After traveling out west last week, I caught and photographed enough fish to keep me editing for a couple of weeks. My partner and I caught a lot of salmon and a decent number of trout. We cast every fly in our boxes to some of the largest chums I have ever seen. It seems they would hit about any fly in our box, even top-water flies. These fish are the great cleanup hitters for this strikeout season of king fishing.
With that said, I was pleasantly surprised to hear reports that chums are making their appearance in Southcentral Alaska. If you want to take the kids out and experience a low-pressure day of fishing, give chums a go. Now is probably as good as any time to get out and wet a line for these fun fish.
Meanwhile, there is some good news for those fishing the lower Kenai River. Beginning at 12:01 a.m. Thursday, they can begin using bait and multiple hooks in the drainage downstream of the Sterling Highway bridge in Soldotna.
Here's a round up of fishing around the region:
I spoke with Andy Mesirow of Crackerjack Sportfishing on his satellite phone Tuesday. He was out east of Seward on a long-range trip. He said the morning was little slow for halibut but he was waiting on a tide change. He said he has done well recently for halibut while staying close in during bad weather. He also said the lingcod and rock fishing have been good.
Salmon fishing has also been good from Pony Cove to Caines Head, he said. Most of the fish are spread out, and anglers looking for bait and feeding birds are finding fish. Pink salmon fishing in Resurrection Bay has also been productive.
Be aware that saltwater pinks are harder to distinguish from silvers when they are in the ocean. One clue: their scales are smaller. Pay attention to the different bag limits.
Fish and Game creel census workers at the cleaning stations are seeing anglers exceeding their limits on rockfish and salmon. Check the fishing section of adn.com or the Fish and Game websites for bag limits by location and species.
The Seward Silver Salmon Derby starts Saturday and runs through Sunday, Aug. 19. Expect crowds and slow fishing from the beaches, although that should improve daily.
I spoke with Kristen Labrecque on Tuesday and she was fishing out near Montague Island. She said the halibut fishing on the incoming tide was unbelievable. After the tide turned, the boat limited in 20 minutes, she said, and she was off to her salmon spots.
Labrecque said the silvers have been deep, with fish being caught in 40 to 230 feet of water. She said she has caught a lot of silvers by dropping jigs to the bottom and then jigging and reeling in until she caught fish. She said she was fishing with weight as heavy as 14 ounces. Some halibut were caught while fishing for salmon.
Most of the silvers aren't yet in Whittier. We should start seeing silvers closer to town in the next week or two.
Farleigh Dean of Willow Island Resort said the chums and pinks are in Willow Creek on the Parks Highway. A few silvers are being caught at the mouth. He said the water level was dropping and should be in good shape this weekend.
He also mentioned that the trout fishing up river has been good with not much pressure. Beads and black leeches have been working well.
Montana Creek is also fishing well with lots of chums, pinks and some silvers being caught at the mouth. Karen Wilson of the Montana Creek Campground told me anglers are doing well with Vibrax lures in sizes 3 and 4. There is a children's fishing derby this weekend for anglers under 15. Check with Wilson for details at (907) 355-7691.
Coho salmon are trickling into the North Cook Inlet streams. Fishing at the Eklutna Tailrace has been slow for cohos, with some sockeye salmon being caught.
Silver fishing is closed beginning at 12:01 a.m. Friday, on the Little Susitna. Only artificial lures may be used for other species. Chum fishing remains good on the Little Su near the public use facility. A few coho and pink salmon are also being caught.
Fishing is expected to be good this weekend for sockeye on Cottonwood Creek. Some coho will also be caught.
Sockeye fishing should be good at the mouth of Jim Creek. An emergency order from Fish and Game, which takes effect at 6 a.m. Friday, limits anglers to a total of three salmon, only one of which can be a silver (king fishing is already closed for the season). Fishing is only allowed between 6 a.m. and 6 p.m.
The Deshka was high Tuesday with very few silvers being caught. Bruce Knowles said he caught a few fish last week but the river was empty of fish and anglers earlier this week.
Sockeye and some chums are being caught at the mouths of Clear and Larson creeks of the Talkeetna drainage, but it's still a little early for cohos.
Silver fishing is fair on the Yentna River tributaries. Lake Creek is producing a few coho; be sure to try other Yentna tributaries and sloughs like Moose and Indian creeks. Coho fishing should start improving this weekend in Wasilla Creek/Rabbit Slough.
On the west side of Cook Inlet, coho are entering the Chuit and Theodore rivers. Once you take your limit of cohos in this area you must stop fishing for the day.
Silver fishing in Ship Creek continues to be a bright spot in the Anchorage area. Fishing should continue to improve, as we are not yet at the peak of the run. Fishing continues to be best on the ebb tide.
Campbell Creek silver salmon fishing is still slow. Fish are holding in Campbell Lake, so try your luck near Dimond Boulevard.
Silver fishing on Bird Creek on the Seward Highway is also slow. However, pinks and chums are starting to show up in good numbers on the flood tides.
Pinks are starting to show in decent numbers in Ingram Creek. Resurrection Creek in Hope is also producing pink salmon. Hope is a nice drive and great place to take the children fishing.
Copper Basin and Valdez
Sockeye fishing in the Klutina River was fair last week through the weekend, with people still getting their limit of sockeyes, but fishing is slowing down.
Sockeye fishing in the Gulkana River is fair to good. The water level is the lowest of the season and visibility is good in the river as I write this. Sockeye fishing should continue to be good for the next couple of weeks. This might be an ideal time to get in some last-minute fishing without the crowds. This run is later than most sockeye runs and August can be a great time for some late-run fish.
The Copper River Chitina Subdistrict is still open through 11:59 p.m. Friday, Aug. 31 , for dipnetting. The Chitina Subdistrict Personal Use Dip Net Salmon Fishery is closed to the retention of king salmon for the remainder of the 2012 season. The river came up over the weekend, but is currently dropping again.
Fishing was decent last week and was reported to have picked up over the weekend. Up to date info can also be obtained from the Chitina Dipnetters Association www.chitinadipnetters.com. The sonar at Miles Lake was pulled July 26.
In Valdez, the 2012 Women's Silver Salmon Derby is Saturday. For information on the Women's Derby and other derby information go to www.valdezfishderbies.com. The silvers are still out near Goose Island, with shore fishing slow. Allison Point and the harbor are producing a few pinks.
Silver fishing has been spotty on the Kenai River. Anglers willing to move around have been catching fish. The pinks are still not in the river in big numbers.
I spoke with Greg Brush of EZ Limit Guide Service and he said the Kustatan and Big River fisheries west of Nikiski have been producing average to good numbers of silvers for his clients. Mondays have been busy, however, as most guides book their clients that day because it's the day the Kenai is closed to guides.
The middle Kenai River has been slow for trout. Sockeye salmon are still trickling in. The trout fishing should start picking up as the trout really start to key in on eggs and then later flesh.
The upper river is still seeing reds pouring in. Most of the reds are turned but a few fish are still in reasonable shape.
The Deep Creek and Anchor River offshore fishing has been good for halibut with anglers catching limits, most of fish have been in 20- to 40-pound range. Tides should be good this weekend.
Trolling success for feeder kings in Kachemak Bay has improved over the last week. Anglers caught fish in the Point Pogibshi and Bear Cove areas. Silver salmon catches have been reported off Point Pogibshi. Pink and chum salmon are being caught around Seldovia. Sockeyes have arrived in Tutka Bay Lagoon A few silver salmon have been reported at the Nick Dudiak Fishing Lagoon on the Spit.
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
Tony Weaver has fished all over Alaska for more than 40 years. He is the host of 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."