05 Sep Alaska Fishing Report: September 5, 2021
Alaska Fishing Report: September 5, 2021
As we turn the corner on the final couple months of our 2021 fishing season, it is time to look back on two of the busiest and most incredible two months we have seen in 31 years here on the Kenai River. After a less than normal but still busy 2020 (Covid), an overwhelming flood of eager anglers made there way to the Kenai peninsula this summer. Right on cue, so did larger than expected returns of both sockeye and silver salmon and the result was a blockbuster peak season with one limit after another and tons of satisfied visitors.
In late June and early July, we continued to mostly fish the Kasilof for sockeye. Emergency restrictions on the Kenai were announced on June 14 making all fishing for kings catch and release. This in turn made the Kasilof no bait and single hook with retention of hatchery fish only. While king fishing on the Kasilof was good to excellent for most of late May and the first couple weeks of June, no bait restrictions along with fewer numbers of newly arriving fish past mid-June made the transition to sockeye salmon a no brainer. The Kasilof sockeye return was very strong. Throughout the ladder half of June and well into July the fish arrived in big numbers daily, making for some very good fishing. We remained on the Kasilof pursuing sockeye into the first week to ten days of July.
Starting around the second week of the July the first good waves of late run Kenai sockeye began to enter the river. Fishing was average at the beginning of the run, and it took time and effort to get full limits. As the run progressed the numbers improved dramatically. Unfortunately, this was not the case for the late run Kenai Kings. King numbers sputtered along in early July and that remained the case for most of the run. The low return finally prompted ADF&G managers to impose emergency catch and release restrictions on July 12 and finally a complete closure to all king fishing on both the Kenai and the Kasilof on July 19. This in turn enacted paired restrictions on the commercial set nets and they were closed for the remainder of the season. The result was a completely unimpaired entrance to the river for the late run of Kenai sockeye and what ensured was nothing less than incredible. We saw an extreme abundance of fish from mid-July through the third week of August and a final count of just under two and a half million fish. Fishing was nothing short of spectacular with easy limits being the rule. The limit went from three fish to six fish on August 5. Unfortunately, even with the restrictions on commercial fishing, the late run of Kenai kings failed to make its minimum escapement goal for the third year in a row. We can only hope this run recovers soon but until it does, we will not be focusing our angling effort on this species.
With the extremely strong sockeye return, we remained fishing for sockeye well past the time we normally transition to silvers. The silver run seemed a little late this year but by the last ten days of August we started targeting silver salmon exclusively. The early run of silvers was very good and we saw great action and largely limit fishing into early September. Currently as we transition to the late run of silvers in September and early October, the run is just getting started. Larger fish are beginning to arrive and with the limit increasing from two to three fish, full limits are taking slightly more effort.
Fishing for rainbow trout has been very good over the last couple of weeks. Focusing primarily on areas of the river where king salmon are spawning, eager rainbow packs are attacking our beads which are simulating loose eggs. We have seen some very impressive trophy rainbows come to the net and this fishery will only get better and better as we get into the sockeye and eventually the silver spawn in the waters below Skilak Lake.
Fly Out fishing for silvers on Big River Lake, the Kustatan and the Chuit was very good this year with great fishing in all locations but the best being both he Kustatan and the Chuit. These systems started to see fish in the second and third week of July and continued to build well into mid to late August. These locations are now past the peak and our fly out fishing is now mainly focused on the Crescent Lake silver fishery. This run is always the latest one to peak and it is currently very good for both fresh silvers as well as epic bear viewing action.
As we enter the final month and half of our season we are greatly looking forward to chasing late run silvers as well as big rainbows, dolly varden and steelhead. Check back for a final report for 2021 but for now enjoy all the great pictures below of the last several weeks. As always a huge thanks to all our guests this year both new and old as without you this dream would not be possible. Moreover, a huge thanks to my extremely hard-working guides that make all the magic happen.