Provided by Mike Lunde
King salmon fishing has been great for both conventional and fly anglers in the Lower and Middle Susitna River tributaries along the Parks Highway (Willow, Sheep, Montana, and Kashwitna). Water levels remain consistent on most Parks Highway streams as well as stream flow. Fly anglers have done extremely well with Intruder-style flies and prom dresses tied in blue/chartreuse combinations. I have personally landed 31 kings this season on the Spey rod over the past 2 weeks. A 12.5 tip of Rio T-11 was the magic ticket for swinging streamers, but either purchase sink-tips at your local fly shop or buy 30 foot coils to make your own. Remember that the majority of the Parks Highway salmon streams have switched over to weekends only, so double check ADF&G regulations to make sure you are in compliance. Fishing on the Deshka has been excellent and ADF&G opened up the fishery to treble hooks and bait, so catch rates are likely to increase.
Deep Creek Halibut Fishing
Provided by Wayne Norris
Fish Alaska magazine Operations Manager Wayne Norris and Sales Manager Rick Birch had a great time fishing out of Deep Creek for halibut with the Captain from Kenai Riverbend Resort. Their six-pack charter limited out on halibut with each catching several 30- to 60-pound halibut, some of which they had to release. They also each successfully took one 29-inch (or under) halibut that is now written into regulation.
They stayed at the beautiful Salmon Catcher Lodge. Look for an article in the February 2015 issue.
Valdez Halibut Hullabaloo
Provided By Valdez Fish Derbies
In addition to netting him the weekly prizes, Scott Hebig’s 203.6 pound halibut won him $1,000 cash in the 10-day Valdez Halibut Hullabaloo tournament. His fish also won the 1st place weekly prize and put him firmly in 1st place in the halibut derby standings. Hebig’s halibut is the first weighing more than 200 pounds to be brought in during the 2014 derby. Hebig was fishing June 20th aboard the Amanda Rose. The Valdez Halibut Derby runs through Sunday, August 31st and the grand prize for the person catching the largest fish is $15,000 in cash.
Sunshine and calm seas seemed to be the perfect recipe for wildlife viewing in Valdez as many anglers reported seeing multiple whales and other wildlife. Tour boats on the sound have reported seeing orcas and humpbacks nearly every day.
With lingcod opening July 1st and a big celebration on the 4th of July, Valdez should be hopping while the pink salmon make their way into Port Valdez. The 4th of July celebration will feature a block party, community bonfire and fireworks. On Saturday, July 5th, Valdez will put on the Pink Salmon Festival with a pink salmon cook-off, community fish fry and other events.
Alaska Statewide Fishing Report
By Mike Lunde
King salmon fishing opportunities have increased over the past week as escapement numbers have increased with some streams already achieving escapement or above it. This past weekend before the weekend-only regulations went into effect, our primary stream location to target kings on the fly was Willow Creek, but recent forest fire activity in the Willow area caused the Parks Highway to close between road miles 62 and 77. After observing the closure, we rerouted ourselves northbound to Montana Creek, but didn’t observe much surface activity from migrating kings. Given the slow hour of action at Montana, we immediately headed south down the road to fish the mouth of Sheep Creek slough where it dumps into the mainstem Susitna. Upon our arrival, we witnessed several large males crash the surface and my adrenaline levels spiked to super-high levels. To waste no time, we put our rods together and started swinging large blue/chartreuse and black/blue Intruders and Prom Dresses towards the silt-line transitional zone. Personal friend and previous fisheries technician Aaryn Valencia hooked up first with a semi-bright 25-pound female. Next, I hooked up with a low 30-pound female and had a 25 to 30-minute heavyweight fight with a large blushed male in the 40- to 45-pound range. The action was off and on all day as air temperatures reached the mid 80s which eventually led to spotty action, yet we kept focused by strategically changing fly colors and sink-tips to change things up. At the end of the day, we landed 10 kings on the fly and a bonus 10-pound chrome sockeye that escaped from the photographic sessions. All kings ranged from 25 to 45-pounds and several others were lost, but are overall landing percentage was excellent. Things to take away from this trip is to remember to have an arsenal of various sink-tip lengths and sizes in combination with flies of various sizes since we mainly used large flies from 4.5 to 6-inches in length. Lastly, despite our success, our prayers go out to the victims displaced from the Sockeye fire and we hope these fires are contained as soon as possible so the residents can return to their homes. If planning any fishing excursions, call 511 for road conditions before planning your trip. Stay safe and tight lines!
