Feature Article: WON Kingfisher Charter

WON/Kingfisher trip boasts best of all worlds

BY PAT McDONELL/Special to Western Outdoor NewsPublished: Sep 12, 2019

Three days of fishing turns up halibut limits, one huge flatty of 285 pounds, limits of sablefish and perfect weather, plus spectacular northern lights show

SITKA, AK While the silver salmon were off the bite during the WON Kingfisher Charters trip last week, the three days of halibut, lingcod and sablefish action, plus some amazing weather, combined for another great group experience for 12 anglers hosted by this writer over five days at the lodge overlooking Sitka Sound and three days on the water.

The silver salmon usually hop on the lines for 6-fish limit-style action but half limits on 12- to 14-pound coho were the rule each of the three days, and it was no big disappointment because the others species were wide-open and drifts over sablefish spots turned up big four-fish limits while the halibut fishing was also off the charts. Every angler took home two 50-pound boxes of fillets and memories of flat-calm seas and lodge cuisine and hospitality that gets better and better each year, if that’s even possible for owner Seth Bone’s operation, now well into its third decade.


VAN RILEY, WHO flew out from Connecticut to fish with his son Matt, catches a 285-pound halibut as Capt. Heath Bone attempts to control the monster fish on the first day of fishing for the group. The halibut fishing was outstanding for many, as well as the sablefishing. Riley, from Santa Barbara, was on his first-ever Alaska fishing trip and caught a 110-pound halibut and released it, plus this yelloweye rockfish as well as a big ling, limits of smaller halibut (38 inches and under), sablefish and eight 12- to 14-pound silvers.

The second day on the water for Michael Obst of San Diego, who has fished several times out of Kingfisher Lodge with WON, was typical. He was fishing with Endel Kelsey, Michael Morgan and Ron Nelson, all multi-year returnees.

“We had 18 silvers, 4 legal halibut and the bigger one was 83 pounds and we threw back a 75 and were throwing back 50 pounders like crazy,” says Obst. “The silvers were tougher to get but they were huge, 15 pounders, and we caught a yelloweye that was the biggest I’ve ever seen, 18 pounds. I’ve been three times and this was the best day ever, and we had a ball. It was a workout, I’ll tell you that.”

Moreno Valley’s Ron Nelson added, “I started on this trip eight years ago and I think that’s about right. I had a heart attack before last year’s trip and the doctor said no way I was going, so I missed that, but I don’t even keep track now of how many times, I think it’s eight, but I’m going to keep coming as long as my health holds out. I’m ready to go next year.”

The biggest fish of the trip was without question Van Riley’s 285-pound halibut on the first day, while fishing with Capt. Heath Bone. You can keep halibut under 38 inches and over 80, and the boat decided to take the big halibut and share it with the WON group. Most anglers had limits every day and sifted through a lot of big and small fish to get halibut close to that 38-inch size maximum.

“That fish and the photos will be a lifetime memory, one that my kids and their kids and their kids will see and remember,” said Riley. “And to fish with Matt (his son who invited him on the trip to come out from the East Coast) made it even more special. What a trip.”

TED TARNOWSKI OF Hacienda Heights was on his first trip and will be coming back next year for a WON trip to Kingfisher, as he enjoyed the big silver salmon, as well as limits of halibut and sablefish. The silvers were quality but not as eager to bite our three days.

Matt Riley, a wind power executive who lives in Santa Barbara, was on his first extended fishing trip ever. It was chance to be with his father who lives across country, and he got a taste of Alaska fishing and the experience overall. He had limits of halibut every day but caught and released a 110-pound halibut the same day his father got the 285. It was released, but he got a lodge 100-pound release hat and a $100 credit toward another Kingfisher trip. He also witnessed the phenomenon of the northern lights the final night, driving and then hiking a trail to a mountaintop vantage point with two fellow anglers to see the spectacular light show. There is always more to Sitka than just fishing and we encourage people to plan an extra day or two for fly fishing with SitkaFish.com or hiking or seeing the town with its local history and charm.

There were many, many stories of trip highlights. Michael Wiedder of Santa Monica bought his brother and two half-brothers on the trip and it was just what he hoped.

“I was looking for a bucket list trip for my three bothers (Ryan, Jason and Mark Wiedder) and I to celebrate a 40th birthday and 60th birthday,” said Wiedder, “and we heard about it from our friend Chris Wheaton who said it was an epic trip. From fishing to the food, to the service of the staff, we could not have made a better choice.”

The group, sponsored by Turner’s Outdoorsman (which provided four $50 gift cards for a drawing) and Frogg Toggs, was made up of Ron Nelson, Michael Wiedder and brothers Ryan, Jason and Mark Wiedder, Michael Obst, Ted Tarnowski, Glenn Hinman, Matt and Van Riley, Michel Morgan and Endel Kelsey.

glennhinmanallGLENN HINMAN, ALL 6-foot-8 of him, holds two sablefish, 18 to 21½ pounds (weighed) we caught the final day on Klinton Chambers’ Chilkat in 2,000 feet of water using Daiwa electric reels on the drift. The sablefish is a great addition to the recreational fishery of the lodge and they were super high quality.

THE GROUP OF 13 came from all over the country to fish at Kingfisher Lodge with WON. Every angler went home with two boxes of fillets.

THE SUNSET VIEW from the lodge overlooking Sitka Sound the final night, but this was typical for the guests after dinner as we sat on the porches.

THE NORTHERN LIGHTS show was in full array the final evening of the trip for a few of the anglers who stayed up to watch.

THE CUISINE WAS again consistently outstanding. Here, Christie Falk delivers another serving for the group. Prime rib, halibut, crab, scallops, filet mignon and sablefish were all options, and it was perfection.

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