Last Whale Pass Fishing Report of 2016

Last Whale Pass Fishing Report of 2016

My season at the Lodge at Whale Pass ended today, so this is the last Whale Pass Fishing Report of 2016.

Quite a bit of thought has been given to what the highlights were of the season just ended. What did I find most memorable?

-Whales. Too many whales can’t happen. Two encounters were especially memorable. In the first, on a brilliantly lit, sun-shiney afternoon, we encountered a pod of about 15 orcas as I piloted the Blashke back to the Lodge after a day’s fishing. Everyone on the boat wanted to see the orcas!

whale pass fishing report

You cannot imagine how amazing it is to see a whale do this.

The whales did not object to our presence. One spyhopped to better examine us, from only about 100 feet away. One of my guests had a nice 35mm dSLR and was going crazy shooting. I wanted to be, too, but someone had to run the boat!
Two of the whales swam right under the boat’s bow, almost within touching distance, six tons each of beautifully streamlined muscle and sinew, magnificent creatures. Several of the whales breached- imagine the splash a six or seven ton mullet would make!

We followed them for 40 minutes of so, until hunger pangs forced my guests to head back to the lodge. It had been 40 minutes of the purest cetacean magic.

The second encounter was with the Craigies (guests from Australia), and staff member Daniel Slocum. We had gone out into the Kasheveroff Passage hoping to find some whales. God smiled on us when I spotted one from a couple miles away, fortunately in the direction in which we were heading.

We shortly lost it. As it turned out it had gone around a point. When we reached that point, the whale was on the far side. So were four or five others, all humpbacks.

I shut the boat off and let it drift. The air was perfectly still and you could hear the whales blowing all over the bay we were in. You’d see a spout in the distance, then five or six seconds later you’d hear the blow. It was auditorially amazing. The ones closer to us were really loud!

We sat there, watching and listening, whles blowing from near and far, for almost an hour. None of us had eaten dinner, but it was after 8 PM when we finally succumbed to hunger. The whales all moving off helped with that decision as well. It was a mystical, magical evening.

The LeConte Glacier- Like the whales, you just can’t get enough glacier, at least I can’t. On this particular day three guests were in the Blashke, Kevin, his wife Caroline, and 11 year old son Harrison. We had two kayaks with us. We were also on a schedule, since they had a float plane to meet.

It was cold and foggy but to my surprise they insisted on kayaking. In an area with a number of large icebergs I put the kayaks in the water, a single for the missus, and a double for dad and son.

They loved the kayaks, more than any guests I’ve ever taken there.

At first they piddled around among smaller pieces of ice, but then they headed for the big boys. I reminded them they had a plane to meet. Caroline said, “He’s going to have to wait. This is way too cool to stop now!”

They paddled over to a really big iceberg, so much so it had an ice cave and overhanging eaves. I reminded them that the ‘bergs are not stable. Apparently Harrison wanted to paddle into the ice cave, an idea dad vetoed. Good judgement.

whale pass fishing report

The iceberg was really big.

As soon as they paddled away from it the entire caved collapsed with a resounding crash, tons and tons of falling ice exploding down into the water. Look out, surf’s up! Had they gone in there they likely would have been killed, a kind of memorable event I would prefer to avoid.

whale pass fishing report

Caroline sits in front of the ice cave. It collapsed moments later.

Fishing- I hope some of the few fishermen I guided this summer caught some memorable fish, but personally I did not. My best fishing story happens right at the end of the summer, with the Lodge’s last guests of the season.

Brandon, going into the sixth grade in a week or so, lives in Connecticut. He was looking for something to do and I told him, “You can always catch fish from our dock.” I didn’t know he had never caught a fish before.

I showed him how and soon he was catching starry flounder with regularity, getting more and more excited with each one. “Fishing is fun! Fishing is cool! This is a blast!” were some of the things he said.

Starry flounder are hardly a prized catch for most of us, but to an 11 year old who had never had an up close and personal with a fish of any kind it could hardly have been more of a prize. So congratulations Brandon! Your 20 flounders were the catch of the season as far as I’m concerned.

Bears- The most memorable bear encounters I’m ever likely to have (short of being attacked) happened up on the Goodnews River, but I did see a black bear with a salmon in its mouth jog across a wet log over the Cable Hole on 108 Creek this summer, which was very cool. I couldn’t cross that log, much less jog across.

4th of July- We spent part of our 4th of July at Coffman Cove, which was described in an earlier fishing report. To quote- “The Fourth of July Parade was going on- trucks of all sizes (some towing boats), ATV’s, a lawnmower, and a strange-looking tracked vehicle, driving the route, honking horns. All were decked out with banners and bunting, stars and strips in red, white, and blue being the dominant theme. Drivers and passengers had painted faces, outrageous hats, and many threw candy at onlookers. Fun stuff!

“A kindly resident told us to make our way to the float plane dock, where the greased pole was, and where we could get a reindeer sausage. Food! We were on our way.

“We learned from the locals that the greased pole was a contest. Participants took turns, each attempting to slide to the end of a wooden telephone pole that was coated with Crisco, to capture the flag. The person who did so won a cash prize. The cash was collected from the onlookers, who donated toward the prize. A cheap investment in some live and fun entertainment!

“Needless to say, most of the folks who tried, crashed. Some of those crashes were quite spectacular. Some looked pretty painful. All the time this was going on the cash prize kept growing, reaching and exceeding $1000.

“Finally, during the fourth round, a local young man named Eric made it to the end of the pole and snatched the flag. His prize was a handsome 1091 US dollars, not a bad take for getting greasy and falling into the water a few times.”

Craziest Event- son Alex and I were perpetrators of the craziest event of the summer, which happened at the Anan Bear Reserve. We were both sent there with passengers, Alex in the Thorne, me in the Blashke. The passengers were to fly back to the Lodge by float plane.

The Blashke had been having problems starting, so it carried some jumper cables. Kevin also said, “If you are not back by the time the float plane gets here, it will be carrying a brand new series 31 marine battery to you.”

