16 Sep Alaska Fishing Report: Sept 16, 2019
Much like the early season, August and now September are flying by and the season is quickly reaching its final stretch. It has been an incredible season in many regards for us and for the Kenai Peninsula and Alaska in general. Never have we seen such moderate (hot) temperatures and back to back to back beautiful days. The lack of rain and California like weather did not go unpunished and the huge Swan Lake fire (which is still going as of this report) reminded us just how important a little rain can be.
Our last fishing review came back in mid-August and a lot has occurred both on and off the water since then. The sockeye season ended much like it began with a grand finale. The run produced limit catches of fresh off the tide sockeye right up until the third week of August! 2019 was definitely the year of the sockeye with both enormous early and late runs of red salmon. Of course, with all the sockeye salmon being caught and filleted in the river, our carnivorous population of large rainbow trout converged on the middle river and trout fishing was also incredible. Between trophy trout and sockeye we fished steady into mid-August when our sockeye catches were beginning to include regular catches of silvers as well. By the second half of August we were fishing both sockeye and silvers until finally transitioning completely to coho for the remainder of the season.
The early run of Kenai silver was a decent one. Water conditions and some larger tide cycles have made it a little tougher in tide water but farther up the river we have been fishing the silvers daily and enough are cooperating to make some incredible days. Now into September we are seeing a fair number of larger silvers indicating our late run fish are starting to show up. Some of these coho feel like small kings with some weighing over 15lbs. As they are fresh from the ocean and caught in shallow water, their fight is very exciting. Along with great silver fishing, we have been able to trout fish on many days and this adds a different angling experience, lots of action on light rods, very fun.
The neighboring Kasilof River has also fished well on most days for silvers with a steady push of big bright cohos moving through each day to present. This is a peaceful drift boat fishery that requires back bouncing in many spots and will test your sense of feel and urge to set the hook. These tide bright silvers fight at a very high level and can reach double digit size as well. Also mixed in with the big silvers have been a sprinkling of early arriving steelhead and they are equally exciting to catch and release.
Fly out fishing was strong throughout August and overall it was good silver year on the West Side of Cook Inlet. The Chuit saw a very early July push of silvers and the remainder of the rivers followed close suit. The silver salmon factory known as the Kustatan was its usual self this season with wave after wave of tidal coho daily headed for upriver destinations unknown. The constant supply of big fresh silvers in this system for such a sustained stretch of the season always amazes me. Big River Lake also saw good silver returns and lots of excellent fishing days. The unfortunate news from places like Wolverine Creek and Bachatna Creek, the warm temperatures and lack of rain really had a catastrophic effect on some of the fish runs. Multiple reports came in reporting dead silvers floating in many areas as the water just got too warm. Mother nature will surely help to rebound them in the future, but it was tough year for many of the smaller, non-glacially fed systems.
Back on the Kenai approaching mid-September and the leaves are in full change. Moose hunting is in the air and giant trout are lurking in the turquoise green Kenai. Steelhead are approaching and entering the streams of the southern Kenai and it’s all happening like it always does each fall, simultaneously. It’s a lot to take in over such a short stretch of time and after a long fishing season but we try as hard as we can. For those yet to arrive, it is looking like an excellent fall here on the Kenai and we are looking forward to many more great days of fishing into the late season. Enjoy the additional pictures below, it is certainly not all of them and we will add more as we can process and post them all.
Thanks as always!