Alaska Fishing Report: July 27, 2015 A great deal has occurred since the last fishing report and it has been a very eventful and interesting July here on the Kenai River and surrounding waters. Unlike the past several seasons, this year’s king salmon returns to the Kenai and the Kasilof Rivers have definitely improved. Unlike the previous years where the late run Kenai King fishery has been severely restricted and eventually closed early, managers have projected the run to meet minimum escapement goals and have opened the river below Slikok Creek to the use of bait. This decision is definitely bittersweet as although it is very encouraging to see this return rebound to the point where the fishery can be liberalized, it is also discouraging and concerning to see the associated mortality that comes with introducing bait. We have seen the lowest of lows for the run in the past few seasons and to finally see hopeful signs of recovery, only to see these preliminary gains thwarted by excessive catch rates is something many long time Kenai anglers question greatly. Managers in our area are often faced with these very tough decision as they weigh factors such as adherence to established management plans, pressure from commercial and sport user groups, related economic drivers and even the seemingly unlikely event of having “too many” fish on the spawning beds. These are all contributing factors that become part of the decision making process and although depending on how you look at them combined, they can be justified on one hand and unthinkable on the other. Our advice has always been to error on the side of caution and that “too many” fish escaping to spawn is never a bad thing and certainly preferred vs. not enough fish. Opening the fishery to retention and the use of bait for king salmon only below the Soldotna bridge does show the managers were willing to recognize conservation balanced with opportunity so hopefully these professionals made the correct call and this season’s much improved return of late run Kenai King salmon will be the beginning of a return to the once robust and unique run of chinook that made the Kenai River famous. Meanwhile we have been highly encouraging our clients to consider the more action packed and rewarding sockeye fishery over king fishing and for those that do want to take their chances at catching a Kenai king, we are asking they strongly consider releasing their catch. Many have recognized this guidance and we thank them for their contribution and for doing their small part to make sure this run recovers.
For the many that chose sockeye fishing as the best opportunity at success and to harvest these far more abundant salmon to take home with them, success has been very high. We have missed very few limits so far this season and this has translated into happy people and full boxes of great eating fish headed home on the airplanes. This year’s sockeye run has been anything but ordinary with very few big pushes of fish and a steadier, constant flow entering throughout the month. Normally we will see a couple peak days when an excess of 100,00 or even 200,000 plus fish come in on a single tide but this year the largest daily count were well under 100K and most days have ranged from 20,00 to 50,000. These numbers are more than enough fish to provide excellent fishing and with the limit upped to six fish in the ladder half of the month, an average day of fishing for a group of four anglers has yielded somewhere between 65-75 lbs. of filleted meat.
Rainbow trout fishing has been in one word: AMAZING. It always astounds me how few people actually opt for this incredible fishery but for those that are not here solely here to harvest fish, this is one incredible fishery that is truly world class and should not be over looked. It sees very little pressure in July as most are focused on the abundant sockeye salmon. July concentrates the river’s resident rainbow population in a specific stretch of the river as they gather to feed on the thousands of discarded sockeye carcasses floating down the river. This flesh eating feeding frenzy makes the trout balloon in size and ferocity and the bite is off the charts. We have enjoyed many 60, 70, 80 fish days with a number of fish in 2-5 lb. range and even a handful over 10 lbs.! Using very light spinning tackle, this trip always bring big smiles and non-stop action and epitomizes what Alaska Fishing is all about!
Fly out fishing for silver salmon has begun on the West Side of Cook Inlet and the Kustatan has provided the most consistent and exciting action so far this season. The silvers are entering this river in high numbers daily and limit action has been the rule. The fish seem very healthy and large and most importantly there are lots of them. We are also seeing a late return of reds as well as silvers arriving to Big River Lake and Bachatna Creek is also starting to see waves of silver salmon arriving daily. Bear viewing at Big River Lake as well as the Kustatan has also been very exciting. It is definitely shaping up to be another awesome fall fly out season on the West Side of Cook Inlet.
Halibut fishing continues to be very consistent in both Cook Inlet as well as Homer and Seward. The multi-species trips are yielding excellent catches of halibut, lingcod, rock fish, yellow eye as well as silver salmon. This fishing should remain consistent until late into August and as always these trip are a great way to fill the freezer with some of Alaska’s best eating bounty.
Please enjoy the many picture below and we apologize for the delay in the fishing report as we have had little time to spend on the computer. It’s a great thing to be busy and we look forward to an equally busy fall as August is just around the corner!
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