Fishing Report: Salmon are biting, halibut controversy brewing

fishing@adn.comJuly 17, 2013 

I got a lot emails and calls last week. Not just anglers sending pictures and giving me the latest reports from the field, but many calls and emails about the new Halibut Catch Sharing Plan proposed by the Northern Pacific Fishery Management Council.

The plan is designed to reallocate what might have been your second sport-caught halibut to the commercial sector. Under this plan, the "guided angler" must buy the right to catch a second halibut from the commercial fishery.

To which I say, "What?"

This is not a conservation plan, as the fishery council claims. Instead it's a grab by commercial interests for more of the available fish. Geez, they take 90 percent of the allocation already.

This plan will have huge negative effects on all the businesses associated with halibut sport fishing in Alaska. It's not a good plan. Check out these websites for more details:, or

And what considerate timing by the council -- make sure sport fishermen have to communicate their concerns in an abbreviated comment period in the middle of the busiest part of the fishing season.

This plan should be no surprise if you knew that recreational interests have only one representative on the 12-member fishery council. This plan is sure to be bad for anglers -- unless we comment. We have until Aug. 12 to send comments to the commission. Send your letters to:

Mr. Glenn Merrill

Assistant Regional Administrator

Sustainable Fisheries Division

Alaska Region NMFS

Attn: Ellen Sebastian and identified by FDMS docket No. NOAA-2011-0180. Or you can send an email to Search for NOAA-NMFS-2011-0180

The writing is on the wall if we don't act strongly and soon. I don't want to end up getting my halibut at Costco.

Now for better news and, I hope, better fishing. Here's the report for this week.

Kenai Peninsula

The first wave of second-run sockeyes has hit the Kenai River and fishing is good. As of Wednesday, counts indicate a strong run, with 243,541 fish counted so far and 92,724 passing the sonar July 15.

Fish and Game issued an emergency order prohibiting the retention of king salmon in the Kenai River personal use dip-net fishery that opened July 10.

I spoke with Greg Brush on Tuesday. He said he would describe king fishing on the Kenai as fair to good. He hooked three fish Friday and landed one in the 40-pound class and a true Kenai trophy fish in the 60-pound-plus class (don't miss the photo).

There are additional restrictions for the second Kenai king run: single hook, no bait and area restrictions. Check the ADFG website for details.

King fishing on the Kasilof River is fair to good, depending on the skill of the angler. Most success has come from fishing the tides from drift boats. Bank fishing has been fair.

Sockeye fishing on the Russian River and in the Russian-Kenai confluence area is slow. The middle Russian has been fair for trout.

The halibut fishery off Deep Creek and the Anchor River has been good. Anglers have been landing larger fish. Wally Martin of Wally's guide service had a 100-pounder on board Monday.

Clamming tides will be good next week, with minus tides from Sunday, July 21, through Wednesday, July 24. This may be a good time to go clamming. The next series of big minus tides don't occur until Aug. 21. This may be the one of the few chances to hit the beaches before the weather changes -- for the worse.


Fishing in Homer has been improving all summer, with larger and healthier halibut being caught. I spoke with Capt. Diane Caso-Morris on Tuesday and she said anglers are bringing nice halibut coming to the dock.

The current leader in the Homer Jackpot is James Jell of Moscow, Idaho. Jell's fish was 198.2 pounds, fish caught on July 7 aboard the "Arctic Envy" with Capt. Chad Kiesel of Silverfox Charters.

Lingcod fishing has been good near Gore Point and out east.

The Nick Dudiak Lagoon is fishing better this year. Anglers are hooking a few fish on the tides. The Spit has also been producing salmon and pollock for shore anglers.


The Parks Highway streams are fishing well as salmon start to show at Montana, Willow and Sheep creeks.

I spoke with Farley Dean of Willow Resort on Tuesday. He said chums, pinks and a few silvers are stacking up at the stream mouths. He also mentioned that trout fishing is improving as kings start spawning in the upper stretches of the creeks.

Clear Creek and the Talkeetna drainage are seeing a nice return of chums; trout fishing has been fair. I spoke with Phantom Charters on Tuesday and they said chums have just arrived and fishing has been good. The red fishery should improve in the next week, along with early silvers.

