The Season’s Final Whale Pass Fishing Report and Photo Essay

The Season’s Final Whale Pass Fishing Report

The berries are all gone. Invisible geese honk in the twilight. Nights grow longer. Dead salmon lie along all the waterways. Football is on the tube now, according to reliable reports. Our summer at Whale Pass draws to a conclusion, always a bittersweet time. This is the season’s last report from the Lodge at Whale Pass. I am taking next week off for travel home, recuperation, and repatriation.

I’d like to thank reader Bill Mucklow, who lives on Vancouver Island and sent me the following: “I live on Vancouver Island and do a great deal of fly fishing for salmon, some pinks but we target Coho.
“Early in the year we fish the top of the Island in the Johnson Straight for feeding coho. We use 10 foot Zodiacs and are very successful using Bucktails. This starts mid July and goes until about now.
“I suggest you give bucktails a try. We use Polar Bear for ours plus a combination of Ice Dub Shimmers. We skid them along the surface about 15-20 behind the boat and hang on.
“The process is as follows-

1.  Use a floating line with a 6-8 foot leader. Use strong stuff as they hit it really hard. I usually use 15 lb. fluoro.

2.  You will troll the buck tail about 20 feet back of the boat…maybe 25…just behind where the prop wash crosses.

3.  Speed is fairly fast…about the speed for Sockeye trolling.

4.  We put the rod in a holder so you don’t miss the hit/set.

5.  All our bucktails represent local baitfish and use a stinger hook.

“The cohos are starting to congregate in the kelp now so we change to 8-wt rods with Deep 7 lines and a baitfish fly. It’s great fun catching 10-15 coho per day in the 8-14 pound category by casting into the kelp.
“Generally the Coho we target will be showing somewhat, even though you see them periodically on the surface they are basically feeding down much deeper.
“We let the fly sink to around 25-30 feet then begin a slow retrieve…1 – 2 – 1- 3 – 2 – 1 short strips. When feeding they will follow a bit then hit the fly hard. Our last trip to the top of the Island were did not have to do any buck tailing. Salmon in the kelp were after baitfish so we were able to do very well casting baitfish flies using a Deep 7 line. A quick drop into the kelp feeding zone about 20-35 feet down and WHAM! The fun is on!”

Thank you for the detailed information, Bill. I hope I get a chance to use it.

The salmon run in the 108 Creek attains epic proportions. For such a small stream it sure hosts a run of fish! Most are pinks, but there are plenty of silvers mixed in, too. Watch for fishing black bears, especially at either end of the day. I still like the four-weight with a small, flashy pink fly for the salmon. For the bears you might need something more stout.

IMG_0038

 

whale pass fishing report

Salmon scoot across shallow water on their way to the spawning grounds.

 

whale pass fishing report

Salmon in a pool in the 108 Creek.

Halibut, cod, and rockfish are still on the bite. While fishing at AnAn, waiting for a party of bear watchers, Alex and I caught on hook and line a couple of dungeness crabs and a couple of large and colorful multi-legged sea stars.

 

whale pass fishing report

Dana holds a quillback rockfish she pulled up from 150 feet of water.

 

whale pass fishing report

Not pretty, maybe, but real tasty.

whale pass fishing report

Alex wasn’t crazy about holding this sea star.

I also got to see the LaConte Glacier this week. It is an utterly fantastic place, words fail me. Photos cannot capture the grandeur of it.

 

whale pass fishing report

The face of the LaConte Glacier.

 

whale pass fishing report

Can you see the Etolin, hidden among the ice?

 

Snows from these high mountains feed the glacier.

Snows from these high mountains feed the glacier.

 

whale pass fishing report

We got to witness a minor calving event. The glacier sounded like a major thunderstorm, booming constantly.

It’s been a good season here, with new experiences, new friends, and a whole lot of new knowledge. I feel very fortunate to have found this place. That having been said, I hope there’s lots of bait off Cape Canaveral when I get there!

 

whale pass fishing report

In my fishing fantasies, this is what I will find when I get home.

Needless to say I need some work when I get home. If you’ve been thinking about taking a fishing trip in central Florida, either in the lagoons or along the beaches, please consider calling me. When you’re happy, I’m happy!

And that is this season’s final Whale Pass Fishing Report from the Lodge at Whale Pass.

Life is great and I love my work!

Life is short- Go Fishing!

