Rudy's Fishing Log for 1998 (First Half) & Where I'm going next.

Some of the pix have a larger version, click on pictures to see if a larger version is available.

SECOND HALF  1998 Logs

August3  UPDATE! On My letter to Saltwater Safari

The day after I sent my letter to Saltwater Safari, I promptly received a phone call from Bob Candopolous the owner.  While I half expected a real defensive and  bad attitude response, in reality, Bob handled all my questions in a most professional manner.  He admitted that some mistakes or miscommunication may have occurred during our trip.  Even in the areas that I may have been mistaken, Bob had a good and rational answer.  While I would still give the particular charter I was on a B- rating for the trip, the weather and conditions may have played a larger role than what I first thought.  Nevertheless, I  would be willing to bet that if I chartered everyday this season with Saltwater Safari, a B- would be the lowest score of the year.  I was impressed by Bob's knowledge, composure in the face of criticism, and frankly his willingness to admit that something wasn't quite right.  I will give them another chance for sure, though I will probably book on Bob's boat next time (Bob wasn't our Captain). 

I can hear it already!  No, he didn't offer me a discount or a free trip or anything like that.  I have taken free or discounted trips from guides before, but I only accept if I have helped them positively or as a gesture of thanks.   I will never take a freebie as a payoff to get positive reviews!!!!!   I PROMISE!   Ya gotta have some integrity.  I'll have a more detailed account hopefully later about why I wasn't 100% happy before and what Bob's responses to my issues were.   He had some pretty interesting insights into halibut fishing.  For the time being, let it suffice to say that I was impressed enough by Bob's apology and comments that I will charter with them at least one more time to get the real scoobie on the company!  Besides, we might all benefit from all the secrets I might be able to pry out of him.  I'm sure he was busy but took the time to not only address my concerns but to talk another half hour on fishing! I guess when ya love to fish, its hard to not talk about it.

July 17 to 25 , VACATION!!!!! Kenai, Homer, Seward, Anchorage, and Hope!

Vacation Pictures! First set

Well I  finally get to make another log entry into the old fishing log.  I was on vacation with 8 of my Cornell frat  buddies and guests and boy what an adventure!  The places we fished included:  Kenai River, Homer Lagoon, Seward, Anchorage, and Hope.  We looked for fish EVERYWHERE!!  Pictures coming when I finally get them from all the participants.

The good news is that we did catch fish.  The bad news is that the run for Kings and Reds are the weakest we have seen since 1979!  Bummer...especially after spending ten years bragging to your friends about Alaska..C'est la vie!  Even though the action was SLOW, I guess we did hit the peak of the run.  The Monday after our vacation, much tighter restrictions were placed on the Kenai for Kings and reds and there is a good possibility that the entire river may be closed completely for the reds and kings...major bummer.  Still, it has been said that this is the worst run since 1979, we've had great years since then, so I am hoping that this is an anomaly that will not be long term. I was hoping the halibut charter was going to save the week but it didn't really turn out that way.

King Salmon:  The fishing was pretty good for the Kings.   We didn't hammer them as I would have liked, but we did manage to pull three nice kings out of the river.  The first King was huge 68 pound buck that Rick Emmi landed near Riverbend Campground.  We were backtrolling a copper with fluorescent red trim   K-16 Kwikfish.  The amazing thing was that the fish hit one of our red rods since we were not fully geared the first day we were out.  A medium spinning outfit loaded with 20 pound Maxima Chameleon line gave us a monster battle.  Rick did well to land the fish despite the fish swimming under and around the boat on several occasions.   I definitely could have done a better job on boat handling!  The other two kings weighed 58 and 38 pounds respectively.  Both were caught backtrolling a K-16 kwikfish.  The 38 pounder was caught after the bait restriction but the other two were caught on the K-16 kwikfish wrapped with a sardine.  The latter two fish we had the right gear and landed them after a good struggle.  We used penn320 reels and ambassador 7000 reels loaded with Maxima's new Fibre Glow pink 40 pound test line.   When you are backtrolling the Kenai, knowing where your line is ultra important. One was caught on a Chartreuse herring bone pattern on Chrome, and the other on a "hot tail" purple on Chrome K-16 kwikfish.  The water conditions were good and the bait restriction I think helped us catch the last fish.  We were able to backtroll the main channel of the Eagle Rock hole.  Something I have never done in my 20 years of fishing the Kenai since it is usually a drift fishing hole only.   The other interesting fact is that I didn't catch any of the fish during the hot early morning bight.  In fact one came around noon, and the other two were after 10:30pm!   Congrats to Jim Prendergast (58 lbs) and Shawn McKay (38 lbs) for landing the two nice fish.

