Rudy's Fishing Log for 1999 (Spring & Summer)

Where am I fishing next? Find out here!

October 31  Mat-Su Lake FIRST ICE FSIHING!

As promised, I am back fishing!  And to top it all off, I went ICE FISHING in October!  I love this place!  Well erick and I trounce out to a favorite lake of ours in the mat-su valley.  This particular lake is small, well shaded, and protected from strong winds.  A perfect combo for early freeze up.  We get out there and sure enough, the lake has a solid 4 inches of good clear ice.  No problems walking on it.  Still, we exercised a lot of caution until we deemed it safe.  If you go out ice fishing, especially early, make sure you play it safe.  never go alone, and bring extra clothes and something you can use to pull out someone if they happen to break through.  Fishing is a blast!  But its not worth dying over!    At any rate, I know the lake we were on is safe, but they all differ,  a lake right next to the lake we fished was still open. 

Well, the fishing was not as hot as we thought it would be.  We chop holes (we used an axe) and both Erick and I hit nice mid sized dollies right away.  Ooooh, this is going to be great.....errrr....maybe not.  After the first two fish, we went fishless for a couple of hours.  Then we managed a couple of nice eating size rainbows and a couple of Dollies.  Following the typical pattern, the Dollies were all caught jigging spoons and the rainbows came on cocktail shrimp and single eggs suspended under a bobber.   I managed two of the dollies on an all chrome lure called the "Do-Jigger" made by the same company that makes Swedish pimples.  They are flatter and work great.    They are my number two lures to the luhr jensen Krockadiles. Well, it looks like the ice fishing season has officially begun.  BUT BE CAREFUL IF YOU GO!  SAFETY FIRST!

October 27  A quick update

Well, Grandma is doing infinitely better so we are all relieved and thankful for her quick recovery from a very serious problem.  Man, that woman is tough! 

The news of the day...IT SNOWED!  Oh Yeah!  WE LOVE SNOW!  You don't get wet like rain, and everything seems clean and new!  Time to get the ice fishing gear out!!!!

Well I do have a quick fishing update from Dougiie who ended up on Big Lake.   Nothing super hot but they definitely hit a share of rainbows and turned up a few good Dollies as well.  I'm glad to hear that at least a few dollies are finally starting to show up.  Well I think I am going fihsing this weekend so we'll have another report! 


Well thanks to all of you that have emailed asking "what's up? No fishing?"   Well as most of you know, fishing is one of my passions.  I always wondered what it would take to keep me away from fishing.  Well unfortunately I now know at least one thing that is a much higher priority then fishing.  My grandmother was hospitalized last week and for any of you who have had the chance to visit our house, you know that grandma is the best host in the world.  Not only that, she is a fisherperson extraordinaire and a whiz at cleaning, cooking, & smoking fish to perfection.  She's been one of my best fishing partners and somehow she always seems to catch the most and the biggest fish.  She's recovering now and we hope to have her home soon.  Until she is at home resting under the watchful eyes of my parents, I most likely won't be fishing much.  You gotta take care of the people who take care of you!  And if that's truly the case, I'll never able to make up for all the early morning coffee and breakfast she's made for all my fishing buddies at 3am or for her taking care of a days' catch while all the young guys were snoring on the couch! 

king71.gif (12316 bytes)A funny, but typical story, about the 71 pound King Salmon in this picture may give a better image (you can click on it for a larger JPEG).  First of all she was jealous that my fish beat out the 55 pound fish she caught early that year (1994), but she gets over that.   As soon as I get home, I am on the phone discussing with my friends how much it would cost to mount a fish like this one.  I was on the phone for no more than 30 minutes.  The decision was made to mount it at a pretty high cost.  Afterall there are bigger kings but even I haven't seen a King this large and this brightly chrome colored.  I run back to the yard to find my fish cleaned, filleted and mostly vacuum packed.  AUGHHHHH!  GRANDMA! How on earth did you manage to lift the fish onto the cutting board?  What did you do to cut off the head?  "You did it yourself???? You have got to be kidding!!!!"   She's tough so she'll recover quickly I am sure.  Until then, I hope everyone can be patient until I can get out and spend more time outdoors.  Believe me, I will be back out fishing ASAP!   I just need to make sure my priorities are straight for the immediate future.   Thanks for your patience!