IT’S MY BYE WEEK NEXT WEEK! Next report on 9/6! Have a fun and safe Labor Day!

John Kumiski
http://www.spottedtail.com

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




Whale Week Whale Pass Fishing Report- A Photo Essay

whale pass fishing report

Whale Week Whale Pass Fishing Report

It was the week of the whale at the Lodge at Whale Pass.

It was a sizable group of orcas.

It was a sizable group of orcas.

We saw pods of orcas two days in a row and were fortunate enough to be able to photograph them.

whale pass fishing report

The day following the second orca sighting the passengers aboard the Etolin were treated to a display of breaching humpback whales, which we aboard the Thorne saw only from a distance as we raced to the site, hoping to see it too.

It hardly fit in the viewfinder.

It hardly fit in the viewfinder.

Alas, the whales changed their behavior before we arrived. Given the photos I got of the orcas, I have no cause to complain however.

orca4

Hopefully the whales will continue their behaviors around Whale Pass, and we will continue to observe them.

whale pass fishing report

 

orcas2

News Flash!- In an attempt to market what until now has been mostly viewed as an “undesirable” species, we have renamed the sculpin the wolfcod. We are considering starting a wolfcod derby, complete with prizes. It seems like a good idea- take a fish that no one wants and turn it into a fun fish to catch. Stay tuned.

whale pass fishing report

Lucas with a fine pair of “wolf cod.”

Halibut fishing has been nothing if not consistent. In southeast Alaska they have a reverse slot limit. Any halibut smaller than 44 inches in length is legal to keep. Any halibut over 70 inches (I think) is also legal to keep. Any in between those two lengths must be released unharmed however. The bag limit is one halibut per angler per day.

whale pass fishing report

The Moorishes with a fat halibut.

We have been targeting fish in the 40 inch range and have been doing well on almost every trip.

 

whale pass fishing report

Lucas and Melanie with another good ‘but.

 

whale pass fishing report

Christian took some time from his Ph.D. studies to connect with this halibut.

The fishing for silver salmon at Neck Lake Outlet has been flat out stoopid. Most anglers who go over there get a limit of six fish. The Mepps Flying C, Blue Fox, and Vibrax spinners have all been effective, as has the Pixie spoon. Fly fishers have been using a chartreuse Clouser Minnow to deadly effect.

 

whale pass fishing report

A nice king salmon taken while trolling.

We went trolling for salmon one afternoon this week, taking three silvers and two kings. One of the kings was a “shaker,” a local term for a fish that must be released because it’s too small. The legal minimum is 28 inches. The other was a handsome 31 inch fish. The fish were taken by using downriggers and flashers with a hootchie squid.

Cutthroat trout fishing in the Barnes Lake area likewise has been nothing if not consistent. Because of the tides and the flow reversals it is a hard place to figure out. We have not gotten any more fish in the three to four pound range. But the 12-14 inch fish are plentiful, and the little ones are nuisances, if such a gorgeous little fish can be called that. There are a few dollies in there as well, a situation I hope improves as the pink salmon begin to run. Stay tuned!

whale pass fishing report

Another Barnes Lake cutthroat.

 

And that is this week’s Whale Pass Fishing Report from the Lodge at Whale Pass. See you next week, same time, same channel.

Life is great and I love my work!

Life is short. Go Fishing!

John Kumiski
http://www.spottedtail.com

 

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



 

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
http://www.spottedtail.com

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




Summer Solstice Whale Pass Fishing Report

Whale Pass Fishing Report

Pagans everywhere! Celebrate the summer solstice!

Here at Whale Pass we celebrate such holidays by fishing, of course.

Morning view from the Lodge at Whale Pass.

Morning view from the Lodge at Whale Pass.

Our only guests this week were Linda Stern and her grandson William, both from New York. Tuesday Alex and I took them fishing for silver salmon in the quintessential Alaska weather, that is to say cold and rainy. There were quite a few fish around. It’s almost like fishing for schools of redfish. You can see the fish pushing a wake and attempt to have the lure intersect the fishes’ path. They are not as spooky as are Mosquito Lagoon reds, though. They hooked five, only to have four escape. Cold and wet by lunchtime, we took the three-minute boat ride across the bay, back to the lodge.

 

whale pass fishing report

Linda Stern with a nice silver salmon.

The weather improved and we went back out in the afternoon. The sun was peeking through the clouds now and again and the fish were there. So were a couple of seals.

