Thursday, April 28, 2011

2011 Homer Jackpot Halibut Derby

The 2011 Homer Jackpot Halibut Derby will begin on May 1st and end on September 30th. This event began in 1986 and is the most participated fishing derby in Alaska. Quite lucrative too. Last year a 277.6lb halibut earned a lucky angler $40,610.

To participate in the derby all you need to to is buy a $10 ticket. You can buy this ticket at the weigh station or from your halibut charter captain. If you don't think you're a lucky fisherman who doesn't catch big fish then think again. It's not all about a big fish.

Here is a partial list of the prizes available.

  • $10,000 random drawing for any halibut over 60lbs released.

  • monthly prizes for biggest halibut.

  • 100 tagged halibut with payouts ranging from $500 to $10,000.

  • lady angler and kid prizes.

  • $2.50 out of $10 derby ticket paid out for the largest halibut of the summer.

For a complete list of rules and prizes check out

This past fall I had a lady in my boat that said she caught a tagged halibut. I asked her what the payout was and she said "zero". She pulled the tag out of her pocket (photo below) and said the tag had "2008" on it so she was out of the money. I still found it interesting to meet someone who caught a tagged halibut and to see what the tournament tag looks like.

I have unsuccessfully participated in the Homer Jackpot Halibut Derby since it began in 1986. Every year I pause and think that I shouldn't buy a derby ticket because I've never caught a qualifying fish. However, there are enough stories out there about of people who chose not to buy a derby ticket and they caught a tagged fish or an extremely large fish. I'm a bit of a risk taker, not so much a gambler, but I will continue to fork out a ten spot when I'm out halibut fishing.

As I scratch my chin and type this post I'm wondering if this year will be my year. Time will tell.....

Monday, April 18, 2011

Kenai River Personal Use Dipnet Fishery

Fifteen years ago the Board of Fisheries Alaska created a personal use dipnet fishery on the Kenai River for Alaska residents in the month of July. The two areas they set aside to do this are from the Warren Ames bridge to the mouth for boat and shore dipnetters, and along the mouth of the Kenai for beach dipnetters. The limit was set at 25 red salmon for the head of the household and an additional 10 per dependent. They also decided that each dipnetter could retain 1 king salmon and 10 flounder.

When the Board of Fishery created the dipnet fishery on the Kenai they thought it would account for an additional 80,000-100,000 red salmon to be harvested. During the first few years that is exactly where it came in at. Today, however, the dipnetting has been averaging a harvest of 300,000 red salmon (the peak has been 400,000). This fills the freezer for over 80,000 Alaskan families.

This winter the Alaska Dept. of Fish and Game released a report about the overall Upper Cook Inlet red salmon fishery. Sportfisherman account for 12% of the harvest, dipnetters 14%, and commercial fisherman 74%. Needless to say commercial fisherman are not too happy with their allocation shrinking year after year. But, as Dylan so eloquently stated, "the time's they are a changin'".

Here's a photo of Phil harvesting with a dipnet from the boat. The man is magic. You can see behind him a back up net just in case there are any problems. It's always good to have a backup because you never know if you'll get snagged on the bottom or have a giant king tear the mesh out of your net.

Here's a photo of a boat not exactly being safe. First of all, it looks like they are overweight with just the four men in the boat. On top of that, could you imagine each getting their individual 25 fish limit? That would be 100 red salmon averaging 8 pounds. That's 8oo extra pounds in their boat! I know for a fact that the Coast Guard rating would not support that load.

Quite a few of our sportfishing guests will see me after a day of dipnetting and pooh-pooh the "sport" of dipnetting. They'll say it can't be any fun compared to fighting a salmon on a rod and reel. I usually tell them it's different fun and it's comparing apples to oranges. The thrill of it all for me is holding the net over the side of the boat and waiting for a fish to hit the web. When you feel the jolt, the adrenaline flows and you can't pull the net in fast enough to see what is in there. Is it a red, a pink, a king, a flounder, or dolly varden?

Can't wait until July.....

Monday, April 11, 2011

Harbor Seals

Harbor seals are just one of the many animals you'll find on the Kenai River. It's good and bad when we see seals in the river. If they're in the river that means that there are fish present. That's good. The bad is they are after what we are after and let me tell you they are fish eating machines.
A couple of quick facts about harbor seals. When they're mature they'll be 5-6 feet long and will weigh 180-285 pounds. They're lifespan is 26-35 years.
During the silver season is when we see the most seals. It's been my opinion that when there are fewer fish to be caught in the ocean they move into the rivers because "that is where the fishing is good." A trip doesn't go by that we don't catch a silver salmon that escaped a seal attack. I'm posting a few of the more obvious photos of salmon that have escaped but managed to find our hooks.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Other Species of Fish on the Kenai

Often I am asked what do you catch other than salmon on the Kenai. Usually I respond by saying "dolly varden and rainbow trout." Perhaps this is because on every trip we have a chance to catch either of these species of fish.
However, once in awhile we will catch an exotic, or maybe I should say unusual, species or two. The photos above are of a starry eyed flounder. When we do catch this fish it's in the tidal area of the river (the first nine miles of the river) and it's always been in July. The flounder seem to be very lure specific and as you can see in the photo it's a sardine wrapped kwikfish.

This photo is of hooligan and give or take and inch they are all this size. Other names for this fish are eulachon or candlefish. They're called candlefish because if you dry them out you can actually light them like a candle.....honestly, they're that oily. Millions of these smelt like fish migrate through the Kenai River in late May into early June to spawn. They really don't bite a hook but when the school is that large it's hard not to snag one once in awhile.

Well, that's about it. That doesn't mean there aren't other unusual species present in the Kenai. Maybe one day you'll be on the boat and here me say, "Wow, I've never seen that before...."

Friday, April 1, 2011

Time to Move On....

You heard it here first.

Time to move on. With great regret but with giddy excitement I'm here to tell you that I've made the decision to retire from guiding and pursue my first love and passion......blogging. The pay isn't the same but I do like the hours. I get up when I want, go to bed when I want, and I can wear whatever I want because no one can see me (I did put on clothes to pose for the photo above). Jane has liked the change because she says on most days I smell better than when I've been fishing all day. She likes to point out the that part about "most days".

One of the hardest parts about my new endeavour is renaming the title of the blog. I'm thinking about "Lirpa Sloof". What do you think? Comments?

The annual tradition continues.....