Now is the time to get the kids and family out fishing if you haven't already this summer.
The easy fishing on nearby roadside salmon fisheries can be good and most are a short drive from Anchorage. The crowds and madness of the Kenai River has slowed a bit, and the other streams and rivers are seeing fish return to their natal waters. Pink and chums salmon are now flooding into the Parks Highway streams and are easy to catch.
Taking non-fishermen out fishing can be a challenge. Not only do they not have the proper gear, they also have done very little fishing. It can be difficult to dress them head to toe and then coach them up the nuance of the angling game so they can manage to catch a fish or two. Now is a great time to introduce a visitor or newbie to the sport.
I spent last Sunday floating Willow Creek with my family. My daughter had a great time watching dozens of salmon swim around the raft and we managed to catch a few salmon to boot. It amazes me how water calms the thought-processes of 6-year-old. No i-Pads or toys distract their tiny brains, just the soothing sounds of water gurgling in their little ears and small fry swimming around their little feet. It brings a lot to a kid's life. Nature slows her down and mellows her out.
This is a great time to lay some groundwork for the future anglers of the world. We need more kids and families out on the water.
Here's the latest fishing report from the field:
The latest counts for sockeyes as of Tuesday were 1, 228,677 in the river. The fishing has slowed in the middle and lower river as most of the run has headed for the upper river.
I spoke with Rod Berg and he said fishing has been slow but steady; a limit of fish is hard to come by. Anglers should target the upper river this weekend as most fish should be there.
Dipnetting has slowed with lower numbers of fish now entering the river; the Kenai River personal-use dipnet fishery that was open 24 hours a day closes at 11:59 p.m., Wednesday.
The offshore marine of Anchor Point and Deep Creek has been fishing well, with anglers catching a few larger halibut. The tides this week are a little flat (lower changes from high to low), so the bite should be slower throughout the tide cycles.
The Alaska Department of Fish & Game on Tuesday banned the use of bait and multiple hooks in the Kenai River from its mouth upstream to the Sterling Highway bridge in Soldotna, an emergency order effective at 12:01 a.m., Thursday through 11:59 p.m. Aug. 15. The restrictions are in place to protect any kings returning during this time. Check the ADFG website for details.
Fishing for halibut remains very good. Most boats have been limiting out, with a few larger fish being caught. One of Dave Morris' charters landed a 173-pound fish aboard the "Kachemak King."
Morris, of Bob's Trophy Charters, said he's seen some large lingcod and good catches of rockfish and salmon coming to the dock on the combination charters.
The silver salmon fishing has been building, with fish caught near structures and points in the bay. Most of the better silver fishing has been near Elizabeth Island, according to Morris.
The Nick Dudiak Lagoon has been fair for silvers on the tides. A few anglers are catching fish at the entrance of the lagoon.
On Saturday, a portion of the lagoon will open for fishing only to anglers 15 and younger from 12:01 a.m. to 11:59 p.m.
The fishing for silvers outside of Resurrection Bay has been very good, with anglers having success mooching with herring.
I spoke with Capt. Andy Mezirow of Crackerjack Charters on Tuesday, and he said the coast from Cape Ayalik to Montague Strait has been red hot.
Mezirow said the halibut bite has been slow but steady during the recent tides; he has caught a few that weighed more than 100 pounds. Larger fish are moving into shallower water following the salmon and should start to show soon from deeper offshore waters, he said.
Karl Hughes from Aurora Charters reported that the salmon bite has been very good, with his boats returning with limit catches on most trips. Hughes has been mooching with four ounces of weight and 24 inches of leader with cut herring and a squid skirt on a 6/0 Gamakatsu Octopus hook.
He's been fishing the Ayalik and Chiswell areas and said the outgoing tides have been fishing better than the incoming tides.
The Parks Highway streams are loaded with pink and chum salmon, plus a few silvers down near the mouths. Willow Creek is full of pink salmon. Now might be a good time to take the kids up north.
Trout fishing should also be productive above the bridges. Most of the trout are being caught on beads and Sculpins near spawning salmon.
Rhett Nealis of Phantom Charters in Talkeetna caught his first silver a few days ago and caught three silvers Tuesday. Silvers aren't in Talkeetna yet in any numbers, but the river is full of pinks, chums and a few reds. Trout anglers on drop-off trips on Clear Creek are doing well fishing beads behind the spawning kings, he said.
The Gulkana River is running low and clear, and the sockeye fishing is still slow but steady. Most of the fish are spread out. Expect slow fishing with spurts of fish occasionally passing.
Floaters have caught some large, healthy rainbows and grayling. The caddis fly hatches are coming off and anglers have had success fishing for rainbows with olive and white, and caddis in sizes 8 and 10. Sculpins and Dali Lamas flies are also producing.
The Lake Louise, Susitna, Tyone, Paxson, Summit and Crosswind lakes should continue to produce good catches of lake trout. As summer temperatures rise, anglers targeting lake trout should try fishing deep -- try downriggers or deep trolling gear. Most fish will be in the 100-foot range or deeper.
Fishing offshore for silver salmon has been very good, with most fish staging near Goose Island and Rocky Point. It looks like a few fish should be in the bay any day now.
The annual Women's Silver Derby is Saturday, Aug. 10; check out details at valdezfishderbies.com.
Halibut fishing has remained steady. Most of the best fishing has been near Hinchinbrook Island. The largest fish in the Valdez Halibut Derby is the 325-pounder caught July 21 by James Culley.
Ship Creek has been fishing pretty well for pinks, and the silver fishing has picked up.
I spoke with Dustin Slinker on Tuesday and he said anglers are having success fishing eggs and a bobber on the falling tide. He said Vibraxes in orange and chartreuse or purple in size 4 and 5 are producing.He recommends switching out the hooks to size 2.
Bird Creek has been fair for pinks. Anglers fishing the low incoming tides or falling tides are doing better than those fishing the high tide.
Some pinks have returned to Resurrection Creek at Hope, although the fishing should start to improve by the weekend.
Anglers are reporting catches of silvers in the Eklutna tailrace. Most are catching them on bobbers and eggs. There are also reports of some reds being caught.
I saw a silver caught on the breakwall in the harbor Monday, but most of the best fishing is still farther out toward Montague and in the sound.
I fished with Capt. Kristen Labrecque on Monday and I asked her to text me the latest fishing report while out on her boat. Here's her report and observations:
"Thursday silver fishing on fire, Friday silver fishing on fire, Saturday silver fishing on fire Sunday, silver fishing on fire, Monday -- fishing insane...oh wait you were on the boat.
"Where were the fish last year? Apparently they waited to show this year. Now they are back bigger, stronger, faster and better than ever before. Average weight is approximately 10 lbs. We are mooching hootchies (green and pink) with a cut piece of herring approximately 40 feet down. Halibut fishing was pretty slow up till Sunday for us, but turned on Sunday.
"As I type this report I am watching everyone on the boat catch halibut around you...why haven't up hooked up yet? Soaking bait on circle hooks with pink squid skirts and Kodiak Custom Tackle jigs seem to be the ticket this year. Halibut are deeper this year 265-315 feet has been the general rule. Some operators are fishing as deep as 400 ft."