Halibut Derby Off to a Good Start for Josh
By Valdez Fish Derbies
Warm weather and an early Spring have given Valdez charters and boat owners an opportunity to get their boats into the water and get fishing a bit early. Harbormaster Jeremy Talbott said he has seen a lot of private boaters hitting the waters to set pots for shrimp and has already seen two 75 pound halibut come across the docks. The Halibut Derby began Saturday the 23rd and the leaderboard is dominated by Josh’s. Young Josh Hughes of Wasilla Alaska is currently leading the derby with a 123.6 pound halibut he caught May 27th aboard the Jaime Lynn. Josh Kramer of Fredricksburg, Texas is currently in 2nd place with a 116.0 pound halibut he caught May 25th and Josh Wendt of North Pole is currently in 3rd place with a 109.4 pound halibut he caught May 23rdaboard the Aleisha.
Charter Captains in Valdez are also preparing for a busy season as anglers have high hopes of being the winner of the $15,000 first place prize in the Valdez Halibut Derby. A ticket costs $10 for the day or $50 for the season and must be purchased before heading out on the water. Ticket sale locations can be found atwww.valdezfishderbies.com. The limit for halibut in Prince William Sound is still two per person, and one of those fish can be no longer than 28 inches in length. The derby shack located kitty corner from the Harbormaster’s office.
In addition to the grand prize of $15,000, 2nd place prize of $5,000 and 3rd place of $2,000 for catching the largest three fish, halibut derby anglers can also win weekly 1stand 2nd place prizes in the derby. The Halibut Hullabaloo is slated for June 12th through 21st. The angler that catches the largest halibut during this period, will win $1,000 in addition to the daily prizes.
This year, the Valdez Fish Derbies will say goodbye to the truck raffle and hello to $10,000 cash. Every daily derby ticket purchased equals one raffle ticket, and each season ticket purchased equals five raffle tickets for the $10,000 drawing at the end of the season.
The Kids Pink Salmon Derby has been set for Saturday, July 18th and will feature 1st, 2nd and 3rdplace prizes in four different age divisions. The Kids derby is free and open to kids age 5 to 16 years of age. The Silver Salmon Derby in Valdez will again boast a $15,000 first place prize and daily prizes and runs July 18th through September 6th. The Annual Valdez Women’s Derby is slated for Saturday, August 8th with an opening ceremony Friday, August 7th and the closingceremony Saturday night.
There will be a $500 prize for the vendor and operator selling the winning derby ticket in both derbies. For more information on the Valdez Derbies, visit: www.valdezfishderbies.com
Halibut Derby – Overall Leaders
1st Josh Hughes Wasilla, AK 123.6 lbs. May 27 Jaime Lynn
2nd Josh Kramer Fredricksburg, TX 116.0 lbs. May 25 Jaime Lynn
3rd Josh Wendt North Pole, AK 109.4 lbs. May 23 Aleisha
Halibut Derby – Weekly Winners – Week #14
1st Josh Hughes Wasilla, AK 123.6 lbs. May 27 Jaime Lynn
2nd Josh Kramer Fredricksburg, TX 116.0 lbs. May 25 Jaime Lynn
Kenai Fishing Report
Issued May 19, 2015
Emergency Orders and regulation reminders from ADF&G
• Emergency Orders are in effect for the following areas:
• In the Kenai River: This emergency order closes Kenai River to king salmon fishing from Friday, May 1 through Tuesday, June 30, 2015. In addition, from Wednesday, July 1 through Friday, July 31, 2015 king salmon fishing will be closed from an ADF&G regulatory marker located approximately 300 yards downstream from the mouth of Slikok Creek, upstream to the outlet of Skilak Lake.
• In the Kasilof River: Beginning Friday, May 1 through Tuesday, June 30, 2015, anglers will be allowed to harvest only hatchery-produced king salmon during Sundays through Friday each week. Naturally-produced king salmon may be retained only Saturdays each week. Hatchery-produced king salmon are distinguished from naturally-produced king salmon in the Kasilof River by a healed adipose fin-clip scar. The adipose fin is the small fleshy fin on the back just ahead of the tail. The bag and possession limit for hatchery-produced king salmon will be reduced to one fish in the Kasilof River. On Saturdays the bag and possession limit will be one king salmon in the Kasilof River of which the one fish may be a naturally- or hatchery-produced king salmon. In addition, the use of bait and multiple hooks will be prohibited in the Kasilof River from its mouth upstream to the Sterling Highway bridge. Anglers may use only one unbaited, single-hook, artificial lure. “Single hook” means a fishhook with only one point (with or without a barb).
• On May 2 many flowing waters closed to all sport fishing by regulation. The seasonal closures are in effect through June 10. Anglers are reminded to check the regulation booklet as the water they may intend to fish may be closed to all fishing.
• Hooligan are migrating into the Kenai and Kasilof rivers.
Salmon – Kenai & Kasilof rivers
• It is too early to try sockeye salmon fishing in the rivers.
• At Kasilof River king salmon typically increase to fishable numbers during late May.
