Kings and Steel on British Columbia’s Dean River

Several years ago, after trying for about 10 years, I got an invitation to fish British Columbia’s Dean River, and I took advantage of that opportunity—I had 16 steelhead to the beach by day four and ended up wit Several years ago, after trying for about 10 years, I got an invitation to fish British Columbia’s Dean River, and I took advantage of that opportunity—I had 16 steelhead to the beach by day four and ended up with 21 for the week. I’d set a goal to catch one and would have been happy if that was the way it had worked out.
That was some of the best steelheading I’ve ever enjoyed, of course, but that wasn’t what completely set the trip apart. Instead, it was the people who I shared camp with (BC West), those being George Cook, Andrew Bennett, Jeff Watt, Michael White, and Gary Berenson. We laughed and joked and celebrated each fish as it should be, a little miracle delivered by the sea.
We had our struggles, we had our victories, we had our laughs. We spent time debating various topics, including the merits of certain flies and fish, and we closed each night at BC West concocting our favorite drinks. We caught a bunch of fish under the surface swinging with sink-tips, but I was able to roll two fish on top chasing skaters. I like the tight line tug as much as anyone, but seeing, essentially, a 20-pound rainbow trying to capture a dry fly was one of my best life experiences.
Over time, I’ve been to quite a few choice angling locals and the Dean ranks with any of them. In fact, it may be the most enjoyable lodge-based trip I’ve ever taken. I’m not alone: the Dean is in demand, like most large steelhead rivers these days, and getting a slot during the short summer season is difficult. That’s why I figured I’d never get back to the “Promised Land.” But as I write this I’m sitting in the Sea-Tac airport, watching the talent waltz by, while typing these words. Tonight I’ll be in Vancouver. Tomorrow Bella Coola. And then, on Saturday the unexpected happens—I get another week-long shot at the Dean.

I’ll try to post about the trip, via Instagram and AT, but wi-fi is iffy at this remote camp. Still, check out the site and my Insta handle #anglerstonic for the next few days. Word is there are a few kings and steelhead in the river right now, with a bit of rain arriving today and tomorrow. Does the big push swim in, just in time for my arrival? Fingers crossed. No matter what, I hold the same goal as last time: I’d like to catch one steelhead and one king. Any more than that is real bonus. —GT

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