September 25 & 26    Big Lake         Target:  rainbows and Char

I fished the Call of the Wild's annual tournament at Big Lake.  First off all I need to say that the tournament was well organized and the door prizes were great!   Everyone (64 entries) went away with something.  My boat of three walked away with a t-shirt, a fillet knife, a fillet glove and a rod and reel combo!  All that for a $20 entry fee per person.  the coffee, donuts, & chili were worth the entry fee!  The other great news, they paid out 100% of the money back as prize money!!!!   Top 5 fish by length in both the Char and Rainbows finished in the "money"!!!  Great Tournament!!!!

Unfortunately the fishing was TERRIBLE!  The good news, it wasn't just me.   The best we could manage was a 18 and 5/8 inch rainbow that finished 7th or 8th in the tournament.  Not bad.  But the fishing was slow slow slow!  I bet we managed only like 6 fish the first day and 12 fish or so the next day for three people. Ack!  As we approach winter, the action should only improve.  Why were the fish not biting.  Ecven the locals had a tough time hooking fish.  the winning Char was only 26 inches...I think.  Small by Big Lake standards.  The winning rainbow was a bit over 20 inches!  We catch those consistently on Big Lake....most of the time!  Still, the weather was crisp but certainly tolerable.  We had a good time.

September 18    Big Lake         Target:  rainbows and Char

Tried Big Lake again and the weather was just miserable.  We did manage a few rainbows but nothing of any size with the fish probably averaging about 16 inches.   Most of the rainbows look fat and full of food.  We managed one nice rainbow that spit out several half digested fish about 2 inches long.  So they appear to be targeting the baitfish.  We were using half ounce krockadiles in chrome with blue stripe and chrome with red stripe.  The red striped spoon seemed to be getting more hits at a rate of 2 to 1.  Hmmmmm......  Well I've always preferred the plain chrome or blue stripe on chrome but there was no doubt that the red stripe was the better spoon on this day.  All the rainbows were caught trolling in under 10 feet of water over hard rock bottom.  One major concern for me is the lack of char we are hooking into.  Of course I have never fished Big Lake this early so maybe they are off somewhere else.  But if you look at my logs from last year, in the month of October, we would consistently hit one or two nice char per trip.  I think this last trip makes like 7 or 8 consecutive trips without a single char.  Well I'm not going to panic until we get into the icefishing season and I'm pretty sure we are fishing habitat more suitable for rainbows, but it would be nice to see if we can't hook into at least one or two char here soon!

September 11    Big Lake         Target:  rainbows and Char

Went out fishing with Rick and Doug on Big Lake.  Boy the weather was awesome.   I love fishing in the fall.  While I am mainly a salmon fisherman, this time year is a great time to be out and away from the crowds.  It was relatively peaceful on the lake, except for a few morons on jet ski's that would pass close by us despite having the lake entirely to themselves.

I am getting a bit concerned about the lack of Char and Dolly Varden from Big Lake this year.  Of course I have never fished Big Lake this early in the year so maybe I am being premature.  Its my understanding after talking to the biologists that the char may be congregating for spawning somewhere so they will be concentrated in a specific area. Hmmmm....if you look at my winter logs from last year, its my opinion the Char spawn much later in the year at least in Big Lake.  In a  few of the smaller lakes, I think the spawning occurs in late October.  If you catch a brightly colored char ready to spawn, think about letting it go.  Better fishing for the future!

