Fishing is getting better, at least that's what a few successful anglers are telling me. Recent conversations and reports from the field have been bizarre, to say the least. Some anglers have been successful while others have come up empty, I guess that's why they call it fishing.
The reports have been about as squirrely as the weather: cool and rainy one day, nice and sunny the next. For better fishing success, check in with us here at the ADN each week, talk to local guides and try to pry the truth out of your lying fishing buddies. Finally, check fish counts on the Alaska Department of Fish and Game's website and pay attention to river levels and tides and you should be on the right track. (Links to all of that information is collected at adn.com/fishing.) If that doesn't work, go clamming with the kids; tides are good for about a week starting this weekend.
Recent reports from the valley indicate king fishing on the Deshka is picking up. The water is coming up and fish are moving upstream -- fast. The word on the river is a lot of the fish have been on the small size, say 8 to 10 pounds. But a few anglers are catching a larger fish, in the 25-pound class at the mouth and upstream as high as 7 to 12 miles. Backtrolling with plugs and bait are working well.
The Lower Little Susitna River at Burma Road has been producing a few kings. There was a report of one 50-pounder landed.
Valley Lake fishing has been fair to good. Try Long, Finger or Canoe lakes and the Kepler-Bradley system. Small bugs (midges) have been hatching and the smaller fish love those morsels, joined on occasion by a large fish. For bigger fish try a dragonfly nymph or lake leech in green, black or brown. Spin fisherman should rig with a clear bobber and a small nymph or other buggy pattern adjusted to the right depth. Fly anglers should try fishing with Chronomids with an indicator, dragonfly nymphs or wooly buggers in colors that match the bottom.
Steve Babinec with Saltwater Safari Company aboard the Legacy has reported some halibut catches recently. He has been fishing east toward Montague Island and landing some nice halibut in the 30- to 50-pound range with an occasional larger fish. They're also catching some Black and Yelloweye Rockfish.
The Kenai River has produced a few nice fish. Rod Berg from Rod and Real Charters said his clients caught four or five kings around 40 pounds this week. Rod said he has averaged a success rate of about 50 percent on recent trips. The bonus is that the river has been largely devoid of boats and people. The water is in great shape with good visibility. Try Kwikfish K15's flat-lined with no planer or Spin-n-Glo's behind a planer in oranges and pinks to start.
The Kasilof River has been hit and miss for anglers, productive one day and nothing the next. Greg Brush, owner of E-Z Limit guide service, said a few days ago he caught four fish before 11 a.m., then only produced one or two bites the next day. Most of his success has been fishing a planer with a short leader Spin-n-Glo in lime and chartreuse or a K13 Kwikfish in lime, orange or chartreuse.
Fishing was slow last weekend on the Anchor River, Deep Creek and Ninilchik. Water conditions on the Anchor and Deep Creek were high and off color, making fishing success low. We can hope that water levels will drop this week and fish will start to show up. Look for a water level of 2.5 or lower for better fishing. The NOAA website and the FishHead App for your smart phone are great places to get this information (link for NOAA on ADN website).
An emergency order has been issued that prohibits the use of bait, treble hooks and multiple hooks in the Anchor River, Deep Creek and Ninilchik River during the king salmon fishery, effective Saturday, June 2, at 12:01 a.m. Only one un-baited, single-hook, artificial lure is allowed. "Single hook" means a hook with only one point. Fish and Game has implemented a bait restriction on the Anchor River as a result of the slow king return.
The Offshore Deep Creek Fishery for halibut has produced pretty consistently, with most fish on the small side but an occasional l00-pounder. Wally Martin, owner of Wally's Guide Service, has boated some nice fish 20 to 40 pounds and a couple of 80- to 100-pounders. He has been fishing in 180 to 200 feet of water with herring on incoming and outgoing tides.
Early-run king salmon are available this time of year in the near shore saltwater of Anchor Point and Whiskey Gulch, but it has been spotty. Reports say about half the fish have been feeders. Popular trolling setups for king salmon include herring, hootchies, tube flies and tee-spoons. Try using a dodger or flasher for extra attraction.
The Swanson Lake system has offered up some nice trout. Try Nest and Paddle lakes as a starter, and then, if you have a canoe, venture out to the more remote lakes. Leeches and Chronomids have worked for fly anglers. Spin fisherman should use a bobber or float with these flies suspended beneath. Remember to bring bug dope because the pests are out in full force.
The first Youth Fishing Day at the Nick Dudiak Fishing Lagoon is Saturday. A portion of the lagoon will open only for anglers 15 years or younger, from 12:01 a.m. until midnight. The Mobile Aquatic Classroom and Fish and Game staff will be present from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. to help young anglers fish and tie egg loops and fishing knots.
Success for feeder kings has been fair to good off the south side of Kachemak Bay, Bluff Point, Point Pogibshi and north to Ninilchik.
Ship Creek has been running off-color and cold, but a few anglers have caught kings. Fish the incoming tides and start early on the incoming tide, watch water levels if you're fishing near the mouth.
Some local lakes have been stocked with hatchery fish and most local lakes should fish well. Try Cheney, Beach and Campbell Point lakes. Bobbers with a suspended hare's ear nymph or chronomids and eggs are hooking fish.
Tony Weaver has fished all over Alaska for more than 40 years. He is the host Wolf Outdoors, which airs on FM-96.3 Saturday mornings. He worked as chief technical editor for Fish Alaska and has written for Fish and Fly, Flyfisher and Flyfisherman magazines. He is a photographer and author of "Topwater: Fly Fishing the Last Frontier Alaska."
The fishing report is published Wednesday on adn.com and Thursday in print. For the latest and most comprehensive information every day, check the links on adn.com/fishing. In addition to reports from Fish and Game biologists across the state, you'll find lots of fishing photos in our Nice Catch galleries, links to current weather, river and stream flows, tide charts, fish counts, salmon run timing, fishing derbies across the state and how-to videos. You can also buy a fishing license online, check the regulations, read a blog with the latest fishery closures and emergency orders, and sign up for our fishing newsletter email. Do you have a question about fishing in Alaska -- places, techniques, gear? Send your question to firstname.lastname@example.org and we'll try to answer it in a future fishing report.
LATEST REPORTS From Fish and Game:
Soldotna (907) 262-2737
Palmer (907) 746-6300
Anchorage (907) 267-2510
Homer (907) 235-6930
Kodiak (907) 486-5176
Fairbanks (907) 459-7385
Juneau (907) 465-4116
Ketchikan (907) 225-0475
Haines (907) 766-2625