July seemed to come and go in a flash and it is hard to believe we are already several days into August. We have been very busy with a lot happening here on the Kenai and surrounding waters. King season played out very much like the last few seasons with super low returns and restrictions to the fishery. On July 19, the Kenai went to catch and release only for all king salmon and then one week later on July 26 it was closed to all king fishing for the remainder of the season. Sonar counts through Aug 2 show just over 14,800 kings have returned and this is one of the lowest counts for this date ever recorded, second only to last season when 13,800 kings had reached the river by the same date. The minimum escapement goal is 15,500 fish and it looks like in the next week we will barely reach this threshold.
Sockeye numbers have been very stead over the past couple of weeks with fish counts ranging from 20,00 fish a day all the way up to 60,00 fish. These steady number’s have resulted in some really productive fishing days with lots of action and many, many limit catches. Even now, the sockeye continue to enter the river daily in very strong numbers and we should see good fishing for sockeye salmon well into mid August. This is an even year and thus the pinks are already flooding the lower river. They are also starting to show throughout the river but the highest densities remain in the tidal reaches of the lower Kenai. With several million due to arrive in the next couple weeks, they will soon literally be everywhere. Silver salmon have not hit the river in any substantial numbers yet but are due to show any day in the lover Kenai and hopefully the return will be as strong as it was last season when we saw near record numbers throughout August and September. Until they arrive, we will most likely remain focused on the abundant sockeye as they are provided great action and lots of excellent fish for our guests to take home.
Fishing for trophy rainbow trout and dolly varden has been nothing short of outstanding with many extremely large rainbows coming to the net. We have mainly been focusing on the middle section of the river in and around areas where sockeye salmon carcasses have accumulated. Many of the fish we are catching are literally bulging with salmon parts and it is obvious they are gorging heavily on the bounty of meat blanketing the bottom of the river. Soon we will transition to the upper Kenai below Skilak Lake in search of silvers and so too will the trout as they follow the sockeye up to their spawning grounds.
Fly Out fishing on the West Side of Cook Inlet for silver salmon started a bit later than most years but now has really picked up steam. Silvers are flooding into all of our primary locations including Big River Lake, The Kustatan, Buchatna Creek and the Chuit. All are seeing excellent fishing over the past several days and the action should only improve over the next two weeks as these fisheries hit their season peak in mid August.
We are looking forward to our annual transition here on the Kenai to our traditional fall fisheries and will keep you updated as the silver fishing begins very soon. Meanwhile we will continue to pursue nice limits of fresh sockeye and amazing catch and release fishing for giant rainbows and dolly varden.
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