31 Jul Alaska Fishing Report: July 31, 2022
Well, I have said it before and I will say it again, no one season in 33 years of guiding here on the Kenai Peninsula is ever the same and this year is certainly unique in several ways. Our season started like it always does on the Kasilof River in pursuit of king salmon. Due to low projections for the early run for kings on the Kenai, the Kasilof began the season with restrictions making it retention of hatchery fish only and while we were allowed to use bait beginning on May 16, we were restricted to the use of one single hook. The Kenai River began the season with retention of king salmon less than 36 inches but due to low numbers was further restricted to catch and release on June 1 and then eventually to a full closure to all fishing for kings on June 8. None of these events were much of a surprise as this follows the same pattern we have seen for the past several seasons with restrictions and closures plaguing this return on an annual basis. The one unique and discouraging aspect of the 2022 early season was a relatively poor showing of hatchery Kasilof King salmon as this has become one of our most predictable and action-packed king fisheries in recent years and while the wild return on the Kenai have faltered, the Kasilof hatchery return has held its ground and provided a great early season option for those looking to harvest a king salmon. We can only hope this year was an anomaly and they will be back with greater strength next season.
As the Peninsula wide king salmon closures were announced in the first couple weeks of June, the numbers of sockeye salmon arriving in the Kasilof and the Russian river bound run entering the Kenai were picking up daily. We primarily fished the Kasilof River and while there were a few slow days at times behind commercial fishing openers, we had a very consistent and successful season on the Kasilof overall. We continued to fish the Kasilof daily into the second week of July this year and the limit was increased to six starting July 7. The Kasilof had many days where more than 20K sockeye entered the river and on July 20 the highest number for the season was recorded with 125K fish in one day! Needless to say, the Kasilof filled many freezers for our guests this season and kept us very busy in the drift boats.
Despite the incredible numbers on the Kasilof, our focus naturally shifted around mid-July as the Kenai River late run of sockeye was starting to arrive in force. In the ten days between July 16 and July 26, over 800,000 sockeye entered the Kenai River. Fishing has been very good and the limit increased to six on July 22. We will continue to pursue Kenai sockeye into the second week of August as we await the transition form sockeye to our fall silver salmon and trout fisheries. This is also an even year so we will see out bi-annual run of pink salmon and they typically arrive several million fish strong. All these fish and the food they provide will fortify our amazing population of big rainbows and we look forward to catching some giants!
Alaska Fly Out fishing to the west side of Cook Inlet has been excellent this year. The sockeye run to Big River Lake has been exceptionally strong this year and we have seen limit fishing daily since early June. Both Wolverine Creek and the South Fork had very high returns of sockeye and a great number of fish are still present. There have been several regular brown bears frequenting Big River Lake all summer including several sows with multiple cubs. Some silvers are starting to show at Big River Lake. Fishing for silvers at the Kustatan has started slower than some years but is picking up daily. The Chuit is also seeing good numbers of fish enter the system daily.
Enjoy all the great pictures below: