Sunday, June 30, 2013

Fishing Report Week Ending 6/30/13

From the lakes of northern Canada
To the Gulf of Mexico.
Wherever fish are biting
That's where we're going to go.
There's a lot of exciting country
Just waiting to be explored,
So join us now in the great outdoors
The World of Virgil Ward.
If you are over 40 years old, or remember life before cable and satellite television, you'll probably know the theme song to Championship Fishing With Virgil Ward.   All week long I couldn't help but think of the one line in this song that epitomized what I was doing, "Wherever fish are biting that's where we're going to go."   I often define myself as a "Kenai River guide" but in reality I'm just a fishing guide and will travel to where the fish are.   That was my week in a nutshell.
For most of the week I fished area lakes for rainbow trout, arctic char, and landlocked Chinook salmon.  The photo above are landlocked Chinook salmon.   We caught 10 of these one day and the three you see we kept for dinner (the limit is 5 per day).   They were all around 14" and fought hard for their size. 

On another lake this past week we targeted rainbow trout.   The action was steady with the morning being best.    All of the trout we caught were between 18"-21" which is a nice size for trout coming out of a lake.   The picture above is Mike showing off the fish he was keeping for dinner.   In the Kenai Peninsula you're allowed to keep five rainbow trout caught in a lake and only one of the five can be over 20".

Last but not least for this report was one last fishing trip to the Russian River for red salmon.  It was definitely past it's peak but with perseverance fish were caught.  

Starting Tuesday, July 2nd I'll be back to king salmon fishing on the Kenai River.   The only change in the management plan is the Alaska Department of Fish and Game decided to begin the second run without bait.   The purpose of this order was to help minimize the harvest of late, first run salmon that are in the river.    Bait definitely makes every fisherman better but I'm happy that the Kenai is open for business again.    Bring on the second run!

I thought I'd end this post with a video clip from the master, Virgil Ward.  Enjoy!

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Fishing Report Week Ending 6/23/13

Russian River Falls

It's been a busy week of scrambling in order to accommodate guests who were scheduled to fish king salmon on the Kenai River.   The majority of people chose to fish the Russian River/Upper Kenai for red salmon.  Some did this on their own, and some had me take them there.   What I can tell you is this:   fishing was very good in the beginning of the week and it lasted until Friday.   Very few limits were caught on Friday and perhaps this was due to low numbers of fish and high numbers of anglers.  Ironically, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game announced that starting Saturday the limit for red salmon increased to six.   I hope by the time I return to the Russian River that Friday was just an off day and that the run is not on the downside  

Black Bear near Skilak Lake

On our way back from fishing Thursday Janet and I saw this black bear alongside the road.   Our car didn't bother him (or her) and he (or she) was more interested in eating dandelions than dealing with us.  Always an adventure in Alaska.

Janet fishing for red salmon

Kyle and Thom fishing for red salmon

Big Will gaffing a halibut for Jane

Besides the red salmon fishing Jane and I went out fishing for halibut with Will and Becky Jahrig again.   Great weather and great company made for a fun morning.  

Spiny Dogfish Shark caught by Jane
The week ahead I'll be making a few more trips to the Russian River and possibly a trout trip or two to an area lake.    Lot's of options to be had even if the king salmon fishing is closed.
See you next week.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Emergency Order Effective from 6/20-6/30

First the bad news.

The Alaska Department of Fish and Game has announced today, in order to meet early run king salmon minimum escapement numbers, they are closing the Kenai River to king salmon fishing from June 20th until June 30th.  For all of you reading my blog who are scheduled to fish with me in July, this emergency order is for June only.  Right now, the second run king salmon management will begin on July 1st as is.

Now the good news.

I fished the Upper Kenai/Russian River area this morning and the red salmon fishing is very good.   I caught 12 reds in a couple of hours and kept my daily limit of 3 (pictured above).   Additional good news is that ADF&G has announced that they are opening the Sanctuary to fishing on Wednesday.   When ADF&G does this you know the red run is strong.

Stay tuned to the blog.  I'll keep you informed if ADF&G releases any new information on the Kenai.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Happy Father's Day--Fishing Report Week Ending 6/16/13

Happy Father's Day.   Thought I'd drag out a couple of old photos to celebrate the day.    Here's a picture of me and my son, Mac.   A full head of hair on me (without gray) and the classic bowl cut for him.  

Two of the most important men in my life:   My son, McKinley "Mac" Taylor Holtan, and my dad, Albert "Bert" Nolan Holtan, Jr.

One last photo of my dad on this special day.  Can't believe it's been five years since you left us.   Thanks Dad for always finding the time to take me out fishing.

Now, on to the current fishing report.   Wish I had a first hand report on how the king fishing has been going on the Kenai but with the catch and release order in effect, my clients this past week cancelled.   I can only tell you what a couple of guide friends have told me: fishin' has been fair on the Kenai.    I can, however, give a first hand report on halibut fishing.   Will and Becky Jahrig called me up to see if I wanted to go fishing with them.   That's like asking me if I like ice cream.....that would be a big yes to both!    As the photos will attest to, fishing on the salt has been very good.

Here's our boat limit.  Nothing large, but fun to catch and to eat.

Big Will in a not so serious moment.....