If you’re fishing, seals are kind of like sharks in that they will steal your hooked fish from you. William had a salmon on when a seal grabbed it. We chased that seal around for a solid 10 minutes, and the seal finally let the fish go. We got it! We had a couple other close calls, where the seal was chasing a hooked fish but didn’t quite catch up to it. In spite of the seal harassment we got eleven more salmon, for a nice limit for two, a great way to start their fishing off.

 

whale pass fishing report

Salmon will strike spinners.

 

whale pass fishing report

That’s a lot of fine eating.

Yesterday I went out as a deckhand on the Thorne, captained by Jared Cook. The fishing party was a family from Oregon, with a pair of 11 year old fraternal twins.

We saw whales, sea lions, seals, and porpoises. I’m still looking for a good whale photo.

We first went fishing for halibut. Twin Robert caught the first one, a fish of 25 pounds or so. Then his sister got one. Then Mom got one. Then Dad got one. Very democratic, these fish.

The Etolin, one of the Lodge's vessels, on the halibut grounds.

The Etolin, one of the Lodge’s vessels, on the halibut grounds.

Having our limit, we went for rockfish next. They are lovely little fish but I wouldn’t target them. Too small a fish, too heavy tackle. My understanding is they are very long-lived and very slow growing, too. Best to leave them alone. You’ll catch them while fishing for salmon anyway. But we got the limit of these, too.

A type of rockfish, beautiful little fish.

A type of rockfish, beautiful little fish.

Then we went trolling for king salmon. Downriggers. Flashers. The whole thing was all new to me and I learned a lot. We got three kings, although only one was a legal fish of thirty inches.

Day over, we headed back to the dock where we had a fish cleaning party.

Thursday we went out as anglers with the Stern party on the Etolin, captained by Kurt Gorlitz, again fishing for halibut. Except for me, the bite was on! Eight halibut to about thirty pounds were brought to the boat, although half of them were released.

whale pass fishing report

Capt. Kurt swings a halibut aboard.

 

whale pass fishing report

Alex with his ‘but.

 

whale pass fishing report

William and Linda show a halibut double.

Thursday night we had a fish fry party in the rec room. Fresh halibut fish and chips, yum-mee! Darts, pool, foosball, and other games were played, and we had a faltering attempt at karaoke. A fabulous time was had by all.

The recreation room at the Lodge.

The recreation room at the Lodge.

Friday Alex and I took the jet boat out exploring. There are lots of rocks around here, and I mean rocks the size of mountaintops. We came to a rapid that was unrunnable when we got there. Kevin, the owner of the Lodge at Whale Pass, had told us that at low tide we couldn’t get past that spot. We beached the boat and went exploring while we waited. We followed a black tailed deer for a way. They run like cartoon deer, bouncing along on all fours like a big bunny.

We found some stars in a tide pool.

seastars

Kelp grows everywhere around here.

kelp

After an hour or so the water had risen enough that we could run the rapid. We did, and several others as well, ending up at a small stream where we caught some cutthroat trout, lovely creatures that we released.

whale pass fishing report

The wooly bugger did the trick on this cutthroat trout.

On the way back we got turned around a couple times, but found another spot for cutts. We were back at camp in time for dinner.

 

whale pass fishing report

Alex used a big orange streamer for this cutt.

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

Life is great and I love my work!

Life is short. Go Fishing!

John Kumiski
http://www.spottedtail.com

 

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



  • Killer whale steals halibut from angler’s hook

Preliminary Whale Pass Fishing Report

Preliminary Whale Pass Fishing Report

Have you ever had a hummingbird stare you in the eye?

It’s been a tough week emotionally.

That having been said, Alex and I arrived here at the Lodge at Whale Pass before the guests. The lodge is in the middle of a renovation. There was not a lot of fishing going on.

whale pass fishing report

Not fishing, Alex works on the lodge.

Down on the dock I caught some sculpins, flounders, and another kind of panfish with which I was unfamiliar, all on a 1/2 ounce white bucktail jig.

Tuesday evening after supper Alex and I took a pair of kayaks across the small bay on which the lodge sits to a creek on the far side. We pulled the kayaks up the bank and went scouting up the creek. As we ascended we saw some fish, although we spooked them.

yakkin

We came to signs that said, “No fishing past this point.” Alaska Fish and Wildlife had placed them. We headed back downstream.

