Sunday, July 16, 2017

Fishing Report Week Ending 7/16/17

Super Tuesday
To steal a phrase, "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times." What an incredible roller coaster ride of fishing last week. It started out red hot, but that was soon cooled when a group cancelled a couple of days of fishing mid week. Unfortunately, by the time I was back out on the water, the Killey River decided to dump a ton of dirty water into the Kenai and it absolutely shut the bite down. It was too bad my weekend fisherman were not able to rearrange their schedule to fill in the cancellation.

So, I started the week off fishing a group from my Minnesota hometown of Brainerd. Glenda Kunde, fellow BHS Class of 1981 alum, caught this 52" Kenai king about an hour into the morning. Tired from the fight, and the fact that this was a heavy fish, her husband Craig helped her lift the fish for the photograph. The smiles say it all...
That's Mike and Pam Marlatt also of Brainerd (Mike is a Michigan transplant). Of course it was Pam that reeled in this fish. This, once again, proves that women catch more fish than men on the Kenai.
But wait, we weren't done for the day. It was the now the guys turn. Craig caught the next fish.
And, Mike finished off the boat limit with this fish. Well done, guys, well done.
My next trip I had the pleasure of guiding Jane's cousins Dick and Marcia Hoffman. Of course, it was Marcia who caught this fish. Dick was undeterred and had enough fun that he said they are definitely coming back to Alaska next year. I know there will be one waiting for you then Dick...

I had Team Brainerd out a second day. Mike was the last to finish the first time, and now he was the first to finish the second time. For all of you who are reading this from the Brainerd area, I'm sure you'll be able to recognize the koozy in the mouth of this fish.
Pam caught the second fish of the trip, although smaller than the fish she caught the day before, it was the perfect size for a whole fillet pit barbeque. Mission accomplished.

The last fish of the week was caught by Grant Watt, charter member of the Beaver Creek All-Stars. Grant backbounced this nice fish on an incoming tide Thursday night. Way to go Grant!

For the week ahead, I'm crossing my fingers and toes that the Kenai dirty water will flush out. If so, I anticipate very good fishing. If not, a lot of stories will be told. Also, the first big push of red salmon has not happened yet. A few fish were caught on the banks last week, but it's just a matter of time before the big surge will happen.

Will it or won't it? Come back next week to find out.

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Fishing Report Week Ending 7/9/17

It was better this week than the previous week.

And, what a way to end the week with these two little guys, Oliver and Sylis, who caught a couple of beauties Saturday afternoon. Thumbs up right back at you for doing a wonderful job fighting these fish. You handled it like a couple of old pro's. Kudo's to Ron and Bobbie for the adult assistance as well.

Now, to the week in review. My first trip of the week was on the 4th of July. It didn't take too long before Tom broke the ice with this nice fish.
Just after noon, his buddy Rick finished our day with this fish. Thanks guys, for a memorable 4th of July on the water. I'm pretty sure I'll be seeing you both in the years to come.
Thursday was the first half day of fishing the Zitting group. Unbeknownst to me, I didn't realize that the 12 Zitting's each threw in a $100 to see who could catch the largest king. Allen, who fished with me in the morning, lead after the first half day with this 39.5" king.
You're looking at a $1200 fish right there. On day two Bill spent about fifteen minutes fighting this king before it found the net. It measured 46". Bill has fished the Kenai several times but never for king salmon. He liked the action silver fishing, but the power of a king was nearly immeasurable. It will be interesting to see what species they'll come back for.
Gordon caught the second largest fish of their tournament and it measured 44". Nephew Bill was so happy for him I think he's going to split the winnings with him. No doubt, family memories were made on this fishing trip.

Wish I had more photos of the Wachtel's. Mike, John, and Becky fished with me Thursday afternoon and never had a bite. We fished again Friday afternoon and the only fish we got to the boat is the one Becky is holding. It was a really strange "unsalmon" like fight. Clearly a lady who has done a lot of fishing, Becky thought she screwed things up. I said, "are you kidding me, it's in the net." Mike, on the other hand, had one of those fish we can only imagine what size it was. Shortly after he set the hook, the fish headed down stream and peeled off nearly 300 feet of line in a matter of seconds. Unfortunately, there were several boats below us and the line either was cut on an outboard motor, or it brushed up against the side of another boat. Either way, the line snapped at the 105 foot mark. Nuts. Maybe next time...
We didn't put every fish caught in the box this week, and I applaud those who released these fine fish. Here's a gorgeous 42" king that Bobbie released. Rick and Tom were also a couple of guys who released fish as well. King karma I like to call it.

For the week ahead, I predict the king fishing should get better, but it's still going to require effort and luck to catch fish daily. In addition, the red salmon are starting to trickle in, and it will be any day now before the first big push will happen. 

Come back next week to see how the run is shaping up.