Hard to say what the week ahead will hold.  I do have several catch and release groups scheduled so I'm excited to get back in the groove and get back out on the river.   Besides fishing king salmon this week I also plan on making a couple of trips to the Russian River to fish sockeyes.   The reports there have been very good and the great part about that is the run is just beginning.

See you next week.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Fishing Report Week Ending 6/9/13....The Big 5-0!

It's funny how the world works.   It's often said that when one door closes, another one opens.   On Wednesday the group that scheduled a fishing trip with me on Thursday called and said they had to cancel.....door closed.    I was a little disappointed because the river was starting to clear and the fish counts were improving.  I felt like we would have a great day on the water but I completely understood why they were cancelling.  Before I could get too down I got a call from my friend Boo, from Tall Tale Charters and he said he had two seats open for halibut fishing in Homer on Thursday and he asked if Jane and I would like to go.....door open! 
I always love Homer whether I'm fishing or not.   Homer is a great town and we had a great day on the water.   Nice weather, a great crew on the boat and plenty of fish that wanted to bite.   Between Jane and I we caught and released over 30 halibut.   Nothing large, but perfect eating size halibut.

This is one of the reasons I like being in Homer.  If you're a fan of the reality show Deadliest Catch, and who isn't, quite a few of the boats featured are docked here in the offseason.  This is the boat that Wild Bill is running in the current season of the show.
This is the boat that Elliot Neese captained in 2012.   I normally see the Time Bandit in port, the Hillstrands are Homer natives,  but not this time.  The thing that always amazes me is how small these crab boats really are.   Mike, who was fishing with us on Thursday, said he couldn't believe how small the galley and sleeping quarters were.   I told them that's why they often fish for 30 straight hours, because no one wants to climb into a bunk unless they're dead tired.

So, on to the Kenai report.  My friend Jeff had a group of 11 people that wanted to fish on Saturday and I was fortunate to receive a call from him to help out.   All I can tell you is when the call comes from boat 003 you feel honored.  To use Jeff's vernacular, "I was on the A-Team."   So the photo above is the first fish of the year in my boat.   That's one of about 20 hooligan that found it's way on our hook Saturday.  But fortunately, hooligan weren't the only fish that we caught.

Just before noon we had our first real bite of the year and to the boat came a nice 12 pound Kenai king salmon.   This is the first fish Colby has ever caught which also makes it the biggest fish she has ever caught which also makes it the most fish she has ever caught.  Trifecta!   After a couple of quick photos in the net, we released this fish unharmed and I am more than confident it continued it's journey to the spawning grounds.
Couldn't make this report with having a photo of the real "A-Team".   That's mom and dad in the front (Jenelle and Kevin), Colby and Cydney are in the back.  With moose, eagles, hooligan, salmon, perfect weather, and great company, it was hard to beat the day.   Thanks guys for sticking with your trip even though the river changed to catch and release after you booked it.
Okay, so tomorrow seems to be a big day for everyone in my family.  To me it's just another day, and another number.   On June 10th I turn 50 years old.   Jane has been asking me if I want to do anything special and I told her not really.  She seems disappointed but I remind her that I feel like everyday is my birthday so this day is no big deal.  There's no reason to go "all out" so I told her a nice home cooked meal is an excellent way to celebrate the day.   You know, it's kind of funny that when I look back on my life I use to think that being 50 was real old.  Now that I'm here I've changed my opinion (imagine that).   I've got my health, I've got a good life (and wife), and I can't wait to see what the next 50 years will bring.
Come back next week and visit the blog.  This old man will have another report for you.  Ha!

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Salvage Run

With a rising river and a report from my friend Jeff saying he recovered 5 anchors, I felt I was too late to float the river for my annual Salvage Run.  I thought, "what the heck, good or bad I have to get out there."    I hadn't drifted more than a couple of minutes when something shiny caught my eye.  That's a three dollar lure. Yeah, baby!   It was going to be a good day after all.

After finding mostly fishing lures in trees and snagged on rocks my first non lure discovery was this: a genuine Alaska license plate.  
The expiration date on the plate was 2008.  For being in the river for at least 5 years it was surprisingly in good shape.

Not far downstream from the license plate I came across this.   Let's see, a license plate, a tire, what next, a truck?   Well, that didn't come together but a guy can dream, can't he?   By the way, the two white objects near the top of the photo are dead hooligan.

My next big find was this.  Hard to tell but this is a hooligan dipnet.  After close inspection I found it was broken so I hauled it out of the water and placed it on the bank.  This was a little too large for me to strap on my cataraft so figured I should at least take it out of the water and leave it visible so maybe a boater would notice it and take it to the landfill.

As I was floating the homestretch coming into Beaver Creek I came across this gem.  This is a full fledged king salmon spinning rod and reel.   It always makes me wonder about the story behind something like this.  Did someone carelessly drop it in the river?  Did a fish rip it out someone's hands?  Did someone get frustrated with it and decided to chuck it in the river?  Who knows the real story but it's always fun to speculate.

This photo is of my final haul.  No anchors (darn), but I did find a few "firsts".   A knife, a boat roller, a running light, and a license plate made this list.  All in all, a great day on the water.
So, on to the fishing report.    After a couple of cancellations I'm back on track this week with a couple of trips.   ADF&G has estimated that 16 Kenai kings have been caught and released to date with the overall run being weak.  No one I personally know has caught a king, but I hope to change that real soon.
See you next week.