Where did August go? Much like the rest of this summer, August has simply flown by and since the last time I posted this fishing report a lot has transpired out on the water. This has been a very peculiar but amazing month so far with an abundance of salmon arriving to the Kenai and surrounding waters. The month began much as July ended with more strong pulses of fresh sockeye streaming into the river. We enjoyed healthy limits of red salmon day after day, capped off by some very incredible trout fishing as well. Soon after the first week of August, the sockeye run began to fall off slightly and the onslaught of pink salmon arrived with a fury. This even year only run seemed to storm the river in record setting numbers with the first waves invading the lower Kenai and by mid month they seemed to be literally everywhere. While they are a blast to fight and provide almost limitless action, the pinks do pose a obstacle when fishing for more desirable species such as sockeye, silvers and trout. By mid August, we finally began to see enough silver salmon in the river to transition away from sockeye and start exclusively targeting coho. At the same time we were seeing extremely high water conditions from several very wet and windy days and the river reached flood stage for well over a week. These conditions made fishing for silvers and trout very challenging as the only water with good enough visibility to fish was just below Skilak Lake, downstream to the Kiley and this section is notorious for extreme wind in blustery weather. Despite the adverse conditions, we did manage to find decent numbers of willing silvers and every day seemed to improve. Water levels subsided slightly and the concentrations of silvers became noticeably better. Soon we were finding daily limits although the pink salmon were also becoming more and more established as they blanketed the bottom of many sections of the river, setting up to spawn. The pink invasion and the extremely high water made trout fishing nearly impossible as not only were the flows too high, the pinks were so thick we were snagging them in the back with all of the lines while searching for trout. Meanwhile on the lower Kenai, rescinding flood waters and more moderate tides seem to flip a switch for the silvers and then began to arrive daily in epic numbers. For the last week to ten days, huge schools of larger than average and very aggressive coho have been arriving with each passing tide. We have had amazing luck and easy limits throwing vibrax spinners and just when I was beginning to wonder if this years silver run might be a dud, it looks now like we are going to see a run that will rival last year’s amazing returns. Late by at least a week, the first run of silver salmon is now in full swing and we can only wait and see how long it continues before the transition begins to the larger and later push of late run silvers which typically arrive in early September and continue to run well into October. A few of our boats have chased the recent onslaught of silvers upriver to below Skilak Lake and have found greatly improved conditions and outstanding numbers of silvers. Limits have been the rule river wide and again it seems the run, while late in arriving, will be very strong.
Fly out fishing for silvers also had a somewhat late start compared to most years but definitely hit peak strength mid month and continues to be very productive. Big River Lake, the Kustatan and both the Buchatna and the Chuit all saw very good runs and lots very productive fishing. We are now starting to fish more typical late season locations like Crescent River and will report on this once we get a few of these trips completed.
Halibut fishing in Cook Inlet is winding down but has also been very strong with lots of good sized and beefy flatfish being caught on every trip. Soon the halibut will push out of Cook Inlet and into the Gulf of Alaska and we will mainly be departing from Homer for the few remaining halibut trips we have this fall. A very special thank you to Captain Hunter and Keyo’s guide service for their outstanding work as always on the salt water this summer.
We look forward to wrapping up our season over the next month with some outstanding fall fishing for huge late run silvers and giant rainbows. Hopefully the pinks will subside enough in the coming weeks to make the trout pursuit more viable but for now we are more than content to chase the very abundant silvers!
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