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Fishing Report Week Ending 7/2/17

It was a tough stretch of fishing this past week. Faced with increased boat traffic, coupled with the tail end of the first run of kings, willing biters were at a premium. We had our chances, but luck was not on our side. Thanks Jeff, Wally, John, Sam, Laine, Jerry, Brian, Rachel, Al, Vince and Zach for making the most out of difficult fishing conditions. Your camaraderie and conversation reminds me that it isn't all about the dead fish count.

I started the week fishing part of Team ABC Seamless. Jeff and Wally usually make it to the Kenai a couple of times a summer and have experienced the good and the bad when it comes to fishing. Our only bite of the day was a red salmon that crushed a K16 kwikfish. That's Wally in the photo above. Who says red salmon don't bite lures?

I had John and Sam out for a half day trip on Saturday and along with a half a dozen trout, and a few misses with king salmon, they caught this jack king salmon. If you don't know what a jack king salmon it's a fish that measures under 20". Although petite, this size fish is excellent on the barbecue and it doesn't count towards your two fish annual Kenai king limit. We often refer to it as a "bonus" fish because you can keep it and continue to fish and try to get a bigger one.
Did I mention the boat traffic is picking up? As the July run of king salmon progresses, so will the accompanying traffic. The near, wilderness experience in the first run, is now in the rear view mirror until next May/June.
How about this photo? Al was able to hook and fight this fish for about five minutes before it came off next to the boat. Ever the sportsman, Al said he would have released it if we were able to get it into the landing net.

For the week ahead, I am hoping that the daily run of king salmon will be more than the hundred fish a day average we saw last week. If not, my story telling skills are finely honed and I'm not afraid to spin a yarn or two (ask your grandparents what this means or google it). If the Kenai king fishing is quiet, the reports I'm getting for the Russian River is that there's still plenty of fish there. And, my saltwater reports have been excellent. One captain in Homer told me July 1st was his best day of the season.

See you next week.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Fishing Report Week Ending 6/25/17

A lot has happened this past week. The early king salmon run has been stronger than expected, so the Alaska Department of Fish and Game liberalized the fishery to increase harvest. We are now allowed to use bait, and the slot limit was raised to 46".  Did this make the fishing better? In a word...maybe.

Tiffany and Dean took advantage of the first day of the regulation change and found a fish they wanted to keep. This fish measured 45", so it was good to go. It definitely fought harder than the walleyes Dean catches in Minnesota.
Speaking of Minnesota, these two guys are from there as well. That's Randy "B" with the king and that's Steve lurking in the back. Unfortunately, Randy "A" did not catch a fish so there aren't any photos of him. Next time, Randy "A", next time...
Yup, more Minnesotan's this week. As a high school graduation gift, Dan brought his son, Noah, to Alaska and to fish the Kenai Peninsula. That's Noah with his first ever king salmon.

Dad Dan also got in on the king action and released this fish.
After we were done fishing for king's, Dan said he thought he'd like to experience the Russian River fishery and asked if I would go with them. Normally I don't do this when the king fishery is open, but since the reports were great I thought I would join them.
Glad I did. We had a nine fish limit in short order. These guys had a pretty good 24 hour period in Alaska. During that time they caught halibut, ling cod, black bass, yellow eye rockfish, king salmon, and red salmon.
I ended the week fishing with someone who wasn't from Minnesota. This is my good friend Gary Roeder with this first troll of the day beauty. It would have been nice if Phil and Gus would have had some action too, but we were all happy for Gary (well, at least he thinks we were...ha!).

So, my fearless forecast for the week ahead. The early king salmon run is more than 80% complete, and with a large tide cycle, I expect the fishing will be slowing down. I think we'll be able to catch a fish every trip, but I just don't think it will be multiple fish. On the other hand, the Russian River will be smoking. The run has been so strong that the daily limit was increased from three red salmon a day to six salmon a day. If you want to harvest, go there. If you want a peaceful day on the water in pursuit of a trophy king, come to the lower Kenai River.

See you next week for a new report.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Fishing Report Week Ending 6/18/17

My dad and my son.
Happy Father's Day everyone!

Looking back at my forecast last week, I was right on one thing, and wrong on another. I was right that the water conditions in the beginning of the week would be marginal, and I was wrong that fishing on Father's Day weekend would be great. I was really hoping that the trips I postponed in the beginning of the week would pay off on the weekend. It wasn't that the weekend was awful, I just thought I'd see more than a handful of fish caught.
As I said, it wasn't awful fishing, it's just that the bites were few and far between. Here's a decent king that Kevin released. This was a twenty pound fish and it was caught within the first half hour of the day. Kevin came to fish, and not harvest, so this was sent back. As the day wore on Kevin did confide that if were a bigger fish he would have kept it. He said sitting in a boat for eight hours without fishing was more painful to him than releasing a twenty pound fish.

And here's another fish that was sent back on it's journey by Mike. I wish I could have got a photo of you releasing the fish, but we will do that next time! 

Guide boats lining up for the 6:00am start.