• The early-run of king salmon to the Kasilof River is not forecasted and part of the run is hatchery king salmon. Early-run king salmon abundance in the Kasilof River is expected to be low.
• The Russian River opens to sockeye salmon fishing June 11. The 2015 Russian River early-run sockeye salmon forecast is above average and good fishing is expected.
Resident Fish — Kenai River
• The Upper Kenai River from waters of Skilak Lake within a ½-mile radius of the river inlet upstream to regulatory markers at the outlet of Kenai Lake, located a ¼ mile upstream from the Sterling Highway Bridge closes to all fishing May 2 through June 10. Please review the regulation booklet.
•The Kenai River upstream of an ADF&G marker at approximately river mile 45 or about 1 mile upstream from the mouth of the Lower Killey River closes to all fishing May 2 through June 10. Please review the regulation booklet.
Resident Fish — Kasilof River
• Fishing opportunity in the ‘slack water’ area immediately below the Tustumena Lake outlet has been reported to be slow Anglers are reminded that Tustumena Lake tributaries closed to all fishing May 2 and Crooked Creek is closed to all fishing through July 31.
• Some of the best lake fishing of the year is here. Ice-out was April 10 thru April 16. Fishing conditions at area lakes are good and will remain good over the next few weeks as water temperatures continue to get warmer. Stocked Kenai Peninsula lakes as well as numerous lakes support natural populations of rainbow trout, lake trout and Dolly Varden. Numerous Kenai Peninsula Lakes provide great fishing opportunity in the spring while flowing waters are closed to fishing. Bait fished under a bobber, small spinners and spoons or fly fishing from a float tube or watercraft all produce great catch rates during the spring.
• Few area lakes have northern pike, but public access is limited. Private property owners may allow access, but get permission first.
• Pike can be taken using spears, bow and arrow (with arrow attached by a line), bait, spin, and fly-fishing gear. Try fish-shaped and fish-colored lures and flies.
• There is no closed season for pike and the bag limit is unlimited. Wanton waste laws apply so be sure to use, or donate to charity, all the pike you harvest.
Fairbanks – Chena River
By Mike Lunde
Despite below freezing air temperatures and recent snow accumulation, arctic grayling still bit extremely well on a recent weekend expedition to the upper Chena River. Post-doc fisheries biologist Dr. Brock and myself journeyed to the headwaters of the Chena in search for trophy-sized grayling. Air temperatures hovered in the upper 20s and snow showers intensified. Fishing was successful in deep pools and runs below riffles. Here grayling don’t have to fight fast current and the riffles provide plenty of juicy insects. Large #8 black stoneflies presented on indicator rigs via 4-pound fluorocarbon tippet played a distinct finesse role. While not used, chironomids and similar midge imitations also suffice in these cold conditions. Arctic grayling fishing will remain productive in the Upper Chena until the river freezes over. Depending on weather, the Chena shouldn’t freeze for at least a month. There is traditional thought among Fairbanks locals that most grayling overwinter in the Tanana River. While somewhat true, the majority of grayling populations located in the headwaters will overwinter in slow, deep pools. The Upper Chena supports the required habitat to concentrate these fish during winter. Angling pressure and competition was non-existent last weekend. We were the only anglers fishing as most people have either hunting on the brain or preparing for other outdoor activities – ice fishing, skiing, snowboarding, and snowmobiling. If you are a grayling enthusiast, take advantage of this opportunity and attempt a grayling outing. Chances of hooking fish into the 15- to 17- inch size class is largely possible.
Interior Alaska Silvers
The escapement of fall-run silvers continue to build on Interior Alaska streams that drain into the Tanana River. Locals reported success on the Delta Clearwater (DCR) and surrounding tributaries swinging bright streamers and chucking Vibrax in-line spinners. In Delta Clearwater, anglers caught fish from the boat launch off Jack Warren Road downstream to the mouth. Big Rays Fly Shop manager Jason Rivers and company backtrolled plugs in the middle of the channel and reported success. They also caught fish on large articulated leeches in purple, black, and pink. Color did not seem important as fish were in an aggressive attack mode. An additional bonus is the trophy-sized grayling DCR is known for. While targeting silvers, don’t be afraid to throw a micro flesh fly or #8 TroutBead behind a group of spawning silvers because the grayling won’t be far behind. Specifically, at this time of the year, grayling search for easy foraging opportunities to pack on supplemental mass for winter. The nutrition they acquire from eggs and flesh is of high value. DCR grayling are known for reaching into the 20-inch plus range. Fishing should remain excellent as October continues. Remember that DCR doesn’t freeze since it contains underwater springs compared to other river systems in the Interior. Finally, wherever open water fishing opportunities exist take extra precaution to dress accordingly for the frigid cold conditions. A combination of long underwear, synthetic/down jackets, hats, gloves, and cold-weather socks are an absolute must so you can enjoy Alaska’s fall and winter fishing.