Fishing in valley lakes has been consistently good. Try Kepler-Bradley, Finger and Matanuska lakes for the kids. Try Canoe, Long and Irene for float tubers or anglers with boat access.

Pike fishing has also been good. For road-accessible pike, try Horseshoe, Rainbow and Anderson lakes or the Nancy Lake Canoe System lakes; specifically Frazier, Little Frazier, Taniana, Ardaw, Milo, Lynx, and Nancy.

For fly-in fishing, try Alexander, Trapper, Shell, Eight-mile or Sucker lakes.

A few pinks are just beginning to show on the Deshka River and a few silvers have been reported caught.

A few early sockeye or silvers may arrive this week at Jim Creek.


With a few silvers being caught on the tides, Ship Creek has been fair to good. There are also a fair number of pinks in the creek. Most anglers are hooking fish on size 4 Vibraxes or eggs and bobbers.

Bird Creek opened to fishing Sunday, July 14. Fishing for kings on Bird Creek and all waters in the Anchorage management area are now closed to king fishing. Other salmon are just starting to show, so fishing has been slow to fair.

Campbell Creek and Chester Creek have both been stocked with rainbows. Mike Brown of Mossy's Fly Shop said he has heard of few silvers showing in Campbell Creek.

Symphony Lake is now open for grayling. Fly fishermen have been doing well with them.

All Anchorage Area stocked lakes have been stocked with their second round of rainbow trout.

Check the ADF&G website for lakes that have been stocked.

Copper Basin

The personal-use Copper River Chitina Subdistrict will remain open through 11:59 p.m. Sunday, July 21. Until then, a supplemental harvest of 10 additional sockeyes will be allowed. The fishery is closed to the taking of king salmon.

Sockeye fishing in the Klutina River was a hot spot last weekend. Anglers were catching limits of fish quickly. I spoke with Stan Grove of Grove's campground on Tuesday and he said sockeye fishing has been good overall, with the catching ebbing and flowing. Grove said there had been a large slide in the upper Klutina and it muddied the river a bit. He also said the river is low above Mile 6, and that has made for dangerous boating. Grove said he has done little king fishing since the water dropped and reduced boat access.

Fishing in the Gulkana has started to pick up in recent days. The daily bag and possession limit of sockeye was increased from three to six fish on July 6 for the remainder of the season for the Copper River drainage.

Gulkana red fishing can be hot for anglers present when large schools pass by, but the fish may be spread out, so a day or two can pass before the next wave arrives. This run will continue through late summer.

Many of the small lakes on the Lake Louise and Nabesna roads contain grayling. Long Lake and Jack Lake are good bets. Also, grayling should be in Mendeltna Creek. Larger rivers like the Gulkana and Little Nelchina also have grayling.


Fishing for silvers has been consistently good. Pony Cove and Cheval Island have cooled a bit, but some charters are still limiting out. Barwell Island to Montague areas have also been productive.

The large schools of silvers are starting to break up and move toward their natal streams.

King salmon have been showing up in the catch reports. They are being caught from inside Resurrection Bay to Montague Island; try trolling a small- to medium-sized herring.

Andy Mezirow of Crackerjack Sportfishing sent me a photo of a large king caught near Johnstone Bay last week.

Lingcod and rockfish fishing has been fair to good. Try fishing reefs and structure with varying bottom. Best bets are jigs in the appropriate weights for the tide and depth you're fishing. Too heavy and you lose gear; too light and you don't catch fish. Experiment with jig-weights and colors (white and day-glow colors ).

Halibut fishing has been good, with most of it out east near Ellrington and Montague straits.


Fishing for salmon and halibut outside Passage Canal has been good. The fish seem to be getting larger. Kristen Labrecque sent me some photos of some nice 50-pound-plus halibut she had on the boat Monday.

Rockfish, yelloweye and lingcod fishing has been good in the Montague Island area. A few more silvers are showing up in the reports, however most have been caught 50 to 60 miles Southeast of Whittier in the sound.


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."


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