07 Sep Alaska Fishing Report: Sept 7, 2018
It was definitely an August to remember here on the Kenai River as it was one of the best early runs of Kenai Silver Salmon we have seen in several years. The fish arrived early in the first week of August and just kept coming at a very steady and strong pace until late into the month. Another very positive thing about this year’s early run Kenai silvers is the average size was well above normal. There were many days when we saw multiple fish over 15 lbs. Fish over 10 lbs. are not usually common until the late run arrives in September. To see this many big fish early has many people looking forward to the size of the Sept and Oct late-run fish. The Kenai was not the only river system that saw excellent silver returns in August. The nearby Kasilof as well as the southern Kenai Peninsula rivers and the entire west side of Cook Inlet all experienced very strong silver salmon returns and fishing was excellent in most places. The connection between Inlet wide strong silver returns and the lack of commercial fishing due to the weak sockeye and king salmon returns should not be overlooked. Without extensive drift and set gillnet fishing in late July and early August, this run was able to pass through the Inlet and to all their natal waters undisturbed.
Trout Fishing on the Kenai this August was good in a lot of places with some very nice rainbows being caught around carcass piles and then eventually with beads with the king spawn kicking into full swing. The trout are definitely moving and focusing on fresh salmon by-product whether it be spawning kings or eventually the masses of spawning pink salmon that have now moved into almost the entire lower 50 miles of the river: from Skilak to the Cook Inlet. Their spawn will peak over the first couple weeks of September and shower the Kenai with millions of loose eggs, the trout will gorge. During the peak of the spawn, bead fishing can be tough as you a number, just one single bead in a blizzard of drifting eggs. Eventually the loose eggs will dwindle, and the trout will look to continue the feast at the same pace they have enjoyed for weeks. They will get hungry and the big ones will make mistakes. Pink salmon years can be a curse at times and also a blessing, they bring a great deal of food to the trout population and that’s got to be good overall. They are also a lot of fun to catch and particularity when they first enter the river, they are also very good to keep and eat.
Fly Out Fishing on the West Side of Cook Inlet was amazing this fall with both the Kustatan and Big River Lake seeing very strong silver salmon runs this season. Big River Lake capped off an amazing sockeye year with a huge run of big silvers and they were caught throughout the system which helped to disperse any pressure. The Kustatan also fished well for the first three weeks of August with lots of big new fish arriving daily and with excellent fishing in all sections of the river. Smaller rivers like Bachatna and the Chuit were also very good this year. We were only able to fish the Bachatna for a small portion of the season as the beaver dam we land on started leaking making debris in the water more exposed and unsafe for the floats on the Otter. Let’s hope those busy beavers get that dam fixed up in time for next years run.
As we enter the first full week of September, the weather has been absolutely glorious, and the leaves are just starting to show their change of color. We did see a definite gap between the early run silvers and the late run fish and this is not uncommon for the two runs. We are now seeing a substantial push of big new fresh silvers coming in on each new tide and this should continue to build into late September/October. If the late run is anything like the early run, we should have some excellent fishing ahead of us!