Early Season Skeena with Lani Waller

Sage Fly Fishing - Lani Waller - Steelhead

It is one of those years on the Skeena, a season when all the dominoes line up in a perfect row. According to my reports, the first domino – that of the commercial salmon fishery’s interception of wild Skeena steelhead was “in place.” In other words, the commercial fishing season was relatively short this year. A short netting season always increases the escapement of wild Skeena system steelhead- on all the major rivers.

In addition, Skeena tributaries have been low and clear, and this fall season has been relatively dry without excessive rain which raises water levels and scatters the fish up and down river.

The Babine River has perhaps been best of all. It all depends upon who you talk to, like anglers everywhere, most Skeena steelhead anglers have a favorite river.

As far as the Babine is concerned, Silver Hilton guests fishing on the “lower” Babine got off to an incredible start as evidenced by these photos from Chuck Rund of Grants Pass, Oregon. Chuck is a long time friend and superb steelheader who knows a good thing when he sees one. Chuck fishes at Silver Hilton during our first week of the season: September 3-10.

The early fishing on the Babine can be spectacular with floating line and skating dry flies. Temperatures on the Babine this time of the year usually average around 50 to 55 degrees Fahrenheit.

If the river is clear almost all of these early fish are “looking up” toward the surface and rise easily and frequently to a dry fly pattern- something you cannot count on later in the year when water temperatures drop to the mid 30’s. They will still lift to a dry in low water temperatures, but not with the aggressive response of early fish. Nor will the later fish return over and over to a dry before they take it.

Chuck fished most of the week with two rods- the Sage TCX 11’9’ 7 wt, and a Sage 11’ 7 wt “Switch Rod.” These two rods are light in the hand, powerful and smooth, although beginners would be better served with longer rods, as the longer ones are more forgiving when you are first learning.

Over the past five years, I have seen however, a real movement among experienced anglers from longer to shorter rods. Shorter rods are more fun, lighter and less fatiguing over a long day of repetitive casting and searching the long runs and pools of the Skeena system. I’ve always felt that a fly rod is two things at once: a lever and a spring. Your wrist is the fulcrum and the longer the rod the more pressure the “lever” puts on your wrist. You can”soften” this pressure with under handed casting style if you are using a two handed rod, but in my opinion, it is still more tiring with a longer fourteen to fifteen foot rod.

Like most experienced Skeena steelheaders, Chuck uses the RIO Skagit lines (320 grains on these two rods) and a poly leader. These lines fish all fly sizes, shapes, including bulky dressings, with ease and comfort- the flies turn over extremely well, even when used with long leaders and floating patterns.

Chuck took fifteen steelhead and fourteen were on a dry fly. Chuck’s choice of dry flies centered around a Black Pom Skater, and a Tan Pom Skater.

For information and future booking possibilities at Silver Hilton Lodge, contact me the following email address:

Lani Waller
Executive Vice President
Silver Hilton Steelhead Lodge
laniwaller@gmail.com

Sage Fly Fishing - Lani Waller - Steelhead

Sage Fly Fishing - Lani Waller - Steelhead

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