June is quickly coming to a close and that means July is just around the corner. Before we transition to this next phase of the season, let’s take a look back on the past couple of weeks and one of the best early runs of king salmon we have seen in several years. The Kasilof river saw some of the best fishing it has seen in decades. Increased hatchery smolt releases are definitely reaping rewards as the number of returning hatchery fish rivals that of the glory days when the Kasilof was known as one of the most productive road side king fisheries in all of Alaska. With a limit of two hatchery fish and the ability to keep fishing after retaining a limit, this river is an anglers dream. Adding to the excellent fishing, ADF&G allowed the use of bait and multiple hooks on June 18 and that day was one of the best king salmon bites I have witnessed in many seasons, if not ever! Two fish limits were the rule for several days and action was hot and heavy. The run peaked right around this time and even though some new fish continue to arrive, we are now seeing the valley between the early run and the up and coming July late run. Boats are still hooking multiple kings a day and this is testament to just how strong this year’s Kasilof return really is. Predictions for next year are even stronger so we greatly look forward to seeing this amazing fishery restore itself to historical highs not seen since the mid to late nineties. Sockeye returns on the Kasilof have been less than stellar and still have not arrived in good enough numbers to provide consistent limit catches. Commercial netting is now also a factor and with their participation along with the modest numbers so far, we have just not seen the epic sockeye fishing below Tustamena Lake that we have seen in the past several seasons. This can turn on a dime with a big blast of fish moving up the Inlet and we remain optimistic that this fishery will improve over the next week to ten days.
On the Kenai, king fishing reopened to retention of kings on June 18 but only below Slikok Creek (approximately 3 miles below the Soldotna bridge.) This coincided with both extremely warm temperatures coupled with a very large rain event and the river turned extremely high and turbid. The poor water conditions made the river essentially unfishable. That remains the case to date as more warm weather and rain have hampered the Kenai’s ability to drop into fishable shape, although it is finally showing preliminary signs of becoming fishable soon. Before the river got high and muddy, catch and release fishing in the middle river was outstanding! We had several multiple fish days here close to our lodge and it was very exciting to revisit this fishery after it has been closed for several seasons. We caught a number of large kings that exceeded 35-40 lbs. and it felt great to battle these monsters and then release them back to the river unharmed. We look forward to the river cleaning up and becoming fishable again so that we can again get out there and pursue these trophy kings.
Fly out trips to the west side of Cook Inlet have been outstanding so far this season with plenty of sockeye nosing into Wolverine creek and several regular brown bears putting on a show for visiting anglers. This trip, with the spectacular scenery and great fishing, along with the bear viewing and flight seeing, is always a favorite. This should remain a great option into July before we eventually transition to other locations in pursuit of silver salmon.
Halibut fishing in nearby Cook Inlet has also been excellent and on a number of recent trips, our captains have also included the combination of salt water king fishing as an added bonus. Both limits of halibut and king salmon have been common in the last week which provides more evidence that king salmon returns are stronger than expected this season. Let’s hope this trend continues as we move into July and the busiest portion of our season. As always, thank you to all that have fished with us so far and for those that will be arriving in the next several months, we look forward to seeing you and making sure you have a great trip!! We will post another report as soon as time allows but for now enjoy the pictures!
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