Peak season brings a flood of reds, giant rainbows, a trickle of kings and the first silvers of the season.
I will begin this fishing report by saying this is by far the most favorable weather season we have ever experienced here in Alaska. We have had week after week of beautiful bluebird skies accompanied by warm comfortable temperatures and little to no rain. I keep expecting to see the forecast make a change toward the more normal weather like rain and clouds but as of today they are predicting another week of absolutely beautiful weather.
A great week of fishing for Sockeye, Trout, Halibut and even a few Kings!
The past week has a been a very steady week of fishing on the Kenai river with our first decent push of sockeye salmon arriving and also phenomenal trout fishing along with some decent action for king salmon on the lower river. With the variety of options on the table, we have been able to send people home with plenty of fish, smiles and great memories of fishing the Kenai River and surrounding waters in July. While our king salmon return still looks to be well below average, the numbers did spike slightly this week and this has allowed managers to hold off on any restrictions, at least for now. Unfortunately this has also allowed regular commercial set gill netting to continue on the beaches leading to the river and this has made for sporadic fish movement with good fishing when the nets are removed and slower fishing in the day or two following their openers. If the king counts continue to be below average it does seem likely that the river will see restrictions sometime this coming week and this would include either a step down to catch and release or a complete closure. Only time will tell and we should have a much better idea as to what will happen by the middle of next week.
Out with June and in with July...
The summer is definitely moving by at an incredibly fast pace and it is hard to believe that we are already headed into the second week of July. Despite another roller coaster year for king salmon, fishing has actually been very good for our guests with lots of chrome bright sockeye, trophy rainbow trout and even a few kings!
The Kasilof river was a great option for the last week of June and into early July with excellent pulses of sockeye entering the river daily. This began to wane slightly when commercial fishing in the Kasilof sub district began but on the days after the nets are lifted, this has been an outstanding trip with limits being the rule. As of July 1, the Kasilof single hook and no bait restriction were lifted and this has allowed us to see some decent king salmon fishing, again depending on the regularity of commercial set net fishing. There have been a number of days when king fishing on the Kasilof has provided some great action and we have seen a number of larger, late run Kasilof fish come to the net.
Out with the Early Run Kings and in with the Sockeye and Trout.
As we move into the last week of June, things are definitely changing on the fishing front. Our early run of Kenai River kings was disappointing to say the least with just over 1000 fish counted via sonar as of June 20. This makes this return the worst ever recorded and has thus prompted an emergency order closing the Kenai to all king fishing until July 1. This much needed and welcome management action was taken to ensure every king salmon making back to the river is allowed free passage upriver as with the count being this low, sustainability of future returns is a major concern. Before the closure, river conditions were extremely poor as the two week stretch of uncharacteristically warm weather has created extreme snow melt and runoff and the river was super high and very dirty. Despite the poor conditions we did manage to fish a couple of days on the Kenai last week and had some success catching and releasing some chrome bright Kenai kings.
More Kings on the Kasilof, More Options on the Kenai.
As we move into the middle of June, fishing remains steady on the Kasilof River for king salmon as well as sockeye and a few remaining down river steelhead. Our boats have been finding reasonable success on both wild (naturally-produced) and hatchery king salmon as we move into the seasonal peak for this early run king salmon fishery. Most of the kings are still bright chrome and covered in sea-lice indicating there are still a number of fresh fish entering the river daily. We are also seeing and catching a fair number of sockeye salmon on the Kasilof and this run should only continue to build and improve well into late June and early July.
Good News and Bad News
First lets talk about the good news as it has really been a very good week for our guests. King fishing on the Kasilof River remains steady with multiple opportunities for king salmon on every trip. The ratio of wild (naturally produced) vs. hatchery fish has been 3:1 in favor of wild fish but we have been able to keep several nice hatchery king salmon in the last week to ten days. Seeing more naturally or wild kings first is pretty typical for this run and we should expect more hatchery fish to show up very soon. The Kasilof is also seeing a huge push of sockeye salmon right now so that is also a very good option for those wanting to float from Tustamena Lake down and pursue a limit of red salmon.
Improvement! After a relatively slow start to our king season on both the Kenai and the Kasilof, fishing has definitely picked up for us on the Kasilof River. Over the past three days very good numbers of both naturally produced and hatchery king salmon have come into the river as well as a decent number of sockeye. We have had multiple kings to the boat in the last two trips and kings are being caught daily up and down the Kasilof River. This change seems to correspond with more favorable weather conditions, more moderate tides and rising river levels and water temperatures. Whether this trend will continue is unknown, but for now, things seems to be improving daily...at least on the Kasilof. Below is a sampling of the fish we have landed in the last couple trips:
The 2013 fishing season is officially underway although in many respects it seems several weeks late. We experienced a very cold and reluctant spring with early and mid May temperatures still dipping well below the freezing mark in the morning and barely eclipsing 50 degrees during the day. This did little to encourage king salmon in the salt water to enter the rivers as to them this is still more characteristic of late winter than the beginning of summer. Fast forward to the last week to ten days and suddenly we are seeing one of the finest warm weather streaks I can remember in several seasons with highs now soaring up to seventy plus degrees. Indeed Alaska weather is like riding a roller coaster,
Snow in May, really?.... Apparently my March 10 post exclaiming spring has spung was a bit premature. Here is it May 17 and it is actually snowing. Overnight temps are still hitting the freezing mark on a daily basis and the river still has several feet of ice still firmly entrenched on its banks. Needless to say , this has the fish thinking it is still late winter and therefore there has been little to no salmon activity on either the Kenai or the Kasilof.