For live and premium content, sign up for our email newsletter and we'll send reports directly to your inbox
Occasional correspondent Bob Stearns tells us that he has fished at Goodnews River Lodge in Alaska every year since 1981 but one. His latest trip was in August of this year when he fished with personal guide Mike Gorton for abundant silvers, Dollies and rainbows. He notes that, at other times in the season, kings, chums, sockeyes and even pinks are available to anglers.
“The guides here are very personable, knowledgeable and good company,” Stearns tells us. He also gives top marks to the camp in general. “Goodnews River Lodge is the sole permanent lodge on the Goodnews River. It is a true wilderness camp that offers fishing in the lower 15 miles up as far as the north and middle forks. The camp is located just above tidewater, which means long runs to fishing spots are not necessary. Guests sleep in two-person WeatherPort Canvas cabins mounted on wood platforms. They are comfortable, but not fancy. Bathroom facilities include showers with plenty of hot water. The main dining room is part of a very large WeatherPort with a picture window overlooking the river.”
The Goodnews has two primary advantages over similar camps in Alaska according to Stearns: “This river gets almost no floatplane traffic because most of it is too shallow to land in safely. The Goodnews is also unique in that it has reliable runs of king, silver, pink and chrome-bright chum salmon. It has these runs year after year because it empties into the Bering Sea, which is not netted by foreign fishing vessels. Also, in recent years, the native rainbows in this river system have been steadily increasing in both numbers and size.”
Stearns tells us that The Goodnews is a medium-size, shallow river, ideal for fly fishing for all species, even big king salmon (which average 25 to 30 pounds and sometimes top 50). However, he notes, The Good- news River Lodge is not just for fly fishermen; the owner also welcomes those who like to use spinfishing and light baitcasting tackle. All flies and other lures are supplied by the lodge as part of the fishing package.
According to Stearns, the fishing here is typically conducted with one guide per two anglers. The primary means of getting about is with a jetboat. Anglers fish directly from the boat, and they wadefish after reaching suitable stretches of the river. Stearns also notes that the lodge offers daily driftboat float trips covering just a few miles of river between breakfast and dinner time. These float trips produce a lot of fish and offer opportunities to see wildlife. “We saw bears almost every day,” he writes. “They completely ignored us, however, and posed willingly for photos.”
Stearns says the typical catch this year consisted of 20 or more silver salmon of seven to 15 pounds per angler per day, along with good rainbow (the largest measured 29½ inches) and Dolly Varden (to 27 inches). “On sunny days it was possible at times to sightcast to individual silver salmon,” he writes, likening the experience to bonefishing when silvers made their way across stretches of shallow, light-bottomed tidewater. At other times, the silvers would aggressively take poppers fished in quiet water, he says.
Stearns says he warmly recommends the Goodnews to Angling Report subscribers. “Over the years many friends have made trips here with me, and almost all have been very satisfied,” he writes. “In fact, a very large part of the camp’s business consists of repeat visitors.” He gives the cost of a seven-night, 6½-day trip as $4,200, plus $750 for the roundtrip charter flight.