I should also point out that one of my friends took my advice and chartered with the Salmon Herder, Danny France during the week.   Despite the ban on bait, Danny hit 3 fish out 4 people.  I understand the fish were 62, 53, and a 33 pound fish.  Bob had a great time and was quite pleased with Dan's.  Thanks Dan, ya always make me look good!  Hopefully I can get pix from Dan or Bob.

I still may hit the Kenai this weekend if it is open.  they have tightened it down even more by imposing catch and release regulations for anything under 52 inches (about 60 pounds).  It means less people on the water and the opportunity to really enjoy Alaska fishing (as opposed to combat fishing)  Frankly, two of our three fish would have been keepers.  A photo of the third would have almost been as good as keeping it.  I'm after TROPHY fish anyway. 

Sockeye/Red Salmon:  Well we really had to scratch hard for the reds.  On Wednesday, we did hit a good number.  the counter was showing about 45,000 reds per day at that point.  We did most our red fishing at centennial park, with one trip to Bing's landing.  We only had one day when we caught limits of fish.   The other days were really scratching it out for one or two fish a piece.  Id you are looking for reds, I might suggest the Kasilof River, especially if you are dipnetting.  the run is almost over but as of last weekend, my friends were hammering the reds dipnetting in the Kasilof.  Last year in the Kenai River, there were 20,000 reds flowing daily from the first of August to about the 20th.  I hope these fish are just late!  Cross your fingers and we'll see.  Not too many days left.

Halibut Fishing:  We chartered out of Seward for something different with the Saltwater Safari Company.  The fishing was much slower than expected.  In all fairness the weather wasn't cooperating 100 percent either.   We did manage to land 8 or 9 halibut between the nine of us with assorted rockfish thrown in. The rockfish species were dominated by the pelagic Yellow eye rockfish and the quillback rockfish. I also caught a pink salmon! 

Still,  I wasn't 100 % satisfied with the charter, and I wrote a letter to the company since they are a very respected firm in Alaska.  I will have a more in depth review if I hear back from the company.  I am pretty sure that our outing was not the norm for this firm, and it just may have been sheer bad luck and a little miscommunication.  Yet, since it was my first charter out of Seward, I'd prefer to discuss the events with the charter company before I make a recommendation one way or the other.  The tackle and the boat were great, the effort left a lot to be desired but that is a subjective call and obviously can vary from day to day.  (even I have my bad days! ) We'll see how they handle the situation and I'll get back to everyone.   I need a few questions answered before I can fairly assess the charter company.   You can never guarantee fish, but at least on my personal boat, I always guarantee 100 percent effort on my part.  Considering we spent over $2,000 for the trip, something just wasn't right.  Still it got me motivated to get my larger boat ready for the saltwater.

Silver Salmon:  The only silver we hit all week was in the Homer Lagoon on a chartreuse #6 vibrax.  Still the silvers are definitely in the South central area.  We saw numerous fish being pulled out of Ship and Bird Creek at the end of our vacation....we were too tired to fish (ahhh!  Blasphemy!!!!! Sad but true).

Pink Salmon:  After flailing with only moderate results, I salvaged the trip by visiting Hope.  I haven't fished there since I was 5 years old.   Still the pinks were in the streams in force.  Every other cast produced a vicious strike and it was a total blast on 6 pound line and fly gear.  While all the hardware normally thrown at pinks were producing, the hot "lure" was a muddler minnow fly or any other drab colored fly like the Hare's nymph.

 

June 20&21 , Montana, Sheep, Caswell, Willow &Ship Creek

john.jpg (15547 bytes)Wow!  Talk about running around looking for fish.  Where are all the fish!   They seemed to be coming in strong and all over the Southcentral area last week, but the run appears to have fizzled out.  It could be the smaller tide series.   I'm sure that even if the run isn't super strong, we should get another big surge of kings before the seasons end. 

Well all the streams up North we mentioned were slow.  We had heard reports that it was okay in some of the streams, but we saw ZERO fish caught in all the ericrus.jpg (18515 bytes)areas we visited.  Even Montana Creek parking lot which was overflowing full at midnight Friday was virtually empty by 3am Saturday morning.

Still perseverance pays off!!!  After working our way back into town, we managed to hook into three kings at Ship Creek, landing one.  One of my friend's brothers from out of state was the lucky angler.  The fish was a bright beautiful 30 to 35 pound hen.  A major battle but eventually the fish was on the bank!  We hooked one still fishing with roe, two while flipping the usual corky rigs at low tide.  The creek is on the other side of this picture!  A true Urban fishery!! Ya gotta love it.