After we dropped off the passengers the Blashke would not start. We tried jumping it with the Thorne. No dice. The Thorne towed the Blaske to a nearby floating dock, where boats tie up waiting for their guests to come back from bear viwing. The dock we tied to had a boat tied to it already. We tied up on the other side and proceeded to wait for the plane, not due for almost three hours.

The plane finally arrived. Alex got the battery and brought to me. I installed it, and the Blashke would still not start. I asked him to try and jump it again, which he agreed to do.

The jumper cables were short. In order to make them reach we had to tie the Thorne up at a right angle to my stern. So the Thorne is tied to the Blashke with two lines, and the Blaske is tied to the dock with two more lines. The batteries in the Thorne and Blashke are connected by jumper cables. There is still another vessel tied on the other side of the dock. Lastly, the Blashke is a jet boat and has no neutral gear.

I put the Blashke’s gear in forward. Alex started the Thorne. I turned the key, hoping to start the Blashke as well. After turning over several times, she started.

whale pass fishing report

Alex and the Thorne.

We were not prepared for what happened next.

The dock, while anchored somehow, is floating. The sudden surge of power from the Blashke started it rotating.
Alex disconnects the jumper cables from his batteries, as do I in the Blashke. The dock continues to spin.

Alex disconnects one of the lines holding the Thorne to the Blashke. I disconnect the other. The dock continues spinning.

I disconnect the first of the two lines connecting the Blashke to the dock. The dock continues spinning. It’s got about three full rotations in at this point. I can only imaging what the operator of that other boat must be thinking.

With some difficulty I disconnect the second line from the dock and am able to get away from it. Friction probably stopped the spin of the dock pretty quickly, but I didn’t bother to check.

After idling away from the area I put the Blashke in a more controlled spin and prepared the boat for the trip back to the lodge. Running at 30 knots this trip takes about two hours.

Unfortunately, in the melee at the dock a dock line had been left in the water. I shortly discovered that the impeller on the Blashke had sucked it in as deeply as possible and then cut it off. If I turned off the boat I’m dead in the water. If I leave the rope in there I can top out at eight knots, making my two hour trip an eight hour trip.

That arithmetic was pretty simple.

It was a gorgeous afternoon for a slow boat ride. I got caught in the wake of two cruise ships travelling north through Clarence Strait. The waves rocked the Blashke through an arc of at least 40 degrees, pretty exciting.
I saw several whales.

Sunset was hidden behind clouds, but nightfall remains beautiful and mysterious no matter how many times you get to experience it. Most of us in our day-to-day existence never get to watch it at all. Even up here, it was the first time all summer I experienced an entire nightfall. SO although I did not get back to the lodge until almost 10 PM, I feel fortunate the entire stupid escapade happened, simply because for one night I was able to be one with the oncoming darkness.

Bad Back! One day I wrenched my back lowering the cowling over the Blashke’s engine. If I were home I would go see Dr. Demetree, a chiropractor in Oviedo. He does not make house calls to Alaska. So I had the massage therapist at the lodge, an amazing woman from Atlanta named Kim Davis, give me a massage in hope she would make it somewhat better.

The massage did improve it, but it was still not right. Kim told me doing yoga would help it. She further said that if I started doing yoga I would not need to see Dr. Demetree any more. Finally, she showed me how to do some basic yoga moves.

Two days later, after two more yoga sessions, my back popped back into place. That had never happened to me before. Without the chiropractor the back would always be messed up for weeks when it popped out.

So thanks to Kim Davis I am now doing yoga several times a week and have a stronger, healthier back (and most other body parts too) because of it. So throwing my back out up here was actually a really good thing. Who’da thunk it?

whale pass fishing report

Yogalaska!

It’s quite dark by 10 PM now. Taking advantage of a clear night recently, I went out to stargaze. The Milky Way was spectacular- not many lights at night in these parts. In 30 minutes over a dozen satellites were spotted overhead. Ursa Major pointed at both Polaris and Arcturus, as is its habit. Cygnus was straight overhead. Spectacular and awe-inspiring don’t begin to convey how the night sky, observed from a dark place, can caress the human soul.

whale pass fishing report

I try my best, but…

I prepare to go, though I try hard to remain. The part of me that wants to see my wife, my son, my sister, to drink wine, to make love, to chase tarpon- is already facing south, towards Florida. I try to etch in this report the sense of that part of Alaska that is so precious, aware that all such effort is in vain. The beauty of this place must be abandoned again, like the wild salmon in the bright waters of her streams. There’s more of Alaska in a single barnacle than I could ever capture with my paltry vocabulary and photographs, no matter how hard I may try.

whale pass fishing report

…you can’t capture Alaska in a photo.

And that is the last Whale Pass Fishing Report of 2016. I am on my way home. At the risk of not living in the moment, I am looking forward to getting there. Let’s hear it for anticipation!

Life is great and I love my work!

Life is short- Go Fishing!

John Kumiski
www.spottedtail.com
http://www.spottedtail.com/blog
www.johnkumiski.com
www.rentafishingbuddy.com
https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/jkumiski

All content in this blog, including writing and photos, copyright John Kumiski 2016. All rights are reserved.




July Whale Pass Fishing Report

July Whale Pass Fishing Report

Please enjoy the July Whale Pass fishing report, and accept my apologies for not getting the reports out more regularly. I can’t do much about the lack of internet service here.

The biggest news as concerns the fishing here is that the silver salmon run has been sad. There have been very few silvers compared to past runs. Lots of time has been spent by lots of people speculating on why so few fish have showed up this year. The fact is that no one really knows. What we do know is that silver fishing has been close to terrible.

Trolling for king salmon out by the Triplets has been producing a legal sized fish and several “shakers” most every trip. Son Alex has been running his downriggers as deep as 100 feet for these fish.

Fishing for cutthroat trout up in Sweetwater has been excellent when we’ve been able to get up there. Small minnow patterns have worked well.

whale pass fishing report

Daniel with a Sweetwater cutt.

 

whale pass fishing report

While in Sweetwater, if the trout aren’t biting you can kiss a sea star.

