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fishing yes bay, mcdonald lake and wolverine creek

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  • fishing yes bay, mcdonald lake and wolverine creek

    This is a great forum. I have been raking through all this info trying to get as much insight as possible for our trip to mcdonald lake out of ketchikan next week.

    Our plans will be to fish the lake for trout and any salmon (if possible), as well as fish the creek that flows into yes bay. In addition we spoke with the yes bay lodge about taking a charter out for halibut and or salmon.

    Does anyone have any suggestions or insight? We plan on fishing for the trout with brass blade vibrax spinners, pixie spoons, cast masters and some pather martins. We have access to a boat for trolling or casting as well.

    Not sure what is or will be running in the stream and would like to fish the stream for trout of if any salmon run up there.

    Not sure if kings will be in the bay in a week and half still. So I am wondering if the charter is a good option.

    Thanks in advance for any help

  • #2
    I'm from NorCal, and I went to McDonald Lake out of Ketchikan last year. I stayed at the cabin there and fished the lake, outlet stream to bay, and the inlet stream. I flyfished it. Thought I posted the results, but anyway, here's the scoop:

    1. Cabin - on little island on lake, huge new deck with translucent roof, skylights in cabin, wood stove, just real keen place to hang out. seems to have been very recently renovated, very clean, everything fixed - no leaks in cabin or boat. there is a wooden bridge/dock from island to land, and trail that goes to Yes Bay.
    2. Lake - trolled and cast everything including kitchen sink. Caught one large cutthroat in a week, that's about it. I could not figure it out. Good luck.
    3. Creek to Bay (wolverine creek) - best fished from east side (that's the side across from the wooden bridge/dock; row over to it. you can fish the first mile maybe - then it drops into this roiling whitewater down to the bay. Best hole is where a tributary comes in few hundred yards from the outlet on that side (woodpecker creek). This creek is pretty big, not sure I would use the term "creek", at least when I was there (running high due to rain). Good fishing from shore, limited wading.
    4. Inlet stream to Lake (walker creek) - great fishing water. Salmon spawn in here. Caught many trout/dollies/cutts on glo-bugs. This creek is smaller, can be waded at any flows.
    5. Logistics - to do McDonald area you need to rent the forest service cabin and bring a motor for the boat. There is no-where to camp, the lake is big, and you definitely need a boat and a motor to fish it properly and get to inlet stream.
    6. Timing - not much clue. I went in late Aug-early sept. Ton of very large pink salmon and some reds spawning but where the heck the rest of them were I dunno. I heard reds run in august, saw some spawing but didn't see fresh ones in the outlet stream, the cabin log book reported some caught in mid-august. I caught 1 silver. It was basically trout fishing for me. I'm guessing you will see some species of sea-run fish and trout. Maybe dollies or chums or pinks. I would think you are early for reds but who knows?
    7. Yes Bay - there's no tidal flat to fish where the creek. I suppose you could pitch some flies or spoons into where it dumps into bay but not very interesting and I didn't catch squat there. The trail from lake to there is very rough and takes awhile. Lodge is nice, it is almost exclusively a saltwater operation so I kinda doubt there will be any people coming up to the lake from the lodge.
    8. Pressure - I saw nobody the whole week I was there except some fish and game biologists monitoring a fish counting trap (fyke net). The cabin itself is popular but that's about it so wouldn't expect much company.


    • #3
      thank you

      Thank you for the detailed reply.

      We have the cabin rented for the week and have contacted the folks at the lodge for a day trip or two out for salmon or halibut as well. We plan on renting a motor for the boat.

      M brother and I will be pretty active looking for fish, but my dad and other brother will have difficulty getting around too much so they will be fishing mostly near the cabin or doing some trolling.

      We heard that mcdonald is one the most productive lakes in the area. I hope we catch some quality fish and have a good time.

      My bro went to patching lake last year in june and he caught and released over 130 trout in the week. We figuered we would try this place because of the abilty to fish the streams, lake and have an option for a guild to take us on a boat in the bay for a king or halibut.

      Thanks again,


      • #4
        one more thing (or two)

        ya know, there's actually a fly shop in Ketchikan ("hook-up" or "sockeye sam's" or something like that) has lots of good stuff, it is open early on the days when the cruise boats come in:

        Might be worth calling them. I think the guy there said that naturals work on the trout earlier in the year, so maybe worth bringing a fly rod and a few standard patterns.

        The other thing, by the way, is that alot of the lures you mention come in barbed treble hooks, and cause damage during catch and release. If you don't mind the suggestion, try out some open-eye single siwash hooks in appropriate size. You can remove the trebles, attach a siwash by closing the eye with a forceps, and pinch down the barb.

        Please post a report when you get back. I'd like to hear how the fishing is at lower water. I'm guessing the outlet stream will be easier to fish.


        • #5

          I returned a few days ago from a week in the cabin.

          My first impression of lake mcdonald was the beauty of the setting. The cabin was clean and the weather and lake looked amazing. There was some trash (cans and bottles that previous people used as target practice tossed in the lake) I would have thought folks would treat a place like that with a little more respect. But you can take the lazy drunk litter-bug out of the lower 48, but cant take the trash leaving beer can shooting out of him I guess.

          As for the fishing, the lake gave up very very very few fish or bites. Maybe 3 all week. The outlet creek (wolverine) was another story. I caught and released more fish than I can remember, including two kings. I did not get Steve's post about changing to single hooks in time, but I did make some adjustments the first day (crimping and cutting the hooks down to one)

          The blue fox spinners were amazing on the trout. I used pink/silver and orange/brass. I caught the salmon on panther martins (the newer sleek body design)

          There were some fish and game folks there counting the salmon run (sockeye I think) they said the lake is mainly just an incubator for salmon fry and 90% of the trout are in the streams chasing the salmon eggs.

          We did the hike down to yes bay one day and chartered a half day out for salmon. We only caught one, missed many and caught a bunch of dog fish shark deals. The fishing was ok, but with only a couple hours, I would not recomend that. The lodge and folks there were great and the guests were catching a ton of chum salmon, halibut and some kings. We just did not have the time.

          The hike was great. About an hour each way and the trail, while tough, meandered through a beautiful rainforrest reminisent of jurrasic park.

          If someone is interested in a fly-in cabin stay location, I were say that mcdonald lake is great location for camping, for bear viewing, for stream fishing and hiking. If you want to fish easily from around your cabin, I would pass on this one. There is just no fishing for trout in that place.

          I used southeast aviation to get in and out and they were great. We will use them again next year if we are in that area.

          We will be looking for a less traveled location with better lake fishing, but we did enjoy mcdonald and the one day with the yes bay lodge.



          • #6
            mcdonald lake trout, southeast aviation

            nice post. sounds familiar, lots of trout, some salmon, in the streams, lake is mystery. I can second your recommendation for southeast aviation, which I used as well.


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