Steelhead, Summer Steelhead
Destination Type
Fishing Style
Spey, Wading
June - August
Fishing Days
Why We Go
  • Fish for the brightest and hardest fighting steelhead in the world
  • Experience the only lodge that fishes above and beneath the falls of the Dean
  • Take in the breathtaking wilderness scenery of this sought-after Class One, BC river
  • Fish the best times of day with a split day schedule
  • Enjoy fully guided jetboat fishing beneath the falls and self-guided fishing above the falls

For those who have not had the good fortune to fish for steelhead on British Columbia’s Dean River, others’ tales of personal exploits can become overbearing. Stories of hard takes, hissing bellies of line, wild leaps, and the relentless runs of these “super” steelhead are admittedly hard to compete with, especially when compounded with a setting that is one of North America’s most impressive. Truly, the Dean River has defined the legend that is steelhead fly fishing in British Columbia.

Equally impressive is BC West Lodge’s willingness to go the extra mile and create a split-day fishing program where anglers fish from dawn to lunch, then return to camp for a gourmet meal and a siesta before heading out in the late afternoon to fish until dark. A fishery best-suited to experienced anglers, BC West’s guests fish half of their days guided below the falls via jet boat. The other half of the time they are self-guided above the falls using personal four wheelers for access to prime runs. By all standards, this is a rigorous and rewarding routine and an unparalleled fly fishing trip.

For the ultimate anadromous challenge, anglers may also want to consider the June king salmon fishery. Like their steelhead cohabitants, only larger, the Dean’s kings are widely considered some of the hardest fighting, and hardest to land, sea-run fish in the world. As BC West is a highly sought-after fly fishing lodge, spaces for both salmon and steelhead are extremely limited.

Fishing Program

It is widely accepted that the Dean is home to the hottest summer steelhead in the world. This is due to many factors including the force of the river itself, relatively warm water temperatures, and the exceptional brightness or freshness of the average fish. From June through September, fresh steelhead enter the system daily. Peak season is considered to be July and August and anglers fishing during that time can be assured they will be fishing over the freshest fish possible, for at no time will they ever be more than six miles from the salt. BC West fishes the lower river in a guided context (four anglers in a single jet boat being dropped at various runs) and the upper river is fished in an un-guided context with two guests sharing a side-by-side ATV for access. Typically anglers rotate between the upper and lower river each day. This program makes BC West a totally unique fly fishing lodge on the Dean River.

When fishing the upper river, anglers will share an ATV and travel 12.5 km each direction over rugged country. This roundtrip will be made twice each day for anglers fishing upriver as guests return to camp for lunch and a mid-day break. Helmets are required and provided. Bring along a pair of clear or yellow safety glasses for the evening ride back to help protect your eyes from bugs. A Buff is also nice for keeping dust and bugs at bay. Also note that you will need to bungee your rod case and day bag to the ATV. Once the upper river is reached, there are several catarafts that can be used to cross the river. Always exercise caution when wading and never jump in beneath other anglers when they are fishing a run. While dry line and dry fly fishing can be excellent, most anglers fish with sinking tips and shooting heads. Dean River fish are known for their willingness to move to a fly and range from eight to 25 pounds, with the average fish typically weighing in around ten to 12 pounds. Single, barbless hooks are required, and all steelhead must be released unharmed.


BC West is located in the woods on the right bank of the lower river and has four simple guest cabins. Anglers sleep either two or four per cabin and there is a large community cabin with a fireplace where drinks and the late-night meal is served. There is a nice shower house with two showers and sinks as well as an attached drying room for all wading gear, and two double outhouses. In the morning and evenings, the guests gather in the main lodge for meals.

The main formal sit-down meal is served at lunchtime in the main lodge and is accompanied by excellent wine. The late meal follows an international theme and multiple dishes are served buffet style in the clubhouse. The food at BC West is absolutely fabulous by any standards.


Friday: Arrive in Vancouver, BC, in the morning. Fly direct from Vancouver to Kimsquit Bay and transfer into the lodge (flight included in package).

Saturday – Thursday: Full days fishing with three days downstream of the falls and three days upstream (king weeks beneath the falls only).

Friday: Fly from Kimsquit Bay direct to Vancouver (flight included in package). Overnight in Vancouver this evening and depart for home on Saturday (hotel not included).

Typical Daily Schedule:

5:00 AM: Get up and enjoy hot coffee and tea in the dining room.

5:30 AM: Breakfast served in the dining room.

5:50 AM: Depart for fishing.

12:15-12:30 PM: Guests return to lodge.

1:00 PM: Lunch (largest meal of the day) is served in the dining room.

4:00-4:30 PM: Evening fishing resumes.

8:00-9:00 PM: Guests return to lodge.

9:00 PM: Appetizers and casual dinner are served in the Clubhouse.

10:30-11:00 PM: Generator is turned off.

Fly Water Q&A

Who is best suited to this destination? This destination is best suited to serious and somewhat self-sufficient anadromous anglers. Guests that like long hours on the water and appreciate a truly rigorous program with ATV driving, oar-powered river crossings and a strong self-guided element excel at BC West.

Where is the lodge? The lodge is located on the lower Dean River in coastal BC, roughly 50 KM north of Bella Coola.

How do I get there? To get to BC West, guests will fly to Vancouver BC in the evening and overnight. The following morning you will fly to Bella Coola from the south Terminal and overnight. The following morning guests will helicopter into camp and fish a full day upon arrival.