The pink salmon are starting to run up into 108 Creek. Daniel spent 50 minutes up there yesterday and hooked five fish, landing two. Small pink flies work best. Trollers out by the Triplets have been getting limits of pinks every trip.

Lastly, bottom fishing has been consistently good. Halibut and black cod have been mainstays, with Pacific cod and rockfish rounding out catches. As always, sculpins are very dependable!

All that having been said, this reporter has not been fishing much. My days have mostly been spent transporting guests to the LeConte Glacier, a fantastic if somewhat chilly place. There is no doubt that the glacier is receding. The change in the position of the glacial face from last year’s position is obvious.

whale pass fishing report

Nate at the glacier.

 

whale pass fishing report

I don’t understand how they don’t get cold.

 

whale pass fishing report

The amount of ice there is enormous.

 

whale pass fishing report

I love to photograph the icebergs.

 

whale pass fishing report

So do the other visitors!

A few weeks ago I got to do a fly-over of the glacier in a float plane. Wow! That added an entirely new dimension to my glacier experience, getting the big picture. The glacier stretches back into the mountains for over 20 miles and reaches a thickness of over 4000 feet.

whale pass fishing report

The glacier by air.

 

whale pass fishing report

Where the glacier meets the sea.

I love doing the glacier trips.

I got to take a trip to the west side of Prince of Wales Island, the Pacific side. I operated the boat, chef Rhys did the cooking, and Rowen and Eliza, two guests from Australia, intended to do some wildlife watching, including whales.

whale pass fishing report

Rhys did the cooking, a bang-up job too.

We stopped on a little island out in the bay, where I negligently let the boat dry up. Our two hour stop out there ended up taking four hours, since we had to wait for the incoming tide to float the boat again.

whale pass fishing report

High and dry.

I can think of worse places to be stuck than on a beautiful, deserted island along Alaska’s coast, with seals, otters, and whales swimming by!

whale pass fishing report

Not such a bad place to be stuck!

 

whale pass fishing report

Were they curious, or laughing at us??

Another job I’ve had is running the whale watching excursions. The word incredible fails, as do any other adjectives, to adequately describe the magnificence of humpback whales. “PHOOOOoooo!!” On a calm day you can easily hear them blow from a mile away. You see the spout and five seconds later hear the blow.

whale pass fishing report

Whaleage!

Of course it’s much more exciting when they’re 100 yards from the boat. And it gets really exciting when they start doing tail slaps, fin slaps, bubble net feeding, and breeching! Again, it’s hard to describe the thunderous crash a 40 ton animal makes when hits the water after leaping clear of the surface. And through it all they manage to look utterly dignified.

whale pass fishing report

This one was close!

Since they spend most of their time underwater, and guessing where they will appear is an inexact science at best, photographing whales is hard to do. When not running the boat I keep trying. I love doing the whale watching trips too.

whale pass fishing report

Another whale, complete with barnacles.

 

whale pass fishing report

The whales kept me awake all night!

And that is the July Whale Pass Fishing Report.

Life is great and I love my work!

Life is short- Go Fishing!

John Kumiski
www.spottedtail.com
http://www.spottedtail.com/blog
www.johnkumiski.com
www.rentafishingbuddy.com
https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/jkumiski

All content in this blog, including writing and photos, copyright John Kumiski 2016. All rights are reserved.




Independence Day Whale Pass Fishing Report

Independence Day Whale Pass Fishing Report

Yesterday was July 4th, so this is the Independence Day Whale Pass Fishing Report. Some fly fishing, at last!

All of the guests we had at the Lodge at Whale Pass left en masse yesterday morning, leaving us with only minor maintenance items to take care of. I asked lodge owner Kevin Ryter if I might take the jet boat up into Sweetwater for some scouting. Not only did he say yes, he also told me to run the rapids that line the shortcut to Coffman Cove to explore the feasability of using that route as a trip option for guests.

When I thought the tide was right we left. Passengers were son Alex, Miss Allison Bowman, and Mr. Dean Savage.

When we got to the first rapid on Indian Creek the flow had already reversed. We were a little late on the tide, although that proved to be of little consequence.

We came to the first fishing spot and disembarked. Alex and I began casting. It took all of two minutes to hook the first trout, a cutthroat of 12 inches or so, which Alex did using a pink streamer.

whale pass fishing report

Alex with a nice cutthroat. File photo.

I hooked and lost a couple of fish, then stuck what at first we assumed was a big trout. It turned out to be a Dolly varden of about 20 inches. We killed it, with an eye to our dinner that evening. The fly was a chartreuse over pink Clouser Minnow.

whale pass fishing report

Dolly varden. File photo.

The bites continues steadily until the spot got flooded out by the rising tide. Dean got a trout, his first ever. Alex got several more. Then we went further up the creek to spot number two.

It was not as productive as the first spot. I got a small trout. Alex and I both stuck and lost a hefty fish. Then the tide flooded this spot too. While we had a high and still rising tide we decided to head through the as yet unexplored rapids to Coffman Cove.

At the water level we encountered the rapids were mostly flooded out. My understanding is that at lower tide stages they are impassable. At any rate we cleared the stream, entered the Clarence Strait, and made our way to Coffman Cove. Burgers and milkshakes danced in my passenger’s heads.

We tied the boat to the dock and entered town, all decked out in our waders. The Fourth of July Parade was going on- trucks of all sizes (some towing boats), ATV’s, a lawnmower, and a strange-looking tracked vehicle, driving the route, honking horns. All were decked out with banners and bunting, stars and strips in red, white, and blue being the dominant theme. Drivers and passengers had painted faces, outrageous hats, and many threw candy at onlookers. Fun stuff!

We made our way to the restaurant. It was closed for the holiday. My hungry passengers were very disappointed. A kindly resident told us to make our way to the float plane dock, where the greased pole was, and where we could get a reindeer sausage. Food! We were on our way.