Well we did manage to land some really nice rainbows during our fishing trip.  I'd say they averaged 15 inches with many coming real close to the 20 inch length.  For whatever reason, they don't seem to be taking to the air as often as the fish we catch later in the year.  Increased weeds are causing us to change our trolling pattern where we currently favor rocky bottom in 5 to 10 feet of water.  Any place you can find weed growth at about 15 feet and a ledge of rocks rising to 5 feet or so seems to produce nice rainbows.  while we tried a variety of different lures, the consistent producer this trip was the Thomas minnow spoon.  The fish still appear to be targeting the small stickle backs and salmon parr in the lake.

September 6    Kenai Peninsula Stream         Target: Silver Salmon

Went fishing with Ryo since it was his final weekend in Alaska after 3 months.   Wow, the fish gods must have known it was going to be his last salmon fishing day for a long time.  He seemed to catch silver after silver and I caught a few as well.   I think its safe to say that a few streams still hold some good numbers of silvers.   He caught half of his fish on a Fire tiger # 4 Vibrax spinner.  The rest of the fish we both caught on our standard roe and float rig.  Combined we hooked a couple of dozen fish over the course of half a day! 

As the current started picking up right after high tide, we couldn't keep the silvers off of our line!  It was amazing.  Every now and then you get one of those days when you just can't go wrong.  This day was one of them. Of course we also went through a couple of  one hour stretches that we didn't even get a nibble.  So though I sound like it was easy, reality is we worked hard and we waited for the flurries of fish that must have been moving up the river.

Something I found interesting was Ryo was using barbless hooks.  He only lost one fish on the barbless hooks and it was easy to get the hook out after he landed one. So rather than causing him to catch fewer fish, it actually helped him catch more since the silvers often just inhale the lures and he was able to get back in the water very quickly.   everytime I netted a fish, the lure would fall out after he let up on the tension.   And given that the "bite" was on for only 15 to 20 minutes at a time, he maximized his efforts big time.  A couple of his fish acted like classic silvers.   running Hard taking to the air 4 or 5 times and he only lost one fish. Hmmmmm.....something to think about for sure.  I was using four pound line and my ultralight outfit.   It was a blast, but I think I am going to move up to a slightly heavier gear.   No problems landing fish but heck of a time hooking them.  the soft, short rod and light line just isn't enough to bury the hook properly and I was using premium hooks!   Also I noticed that his fish ( he was using 10 or 12 pound line) were much more spectacular fighting.  The fights were obviously shorter than my 4 pound line but I think the added pressure on the line just caused the silvers to go berserk and leap into the air and battle that much harder.  With the ultralight, it seemed like after I tired the fish out, I would just guide the fish into shore and into the net.  Instead of out muscling it, it seemed like I was outsmarting it.  I guess both ways have their merits but almost every fish caught on Ryo's line seemed to fight better!  Any opinions out there?

September 4    Big Lake         Target: Rainbows &Dollies

Well at least the idea was to catch both rainbows and dollies but for the first time ever..I think...we didn't catch a single Dolly!  Still the rainbows kept us occupied for the most part.  Certainly not a stellar day but 4 of us managed to catch a couple of dozen nice rainbows in a day.  the biggest probably went only 20 inches but we still had a great time.  We basically trolled in 5 to 15 feet of water with small silver spoons, rapalas, and crawlers attached to a worm harness.  Weed growth kept us from trolling in many of our favorite spots but we seemed to do really well over rocky patches on edges of weed beds in about 8 feet of water.

The surprise for the day was Doug's two silver salmon (no, not the landlocked type) that he caught while trolling trout gear.  One came on a spoon but the other came on a night crawler.  Huh?  I have no idea how that happened but the Silver simply inhaled the lure!  Maybe I need to go try night crawlers for a few of the silvers!  

August 28    Russian river & a Kenai Peninsula Stream         Target Silvers

rtss.gif (15787 bytes)Another great weekend of silver fishing.  The silvers in a few of the peninsula streams are still coming in strong.  My father and I managed our limit, releasing a few extra fish in the process.  All the fish were mint bright with sea lice indicating they had been in freshwater a relatively short time.  All the fish were caught on a bobber and roe rig starting an hour before high tide and about an hour after.

