By Lydia Denney /

From tying flies at age seven to running a commercial jig business, K.C. Goodman knows the ins and outs of how to catch a fish.

Goodman has lived in Chehalis his whole life, fishing for steelhead and salmon all over the Pacific Northwest. In 1992, he started Fish Doctor Jigs with his late wife Debby Goodman, researching how to create the best fishing jig.

“I’m sitting back and thinking, ‘Okay, why is this working so well?’” Goodman said. “I’ve had to sit and put myself in the fish brain.”

K.C. Goodman with a summer run steelhead on the Kalama River.

Goodman was nicknamed the “Fish Doctor” by Casey Beck, an employee of the Chehalis Fire Department, who would often ask Goodman where to go fishing. When Goodman decided to start his business, he knew it had to be named Fish Doctor Jigs. Two years after starting the business, Goodman had his hands full making two-pattern jigs when a friend requested a three pattern jig; pearl white head, flame and black.

“I said, ‘If this ends up being the one, you keep that to yourself because this will end up being a nightmare for me,’” Goodman said.

Sure enough, the three-pattern jig was an instant success, and the “Nightmare” was born. Goodman said tackle shops had to have reservation lists for customers who wanted to buy the pattern. The white and flame colors mimic the eggs that steelhead like to eat, making the “Nightmare” the best pattern for catching steelhead, Goodman said.

Two jigs made by Fish Doctor Jigs.

Goodman makes his jigs from scratch, starting with a blank hook. He describes his jigs as “souped-up crappie jigs with colors custom-catered for salmon and steelhead fishing.” The “Nightmare” pattern is over 55 percent of the Fish Doctor Jigs’ sales, Goodman said.

Fish Doctor Jigs includes other options like twitching jigs and rubber-banded jigs, all of which Goodman uses. Goodman researches the best hooks and pattern combinations to make the most successful jigs, which are sold in tackle shops all over the Pacific Northwest.

“I fished with all the other commercial brands for a couple of years, but with all the trouble with the hooks and realizing that there were other patterns and colors and ways to do it that I liked… It wasn’t long, the way I am passionate about stuff, that I thought, ‘Okay, I’m going to make my own and make a better steelhead trap,’” Goodman said.

Spring Chinook bait jigs with rubber bands made by Fish Doctor Jigs.

In the past, Goodman would provide fishing clinics, usually at his home, where he would teach people fishing techniques. However, recent decline in fish returns have affected Goodman’s clinics and production.

“I would like to see people get in involved with groups that are advocates for sportsmen,” Goodman said. “There’s definitely going to have to be some change.”

Goodman said he has seen a 15 year decline in fish returns, especially with hatchery cuts. He stays busy all year so that he has stock for busy seasons, but if there is no fish, he could be in trouble, Goodman said.

“It has affected everybody regionally here,” Goodman said. “It has affected manufacturers, retailers, guides, especially tackle stores on the rivers, motels, restaurants.”

‘Ultra Nightmare’ jigs made by Fish Doctor Jigs.

Goodman has a lifetime of fishing stories, but one of his favorites happened after he married his wife Janie Harris-Goodman. They had friends who went out to fish on the river and didn’t catch anything, but after meeting with the pastor who married K.C. and Janie, they prayed that their friends would catch fish. Two days later, their friends called K.C. saying they had caught 7 fish, the only fish caught that day besides another man who caught one fish using one of the Fish Dr. Jigs’ “Nightmare” patterns.

Goodman’s late wife Janie was instrumental in the promotion of Fish Doctor Jigs, especially on social media, Goodman said. Four years ago, they got a spot in the conservation hall at the fair where Goodman can give out fishing tips and tell fishing stories to his heart’s content.

There are many stories of Goodman and other fisherman being the only ones to catch a fish on a river filled with people fishing, all because of Goodman’s jigs and technique.

“Hopefully it’s not just going to be fish stories in the future,” Goodman said.

Fish Doctor Jigs

Owner, K.C. Goodman

The Fish Doctor Jigs logo.

The ‘Nightmare’ pattern made by Fish Doctor Jigs.

Spring Chinook bait jigs with rubber bands made by Fish Doctor Jigs.