Fishing at Whaler's Cove Lodge in Angoon, Alaska has become a family tradition over the past decade. This year the trip was supposed to offer four days of fishing, but mother nature and some poor logistics ensured this trip was like no other. My brother-in-law Colin also joined us my dad's friend Charlie for this epic adventure. We arrived in Juneau without a hitch, and even without COVID from the flights.
Thick clouds and rain settled-in the Juneau area the morning of our floatplane departure to Angoon for our first day of fishing. Such weather conditions prevented visual-only flights from leaving and more importantly landing. We were stuck at the Ward Air hangar, hopeful we'd be able to leave by mid-afternoon. The fish-delivery boat had taken our luggage back to Angoon that morning, so I only had the clothes I was wearing, and a camera to keep me company. The folks at the lodge also needed our planes to get home and catch connecting flights. But the weather did not cooperate and by 4pm we were all scrambling to find lodging in Juneau for one more night. Thanks to a few brief tweet convos with NWS Juneau, I knew we wouldn't be flying out the next morning until mid-afternoon at the earliest, but we arrived at the Ward Air hangar at 7am just in case a miracle opened a window for us to get to Angoon on what should have been our second day of fishing. The science was correct and the planes weren't able to depart for quite some time.
Meanwhile, back at the WC Lodge, staff were determined to get their current guests back to Juneau and get us to the lodge should the flights not be able to depart once again. In years past this would have been accomplished by WCL renting a sight-seeing catamaran for the 3hr, 90mile trip up Chatham Strait. However, due to COVID, many of the catamaran options were understaffed or undergoing maintenance which prevented WCL from procuring their services. WCL solution was to cram the guests onto the 6 fastest fishing boats in the fleet and make the run themselves while hoping for calm seas. Those boats left at 8am and were headed to Juneau. We expected we'd have to take those boats back too, but, just when the odds seemed impossible, the clouds opened and we were able to FLY out of Juneau and make it to Angoon within 35 minutes of take-off. We landed in a sunny oasis of perfect weather and glassy waters on what should have been Day 2 of our fishing. Since the fishing boats and captains were still in Juneau, we could do nothing but enjoy the weather and sun by exploring the shoreline and kayaking. After 30hrs of being stuck in an airplane hangar the fresh air and clear skies were a great way to forget that half of our fishing days were gone.
When we did get to go fishing, Captain Kevin was great as always. We caught our four halibut in relative short order the first day, but salmon were tough to find. The silvers just weren't in yet, a remnant of the drought years three and four years ago. Our second and last day of fishing had us brave rough seas. We missed our halibut limit due to throwing back some smaller keepers that we thought would get bigger as the day progressed. But alas, seas sickness and fatigue overtook half the crew (Colin & Charlie) and our day ended with a paultry catch. In the end we each ended up taking home 35lbs of processed fish. Usually our three day trips surpasses 100lbs each. But, oh, the memories.
The best parts of the trip?
360 Fishing Videos
My best friend, Steve, and I were able carve out a quick weekend from our schedules to hike Stoney Ridge Lake in early July. I had not previously been a fan of Desolation Wilderness hikes, but it was close to home for Steve and the forest service had implemented a new permitting system to keep the number of visitors manageable.
The trailhead begins at Meeks Bay (Tahoe) and climbs 1600' over 6.7 miles to the camp sites near the small dam at Stoney Ridge Lake. The trail was gloriously shaded in most areas and both our ascent and descent to and from the lake took about 3hrs and 20 minutes at a leisurely pace. The highlight of the trip for me was our "layover" day exploration that took us past Rubicon Lake on trail, then steeply off trail to the saddle near Jakes Peak. The views of Lake Tahoe from amongst the white bark pines and atop a hefty fault were quite euphoric. The hike to the saddle and back was 7.5 miles with a 1450' elevation gain. (See interactive map below).
Fishing at Stoney Ridge Lake was rough, and we didn't invest as much time as we needed into landing the 20"+ rainbows and browns we saw cruising the shores in the evening and early morning. I had one large brown nail the tail of a plastic swimming worm on a jig head about 20' in front of me. I watched & reacted to the aggressive strike by trying to set the hook but ended up yanking the bait out of its mouth.
As a side note, the mosquitos were thick, but not the worst. One camp played a bluetooth boombox until 11pm the first night, but they were the only other folks at the lake... until Saturday. New backpackers decided to claim spots uncomfortably close to our little piece of paradise, but since we were gone when they came into camp, we just dealt with it by leaving as planned early the next morning.
I'd rate this as a nice Desolation Hike: 8/10.
3D model of mafic enclaves in Phipps Pass Granodiorite.
Click to interact with model I scanned using iphone lidar.
Ryan J Hollister - Geoscience & EnviroSci Educator, Avid hiker, Landscape photographer, WildLink Club Advisor, Central Valley Advocate.