2016 Season Highlights

trout

As 2016 comes to a close, it’s time to take a look back on the past season.  Without a doubt 2016 will be best remembered for the improved numbers of king salmon on both the Kenai and the Kasilof Rivers.  Both the early and late runs on both these rivers saw significantly better numbers of kings this year, as did many other rivers statewide.  Perhaps we are finally seeing a rebound in our king stocks rather than the period of low abundance we have seen in recent years.  One especially bright spot to the 2016 season was the number of fish present in May and June on the Kasilof.  ADF&G has increased stocking of the Kasilof and it seems we are starting to see the returns from this.  For those that have fished the Kenai Peninsula for several years, you will remember the peak years on the Kasilof and just how great king fishing was.  This year at times resembled the “good old days” with great fishing throughout the month of June.

The Kenai began closed but eventually went from catch and release to open to full retention by late June.  We were able to fish for kings in late June and through July without any major restrictions and this was welcome news to our guests.  We caught a lot of very nice kings this season and proudly we released the majority of them to find their natal gravel and spawn.  We also saw some of the largest king salmon we have seen in many years.  We put several fish over 60 lbs. in the net this year, and a few were much larger than that!  It was very rewarding to see these huge kings the Kenai is famous for and even more rewarding to release them and watch them continue their amazing journey. kigking

Sockeye salmon returns on both the Kasilof and the Kenai were merely average in 2016.  The Kasilof return never really got good enough in June to produce consistent limits and it was not until July on the Kenai when we really began seeing decent sockeye fishing.  The Kenai return was plentiful as always but definitely not as large as some of the sockeye returns we have seen in years past.  The run never saw any super huge days but rather came in over the course of several weeks.  This consistent pulse of fish meant persistence and perseverance almost always paid off with limits.

img_0158The sockeye run remained a great option until the second week in August and then it was time to start chasing the newly arriving pink and silver salmon.  The pinks only return on even years to the Kenai and this year’s run was a good one with lots of really big fish.  The pinks seemed a pound or two bigger than normal and in fact the state record pink was caught twice in the same day this year on the Kenai.  The silver run in August was fun as always but definitely was down compared to the previous two seasons.  This just meant we had to work a little harder to find the fish but with the pink salmon action between silvers, there was rarely any down time.

Trout fishing was also excellent this season and we always enjoy this amazing fishery.  From mid-June well into the fall there always seems to be great trophy trout opportunities on the Kenai.  This year, like many, some of the best fishing was in late July and early August.  This is when many of the trout are congregated in the middle river feeding on discarded sockeye carcasses.  Eventually we followed the trout upriver where they positioned themselves below the masses of spawning salmon.

pylehalibut2Halibut fishing in 2016 was very good and there were a number of very big fish caught in nearby Cook Inlet as well as Homer and Seward.  As always, picking a good tide and having favorable weather always helps, but having a good skipper and crew is important as well.  This is an amazing fishery year after year and a great way to take some of Alaska finest seafood back home with you.

Fly out fishing this year began as always with Big River sockeye and bear viewing and this season was great for both. With lots of fish and bears, this trip rarely disappoints.  This year there were several sows with multiple cubs along several other brown and black bears that visited the lake and Wolverine Creek on a regular basis.  Silver fishing on the West Side of Cook Inlet was fun as always but much like the Kenai run, silvers numbers were definitely down compared to the previous few seasons.  Nevertheless, we did see some amazing action primarily on the Kustatan and also Bachatna Creek.  There’s always something special about these remote and more intimate locations.

trout3As we enter winter on the Kenai fishing for giant rainbows behind spawning silvers, we look back fondly on all the great memories made during the 2016 season.  We would especially like to thank all those that fished with us this past season and we look forward to seeing you on the water again very soon.  Just as fast as 2016 slipped by, the 2017 season will soon be upon us.  We look forward to another action packed fishing season here on the Kenai and we sincerely hope you will consider joining us!

 

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Kenai Guides,
33350 Keystone Drive, Soldotna, AK 99669
Phone: (1800) 622-1177
Website: kenai-guides.com
Email: mgfish@gci.net

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