May is my favorite time of year. The weather is nice, the snow has melted, wild flowers are blooming, birds are migrating, king salmon are showing up, Dungeness crab are in the bays, herring are spawning, Humpback whales are feeding, lingcod and rockfish are hungry and ice covered lakes and rivers have thawed to expose a penetrable surface for hungry trout and steelhead to feed. After a long snow covered Alaska winter, the land and sea come alive bursting with activity.
Ketchikan and the inside passage of Southeast Alaska is often overlooked by anglers in the spring because the annual salmon migration has only begun but the fresh water steelhead and trout fishing are in full swing! Because these remote rivers and lakes are frozen all winter and have limited access, there is a small window of opportunity to fish for prized steelhead and May is it. What makes some of these remote rivers and lake systems so special is typically, you won’t see another person there. This is extreme steelhead fishing and is only for advanced, athletic anglers who like adventure. Chest waders are recommended but felt soles are illegal as they can transmit unwanted foreign organisms into these pristine river systems.
Our prized river (the Naha) is a 20 minute boat ride away in calm protected waters. This scenic boat ride takes you through a series of Islands and passages. Our self guided 20′ boats are perfect for this short trip and there is a dock at the head of the Naha River to tie up so you can began your adventure. If you are not comfortable driving a boat we can drop you off in the morning and pick you up in the afternoon. Next you have to walk a trail around a tidal chuck to get the the lagoon. The narrow tide chuck is passable by boat at high tide but is a waterfall at low tide. Do not take the boat through the chuck, we have 15′ – 24′ tide swings and you can get stuck in a matter of minutes. Once you traverse around the tide chuck you have a choice of walking the 1.5 mile long trail around the lagoon or running a small boat across the lagoon to the mouth of the river. Guiding is not allowed on this river so you will be on your own.
Once you have made your way to the river at the upper end of the lagoon you will come across a camp called Orton Ranch. Just above Orton Ranch there is a covered picnic area, also known for bear viewing in late summer when the salmon are in the river. When I was younger I used to pitch a tent here and spend several days fishing on the river at a time. For the next three miles a trail follows the river up to Jordan Lake and this is great fishing. The inlet to Jordan Lake is also good fishing.
Hiking to Jordan Lake and back is an all-day activity and you must be in good shape and sure footed to accomplish this. If you want to overnight, there is a remote U.S. Forest Service cabin at the lake with a wood stove, wooden bunk beds and an outhouse in which you can sleep but this has to be reserved in advance through the U.S. Forest Service and we can help you do this.
Ward Lake is a 20 minute drive from Chinook Shores on paved roads within the Ketchikan road system. This beautiful area is surrounded by huge cedar, spruce and hemlock trees. The lower section of the river is fishable for steelhead and trout as well as the inlet of the lake and the upper portion of the creek. There is a well maintained trail system along ward creek, however walking the actual creek while fishing can be difficult in places. Chest waders are required to fish the inlet of the creek as you must wade out into the lake to get to the best fishing.