Alex was hot to catch a trout. The stream was small, so I found a pleasant place to sit, and watched him fish for a while.

 

whale pass fishing report

The stream was small with a low tide.

He didn’t get any bites so I decided to head back to the kayaks and wait down there. Maybe I could catch a sculpin on fly. I’d never done that before.

Of course as soon as I got away from him Alex hooked a big fish. I headed back, hoping to get some pictures, only to hear a string of obscenities. He’s quitting cigarettes and was a little edgy. He had lost the fish. No photos.

I followed my original plan. I caught a sculpin on a big olive wooly bugger I somehow got out there with my little four-weight. While I was examining the fish (they will get your attention) a salmon jumped out of the water nearby, although too far to reach with that fly. I waited and watched and soon they were rolling right in front of me.

 

whale pass fishing report

It certainly is an interesting looking fish.

One took the bugger. It was the hottest salmon I have ever hooked, jumping at least a dozen times and going deep into the backing. I had to chase it down the shoreline.

It was near the beach, nearly finished, when the hook pulled out.

A little disappointed, I went back to where I had been standing and started casting. Three casts in, the line again came tight.

Although strong, this fish was nothing like the previous one. In a few minutes I tailed it, a handsome buck silver salmon. I carried it up towards the trees, well away from the water. There I thanked the fish, then, wanting to eat it, I tore its gills and bled it out.

To carry it back to camp I bungeed it to the deck of the kayak, something I had never done before. It worked.

 

whale pass fishing report

The salmon, bungeed to my kayak.

Wednesday night I baked the fish and it formed the basis for our dinner. It was delicious.

Thursday morning I was stretching on the porch of the lodge. Alex’s fishing rod, sitting right in front of me, had a pink fly tied onto the leader. A hummingbird flew up and examined the fly. I could not believe how close it was to me. Then it came about eight inches from my nose and checked me out for a full fifteen seconds, most extraordinary. Then it blazed off the way hummingbirds do.

A couple of our fishing boats were launched Thursday, something I had nothing to do with. They just showed up at the dock. They are fine, seaworthy vessels and I cannot wait to get out in one. There is still more prep work to do on property, though.

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

Life is great and I love my work!

Life is short. Go Fishing!

John Kumiski
http://www.spottedtail.com

 

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




What to DO When the Big Fish Swims Under the Boat

What to DO When the Big Fish Swims Under the Boat

tarpon boatside

OK, today’s lesson deals with what to do when a big fish swims under the boat. For some reason most fishermen want to lift the rod when the big fish makes its dive. I’ve watched too many guys do this. The result is always the same. The line rubs against the hull of the boat, increasing friction and virtually assuring a break-off. Since big fish don’t come along all the time, when the line breaks so does your heart. OOOhhh that hurts.

So, what is the correct response when the big fish makes its dive? You simply thrust the tip end of the rod down into the water. How far down? Far enough down to ensure that the line does not touch the hull or motor of the boat. If the fish is beefy enough to extend its run away from the “wrong” side of the boat, you simply walk the rod around the bow of the boat. As soon as the line clears the hull you can lift the rod out of the water and continue the battle in a more conventional fashion. On a particularly big, nasty fish you may have to perform this maneuver more than once.

We’re assuming here that the boat is small enough to allow you to do this. Honestly, although I would certainly like to I’ve never had the problem occur while on a Hatteras 48 or similar vessel. If any readers can expound on this I would love to hear from you.

So, to sum up what to do when the big fish swims under the boat- rod lift bad, rod thrust into water good. Keep this straight and catch more of those big fish.

John Kumiski
http://www.spottedtail.com

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

Thanks to Ricky Dee for use of the photo!


Goodnews River Fishing Report

Another Goodnews River Fishing Report

Silver Salmon Coming on Strong; Technical Difficulties

First, the technical dificulties, of which there are two. The power inverter on the generator here at Goodnews River Lodge crapped out this week. We only have power for essentials, of which our router is not. So this report may be posted late, or not at all.

Also, my i-photo program has been acting strangely, not accepting new photos. So if the report does get posted it may be photo-less. We’ll see how it progresses today.

