Lots of Pictures! Thanks for your patience.
Some more new pics since November 1, 1998.
Go to FIRST HALF 1998 Logs
Some of the pix have a larger version, click on pictures to see if a larger version is available.
April? Wow, I have to do more fishing. Well the fact of the matter is I say that every year! Once again, a busy spring is keeping me away from fishing but I did manage to get one more shot at Icefishing before I think about converting over to open water fisheries. It was awesome! headed out towards Glenallen and found 4 feet of ice waiting for us. Tally for the day was a half a dozen burbot ( 2 largest went ten pounds! That's a trophy fish in Alaska!), A lake trout, and a limit of small rainbows. The rainbows in this particular lake aren't big, they average maybe 14 to 16 inches. I know I promote catch and release but this is a stocked rainbow lake and the rainbows here are the best tasting rainbows I have ever had. The flesh color is ruby red and boy are they tasty. Sorry all you religious catch and release folks, but man can't live on bread alone!
All should get excited about the King Salmon Season. Last year the first recorded King out of the Kenai River came on April 25th! I saw kings in Homer and Kasilof river in the 2nd week of May. The first kings are always tough. They demand top notch equipment, cat like reflexes, and goods fishing skills if you want to land a high percentage of the hooked fish. Unfortunately they are the first salmon species to come up the rivers. I like to think I fish hard and check gear, but every year, I always seem to lose the first king or two I hook due to equipment failure or operator error! RESPOOL NEW LINE! Its the best and cheapest investment in fishing you'll make. Don't buy the cheap mono. Buy premium mono, especially if you plan on using spinning gear. For more info on how I fish Kings, check out my tips page.
I'm thinking about heading down to Homer and fishing off the spit. A chance to break out all my gear and practicing casting and drag control etc. If you go now, You have a shot at Kings, Sea run Dollies, Cod, Pollock, flounder, and even small halibut. Check my previous year logs for more details on how I fish Homer Spit.
Well just when you think spring may be coming, we get dumped on by some snow. Still the days are getting longer and I am starting to feel more motivated to go fishing. Between the slow fishing, super cold weather, a nasty flu, and work... the motivation level has been LOW! Still that's no excuse! So after being bored all weekend, at 6pm on Sunday night I decide I just have to go fishing at least once over the weekend.....flu or not! So I call up Doug and as always he's game so off we go.
We set up for Burbot with a few set lines and rods. Doug was using a small glow in the dark hootchie with a small piece of herring. At 10:45pm he gets a nibble then his line goes crazy! Burbot? Nope, ran too hard! After a good battle on 6 pound line, doug pulls up a 24 inch Dolly through the hole. Strange. I catch trout and dollies at night all the time during the summer, but this is the first Large Dolly I have pulled up in the dark. Early year in the year, I did locate one lake where I can get consistent hits at night from rainbows, but not dollies.
Oh yeah, we stayed till midnight and we managed 4 eater size burbot. Not too bad. Doug caught both of his on 6 pound test and a trout rod. It was actually a battle to get them up the hole. Of course I caught mine on my "traditional" 100 pound dacron set lines. Too heavy? Heck no. I've broken 20 and 30 pound test on set lines. Not necessarily because of Big fish but they seem to find every snag possible to wrap around. One final thing. In many parts of Alaska you can use set lines and leave them unattended for upto 24 hours for Burbot. Our group has a lost a couple of them this year to inconsiderate folks who just have to steal everything they come across. Well we are seriously thinking about setting up and nailing a few of these folks. We fish in pretty isolated areas so we have a good idea and the fools are pretty consistent from the evidence we have gathered so far. Just as an example I have pretty good photos of tire tracks and other evidence from a couple of scenes. Some of these folks are going to be in for a major surprise the next time they try it. If its not your gear, leave it alone. You'd think people would be smarter. I can't believe they would risk being caught for a dowel, one hook, and 20 yards of line and maybe one fish. Consequences to them on capture will be severe...guaranteed. Just like fishing, this may be fun trying to hunt these fools down. Pretty easy to nail them I think.
Well the month of February passes me by with hardly any fishing at all. Work, the flu, and a few other commitments kept me away from fishing for most of the month. Therefor the entire month of February gets lumped into one entry.....my laziness knows no bounds!
Frankly the Char bite has been SLOW during February. None of my fishing buddies experienced decent results the whole month. Still, as the days get longer and spring nears, the bite can sometimes pick up. Last year, I missed the month of March due to an overseas trip, but we caught a few fish in April. In the years past, the pike bite has held up well as long as we had safe ice.
The only fishing I did during February was for Burbot. Burbot? You betcha! They are one of the finest eating fish in freshwater in my opinion. Okay they are uglier then sin, but once skinned and filleted, they are nothing but firm white flesh that is somewhere in between cod and halibut in my opinion. The lake we fish you can use set lines and we have been hammering them well. the trick for us is to punch holes as close to shore as possible while maintaining about 5 to 15 feet of water under the ice. Although we use set lines, the initial strike of a big burbot will surprise you. The hits can be vicious! In fact Erick sliced his hand pretty good when a big fish struck while he was jigging a herring tipped spoon while handlining. We have caught our limits virtually everytime out and we have even managed 3 or 4 fish that would qualify for a trophy certificate. A trophy burbot in Alaska is 8 pounds. But after hearing rumors of much bigger fish in the lake, I'm waiting for a slightly bigger one before I go weigh it in.
here's a great trick I learned to clean burbot. Take an old board and a large nail. Cut the skin around the neck and head then hammer the head onto a solid board. Then with a pair of pliers or a dry towel, you can just peel the entire skin off with a good tug. you are left with a skinless burbot that is 100 times easier to fillet since you can pretty much see everything.
Okay, I'm getting lazy...actually since I have been out of town and the action pretty much the same, I thought I would lump the two weekends together.