Well, how cute is that? My neighbor Rusty called me Thursday afternoon and asked if I wanted to join him on his first day running the river. I like Rusty, but I was really excited when he pulled up to the dock with the World's Greatest Fishing Beagle, Lily.  We boated, and fished, and I managed to catch a small king that was released. Lily is good luck and I asked Rusty if I could baby sit her until October...
Adding to the cute factor this week was this baby moose hanging out around our fish smoker. The little guy is probably wondering when the next batch of fish will be done.

My fearless, forecast for the week ahead is that I'll be on the water for many hours. I'm optimistic that we'll be able to find a few kings that want to bite. If that's not the case, my first hand reports from the Russian River has been that for the people who know what they are doing, the red fishing has been great. Vernon, who I guided on Saturday, said on one day it took him fifteen minutes to catch his three fish limit. On another day, it took an hour. 

Tight lines everyone, and see you back here next week. 

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Fishing Report Week Ending 6/11/17

In the beginning of the week, the water conditions remained excellent and the fishing reflected that. By the end of the week, the river had begun to rise, the water visibility deteriorated, and the temperature dropped nearly ten degrees. Fishing became tough.
Here's a really nice fish, and it's under the new 36" slot limit. Although not "Kenai large", this size king salmon still provides quite a few meals for people wishing to keep fish to eat. The real reason I included this photo is to show off my new measuring stick. Anyone can use a ruler, but who else do you know would use a vintage 1990's wood hockey stick? Besides a measuring tool, it's also a great fish whacker. Hmmm, imagine that.
This week I had several groups and on Wednesday I had the pleasure to spend the day with the Miller family. That's mom, Anna, on the left with two year old McKenzie. I tell you what, I am going to give out the Fisherman With The Most Patience Award right now to McKenzie. She spent over eight hours in the boat and half the time I didn't even realize she was there. I think it helped that I took the hooks off of one of my favorite lures and let her play with it. If you zoom in on her hand you can see it in this photo. What a nice, young family.
I really wish I had a photo of dad, Eli Miller, holding a Kenai king. Instead, I'm using photos from a saltwater trip he took this week with Boo Kandas. As you can see, the fishing was very good.
Although Eli came to Alaska with the intent on catching a salmon, he ended up catching six other species he wasn't even thinking about. One of the six was a nice rainbow trout on the Kenai. That was a first for him. Since his salmon ticket wasn't punched, I have a strong hunch he will be back again soon.
Team George French
If you're in Alaska right now, you know what day it is today. It is the Russian River sockeye opener. If you're anti-social, this is definitely not your fishery. I would say based on my own observations of the pass through fishery on the lower Kenai, and a report coming from ADFG, the fishing should be good if not great.
Team Jerry French

I should have some better intel about the Russian River fishery in my next post.

My forecast for the week ahead on the lower Kenai is that fishing will be tough early in the week. The river should moderate mid week, just in time for the historic peak of the first king run. It could be a great Father's Day weekend to be on the Kenai.....

See you next week.

Beaver Creek Cabins & Guide Service

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Fishing Report Week Ending 6/4/17

It happened.

Or I should say, it's happening.

Because of the volatility the last few years during the early Kenai king run, my bookings have been down. A big part of this is because Jane and I have been steering most of our business into late summer and into fall. Rarely is fishing restricted or closed. In other words, it's much more predictable and it's an easier "sell". I know it's going to take some time for people to have confidence in the early run fishery, but right now the fishing has been pretty good and it's been a joy running up and down the river with so few people out there.

One guy that's been busy guiding this early in the season has been my ol' buddy Jeff King. Let's just say, he's been ripping it up. You can read about his adventures and see photos of the kings he's caught if you click here.  Well done, Jeff, well done...
For me, for the amount of time spent on the water last week, the fishing was good. Here's one of the kings that was released.
This fish was over the 36" slot limit and turned loose.
This was fish was under the 36" slot limit but Gary decided to release it. That was a good thing because he was rewarded later with a fish under 28". The reason I say rewarded is that any king caught before July 1st that is under 28" is a "free" fish, and doesn't count towards the seasonal bag limit of two Kenai kings. Yahtzee!
And here's another fish released.
On the day Gary and I were out we had quite a few rainbow trout bite our gear. This was the largest and it measured 20".
Here's another upside of fishing during the early run; hardly any boats on the river which seems to please the wildlife. This caribou watched us as we trolled on by. It was so peaceful for her that she eventually curled up on the gravel bar and took a nap.
Had to include this photo of a young moose taking up residency in our front yard. If you love moose, this is definitely the time of year that you'll see a lot of them.

My calendar is light this week but I should be out fishing several times. The conditions and sonar numbers remain good so I expect the king salmon fishing to be that way as well.

A side note. Based on how many jumping red salmon that that I've watched this week, I think the Russian River red salmon opener on June 11th should be a good one. It's getting to be that time of year to dust off the combat gear and to practice yelling "FISH ON!"

See you next week.

Beaver Creek Cabins & Guide Service