheads In The World | Salmon Junkies

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Skeena. It is a powerful and evocative word. To the indigenous peoples of British Columbia’s north coast region it is the “River of Mists.” To fly fishers around the globe it is a dream destination offering nearly boundless opportunity to pursue what are among the largest sea-run fish on the planet.

While the river’s 100-pound chinook salmon may be its biggest, the most desired and iconic Skeena fish is the steelhead. The 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 year-long run and the fly fisher has an opportunity to connect with what are often the largest steelhead of the year.

Large Steelhead

At Salmon Junkies we think outside of the box. We have developed salmon programs that are among the best in the world today. In that tradition we are tailoring one of the most awesome steelhead programs on the market. We are very excited to announce that in 2015 we have secured full exclusivity for the European market. That means you will now be able to fish Skeena mainstem and select tributaries in a full 6-day package in company of some of the best and most hardcore Canadian steelhead guides available. Our guides will share their darkest “secrets” in pursuit of Skeena’s quick and powerful spring and fall steelhead.

River, Fish & Season

Spring Skeena Steelhead / Pioneer Lodge

In Skeena country, early spring typically offers the year’s most dependable conditions for tempting steelhead with a fly. During late March early April, as winter gives way to spring, precipitation falls as snow on the ridges and the rivers remain at winter height, flowing low and green in the valley bottoms and warming slowly with each lengthening day. The conditions are perfect for swinging big, swimming flies on sinking tip lines — and triggering the natural aggression of the Skeena’s legendary, super-sized steelhead.

Steelhead fishing

Beginning in summer and continuing through the ensuing seasons — leading to spawning in May — steelhead enter the Skeena system. In spring, the mainstem and lower valley tributaries host a bounty from this 10-month run. Pools can hold over-wintering fish with prominent red stripes and massive jaws alongside fish bright and fresh from the sea. On this trip, like no other, an angler can experience the full range of character of one of the world’s greatest game fish.

We’ll concentrate our efforts on the broad main channel Skeena in its lower reaches between the town of Terrace and tidewater, where steelhead hold surprisingly close to the river’s edge in shallow tailouts and riffles. Also on the program is one of the Skeena’s well-hidden and protected treasures. Commonly referred to as the Kalum, the mysterious Kitsumkalum River, fed by a 500-foot deep lake, courses furtively through the shadows of a densely forested valley to meet the Skeena just downstream of Terrace. Channelized by eons of constant flow and running heavy and deep over a large cobble substrate, the Kalum breeds its fish on a larger scale. The majority of the Skeena’s giant chinook — leviathans reaching 100 pounds — are Kalum fish. Similarly, the Kalum’s steelhead are built thick and strong.
Also in our focus will be the lower Zymoetz (Copper) River as well as a few other tributaries and small coastal rivers that may hold spring-run fish in this period. In all cases, the season again is our friend. 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.

Fall Skeena Steelhead / Pioneer Lodge

This is the season that has made the Skeena watershed famous. In fall, we fish a number of wild rivers, including the renowned Copper (Zymoetz), for huge, aggressive Steelhead. These are surface-oriented fish and can readily be taken with waking dry flies. Notable for 2015, the Kalum River’s run of large, late-fall steelhead is now available to guided fishing through the end of October. Our fall season books very fast; to ensure your spot, please contact us as soon as possible.

Fall in the Skeena Region offers arguably the finest fishing opportunities in the world for Trophy Steelhead. In this season, the Skeena’s Summer Steelhead have entered their home tributaries and the Fall-Run fish are pouring in strong and fresh from the sea. Skeena Steelhead are impressively large and 100% wild. They average 8 to 15 pounds, though 15 to 20-pound fish are not uncommon, and each year fish over 20 pounds are caught. Plus, there is always a chance at one over 30 pounds! In the fall season, any cast in the fabled waters of the Skeena Watershed has the potential to connect with a world record steelhead.

Dates: August 30 to October 31, 2015

Target rivers include: Skeena, Kalum, lower Copper, Upper Copper, lower Nass River tributaries for Steelhead and lower Skeena tributaries for Coho Salmon.