We are noticing a general slowdown in the char fishery at Big Lake. same as the previous post, the rainbows are non-existent though I did manage one small rainbow in deep water. An interesting observation was made by Erick and I on the Big Lake Char. Lately we are pulling up an inordinate percentage of the darker brightly colored char. fish & Game tells me that they believe the char in Big Lake are "skip spawners" or they don't spawn every year. this would explain the two different color schemes we are seeing. the brightly colored spawning type and the more silvery pink dot non-spawners. The last weekend we were out, all the darkly colored char were skinny and light in weight. My bet is that they are just getting over the spawning phase and are now looking to regain their weight. Things could be picking up as they go on a feeding rampage. We did keep one smaller silver phase Dolly and it was loaded with larger 3 inch salmon parr. The one dark char we kept that inhaled the lure and bled profusely on the ice had nothing in its stomachs. the other fish we landed seemed to have empty stomachs but we are not sure. We did notice that all the dark colored fish didn't fight at all. The fish were also considerable darker than even the dark fish we had caught a week or two ago. Earlier in the year, dark or silvery they were full of fight. Not right now! A dark 26 inch fish came up and laid in the hole. It really didn't fight at all! They probably have just got done spawning and if so, it could mean an aggressive bite as they try to put the weight back on.
Speaking of spawning, we did pull up a burbot or two. You may want to consider releasing them. We kept one small male for eating and half of its stomach was filled with milt (sperm). If you catch a good one, you may want to consider tossing it back...especially if you think its a female.
No word yet on the propsoed changes on the Big Lake regs. fish and Game tells me that it'll go into effect 30 days after the law is signed. Last time I checked a week or so ago, it still had not been signed.
Headed out to a Lake in the Valley and simply HAMMERED rainbows all day long. Nothing huge but nice solid fish from 12 to 18 inches. This is one of my favorite "secret" lakes I go to now. Why? Becasue as many fish as I release, this is THE keeper lake for rainbows. I'm not sure what their food source is, I think its freshwater shrimp, but the flesh on these STOCKED rainbows is a bright red. They are Delicious! The other bonus is that I can get the rainbows to hit consistently, albeit at a much smaller rate, at night! During the day, as fast as i can lower a single egg or a small lure, a rainbow would take a whack at it. In fact, the night bite is more like fishing. At least you have time to slam down a soda and some food inbetween hits. Light line, a sensitive rod or a small bobber will do the trick.
Big Lake produced a few fish but as the year progresses, the rainbows inbig Lake are harder to find. The Char seem to be in a stage where they are preparing to spawn. Still we managed to hit a several fish over 20 inches over the course of the day. It seemed that depper water and silver or chrome spoons were the way to go.
Well I went and headed for Big Lake. Late start at 1pm but was just too tired. NO! I didn't go out boozing all night, in fact I was soo tired I was in bed at 10pm so I could save energy to go fishing. Well I was still tired but managed to drag myself out of bed! I am really into the sightfishing now! What I mean is that despite the fact that all my friends are hammering fish at the 30 to 40 foot levels, I am setting up in less than 20 feet so I can see the fish better. I maybe getting a few less hits (I don't think so) but watching those fish cruise in, take whacks a t a lure, miss, come back, and hit it again is just awesome. Its amazing how many fish will come by but not hit the lure despite eyeballing it or making several passes at it. However I can say on this day that I hooked every fish I saw. I think my total tally was 6 fish with the largest a 18 inch rainbow...nothing huge but what a blast!
Here's my new system which really I have adopted from Doug Hegg and of course added the special "Rudy" modifications!. You'll see what I mean in a second. First I punch a hole, for whatever reason my holes never are straight (this is my modification!), they are always at an angle. Therefore you can see "one way" a lot farther than the other. Toward the direction I can see furthest, I drill another hole about 4 feet out. If bait is allowed I rig up bait on a longer traditional length rod. then in the other hole I jig as normal. I lay a piece of carpet carpet down., Cover my head (and body if cold) with a dark blanket. I can see the bait as well as watch my lure as I jig it. Often the bait is ignored, but so is the lure, then I give a little jiggle with the bait rod which is close by because it is longer and whammo the fish often hit the bait once it moves. When the bait restrictions goes into effect, I am going to replace the long bait set up with a HUGE super trap or my huge 5 inch Luhr-Jensen Krocadile, maybe even a major league Herring Dodger or summer type troller flasher with a weight. Beat the bottom, make sounds attract the fish, and once they come in, finesse them with my traditional 5/8 oz Krockadile. So far the system works great. When the ice is less than 2 feet thick, you can see a whole LOT more when you lie down right on the ice instead of just sitting in a stool inside of an ice shack. Give it a try, once you see the number of fish that don't hit, plus the thrill of watching them hit, I think you might be hooked. I'm sure watching those blips on the flasher is cool (I use the old LCD's) but there is now way you can tell me that it is more exciting than seeing the actual reaction of the fish as they chase your lure, bump it, and finally smash it. I was going to get a flasher unit but naww, I'll stick with my LCD for depth checks and I am going to look down the hole. Only super cold weather will force me into a shack....anyone want to buy a portable two man ice shelter?????
Here's a Big Lake tip. I seem to catch a lot of fish as soon as you drop your lure down for the first time. Have your ice skimmer ready and as soon as you punch the hole, scoop out quickly, or often you don't even have to scoop and drop the lure down IMMEDIATELY. Jig a few minutes and if nothing then you can take your time setting up. Maybe its just Big Lake but the fish are NOT scared of the power auger noise. In fact I think it attracts them. People hear this and say, yeah its because Big Lake is deep...nope, remember I fish under 20 feet most of the time. I have caught numerous fish while a buddy of mine was punching holes right next to me. I certainly have caught lots of fish in a hole that was opened less than one minute prior. Give it a try!
