Alaska Fishing Report: June 16, 2014
It has been a very unique summer as always here on the Kenai Peninsula and our early season was largely highlighted by the 200,000 acre Funny River Fire. Now largely contained and behind us, the fire posed a serious threat to the communities of Kasilof, Soldotna and Sterling and while it did not affect fishing a lot, it did have a huge impact of our typical early season routine. In late May and early June I was hired on an emergency boat operator ferrying fore crew primarily below Skilak Lake as they worked to establish a 300 foot containment line around the fire and snuff out any remaining hot spots and smokes along the river. This was over 13 days of 16 hour long shifts but it was a very rewarding experience and I got to meet a lot of very professional, brave and well trained fire-fighting personnel along the journey. I was grateful for this opportunity to help and be involved in such a large collaborative effort and I cannot say that you enough to all that were involved in making sure our Kenai River communities stayed safe and sound in a fire event of this magnitude.
After finishing up these fire duties, I went right to work joining the rest of my guide staff fishing primarily on the Kasilof River for King Salmon and Sockeye. The king return to the Kasilof was a good one this year and even with the restrictions of single hook and no-bait, there was definitely plenty of action. Our boats had multiple opportunities for kings on all of our trips and on some days were able to bring up to half a dozen fish to the net. The ration of hatchery vs. wild kings was about 50/50 and most of the fish were very good size (18-25lbs.). Currently fresh king salmon continue to enter the Kasilof with each tide although the run in starting to show signs of being past its peak. Residual fish with color are being seen and soon the numbers of fresh kings will hit a temporary lull until the larger more abundant late run Kasilof king salmon arrive in late June and early July.
Sockeye fishing on the Kasilof has begun much like it did last season with good numbers of fish coming in each day and this should continue to improve as we move into the second and third week of June. We have largely been targeting sockeye below Tustamena Lake with excellent success although we are needing a full day of effort to reach limit catches. The fish have all been very fresh, most with sea lice still on them so they are travelling fast. We look forward to fishing this section of the Kasilof for the next several week before transitioning to the late run King salmon and sockeye fisheries on the Kenai in July.
On the Kenai, king salmon sonar numbers have been very encouraging although the river does remain closed to all directed king salmon fishing through the end of June. The number of king entering the Kenai so far is over 3000 fish and this far exceeds ADF&G projections for the entire early run (2500 total fish). Last year by June 16, only 916 kings had been counted and to date this year we have 2, 996 fish. For more on these numbers and to compare past years to this year’s return, please see:
Trout fishing opened on the Kenai on June 12 and fishing was fair to good. There are large numbers of both chrome and spawning trout available below Skilak Lake and the trout should move into all sections of the river very soon. This is always a great trip for those that want to see some spectacular scenery and catch a lot of fish and we look forward to a lot of great trout days as the summer progresses.
Fly Out fishing at Big River Lake has been excellent with limit catchs being the rule. The fish headed to both Wolverine Creek and the South Fork of Big River have arrived in abundant numbers along with good numbers of both brown and black bears. This fishery should only continue to improve into mid-July and for those looking for awesome scenery, excellent salmon fishing and great bear viewing, this trip is very tough to beat.