By Kent Danjanovich
Southeast Alaska has a beauty that’s all its own, with coastal rain-forests, ice-fields, Sitka spruce and luscious growth interacting to create some of the most beautiful settings anywhere in the world.
One of the Sportsman’s News team's favorite destinations is Juneau, the state’s capitol city. With a number of flights available every day of the week and cruise ships constantly entering and exiting its harbor, the city and surrounding areas are truly a traveler’s paradise. From sightseeing adventures of every type to some of the best fishing waters in the world, Juneau is definitely a must-see destination.
Juneau is also the first leg of our trip when visiting one of our favorite fishing lodges in Alaska, Pybus Point Lodge. The lodge is situated on Admiralty Island, about a 40-minute float plane ride away. With its location set at the mouth of Cannery Cove, you will never find a more natural and spectacular setting anywhere, with thick growth, snow-capped peaks and calm waters combining to make a perfect home for wildlife of all kinds. Brown bear, Sitka deer, and eagles can all be seen on a daily basis as well as whales, harbor seals, porpoises, and sea lions.
Scott and Jody Jorgensen have owned and operated the lodge for over a decade and have now welcomed Redmond Inc. as a new partner. And with that new partnership, some great renovations and additions have taken place. New cabins have been built and new boats have arrived to even more enhance the already wonderful customer service throughout.
More and more travelers to Alaska are looking for variety in their experience. Some areas can supply that and some simply can’t. Well, at Pybus Point Lodge, you can truly customize your trip to get the ultimate experience from your stay. Also, the lodge can accommodate up to 40 guests at a time, so groups of literally any size can find their place at Pybus Point.
Our visit during the summer of 2019 gave us our first look at some of the new additions and renovations at the lodge. I was joined by cameraman David Heath as well as one of our latest Pro Membership Sweepstakes winners, Parker McElveen and his son Trace. This would be Trace’s first visit to Alaska (but I don’t think it will be his last).
After an over-night stay in Juneau, we met at Ward Air, situated next to the main airport terminal, at 7 a.m. We quickly signed in and gave our luggage to the crew as they weighed everything in preparation for our float plane ride to the lodge. With surprisingly clear skies both in Juneau and at the lodge, we were in the air before 8 a.m.
The 40-minute flight took us along the coast of Admiralty Island. We were able to spot a couple of brown bears below us and seemingly endless waterspouts from whales as well throughout the flight. Soon we started losing altitude as our pilot made his final approach.
Scott and his staff met us at the dock and they quickly welcomed us off of the plane and then unloaded our gear, with a half dozen guests, complete with a stack of fish boxes, taking our place on their flight back to Juneau after a successful stay. Yes, this is truly a streamlined operation, as they host over 500 guests during their short four-month season. And with a high return rate, this should give you a pretty good idea of how much people love their operation.
Our group of ten made their way up the ramp to the main lodge, where a continental breakfast was awaiting. After we downed some fresh pastries and juice, we were given a brief orientation before fixing our lunches at the sandwich bar. Dave and I grabbed our waders and wading boots out of our bags and the rest of the guests scurried back down to the dock to get fitted for rain gear, just in case it was needed.
We then headed over to our awaiting captain, Jamie Gness who was busy setting up halibut rods for our first stop. We all took a seat in the cabin of our vessel and after a quick safety briefing, we headed out for a short ride to halibut country.
After a short 20-minute run, Captain Jamie located one of his favorite halibut holes on his GPS as each of us released the line on our reels. At Pybus Point Lodge, jigging is the chosen technique when fishing for halibut as their experienced captains ease along desired outcroppings on their screens instead of anchoring up. I personally have always liked this technique the best for halibut, as you are able keep your jig moving constantly and have your rod in hand to feel any hesitations or hits.
The next two hours kept us all pretty busy, as each of us were able to land three or four a piece. The daily limit in this area of Alaska is one halibut under 38" or over 80" per person. Finally, we all had our halibut in the slot and we then headed for lingcod, yelloweye, and rock fish waters.
Again, the technique used for lingcod and yelloweye is usually with a lightweight, curly tailed jig (8- to 16-ounces) with either regular halibut rods or sometimes with longer, lighter-weight salmon rods. I love to use the lighter-weight rods as the fight is much more exciting and I think the jigging motion has a lot more feel. Three great yelloweye made their way to the fish box, as well as a tiger yelloweye, a couple of lingcod, and eventually a full limit of our 20 black sea bass for our group of four. With the time now about 4:30 p.m., we headed back for the lodge after a very successful first day on the water.
By 7 p.m., everyone took their places at the dinner tables and we all enjoyed the first of our many great meals from the kitchen of Chef John Diamond. Tri-tip and all of the fixin’s were on the menu on this night and of course one of his delicious desserts followed before we headed out to the deck to take in some more of our gorgeous surroundings. My bed felt good that night in our brand-new cabin, as I drifted away with sore arms from our day of fishing and dreams of the next day dancing through my head.
Our second day on the water went much like our first, except for a few silver and pink salmon mixed in for good measure. The king season had just closed a day or two before we arrived and the silver’s we just making it into the area, but we were still able to do a little trolling with hoochies and cut herring. That evening after dinner, we did a little halibut fishing on our own and also threw some flies and spinners at pink and chum salmon at the back of Cannery Cove.
Day three found us heading for Misty Cove in search of silvers. Three or four of the boats from the lodge joined us on our journey, with all landing some nice chrome-bright balls of muscle trolling in the bay with its beautiful waterfall as its backdrop. We then found our way to a number of other hots spots for halibut, lingcod, and rockfish on our way back towards the lodge, with all producing for us. We were also entertained throughout the day by the seemingly endless numbers of whales, spouting, tailing, and breaching for as far as the eye could see. The water was like glass on this day, one of the great things about fishing the Inner Passage of southeast Alaska with Pybus Point Lodge.
That evening found us taking the short hike into Little Pybus for some pink salmon on the fly as well as Dolly Varden in its clear waters. Anything pink seemed to do the trick and the only thing that distracted us a little from our fishing was looking over our shoulders periodically for the furry, toothy inhabitants of the area. We did manage to see a couple in the distance, but no close encounters would happen on this night!
Our last day on the water found us in new sections in search of possibly a whopper halibut. Although we didn’t hook into a true monster, we did bring a couple of hundred-pounders to the side of the boat for Captain Jamie to release back to the depths. We were also able to do some more black rock bass jigging, as they were putting on a pretty good show on this day, splashing and rolling all around us while doing a little top water feeding. And did I mention the whales? Spectacular! Oh, and we also ventured out to empty the shrimp and crab pots before dinner as Chef John worked his magic again, of course.
Well, another great adventure was taken in by all of us on our latest visit to southeast Alaska’s Pybus Point Lodge. This has become an every-other-year event for our Pro Membership Sweepstakes and I am sure it will continue into the future. Parker and Trace McElveen were the latest to take in its splendor and who knows, maybe you will be the next lucky winner! Remember, this and many other great trips and gear packages are given away every ten days, year-round, so if you aren’t a member yet, really, what are you waiting for? And in the meantime, if you are looking for a true trip of a lifetime to one of the most beautiful places that I know of, give Scott and Jody Jorgensen a call today to book your trip with Pybus Point Lodge (907-364-2113) and visit them on the web at pybus.com.