Oh yeah, stayed past dark and managed two burbot..they were pretty tasty and since I can catch them at night, it extends my fishing time in the winter by many many hours. Good thing I'm still happily single!
Well after Douglas slammed the big one, no choice but to take a day off and GO FISHING! You Betcha. well as you would expect when you blow off work to go fishing....it was slow. Still we had a good time. I landed a 25 inch Char that came close to 5 pounds. It was AWESOME. Just like Doug's fish, I saw it swim lazily past the hole and watched him take a few good looks at the lure, then finally smash it. It was pretty amazing. Doug caught a nice rainbow close to 18 inches that we released as well.
Another tip I'd like to pass on is that if you aren't looking down your holes every now and then while jigging, you are missing out. I use electronics, but the electronics can't tell you how the fish is reacting to a certain presentation. Things I noticed included that when you pounded the bottom and created a sediment cloud, smaller fish would come swarming toward the cloud. As soon as one fish took a whack at my lure in the cloud, the other competitvely joined in. My big fish, swam lazily by my lure completely ignoring it, then a twitch and in an instant he swapped head to tail and cruised toward my krockadile. He came by bumped the lure without opening his mouth, swam off. Another twitch of the line he made a big circle then a very tiny movement of the lure and WHAMMO, he slammed the spoon. Way to Cool! After a quick picture, we released the fish. AWESOME!
Well as soon as you start bragging about your big fish, Douggie makes me eat my words. I still have Douggie by a half inch, but I think he definitely had me on the girth, weight was about even. On Sunday, Doug lands himself a beautiful 27.5 inch, 7lbs 10oz Arctic Char! NICE FISH DOUGLAS!!!!!! We kept her in the water as long as we could. Snapped a few pictures, tape measure, and digital scale verified the monster! See, an old dog like me can learn new tricks! I remembered the tape and got a digital scale. yeah it was expensive, but our reward....Douglas without hesitation put the fish back into the lake so he can catch it next year when it is 10 pounds and a trophy fish! Way to go!
We were in about 15 feet of water and he was jigging a 5/8 oz all chrome Krockadile, on a Ug;y Stick on 8 pound line. He was covered under a blanket, face down in the hole. You could hear him muffled under the blanket screaming "He's huge, Oh my GAWD! He's Huge...hit it...OH NO! He missed it, COME BACK ....Oh pleeeeeeeeeze hit it....hit it.....FISH ON!!!!" It was totally cool! I'm sure he's heart was going 100mph. Of course I am going "yeah, yeah, hurry up, Cmon hurry up, let's see it....OH MY GAWD ITS HUGE...WHY ARE YOU HURRYING ...SLOW DOWN...."
Another great weekend! I'm gonna ask for another day off this week. I have a bunch of vacation days I haven;t used...why not! I'M GOING FISHING!
Of course after the whopper last week, I was out on Big Lake. Of course this time I had company with Douglas tagging along to see if he couldn't catch the monster fish.
Well Saturday I had the pleasure of meeting Tom who had emailed me after running into my home page. Doug and I try our normal spot and get absolutely zero! The since Tom was nice enough to tell us where he fished, we headed over on the chance he would be there. I learned this later but he's kind of a fishing nut like we are so instead of it being a shot in the dark, I had the feeling we would find him at his spot Sure enough he's there! Tom was nice enough to let us fish by him, but really the fisher-person of the day was his 6 year old daughter, Christine! She pulled up a 24 incher and several fish in the 16 to 18 inch range. EVERYONE should make an effort to get younger kids out fishing. I don't have kids, but the reason I love to fish is my parents spent time and tremendous patience to take me fishing. I remember when I was too young to drive, my mom would drive us down to Anchor River from Kenai in the middle of the dark on a week night so I could go steelhead fishing. Okay, so maybe I was a bit spoiled BUT, as the genealogy might imply, she's a fishing nut too! Tom, you get a few extra respect points! Everyone I meet through the net has been cool so far.
As soon as Tom sends me some pics, we'll post them here!
I had such a good weekend I took the day off on Wednesday to see if I couldn't catch a another whopper! Tuesday night the snow was coming down hard. I couldn't sleep! Everytime I have gone out during a snow storm the results have been great. Imagine my disappointment when I wake up Wednesday and its bright sunny and COLD! Complain about clear skies?!?! Yup, when its warm, the effect seems minor, but when you have a high pressure system combined with cold, the fishing just never seems as good. Just an observation I have had...no scientific proof or anything.
Well as expected the fish were hard to come by. I think in the full day, I managed only 5 fish with the biggest going only 16 inches. All the sizable fish were Char rather than rainbows. Bait was getting hit consistently, but most of the larger fish came on the trusty 5/8 oz krockadile. The ice roads are in on Big Lake, but once off the road, I encountered overflow and MUCH thinner ice! Be careful if you go. I'd still only take a snowmobile off the ice roads. I bet in one spot the ice was less than 8 inches as opposed to the foot or so in the shallower bays. I hope it warms up before the weekend. I don't need to be able to wear shorts or anything, just enough to get those fish "on the bite!"
Strange, Strange, Strange...but GOOD! Let's see.. the day starts out with a visit to Todd's place in Big Lake. I get there and see Todd and Erick with big smiles. After a month of trudging through the snow, Erick finally bagged himself a nice spike horn moose. Congrats! Should go a long way in getting them through the winter with some good protein! They were busy so I went fishing by myself...mistake but in a good kinda way...I guess!
The next piece of news was that despite over 20 years of ice fishing in Alaska, I caught a new species though the ice....a MUSKRAT! Huh? Yup, throughout the day as I was jigging my holes, I'd here air bubbles come up my hole. Thinking maybe the swampy area was releasing gas, I didn't give it much thought. Then I feel a bump on the line, then another..set the hook! FISH ON! errrrr....how about "small furry rodent - ON"! It fought pretty well but as it came up through the hole, I had the muskrat barely by the leg. OOPS! Well the Luhr-Jensen Krockadile continues to pull up everything through the ice! Weird weird weird. I guess if you spend enough time fishing, you see all sorts of things.