Valdez Fishing Report
By Mike Lunde
We departed Fairbanks early Thursday morning for a 4-day adventure to battle supercharged saltwater silver salmon and expend effort towards other gamefish once limits were achieved. Unfortunately, our goals were not reached, but managed to take a slow Labor Day weekend and reverse the trends. I interviewed multiple parties and they
reported very slow silver salmon action as boats either came in with no fish or just several. Very few boats reported success and those that did traveled way offshore to as far as Knolwes Head to catch fish. Boats that reported success
marked schools of silvers suspended from 60 to 100 feet down. Trolling herring combinations on dodgers/flashers via downriggers and Dipsy Divers sufficed. This was a different scenario compared to last year when silvers congregated in large schools close to the harbor westward to Mineral Creek. Some fly anglers reported success in the Robe River. Anglers concentrated from the baseball fields downstream to the confluence where the Robe enters the glacial Lowe River. Here, large streamers in chartreuse, black, purple, and pink were effective.
With the silver action spotty, we vertical jigged on steep break lines in 60 to 120 feet of water for rockfish. Rockfish action was fairly consistent. The proper presentation was 3/8 ounce Gamakatsu darter-head jigs and 3/4 ounce Owner saltwater bullet head jigs tipped with herring or 5-inch Berkley Gulp jerk shads. Just about any color combination for soft plastics worked as the rockfish and lingcod were not picky. Rockfish even struck jig combinations on a swimming retrieve when casted out a fair distance from the boat. When casted out, letting the jig free-fall for 5 to 15 seconds before beginning your retrieve produced the best results. Another technique that worked well was vertical jigging a rubber squid tipped with cut or whole herring.
While silver action was slow compared to last year, fly anglers may get excellent opportunities in the coming weeks as the wild-run enters the Robe River and nearby tributaries to spawn. Here, fly anglers do well swinging large articulated ammo in purple, black, pink, and chartreuse. Also, plentiful number of Dolly garden are available to fly anglers as well. Dolly Varden will strike a combination of streamers and flesh flies and/or egg patterns. Typically, the dollies are mixed in with the silvers to forage on their eggs and flesh. Remember, that in the Robe River spinning or bait casting gear is not allowed as it is designated by ADFG as “fly-fishing only”.
Mat-Su Fishing Report for Labor Day Weekend
Professional fisheries biologists Stacy Vega, Ben Gray, and Michael Courtney journeyed southbound from Fairbanks to fish the Mat-Su area streams for rainbows, dollies, chums, and silvers. Weather conditions varied over the holiday weekend with overcast skies and some sunshine activity. Air temperatures were in the upper 50s to low 60s which allowed for consistent action on all species they targeted. As dedicated fly fishermen, all fish were caught swinging large streamers whereas dollies and bows specifically on beads.
With the in-river abundance of chums and silvers already above minimal escapement, rainbow trout action continues to be productive as they are still aggressively foraging on chum and silver salmon eggs. The fisheries experts did well using a combination of 8mm beads in washed out colors with “Glo Roe” and “Apricot” being good bead color combinations. Also, a few rainbow trout were caught while swinging streams for salmon. While Stacy laid the smack-it-down with the single-hand rod, Ben and Mike performed well using both the switch and Spey to take down bows, dollies, and salmon. They swung tube fly prom-dresses and other large articulated ammo in purple to get aggressive takes. Ben said a 10-foot tip of T-11 was the magic ticket for staying in the strike zone.
Make sure to check gauge height information and streamflow data online before you depart on your trip so you can be prepared with the appropriate sink-tips to match the given water conditions. Silvers are still currently running and should continue over the next couple weeks. Also, expect the rainbow trout and Dolly Varden bead and flesh bite to be productive. If handy, try to monitor water temperature on your trips. As the water temperature drops into the upper 30s, expect rainbows and dollies to migrate into the lower habitat reaches of the Susitna River tributaries. Until then, be safe and dress warm as air temperatures are getting cooler at night, so make sure to dress appropriately when out on the water.
Valdez Woman Wins Truck, Towne Holds On To Win Silver Derby
By Valdez Fish Derbies
There were not many changes on the leader board the last week of the Valdez Silver Salmon Derby or the Halibut Derby in Valdez. In the Silver Salmon Derby, a contender came in late August 28th that was two tenths of a pound shy of knocking Amanda Towne out of 1st place. Towne reeled in a 17.54 pound silver during the Women’s Derby August 9th and Paul Williams of Eagle River brought in a 17.52 pound silver on August 28th. Towne owns the distinction of being the only Women’s Silver Salmon Derby winner to also win the $15,000 cash prize in the silver derby. Williams won 2nd place and $5,000 for the fish he reeled up aboard the Silly Billy II. Greg Ledsworth of Tamarac, Florida took 3rd place in the silver derby with the 17.50 pound silver hecaught from shore August 25th. The Big Prize Friday $500 winner was Nathen Ward of Fairbanks who reeled in a 14.08 pound silver August 29th aboard the Mayhem.
