Cayucos' Woodman became salmon guide in Alaska

There’s a Central Coast presence on Alaska’s Kenai Peninsula this summer, specifically on the Kasilof River, which is the annual May, June and July migratory destination of world-class King Salmon.

The presence stems from a 2005 trip by a Cayucos father and son. Cory Woodman and his dad, Tim, experienced Alaskan Fishing Adventures with Tim Berg, and the harvest of a 45-pound King Salmon hooked Cory.

Their 19-year-old guide mentioned that he was not returning for the 2006 season, and Cory, then 29, began dreaming.

By employing his well-polished people skills intertwined with his passion for fishing, he convinced Tim Berg to hire him as a drift-boat guide.

These days the 5-10, 150-pound 35-year-old is spending up to 8 hours a day rowing his clients up and down the river in pursuit of trophy kings. The Kasilof only allows drift-boat fishing.

This summer, Cory’s clients have included his close friend Jimmy Brown, 36, of Cayucos and his 8-year-old son, Hayden. This spring, the two men coached their young daughters’ softball team in a Morro Bay recreational league.

The Browns fished the Kasilof with Cory as their guide during the first run of King Salmon in mid-June. It was their first trip to Alaska.

“On the first run of kings, the salmon are between 10 and 30 pounds,” Woodman elaborated. “This month (July), they average between 30 and 60 pounds.”

Tim Berg’s website notes that a 64-pound, 10-ounce king was caught by a 2009 client.

The Kasilof is a tidal river winding its way 18 miles through the Kenai Peninsula. The banks are lined with Birch and Spruce trees. Low tides are 13 feet while high tides are 24 feet. The kings enter the river twice each day on the flood tides.

“We pick up clients at the Mile 8 bridge and have them fishing from mile 7 to mile 3,” Woodman said. “The current stops three miles up the river at low tide and six miles from the mouth at high tide. The river, which varies from 50 to 100 yards wide is like a lake at high tide.”

Guides put their passengers on fish. They row their clients but are not allowed to fish.

Hayden Brown, who is 4-7 and 72 pounds, caught a 25-pound king at 6 a.m. June 13, two hours after they began fishing. Dad blanked that day but harvested a 15-pounder the next day.

Woodman estimated Hayden’s day-three catch at 32 pounds. Jimmy Brown, 36, landed a 20-pounder.

“The drag is set on our reels so the fish can run and allowed me to row in the direction the fish is going as I yelled at Hayden to reel, reel, reel,” Woodman related.

“I had five or six hookups and landed two, while my son boated both of his.”

Day four of the Brown’s trip was spent halibut fishing out of Homer, Alaska. Without help, Hayden caught 30- and 45-pound fish while dad landed 25- and 30-pounders.

On July 1, Cory had a day off and paddled for his brother Dan’s father-in-law, Ed Pierce of Morro Bay. Ed, who works on oil platforms, caught a 50-pound salmon.


The Passing of a Legend

A heart attack June 29 claimed the life of Jim Nielsen. He was acclaimed by many as one of the region’s best albacore, salmon and sea bass fishermen. He was best known for fishing from a skiff named “Death Wish.”

Jim’s passing has prompted numerous posts on the website extolling his excellence as a saltwater fisherman. Like many, I’d never met him but interviewed him by phone as far back as September 1999. He told me, “I love to fish so much that I don’t want anyone to say: ‘He loved to fish. Too bad he didn’t fish more.’ ”

He began deep sea fishing out of a 14-foot Montgomery Ward Gamefisher. In 1991, he was fishing eight miles off the beach in his 14-foot boat when he was checked by the Coast Guard.

“I remember the Coastie said ‘You must have a Death Wish out this far in this boat.’ ” Nielsen said. “That’s why I gave my boats that name.”

Port San Luis Boathouse

Although 64 salmon, 42 lingcod and two halibut were in last week’s catch, none were weighed; hence, no Whopper of the Week. The 164 boats launched were the most this season.

Central Coast Sportfishing

Daphne Martin, Bakersfield, had last week’s big catch, a 9-pound ling. Seventy-seven anglers caught 717 fish including 12 lings and 315 red rockcod. For reservations or schedules, call: 772-3474 or 704-2084.

Virg’s Landing

An overnight trip departs Saturday at 3 p.m. and returns Sunday afternoon. The fare is $205. Call: 772-1222 for reservations and trip schedules. A 15-pound halibut caught by Jason Eason, Bakersfield, topped the catch by 296 customers last week. Jackpot winners included: Murt Stewart, Paso Robles, 10-pound ling; Leslie Nelson, Fresno, Josh Riley, Bakersfield, Chuck Hoffman, Atascadero, and Ralph Boone, Atascadero, all 9-pound lings.

Don Weeks, Arroyo Grande, aboard the Fiesta out of Patriot Sportfishing, caught a 25-pound salmon.

Patriot Sportfishing

Big fish of the week was a 13-pound lingcod caught by Samantha Covert, Tucson, AZ. Last week 353 anglers caught 2,279 fish including 52 lings. Other jackpot winners included: Don Perez, Taft, 8-6 cabezon; Keith Bow, Pismo Beach, 8-2 ling; Anthony Baldivia, Arroyo Grande, 7-0 ling; and Diego Burmessler, Lompoc, 5-0 ling.For reservation or schedules, call: 595-7200.

Camp Roberts

The hunting and fishing programs on base are being suspended for the remainder of 2011 and for most of 2012 due to several new construction projects. “The closure is essential to facilitate construction and ensure public safety during construction,” said Col. Barbara A. Nuismer, Camp Roberts Garrison Commander.

Nacimiento Lake

Trusted source Dave Rymal, who lives at Heritage Ranch, says “Currently, fishing is flakey. You need to go real early before it warms up. Anglers aboard a house boat bagged a nice mix of white and spotted bass early Wednesday. The bite ceases once it gets hot.”

Lopez Lake

Panfish are the hot ticket, says Jerry Weatherly, marina operator. Crappie, bluegill and redear are plentiful. Bass are consistently good. Anglers are encouraged to bring big catches to the marina for photo opportunities.

Cachuma Lake

Ken Hemer reports: Trout are down 35 feet. Dodger-nightcrawler combos are working on leadcore line out four to six colors by the dam and in front of Harvey’s Cove. Blades, topwater, creature and jerk baits are working for bass at Jackrabbit Flats, Johnson Bay and The Narrows. The crappie bite is good with mini jigs, red or mealworms dunked in Cachuma Bay and The Narrows. Catfish up to 5 pounds are being caught in shallow coves on mackerel and packaged dough.

Whale Rock

Five trout were caught, all by R. Holder on July 2. He had a pair of 17-inch fish, plus a 14, 12 and 9. He didn’t reveal how he caught the rainbows. Twelve anglers tried their luck. Totals for 49 open days: Anglers, 151; Trout, 26.