Another buddy of mine hit the Kasilof River and reported slow but relatively steady action.  The Russian River may be the place to be!  Take a look at the nice stringer Eric and his brother & friends landed.

June 17, Ship Creek

The Kings are definitely in Ship Creek.  The water remains a bit murky but the fish are starting to show in much greater numbers.  In 3 hours of flipping at low tide, I managed to land two fish and lose another 3 fish.  Both fish were small males of about 15 to 20 pounds.  Certainly nothing that will win the derby.  I do need to start looking for tagged fish in the derby.  I've been playing with the smaller fish not really caring if it got off or not.  Oops, "hey was that a hook or a tag on the back of that fish?"  DOH!  Could be worth $10,000! 

I haven't seen as many fish caught at high tide like I used to.  We have been hitting our fish exclusively at low tide.  The best flurry is about 1 hour to 2 hours after high tide depending on how large the high tide was on that day.   Just as the current picks up enough to start flipping, the most hook ups seem to occur.  We were flipping double hooked small corky and yarn rigs.

I have to shake my head when I see people who have been standing there for hours finally hook up, then 3 seconds later, they lose the fish and get all upset because:    1) They tie poor knots and they unravel,  2) They buy super cheap line and it breaks, 3) They didn't check their drag and because of the Ship Creek mud it froze, 4) They are using 15 pound test, when I'm breaking 40 lbs test 5) they stand in one spot when fighting a fish.  When the fish takes off downstream, chase it down.  KEEP the line PERPENDICULAR to the fish as much as possible.  We lose a lot of our fish when the fish is below us and it points its head right at us, opens its mouth and shakes its head.

All of these things have very simple fixes.  Why spend the money and the time fishing, only to be frustrated when you FINALLY get that mega strike.   Tie your knots tight, wet them down before you cinch them.  If the knot tightens when a fish pulls it and it slips a millimeter, the line will break. Guaranteed.   Spend $8 for premium mono instead of $5 for the worthless plastic.  Clean your reel and if you use a spinning reel, every 15 minutes "Crack" the spool by turning the spool or stripping out a few feet of line.  Loosen your drag and use your fingers on the spool to adjust tension.  If you're not an expert, use 40 or even 50 pound mono line for flipping.  The thicker line is easier to handle, and the kings are NOT line shy.  Don't use that braided stuff.  it'll cut your hand and when it tangles up with the next guy, you are out of the water for 15 minutes at a time as they try to untangle it.  Thick mono is next to impossible to tangle up, it works much better. When that fish heads downstream or around a pillar, you'll be glad you used cable instead of thread.  The fish will still have plenty of opportunity to throw the hook.     

We still lose lots of fish, we just don't allow the loss to occur because of equipment failure at any level from rod to the knot on the hook.  It's honorable to be beaten by the fish.  Fools get beaten by their own equipment.   On the river, over half the fish I see hooked and lost are in the "fool" category.  Its completely avoidable.

June 13, Ship Creek

The kings are definitely in Ship Creek had a great day.  here's an excerpt from a e-mail I wrote to one of my friends...edited for public viewing.

******

Last night I got my beaten badly by three Kings in a 2 hour period. Two were snagged, bummer.  Still, you all would have been proud. One fish got my line caught around a rock. I dove into the water (with Chest waders) reached down about 3 feet up to my shoulders, unhooked the line and while my fly rod was hanging on my back, line in hand, I was playing tug of war in chest deep water with a 30 pound plus(?) king! Awesome. Then the fish ran downstream tangled a little into my legs, I was inches away from grabbing the fish. That would have been awesome. Hundreds of tourist, this native looking guy leaps into the river, reaches into the river, fiddles around for a second, and pulls out a fish with his bare hands. From 50 yards away, and the rod draped behind my back I'm sure that's what it looked like. To make a long story a bit shorter, soon after the fish got off.....DANG IT!  Despite a standing ovation from nearby onlookers as I did my best drowned rat clawing up a muddy bank imitation, I got beaten badly by the fish!  That was with 40 pound line……..

******

Yup, it was amazing.  You have to battle for every fish.  With the Ship Creek Salmon Derby in Full swing, every fish has to be played like the grand prize winner until you get a good look....I never did get a good look on this fish, I touched it and it felt pretty big!  All of our fish came flipping corky rigs at low tide.  Although we got good hits on bait at high tide, neither the hardware chuckers or the baitfisherman scored fish.  Still, the numbers of fish are definitely increasing.

