I visited my local fly shop the other day perusing the new goodies and gear for 2014. I bought some fly-tying materials and exchanged a few stories about the fishing with the locals.
Then I asked the owner about a new rod he had in the rack. Oh, that's the new "'blankety-blankety, mega-series with Nano-stellar-refractive-convex wrap construction'' he replied. Of course I needed to investigate further so I asked him if I could cast it out back.
I cast the rod and I realized it really was a fine fishing tool ... a very fine casting-fishing tool. It was a rocket in my hand, a Ginsu knife of a rod. I pictured myself casting tight loops on the Naknek, fishing like a phenom in the wind with a bird-sized fly and hooking mammoth rainbows with 100-plus feet of line.
Then I paused a moment. I tried to rationalize. Do I really need another fly rod? I have two rods in that same size and brand already -- albeit they are older models, and this new one, it's so light and responsive.
I asked the owner if he would take a trade-in, to no avail. "Nobody wants the old one; everybody's in love with the new blankety-blankety Nano models," he said. He didn't need my old stuff; the old stuff is just that -- old.
I asked about short-term or long-term financing, because these new rods aren't cheap. My first car was about the same price of a new rod nowadays, albeit I got my first car in the '70s. So I'm saving my change, skipping the latte and getting that new Nano-Nano-convex fly rod this fall.
In the meantime I'm heading down to Kenai this weekend with my old rod. I'm going to try to catch that 30-inch rainbow, but I know if I had that new rod I would definitely catch more fish.
Here's the latest report from the field.
Silver fishing has remained fair to good on the Kenai River. River conditions are dropping daily; the latest CFS was 13,300. Although the river is dropping it has remained slightly off-color with all the silt that has accumulated in the lakes during the summer. It looks as though we have a couple of weeks before really good water clarity sets in.
I spoke with Rod Berg of Rod and Real Charters on Tuesday and he said the fishing had been slow until Tuesday, when they had a limit of silvers by early morning. The morning bite has been good and the limit of fish looked like the start of the second run of silvers, he said. Most of the fish were large.
Berg said he's seen seals as far up as 20 miles in the river, so the fish are there.
Trout fishing in the middle and upper Kenai River has been fair to good depending on timing. Some areas that produced fish last week or yesterday might not produce tomorrow. Try fishing near spawning kings for better rainbow fishing.
The offshore Deep Creek and Anchor Marine fisheries are still producing nice catches of halibut. The usual chicken spots have been productive, with an occasional larger halibut being caught. Most charters will be ending soon. Normally by the second week of September, most of the best fishing is over.
The fishing for halibut in Homer has remained good, with most boats still returning to dock with limit catches. I spoke with Captain Diane Caso-Morris of Bob's Trophy Charters on Tuesday and she said the silver bite has dropped but her clients are seeing still seeing few silvers caught.
The brunt of heavy feeding silvers has past, she said, but the king fishing has been productive. However, anglers are catching mainly feeder kings trolling herring; most fish have been in the 8- to 30-pound range. Point Pogibshi has been the most productive area.
Lingcod fishing in the Chugach has also been productive, with better fishing near the Barren Islands and Gore Point locations.
Gene Jones of Belluvue, Wash., remains the Homer Jackpot Halibut Derby leader with a 236.2-pound fish. There's two weeks to go and there are still tagged fish out there.
The salmon fishing in Seward has slowed, according to Andy Mezirow with Crackerjack Sportfishing. Silvers are still being caught at the mouth of the bay, but Mezirow has changed his tactics. Most of the silvers are being caught on tee-spoons, wiggle warts and aggravation-type lures because the fish have stopped feeding on bait. Some boats are still catching limits.
Mezirow, who has been fishing in about 275 feet of water, has also been halibut fishing out east and said the fishing has been good at the typical chicken spots with an occasional larger fish. The silver fishing has been slow offshore and the boats have been catching a few random silvers while anchored for halibut.
Lingcod and rockfish fishing have remained good with the best fishing on days with good weather.
I spoke with Captain Karl Hughes of Aurora Charters earlier in the week and he said the silver fishing has slowed. There are now silvers all the way inside the bay and a few jumpers are present outside the harbor jetty.
