WEB BONUS: Running the Dean

  • By: Greg Thomas

THE APPEAL OF VISITING B.C. WEST isn’t all about fish. First, the country through which the Dean flows is spectacularly beautiful, rugged and host to mountain goats, grizzly bears, black bears, blacktail deer, wolves and wolverines. It’s only accessible by boat, plane or helicopter.

The mountaintops are mostly snow or glacier-capped (year round) and the slopes are a mix of dense giant western red cedars, Douglas fir, alder and spruce, broken by significant rock outcrops, bluffs and cliffs that, in many places, drop directly to the river. Lodging is modest, but quaint, meaning small cabins with running water and wood-burning stoves. Transportation to the water consists of two methods, which were assigned and rotated each day.

To fish between the falls and tidewater we took a pickup truck to the river and then climbed into a jetboat. A guide dropped us off on prime runs. To fish above the falls we strapped gear to quads and took off for a ride on old logging roads to various runs, where we were “self-guided.”

Each day there was a choice to fish through lunch or return to the lodge for big eats. And there was good reason to return. Lunches consisted of this: halibut osso bucco with broccolini and brie cream sauce; seared scallops and duck; braised lamb shank with coriander and tomato; pan-seared pork tenderloin with chipotle yam and potato gratin; baked maple lemon and sun-dried tomato salmon served with saffron risotto and shaved parmesan; prime rib with mashed potatoes, braised leeks, sugar snap peas and carrots.

Wine was served with lunch and on the first day, when asked if I cared to imbibe, I told the server, “You don’t need to ask again.” As you might expect, these weren’t bottles of Boone’s Farm. Offerings ranged from Pfaffenheimer pinot gris to Rolf Binder shiraz, to Errazuriz cab reserve to Rioja crianza and, my favorite, a malbec 1984 reserve.

In the evenings we met in a comfortable, laid-back clubhouse to eat heavy hour devours and sip the complimentary beer and wine, or to work up our own concoctions from a hefty stash we packed in with us from Bella Coola. Then it was off to sleep so we could drag our weary selves out of bed at 5 a.m.

Go to www.deneki.com/bcwest/