I drove a couple of old buddies down to Ship Creek Monday evening. One of my friends is a non-fishy dude and the other is an old die-hard who has been making the sojourn to the creek with me for a couple of years now.
We smoked a couple of cigars, visited my buddy at the Bait Shack, took in the ambience and watched people catch fish from the bridge. We were amazed at all the fish swimming in the creek. It really is an amazing fishery -- downtown Anchorage.
We watched anglers catch silvers on spinners, flies and bobbers. My non-fishing buddy never knew this scene even existed and he has been here in Anchorage since the '80s. It really is a hidden fishery buried under our noses right here in the industrial hub of Anchorage.
Ship Creek is something you either love or hate. It's muddy, and the aesthetics aren't always what you associate with Alaska grandeur. But for some anglers it is a slice of heaven, lots of fish, close to home and a very productive fishery.
Where in America can you get in your car and drive a few minutes, don a pair of hip boots or waders, catch a limit of salmon and be back home in time to catch to late news? We really are spoiled.
Here's the fishing report for this week.
Sockeye fishing on the Kenai is winding down, but a few silvers are showing on the tides on the Kenai River. Anglers should be warned that a bait ban is still in effect through Thursday, Aug. 15.
Anglers who get to the good spots early are catching a few fish. I spoke with Greg Brush on Tuesday and he said the old die-hards are still catching a few reds mid-river, but they have to put in time to limit out.
The Kustatan River west of Nikiski is fishing very well for silvers. This fishery is accessed by air; try Alaska West, which has a drop-off guided program for fishing.
The Deep Creek-Anchor Marine fishery is still producing limits of halibut, with a few larger fish mixed in.
The middle and upper Kenai River is fair for trout, with an occasional larger fish being taken. It should be a couple of weeks before the sockeye start to die off and eggs start to drop before the good trout fishing starts.
Fishing for halibut remains very good with boats catching limit on most trips.
Capt. Diane Caso-Morris of Bob's Trophy Charters said she has seen a fair number of kings caught on her charters in addition to silvers.
The Nick Dudnick Lagoon is fishing fair for silvers on the tides. A few silvers are also being caught on the spit.
Gene Jones of Bellevue, Iowa, still leads the Halibut Jackpot Derby with a 236.2-pound fish caught July 25 aboard the Grand Aleutian.
The fishing in Seward has remained good for silvers, with fish now being caught inside in the bay. The weather has been off and on for boaters adventuring outside the bay.
A fishing buddy called me Tuesday evening with a report of 14 silvers caught near Caines Head and the Old Army dock, the largest of them around 15 pounds. He said he did well trolling the last couple of days near Caines Head.
The Seward Silver Salmon Derby starts Saturday and runs through Sunday, Aug. 18. From the reports I've been getting, fishing should be better than recent years inside the bay and the fish should be large.
Steve Babinec of Saltwater Safari Company called middayTuesday while aboard the Legacy. The half-day charter had nearly a boat's limit of salmon.
All of the usual spots have been producing, he said, with the weather being the limiting factor. Spots near Driftwood Bay, Callisto and Pony have been productive. He said that, weather permitting, his baots have been limiting on silvers at the usual halibut spots.
The Parks Highway streams are still loaded with pinks and chums, and a few silvers are starting to show. Most of best silver fishing has been near the river mouths.
Trout fishing should also be productive above the bridges. Most of the trout are gorging on the spawning eggs of kings. Try larger beads in 10-millimeter sizes and Dali Lama flies fished near spawning kings.
If you taking the kids out, try the humpies-only Montana Creek fishing derby this weekend for kids under 16. It's an annual event to raise funds for the Lions Camp Abilities program. It runs from 6 a.m. Saturday to 3 p.m. Sunday at the Montana Creek Campground. The longest humpy is the winner, but all participants will win a prize. For more information, call Bert (892-7691), Ben (232-0222) or Betty (892-6372).
Silvers are finally showing up in the Talkeetna River and Clear Creek. Trout fishing in Clear Creek has been fair to good for anglers willing to walk.
The Eklutna Tailrace fishery has been fair for silvers. Better fishing should come during the next higher tide cycles.
Dipnetting from shore reportedly slowed down over the weekend, and dipnetters are spending more time to catch limits of fish.
Sockeye fishing in the Klutina River has slowed down. Fishing in the Gulkana River could be productive with high numbers of sockeye distributed throughout the river. The daily bag and possession limit of sockeye was increased from three fish to six fish for the remainder of the season for the Copper River drainage.
The Copper River Chitina Subdistrict will remain open through Saturday, Aug. 31 for personal use dip net salmon fishing. The fishery is closed to the retention of king salmon. King salmon incidentally taken may not be retained and must be released immediately and returned to the water unharmed.
Silver fishing has picked up in Valdez, with fish being caught near Gold Creek, Shoup and Anderson bays and the Narrows. I've heard reports of anglers getting their limit of 24 on six-pack vessels in less than three hours.
In a post on the Valdez Derby website, fish cleaner Pat Olson predicts a banner year for silver. He said he cleaned 1,174 fish in the entire month of August last year, and has already surpassed that number this month.
"It is a lot better; it sucked last year," he told the website.
Olson recommends Shoup Bay for women hoping to catch some nice silvers during Saturday's women's derby. Another fish cutter recommends trolling or mooching with a B2 squid jig.
Coho can be caught with cut herring or roe on bobber setups and with flies, spoons, spinners and plugs from shore.
The fishing at Ship Creek has remained fair to good for silvers. The better fishing has been on the low incoming tide and two hours after the high tide.
About 30 percent of the anglers I saw Monday hooked a fish during the falling ride Monday evening. Most of fish were caught on eggs and bobbers and silver and orange Vibraxes. The fishing should get better as we move into some higher tide cycles.
The fishing has remained fair to good at Bird Creek for pinks, chums and some silvers. Most of productive fishing has been on the incoming and falling tides.
Resurrection Creek in Hope is loaded with pinks and some chums. This is a great fishery for kids, but there's limited parking and bank access. Please respect private property.
Ingram Creek should be a good place to catch pink salmon. Most of the fishing is accessible from roadside parking.
Be aware of mud-flat dangers north of the Seward Highway. This area is a small stream but worth a drive-by for anglers looking to hook a few salmon.
I received text from Capt. Kristen Labrecque on Tuesday. Here's her report from Whittier:
"Thursday and Friday were off days. Saturday was a weather cancellation. Sunday the silver bite slowed from the previous week. We limited in 1 hour and 45 minutes. Halibut bite was pretty hot through Sunday. Monday we pulled in 14 silvers in just under two hours. The halibut bite was slow for us and fish were small. Today and tomorrow there are gale warnings so we are sitting on shore getting some much-needed rest."
Seward derby starts Saturday
The 58th Seward Silver Salmon Derby is dangling some attractive bait for anglers — $10,000 for the biggest coho caught, plus 13 tagged fish, one of them worth $50,000 and another good for a 2013 Chevy Silverado.
The derby begins Saturday at 6 a.m. Tickets are $10 a day or $50 for the entire nine-day derby, which ends Sunday, Aug. 18.
Last year was a good one for Seward fishermen — Mike Rogers hooked a $50,000 tagged fish, and Earl Cagle won the first-place prize of $10,000 with a fish that weighed 16.14 pounds.
The five biggest fish earn prize money, and there are numerous other prizes available each day.
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.”