The 2018 season is well underway and just like every season it has exhibited its own unique personality. Perhaps the most noteworthy characteristic to the season has been the lack of warm weather, especially in mid to late May with temps still dipping into the thirties overnight and struggling to break into the sixties during the day. Over the last week to ten days we have had a decent stretch of sunny, warmer weather so that has help a lot to warm water temps and increase water levels on both the Kenai and the Kasilof. Even so, both rivers remain at below average water volume with the Kenai currently only at 5680 CFS. The 52-year average discharge for the same date is 6500 CFS.
So far king salmon returns to both rivers has been mediocre. Fishing success has been decent, and we have had several very good days thus far but overall it looks to be a less than stellar early run of king salmon for most of south central Alaska. Very low returns on the smaller southern Kenai Peninsula streams like the Anchor, Deep Creek and Ninilchik have already prompted closures.
The Kasilof has definitely been the most productive thus far with several multiple fish days for our boats and consistent daily action for ocean bright king salmon. The return has been an even mix of both hatchery and naturally produced kings averaging 10 to 20 lbs. As always, we have been working extra hard to give our client the most opportunities possible and again that has paid off nicely on must days with multiple kings coming to the net. We are starting to see a number of sockeye moving into the Kasilof so hopefully both the king and sockeye numbers will continue to build as we head toward the seasonal peak of both these fisheries in the next several weeks.
Kenai king sonar numbers have been on the low side thus far with only 932 larger fish (over 34 inches) being recorded through June 4. On this date last season, 2,335 kings had been recorded. Despite the low numbers, fishing action has been steady with many boats seeing success in the lower river. A number of larger fish have been reported and in the low water conditions, this always makes for some epic battles. We will begin to transition a few of our boats to the Kenai in the next several days and look forward to putting our hands on some trophy Kenai chinook. That being said, the low number are of concern and it is definitely time to begin bracing ourselves for possible restrictions and even closures if run strength does not improve very soon. Fortunately, we are more than able to switch gears and rely on our diversified knowledge of other fisheries to make sure we provide the best opportunities available to all of our guests. Mother nature is very tough to control but we will always do everything possible to ensure both positive and productive fishing experiences, despite the potential pending restrictions.
Sockeye movement on the Kenai River has started to pick up dramatically in the last week with several reports of Russian River red salmon moving through the middle river. This run has a week to ten-day window when the majority of the return makes it way through the lower and middle Kenai before eventually going through Skilak Lake and into the upper river and eventually the Russian.
Halibut fishing in nearby Cook Inlet has been very steady so far this season and the last week to ten days has yielded some very nice salt water catches. This fishery should remain steady throughout the summer and is a great trip for filling the freezer when you get home.
On the West Side of Cook Inlet, reports of the first schools of sockeye salmon are coming in from Big River Lake. This run normally does not arrive in earnest until June 10-15 so we look forward to the first fly out adventures of the season getting off the ground soon.
Pleas enjoy the number of great pictures below and stand by for many more as the 2018 season rolls forward!
[su_custom_gallery source=”media: 6924,6923,6922,6921,6920,6919,6918,6917,6916,6915,6914,6913,6912,6911,6910,6909,6908,6905,6899,6896″ limit=”100″ link=”image” width=”400″ height=”400″ title=”never”]Alaska Fishing Report: June 15, 2017[/su_custom_gallery]