In the Valdez Halibut Derby, it was Scott Hebig’s 203.6 pound halibut that hung on for the 1st place $15,000 cash prize. Hebig caught his 203.6 pound halibut June 20th aboard the Amanda Rose. James McQuain of Fairbanks finished 2nd in the halibut derby with a 171.6 pound halibut he caught July 25th aboard the Dawn Treader and Jeff Maurer of Elysburg, Pennsylvania took 3rd place with the 171.4 pound halibut he caught July 17th aboard the Dawn Treader. Hebig’s halibut is the smallest halibut on record to win the Valdez Derbies, with the exception of the years when the Chamber of Commerce held a target weight derby. In 2013, the winner of the $15,000 first place prize weighed in at 325 pounds. In 2014, the 1st place winner had a fish weighing 335.7 pounds; in 2013 the winner tipped the scales at 277.2.
By Mike Lunde
Fishing this past week for chums and silvers has been very productive as escapements levels are still increasing with large numbers present in creek mouths and the creeks themselves. From Lower Troublesome Creek south to Willow, anglers reported success on silvers and chums. Conventional anglers did well chucking #4 Vibraxes and presenting herring or roe on slip float rigs. Fly anglers also reported success swinging large articulated streamers in black, purple, and pink. The rainbow trout bite continues to be productive as they have switched over to foraging on chum and pink salmon eggs compared to king eggs. However, as you hike or float downstream and observe spawning kings, don’t be afraid to drift 10mm beads behind them. We were successful this week with 8mm beads in Glo Roe and Natural Roe. Also, swinging flesh flies through riffles paid off. Productive flesh fly color combinations were hot orange/red, white, apricot, and cahill cream.
This past weekend I guided on the Upper Chena River. We floated from Chena Hotsprings Road RM 39.6 to 37.7. I had an outgoing group of Air Force veterans stationed in Japan who were visiting for a week. We caught 14 and lost several others. Two inch white Twister Tails on 1/16 ounce jig heads worked well as arctic grayling were positioned in deep mid-channel pools and eddies. Despite the water still being high in this section, the clarity was very good. Visibility ranged from 7 to 9 feet. Fly anglers should use dry flies and large stoneflies presented near bottom for best results. It is best recommended to head east towards the Chena Hotsprings to search for clear water. Downstream of Chena River Cabin Slough at RM 31.4, water clarity remains stained and flow rates fast up to 4000 cfs. Again, thanks to our troops for defending our freedom as it was a pleasure to show you guys the great fishing opportunities Alaska has to offer.
Silvers Were Big, But Finnicky During Women’s Derby Weekend
By Valdez Fish Derbies
“The bite was on early in the morning, and then it just died,” said Valdez angler Barb Lyons. But that’s just what Lyons expected. Lyons took her boat, “Lyons Den” out on Friday to scout for silvers for the Women’s Derby and they caught a whopper of a fish early in the morning. Since the Women’s Derby was Saturday, Lyons said she figured it was the men’s day to fish. The 17.38 pound silver Dan Eide brought in Friday on her boat headed to the top of the derby leader board and got everyone excited about the possibility of catching big fish Saturday.
Lyons got out early in the morning Saturday and it seems that she was right about the early bite. Many of the big fish that came in were caught early in the morning, including a 17.54 pound silver salmon caught by 18-year-old Amanda Towne. Towne’s fish not only won the Women’s Silver Salmon Derby, it bumped Eide’s fish into 2nd place overall and put her in the lead for the overall derby.
Towne had her back to the pole and when her Dad hollered, grab the Pole. “We hadn’t caught anything all day so I was surprised,” Towne said. “Dad said “That’s a big one, so I grabbed the pole and yanked really hard”. When asked how she felt about being crowned the Queen, she replied, “Crazy, Excited, Happy”. Towne plans to put the $1,000 she won toward college. Towne won $1,000 in clothing and merchandise from the Prospector and if her fish holds onto the lead through the end of the derby, she would win $15,000 cash. Christy Glaza of North Pole took 2nd place in the Women’s Derby with a 16.84 pound silver and Ruby Mitvitnikoff of Valdez took 3rd with a 15.74 pounder. Women making the Top 50 all received a prize package that includes a winner’s fleece jacket.
In addition to the early bite, it seems that silvers were not schooled up in any particular area. Silvers were caught from Rocky Point to the Valdez Harbor on Saturday. Jacks Bay, the Narrows, Allison Point and even the Valdez Small Boat Harbor were productive for fish. It was tough to catch a limit on Saturday, but the fish were large. To get in the Top 50, a fish had to weigh more than 12 pounds.