June 7th & 8th, Ship Creek

wpe00545.gif (55908 bytes)The fish are definitely beginning to show up in the River.  The high water flow make it really tough.  I've had a few strikes on bait but no solid hook ups.  Flipping is the way to go in the muddy water conditions.  I hooked 3 fish on Sunday.  Here's a picture of a nice hen that will go maybe 25 pounds. In this high water, the fish don't seem to hit very hard.  Once you hook them, they simply slide toward shore and only when they hit the bank do they freak out and you realize you even have a fish on.

If you look at the River forecasting center page featured on my link page, you'll see that ship creek water levels are predicted to fall.  Last week before the super muddy water the gauge read 5.5 feet, yesterday the water was raging at 6.4 feet.  Today and tomorrow the water level is supposed to drop the 5.9 or 5.8 feet.  A bit better.  We noticed much less debris in the water Monday night than on Sunday. 

We always seem to hit fish, but hooking them and landing them is a different matter.  Yesterday was first day I didn't feel a fish.  Erick rolled several fish right next to the shore.  The fishing is gonna be tough though until the water clears up a bit.  The rain is supposed to continue lightly in the Anchorage area.  Hopefully the worst of the rain is over with.  Last year we complained about no rain and lack of water, now its too much.  Hmmmmm....

June 4th, Ship Creek

ship74c.jpg (19283 bytes)The King season is definitely on!  Landed my first nice ship creek king salmon this year.  A bright 19pound hen.  Baitfishing has been tough with the muddy water.  I caught my fish flipping a corky and yarn rig about 3 hours after high tide.  Martin caught his the same way.  The fishing should only get better!

 

 

May 23-25, Kasilof River

MY FIRST KING OF THE YEAR!!!

herd2.jpg (20028 bytes)Well a group of us headed to the Kasilof River in search of the first King Salmon of the year. On Saturday and Sunday the action was slow. I’d say that less than one person in ten caught fish. I was unfortunately in the majority. So in desperation, I called Danny France of Salmon Herder Charters .

Being the guide he is, despite the slow day for everyone else, he put me onto fish. After hitting a nice Dolly Varden near the traps I nailed a smallish but beautiful chrome buck of about 17 pounds.

Well like last year, "The Herder" comes through again! Most of the other boats were backtrolling the traditionally hot K-15 Kwikfish or spin-n glos and roe behind a planer without any luck. Seeing quickly that the method was not working for anyone, Danny quickly changed us over to backbouncing spin-n-glos and roe. This method takes a bit more work and finesse, but it can be deadly. The technique is basically a spin-n glo and roe rig attached to 2 to 4 ounce cannonball sinkers. Drop the rig below the boat. Bounce the rig on the bottom lifting it about four inches as the guide probes the holes. When the fish hits and you set the hook, HOLD ON! Since the river is only 3 to 6 feet deep in most parts, all heck breaks loose when you battle a 20 to 40 pound fish on 3 feet of line. You have to be really careful and on your toes for the initial surge. It’s AWESOME!!!   Danny ALWAYS works hard to get his clients onto fish.  Even when people are not hooking up, Danny is always making an effort to put you onto fish.  A top notch guide!  I recommend him highly!

Here’s a tip I picked up from "The Herder". When you backtroll plugs or any other gear, make sure all of your lines are out the equal distance from the boat. This creates a "wall of plugs". Danny says he has witness the "wall of plugs" push fish down to the tail of a pool and when there was no more room in the pool, the salmon would attack the annoying plugs. When the plugs are at different distances, the fish merely dodge the plugs by swimming to the side.

On Monday’s large tide the fish definitely were beginning to show up in larger numbers. I was too tired to fish, but even I managed to hook 5 or 6 fish on Monday. The only fish I even got close to shore was snagged. Still the fish are coming and I am fully optimistic that next weekend will be the beginning of the good fishing on Kasilof and the Ninilchik Rivers.

If your time is limited, definitely use a guide. They know what they are doing. On the Kenai River, Fish and Game statistics show that the guides average about half the hours per fish than unguided anglers. Danny is almost fully booked in July and has only a few dates in June left. Even if you can’t get Danny personally, he knows a lot of great guides. It would be worth booking through him since there are a few guides out there that just aren’t as professional as the others. He’ll set you up with a great trip I’m sure.

 

May 16 &17, Kasilof River-

Well the Kings are definitely in the Kasilof River.  During the morning,  I saw dozens of fish rolling in the river.  Unfortunately, the fishing was pretty tough.  I fished on Saturday and Sunday for a total of 12 hours and I hooked two fish and lost them both. DANG IT!  Still I saw both fish and both fish were small...under 15 pounds.  I did se a number of nice fish in the 25 pound range.  The unusual thing about this weekend was that the bait fisherman were out fishing the flipping crowd.   I hit both of my fish with a spin-n-glo anchored off the bottom with roe.

I saw Danny France of Salmon Herder guides and he said that he had landed 3 kings in 4 trips on the Kenai River.  He did admit that he was probably lucky as most other boats were not doing as well.  When I saw him on the Kasilof, he had already gotten one good take down and that was just the beginning of his trip.  I am trying to get out with him soon but he is getting really busy.  Book early if you want to take a trip with him.  I recommend him highly.   Make sure you tell him I sent you, As busy as he seems, I may need the help to just to get a seat on his boat this year!

May 10, Kasilof River-

Tried a couple of hours on the Kasilof on Sunday.  I started at 5am and quit at 8am.  I didn't see a thing...bummer.  Fortunately that almost included people.   I maybe saw 4 other fisherman on the entire river.  The water was pretty low, typical for this time  of year.  I hear reports that a few folks are finding fish in the Kenai and Kasilof.

The trout fishing should be going pretty well.  The rainbows are definitely going through their spawning process even in the lakes where they can't spawn.  The fish I have been catching lately are fish that have a darker spawning color to them.  Fish and Game have stocked a few lakes in the valley.  They have already stocked the lakes that get arctic char.  Check out Fish and Game's excellent web site at  http://www.state.ak.us/local/akpages/FISH.GAME/sportf/region2/r2home.htm

 

They have maps of all the stocked lakes as well as the weekly fishing report.   Another great page is the Alaska River Forecasting Center's page.  It tells you daily the water flow in many streams all through out Alaska.  you can find that page at:  http://www.alaska.net/~akrfc/

 

April 25, Kenai River-Let the King Season Begin!

Well it wasn't me but some lucky angler boated the first confirmed King Salmon on the Kenai River.  A 45 pound female off a drift boat.  Take a look at the News story right here.  Anchorage Daily News Article, April 28, 1998.

 

April 24-27, Anchorage area & Mat-su   Lakes

Well we've been religiously hitting the local area lakes.  We've tried it both in a canoe and off the shore.  The water temperature still seems awfully cold.   When we troll we only get hits from the landlocked salmon.  However, dunking chunks of nightcrawlers under a light bobber seemed to be the best way of catching the rainbows.  After talking with some guides, it seems like the water is still a bit cold for the rainbows to be ultra aggressive.  Reports are though that the guides in the Mat-su valley are starting to hit good rainbows in some of the clear water tributaries.  Unfortunately, I had to stay in town.  I still got to fish though.

The ice is out now on almost all of the lakes up to the Big Lake area.  Big Lake still has ice cover but all of the smaller lakes seemed clear of ice.  The water temperature was COLD!  We didn't due very well trolling the Mat0su Valley lakes.   W should have slowed down and presented bait!  Dang, live and learn.

In Anchorage, I caught several small rainbows about 8 inches using 2 pound test. definitely not monster sized fish but... What a blast!  the rainbow may be sluggish feeding, but once hooked all my rainbows cleared the water at least a half a dozen times before I got them landed.  I can't imagine the fight of a 16 inch fish on 2lbs or 4lbs line.  Now that's a challenge.  The fish weren't just breaking the surface but would literally leap 3 feet into the air.  It was awesome.  There are reports of 17 inch plus rainbows being caught in some of the local area lakes like Jewel, Sand, Delong, Little Campbell and a dozen other lakes.  Until the water warms up a bit, I'd go with small baits and flies.  If you want to fish hardware, I'd go ultra slow.  As soon as it warms up, the rainbow action on all the lakes from the Mat-su area down to Kenai should be HOT!  Give it a try.  We still have an honest three weeks before the decent King fishing starts.

 

April 22, Jewel Lake THE ICE IS OUT!!!!

Well Martin took me on his new canoe and we tested it out on Jewel Lake in Anchorage.   The 16 ft Coleman skanoe and 24 pound thrust electric motor worked great.   The lakes in town just opened up today.  Even this morning Jewel and Delong Lakes and mostly ice cover, but by this evening they were 90% Clear of ice.

Ice out is a perfect time to hit the local lakes for large rainbows and almost certain fast action.  We didn't hit any large rainbows but we must have caught at least a couple dozen landlocked silvers in less than three hours.  We had no problem getting them to hit a variety of spinners though the fluorescent colors seemed to be working really well.  Now we got to go find the rainbows.  the action should be great in Mat-su, Anchorage, and the Kenai Peninsula. 

April 18 & 19, Mat-su Lakes

Well the water on the lake is definitely starting to go.  Wasilla Lake with the wind and boat traffic is virtually completely open.  Still most lakes had some ice on them.  We ended up ice fishing on a Matsu Lake.  The  lake we were on still had 2 inches of good solid clear ice but it was going fast.  I bet most lakes have fishable open water by next weekend.

Well the fishing was pretty slow.  We did manage to pull up several rainbows and Dollies over the two days but the biggest was a 16 inch Dolly.  The hot bait for the trip was earthworms.  they were getting the most eats by far and we used single eggs and shrimp as well.  The fish appeared to be eating dragonfly nymphs and sticklebacks.  Although he fish were small, they appeared pretty aggressive.  I can't wait till the ice goes out!

April 12, Mat-su Lakes

Well we searched for open water on the lakes and we really couldn't find any.  We tried a few open leads but no luck.  Another buddy of mine was VERY carefully walking across the ice and apparently nailed some excellent fish with a 24 inch Rainbow and a similar sized Dolly Varden.  If you can find open water or ice that is still strong enough, the Rainbows are definitely beginning their spring feeding binge.

If you go ice fishing, be very careful.  The lakes are definitely very very soft.   One lake where I thought the ice was solid, I was walking around and both my feet punched through, fortunately or unfortunately, I didn't fall through since the surface area of my hands & groin were obviously enough to hold me up.  In a higher tone of voice, I vividly recall telling Martin that I would have rather fallen through.....oooooh, that was relatively painful experience.  It hurts just thinking about it......

 

April 4 & 5, Kenai Peninsula Lakes

APRIL???  Dear God!  I missed a month?  Well I guess I was in Asia and L.A. for most of March.  It's good to be back!  I should mention that I did manage to catch a fish while I was in Hong Kong.  Unfortunately it was a rockfish about 1 inch long off the docks in Hong Kong.  I convinced a kid to let me try is hand line for a minute or two.  They were keeping the fish though I have no idea what they were doing with it.

Well I did manage to get out to Stormy, Dolly Varden, and Watson Lake on the Kenai peninsula.  the total for three people on three lakes over two days???  Three Dollies under 12 inches.  Hmmmmmmm....  I think its time to start unpacking all my Salmon gear, cleaning the reels, respooling line, and dreaming of landing the BIG ONE!   I'd say it'll be mid May before the season begins in earnest.  Doh!   that's over a month away. 

Still from now till Mid may should provide some great trout opportunities.  See where I'm going next for a list of "fill in" activities until the salmon get going

February 14 & 15, 1998, Big Lake (again...)

I went out to Big Lake by myself on Saturday. Boy was it slow!!! I caught a few fish under 12 inches but nothing big all day. As I was picking up my gear at 5pm, I set my jigging rod down. I heard a noise and the next thing I know my rod is going crazy, flying across the ice. Well what do ya Know! The "last cast" thing finally pays off! On the rod I had laid down with a rattlin rap, a nice 25 inch Dolly had nailed it. It took me a while to land this fish as it took out drag on twelve pound line on a consistent basis.

Sunday was better action wise but not size wise. I was hoping for the clouds to move in but on both days the weather was awesome. Sunny and warm. that doesn't usually happen in Alaska. In February, when its clear, its usually 20 Below zero! Still the smaller fish were hitting consistently and while I got skunked for keeper size fish, my buddy Bob did manage to pull up a couple of fish perfect for the frying pan at about 14 inches a piece.

As a side note, the 24 inch fish was gorged with 5 or 6 salmon smolts. I thought it was interesting that they didn't have any trout or sticklebacks in the stomach content. All the salmon in the stomach were about 3 inches long. The smaller dollies Bob caught had several sticklebacks in them.

February 6& 7, 1998, Big Lake

As one might expect, we went out to Big Lake. The weather was awesome in the upper twenties and lots of sunshine on Saturday. unfortunately the fishing was pretty slow. I'm not sure how many times I have said this in my fishing log but perseverance PAYS OFF! Nope no monsters but after losing a good fish early, later in the day, I managed to pull up a 26 inch Dolly through the ice. Didn't get a chance to weigh it, but should go 6 pounds plus. That was the only real keeper of the day with three of us fishing. It was slow, but on Big Lake it's not a matter of filling the stringer but looking for that one big fish. The secret lure of choice on this day was a half oz silver and black Rattlin Rap. Both the rattlin rap and Rat-L-trap lures work great when fished vertically. If you ice fish and need a wounded minnow action with good sound, I would definitely give it a try.