But the big news for me today was that I landed my personal best Char out of Big Lake! I feel like a hypocrite after my entry a couple of days ago because I ended up keeping the Big fish instead of releasing it :-( I'll be honest, the main reason was I went fishing without a scale, a ruler, and a witness! When the fish came up I just KNEW I had a trophy fish! Ackk! WRONGO! I got to a place I could measure it and it was only 28 inches and 8 pounds. 2 inches and 2 pounds shy of a trophy fish! It probably wouldn't have lived even if I had released it since it swallowed the big spoon...a little bit of consolation. I caught it in 12 feet of water on a 5/8oz chrome Krockadile spoon (Thanks Doug! see the previous entry). The big Char completely inhaled the lure. The lure is probably close to 3 inches long and I couldn't see the lure or the swivel after I landed the fish. A bit of major surgery to get the hook out and there was no way it would live if I clipped the line. Still, I feel bad but I think most fisherman know how that "Big Fish Fever" can cloud your judgment and make the fish look bigger when it first came up onto the ice. I am ALWAYS going to carry a camera and at least a ruler! A tip I should follow is to mark off the size on your rod with Magic Marker. I should have more pictures of the nice fish soon. Equipment: HT medium weight ice rod, System 2 5/6L fly reel. Stren 10lbs test line, 5/8oz Chrome Krockadile.
What a battle! It fought for at least 15 minutes ripping out line like crazy. I bet at one time I had 50 yards of 10 pound line out. It was amazing! I'm kinda glad they are trying to protect this fishery. The new rules are going to limit the catch to one char over 20 inches. I wish they'd make a slot limit so you can keep a few of the smaller eaters but maybe protect all the Big Spawners in the 20 to 25 inch range and let you keep one trophy fish.
As a hint, The biggest mistake I see when people are fishing is they work their lures too much. A one foot lift is a huge lifting stroke for me. I tend to use 2 to 4 inch strokes with an occasional foot jump. Pounding the bottom and kicking up some sediment is a great way to attract the fish as well.
Great Weekend, Great Day! Wow! Saturday Doug and I head out to Big Lake. I was fishing in 25 feet of water while Doug was fishing in about 12 feet near a weed bed. The weather was cloudy but not too cold. The day starts off slow but around noon we begin to pick up a few fish on bait. Then everything went crazy! In the last two hours we fished, Doug must landed 2 nice Dollies over 20 inches with the big one going 24inches. He also caught a really nice rainbow that had to be close to 20 inches but as it was getting colder we wanted to return it to the water before its gills started freezing up. If you are going to release fish, its better to try to keep the fish in the water and take the hook out. Take a quick picture but take the fish out of the water for as short as possible and never lay the fish on the ice.
Well I may have a convert, Doug was using a 5/8oz, Chrome Krockadile when he hit all the fish. Bait was getting hits as usual, but all the big fish came on the lures. Not to be too outdone, I hit a few dollies about 16 inches and I did manage three Burbot in the deeper water with the largest going about 28 inches. Not to heavy though. Two of the three came on a huge 3 oz, 5 inch or so Krockadile. I hit a few smaller dollies with the BIG spoon as well. IT definitely attracts fish though only the most aggressive will hit it.
Okay I wasn't going to say anything about this but after thinking about it some more, I just think it needs to be said in my general logs. Besides its my icefishing tip number 1 on my tips page!
I am getting really really really tired of all the boneheads that blatantly lie to us to get us off "their" lake. Like I said in my ice fishing tips, DO NOT listen to anyone who is negative about the fishing. 9 time out of ten, they are liars. The correct response is then "what are you doing here?" Still I can't believe how many times this year, I have already had to deal with these inconsiderate people. My group knows better but what if you were a family trying to enjoy yourself on a publicly stocked lake and you get harassed like that? Could ruin a great family outing. It makes me FURIOUS just thinking about it.
Let's me relate to you a recent incident on Big Lake. Doug and I are hammering fish through the ice. We both had one Dolly and one rainbow on the ice, after releasing a bunch more. A guy on a snowmobile comes from a nearby house and says "You boys are illegal." After we stated the regulations virtually word for word, he counters with "they changed the regs". After telling him that I had just the day before spoken to Fish & Game reps and KNEW 100% the changes had been proposed but had not taken effect yet. Then we proceeded to tell him that he should brush up on the rule changes, because had he been correct about the regulations taking effect, HE would have also been illegal since he was using treble hooks and the new regs not only limit catch, but the use of treble hooks as well. That didn't phase him a bit, the next thing you know all the fish in Big Lake had cancers and tumors and were inedible despite the fact that 5 minutes earlier, he had said that he just got done eating fish out of Big Lake and showing off a nice burbot he had caught 3 days earlier but hadn't cleaned yet. Duh!
I know what you are thinking, this HAD to be an isolated incident. NOPE! Happens all the time! Already three times this year. And they are persistent! Most are probably just local folks protecting their turf. I guess I can understand the motivation, but the acts are still downright low. It doesn't give anyone the right to interfere in other peoples use of public accesses and public waters. The two other times that we've been told that "there is no fish in this lakes" our favorite reply is "What are you talking about. You don't live around here do you? " I don't condone being a "wise guy" though. Go armed with information and you should be okay.
Even I can't and don't divulge all of my secrets. If you don't want to give info out, then don't! But don't lie or be impolite about it. A few of the lakes we fish are very small and could be fished out of the larger fish easily. As a general rule when we see people, if they are new to the lake, we try to help them catch more fish so they aren't as tempted to take the one big fish they happened to catch. We'll talk about how the smaller fish seem to be better eating and how the larger fish need to be left for brood stock. Of course, in stocked lakes, I don't feel as guilty keeping a few. Still when we eat fish, those 12 to 16 inchers seem firmer and tastier than the larger fish. Keep a few smaller ones instead of a couple larger ones for eating. Take along those new disposable cameras to record the large fish. Most of the recent pictures are taken with the disposable by Kodak or Fuji, they work great!
