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Drifting In Paradise -The Upper Kalum RiverBy Noel F. Gyger,
We begin guiding from drift boats on the Kalum River March 15 through April 30. It is eight miles from the lodge to where we launch the boats. As we round the last corner to the launch we always comment on how crowded it is. Referring, jokingly, to the fact that we are the only boat and fishermen here. The reason for that is because the water is too low for jet-boats and that our take-out ramp is located on private property through a locked gate.
This photo shows Angling Guide Gill McKean assisting Knud Rabaek, our guest from Denmark, to pose his fresh Kalum River Steelhead landed after a long battle.
The five mile drift has 27 of the best Steelhead pools in the world!
Here they are in order: The "Put in" - This is where we launch our drift boats. A good pool in its own right when it is not windy. If the wind is blowing from the north expect clearing and good weather, but if the wind blows from the south expect a stormy day. When the bite is on we can hook Steelhead in every pool.
Pensioners Hole - Named after old timer and longtime friend, Mr. Les Bryant, after he hooked a big Chinook there in early April and fought it for over an hour before landing it. The pool is accessible off the main road by walking down an old creek bed.
Camp Creek - If it is windy at the put-in we head here where there is no wind. This is a classic Steelhead tail-out. Double headers were hooked just up around the corner where the water tails-out.
Haig & Haig - This pool was named in honor of our guest Hendy Heggie. He landed a big Chinook and a Steelhead there on the same day. I told him I would name the pool after him so he suggested naming it Haig & Haig.
Joint Hole - This pool does not have much current but at times it does hold Steelhead.
Moose Kill - Named after a pile of moose hair was noticed. The moose was killed by a pack of wolves. The biggest Steelhead landed here was by Bruce Knudsen, around 25-pounds. Bruce hooked the same fish two months later.
Ghost Hole - Named because it is not supposed to exist. We have been trying to keep it a secret because many Chinook hold up here in May. A ghost mysteriously rolls stones into the river, especially on sunny days.
Glacier Creek - This used to be the Steelhead boundary. A few years ago you could retain one Steelhead per day per person downstream from here. It´s now all catch and release.
Clint's Hole - Clint Derlago, a former guide, found this hole and it proves to be productive when the water is on the high side. Once you leave this hole you may not see another person for the whole drift.
Kiss Hole - This was named after a fellow from Saskatchewan who won a lot of money in a Lottery. He said: "Noel, I have so much money that I don´t have to kill another fish. I just give them a kiss and let them go!" Good enough for me, this guy gets a pool named after him.
Virgin Hole - Sneaker hole that one could miss easily. If you are a little short on time you may want to skip this one.
Upper Not Yet - Out of the 27 pools this one has the worst hookup ratio.
Lower Not Yet - What crazy names for pools. We were pulling plugs, coming to what looked like the end of the drift, someone asked if they should bring the lines in. I said "not yet" and at that same moment a rod ripped over and we were into another Steelhead.
Kenai Run - This is one of the top three pools. I was guiding a fellow from the USA and he said that the run just looked like the Kenai River in Alaska. So we named this pool in honor of that great river in Alaska.
Jones Hole - Mr. Jones was our first guided guest on the Kalum River back in 1988. He and his family camped at this spot. It´s a good pool with a lovely view of the mountains. Guests usually pull out their cameras when we come to this pool.
Double Header - This is the half way point of the drift. We´ve come down river about two and one-half miles. Double header refers to hooking two Chinook at the same time. We were pulling large tadpole plugs. This is a deep pool, about 10 feet in the deepest part.
Upper 16K - (metric for 10 mile) Also could have been called the Osprey (Fish Hawk) Hole because of their nest that can be seen port-side on top of a tall dead tree. Very nice pool where numerous double headers have been landed. It is a good flyfishing pool.
Lower 16K - This is the "BEST" pool. It is also called 10 mile. This is the pool that started it all. Way back on May 23, 1983 my friend and I landed an 83-pound Chinook Salmon. Through all the years it has constantly produced the best Steelhead bites. Our 32-pound "lodge record" Steelhead was landed here.
Horseshoe - This is one of the top three pools. The run literally horseshoes right around. When coming into the pool the sun is on your neck and when you round the corner the sun is in your face. It holds a lot of fish. Very seldom do you float through here without hooking a fish. It´s one of those pools that you can spend the whole day at. Numerous double header Steelhead have been hooked here.
Hawke Hole - Named after Marvin Hawke. He landed the biggest doe Steelhead that we´ve ever seen. It must have been close to 30-pounds. It is a wonderful run and is very good for the fly rod.
Picnic Table - Also known as Fire Pot. Through our private gate one can drive here with a vehicle. We have camped here often and for a time there was a picnic table left there. It is a very good Steelhead pool but is an even better Chinook pool.
Eddy Morris Hole - Eddy and Les Bryant´s hot shot rods doubled over at the same time. I thought the fish had crossed lines-but no-they both had a Steelhead on. A rare event with Steelhead because as soon as someone hooks up all the other lines are cleared. This is another good run for the fly rod. My flyfishing video starts out with a Steelhead being hooked here.
Tagawa Hole - Named after a Japanese fellow with that last name. He had walked down the beach and in the clean water he could see Steelhead.
Marshall Brothers Hole - This pool was discovered after the two brothers hooked numbers of Steelhead here. Even a triple header one time. There is a BIG rock out in the middle that the Steelhead like to hang around. This rock is also our marker rock. We use it to record water heights. In March, about three feet of this rock is showing and by early May the water is just cresting over it.
Red Rock Hole - Also known as Kevin Jasper´s. The red shale rock is clearly visible on the left (port) side of the river.
Loser Hole - What a name for a pool. We have a lot of fun with it. It got the name from losing so many Chinook the first Friday in May, many years ago. We kept hooking them but losing them. Finally, after many hours we finally landed one.
Last Chance - Like the name says, this is the last pool and a great run. Don´t miss the take-out because just around the corner below starts a vicious canyon. No boat can go through it and survive nor can any jet boat come through it from the lower end. This is a natural barrier.
There you have it. The record number of Steelhead landed in one day is 17. I have that particular day recorded on video in " SEASON REVIEW 1996". The largest Steelhead weighed 32-pounds and was landed in April by my son-in-law Dennis Therrien.
GOOD LUCK AND GOOD FISHING! - Noel
Noel F. Gyger is an angling guide and the owner of NORTHWEST FISHING GUIDES.
He can be reached as follows: