This time of the year is what I call the sweet spot of the fishing season. The summer visitors are gone, friends and families are heading south and things on the highway are slowing down after the dipnet season.
I know the lawn needs mowing and the kids need all those things kids need before school starts and there are hundreds of chores left to get done around the house before it gets too cold. But the big halibut are just starting to show up, the late run silvers are still out in the ocean and the best of the trout fishing is just starting to get good. The yard work will have to wait.
Here's a roundup of fishing around the region:
Some silvers are being caught out around Pigot Point and are strung out all the way to Montague Strait. I spoke with Kristen Labrecque on Tuesday and she said she has been catching some nice silvers in the nine- to 10-pound class on her halibut trips. The silvers are still a ways out from Whittier, she said.
The halibut bite was about average Tuesday, she said, but the silver fishing was hot with silvers chasing her halibut jigs all the way to the boat. She was catching most of them on hootchies with herring and two ounces of lead.
I asked if the whales were still out in the sound. In my last report I said most of the whales Labrecque spotted were gray whales, but I stand corrected -- they are humpbacks, and Labrecque said they were still there in numbers, feeding heavily. Apparently the krill is really thick this year and is keeping the whales in the area. This could be a great time to get out and get in some great photos and fishing.
The halibut fishing is really coming on strong from the reports I have been getting from the Seward captains, especially out toward Montague Island, where some of the largest fish are being caught this time of year.
I called Carl Hughes with Aurora Charters for a salmon report Tuesday at noon as he was headed out for a half-day salmon trip. He said the silver fishing has been pretty good, but he was having to work for fish. Hughes has been fishing inside the bay from Callisto to Caines Head.
The beach fishing is improving but anglers fishing closer to shore also have to work for the fish. The fishing can be sporadic this time of year depending on the mood of the fish as they get closer to their spawning grounds.
Most of the Parks Highway streams are fishing well for trout, with a strong run of chums and pinks still in the streams. The silver salmon fishing has been slow, however, with not many fish being caught -- the exception being the Talkeetna River.
I spoke with Rhett Neals of Phantom Salmon Charters on Tuesday and he said silver fishing has been good. Rhett moves around to different spots on the river to find fish and said that each spot fishes a little different. Some spots are good on bait and bobbers, others are good on lures, others on soaking eggs. Clear Creek has been fishing well for trout for anglers willing to get out and hike the stream to find fish, he said.
The valley lakes have been fishing well but have slowed with warmer weather and higher lake temperatures. Most the local lakes in the Kepler Bradley and Big Lake region have been productive. The fishing should pick up when the temperatures drop a bit.
The Ship Creek fishery is still producing silvers for anglers fishing the tides. Dustin Slinker from the Bait Shack said the best bite has been on the falling tide about two hours after the high. Most of fish have been milling on the high tide and did not bite as well as on the falling tide, he said. The most productive fishing has been on floats with eggs.
Bird Creek and Turnagain Arm fishing is slower than normal. The chum and pinks are in most creeks but not in high numbers. A few silvers have been caught on the incoming tides.
Campbell Creek has been producing a few silvers. I spoke with Mike Brown from Mossy's Fly Shop on Tuesday and he said a few of his out-of-state clients have walked across the street from his shop and caught silvers just down the creek from Arctic Blvd. Brown said they caught most of their fish on Dalai Lama flies in purple and pink.
The Kenai River fishing has been good for silvers and absolutely ridiculous for pink salmon. Pinks are an even-number year fish and this year the fish are here in high numbers. Greg Brush called Tuesday and said some pinks are still in good shape and that clients were really hammering the fish, with silvers mixed in his bag limit.
The pink fishing should continue for another a week or so till they start to turn. Bank fishing has been average with the best spots lower in the river.
The Upper Kenai has been good for trout fishing now that the sockeye are starting to drop their eggs. The middle river is also starting to produce with the "egg bite" just starting.
Most success is with beads -- anglers should be well stocked with a variety of beads in all color spectrums and sizes. A good start is to have beads in 6, 8 and 10 mm sizes, plus flesh flies in washed out pink colors. Numerous species are spawning now and all the bead sizes and colors vary depending on what is happening in that part of the river. Check out my article from last season on beads at adn.com for specifics.
The Kasilof River is producing some nice catches of silvers. The early morning bite has been good. Kwikfish K14 and eggs have been the most productive.
The Big River Lakes and the Kustatan River on the west side are still productive for silvers. There's another week or two of good fishing left.
Offshore halibut fishing has been good in the Homer and the Lower Kenai Peninsula. I received a photo of a released 350-pound halibut from E-Z Limits client who were fishing out of Homer towards the middle of the inlet towards the Barren Islands with Manns Charters out of Homer
The Anchor and Deep Creek tractor launches will shut down shortly after Labor Day, so now would be a good time to target some halibut. I spoke with the guides at Catch-a-lot Charters in Anchor Point and they said some of the best fishing is now. Mike Campbell said they caught three fish over a hundred pounds a few days ago. Tides in that area look good for the weekend, with the change in the 12-feet range.
Anglers are catching silvers in Valdez, but this year anglers are having to prospect and fish a little out of the box. One of the techniques is called flat-lining, which is the process of trolling with little or no weight.
Others are stopping and mooching with plugs, a technique commonly reserved for pink salmon. Anglers intent on fishing the old-fashioned way have to fish deeper because trolling seems most successful at depths of 70 to 80 feet. Not only is the bite sporadic, but the location of the fish seems to be equally complex for anglers.
According to a press release from the derby headquarters, during the Women's Derby last weekend several boats headed out to Goose Island to fish for silvers but found they had overshot the mark when returning to port. Most of the big fish were caught near Gold Creek closer to town. During the Women's Derby, one boat would troll successfully right next to another that was having no luck.
Most of the fish are now being caught in the mouth of the harbor and around Gold Creek, but they're also picking them up further out and right in the harbor. Apparently the run is late this year, with the better fishing a week or two away.
Diana Doodchenko of Canada is still leading the silver derby with a 17.88-pound silver caught July 25th. Mike Burke of Henderson, Nevada, leads the halibut derby with a 233-pound fish. The derbies run through the Sunday of Labor Day weekend.
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.
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."