The Drive-by Whale Pass Fishing Report

The Drive-by Whale Pass Fishing Report

This week’s report is dedicated to my friend and fishing buddy Tammy Wilson who would have loved being with me on Friday’s trip.

Grocer Don lent me his Suburban, a nice gesture if ever there was one. I got into the vehicle around 8:30 and headed out of Whale Pass.

I stopped at the Bridge Hole on 108 Creek. I’d never fished there before, and while checking it out from the bridge a salmon rolled, then another. I put on my waders and grabbed the four-weight. The morning light was gorgeous, falling through the spruces onto the creek. Three or four casts in the line came tight.

A silver danced on its tail to the music of the creek, only to be released a few minutes later. It was a harbinger of things to come. Two pink salmon came to hand before I climbed back into the Suburban.

The next stop was the Cable Hole, also on 108 Creek. I was hoping for a Dolly varden, but didn’t complain when the hole proved to be packed with pinks. After three fish I left, since there was an agenda to keep. I stopped for some berry picking on the way back to the car.

Forty minutes of curvy, bumpy dirt road later the ‘burban stopped and discharged me at Red Creek. I was hoping for a cutthroat and a rainbow trout. I got the cutt, but the rainbow (if it was in fact a rainbow- it did jump amazingly high) jumped off. I got a pink as a consolation.

Back into the ‘burb, off to Memorial Beach. Didn’t know what to expect. Grocer Don told me that it was possible to catch Dollies from the beach. I was intrigued and wanted to try.

whale pass fishing report

A five minute walk brought me to a gravel beach with giant limestone outcroppings along the water here and there, with fantastic views of the bay and snow covered mountains to the north, not at all a bad place to wet a line. An older couple was there with at least a half-dozen kids. The kids were having a blast, running and playing, screaming and shouting. The man came over to me and apologized for their noise.

“Hey, it’s happy noise, it’s all good. This place is amazing. It’s good they’re enjoying it,” I told him. He told me he often caught Dollies from the beach on an incoming tide, using spinners. The tide was coming in. I didn’t have any spinners, but I did have streamer flies. I walked back to the car to get the rod.

I’d like to say I was covered up with fish. That would be untruthful. Maybe a dozen were caught and released, with the largest a solid eighteen inches. But the fish became an afterthought when a humpback whale swam by, blowing again and again, not 100 yards away from me. Un-Bee-Leave-A-Bull.

whale pass fishing report

If I were a better caster I could have presented the fly to this beast.

When I was finishing up the man came back and again apologized for the kid’s noise. He introduced himself as Pete and gave me an unopened package of smoked salmon, a very kind and completely unexpected gesture.

When I got back to the car some color in the bushes caught my attention. Fifteen minutes that might have been used for fishing were spent picking and eating berries. I do not view that as a waste of time!

whale pass fishing report

Son Alex had asked me to check out Alder Creek. It looked small, shallow, and difficult to fish, but there were salmon rolling in it so I parked the car and hiked upstream a couple hundred yards.

The stream was drop-dead gorgeous. Stopping and checking it out was the smartest thing I could have done.

The sun was shining into a little hole. It was full of salmon but there were other fish in there too, either trout or dollies. I went upstream a cast farther, put on an egg-sucking smolt, and tossed it into the hole. Bang! The nicest dolly of the day.

The stream was loaded with them. The biggest was 22 inches, a beautiful fish. It was the hottest fishing I’ve had this year, with a fish on almost every cast until I ran out of time.

dolly varden

Drive-by fishing, Alaska style. It was a wonderful day. I thought of Tammy the whole drive back.

Silvers are still being caught in numbers at Neck Lake Outlet. They are beginning to show some color, and are a lot fussier than they used to be.

whale pass fishing report

Grocer Don and son Alex with a party at Neck Lake Outlet on a foggy morning.

The halibut bite remains strong. Lots of cod and rockfish are being caught, too.

Mooching and trolling around the Triplets is producing pink, silver, and king salmon. The whale shows have been awesome, too.

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

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.

Fishing Report, Goodnews River

Fishing Report, Goodnews River

To all my readers, my apologies for not posting for a month. My old Macintosh stopped communicating with the server at Goodnews and I could not get online.