Interior Alaska Fishing Report
By Mike Lunde
Moderate-heavy to heavy thunderstorms in Fairbanks and Tanana River valley have made for difficult fishing conditions, yet grayling action remains semi-consistent on the Chena and Chatanika Rivers. Streamflow on the Chena has averaged around 5700 cfs over the past week with a high point around 7000 cfs. Gauge height was within a foot or so of flood stage. With the water visibility reduced to around two feet, grayling anglers continue to produce fish on standard white crappie sized tube jigs on 1/32 and 1/16 ounce jig heads.
The weather conditions has made fly fishing extremely difficult with few catches reported. Other anglers have abandoned the river gig for targeting the local lakes alongside the Richardson Highway such as Harding, Little Harding, Birch, and Quart Lakes. Here anglers can target a mixed bag of rainbows, grayling, arctic char, and landlocked cohos. Local Fairbanks guide Reinhard Neuhauser for Alaska Rafting and Fishing Adventures reported excellent dry fly action for grayling on the Delta Clearwater River. Mayfly activity was observed throughout the system and large grayling were suckers for a well presented dry. Reinhard said he guided clients to trophy sized fish, with a few reported up to 21 inches.
When the Chena River experiences blown-out conditions, the Delta Clearwater (DCR) system is an excellent alternative as it is a spring-fed system meaning it is not affected by precipitation events. Appropriate fly tackle for DCR is usually a 9 foot 4 or 5 weight single hand to combat necessary, unexpected winds. If dry fly action subsides, don’t be afraid to experiment with large stonefly nymphs on indicator rigs. Most importantly, remember to wear comfortable layers as the water temperature remains in the high 30s to low 40s year round.
Also, remember that sport-fishing forkings on the Tanana River system remains closed for the rest of the season, but chums can be targeted on the Chena below the dam and on the Salcha below ADFG marker located 2.5 miles upstream of the Richardson Highway bridge. Good luck this week and tight lines!
Pinks are Plentiful, Silvers Coming, And Halibut Fishing Steady
By Valdez Fish Derbies
VALDEZ, Alaska – The silver salmon leader board was a bit sparse last week, but the weigh in is seeing more and more silvers as each day passes. According to Fish Derby Weigh-In station volunteers, most anglers that weighed in fish this weekend had several silvers in their coolers. Last year, Regina Blood of Valdez won the Women’s Derby and was crowned Queen of the Silver Salmon Sisterhood when she reeled in a 15.68 pound silver. The largest silver salmon caught in the Women’s Derby was an 18.84 pound silver caught by Betty Valdes of Eagle River in 2010. Registration is currently underway for the Women’s Derby which includes an opening ceremony Friday night and a closing on Saturday. The theme this year is “Fairy Tales” and there will be a costume contest Friday. Live music is planned for Saturday and derby organizers are expecting another exciting year.
At this point, there doesn’t seem to be any sure-fire lure or depth to catch the silvers at. “People are catching them on different lures, at different depths and in places all over right now,” commented fish cutter Jim Thayer at the dock Sunday night.
G.C. MacDonald of Murupara, New Zealand is currently leading the Silver Salmon Derby with the 15.60 pound silver she caught July 27th aboard the Martie Kay. Jim Rothenbuhler of Salcha, Alaska is holding onto 2nd place with the 13.66 pound silver he caught July 25th aboard the Bucket List. Sergei Doodchenko of Candle Lake, Saskatchewan, Canada broke into the overall standings in 3rd place with a 13.50 pound fish he caught August 1st aboard the Faithful. Pink salmon fishing continues to be productive at Allison Point with most anglers catching their limits in a few hours.
In the Valdez Halibut Derby, Scott Hebig of Wasilla, Alaska is still leading with a 203.6 pound halibut he caught June 20th aboard the Amanda Rose. James McQuain is currently in 2nd place overall with a 171.6 pound halibut caught July 25th and Jeff Maurer of Elysburg, PA is in 3rd right now with a 171.4 pound halibut caught July 17th.
Last year, Regina Blood of Valdez won the Women’s Derby and was crowned Queen of the Silver Salmon Sisterhood when she reeled in a 15.68 pound silver. The largest silver salmon caught in the Women’s Derby was an 18.84 pound silver caught by Betty Valdes of Eagle River in 2010. Registration is currently underway for the Women’s Derby which includes an opening ceremony Friday night and a closing on Saturday. The theme this year is “Fairy Tales” and there will be a costume contest Friday. Live music is planned for Saturday and derby organizers are expecting another exciting year.
