Orlando

John Kumiski June 21, 2010

Pagans everywhere! Celebrate the summer solstice!

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Morning view from the Lodge at Whale Pass. Photo: John Kumiski

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

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.

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.

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 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.
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.

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. 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.

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.

Kelp grows everywhere around here.

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.
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.

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
www.spottedtail.com

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