..in waist deep snow at least. I'm not sure I can call it hunting when I was physically concentrating 99% on moving forward, let alone trying to spot and chase down a moose to see if they have horns or not!
Well with the fall spike/forkhorn moose hunting season well under way in the valley, I thought I would get some exercise in and see if I couldn't help some friends get a moose. I enjoy fishing a lot more than hunting, with the main reason being its kinda hard to "catch & release" while hunting.... though a good camera would suffice. But after years of having friends in many secluded parts of Alaska where gas can be a couple of dollars a gallon and the local grocery store is over an hour away...by plane, hunting moose is not a sport but a down right serious hunt to put meat in the freezer. And after being served a nicely aged steak off a moose the other day, I now know why its such an important hunt for many of these people....it was pretty tasty.
The current hunt is restricted to the taking of young bulls with only a spike or forkhorn. Basically it means that from our experience, if you see a hundred moose, you MIGHT see a couple of spike/forkhorn. So I trudged through waist deep powder for several hours. WHEW...no moose but a dang good workout. The heavy snows (15 inches or so in Big Lake and about 26 inches near Willow where we were at) made it a great workout. We'll see if I can stay away from fishing another weekend.
Well the extra snow should mean that we should start getting ready for some snowmobiling into some good Pike fishing. The first stop will most likely be Flathorn Lake or Red Shirt Lake due to their proximity. I hate taking even my old reliable snowmobile more than 5 or 6 miles on the first outing. I know that state lands have been closed to snowmobiling until there is a foot of frozen ground and a foot of snow cover. Well I think we have that now! So get those machine ready and fired up. THE SNOW IS HERE...THE SNOW IS HERE...THE SNOW IS HERE...THE SNOW IS HERE...THE SNOW IS HERE...THE SNOW IS HERE...THE SNOW IS HERE...THE SNOW IS HERE...THE SNOW IS HERE...!!!!!November 28th & 29th, Mat-su area Lake and Big Lake
Well with most of the fishing group chasing spike forkhorn moose around the Mat-su Valley, I went fishing alone over the weekend. Good thing since my buddies didn't get a moose this weekend, we ended up frying a few of the fish I managed to catch on Saturday.
With the lake's oxygen content slowly dwindling down, the rainbows are still actively feeding but appear considerably more lethargic than even two weeks ago. While I swear by my trusty Krockadile spoon, this weekend it was roe and shrimp suspended on light line that got the majority of the hits. As you peered down the hole in about 10 feet of water, you could see dozens of fish milling around but none would take the spoon. They would race up to it and veer off at the last second. Once I started tipping the spoon with shrimp, they would GENTLY mouth the bait and immediately spit it out. I was holding the line with my bare hands and could not feel the bite at all. It was amazing. I basically caught all my fish by using a spoon to attract them in and as soon as I saw one, I would gently jiggle the baited hook and sometime the fish would smack the suspended bait. I did have a few of the bigger fish in the 18 inch range just grab and take off with the bait, almost taking my rod in the process! I bet you on Saturday, I caught and released 100 trout from 6 inches to 18 inches. On Sunday, same holes I caught....5 fish. Go figure!?!?!
I tried Big Lake for a few hours with no results. Due to the ice condition, I still am fishing relatively shallow. As the bay's oxygen content tuns down, I think I will have better luck in the more open points ands structure like Burnt Point or by South Shore Marina.November 26th, Big Lake
Well went to Big Lake at 2am yup, that's 2AM because I was bored out of mind and awake. I went out to try the night thing to see if anything would hit. Oddly enough I did get hits consistently but couldn't hook anything. I FROZE out there. Wow, I thought a coleman lantern would heat a small two man ice shelter....nope it didn't! I stayed till noon but since I didn't catch anything during the day time, I can't say whether the fishing at night works or not. Oh well. We'll have to try it again. As short as the days are, I gotta find somewhere or something where I can consistently catch fish at night.
Saturday, I convinced Doug to head out to Big Lake and do some ice fishing. Unfortunately I had to be at a charity event in town at 1 pm. Well Douggie being game, said okay so off we went early. Good thing. We had a great day. We both landed nice char and rainbow with two biggest char gong 22 inches or so and about 3 pounds. We also caught rainbows as well. Sunday was a drag! Over the same fishing holes Doug managed a 6 inch rainbow and a 12 inch landlocked salmon. My total...the big norton, goose egg, nahda....
We pull up stakes on Sunday and try another lake near Big Lake. Well the action is HOT for rainbows and Dollies to about 6 inches. Ackk!
Oh well still on Sunday we a had a great day. Dougiie was getting good strikes on cocktail shrimp. I was jigging my old trust worth krockadiles in the 1/8 oz up to 1/2 oz.. We kept a char for eating and noticed that the salmon smolts it was feeding on were about 2 inches long. Later in the year as the smolts grow, I think it helps to match the size of the prey. I like smaller spoons in the early winter because I can land the large char as well as the feisty rainbows. but later in the year when the rainbows become inactive, I switch over to larger spoons. The salmon we see the big char feeding on are larger in size and I think the bigger char want to get as many calories as possible per expended calories. Bigger fish mean more food for the char with similar energy expended.
