Sunday, July 30, 2017

Fishing Report Week Ending 7/30/17

Best week ever guiding kings. Everybody fought one, caught one, or let one go. What an incredible way to end the 2017 Kenai king season.

I started out Super Tuesday morning with Kim, Gene, Mike, and Jodie. Every guide's dream is to have a hot breakfast and these guys had me back at the dock by 8:00am.
After breakfast, I was geared up and ready to go for my next group that was coming in at noon. Did I mention every guide's dream is a hot breakfast? How about a hot lunch? Well, these guys finished up in time for me to have a late lunch (or early dinner). From left to right is Rude Rodney, Esko Bill, Sweet Pete (I like to call him "0" for "9" Pete), and Thompson Kenny. Way to go guys, way to make this a true Super Tuesday.
Wednesday morning continued just like Tuesday. That's Steve, Martin, Chris, and nine year old Jake. Steve had two big take downs but was unable to get either fish to the boat. He wanted to get out another time with me but I was booked all week. Fortunately, he was able to book another guide and proudly reported he boated a 55lber. He got the one that got away!
Wednesday afternoon the hot bite wouldn't stop. That's Mike, Steve, Eric, and Raksey Joo.

Thursday morning Gene tagged out for the year. Funny story is Gene fished four straight years with me and never caught a king. Two years ago he finally got on board and caught the largest king of the summer. He came back this year and got two. Not bad for a young 86 year old. 

Gene's son, Dick, also got his two for the season. I promised I wouldn't mention how many Kim missed on Thursday morning, but let's just say her arms are tired.  Jodie was a close second....It was a great week of seeing Stacken/Miller's at the cabins. Can't wait to do it all over again.
Don started out Thursday afternoon with this chrome king.
And, after several take downs, Team Larson was able to get this beauty in the boat.
Here's one of the rare feats that happened during this king season. Friday morning, three generations of Chesney's caught their kings. That's Chris, Martin, and nine year old Jake. And, if you were to guess that Jake caught the red salmon you would be right. 
Had to include an additional photo of Jake's first king.
And, another father/son moment when Jake boated his second king of the week.
Friday afternoon the fishing remained hot. Gary released a 20lb king, and then snapped his own rod on another fish (we ended up losing the rod and the fish). However, bringing fish to the boat and keeping them were Nikki, Kylie, and my old buddy Al Witte. Always fun to fish with old friends.
On Saturday, Team Nordberg, consisting of Ken, Dave, Lyndsey, Alyssa, and Tyler, ended my season with this fantastic haul. I think it had a lot to do with fish karma. Stay with me on this.....July 29th is my mom and dad's wedding anniversary. When my dad first met Jeff King in 1985, he asked him what was the biggest king he ever boated and when did it happen. Jeff told him July 29th. Perfect, my dad said, he would be on the Kenai on his anniversary (usually without my mom). He did this for years and was always successful. Today, my parents are no longer with me, but I often feel as if they're watching out for me. That brings me to the Nordberg's. My grandmother, and Ken's father, were brother and sister. That makes me a Nordberg too. So, the fact that they booked a trip on the 29th, and they're family, made this a can't miss day on the Kenai.

Whew, what a week! Lot's of families, fish and an age range from 9 to 86 years old. Today it's back to reality. I'll be spending all my time breaking down my king gear and replacing it with silver gear. I'll be starting my silver season on Tuesday, August 1st. There have been reports of a few silvers caught incidentally while bank fishing for reds. That's a good sign and I hope this week we will find plenty of willing biters.

Come back next week to see if the silvers are in. 

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Fishing Report Week Ending 7/23/17

The fishing was steady, not great, this past week. We caught kings everyday, but a lot of people I was pulling for were shut out. Specifically, people who I know well. That list includes Lee, who I coached in hockey, his son Mitch, my old high school science teacher Mr. Whiteman, his brother, and daughter, Esko Bill, Thompson Kenny, relatives of my neighbor, and old friends Kim and Gene.

I started my fishing week with a Sunday red trip with Jeff (in the photo above) and his son Blake. The reds were definitely not moving through on this day. So, after a couple of hours we ended the trip. However, it was not a fishless day and Jeff caught dinner. A fresh red salmon on the grill is hard to beat.
It's been 12 years since Ken last fished with me. He didn't catch a king on that trip, but this time he did. I wonder if he'll wait another 12 years to come back?
Here's Mo with a Kenai king caught in the middle of the Crossover Rodeo. With the amount of boat traffic in this spot (dip netter boats not knowing the rules of the road) Mo mustard all his strength just to keep from falling out of the boat.
Mike "The Banana Man" was the only guy to hook a king on this morning trip.
Here's Reuben with a last minute fish.
Steve started out Friday morning with this nice fish.
And on a desperation last troll, Mike tagged out for the year.
Here's one of the Beaver Creek regulars. Mike, who didn't need Jodie in the boat for good luck, started out Saturday morning with this fish.
A troll later Dick ran into this fish. I was hesitant about the quality of the meat of this fish, but Kim told Dick he finally caught his large Kenai king and he should keep it (it was 49"). Dick is a professional at processing fish and game and I figured this would be one for the smoker. I was wrong. The quality of the meat was excellent, in fact, it was no different than the chrome king that Mike caught.
Saturday afternoon is a trip I will never forget. I had Brian, Leonard, Brian, and Jeremy in my boat. We had about as much king action as you can possibly have in 45 minutes. Unfortunately, three out of the four fish came off during long battles. The Kenai can be cruel that way. Rats. Double rats. Next time, boys, next time...

For the week ahead, I'm predicting uncertainty. I'm optimistic that the king numbers could be really good, and this is because the commercial fishery is being restricted due to overall low red salmon numbers. If there's less netting time, there's usually more king salmon that will enter the river. However, it is also the time of the year that the king run is past peak. All I know for sure is we'll be giving the river a solid effort every day. Come back next week to see how we did.

Tight lines.

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.