Sunday was by far the slowest day I have had on the ice at Big Lake. Wouldn't you know it, it was also the first time I took my dad out to Big Lake. I ended up showing him a lot of pictures to prove there were fish under the ice.

BAD NEWS!!! The one fish I did see pulled up near was was somewhat discouraging. After hearing rumors of a 40 inch Pike being caught in Big Lake, I personally saw a very small pike pulled out where we fish for Trout. Definitely not a good sign. I love fishing pike but not in my trout streams and lakes! Still Martin stopped by a tackle store and saw a picture of a 39 inch 19 pound Dolly that supposedly came out of Big Lake just last week. Doh! I guess that raises the bar just a little bit.

 

January 31, 1998, Big Lake & Mat-su area Lakes

Well its obvious that we're all still out trying to out do each other in the big fish category. In this area, if you're not pike fishing, the large char at Big Lake are still the most challenging big fish available. Saturday we headed back out to Big Lake! The weather was warm with large snowflakes falling. The low pressure and warmer temperatures must have helped fishing because we had a really excellent day.

The largest fish of the day was a beautiful 25 inch, 5.5 pound Char that Martin caught on a size 8 gamakatsu baitholder baited with roe. It was by far the biggest fish we have caught on bait this year at Big lake. the norm is for the larger char to ignore bait and hit the jigged spoons. I managed to land a 23 inch fish and a 19 inch Dolly, both on the half ounce plain silver krockadile. The other two in our party both managed to catch a fish in the 20 inch range before the days was through. Here's a group photo. While jigging the lures caught more larger fish, bait proved to be the hot ticket on this outing. Not only did roe catch the largest fish, but we must have turned back another dozen Dolly's in the 10 to 14 inch range on roe. Another key to our recent success is the location. We found a steep ledge that quickly drops from 15 feet to over 30 feet in very short order. Fishing on the deeper ledge, we seem to be having a much higher degree of success.

Another buddy fished another lake in the area and had an interesting observation. On Saturday, when the pressure was dropping and lots of snow was falling, he and his buddy hammered over 100 fish past twelve inches. Both rainbows and Dolly's. The next day as the temperature fell and the skies cleared up, they didn't catch any where near as many fishing over the exact same holes. I used to think sunny days might trigger a strike, but my buddy swears that changing conditions especially a low pressure front moving through will induce a fish feeding frenzy in this area.

 

January 19 & 20, 1998, Mat-su lake & Big Lake

Well I couldn't get out but Doug and Martin managed to sneak a trip in. Action at Big Lake appears to be picking up with the warmer weather. Both Doug and Martin reported relatively decent action in 25 feet of water off of one of the points near Burnt Point. They saw a 4 year old gal land a 5 pound Dolly and rumors on the ice were that a ten pounder had been caught on Sunday. Unlike before, roe seemed to be the hot item for the Dollies. Might have something to do with the rumors that an old man had dumped a 5 gallon bucket of roe down the holes after getting frustrated at the lack of hits.

The next day the two headed to one of our secret (if any lake is a secret) rainbow lake in the Big Lake area. its the same lake we did so well on at first ice. They caught one fish within minutes of cutting their first hole and after that...NOTHING, the big norton! Oh well. Probably better to wait until late spring before hitting the smaller lakes. Lack of oxygen could be a problem in the smaller lakes.

 

January 17 & 18, 1998, Big Lake

Well, once again it was Big Lake. the fishing definitely has been slowing down. A large group of us fished on Sunday with the results being rather limited. In the two days of fishing, 4 of us only managed three fish over twenty inches. Here's Martin with a 20 inch fish. Lynelle managed to pull a 26 inch Burbot out onto the ice. Still the weather was good and the fishing a lot of fun. Well what little I remember of it on Sunday at any rate....whew! Things got waaaaay out of hand but that' not a story I need to be telling to millions of potential viewers!

We may have to find another place to try.

January 10 & 11, 1998, Big Lake

Yup! We went back to Big Lake. Saturday I went out and found Erick sitting on the ice already fishing with a buddy of his. The usual 10am to noon bite never materialized. But as often is the case perseverance pays off. At about 12:30pm we get our first hit. I pull up a 22 inch Dolly. In the next hour, Erick lands a beautiful 24 inch Dolly, and I land another 22 inch fish. I caught both of my fish on a half oz plain silver Krockadile. Ever since I changed the factory trebles to Gamakatsu trebles, I have yet to lose a fish. I've even snagged a few fish with the new trebles, they are ultra sharp and a must when you are fishing for three or four good hits the entire day. Erick caught his on the new flatter Swedish pimple lures in plain silver. Both of caught fish on a plain lure no bait and right off the bottom. We caught fish in any where from 17 to 38 feet of water.