Silver salmon! I got my first of the season the other night on the six-weight and was stunned once again at what hot fish they are. More and more enter the river every day. Several boats have already had 20-plus fish days. Effective flies include any weighted flies containing the colors of pink, orange, purple, and/or chartreuse, usually on a size 2 or 1 hook. Effective hardware include the ever -effective Pixie spoon, 1/2 ounce, the Mepps Flying C spinner, or my own favorite, a 1/2 ounce DOA CAL jighead with a pink, chartreuse, or nite-glow soft plastic twisty tail.

goodnews river fishing report

This silver was the first salmon PG had ever caught.

 

goodnews river fishing report

Jess got her first silver salmon on the fly.

Dollies are coming up the river by the thousands, but not with the size reported last week. These fish are much smaller. Still, with a four-weight and a gurgler you can have an afternoon’s worth of very genteel fishing and catch 30 or 40 fish.

The chum salmon are almost spawned out already and dead fish are everywhere. Dave Kane got five rainbow trout in less than two hours on a flesh fly while fishing the Middle Fork with me this past week. On one hand it seems a bit strange to use a fly that imitates a free-drifting piece of dead salmon. On the other hand trout and big dollies eat the heck out of them. I guess I’ll keep tying them on.

goodnews river fishing report

Dave used a flesh fly to fool this nice rainbow trout.

No weird fishing stuff happened this week, although Clint and Garrett McCoy both got red sockeye salmon on flies yesterday, both fairly hooked. Good going, gentlemen!

goodnews river fishing report

Garrett fights a sockeye salmon.

 

goodnews river fishing report

Garrett, with the fish. Nice color!

 

And that is this week’s Goodnews River Fishing Report!

Life is great and I love my work!

Life is short. Go fishing!

John Kumiski
http://www.spottedtail.com

All content in this blog, including writing and photos, copyright John Kumiski 2013. All rights are reserved.

 

Goodnews River Fishing Report

Goodnews River Fishing Report

I’m back at Alaska’s Goodnews River Lodge. As always, it’s great to be here. The internet connection, however, is dreadfully slow. I was not able to load up my email protocol last week. You can see last week’s vacation report here…

The state of Alaska has closed the Goodnews to the taking of king salmon. As the photos below show, there are some fish in the river. One of these fish was taken on a Wiggle Wort, the other on a Pixie spoon. We’re at the tail end of July, so we’re also nearing the tail end of the king salmon run.

 

goodnews river fishing report

This king salmon whacked a plug.

 

goodnews river fishing report

This 41 pound king was fooled by a Pixie spoon.

 

Likewise, I missed most of the sockeye run. Dimitri at the weir told me that over 25,000 fish passed through their counters there. But only 200 went through the day before we spoke.

There are chum salmon, also known as tiger salmon, everywhere right now. These fish average 10 to 12 pounds and get significantly larger. They eat small pink flies (#4 or so) readily and you can get 30 or 40 in a day, incredible fishing.

Those thousands of chums will start dropping eggs soon. Then the trout and dolly fishing will go of the charts.

There are relatively few pink salmon in the river- it’s an off year. They will be back in force next season.

The dolly varden are coming in now too. Tom Olden got one yesterday while salmon fishing that was about two feet long, a beautiful fish. He also got a 24 inch rainbow trout on a salmon fly given to me by Steve Silverio, a fly every bit of four inches long.

We saw three bears yesterday, a sow with two cubs. I’ve already equalled the total bear sightings from last year. There seems to be many more bald eagles here this year as well.

No one here has caught a silver yet but before I write another fishing report someone will. They are my favorite fish here and I look forward to their arrival!

And that, folks, is this week’s Goodnews River Fishing Report!

Life is great and I love my work!

Life is short. Get out and live!

John Kumiski
http://www.spottedtail.com

All content in this blog, including writing and photos, copyright John Kumiski 2013. All rights are reserved.

Flies for Goodnews River Silver Salmon

This silver salmon took a marabou streamer.

Within a certain set of parameters, silver salmon will eat ANYTHING.

OK, that requires a little explanation. Within any group of silvers (and probably any other species of fish) there is a range of aggressiveness. For example, if you find a school of 100 silvers, 10 will eat almost anything you throw at them (Please keep in mind I am making these numbers up, based on six seasons of observations. It could be more, or less.). Another five or so might eat if you show them your best fly, perfectly presented. The rest won’t eat anything, regardless of what you try. You need to find another group of fish once the bite stops. Yes, they are still there, but no, they won’t eat any more.