If you have sent me an email since early August chances are it’s been deleted. I had almost 800 to deal with and many fell through huge cracks in my attention span. If it was important, please send me another.

This is the report from 8/13, the last one I wrote:

Unfortunately no crazy stories came out of Goodnews River Lodge this week. We must have a house full of normal guests! It has rained every day, however.

The river is high and discolored, and still rising.

The silver salmon and dolly varden are coming in like crazy, though. The dollies are still in their favorite spots. The silvers search for clean, quiet water. Finding them can require searching, but they eat well when discovered.

Gary Vasquez and Linda Martuch laid a hurt on a couple dozen silver salmon, using poppers while fishing with me the other day.

Ray-Ray and Mike tuned up dozens of dollies way up the main stem of the Goodnews on a variety of flies. The bigest was 24 inches. I thought we had a real big dolly when Mike jumped a nice fish using a gurgler. It turned out to be a silver salmon though. Ray also got a nice rainbow trout on a dolly lama fly. Both of them got fairly hooked sockeye salmon, nice red ones, too.

Generally, I take men out fishing here. This week I had the good fortune to have two lovely young women as my anglers.

The girls, sisters, were novice fly fishers. We worked on casting some, then proceeded to fish. Their casting skills weren’t great (they would have a rough time on Mosquito Lagoon) but this is Alaska. They caught some silver salmon. While they did not want to export any, we had a bleeder. We kept it for camp.

Rachel wanted to learn how to filet the fish, so I gave her a lesson. For a first one she did a fine job.

Fishing report, goodnews river

Rachel fillets her first fish. Apparently she’s enjoying it.

As it turns out Michelle is a student at Tufts University, about five miles from the house where I grew up. We talked about Medford, about Boston.

Fishing report, goodnews river

Sister Michelle takes a break from Tufts U.

We went fishing for dollies after lunch. The fish, as usual, were cooperative. The girls caught a bunch by using gurglers.

For one of us at least it was a delightful day, a welcome change of pace from grumpy old men (sorry, guys). Thank you, Rachel and Michelle.

Since then, silver season was again incredible. I had the pleasure of fishing so many fine people, I was blessed in that way. As the season neared its end the feeling became decidedly autumnal- shorter days, the willow leaves turning gold and falling everywhere, the silver salmon turning red, the constant honking of migrating geese. Bears made their appearance, finally. Some of our guides went hunting. The ptarmigan and ducks were delicious. A native gave one of us a big chunk of moose meat. My last night I camp I had a moose steak, quite the toothsome piece of protein, I must say.

Here’s a short photo essay that hopefully puts some of the season in perspective-

Fishing report, goodnews river

Capt. Souza with a 23 inch rainbow trout.


Fishing report, goodnews river

Leili is happy with this dolly varden.


Fishing report, goodnews river

Don Kane caught this nice dolly with a bead.


Fishing report, goodnews river

Maio, again with a dolly.


Fishing report, goodnews river

Brittany adds another silver salmon to a load already caught.


Fishing report, goodnews river

Joe Levin tosses a salmon carcass.


Fishing report, goodnews river

Full circle, with Jessi and Ross.

One’s readers can show up anywhere. We were out fishing one day and some rafters floated by. One of them yelled to us, “Are you the guide Kumiski?” “Yes I am,” I called back. “I read your blog!” he said. Needless to say my head swelled like a beach ball. Susan should have been there to keep me humble. She does that well.

It was with both relief and melancholy that I left Goodnews this morning. God willing I will be back next year.

And that is the last Goodnews River Fishing Report of this season. Back to central Florida waters reports next week, assuming the Mitzi will start.

Life is great and I love my work!

Life is short. Get out and live!

John Kumiski

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

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

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


Goodnews River Lodge, Alaska Fishing Report

2012 Goodnews Season Wrapping Up

Next week- my 10 best photos from 2012 Goodnews!

The last week of the 2012 Goodnews season arrived. Our current crop of guests go home on Wednesday. Then it’s clean up, put up, and get out, always a bittersweet time. That having been said, I am quite ready to get home. I miss Susan, and my mom, and Richard, and son Maxx, and all my friends and relatives. See you all soon!