We had no idea what the greased pole was about, but we found the weiners and each bought one. They were spicy and delicious, all decked out in mustard and relish. The pole, yet to be greased, was attached to the dock by its base. It extended out over the water, parallel to its surface. At its end was a small American flag. The entire population of Coffman Cove was there. Beverages were flowing freely.

We learned from the locals that the greased pole was a contest. Participants took turns, each attempting to slide to the end of a wooden telephone pole that was coated with Crisco, to capture the flag. The person who did so won a cash prize. The cash was collected from the onlookers, who donated toward the prize. A cheap investment in some live and fun entertainment!

Needless to say, most of the folks who tried, crashed. Some of those crashes were quite spectacular. Some looked pretty painful. All the time this was going on the cash prize kept growing, reaching and exceeding $1000.

Finally, during the fourth round, a young man named Eric, working as a fishing guide for the summer in Coffman Cove, made it to the end of the pole and snatched the flag. His prize was a handsome 1091 US dollars, not a bad take for getting greasy and falling into the water a few times.

At this point the party moved to the ball field for a potluck. The Whale Pass contigent had to return to Whale Pass, so we missed that portion of the festivities.

The return trip went through the South Entrance of the Whale Passage and was uneventful. No rapids!

At the Lodge the barbeque had been fired up. Hot dogs, hamburgers, and oysters were on the menu. We added a fresh Dolly varden, grilled over charcoal and very delicious. Peter fired off the requisite fireworks. This reporter, quite exhausted, retired before the festivities ended. I trust nothing of import was missed!

This morning found me on a solo quest for silver salmon on fly. A school was quickly located. The first cast of the day, using a chartreuse bunny leech with chartreuse rubber legs, resulted in a boated fish. The second cast of the day, to a different school of salmon, using the same chartreuse bunny leech with chartreuse rubber legs, resulted in another boated fish. I should have quit then. Three more shots came my way, but none of them resulted in a strike. The caught salmon, filleted and vacuum packed, are now in the freezer.

And that is the Independence Day Whale Pass Fishing Report.

Life is great and I love my work!

Life is short- Go Fishing!

John Kumiski
www.spottedtail.com
http://www.spottedtail.com/blog
www.johnkumiski.com
www.rentafishingbuddy.com
https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/jkumiski

All content in this blog, including writing and photos, copyright John Kumiski 2016. All rights are reserved.




Summer Solstice Whale Pass Fishing Report

whale pass fishing report

Summer Solstice Whale Pass Fishing Report

To such fans as I have, my apologies for the lack of fishing reports lately. My current location lacks internet and I have been working too much to get to where there is a connection. I’m in Whale Pass, Alaska again, at the Lodge at Whale Pass.

whale pass fishing report

The Lodge at Whale Pass

In my last report I asked for prayers for Steve Baker and T.C. Howard. Please add Rodney Smith to that list.

lodge at Whale Pass

Buttercups (Ranunculus) at Ketchikan.

The halibut fishing here as been excellent, lots of fish with some fairly large ones in the mix. Although the big boys are a catch and release deal, they still make for great fish stories.

lodge at Whale Pass

Halibut fishing with Don Askew.

 

lodge at Whale Pass

A small eater halibut.

We have had some wonderful guests so far, and some awesome trips to the LeConte Glacier, Petersburg, and Wrangell.

lodge at Whale Pass

Sandy battles a halibut.

 

lodge at Whale Pass

Steve poses with a top of the slot ‘but.

The salmon fishing has been slow across the board. Neck Lake Outlet has only seen a few fish. Mooching and trolling in the Inside Passage has produced very few salmon. I’ve yet to pick up any of my fly rods. At least they are together and ready to go!

lodge at Whale Pass

Dall porpoises put on a show in the Inland Passage.

Sorry for the lack of meat in this report, but that’s really all I’ve got to this point. I have no doubt the salmon fishing will improve in a quantum leap.

lodge at Whale Pass

A sea lion scratching an itch.

 

lodge at Whale Pass

On the way to Wrangell.

And that is the Summer Solstice Whale Pass Fishing Report.

Life is great and I love my work!

Life is short- Go Fishing!

John Kumiski
www.spottedtail.com
http://www.spottedtail.com/blog
www.johnkumiski.com
www.rentafishingbuddy.com
https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/jkumiski

All content in this blog, including writing and photos, copyright John Kumiski 2016. All rights are reserved.




The Last 2015 Whale Pass Fishing Report and Photo Review

The Last 2015 Whale Pass Fishing Report and Photo Review

The Spotted Tail will be returning to central Florida next week. So this is the final Whale Pass fishing report from us in 2015.

whale pass fishing report

This is the guy who makes it all happen, Mr. Lodge at Whale Pass himself, Kevin Ryter.

The season was awesome. Some highlights include:
-Susan coming to visit;

whale pass fishing report

Susan came to Whale Pass and caught this salmon. We ate it a few minutes later.

-Capt. Julian getting a 300 plus pound halibut;
-Capt. Kurt getting a 30 plus pound king salmon;
-Andy Wilson getting six silver salmon on fly in an hour with me;

whale pass fishing report

Andy could catch them. Holding them afterwards was another story.

-whales; and

whale pass fishing report

You cannot imagine how amazing it is to see a whale do this.

-every glacier trip.

whale pass fishing report

From today’s trip, an iceberg for Mike Conneen.

I wanted to figure out how to get ocean salmon on fly. I did not get one, but I think I have at least one workable technique. I got a bunch of pinks and several silvers on lightweight jigs using spinning tackle. I just need time and the right conditions to use the same technique with the fly rod. So progress was made!

As far as fishing this week, on Sunday Jim and Tyler Juliano accompanied me to the Cable Hole to fly fish for salmon. When we got there we found three fly fishers already there. Two of them had several pinks strung up. I asked them what they intended to do with the fish. They said they were going to eat them. I asked if they had ever eaten river pinks before. They answered in the affirmative. I asked how they were. The guy from Jackson Hole said, “They taste better than mule deer.”

River pinks may be fun to catch, but they are soft, mushy, and not very good eating. Doesn’t say much for mule deer.