When should I go? Mid-June through late August.

How will I fish? All fishing is traditional down and across swing fishing, most often with Spey rods. Guests will fish four per guide on the lower river using a jet boat to move from spot to spot. Guests will fish unguided in pairs on the upper river and share an ATV for self-transport.

Is there wade fishing? Yes, all fishing will be done while wading.

Where will I fish? Guests will fish half of their time beneath the falls and half of their time above the falls. This is the only lodge that offers access to both sections.

How long does it take to reach the fishing grounds? On the guided lower river days, anglers will be fishing within minutes of getting in the jet boat. There are roughly two miles of water beneath the falls. On the up-river ATV days, anglers will drive in pairs roughly 11KM to where the primary runs are located. This trip takes about 25 minutes each direction. With a split day schedule, the anglers fishing up-river will make this somewhat physical trip up and back twice, coving a total distance of about 44 KM.

What type(s) of fish will I catch? June weeks focus primarily on king salmon. July and August weeks focus primarily on summer steelhead. In later August guests occasionally catch large silver salmon and on rare occasions some special, large, bright, late-season kings.

How many fish will I catch? The nature of swinging flies for any anadromous fish is that there is a lot of variation in catch rates. That said, we feel that guests should go into the trip with the expectation that hooking 1 – 1.5 fish per day is a great trip. These fish are particularly hard to land, so be prepared to have a lower than normal landing ratio.

Will I see other anglers? Yes. While the Dean is remote it is also busy and expect to see other anglers each day.

What are the guides like? The guides are all Canadian and they are full-time professionals. Guests will fish four per guide and as a result we consider this trip lightly guided. Guests will receive an orientation to the roads/trails of the upper river, but the guide staff accompany guests to the river nor discuss the runs due to provincial regulations.

What are the physical demands? The Dean is a powerful river with rather large rocks. We consider the wading difficulty to be in the 6-7 range out of 10. Guests must be able to get in and out of the jetboats safely and the ATV riding is a bit of a workout.

Are there any special skills required? The ability to Spey cast with sink tips is important as is a willingness to go significant periods between fish.

Does the lodge provide equipment? While all guests are strongly encouraged to bring all their own gear, there are flies available on site at no charge and a limited number of loaner outfits.

What is your favorite setup for the trip? In July and August, we recommend 7- to 8-weight Spey rods in the 12.5- to 14-foot range. June chinook fishing is time to break out the big sticks. 9- to 10-weight Spey rods are the norm in the 13- to 15-foot range. The first week of July a stout 8-weight is good all-around choice as your catch rate may be evenly split between kings and steelhead.

What are the top flies? Dean steelhead tend to be very aggressive towards flies making a wide range of patterns and colors highly effective. Tube flies and or flies with a trailing hook in the 2.5-3.5-inch range are great options. Bright colors like pink and orange are popular on the lower river and black and blue flies are popular on the upper river. Unweighted and lightly weighted flies are best. During king season larger tubes and intruder style flies that integrate chartreuse are popular.

What are the options if water conditions become challenging? On the Dean there are no alternative rivers/options.

What is a typical day like? BC West runs a rigorous split day schedule. Coffee is on at 5AM, and breakfast is served at 5:30AM. Anglers head out at 5:50AM, with four guests heading upriver in the 4x4 side by sides and four guests heading to the lower river via jetboat. Guests return at noon for the largest meal of the day and then an optional siesta. Guests will head back out to the river between 4 and 4:30PM and return to the lodge at 8PM. Heavy appetizers will be served in the Clubhouse at 9PM. The generator turns off at 10:30PM.

What is the general vibe, atmosphere, and style of the lodge? The lodge is very casual and friendly and built for serious anglers.

Is there an on-site owner, manager, or other point-person at the lodge? Yes, there is always a lodge manager on site.

Where do we eat, and what are the meals like? Hot breakfasts and impressive lunches are served in the main dining area. Lunch is the largest and most formal meal of the day and tends to be very thoughtfully prepared and paired with nice wines. Dinner is really a very hearty combination of delicious finger foods and appetizers served in the Clubhouse. This is a great gathering space and fun meal to enjoy with cocktails.

What is the alcohol policy? The lodge provides a complimentary supply of beer, soda, and mixers in the clubhouse refrigerator. Wine is served during the main meal of the day and is available at other times upon request. Guests may bring in their own alcohol.

Where do we stay, and what are the accommodations like? BC West has three cabins, two that sleep two anglers each and one that sleeps four anglers. There is a nice shower house with two showers and sinks as well as an attached drying room for all wading gear, and two double outhouses.

Is there internet and/or cell service? Cell phones do not work at the lodge. The lodge does have Wi-Fi that works best in the main lodge. The connection is spotty and not typically suitable for long downloads/video etc. There is a satellite phone/internet system at the lodge with limited bandwidth that can be used for a quick “check-in” back home on arrival, but then only for emergencies. Please expect to have only limited communication with the outside world via phone or computer.

Are there other activities? No

Are there any other expenses? On top of the package price guests are expected to pay for, fishing licenses and gratuities.

Do I need a visa? No

Are there any health concerns, dangers, or annoyances? While there are risks associated with wading rivers, using ATV’s, and jetboats, as well as helicopter transport to the lodge, they are all negligible. Mosquitoes and horseflies can be and issue and there are occasional grizzly bears.

Tell us about yourself and we'll reach out to plan the details of your trip