Most fly fishers love a surface bite. If you want to catch them on top you need to try a surface fly as soon as you find some fish. Get the aggressive ones before they all wise up!
Some folks like clipped deerhair flies, some like poppers. I think that for ease of tying combined with ease of casting you can’t beat a craft foam gurgler. Tie it on a #2 Mustad 36890 salmon fly hook or equivalent in pink or orange, with a cerise marabou tail and a cerise Estaz body. It’s a five minute tie that’s good for 15 or 20 fish before it’s torn apart.

A flock of salmon gurglers awaiting use.

The fish will eventually refuse to rise. Switch to a streamer.

My favorite is what I call the silver salmon Clouser Minnow. Tie it on the same hook as above, or on a Mustad 3407. Use a 1/30th ounce lead eye. Use wig hair (or bucktail) for the wing, and tie in a Puff-like head around the lead eyes with Estaz. Effective colors include cerise, hot pink, orange, purple, blue, black, chartreuse, and various combinations of these colors.

Silver salmon Clouser Minnows- effective and easy to tie.

Yes, the salmon will take a fly tied with synthetics.

The short list includes one more pattern, the marabou (or bunny strip) tail fly. Same hooks, same lead eye. Tie in a tail of marabou (or bunny strip) in one of the above mentioned colors. Tie in a piece of Estaz and wrap it around the shank to the lead eye. If you want to get fancy, add sili-legs. Again, it’s a five minute tie that will catch a lot of fish before they tear it apart.

When getting a bite gets more difficult, sili-legs often do the trick.

Of course, the cerise bunny leech that was described in the blog about king salmon flies is always in good taste, too.

You could go crazy tying articulated flies that take 30 or 40 minutes each. These fish ain’t that fussy. The above flies will cover almost every situation you find yourself in when fishing for silvers. Try this short list of Flies for Goodnews River Silver Salmon when fishing for silver salmon anywhere.

John Kumiski
http://www.spottedtail.com

All content in this blog, including writing and photos, copyright John Kumiski 2012. All rights are reserved.

 

Flies for Goodnews River King Salmon

Flies for King Salmon

This is the first in a series about flies used on the Goodnews River, Alaska.

Goodnews River king salmon typically rest in seam water that’s six to eight feet deep. There’s always a strong current. If you want to catch one with a fly rod you usually need a fast sinking fly line and a fast sinking fly.

Before my first trip there Bob Stearns allayed my fears about what to tie by telling me, “Those fish have never seen a fly before, never seen a fisherman. They will eat almost any well-presented fly.” Of course he was right. Most of the time the fish are way less fussy than the fisherman, and a heavy Clouser Minnow will often work as well as anything else.

That having been said, the old standard fly was a cerise-colored bunny leech tied on a size two Mustad 36890 hook, with a 1/30th ounce or heavier lead eye.

Bunny Leeches

Pink (cerise, actually) bunny leeches ready for deployment.

KingSalmonBunnyLeech

This hen king salmon took one of those simple bunny leeches.

Articulated flies (see how to tie one here) have become all the rage since I started working at the Goodnews River Lodge six seasons back. They take longer to tie but help prevent short strikes. You can tie big, crazy flies this way. For weight some tyers use lead eyes, others use tungsten cone-shaped beads. Both work, so use whichever you prefer.

ArticulatedFly-KingSalmon

This articulated fly, tied with both rabbit and Arctic fox zonker strips, was eaten by a king salmon.

On the Goodnews only single hook artificials are allowed, so you must break off the bend and point of the forward hook. Use an inexpensive iron for this work (I use a 2/0 Mustad 3407). Alternatively, purchase a special hookless hook made specifically for tying articulated flies.

Most guides at Goodnews like an octopus-style hook for the trailer, with sizes ranging from 4 to 1/0, the tyer’s personal choice. A larger hook is less likely to fail under duress. Some of us dress it, others leave it naked, again, a matter of preference.

KingSalmonArticulatedFly

Another king salmon falls for an articulated fly.

Effective colors include cerise, purple, hot pink, black, blue, orange, chartreuse, and combinations of these. Flash material is in good taste, and a rattle is easily tied in on the forward hook before tying in the dressing.

That is all you need to know about tying Flies for King Salmon.

John Kumiski
http://www.spottedtail.com

All content in this blog, including writing and photos, copyright John Kumiski 2012. All rights are reserved.