Provided by Mike Lunde
Sport-fishing has been consistent alongside the Parks Highway streams over the past week. The in river abundance of early-run chums and pinks are continuing to build day today. Additionally, some early-run silvers were caught this week in Little Susitna with reported catches northward to Montana Creek. Further north into the Chulitna system, no presence of chums or silvers yet as they usually show up there by the first to second week of August. Fly anglers did extremely well at Montana and Willow Creeks this past week swinging articulated streamers for chums in a variety of color combinations with purple and black being the most productive. I personally caught chums swinging 4 inch weighted tube-styled prom dresses tied up in purple on a single-hand rod with just a plain floating line. Pinks continue to bite well on small, sparse pink streamers. Marabou tube flies, pink egg-sucking leeches, and an occasional shrimp pattern have gotten non-aggressive pinks to respond.
Water levels remained somewhat consistent in Willow until Friday. Heavy rains over Hatcher Pass on late Thursday night increased water levels on Willow’s sister tributary Deception Creek thereby creating blown-out conditions. This caused dirtier Deception Creek water to flow into Lower Willow which resulted in the water visibility in Willow to be reduced to 1.5 feet. When Willow experiences blown-out conditions, an alternative is to head north and target Clear or Montana Creeks. Rainbow trout fishing continues to be excellent on both Montana and Willow Creeks as several anglers experienced 10-plus fish outings. The 10mm bead bite continues to be the mainstay and preferred method for success. Productive bead colors include blood dot (BD) glo roe, natural roe, and tangerine. Into the upcoming weeks, don’t be afraid to experiment with apricot bead colors as king eggs will start to lose that fresh orange-looking morphology. The 10mm bead bite will continue to be productive until the in river abundance or pinks and chums peaks in approximately two weeks. Then, rainbows will opportunistically switch over to the 8mm bead site which represents the majority of pink and chum salmon eggs. Overall sport-fishing action alongside the Parks Highway streams should continue to be productive as long as Mother Nature cooperates. Tight lines!!
The Littles: Susitna & Willow
Provided by Mike Lunde
Fishing alongside the Parks Highway streams has been exceptionally productive since the conclusion of king salmon season over a week ago. Typically, the transition period from post-king salmon season to the arrival of early-run chums and pinks have other anglers excited as ADFG had streams closed below the Parks Highway bridge to all fishing until the 13th of July. The rainbow trout action on fly rods has been very productive as the 10mm bead bite is on. Currently, the inriver abundance of both early and late-run kings has peaked with the majority reaching their redds and others not far behind. The key to success is to find schooling kings in either runs or riffles that drift into deeper pools. Here you will find them with hungry rainbows lurking either below or behind them. Depending on depth, select 2 or 3 #3/0 split shots and attach them 16 to 18 inches above the bead hook. A size #6 bead hook is an ideal all-around bead hook. In very deep pools, don’t be afraid to take off the indicator and tick the bottom with short-line nymphing techniques as this is an excellent method to target those hard-to-reach trout and won’t rise in the water column for a suspended bead.
Over the past week, early-run chums and pinks started to show up in lower Parks Highway streams such as the Little Susitna, Willow, and Montana Creeks. Anglers concentrated on the lower sections and the silt-line transition zones at the confluences of the Susitna. Conventional anglers did well swinging #3 and #4 silver bladed Vibrax spinners with a slow retrieve while fly anglers did well swinging a variety of streamers. I personally had my best success swinging 2 inch pink marabou tube flies with a 10 foot MOW tip of T-11. Since these streams receive a fair amount of angling pressure, don’t be afraid to downsize your fly or lure selection as pinks can be skittish at times. We also fished Montana Creek over the weekend and the first few rounds of chums arrived. They weren’t shy by any means. Single-hand fly rods connected to purple prom dresses did the damage on a straight swing for presentation. The takes were very aggressive and the fish full of spunk. Also, rain over the weekend in Hatcher Pass increased water levels. Flow rates ranged from 1070 to 1300 cfs on Sunday with clarity about 1-2.5 feet of visibility. Expect water levels to return to normal later this week with drier weather predicted in the weather forecast. Normal flow rates for the lower Parks Highway streams varies from 280 to 440 cfs depending on the stream and location within the stream. If in question, always google search your stream’s current flow and gauge height information through USGS.
Provided by Alexis McCarty
Second-run sockeye are on the loose and reds are strong in numbers headed up the Kenai River. Though the weather could have been better, anglers from all across the state came to the Kenai to fill their freezers with sockeye salmon. The hardest part of fishing for sockeye? Landing them. I spent most of the day fighting large fish, and as you know, sockeye salmon love to run, which at times can be difficult when only 10 feet separate you from another angler. Current regulations on the lower Kenai state you must have unbaited, single-hook lures to catch a 3 fish limit per day with 6 in possession. Check the regs before you head out for any changes. My successful go-to fly was the orange and pink Russian River Coho flies I bought at Soldotna Hardware and Fishing with about an ounce of weight to get me to the bottom. Remember that snagging is illegal and causes harm to fish. Sockeye caught anywhere but the mouth is foul, and the “Kenai Flip and Rip” technique is harmful to fish. The best bet is to learn the proper technique and properly land your fly in their mouth and then it is delicious, fresh sockeye for all.