Jim and Tyler, who had never fly fished before, each got several salmon. The pool had a couple thousand fish in it. The pinks are starting to look nasty- the run must be winding down.

The Richards family came in on Wednesday. Julian and I took them out for halibut. Tyler hooked a monster ‘but we estimated at over 200 pounds and fought it to the boat- twice. Longer than the below 42 inch and shorter than the 78 inch reverse slot, we left it in the water, unhooked it, and watched it rocket back into the depths. Awesome. Tyler said he was done. Then he kept fishing. As a group our catch included three keeper halibut and two Pacific cod, not a bad take for a three hour trip.

whale pass fishing report

This is the halibut Tyler caught and released.

 

whale pass fishing report

This is what Julian looked like afterwards.

Thursday the Richards did not want to halibut fish again, prefering to try for salmon. We fished for them a variety of ways- trolling, mooching, and casting to sighted fish. All ways worked a little. Our catch included four silvers, one pink, and several kelp greenling. The silvers were kept. All other fish were released unharmed.

whale pass fishing report

We jigged up this beautiful silver.

Friday the Richards and I made my last LaConte glacier trip of the year. The glacier was, as always, spectacular. I would like to camp there for several days just to watch and photograph, and do such hiking and climbing as I am still capable of. I am thinking about the end of the 2016 season, should God (and Susan!) be so kind as to allow me another summer in Alaska.

whale pass fishing report

Jeanne Richards kayaking at the glacier.

 

whale pass fishing report

This lunatic was on every glacier trip I took.

 

whale pass fishing report

This is where I want to camp for several days.

On Saturday the weather is supposed to be miserable (I write this on Friday evening). The Richards and I plan on fly fishing for salmon, both pinks and silvers. Wish us luck! It’s my last Whale Pass fishing day this year, a bittersweet time. New friends say goodbye. Some, important parts of our lives for a short time, we’ll never see again. That’s sad. But we’re going home to see loved ones. That’s glad!

whale pass fishing report

A Stellar’s jay, a common visitor at the lodge.

And that, dear readers, is the Last 2015 Whale Pass Fishing Report from Spotted Tail and the Lodge at Whale Pass.

I am taking a bye week next week. No fishing will happen because of travel, unpacking, reunion with family and friends, and sorting through all the business that I’ve ignored for the past three months. See you in two weeks!

Life is great and I love my work!

Life is short- Go Fishing!

John Kumiski
www.spottedtail.com
http://www.spottedtail.com/blog
www.johnkumiski.com
www.rentafishingbuddy.com
https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/jkumiski

All content in this blog, including writing and photos, copyright John Kumiski 2015. All rights are reserved.




Winding Down Whale Pass Fishing Report

Winding Down Whale Pass Fishing Report

Our season is winding down here at the Lodge at Whale Pass. The berries are done, much of the staff has already left, and soon I will be heading back to the heat and humidity of central Florida. I hope there are tarpon around!

But thinking about future tarpon possibilities is not living in the moment.

Nick Colantonio sent me another haiku-
Six pinks on one fly.
Now tattered. Cast. Fish-on! Try
a bare hook? Mmm … Nah

Did Nick visit the Goodnews this summer, perhaps???

Two parties spent the entire week here, both were wonderful, and both caught some fish.

The King family joined me on the Blashke on a wet, chilly day for some halibut fishing. We did not get any big ones, but we did limit out.

whale pass fishing report

A soggy King family, with a limit of halibut.

Twelve year old Aiden wanted to learn about fly fishing. I talked him through the first fly he ever tied, and then we went fly fishing. He caught several of these…

whale pass fishing report

Aiden’s pink salmon was his first fish on a fly rod.

The Pampinellas also fished with me this week. We went bottom fishing twice, getting some nice halibut both times. Jim caught this one…

whale pass fishing report

Jim pulled this one in using a mooching rod.

…and daughter Aline caught this one. Both fish took herring fished on a mooching rod.

whale pass fishing report

Aline pulled this one in using a mooching rod.

While we were out on a spectacular day on Friday, we saw a humpback whale repeatedly slapping its tail on the surface of the water. We got close enough for a good view, and to the hear the loud report.

whale pass fishing report

The whale is preparing to slap again.

 

whale pass fishing report

The whale, lying on its side with its flipper in the air.

 

whale pass fishing report

Thar she blows!

Jim senior and I fly fished together one day. We first fished for pinks with little rods in the 108, catching stupid numbers of fish. They are thick in there right now! Once the novelty wore off, we moved down the road to the Neck Lake Outlet, where Jim got some nice silver salmon by repeatedly dead drifting a chartreuse Clouser Minnow.

And that is the Winding Down Whale Pass Fishing Report from Spotted Tail and the Lodge at Whale Pass.

Life is great and I love my work!

Life is short- Go Fishing!

John Kumiski
www.spottedtail.com
http://www.spottedtail.com/blog
www.johnkumiski.com
www.rentafishingbuddy.com
https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/jkumiski

All content in this blog, including writing and photos, copyright John Kumiski 2015. All rights are reserved.



The Godsey Whale Pass Fishing Report

The Godsey Whale Pass Fishing Report

The Godseys are a family. Although we had other guests, eight Godseys spent the entire week here. Thus the Godsey Whale Pass Fishing Report.

Official sign of the week:

whale pass fishing report

You’ll see this sign on the road into Whale Pass.

Monday I had half the Godsey clan. We got some halibut, black cod, Pacific cod, and pink and coho salmon. It was good.

whale pass fishing report

Alder with a kid-sized halibut.

I am figuring out how to catch the ocean salmon (both pinks and silvers) on spinning tackle. We sight-fish them, after a fashion. Salmon jump, like mullet do. When we see them jump, we cast to them. The lures of choice are the Sting Silver, from Haw River Tackle Company, and the DOA CAL jig, 3/8 ounce, with a three inch DOA CAL shad tail #308, Glow with holographic flake belly. I am 100 percent certain I could catch them with flies too. Experimentation on this front has been impossible with the children on board.