November 14th, Mat-su Lake
Saturday. Doug, Erick, and I headed out for a lake on the Glenn Highway past Palmer. Something different for us since we seem to always take the Parks Highway into Wasilla. Well it was cold and windy. It was the first time any of had been on this particular lake. This lake is one of the few lakes near Anchorage that you have a reasonable chance at catching lake trout (if thats not a dead give away, a little research goes a long way). Well the fishing was cold and slow. This lake was a good example on why you should always be careful on the ice. The ice in most places was 6 inches thick. But we definitely found patches of ice that was less than an inch thick over 50 feet of water. Not a good place to drop in!
Have I ever said anything in this log about perseverance paying off? Well once again it does pay off. After walking a big part of the lake and punching holes every where, out total tally was one rainbow for me about 12 inches long. Cold and ready to quit, we walked back toward the car. With the wind, there was no snow on the lake and we could easily see into the water through the ice. 30 yards from our car, Douggie yells "wow, look at those big fish!" Dropping our equipment we furiously punch holes. After quieting down a bit we could see good size rainbows to 18 inches come by in schools of 3 to 10 fish. I even managed a very small burbot. The fish were lethargic as they would come up to the bait or lure but not inhale it. Still we managed to catch a couple of fish and being able to see them was a blast.
The hot bait here was unquestionably shrimp. Cleaning the one or two small rainbows we did keep, they appeared to be eating the freshwater shrimp. Still the lure that continues to outfish everything I try including bait was a smaller Luhr Jensen Krockadile in chrome and blue. Hmmmm I need to try something else before I am fully convinced but I know that as long as I have a Krockadile or two, at least I am fishing.
November 11, Mat-su Lakes.Well we went and visited two lakes in the Mat-su area with Doug and Eric. We had one of the best ice fishing days I can remember. Nothing huge but good consistent action for most of the day with Rainbows and Dollies to 20 inches. The ice on one lake was a good 6 inches. The other nearby lake had only 3 inches. BE CAREFUL and ALWAYS go with a partner in early ice conditions.
While Doug and Eric did well with bait (Doug uses cocktail shrimp, Erick used roe) I hit almost all of my fish on my trusty half ounce chrome and blue Luhr Jensen Krockadile. I have more faith in this lure than ever! On the second lake, the three of us stood within relatively close proximity to each other and call it luck or whatever, but I must have caught a dozen fish to their combined total of 3 or 4 fish. Now I know Doug and Erick are waaaay too good of fishermen for me to brag about my skills outfishing them.
I do have a theory I think I was the only one on the ice that had swapped their hooks over from the factory hooks to Gamakatsu hooks. The results, I bet a third of my fish were snagged outside of the mouth. Huh? Snagged during icefishing??? After the first couple of times, I peered down the hole to watch. Sure enough the fish later in the day were becoming lethargic coming up to the lure, bumping it, and then swimming away without every inhaling the lure. So, Id feel a bump and every time with the gamakatsu hooks, I would end up snagging them. On the factory hooks, they tend to just slide off the skin. It happens on your hands too. The gamakatsu stick into your hand just from the weight of the lure, normal factory hooks are NEVER that sharp. So am I endorsing gamakatsu hooks? Nope, just sharp hooks. Even the factory hooks can be touched up with a hook sharpener to be ultra sharp.
The other difference that I could see was that in general I was using much smaller jigging strokes. Lifting the lure up only a couple of inches and letting it settle. Normally the fish are more aggressive and they look to hit slightly more aggressively jigged lures. You dont need much action at all to get your lure to work. Spend sometime looking into the water and seeing how your lure works. Remember you have to imitate a dying or wounded minnow, not one with a lot of get up and go that the fish might think is too difficult to catch.
November 7, Big Lake and A smaller Mat-su Lake.
Well I think the open water fishing is finally finished. Around 8pm on Friday, we call Big Lake to see if there was open water. "Yup! There sure is!" we get told so early in the morning, Doug and I head out to Big Lake with boat in tow. We looked kinda silly when we pull up to Big Lake and it is ENTIRELY frozen...DOH! So after hemming and hawing about our situation, we decide to hit a smaller lake that might be frozen over.
BIG LAKE REGULATIONS ARE CHANGING!!!!!! Its my understanding that the the new regs take affect January 1. take a look at F&G's home page for more details.
Sure enough we head north of Big Lake to a small lake hoping that it would be frozen over. Well we get there and guess who is on the ice...Erick! Small world. There was about 4 inches of clear solid ice and we had no concerns about safety. It was solid ice....no flooding, no sagging, thick solid ice. WOW! Unfortunately without the snow, it was like glass. We could see all the way to the bottom of the lake, and I'm sure the fish could see us as well. Once the sun came up we couldn't hit at all. Later in the day as the shadows started crawling over the lake, we did manage to pick up 4 or 5 smaller fish. The fish came on small spoons, earthworms, and shrimp. Once the snow cover hits or we have a good cloudy day, we are going to hit the rainbow lakes hard! You only have till about mid-January before the rainbows start becoming more inactive.
Still, you gotta be careful on early season ice. Look for underwater springs and currents under the ice that can cause thin ice anywhere. Until we get more ice, always go with a friend, extra clothes, and a pole or rope JUST IN CASE. The water is COLD! Duh!
November 1, Big Lake.
Well the lakes in Anchorage pretty much all have ice. Went out to Delong Lake and stomped around for a bit in about a foot of water. The ice cracked but didn't break. Its almost time to think about ice fishing....but this warmer weather is definitely not good.
Still Doug, Martin , and I went out to Big Lake to see if we couldn't get a final day of open water fishing. WOW, open water fishing in Alaska in November. Last year Martin crossed the Big Su River on his Snowmobile in the first week of November.