Lake Creek Fishing
Provided by Alexis McCarty, Photo by Tyson Johnson
As Chinook salmon are slowing starting to spawn, rainbow trout are high in numbers in Lake Creek. With the weather in the upper 70’s, the sun was hot and the water was crystal clear. High-pigmented spawning kings were clearly visible as well as smaller fish like grayling, rainbows and Jack kings. All 6 anglers on our boat couldn’t keep fish off their lines. Though most rainbows caught weren’t considered trophy, the tug was always an instant excite. I started the morning off with a black and white Dolly Llama streamer on my fly rod and never once changed my fly. Trout numbers are picking up as they follow the kings up to their spawning grounds. Soon the kings will start dropping their eggs and the bite will switch over from streamers and smolt patterns to beads and flesh flies.
Independence Day Derby – Valdez
Provided by Valdez Fish Derbies
Two North Pole anglers hit the record books during the 4th of July weekend, winning the 1st and 2nd place weekly prizes in the Valdez Halibut Derby. Steve Huisman of North Pole, reeled in a 158.2 pound halibut aboard the Otter Dodger to win himself a Valdez Fish Derbies winner jacket and t-shirt, a fishing charter and a glacier cruise. Theodore Kirchmeir of North Pole won the 2nd place weekly prize in the halibut derby with the 151.2 pound halibut he caught July 5th aboard the Halibut Grove.
Kirchmeir took home a prize package that included a Valdez Fish Derbies winners vest and t-shirt as well as certificates from Valdez Fish Derbies sponsors. Prizes for eachweek of the derby can be found at www.valdezfishderbies.com
According the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, halibut angling has been good. Rockfish catches have been good in Montague Strait and out in the Gulf by Seal Rocks and Hinchinbrook. Lingcod fishing opened last week and many anglers reported good catches throughout the Sound. Large jigs fished 10 feet off the bottom near and on top of steep rocky ridges and reefs work quite well for lingcod. Pink salmon are definitely in at Allison Point. Pink salmon are being caught from shore at Allison Point as well as from the John Kelsey dock in town. KVAK Reporter Iam Cabitac reported seeing a silver salmon being caught from the City Dock but could not hook one himself.
The Kids Pink Salmon Derby is set for Saturday, July 19h. The Kids Derby is open to children age 5 to 16 and there is no fee to enter. Kids just need to weigh-in a pink salmon at the Valdez Fish Derbies weigh-in station Saturday, July 19th to get a t-shirt and have a chance of winning one of the top three spots in their age division. A free family barbeque and awards will follow the day of fishing. The first 300 kids to stop by the weigh-in will get a free t-shirt courtesy of Alyeska Pipeline Service Company and the Valdez Fish Derbies.
By Publisher Marcus Weiner
The Fish Alaska crew went out with Bristol Bay Adventures and fished for several days to the tune of a bunch of king salmon.
Good numbers of bright kings are streaming into the river. Our boat averaged 30 kings per day between three anglers with fish falling into three categories – small jacks, juvenile fish to 15 pounds, and mature fish weighing from 15- to 35 pounds. We caught about 20% jacks, 30% juveniles and 50% adult fish.
The most effective technique for us was boondogging using a pencil lead, Spin ‘N Glo, 5/0 hook and salmon eggs. Sharp hooks and stiff sets were in order to properly stick and land hard-mouthed Chinook.
Remember that you can only use one hook during Chinook season and that only fish that you will keep can be removed from the water. Current bag limit is four king salmon per season, and an angler can keep one per day above 28 inches and one below 28 inches. When an angler keeps a second king salmon within a day, the angler can no longer use bait. Anglers can also keep up to five jacks per day and they do not apply to the annual bag limit.
Fishing in Homer
By Captain Dave Morris, Bob’s Trophy Charters
Fishing has been great with healthy halibut and larger fish have been showing up this week. King salmon are off and on as usual so we take limits for a week then have to find another spot. Everything is filling up so busy busy busy.
Naknek River Fishing
By K8 Taylor, Alaska Sportman’s Lodge
Fishing on the Naknek has picked up for Kings. Lots of Jacks around giving fishermen plenty of action each day. Just saw our first big pushes of sockeye this week and some anglers were able to bring in their limits. Sockeye fishing should pick up in the following week and make for some happy anglers.
Brooks River is seeing it’s yearly influx of Brown Bears, and tourists coming to see them as well. Fishing has remained slow for trout this past week thanks to high water throughout Katmai National Park. Should be great fishing once the creeks drop into shape.