Fishing the Dean River, BC
The Dean River's reputation is that of a
fly-tosser's haven. Most of the early fishers
chucked other gear, but from the earliest days
of discovery some faithful to their sport fly-fished.
Over the past four decades, fly-fishing became the
way to catch the Dean's trout and steelhead. It is
now a fly-fisher's haven and a river that produces
ever-lasting fly-fishing memories.
By Art Lingren
I have journeyed to the Dean every season since
my first in 1983 and can tell many stories about
the river, its fish and the fly-fishers. However,
some of the most exciting adventures are those
experienced by first-timers to the Dean.
I had seen his colourful fish paintings and then
met Loucas Raptis at the British Columbia Federation
of Fly Fishers convention in Kamloops in May, 2000.
When one of the fellows in my Totem Flyfisher's Dean
River group canceled, I called Loucas in Victoria
and asked if he would be interested in replacing
our dropout. As soon as I made the offer I detected
excitement in his voice, but he had to clear things
with his wife and work. The next day he called me
saying "yes, he could go" and through the next month
or so we exchanged e-mails. Loucas arrived on the Dean
with everything brand-newórod, reel, line, waders,
wading boots, vest and rain jacket. He spent a
fortune on new equipment. Although he was an avid
and accomplished trout fly-fisher, he had never
caught a steelhead on the fly. The steelhead runs
on his home rivers on Vancouver Island had diminished
to such an extent that Loucas felt guilty casting
a line to them. Evident through his artwork talking
with him, his passion for the sport and the fish
runs deep indeed.
The Dean is a good steelhead producer but catching
steelhead requires effort, albeit pleasant, it is
still work. The first day all the group except
Loucas managed to land a steelhead, but he had
learned some of the basics and some of the waters
Enthusiasm is a grand asset and on the afternoon
of the next day Loucas wandered off by himself.
When he returned from the Victoria Run, Peter
Broomhall asked, "Did you catch a fish and do
you have a story for us?" Not one to gloat or
brag, Loucas said as modestly as he could but
with great pride, "Yes, I caught a 31-inch female
on a Black GP from the Victoria Run." There are
many things to learn and experience when fly-fishing
for steelhead and Loucas learned quickly. I remember
the day he came back from the Cottonwood Run mumbling
something about violent fish. Steelhead can take a
fly softly, sometimes the fly just stops and at first
you think it's snagged bottom until it moves. Then
there are some fish that see the fly coming, charge
and grab it on the run, often with disastrous results.
Loucas had just experienced his first violent attack.
Visibly shaken by the experience, he didn't get that
A steelhead river constantly changes and we had
some rain that brought up the river, colouring
it. A large bulky fly is often necessary in
coloured water and Loucas had few so he put
something together, a mongrel of a fly owing
its origins to my Marabou Black GP and a Black
Bunny Leech. Called the Dean River Cuss, a name
derived from Peter Broomhall's "good natured cuss"
expression repeated throughout Pete's storytelling.
The new pattern worked well indeed for Loucas and
Rob. Rob Williams took the largest of the trip, a
38 1/2-inch fish from the Camp Run on one of Loucas'
The days passed and Loucas connected with other
fish. But some days not much moved through the
river and you can work all day for a strike or
two. Some days you draw blanks and Loucas
experienced some blank days. Due to leave the
next day, Loucas managed to hook five steelhead
on Friday and landed a 34-inch male, his largest
ever steelhead on the fly and the largest on any
gear type. When we tallied the scores for the trip
Loucas had hooked 18 steelhead, unfortunately he
managed to land only four. But engraved in Loucas'
mind are many rewarding memories from the famous
Dean River and its magnificent summer-run steelhead.
~ Art Lingren
Credits: From Famous British Columbia
Fly-Fishing Waters, published by Frank Amato
Publications. We appreciate use permission.
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