 

whale pass fishing report

Two of the Godsey brothers with another kid-sized ‘but.

Tuesday I ran a glacier trip without the Godseys. The Peters and the Levines joined us for that one. Fog covered the Sumner Strait on the way, making navigation a challenge. In spite of that, we made it to Petersburg without incident, and then on to the LaConte Glacier. It was still there, and put on a good show. Then they went kayaking.

whale pass fishing report

For the iceberg fans- they get pretty darned big.

 

whale pass fishing report

For the iceberg fans- they get pretty darned big!

 

whale pass fishing report

Paddling with icebergs, always cooool.

On the way home I stopped in Petersburg again to pick up supplies for the Lodge. While waiting for the van for a ride back to the dock a car pulled up. The driver asked me, “Want a ride?” He turned out to be Don Holmes, who runs the M/V Juno out of Petersburg on glacier trips and other non-consumptive charters- kayaking, hiking, whale-watching, etc. Great guy, very knowledgeable. Thank you for the ride, sir!

Wednesday the Godseys went to the glacier. The weather was absolutely spectacular and the glacier was calving like crazy. Awesome day.

Thursday the Godseys went to Memorial Beach, hoping to catch some Dolly varden. The forecast called for a southeast wind, but it was blowing hard out of the northeast. The waves were high, the water was dirty, and the fishing was blown out. We got some pink salmon along the ride back.

Friday the Godseys were again on the Blashke. Although fishing was slow, we picked up four halibut, several Pacific and black cod, and a few salmon. We had to negotiate fog to get out to the fishing grounds. Once we were there, the scene was ethereal- floating in the fog, whales blowing all around us. The fog would thin out. Long, twisted strands of vapor floated above the water’s surface, moving slowly in step with the cosmic beat. Then the fog would thicken again, and the shoreline would once again disappear.
Once the fog finally cleared, the whales were still all around us. One surfaced within 100 feet of us. They are enormous, magnificent, amazing animals. It turned out to be a whale-watching day with a side of fishing.

whale pass fishing report

Another Godsey halibut.

 

whale pass fishing report

The whales are amazing.

Saturday all the guests left. The next batch comes in on Sunday.

And that is the Godsey Whale Pass Fishing Report from Spotted Tail and the Lodge at Whale Pass.

Life is great and I love my work!

Life is short- Go Fishing!

John Kumiski
www.spottedtail.com
http://www.spottedtail.com/blog
www.johnkumiski.com
www.rentafishingbuddy.com
https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/jkumiski

All content in this blog, including writing and photos, copyright John Kumiski 2015. All rights are reserved.




Humpie Time Whale Pass Fishing Report

Humpie Time Whale Pass Fishing Report

What on earth is humpie time, you ask? A humpie is another name for a pink salmon, a noble little creature. They are starting their spawning run in the creeks on Prince of Wales Island. It’s humpie time, thus the humpie time whale pass fishing report.

whale pass fishing report

Alex with a pink salmon, or humpie.

Nick Colantonio, come on down!

Nick, a.k.a. the Comatose Angler, emailed me the following haiku, related of all things to glaciers.

Drinking glacier melt.
Has ice worms. Tiny, die at
thirty-two F. Ugh

Nick went on to say, “Ice worms are not harmful. They are about 1/32 inch, if I remember correctly.  On one glacier tour out of Whittier, Alaska, the naturalist gives the glacier worm lecture after guests chill their drinks with glacier ice. I was drinking coffee. Hot.”

Nick, email me a snail mail address and I will get you a book when I get home.

This week’s bumper sticker:

whale pass fishing report

Hey, it’s Alaska!

I had two glacier trips this week, and one to the bear viewing site an Anan. I’ve never been to the bear viewing site myself. I just bring the guests there. The bears gather at Anan because the pink salmon try to swim up the falls there. The bears recognize an easy meal when they see it. So after the guests were dropped off I pulled out a fly rod and got my first pink salmon of the season, on a small pink and orange marabou streamer.

whale pass fishing report

Wine and cheese at the glacier…

On Thursday we only had four guests in house. They went halibut fishing with Capt. Julian, leaving me with most of the day off. After tying some flies I got Nuttapong, who had not yet caught a salmon in Alaska, and together we went to the 108 Creek.

Nuttapong hit a wild silver salmon on his first cast, using a Fiord Spoon. He also got two Dolly varden and a pink salmon.

I hooked and lost a salmon, then missed a strike, then hooked and broke one off, and then finally got a pink. It has been raining all week (almost biblically), so the creek is running high. My fish put up a hell of a battle, way more than I normally expect from a pink salmon.

The 108 is running a little high...

The 108 is running a little high…

Perhaps the extra water and the little eight foot three-weight I used gave the fish an even chance.

Friday I woke up under the weather (yes, it was still raining, although we got about 15 minutes of sun in the afternoon). So no fishing got done.

Saturday the Keach’s went fishing with me in the 108 Creek. Mr. Keach fly fished, Mrs. Keach spin fished. Both did well, with several silver salmon caught and 15 or so pinks. It’s humpie time!

whale pass fishing report

Mrs. Keach, fishing the 108.

 

whale pass fishing report

Danya with one of several salmon she caught, this one a pink.

Silver salmon fishing at Neck Lake Outlet seems to be slowing down. The run this year certainly did not come near to last year’s in terms of numbers of fish. But the pinks will just keep getting better from here on, into September.

whale pass fishing report

The pink salmon will be this thick in the 108 Creek in a couple of weeks.

And that is the Humpie Time Whale Pass Fishing Report from the Lodge at Whale Pass and Spotted Tail.

Life is great and I love my work!

Life is short- Go Fishing!

John Kumiski
www.spottedtail.com
http://www.spottedtail.com/blog
www.johnkumiski.com
www.rentafishingbuddy.com
https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/jkumiski

All content in this blog, including writing and photos, copyright John Kumiski 2015. All rights are reserved.