 

Sunday, Ron, Doug, and Martin joined Erick and I. The fishing was relatively slow. I landed a 20 inch Dolly, Doug and Erick both tagged a 22 inch Dolly. All the big Dollies were caught jigging lures. Martin did catch a nice rainbow on roe. Aside from the large Dollies we did land several smaller fish. Definitely slow action but if you spend enough time, it seems like you'll always hit at least one. of course its the thought of tagging the double digit ten pounder that keeps us coming back to this lake.

 

January 3&4, 1998, Big Lake

Okay this year we'll try the new entries on top.

Well as promised we made it out to Big Lake. Boy the fishing was slow where we were at. We did manage to pull up a few small dollies under 14 inches using the usual assortment of lures. The largest fish of the weekend was caught in the middle of the night. We pitched a tent on Big Lake and we just stayed the night in 10 below weather.

Well right before I went to bed, I dropped a piece of herring to the bottom inside of our tent and in the morning, I had a 3 pound Burbot (freshwater ling) on the end of the line. The next morning the action was more consistent after we switched most our rigs to roe, but the size of the fish were small. No large fish for us this weekend. Well it was fun, I got my first winter camping trip under my belt and I didn't even use the electric blankets. Okay, it was cold! But the cots Martin brought that kept us off the ground helped immensely! We'll be back.

We'll try new spots but the overflow makes for rough going on the lake. We are definitely going to have to bring our snowmobiles out. Erick fish at another island and reports were that he did pretty well. I'll have to talk to him!

January 1, 1998, Big Lake

HAPPY NEW YEAR!! What better way to see what 1998 has in store than to go fishing! Well, I have to say that 1998 should bring a lot of excitement if the first day is any indication. I went out to Big Lake with Erick. he of course being the hardcore fisherman beat me out there by several hours. The bite was on between 10am and 11;30 on this particular day. When did I show up...11:45am. Wouldn't you know it! Still, an interesting tale to be told.

Unlike the other days, Erick had setup in deeper water off of one of the many islands in the area. We were in at least 40 feet of water as opposed to the 25 to 30 feet we normally fish. As always, we had silver spoons of various types that imitated the sticklebacks and the landlocked salmon that the larger trout are feeding on. All in all it was a good day. I didn't catch anything (sort of) but Erick landed a fish 20 inch Dolly and a fat17 inch rainbow amongst other small fish. He definitely had a much larger fish that could have gone near the 10 pound mark on but the hooks pulled free during the fight! BUMMER!

The interesting tale starts when I decide its too dang cold to be outside so I jump into Erick's heated tent. Because of limited space, I left one rod outside of the tent baited with a small piece of raw shrimp. I checked on it frequently and anchored it down, but one time I got out, the pole was nowhere to be found. DOH! Well after bumming for awhile we continued to fish. Almost a full hour later, Erick gets a hit. FISH ON! But up comes his lure out of the hole but his rod is still bouncing around. He had my line from the rod I had lost! Sweet-oh! Carefully pulling it up he landed a nice fat 17 inch rainbow and my rod. Way to go Erick!

The moral of the story is that despite how bad things might appear at the present, things can always get better! Especially if you're fishing!

Where I'm going next!

The dumping of snow means that almost all of Southcentral Alaska's remote lakes just received access for those of us too poor to own a plane.  I'm gonna gear up for some pike fishing really soon.

Well people are driving on Big Lake but when I punch a hole it still is less than the minimum 12 inches I need to take my truck onto the ice.  12 inches in one spot means you still can find places where its much thinner.   Pretty soon we'll be hammering the Big Lake Char looking for that elusive Double Digit Monster.

Better hit those rainbow lakes hard.  They are still biting really well on some days but they are definitely getting more lethargic every week.  The rainbow fishing should remain decent through mid January, especially if you can find active springs and/or open water.  Dang it!  Too many lakes , not enough days!

Good Luck!

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PICTURE highlights from 1998 (more pictures embedded in the log).

Vacation Pictures- First set! July 17 to 25th.

Dolly Varden/Arctic Char, 26 inches, Rudy, Big Lake, 2/6/98

Dolly Varden/Arctic Char, 25 inches, Martin, Big Lake, 1/31/98

Dolly Varden/Arctic Char, Group, Big Lake, 1/31/98

Dolly Varden/Arctic Char, 22 inches, Rudy, Big Lake, 1/10/98


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