One of Hughes' boats fished Nuka Bay last week and Hughes said the lingcod and rockfish fishing was excellent out west. The weather has been pretty good but last Thursday he was off the water due to bad conditions. With the good weather this summer, Hughes said, his charters are up 17 percent.
The Parks Highway streams were off color last week, but have been slowly falling into shape. Hopefully the rain lets off and the rivers clear. Most of best silver fishing is spread from the mouths upstream to the bridges.
Trout fishing should also be productive above and below the Parks Highway bridges as the trout start to fall back into their autumn migration to the main stem of the Susitna River. Most of the trout are gorging on eggs and flesh. Try beads, flesh flies or sculpins fished near spawning or dead salmon.
The Talkeetna River and Clear Creek are good for silver salmon. The Talkeetna River has been high but falling into shape and fishing has been good, according to Tom Hilty of Three Fly and Tackle. Trout fishing in Clear Creek has been fair to good for anglers willing to walk.
The Eklutna Tailrace is poor to fair for silvers anglers, who have been having some success fishing eggs and shrimp
Jim Creek has slowed down for silvers. And the Little Susitna is fair for anglers with boat access, although the fish are spread out. Wednesday's weir count was more than 13,000 silvers.
The Deshka is poor to fair for silvers but water conditions were still low as of Wednesdayand the silver counts were over 22,000 fish. Most of the fish are spread out in the river.
It looks as though Valdez is having a banner year for silvers. Anglers are limiting out by noon at most locations.
Jack Bay, Sawmill Bay, The Narrows and shoreline all the way to the City Dock in Valdez are fishing well. Anglers are also catching fish from Allison Point from shore. Most boat anglers are trolling with down riggers and cut herring.
The silver salmon derby ends Sunday. Before that comes Big Prize Friday, when the angler catching the largest silver salmon of the day takes home $500 in addition to the daily prizes
Most of the derby fish are in the 14- to 15-pound range, but the top three fish are 16-plus pounds. It has been more than 20 years since a fish heavier than 17 pounds has won the derby. Maybe this is the year.
Ship Creek continues to be productive for silver salmon. The falling tides and the low incoming tides are producing, with anglers having success with a variety of techniques -- eggs and bobbers, flies and Vibraxes. The majority of the fish are staying in the creek instead of flushing out with the tides.
Dustin Slinker at the Bait Shack said Tuesday that the fish being caught are larger and both tide cycles are producing nice fish. Slinker said he saw a school in a recent tide with many fish in the 10-plus pound category.
Bird Creek is having a decent run of pink salmon, but most are past their prime. Anglers are catching silvers on every tide. Being on the right tide cycle pays dividends.
Campbell Creek is a good place to go and scout for silvers. The recent rains have likely brought some fish into the creek.
Streams at the head of Turnagain Arm could also be good for silver salmon fishing. These silvers have a later return.
There were anglers on the banks at the mouth of Portage Creek last weekend. This is road fishing, so pay attention to traffic and park well off the highway if fishing this area. There are also restrictions of where you can fish and how many you can take. Check the Alaska Department of Fish and Game website for details on these and all current regulations.
Campbell Point, Sand, Delong, Cheney and Mirror lakes have all been stocked with some very nice catchable-sized trout or char.
Campbell and Chester creeks are your best bet for local rainbow trout stream fishing -- both are stocked with catchable sized rainbows.
I took a drive to Whittier on Sunday and a few silvers are being caught near and in the harbor. Here's the report texted from Capt. Kristen Labrecque of Saltwater Excursions:
"The halibut bite has been hot, hot, hot. The fish are fat and their bellies are chock-full of herring. I've been fishing 250 feet soaking bait. The outgoing tide seems to be the ticket. The silvers have been hit or miss. We limit out fast or we can't find them at all. We can't figure out what they are doing. Currently we are trolling Crafton Island and we have two silvers in the box in 20 minutes. We are trolling hoochies and flashers. Pink and green hoochies still seem to be what they are hitting. Use high lines and Deep Six divers for low lines. Silvers are still hogs! Rockfish are still plentiful and very large this year. Most rockfish are hitting on hoochies with a cut piece of herring."
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."