A Glacial Whale Pass Fishing Report

iceberg

A Glacial Whale Pass Fishing Report

Glacier trips! That’s what this week featured. Oh, and Capt. Julian aboard the Thorne put his angler Curt on a 300 pound plus halibut this week, too, though unfortunately I do not have photos of that beast.

Monday found Leslee, Megan, and Robb on the Blashke for a trip to the LaConte Glacier. First, please allow me to brag on the Blashke. Owned by the Lodge at Whale Pass, the Blashke was purchased specifically to make the glacier trip. The 32 foot long Almar aluminum hull is powered by a 500 horsepower Yanmar diesel. The drive is a reversable jet, and can easily propel the Blashke to a cruising speed of 30 knots. The Blashke can make a full 360 rotation within its length. It is astonishly nimble, and I certainly have not mastered the full use of the reversable jet drive yet. Like all Lodge at Whale Pass boats, the Blashke is named after nearby islands. The boat is amazing.

whale pass fishing report

Megan is a bundle of energy.

Back to the glacier trip. Megan is a bundle of kinetic energy, always moving, very animated, highly enthusiastic, and certainly pleasing to look at. She wanted to taste the icebergs, drink the meltwater from them, paddle around them, etcetera, loads of fun. When we got up to the glacier face it put on an incredible show, big chunks calving off, shooters popping up, loud reports, spectacular fountains of spray, big waves. Everything the glacier can do it did do. We certainly had an awesome day.

whale pass fishing report

Leslee and Robb take photos.

 

whale pass fishing report

Leslie knows how to have fun, too.

 

whale pass fishing report

Robb gets into the act! Nat obtains more ice.

 

whale pass fishing report

Can we be silly?

 

whale pass fishing report

In a sea full of ice.

 

whale pass fishing report

In the center of this photo, a large piece of glacier has started to fall.

 

whale pass fishing report

BOOM! The noise is almost deafening…

Megan sent me this email:
“Well, it’s the furthest thing from a glacier…Phoenix! Made it back late Tuesday night, and I am still in denial of being home. What a magical experience it was! A warm thank you for making and taking the time to create a once in a lifetime memory for Leslee, my brother Robb, and I. Your attentiveness, knowledge, great company and shared enthusiasm for my “goals” for the day were awesome! All achieved…drinking from a waterfall, licking…(or whatever the hell you want to call it) an iceberg, drinking from an iceberg, holding an iceberg, and sea kayaking through it all! Clearly you are doing what you love, and know how appreciative I am of all of your efforts for our day John! I trust you have a whole new crew of guests coming and going, and you will enjoy your days. I have never been to such a pristine, majestic place on earth.”

Thank you Megan. We certainly appreciate your staying with us, and miss your high energy around here.

whale pass fishing report

…and that is how these icebergs form.

Tuesday found Leo and Cynthia and their three children aboard the Blashke for another glacier trip. The glacier was not performing as well this day, unfortunately. But all of them got out in kayaks and paddled among the icebergs and the seals for almost an hour and had a wonderful time.

whale pass fishing report

Your reporter, floating and boating.

Wednesday was another glacier trip. The glacier is always awe-inspiring but, the travel time seems to keep getting longer, even running at 30 knots. The weather was perfect for a glacier run though, with even the Sumner Strait looking like a pond, a glassy surface the whole way both ways. Our guests this day were Laura, Stacy, and Sarah. Jonathan, Jessica, and Nuttapong, LWP staffers, were able to come along as well. The glacier still did not perform like it did on Monday, but we did get a couple of moderate-sized calves breaking off, as well as a shooter.

What is a shooter, you ask? The glacial face does not end at the water line. It extends well below the surface (I would like to know just how far down it goes. The water near the face is almost 800 feet deep.). Pieces of glacier that are underwater break off too, of course. The ice, being buoyant, shoots up towards the surface. If a piece of ice has a large flat surface it can move quite a distance laterally, making it quite dangerous to vessels that exhibit an excess of boldness. These pieces that break off underwater and then shoot to the surface are called shooters.

whale pass fishing report

Nuttapong is from Thailand, where glaciers are rare.

For those who have never heard the name Nuttapong before- Nuttapong is from Thailand. He’s in the States on a student visa, and is working his butt off as an intern in the kitchen at the Lodge. I like his cooking. He understands how I like to eat. He says Nuttapong is a very common name in Thailand. Who knew?

That big halibut was caught on a piece of cut bait, in this case a chunk of pink salmon. I think they were in Snow Pass but I didn’t ask. I know Julian likes to fish there. Anytime you catch a 300 pound fish though, you deserve kudos. Congratulations, Curt!

Thursday was a low-key day with only two guuests in-house. I tied some flies, watched the rain fall, and did other low-stress activities. Julian took the guests fishing at the north entrance to Whale Pass, where they had success trolling for salmon.

Friday Kurt and I took Jeff and Pat to Memorial Beach, hoping to catch some Dolly varden. The fish were thick and Kurt and Jeff railed on them. Kurt used a Mepps spinner, Jeff a Fiord Spoon. I tried with a fly rod. In spite of changing flies a half-dozen times I only managed two, one on a Firecracker and one on a Silver Thorn. Pat likewise only got a few, even though she was throwing the same lure as her husband.

Saturday dawned with some low fog, which has now burned off. It looks to be a spectacular day weather-wise. We’ll see what it brings!

And now, for the results of the Haiku Challenge!

I’m afraid there weren’t many poets among my readers this week. So far exactly one response has come in, from Joe Pires:

I am a pilot of a low and slow aircraft.
Break the bonds of earth
World becomes an image of god
till i must return

Joe’s poem clearly does not fit the tradition haiku mold, which is as follows:

“Haiku is a traditional form of Japanese poetry. Haiku poems consist of three lines. The first and last lines of a Haiku have five syllables and the middle line has seven syllables. The lines rarely rhyme.”

That having been said, since he was the only entry, we have a winner! Joe, use the contact form to email me a snail mail address and we will snailily get a book out to you. Thanks for participating!

And that is the A Glacial Whale Pass Fishing Report from Spotted Tail and the Lodge at Whale Pass.

Life is great and I love my work!

