As you have surely noticed, our local fireweed is in full bloom. It is one of the most visible signs of the approaching end of summer. The higher the blooms on the stalk, the closer we are to winter. I'm happy to report that, according to the fireweed I'm looking at, we have a bunch of summer days ahead. Let's hope for a nice Indian summer.
From the reports I'm hearing, fishing is good all over. After a lackluster start this year -- with fish being late everywhere -- I had begun to wonder if things would ever really crank up. Well, here we are in the middle of August and some streams are still not producing much but others are doing well. Any angler willing to travel can find fish somewhere on the road system or off the road by boat or plane ride just a few hours from Anchorage.
Here's a roundup of fishing around the region.
The silvers are still outside the bay and a week or two away from showing close to the harbor. Kristen Labrecque told me Tuesday that halibut fishing had been slow that morning out at Montague Island. Recent tide cycles have made the fish lazy, she said, and she was struggling to limit the boat. Still, she landed some nice fish.
She said the bite was good last week and included a 165-pounder. She also mentioned that the silver bite had been slow Tuesday and the catch in her shrimp pots was skimpy.
On a related note, Labrecque said there are a lot of Gray Whales around, just "logging" (sleeping) in big groups. She said she has never seen that behavior or so many in one area.
The silvers are in and the derby is in full swing. As of 1:30 Tuesday afternoon, an 11-year-old from Anchorage named Tristan Borneman was in the lead with 15.71-pound silver. The derby ends on Aug. 19. If you're going to fish in Seward for silvers, do yourself a favor and get a derby ticket.
Anglers are doing well on silvers in and outside the bay. I spoke with a few captains and all have told me silvers are showing in good numbers.
I spoke with a friend Wednesday who said the bellies of the silvers he caught were nearly exploding with needlefish. He mentioned that he and his buddy limited on silvers in about an hour and caught four feeder kings. Most of their fishing was close-in, trolling with downriggers in 30 to 50 feet of water.
Crackerjack Sportfishing Captain Andy Mesirow said the silver fishing was the best he has ever seen. We talked Tuesday and he said the silver bite had been furious that morning. Mesirow said Big Gulp Minnows in blue and white and about four inches long were his go-to bait during periods of intense action.
Tides should be good for halibut this weekend, with more water movement than last weekend. Mesirow mentioned that the flat tides (tides less than six feet) have not been nearly as productive. About a five-foot tide was the "dead zone" for fishing. He said he likes a medium tide change.
Mesirow also mentioned that halibut charters near Montague were starting to catch some really nice fish. The tides should be good this weekend with 10 feet or so of change.
I spent Sunday fishing Lake Creek with my boss here at ADN and another buddy. The weather was phenomenal and rainbow fishing was good. We didn't catch any rainbows over 17 or 18 inches, but I thoroughly enjoyed the fishing and even managed to hook a few "mousing."
We also managed to catch a few silvers in the bright midday sun. The river was full of fish: chums, pinks, kings and silvers. Guide Randy Dewar from River Song Lodge showed us a nice day on a great river. The silver fishing on Lake Creek has generally been good recently.
The Park Highway streams are fishing very well for trout and salmon, with the exception of silvers. Mike Hudson from Three Rivers Fly and Tackle fished both Clear Creek and Willow Creek last weekend and reported good trout fishing. He mentioned that chums were dropping eggs and trout were really keyed in on eight-millimeter beads. His go-to bead is the Glo-Roe color of Troutbead. He added that the Chulitna, Troublesome Creek and Byers Creek were also fishing well.
Local lakes in the valley are also producing trout; try Kepler-Bradley, the Big Lake system and Knik Road lakes. Olive, brown and black leeches, dragonfly nymphs and chronomids should be productive.
The Eklutna Tailrace as well as Jim Creek and Cottonwood are still producing some reds. Hudson mentioned that most of these were tide- dependent fisheries, best on the early flood tide.
Late news from Fish and Game: Sport fishing for silvers is prohibited by emergency order in all waters of the Knik Arm Management Area, excluding the Eklutna Tailrace, effective 12:01 a.m. Friday, Aug. 17.
Ship Creek is still producing good catches of silvers. Dustin Slinker from the Bait Shack called Tuesday as he stood on the bridge below his shop. It was high tide and he said he was looking at 50 fish milling around, including a few nice ones around nine pounds. Most fish are being caught on floats with roe, Vibraxes and chartreuse flies. The bite slows on sunny days.
Bird Creek has been spotty, with pinks and chums being caught along with a few silvers. Bird and Resurrection creeks are not in full swing yet, but silver fishing should improve soon.
I talked to Rod Berg from Rod and Real Charters and Greg Brush for E-Z Limit guide service Tuesday. They said silver fishing has been good. Berg had a boat limited out in an hour Tuesday morning. Brush had five fish on during our phone conversation. They were all pinks, but he said the silver fishing has been heating up too. The early-morning bite has been good until the sun comes up about seven, but boats fishing lower on the river on the incoming tide were doing well throughout the day.
The middle Kenai (below Skilak) is just now starting to get good for trout. Anglers are picking up some larger fish as the kings start to drop eggs. Fishing should really get going any day.
Dan Hardy of D-Ray charters said he has been fishing the middle river and his two clients caught 40-plus fish Monday.
My Homer contacts report larger halibut starting to show but the silvers are not quite in yet. Jim Lavrakas with Skookum Charters said king fishing is picking up. He said he landed three kings Monday, along with some dime-bright pinks and a few rockfish. He has been trolling the bluffs. He said the bite hasn't been red hot but if you get out after the low tide and fish through the flood, you should catch fish.
The reds are gone, the halibut has been good and he's waiting for a wall of silvers to arrive. He said he has heard that good numbers of fish are staging around the Point Adams area and are on their way.
The crowds have thinned on the Gulkana and Klutina rivers, so this could be a good time to fish for some late- season reds or Dolly Varden. I spoke with Stan Grove on the Klutina on Tuesday and he said there are still a few reds trickling through and fishing is still fair but spotty. The Gulkana has a late run of reds and some anglers are still catching decent numbers of fish.
Valdez anglers are catching fish near the harbor and out to Gold Creek. Silvers have been strung out from Goose Island all the way into the bay. Fishing should only improve in the next two weeks. Halibut fishing has also been good offshore with some larger fish being caught.
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."
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
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.