Nevertheless, we checked out the North State Campsite and the bay was 100% frozen over. Doh! I could walk out pretty far and the ice was stable. So we went around to South Port Marina which was free of ice since it sat on the main lake. Well we had a great day. It wasn't a lot of fish, but good numbers of quality fish. Doug topped the day with a 24 inch Dolly that fought like crazy. I had the biggest rainbow at about 19 inches. Martin also tagged a bunch of nice rainbows with his largest going nearly 18 inches. All of the fish were a blast on ultralight gear. I landed probably 5 fish in the 15 to 19 inch range. Most of mine were caught on a size 3 Krockadile (half ounce?) in chrome with blue stripe. I did catch the big rainbow on a fire tiger #3 vibrax. All the fish were caught trolling the south shore of Big Lake. As we suspected the cloudy weather kept the fishing consistent for most of the morning and up to about 2pm. Then like in ice fishing things slow way down. We should have few good pix after we develop the film.
October 24, Big Lake.
Well with the waters freezing in many of the lakes around us, we are being forced (if you can call it that) to fishing Big Lake. Went out with Erick and Doug. Started at around 10 am and we began to hit fish immediately. It certainly was not a hot action day. but still we landed some really nice fish near the 20 inch class. Both Dollies and Rainbows. You can pretty much tell immediately after you hook a fish. The Dollies stay down deep and shake their heads, the rainbows take to the air almost immediately, often clearing the water by several feet a dozen times or more before they come to the boat. The clear sunny day made it hard on fishing as usual. Still we were FREEZING on the water! release those big ones as often as you can! Keep the smaller ones if you're going to eat them. They are better anyway. Releasing the big ones insures a good catch in future years.
October 21, Big Lake.
Well I had some guests in town so a couple of my buddies and I took them out on Big Lake seeing as though the fishing was soooooo good on Monday. ACK! Thpft! I guess that's why they call it fishing instead of catching. A weather front had pushed through bringing sunny days instead of the rainy, cloudy day we had on Monday. While we caught 4 to 5 fish a piece, it was MUCH slower than on Monday. We caught them on spinners, spoons, and earthworms on a spinner harness like they use for Walleyes down south. We even managed to snag a 23 inch Dolly in the dorsal fin over 70 feet of water trolling at the 15 foot depth or so. Tell me that fish wasn't unlucky! We thought we had the trophy Dolly on but it wasn't to be. I'm sure the fish came and took a whack and missed and got hooked...but still unlucky..for the fish!
Still the lack of quantity was made up for in quality. I think everyone managed a 20 inch or better rainbow or Dolly (Arctic Char) during the day. There was ice around the edges but I bet Big Lake is good for open water fishing until Mid-November. I think this weekend I would like to hit a smaller lake but Big Lake will be on the list in the next several weeks if we don't go there this weekend!
October 19, Big Lake
As good as the fishing was Saturday, I wasn't about to let Alaska Day ( and a day off) go by without some more fishing. Well Doug and I headed out to Big Lake. We didn't see another soul fishing. We HAMMERED fish all day long. We had a nice chunky fish on our line at least every 15 minutes for most of the day. Doug hit two really nice fish with one rainbow surpassing 21 inches and a dolly in the 23 inch range. I caught a bunch but the biggest I could manage was 18 inches. I lost one that was huge though! They all are when we lose them! Still they averaged at least 16 inches and they were full of fight. A blast on ultralight gear! I bet we released over 30 fish. With the colder weather, the trout are on a feeding rampage. One of the big rainbows spit out a 3 inch salmon. Because they appeared to be targeting baitfish the lure of choice on this trip was a small spoon. Anything about 2 to 3 inches long imitating the small landlocked salmon and salmon smolts should do well. We hit most of our fish in shallow water trolling in about 5 to 15 feet of water being the most effective.
Big Lake should be immune from early freeze up so this is a great chance to go catch fish while you wait for the smaller lakes to freeze.
October 17, Mat-su Lake
Well we hit another lake in the Mat-su area. Went with Doug, Erick, Martin, and me. We had two canoes with electric trolling motors. We basically caught them on everything. worm harnesses, spinners, spoons, plugs..everything. The fish averaged about 16 inches with the best fish pushing 21 inches. For the size of the lake I can't believe the size and strength of these fish. We had to push off through ice to get at these fish. the smaller lakes will be freezing fast so you better hit them soon if you want a shot at these fish in open water. The fish appear to be feeding on minnows but since we released most all of the fish we caught, we couldn't do a complete stomach analysis. We did note that the Dollies looked pretty close to spawning and one Dolly we kept because it swallowed the hook was ripe with eggs. If you catch a big one somewhere about this time year, let it go for brood stock. It'll ensure more fish later!
October 11, Mat-su Lake
OCTOBER!!??!?!? What happened to September!?!?! Well actually I was gone on a business trip to Japan and South Korea for several weeks so I haven't had the time to fish.
Still, my first fishing trip since coming back into town took waaay too long! Erick and I headed up to a lake in the Mat-su Valley. Its not a secret lake, in fact I pulled up the map on Fish and Game's home page so I could check out the depths of the lake. But I promised not to mention it in my logs so a secret it remains.
We spent about 4 hours trolling around the lake, it was beautiful and dead calm which made for some tough fishing. I was trolling a 1/4 oz silver and blue Krockadile that day. It took us a while to hit a few, but when we did it was awesome. 4 feisty and fat rainbow trout hooked in the 17 to 18 inch range, all clones of each other. They were thick, beautiful, and full of energy. They were all loaded with sticklebacks. the trout in all the area lakes are on a feeding binge prepping for winter. We had to break through a couple inches of ice on shore. If you want to get out, you better do it soon!
August 23, Seward -
Okay, I'm getting a bit peeved at Seward. I had another problem with a company in Seward. Bob and I reserved a boat with Sea Lion Sports in Seward. We reserved a 24 foot Excel with outboards....supposedly. They didn't call they didn't do anything but give us a long story about how the distributor cap for the Ford engine was broken and they couldn't find a replacement part AFTER we got into Seward and they knew of the problem the day before. First of all, since when does Ford make outboards? So I called and sure enough they said they had given the boat Bob reserved to the couple that came in on Saturday. A major disappointment and a potential trip of a lifetime ruined by some very shoddy business attitude.