I had a fish counter today, Patrick, a Scotsman currently living in New Zealand. Patrick carefully tallied the number of silver salmon he caught. He used a fly rod for most, got about six on a gurgler, a dozen or so on streamers, and the balance of 23 on a spinning rod. We won’t discuss missed strikes, fish that jumped off, broke off, etc. I thought the morning was slow. The last spot of the day, a favorite of mine on the middle fork, was spectacular and the day saver.

silver salmon, goodnews river alaska

One of Patrick’s 23 silver salmon.

Bill Kirby, Ulf Erickson, and Sir Thomas Tait are some of the other current guests, some of my favorites. I was fortunate enough to fish with Ulf yesterday, along with first-time Goodnews guest Fred Novak. Eighty-five year old Fred is a feisty guy, a quick wit with a joke repertoire, a wonderful guy to have in the boat. Again, we fished silvers and had quite a lovely day.

In the last group was Steve the Geologist and Dr. John, both Texans. Doc had many Alaska trips under his belt. Steve was an Alaska rookie, and had never touched a fly rod before.

About five minutes after leaving camp Steve caught his first Alaska fish, a 12 pound silver salmon that ate a DOA CAL jig. Doc enjoyed himself by watching Steve get fish after fish, hooting and hollering while doing so. That’s what I call a good friend!

Later in the week I took them way up the river for dollies. Steve was now an accomplished fly caster, having gotten numerous silver salmon with some of the other guides. We gurgled and streamered dollies all day and got some nice fish, several pounds in some cases.

dolly varden

Steve the geologist with one of many dollies he caught upriver.

Another upriver trip is scheduled for tomorrow. I suspect it will similarly be a smashing success.

Fish Story of the Week-
On Wednesday the new guests came. Lance and David, from Idaho, fly fishers both, fished with me for silver salmon that afternoon.
David hooked a silver that took him into his backing. When the fly line was almost on the reel the backing somehow got wrapped around the reel handle. The fish chose that moment to surge. The fly line and backing parted ways, and the fish made off with the fly line. You just can’t make up this stuff.

Of course David started yelling. “Hurry! Go get it!” The anchor and 50 feet of line are out. The motor is trimmed up. There are seven salmon already on two stringers, hanging in the water. We are not going anywhere in a hurry, regardless of how fast I go.

By the time we’re under way the fly line is gone. David starts thinking out loud whether or not he has another fly line. “Don’t worry,” I say. “If we don’t find it someone else will.”

We search for the line for less than five minutes when I spot it, long and skinny and bright green, strung out parallel to the shoreline about 15 feet off the bank. We idle over. I pick it up. The fish is still on!

Somewhat rested, the fish is ready to resist. I fight him on an expensive, bright green handline, and David nets him when the fish is next to the boat. We get the entire fly line back, as well as catching the fish.

Less than five minutes later, the line is properly re-rigged, the salmon is on the stringer, and David is fishing again.

Son Alex does a water ballet while fighting a silver salmon.

And that is this year’s last Goodnews River Lodge, Alaska Fishing Report from me. See you in Florida in two weeks!

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.

Goodnews River Lodge, Alaska Fishing Report

King Salmon Season Ends, Dolly Varden the Fish of the Week

July 25 was the last day of king salmon season. No more cha-wee-cha! We still see them and of course flies and lures meant for other species get attacked by kings.

Several of our anglers made the most of the last days of king season. Jeff and Mike from Missouri wanted to go fly fishing for kings, at which we spent the morning. Jeff didn’t get one, but Mike got two big ones, beautiful fish which were both released.

King Salmon Mike

One of two king salmon Mike got tossing flies.

Then they wanted some dollies. We traded the 10-weights for five-weights and went dolly fishing. I showed them how to skate the gurglers and they proceeded to catch fat dollies until Jeff said, “Can we got catch some rainbows?” We changed flies and locations and they got four nice ‘bows on black streamers before suppertime. Quite the day they had.

Rainbow Trout Mike

Mike got the big trout this day too, a lovely fish of about five pounds.

