Fish Alaska’s 2016 Fishing Report
for the Chena River
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June 10, 2016
An unseasonably warm late winter and spring triggered an early smolt outmigration which triggered sheefish feeding activity throughout Interior Alaska river systems. The majority of sheefish sport fishing opportunities is relatively underemphasized in Interior Alaska, particularly the river systems located around the Fairbanks metropolis. Throughout May and June, the salmon smolt outmigration consisting of juvenile chum and kings triggers migratory pulses of sheefish to inhabit the lower 20 miles of the Chena River. Best fishing times for sheefish coincides with the nightly downstream movements of the smolts. In the lower Chena, it is very common to witness periodic surface boiling activity which is evident of them chasing smolts to the surface during their attack engagement. Both conventional anglers and fly-fishermen have consistently caught sheefish in the lower Chena. A fair amount of effort needs to expended to catch them successfully as they are a migratory fish, so don’t feel unconfident if you strike out. Most of the time, the size of flies should be equivalent in lengths to salmon smolts, 1.5 to 3-inches, yet don’t be afraid to experiment with larger flies or lures. My most recent sheefish were caught on a switch rod stripping 5-inch herring patterns and 6-inch Bucktail Deceivers. No strikes have occurred on a straight swing. Intermediate sink tips have worked best over the past several weeks. Comparatively, other angling counterparts in Fairbanks have done tremendously well casting 3 to 5-inch soft plastic tubes and swimbaits. Pinpoint casts straight ahead or slightly upstream to achieve the appropriate depth. Fish the slower runs and deeper pools from the dam downstream to the confluence with the mouth where it empties into the Tanana. If a sheefish is caught, concentrate more effort in those habitats instead of a run-and-gun approach, others will be nearby because schooling is a common behavioral characteristic for this species.