I called to hear their side of the story and they basically swore at me and said how I was wrong and that I could kiss somewhere I wouldn't dream of. I thought it was hard to be wrong when I was only asking what happened. Unprofessional to the MAX!!!!! Then they start telling me that for the last two days (Monday & Tuesday) they upgraded 2 groups to bigger boats because two smaller boats were not working! Great, Starting Saturday ,the first day I have any info on them, they have basically have had to rearrange boats because as many as three were not working (out of a fleet of four..maybe five boats..I'm not sure but obviously not many)! I wouldn't feel safe on ANY of their boats!
So we are stuck on shore with Bob's father in law from out of state. The weather was rough and we would have been trapped inside resurrection bay even if we did have the boat. We scrounged together gear to bobber fish for silvers near the Sea-Life Center. We had 4 or 5 silvers on but couldn't land a single fish! Herring under the bobbers were enticing a few strikes but no hot action. We finally settled for a few rockfish by dropping the bait to the bottom. We lost a lot of gear though. Vertical fishing from a boat would have solved that.
I don't want this log to turn into a complaint log!!!!!! But What can you do???????
August 18, Bird Creek
I went to Bird Creek after work with Bob. Definitely still silvers around but I would say that 75% of the fish were already starting to turn pink with about 25% already dark. The pinks were abundant though they didn't look too good and they fought even worse. Both Bob and I managed to pick up two keeper Silvers a piece while releasing dozens of pinks and a few more foul hooked Silvers. The run is definitely on its last legs. We caught all of our fish flipping with steelhead type bright fly patterns and simple yarn flies in orange and chartreuse.
I guess its time to start thinking about trout fishing in the fall and a little hunting. Still you can't complain from driving 20 minutes from Downtown after work and landing a dozen salmon. Have I ever mentioned in my logs that I love this place?
August 16, Ship Creek
I went out to Ship Creek with Erick about 2 hours after High Tide. The run is dwindling but definitely enough fish (and people) to keep things interesting. Erick landed a nice silver of maybe 8 pounds. I landed one smaller male but turned it back because it was already starting to turn a bit dark. About half of the fish I saw already had some coloration to them. Most people were flipping flies but the guy below me was drifting a small glob of roe and had three silvers flopping on the bank in less than an hour. That's what I will try next time. Had a great time, fished 5 minutes from home, landed one silver and hooked 3 more in about 3 hours. ya gotta love it here!
August 8, Kenai River
I went out on the Kenai river with Bob, Susan and their 6 year old nephew. Catching fish was important so I did what any self respecting guide would do...I set up for PINKS! Thank God! We did a good job hammering them with their nephew landing 6 or 7 fish by himself. A great fight on light gear. To make it as simple as possible, we were anchored up and ran wiggle warts behind the boat. The pattern of the day was a smaller wiggle wart in the silver and red color. The exact same wigglewart one size larger drew less than a quarter of the strikes. We even managed to dredge up a silver using a plug. But NEVER guarantee fish. Eventually the 6 year old gets bored..of course, so Bob runs him in and Susan and I decide to greedily keep fishing for pinks. It took us 30 minutes to drop odd bob and the nephew, we come back and we cannot catch a fish to save our lives not even a PINK! Curses! Oh well, at least I wasn't working!
Well pretty happy with the fishing, I head back to my parents house and there is dad cleaning a beautiful limit of silvers. He brags that its his fourth consecutive day of limiting out. He proceeds to rub salt in my wounds, as he limits again on Sunday before I am even out of bed! WHAT! "So where did ya go?" Silence and a smile. "DANG IT!, WHERE DID YOU GO!" Well he finally let me in on the secret... I'll only say that he was not fishing the Kenai River. I hate getting out fished by your old man! Well, no shame, he fishes hard and seriously...almost as bad as I am about the whole thing! All of his fish were caught on bobber and roe rig. After getting the story out of him, the run does appear to be past its peak. At the beginning of the weak, he said limiting out was easy. But by the end of the week, he would not see or feel a fish for hours then in a 15 minute span a small school would come up and he would land three fish in 15 minutes then leave.
August 4, Anchorage area and Northern streams
I have to admit that I haven't been so motivated to fish every since ending vacation. I guess too much of anything can get overbearing. Still I can;t imagine this down cycle will last long....especially since all of my friends are SLAMMING silvers everywhere they go. The lack of red salmon to the Kenai River and the subsequent lack of commercial fishing has allowed a BUNCH of silvers everywhere. While there are just as many people as fish at Ship and Bird Creek in Anchorage, almost everyone is hooking up. The silvers don't appearing to be biting too well and a lot of the fish I saw were snagged. Give it a try if you can deal with the crowd.
Another buddy of mine hit many of the streams north of Anchorage from the little willow all the way up to Montana. He was saying that they were looking for a stream they COULDN'T catch fish in! Everywhere they went, pinks and chums kept them busy with the silvers adding to the excitement. The peak of the silver run should be the first two weeks here in August so go give them a try. If you don't like the crowds, wait till the end of August, fewer people but fewer fish. Still you can only keep three anyway...right?
Has anyone looked at the Red sonar count for the Kenai! DOH!!! The best day this year was on August 2 with nearly 70,000 fish going by the sonar. If you want a few reds, head on up to the Russian river area. the fish should be thick pretty soon in the upper river. I bet you can still slam fish near Soldotna if you are willing to drive that far. I hope all my buddies are fished out so they don't read this. They will kill me if they see the run stats now. Of course I can't predict mother nature and the peak of the run is usually July 15 through the 20th.
I also have good reports from the Homer Lagoon. Late run Kings are still present and the silvers are coming in much more steadily. If you are on the peninsula, you should give it a try
Back to Rudy's Home page
Go to FIRST HALF 1998 Logs
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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