The Barnes family from Toledo is currently visiting us. I fished Annette and Hannah, mother and daughter. Hannah wanted to try to get a slam, difficult because so few silvers are around. She got a nice king first, then we tried sifting through pinks and chums for hours, looking for that silver. We didn’t find it, and my fishermen have yet to get one.

king salmon Hannah

Hannah got this king salmon first.

pink salmon Hannah

She took this pink salmon on a Pixie spoon.

Chum Salmon Hannah

She took this chum salmon on fly. But the silver salmon eluded her.

The Gretkierewicz family, mostly from the Detroit area, is also visiting. Yesterday patriarch Dr. Paul and son Russell fished with me. We were looking for grayling and rainbows, but what we found were zillions ( not really but it seemed like it) of big dollies. At first they were tossing a Pixie and a Dardevle and raising complete havoc with the dollies.

Dolly varden Russell

The Fish of the Week, the Dolly varden. Russell G. got this beauty on a Dardevle, and then got several more on gurglers.

Neither of them had ever fly fished before. I talked them into trying and set Russell up with a six-weight and a gurgler. He was soon tossing solid 40 foot casts and catching even more than he had been with the spoon. Dad was a little more difficult, but he also managed to get his first fish on fly.

OK, run status update-
kings- slowing down a lot. Season is closed now.
sockeyes- slowing down a lot. we’re still getting a few bright fish but you have to work.
chums- seem to have peaked. Lots still around.
pinks- everywhere, lots of pinks, fun on light tackle.
silvers- just getting started, about a half dozen caught so far this week.
blueberries- coming in very nicely. Ate a bunch today while hiking across the tundra.

And the Fish of the Week is the Dolly varden! There are tens of thousands of dollies in the river with a lot of fish over five pounds. Catching a dolly pushing ten pounds is not unusual- Russell did it on both spin and fly tackle yesterday. I put one of his dollies next to a silver salmon and they were exactly the same size. Fast fishing for beautiful, delicious fish, what more could you ask for?

There is no fish story of the week this week. I didn’t have anyone do anything very weird- no fires, no smacking someone with a fish. I’ll have to be more diligent next week…

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.

Silver Salmon, Dolly Varden Fishing Hot in Goodnews River- Goodnews River Fishing Report

The Goodnews River Fishing Report from Spotted Tail 8/7/11

Silver salmon bite steadily in the Goodnews River, with five fish limits being caught daily by most anglers. Weighted salmon flies on size 2 hooks dressed in pink, cerise, orange, and/or chartreuse are working well, as are Pixies, Mepps Flying Cs, and 5/8 ounce jigs with twisty tails. While the run is going well, it certainly hasn’t peaked yet and there’s lots of room for improvement. We prefer to catch fresh fish in tidewater but folks well up the river, fishing for dollies, have been running into silvers too.

Chums, pinks, and sockeyes are still busily digging redds and dropping eggs. Dollies and rainbow trout are sitting just downstream gorging themselves. These fish are suckers for a dead drifted bead or glo-bug.

Dolly fishing is still sensational. The average fish has dropped to about 20 inches long. Most of the bigger fish have moved far up the river. My fishermen have been using a small orange gurgler tied on a #8 long shank hook almost exclusively, the most fun you can have with a Dolly (other than maybe eating one). Most are just starting to color up. A few are already sporting fall colors.

My man Kim with one of dozens of Dolly Varden he caught on the gurgler fly.

Dead chums begin to litter the banks. The gulls are sitting there, burping. Trout will be keying on flesh. Time to tie, and use some nasty looking flesh flies.

Dead salmon support life on the Goodnews River. This was a chum salmon.

The weather this past week has, with the exception of one day, been cold, rainy, and windy. Running the boat has not been fun, but the clouds swirling around the mountains have been very dramatic, just beautiful. This is such an incredible place.

The sun tries to make an appearance through a hole in the clouds.

Most days lately have looked like this.

We have a sow bear with three cubs in the vicinity of camp. We see them frequently. She seems to be a very good mama, as all three cubs look fat and healthy.

Mama bear with some of the kids.

Embrace simplicity.

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 2011. All rights are reserved.