2015 Guest Reviews ~ Paul Shibley
September 17, 2015
Dear Alaska Rainbow Adventures:
Your guides Mike Bianchi, Dac Collins and Bobby Miller treated my friends and me to one of the best weeks of our lives floating the Goodnews river.
This was my ninth trip to Alaska. I had been to many of the rivers and streams throughout Bristol Bay through day trips from lodges. Despite the beauty and superb fishing of the Bristol Bay watershed, it can be crowded because of the high number of lodges near King Salmon. The silver salmon fishing opportunities in Bristol Bay are also somewhat limited. After my third lodge trip in September 2013, I was a bit frustrated by how crowded many of the streams like Contact Creek, the Brooks River, Margot Creek, Moraine Creek and the Ugashik Narrows could be with day trips from the dozens of lodges within an hour bush flight of those destinations.
In September 2013 in King Salmon, I spoke with Paul Hansen, the owner of Alaska Rainbow Adventures. I was at the King Ko and happened to start talking with Paul about a frustrating trip on the Moraine. Our group had trouble finding an open hole because of how many day trips had flown in from other lodges. I asked Paul "Where in Alaska can you go to get away from the people, catch a silly amount of fish, including silvers and feel like you're actually in wilderness?" Paul said there was much less traffic on the rivers of Western Alaska. He said in early August anglers have a good chance at catching all 5 salmon species, countless numbers of char, rainbows and grayling. He explained that the best option for such a trip would be the Goodnews River.
That was all I
needed to hear. More than 18 months in advance we booked the
week of August 6-13, 2015.
The trip was
and exceeded the huge anticipation that built
over the 18 month wait.
For 7 magical days we caught hundreds of fish. One of my
friends had never fly fished before. Three or four casts
into his first moments of fly fishing, he hooked and landed
a 25" char. There are not many places that ever happens,
even for lifelong fly fishermen. It would be the first of
dozens of 2 foot long plus char we'd catch that week.
There were sections of river with thousands upon thousands
of fish. Fishing with beads or egg flies in those sections
meant a fish almost every cast. Despite the fact that we
were on the river for the end of the chum egg drop and the
start of the sockeye egg drop, the char, rainbow trout and
grayling were very willing to chase wogs and mouse flies. We
had several hours of non-stop surface action. My friend had
a 16 inch grayling attack a mouse fly like a great white
shark attacking a seal. The grayling grabbed the fly and
launched itself more than a foot in its zeal to assure it
had seized its hapless prey.
worked tirelessly to spoil us in all respects. We were very
happy to book the fisherman's deluxe package because after
fishing all day, we'd float up to an already assembled camp.
The tents and cots were extremely comfortable.
Your head guide, Mike Bianchi, is a masterful chef. Each dinner was delicious.
Mike had found out through Facebook that my absolute favorite meal is clams with pasta. I was stunned when Mike surprised us with clams in the shell with pasta. How does that happen? We also feasted on chicken fried steak with mashed potatoes and gravy, jambalaya, steak with corn on the cob, spaghetti with meatballs and garlic bread, bacon burgers, shrimp and crab with pasta as well as wild rice and mushroom soup. Breakfast was also always delicious and a very hearty start to the day. Each day started with incredible fresh perked, dark roast coffee that puts Starbucks to shame.
The fishing in the upper river was ridiculously easy.
As we entered the middle and lower river, the guides predicted "Today you'll start catching silvers." That was 100% true. We went from drifting beads to chucking huge, gaudy, heavy dolly lama streamers. It didn't seem possible that any fish would be interested in such a garish combination of steel weight, the most unnatural pink one could imagine and rabbit fur. No sooner had Dac said "there might be a silver in that hole" that I had the streamer smashed and the rod almost ripped out of my hand. "SILVER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!" I yelled in joy. It was the first of a dozen very fresh silver salmon we'd catch on those dolly lama flies. We were there at the very start of the silver run. In lieu of lots of lethargic silvers more interested in spawning, we were hoping for a number of fresh, tail walking, demon fish, fresh from the ocean silvers. Those we found!
At the end of
the week, 2 of our group caught and released all 5 species of salmon as
well as plenty of grayling and rainbows. We caught hundreds
of char. The fishing was vastly better than what I'd
7 days of fishing we saw very few other anglers. Unlike
mornings on the Moraine where there were a dozen of other
flights in per day, we had a number of days where we heard
no bush planes. The advantage of floating is that we were
encamped on great fishing holes. One of my favorite mornings
I woke up at 5:30 am. As soon as the sun was just above the
horizon, I waded up, crossed the river. There was a perfect
slough for silvers. While the camp slept, I wandered up a
slough that was thigh deep. In 12 casts I landed three 20"
plus char that crushed a wog. Watching those fish wake
towards the wog and then crush it in perfectly still water
was a great thrill. The fourth fish on the wog that morning
turned out to be a skinny, totally spawned out red salmon -
proof that fishing on the Goodnews is so good that even the
almost dead, former plankton eaters have killer shark
instincts! The entire
river from outlet to ocean is fringed with beautiful,
emerald green mountains. It really is a primordial
As a busy, stressed out litigation attorney, I go to Alaska
each summer to turn off my iPhone for a week. That helps me
reflect and get recharged and refocused. Bountiful fishing
and stunning scenery just help me catch my breath after 51
weeks of always being very busy. The goal is to leave Alaska
relaxed, happy and recharged.
fishing and the above and beyond service from your guides
was exactly what I needed. There were zero corners cut.
Everything was first rate. The degree of customer service in
vastly exceeding our group's expectations is a good lesson
for me in making sure I am always mindful of providing such
a level of service to my own clients.
Six weeks later and I am still smiling. I am very eager to return. I have some unfinished business, too. Just below the canyon I hooked a 30" plus, very fresh char that I had on for maybe ten minutes. It evaded the landing net. Next time, the only question is whether to return to the Goodnews or try the Togiak river. It'll definitely be with your outfitting service, Alaska Rainbow Adventures A huge thank you!
Yours Very Truly
Paul E. Shibley