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.



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

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

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


Goodnews River Lodge, Alaska Fishing Report

Silvers and Dollies and Pinks, Oh My!

The silver salmon run is picking up steam here on the Goodnews River. Boats whose captains pick the right spots are logging 25 and 30 fish days. The less fortunate souls have to hunt for two here, three there, none at this other place. One good thing about silvers is that if they are there they bite immediately. You don’t need to waste time fishing where they ain’t.

silver salmon goodnews river

Orlando’s Don Boardman with a fine silver salmon.

Fly casters generally use floating lines and weighted streamers in cerise, orange, chartreuse, blue, black, or some combination of those colors. When the run gets near the peak, gurglers and poppers will work, exciting fishing, but we’re not quite there yet.

Spin fishers usually use either Pixie spoons or Mepps Flying C spinners, although of course other lures will work. My favorite go-to lure, when I absolutely want to catch some fish, is a 3/8th ounce leadhead jig equipped with a soft plastic curly tail. I prefer those jigheads made by DOA because of the stout hook and the eye-catching eyes, but other heads work too. I also like the DOA CAL tails. They hold up fairly well to the toothy attacks of the silvers, and the elicit those attacks with startling regularity.

silver salmon on jig

Jigs are deadly on silver salmon.

Buzz Livingston borrowed one jighead and a couple of tails from me and boated 18 silvers in two hours while out with Kevin Rogers. Now, that’s what I’m talkin’ ’bout!

A staggering number of pink salmon are in the river. We don’t usually target pinks, but catch loads while fishing for both silvers and dollies. They annoy a few anglers when they’re fishing for silvers but I appreciate the bent rods. They are usually a hoot when caught while fishing for dollies because they give an excellent account of themselves on a six-weight or smaller. They are handsome little fish. I really like them.

Likewise dollies are everywhere. Some are getting their spawning colors, which are breathtaking. When you get a four or five pound fish with the spectacular colors of a spawning dolly you understand why you come to Alaska to fish. While streamers and beads are more effective, I still prefer to fish them with a gurgler. The visual aspect of the follows, misses, and occasional hooked fish are all part of fun of using the floating flies. Besides, how many dollies do you need to catch?

Dolly varden in spawning colors.

Mike got this beautiful Dolly in Barnum Creek.

Dead and dying chum and pink salmon are seen everywhere. Flesh flies will be effective on trout and dollies. We’re getting to the time of year when the river will start to stink badly at every bend.

Dead salmon are everywhere.

Long Fish Story of the Week-
Bob and Gennie Johnson, part of a four-couples group, were out fishing with me. Bob had some money riding on the big fish of the day.
I was working with Gennie, who was happily catching dollies. Bob had walked about 200 yards downstream, where he was casting a streamer fly for silver salmon.

Bob bellowed up to us, “Big Fish!” Fine, I thought, just beach it on the gravel bar. He clearly had some other idea though, because he kept yelling at us. So Gennie and I interrupted her fishing, trudged back upstream to the boat ,and got in. I pulled the anchor and proceeded to row downstream.

The water got shallow and the boat grounded, necessitating disembarking and pushing until it began floating again.

In the meantime not only had Bob beached the fish, he had unhooked it and gone back to fishing. He neglected to kill the fish, which did not wish to suffocate on the gravel bar. It flopped its way back into the water.

When Bob noticed his fish was escaping he took immediate action, throwing his fly outfit (Abel reel, Loomis rod) into the river so he could run down the fish. He was successful in this.

About this time we finally arrived on the scene. Bob was almost panicked because he could not find his rod and reel. Hell, the current is strong and the outfit could have been half a mile downstream already. Fortunately he was using a floating line, which he finally spotted. Rod and reel recovered, we got a photo of the fish.

All’s well that ends well!

silver salmon goodnews river

Bob got the fish, and even found his fishing rod.

And that is this week’s Goodnews River Lodge, Alaska 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 2012. All rights are reserved.