Independence Day Whale Pass Fishing Report

whale pass fishing report

These salmon don’t know they have an unsolvable problem.

Independence Day Whale Pass Fishing Report

Happy birthday, America!

Pacific salmon exhibit an incredible will to procreate.

Across the bay from the Lodge a hatchery sits atop what is, for salmon, an impassable waterfall. At the top of the falls, in addition to the hatchery, lies Neck Lake.

Now this hatchery is not run by the state of Alaska for the purpose of making more salmon for everyone. It’s run by a commercial fishing consortium interested in making a profit from an investment.

It’s my understanding that the salmon eggs used in this operation come from a river to the north of here, a long river that the fish must enter early in the season in order to get to the spawning grounds far upstream. The hatchery takes the eggs from fish from this other river, hatches and grows the alevins for a while, then puts the smolts in pens on Neck Lake.

Once the smolts are ready to return to the sea, they are released from the pens, they find their way to the waterfall, tumble down into the bay, and swim off into the sunset.

They return four years later, wanting to spawn. Ha! The joke is on you, fish.

The adult silver salmon cannot get up the falls, but they do find the fish ladder cleverly placed there by the builders of the hatchery. They climb the ladder only to end up in a large holding tank. Two or three days a week during season, depending on how many fish are present, the fish are removed from the tank, prepared for and shipped to market. Apparently they are in great demand, since they are the earliest run of silver salmon commercially available from Alaska.

These fish are the silvers we’ve been fishing for and catching since I got to Whale Pass a month ago. The run is in full swing, and lots of fishermen are over there working it now. We’re still catching lots of salmon, although it’s harder to get a bite than it was.

Daisies grow everywhere around here.

Daisies grow everywhere around here.

Although I haven’t been out, the halibut bite has been hot all week. The Wallace party from Massachusetts limited out on fish up to 40 pounds in less than one hour. There were a few Pacific cod tossed into the mix, too.

Tuesday Alex and I took a van on the back roads of Prince of Wales Island, looking for adventure in the form of fly fishing. First we stopped at Twin Island Lake. I waded out with the fly I had tied on, an Ultra Clouser. It was not the right fly. I could see trout jumping out in the lake but I did not get a bite, and ended up casting off the fly. Funny that the four pound tippet wouldn’t hold a Clouser Minnow tied on a #2 hook.

Next we stopped on upper 108 Creek. The stream passes through a cavern, and I wanted to show it to Alex. A natural run of silvers comes up this stream, goes through the cave and into the lake above. I am looking forward to seeing it.

Following this we came to a trailhead for Red Bay Lake. We hiked the trail, one of the finer walks I’ve taken in quite a while.

whale pass fishing report

Alex on the beautifully maintained trail to Red Bay Lake.

There were some big trees in there! One may have been the largest tree I have ever seen, and that includes the Amazon basin and Joyce Kilmer National Forest. I hugged one for a moment, then we continued.

The photo doesn't begin to do justice to one of the biggest trees I've eve seen.

The photo doesn’t begin to do justice to one of the biggest trees I’ve eve seen.

At the far end of the trail was a beautiful lake. Tied to a tree was a boat, with a plug and three oars. We lost no time in putting the plug in and launching the craft. The lake was full of cutthroat trout, no big ones, but fat healthy fish of 12 inches or so. Although I wish I had a rod smaller than a four-weight, it was a wonderful afternoon.

whale pass fishing report

Alex was hot to get on the oars.


whale pass fishing report

Even Dad got into the act.


whale pass fishing report

Cutthroat trout are lovely fish. I want a five pounder, though.

Finally, we stopped at Neck Lake, across from the salmon pens. There were fish rising and Alex got two little cutthroats before we hopped back in the van and returned to Whale Pass. We’d seen some wonderful new territory, caught plenty of beautiful fish. All in all it was an awesome day.


This flower, which I must learn the name of, was on a rock in the lake.

This flower, which I must learn the name of, was on a rock in the lake.

The past couple days I have had trout fishing trips up into Barnes Lake. While I am still figuring this fishery out the fishing has been outstanding, although we did not catch any fish over about 14 inches. Brightly colored flies in pink or orange have been working best.

whale pass fishing report

Jack tries to subdue the mighty cutthroat trout.

Spin fishermen are tossing number three spinners from Mepps and Blue Fox. Color of those has not seemed to matter.

Yesterday eleven year old Clay had a sockeye salmon smack his little spinner. After an exciting battle Clay pulled the fish up to the bank, where I grabbed it and dispatched it, definitely the fish of the day.

Eleven year old Jack got a nice cutt on a spinner at the same spot.

whale pass fishing report

Jack was successful, although the fish was released.

We all had some quality time at the tide pool where the sea stars live.


whale pass fishing report

Jack also got this trophy sea star, also released.

And that is this week’s Lodge at Whale Pass Fishing Report.

Life is great and I love my work!

Life is short. Go Fishing!

John Kumiski

All content in this blog, including writing and photos, copyright John Kumiski 2014. All rights are reserved.


  1. john-the red/yellow flower is wild columbine.

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