By Kent Danjanovich
Wild places have special magic to lay claim to the hearts and lives of the people that they touch. Admiralty Island is such a place. Nearly 100 miles long, with 700 miles of saltwater shoreline that encompass its roughly 1 million acres, this verdant gem of old-growth rainforest graces the northern part of the southeast Alaskan Panhandle’s Inside Passage.
Admiralty possesses an extraordinarily rich and beautiful ecosystem where saltwater inlets and beaches rest at the foot of snow capped mountain spires. In the Island’s interior nameless untracked valleys are bracketed by steep forested slopes that plunge away into muskeg meadows or the shores of numerous inland lakes accessible only by floatplane. Preserving some of the largest intact expanses of temperate old-growth rainforest that remain in Alaska, the cathedral-like forests of Admiralty’s valley bottoms are threaded with pristine streams teeming with salmon and trout and are home to the densest populations of brown bears and bald eagles found anywhere in the world.
Yes, the Inside Passage is special in many ways. Not only is it stunningly beautiful with its thick growth and contrasts, but its waters are much more protected than most you will navigate throughout Alaska. Many days throughout the summer will find the water literally as smooth as glass and it is hard to believe that you are really in a place so wild and untouched.
One of our favorite places to visit is Pybus Bay, home to Pybus Point Lodge. When your floatplane starts its decent into the bay, you will start to realize that you are entering one of the most special places in the world. It is hard to believe that civilization really does exist in this vast wilderness, but Scott Jorgensen and his staff continue to create and offer one of the most unique adventures that a traveler can possibly dream of.
This past August I was joined by our Writer’s Contest winner, Vance Ruggels and his wife Deena for a six day, five night adventure at Pybus Point. After an overnight stay in Juneau, we met the rest of the guests flying out to the lodge at Ward Air at 7 am. After a couple of hour wait for the morning fog to clear, we quickly boarded our floatplane for the 40 minute flight to the lodge. A quick look over at Vance and Deena helped me to remember what it was like the first time I visited Alaska. Their eyes were wide as they were trying to take in everything seemingly all at once, kind of like a couple of kids in a candy shop and soon we found ourselves landing on the glassy waters of Pybus Bay.
Scott and his staff greeted us as we deplaned and we were instructed to head to the main lodge for lunch and a quick orientation. As we each downed a bowl of soup and a delicious turkey sandwich, we headed to our appointed cabins to grab our gear for the day (I always wear my breathable waders and wading shoes, but Pybus has a good assortment of raingear for its guests to use during their stay at the lodge). We then hopped on Captain Matt Leek’s 30” Koffler boat and after idling out of the dock area, Matt kicked in the twin outboards and we were headed for halibut water.
Remember when I mentioned Pybus was special in many ways? Well, another one of those ways is that some of their best halibut water is only a few minutes from the lodge. In fact, if you want to take a skiff out on your own in the evenings, you are literally only a few hundred yards away from fishable water. Captain Matt soon had us hovering over one of his GPS settings as he handed each of us a rod setup with a Root Beer colored, 16 ounced jighead. No sooner had Vance lowered his to the bottom, but I saw him give this halibut rod a quick jerk and just like a seasoned veteran, he found himself fighting the first fish of the trip. Deena, Matt’s girl friend Jenelle and I soon joined the action and it didn’t take long for our fish box to have four 35 pounders laying in it. Vance looked at me, only an hour into our first day on the water and said, “Thank you for this trip. I can’t believe that we are really here”!
We then went on another 20 minute boat ride to one of Matt’s favorite black bass holes and within 30 minutes, we had a full limit of bass in the box. We then headed back to the lodge. Deena decided to take it easy in the cabin as Vance and I grabbed our fly rods and headed for the freshwater stream at the top of Pybus Bay for some fast pink salmon action. Fast really doesn’t even describe how good the fishing was for the next hour or two. We both landed fish after fish on our 7-weights offering a pink starlight leech to the pods of fresh pink salmon working the mouth of the stream. We probably would never have left, but a furry brown fella started to make his way in our direction, so we hopped in our skiff and headed back to the lodge for dinner. After a scrumptious dinner creation from Chef John, we headed to our cabins for a nice night’s sleep.
Our next four days were full of the same results, with more halibut and black bass finding their way to our fish box, along with big lingcod and yellow eye also giving us a run for our money. Although the silvers we a little slow in showing up, we still managed to catch enough silver bullets to fill a box for Vance’s and Deena’s trip home. On our last day, I hopped on the boat of another group of fishermen and we headed for another stream chock full of pinks making their way to their spawning grounds. It is always fun and exciting to help people learn new techniques that add to their expertise and help them to come away from their trip with even more special memories of very special places.
Another wonderful adventure was truly had by all on our trip to Pybus Point Lodge. It was especially rewarding for me to be able to accompany Vance and Deena of their first, but I am sure not their last, trip to Alaska. We are proud to have Scott Jorgensen and his Pybus Point Lodge as one of our Platinum Approved Lodges and we would highly recommend them to any of you that are looking for a great adventure to one of the most special places that you can imagine. And remember, maybe you can be the next lucky winner of a great trip to one of the many lodges that we represent around the world. Send in your stories and photos and cross your fingers and maybe you can be the winner! Pybus Point Lodge on Admiralty Island, 800-94-PYBUS and visit them on the web at www.pybus.com.