Since 1978 I have been visiting the headwaters of the Nass River in the valley of the Damdochax River. This enchanted valley is home to many different wild animals and the river itself sets a wonderful table for the many Black and Grizzly bears that wander along it. There are Steelhead, Coho, Chinook, Char and Rainbow in the river and lake. The whole area is incredible because of its naturalness. The entire state of Oregon has nothing like it!
The Damdochax River in British Columbia for Steelhead, Pacific Salmon and Trout. If I had discovered British Columbia first, I would have never made it to southwest Alaska. Everything about BC is big and larger-than-life except the beautiful little Damdochax River, which is as intimate and jewel-like as any river I’ve ever waded. It’s the quintessential fly-fishing experience.
This is no ordinary fishery, no ordinary place. It’s a place to live only in the moment with the bears, the trees, the water and the fish. To feel the fly be taken, and hear the reel sing. To walk the same paths as the wolf and bear, and to share, just for a moment, their world. Keep just a bit of this place in your heart, and feed on it until the next time.
Ok, i’m a convert. I didn’t know river fishing could be so enjoyable. You are all great guides, and instructors. The trout were awesome! Best of all, i saw my first Grizzly in the wild. What a wonderful place for us to reflect from our busy schedules. Thanks for everything.
What did we love? The regal loon family in the morning light, the beautiful walks through the forest, the huge milling salmon, the excellent guiding – and finally, being able to cast to and catch large Rainbows rising to a hatch (2-3 lb) – very exciting. Thank you to all, it was truly a wonder-ful week.
Anglers Club of New York
Damdochax! The very word conjures up visions of the great Canadian wilderness, a river flowing into limpid pools beneath gigantic firs and cottonwoods. The gurgle of the stream is interrupted only by the occasional explosion of a Steelhead ripping off a hundred feet of line. The river is absolutely clear, and when light conditions are right you can sight fish. We fished single handed eight weights, or in my case a seven weight for dry flies, and rarely wished for more rod. An intermediate or type 3 line was as much weight as ever required. Sparser, smaller flies work fine; the extra line speed, easy turnover and accuracy they enable is just a dividend. Because the water is smaller, the structures are smaller, and you can work the pools more the way a trout fisherman does, in detail, instead of just shooting for the averages.
The guides with whom you fish here are as safety-conscious as they are fish-mad. The river looks safe, and is, except when you realize that the snaggly, deep log jams twenty yards below a modest riffle could soon lengthen your stay in BC to an eternity. Whenever any dicey crossing presented itself, the guides made sure we could cross safely and together, without being hectoring nursemaids. We kept them busy doing other things. All through the week, we hooked “doubles”, with guides racing back and forth between to release fine fat fish. Provided, of course, we found the moving creatures, and could remember how to cast. Each of us even hooked a dandy on a dry fly, not on account of our superb prowess, but because the fishing was so good we felt the luxury of being able to reduce our odds a bit in exchange for the joy of seeing a leviathan sip or devour (in each case) a dry fly from ten feet below. This sort of steelhead fishing is the thing of legend. On the last afternoon, a final soupcon was catching a great many 16”-18” egg-fat rainbows for a couple of hours on our trout rigs, sight casting dry flies in the small water at the stream’s headwaters.
The Damdochax River Lodge is a unique and special place. Its remote location, rugged beauty, wonderful staff and rewarding fly fishing make it my favorite fishing destination. I’ve fished all over Canada, Alaska and a few places in the American West. No place provides an experience quite like the Damdochax. I highly recommend this lodge. But, it is not the right choice for all traveling fly fishermen. To enjoy the Damdochax experience, you must be in good enough physical condition to walk more than a mile on trails along the river. The reward for your effort is a small river holding Steelhead of incredible beauty, size and strength. This is mostly water that is easily fished with a single handed rod. Spey rods will come in handy on the lower river but the upper river is classic smaller water with the chance to catch and release big fish.
Damdochax does have largely untapped fly fishing for Bull Trout, Dolly Varden and resident Rainbows. Some of the Char and Rainbows are impressively large. There is a superb King salmon run the first two weeks of August. This is one of the best places I’ve found for catching kings on a fly. Later, in September the silver salmon enter the river. They still fight hard but by the time the silvers reach the Damdochax, they are usually getting pink or red. For non-anglers, there is excellent bear viewing during the salmon runs and there is hiking for those who enjoy it. Right now, the camp usually hosts only three or four anglers each week. There is some thought being given to increasing the number of anglers in camp. My hope is that Aiice and Hannah will resist the temptation to increase the number until they open a third camp planned for the lower river where it enters the Nass nearly twelve miles down river from the upper camp. This is intimate water that should never be crowded. Right now, the Damdochax River Lodge offers steelhead fishing the way it should be, uncrowded and as good as it ever was.