Life is short- Go Fishing!

John Kumiski
www.spottedtail.com
http://www.spottedtail.com/blog
www.johnkumiski.com
www.rentafishingbuddy.com
https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/jkumiski

All content in this blog, including writing and photos, copyright John Kumiski 2015. All rights are reserved.




Haiku Challenge Whale Pass Fishing Report

Haiku Challenge Whale Pass Fishing Report

During such free time as comes my way here at Whale Pass, I have been reading Peter Matthiessen’s The Snow Leopard. Published back in 1978, it is a brilliant piece of work, masterfully written and full of profound insights into human nature and the fleeting nature of one individual’s life.

At one point Matthiessen writes, “Amazingly, we take for granted that instinct for survival, fear of death, must separate us from the happiness of pure and uninterrupted experience, in which body, mind, and nature are the same. And this debasement of our vision, the retreat from wonder, the backing away like lobsters from free-swimming life into safe crannies, the desperate instinct that our life passes unlived, is reflected in proliferation without joy, corrosive money rot, the gross befouling of the earth and air and water from which we came.”

A guy I know says, “Life is short. Go fishing.” Or hiking. Or anything else that gets you out into the world, away from devices and documents and deadlines.

During the long summer I miss my family but I’m so happy to be at Whale Pass.

The Snow Leopard contains a couple of haikus. It inspired me to write a couple…

Sinker thumps bottom.
Big tug. Set hook. Fight to boat.
Fat, flat, halibut.

And,

Faux fly garners strike.
In response, fish jumps and runs.
God gives sacred gift.

So, here’s the haiku challenge. Consider your passion for the outdoors. For most of my readers fishing is an obvious one, but it could be about any other outdoor interest you may have. Write a haiku about it and email it to me using my contact form. The ones chosen by our panel of judge (me) will be published in upcoming blogs. If your haiku is published you will eventually get a complimentary copy of Flyrodding Florida Salt when I return to Florida, around September 1. Please keep in mind that internet access at Whale Pass is at best intermittent, so I may not receive or respond to entries for several weeks.

Ah, yes, there is supposed to be a fishing report in here someplace!

One of my goals for this summer was to try to figure out how to catch ocean salmon on light spin and fly tackle. I have not yet had much opportunity to experiment with that. On Monday, while out with the Bergers from New York, I managed to hook a silver salmon near some rocks on a Sting Silver, made by Haw River Tackle of North Carolina. The Sting Silver is one of my favorite lures for Spanish mackeral and little tunny at home. Hooking an ocean salmon on one was a small step toward my goal, but it was a step. The Bergers each got a silver salmon while mooching cut herring, and hooked and lost another.

I got an hour or so of fishing in by myself on Tuesday, fly fishing near the Neck Lake Outlet. The first cast garnered a strike from a feisty silver. It ran at me faster than I could reel. The slack line that formed wrapped around the rod tip. When the line came tight again the fish immediately broke off. The fly, a chartreuse #4 Clouser Minnow with luminescent green Sili-legs, had been tied that morning and was on my leader for exactly one cast before being lost. Fortunately I tied six, and so have a small strategic reserve.

Tuesday’s foul weather was accompanied by the loss of our last guests while we waited for another group to arrive. We performed routine maintenance on a number of systems and attempted to amuse ourselves.

Wednesday was son Maxx’s birthday. Happy birthday, Maxx! Natbug and I had Eram and Christina out bottom fishing on the Blashke. Although the weather was beautiful, it was a tough day fishing-wise, three halibut and little else. But Christina, a lovely and bright young woman, looked great holding the biggest fish we got, a halibut of 30 pounds or so.

whale pass fishing report

Christina and her halibut.

Our other boats went salmon fishing and did quite well on silvers, with a 20-plus pound king and several pinks thrown in for good measure.

Thursday found me on the Etolin as a deckhand for Capt. Julian. Our anglers were Jerry and Greg. We trolled for salmon all morning, just south of the Triplets. The downrigger wires sang their eerie song as they always do, sounding like undecipherable communications from deep space.

Periodically a rod would go off. We bagged a mixed catch of silver and pink salmon, with one short (and released) king taken as well.

We tried halibut fishing for an hour in Snow Pass but did not get a bite, and were back on the dock at about 3:30 PM.

Some of you, suffering in the summer heat, won’t sympathise with this, but it’s been cold and wet here for a couple days now. High temperatures have only hit the low 60s, 100 percent relative humidity, with wind. If it were any colder it would be miserable. As it is I am having trouble staying warm.

Friday’s guests arrived late. John and his children Jack and Eva joined me for a trip to Neck Lake Outlet. The silver salmon are nothing if not reliably there. Although they are far from suicidal, they certainly will eat if you keep casting. We got five bites and Jack and Eva both put one in the boat. Since Eva is only 10 years old, this was quite an accomplishment.  🙂

whale pass fishing report

Eva with her silver salmon.

Saturday the three of them, plus Eva’s twin sister Grace and mom Leslee all joined Nathaniel and I on the Blashke. Our first goal was to catch some salmon. The salmon refused to cooperate, so we went rockfishing. The happy squeals of the girls made the day a lot of fun, and Jack was pretty fun to have aboard as well. After taking a 10 fish limit of quillbacks and other assorted fish, we went halibut fishing.

whale pass fishing report

We stopped to see Leroy the sea lion while halibut fishing.

Fishing Snow Pass, the halibut were cooperative enough that we caught four, including one right at the 42 inch size limit. Everyone got a chance to pull on some fish, some folks maybe more than they wanted to!

whale pass fishing report

Jack got a workout while halibut fishing.

And that is the Haiku Challenge Whale Pass Fishing Report from the Lodge at Whale Pass and Spotted Tail.

Life is great and I love my work!

Life is short- Go Fishing!

John Kumiski
www.spottedtail.com
http://www.spottedtail.com/blog
www.johnkumiski.com
www.rentafishingbuddy.com
https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/jkumiski

All content in this blog, including writing and photos, copyright John Kumiski 2015. All rights are reserved.