River access: depends on the river fished.  Skeena, Kalum, lower Skeena tributaries by jet boat, lower Copper by raft or hike in, Upper Copper by hike in or helictoper, lower Nass tributaries by hike in.

Accommodations: based out of Pioneer Fishing Lodge.

Why us?

Many people believe that Skeena watershed is easy accessible and easy-going to fish. However that is not the case if you want to get most out of a week. Many of the best rivers and spots are more or less impossible to access without a local guide, and the only way to get there is by power full jetboat and local knowledge. Lastly some of the most attractive rivers are licensed with limited access for only a small numbers of people. Salmon Junkies have access to all classified water plus a well selected numbers of coastal river. But perhaps and more important we have probably the best team of Steelheads guides, that will share there darkest secrets and lead you to the fish.


Dustin Kovacvich

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.


Chad Black

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.


Sky Richard

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.

photo kopi

Scott Young

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.


Steve McPhail

Having spent the better part of the last ten years guiding on the lower Skeena and Nass systems in northern BC, Steve is amongst the most qualified angling guides in the Terrace area.  He has spent countless hours perfecting his craft and his furry Labrador companion, Chloe, is never far behind. A gifted fly tier as well, if there’s a fish to be caught, Steve will know where and how to find it.

What to expect?

Besides having the hottest, strongest Steelhead around, there is so much to describe that is part of the total experience at the Skeena. We hope that we with our small film will give you a flavor of what to expect from this remarkable place.
Please watch our NEW Steelhead short movie from our trip and you can judge yourself.

Outfitter & Accommodations

For guiding and outfitting services in our steelhead program we have partnered with award-winning Nicholas Dean Outdoors. Based in Terrace and named Fly Fusion Magazine’s Canadian Lodge of the Year for 2012, NDO features a roster of guides whose knowledge of local rivers and fish are unrivaled in the area. Accordingly, NDO enjoys a well-earned, loyal following of spring steelhead anglers. We are confident you will find their work to be exemplary.

welcome fish

Accommodations are at Pioneer Fishing Lodge. Located just minutes west of Terrace, PFL is a comfortable log cabin lodge offering an authentic, uniquely Canadian experience including all the luxurious touches expected from a premier, world-class lodge. Overall hospitality, including delicious meals, provided by owners Jezz and Pip Crosby, is excellent.


Location: Terrace is the hub of the lower Skeena Valley, roughly 75 miles from the river’s mouth at Prince Rupert and 430 miles north of Vancouver — a short two-hour plane ride. Accommodations at Pioneer Fishing Lodge are situated just west of town, close to prime water on the Skeena mainstem, Kitsumkalum, and Zymoetz (Copper).

Target rivers: Skeena mainstem, upper and lower Kitsumkalum, lower Zymoetz (Copper)

Group size: 6 – 8 rods

Program dates: Arrival Saturday; fishing Sunday – Friday; departure Saturday

Included: 6 days guided fishing, 7 nights accommodations, all meals, airport pickup and dropoff

Not included: Airfare to Terrace, British Columbia; sport fishing license, including steelhead conservation surcharge and classified waters fees, if applicable; gratuities; alcoholic beverages.

Accommodations: Pioneer Fishing Lodge consists of several traditional log buildings. Guest cabins accommodate two persons comfortably with each guest enjoying a private bedroom and deluxe double bed. Each cabin has a shared bath with shower.

Single room avalible for extra costs please read our term and rates

Getting there: Many commercial airlines provide service to Vancouver airport (YVR). From Vancouver, guests can fly Air Canada Jazz or Hawk Air into the newly modernized airport in Terrace (YXT). Schedules and fares can be found at:

aircanada.comhawkair.ca and wesjet.com

Our new Skeena program offers an opportunity for the true Salmon Junkie to travel to the epicenter of the hardcore Steelhead Junkie’s world — one of fly fishing’s last frontiers. We at Salmon Junkies feel sure, with this new program, you will find inspiration and return home with memories you will cherish for many years to come.

Read More about our Skeena Program

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact us

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