Dean River Steelhead Fishing
The Dean River in British Columbia is known for having strong, hard fighting steelhead that crush flies!
Imagine yourself sight fishing for fresh, lice covered steelhead. To fish the Dean is a privilege, and this outfitter is among the best. We’d love to help you set up this amazing fishing trip in British Columbia. The Dean River is known in the world of steelhead fishing for having the hottest, strongest fish around…. they’re fresh from the ocean and they CRUSH flies!
This is a unique fishing trip. You will be fully guided below the canyon, and self guided above.
It’s not for everybody, but if you’re experienced and want some time on your own from time to time, it’s probably just what the doctor ordered. There’s nothing quite like doing it on your own. Pick your water, read it right, fish it how you want to fish it, and land that fresh, beautiful steelhead.
You’ll want to fish the Dean River in the summer, it can be hit or miss otherwise.
You can go earlier, but if you really want to hit the peak for steelhead (and who doesn’t), fish in July or August. A bonus if you fish towards the end of August, is you might start picking up some Coho’s…. but you’re there for the steelhead.
You could be fishing within a mile and a half of the salt on the Dean River.
The Dean River is known in the world of steelhead fly fishing for having the hottest, strongest fish around…. they’re fresh from the ocean and they CRUSH flies!
- Fish the Lower Dean River – the mouth, 1 1/2 miles up to the Canyon.
- You can also fish the Upper Dean – from the Canyon up to 5 Mile.
- Most anglers use Spey rods, but a single-handed rod will be just fine.
- Remote! Travel from Bella Coola to our lodge on the Dean using a chartered helicopter.
- Not a trip for beginners, if you’ve never fished for steelhead or salmon before, ask us to recommend a different trip.
*Prices subject to change without notice, so lock your price in with a deposit asap.
Lodging and Accommodations
You’ll be staying in a comfortable cabin with a wood stove, and there is a clubhouse for relaxing after a hard day of fighting fish. There is a drying room where you can hang your gear to dry out, and the hot shower is to die for.
Meals…. well, they’re amazing.
The Guides and Equipment
The guides are top-notch, knowledgeable, and professional. When it comes down to it, they arrived at the Dean for the same reason as you…. to experience some of the best steelhead fishing in the world.
Boats and vehicles are in great shape and you won’t have any problems getting to the fishing. Most guests bring their own gear, but there is a good supply of flies, leaders and tips, as well as loaner waders, wading boots, rods and reels at the lodge.
You will either fly or drive to Vancouver, British Columbia where you will jump on a Pacific Coastal Airlines flight to Bella Coola, BC. Once you hit the ground there, travel to the lodge on the Dean using a chartered helicopter. The helicopter flight is included in the price of your trip.
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Suggested Gear List for Steelhead Fishing
Your guide should provide most fishing gear, but if you’d like to know how to outfit yourself for steelhead, this list should get you started.
Clothing and Accessories
- High-quality breathable waders in good condition, with repair kit
- High-quality breathable raincoat in good condition
- Stout, felt soled wading boots with good ankle support.
- Studded boots are optional but not needed.
- Long sleeved shirt
- Lightweight and fleece long underwear
- Fleece sweater or jacket
- Casual clothing for wearing around the lodge
- Insect repellent
- Waterproof boat bag
- Water bottle
- Liquor (if desired).
- Beer and wine are provided at the lodge.
- Books or games
- Polarized sun glasses, multiple pairs if possible
- Double handed rods in 12 to 14 feet for 7 to 9 weight.
- Single handed rods in 9 to 10 feet for 7 to 9 weight.
- Reels – Sturdy, quality reels with strong disk drags are the rule for steelhead. Expect to see your backing during the week. Tie your knots well and wind on a lot of backing – we recommend at least 100 yards. Large arbor reels are very helpful when retrieving line.
- Line with interchangeable tip system – Rio Skagit or similar and Windcutter recommended for double handed rods. Spare lines are recommended.
- Sink Tips covering a wide range of depth, from intermediate thru Type 6 and 8 and 20’+ of T-14, or equivalent.
- For single handers, floating lines, intermediates 200 & 300 grain shooting heads and/or tips.
- Leaders – For steelhead, a straight leader or a leader terminating in 10 to 15 pound monofilament is most often used. Poly leaders can be helpful.
- Floating line or Floating Tip.
- All running lines and backing should be at least 30-lb test.
- Large arbor, disc drag reels with minimum 150 yards 30-lb backing.
- Leader material in 10 – 25 pound break strength. Maxima Ultragreen is most popular.
Specific Gear for Steelhead fishing on the Dean River
Lines – Since we fish tips and relatively large flies most of the time for kings and steelhead, Skagitstyle line systems are our recommendation and the choice of the vast majority of our guests.
- Any of a variety of modern popular floating lines may be used when fishing a dry line for steelhead. For steelhead, T14 in lengths from 7 to 15 feet may be used, as well as standard 15-foot tips from type 3 to type 8.
- For king salmon, heavy tips are most effective given relatively high, fast water. 15 feet of T-14 is the ‘go-to’ tip, with lengths ranging from 10 to 20 feet.
Flies – Although most of our guests enjoy tying and/or selecting their own flies for their trip, we do have a limited selection of flies available for your use as well.
*Small, buggy Deschutes/Rogue patterns do not work well; look for the following larger attractor steelhead patterns: Tube-flies or “trailing hook” style – pink & orange, black & blue, black & chartreuse. Bright or contrasting combinations are best, in lengths of 2 to 4 inches. Flash is always good!! Popsicle & Egg-Sucking Leech (cone-head/lead-eyed) – 1/0 Any traditional patterns that you enjoy fishing A few skating dries such as Waller Wakers or Bombers – size 4.
- Flies for king salmon include large profile articulated and strung flies in a variety of color combinations. Marabou, rabbit fur and hair can all create the large, lifelike silhouette that Dean kings prefer. Hooks range from size 2 to 1/0, and octopus-style hooks are particularly effective.
- Guests targeting steelhead fish a selection of larger strung or tube flies in colors like black and blue, purple, and any combination of orange, pink and white. Larger flies may be over 3” long. Popular patterns include variations of the Skagit Minnow and Temple Dog-style tube flies.
- To cover all possible conditions it’s helpful to bring some smaller, more traditional patterns like the Dean River Lantern or the Green Butt Skunk in sizes from 2 to 6, as well as a selection of dry flies.