I also stopped at Russian River to see what was happening.  You could see a few trout holding behind the spawning sockeyes but they wouldn't take.  Probably just too gorged on the plentiful supply of roe.  You would occasional hook a red that was nearly spawned out.  It was like pulling in a water soaked log.  Still I managed one nice trout that got off at my feet.  I think it was a dolly since it stayed in the water.  but immediately I knew I had something different on as it pulled ten times harder and faster than the reds.  I was using a simple bead over a size 8 gamakatsu hook.  Still what a sight, brilliantly colored red salmon everywhere!  made for a good picture. 

We did have one bad experience that I just need to share.  It's not to complain, but to make sure that no one else gets a good timed ruined.  One of my first tips on my ice fishing page is to be informed! But it applies to all season.  Gather information and be informed about the regulations governing the area you are fishing. 

So the story unfolds, my father and I are on the river at 5:30am.  It's still dark.  A guy who fishes down there for the past decade comes down and starts grumbling about how some (insert racial slur here) is in his spot.  Well we woke up early!  So as my father and I are speaking Japanese, we are up something like 4 fish to his none and then he turns to another guy and says do you understand a f%#&!@ thing these (another racial slur) are saying.  I laugh turn to him and say "well, I understand everything you are saying though!" Surprised at my English, he says to me, "You know what we call the way you are fishing ( we were using roe under a bobber)?  We call it (another racial slur) fishing."  I reply "Why would you say something stupid like that?!?!?!... what's your point? Let me give you a reality check, the score's 4 to zero and we call what you are doing a  'bigot flailing and failing.'"  

Hold on, we can't talk to you because dad's got another nice one on, and he is limited out.   Well in the Kenai River, once you keep your third silver salmon, you are done fishing for the day.  Not in other streams though.  But of course this guy is going to call the enforcement people on us because he says dad is fishing illegal since he is fishing after his 3rd fish (dad was 100% legal). Fine, I tell him quoting the regulations for him, here's my cell phone.   Make the call.  Is this guy just stupid?!?!  I know exactly where he lives, he lives so close to the stream that I bet its the only stream he fishes.  He shows up at the same place, same hole like clock work every year. He has much more to lose than anyone else there. Now the next time I see him, I'm snapping a picture, creating a fake website, and telling him that he's famous since he'll be on my web site (I'd never do that, he doesn't deserve any further recognition).  But I'll make sure that everytime someone comes walking down that bank, he'll look and I hope it scares the heebie jeebies out of him. 

BE INFORMED, know the regulations!  In Alaska, the people are as helpful and friendly as anywhere I have ever been.  Yet there is always a couple of outcasts that just don't live in the same time era or world as the rest of us.  Please don't let morons like that ruin your trip. I'm seriously thinking about writing a letter to the local paper.  I'm sure the vast majority of the folks in that small community would be appalled to hear how one person is tarnishing the entire area's image and perhaps chasing away tourist dollars.  I know a couple of folks left because they were offended.  We weren't going to give him the satisfaction of running us off.   Guess he's just gonna have to get up even earlier! 

August 21    Kenai Peninsula Stream         Target Silvers

ssall.gif (26876 bytes)HAMMER TIME!  FINALLY!  A day of great silver salmon fishing.  Took a few of my Japanese guests to a small clear water stream on the Kenai Peninsula.  I wasn't sure what to expect, but as it turned out, it was an AWESOME day!  I hooked over 30 fish landing maybe half of those in a four hour period.  All nice fish with the largest pushing 8 to 10 pounds!  All mint bright, within a mile of the saltwater.   "You only landed half?" Yup!  but that's what you get for using 4 pound line on such feisty fish.  Actually with patience and a super smooth drag, it was no problem landing the fish...once hooked!  Unfortunately I had forgotten that I had such light line.  I thought I had 8 pound test but after breaking the line on my first couple of fish, a quick inspection showed I had brought my 4 pound spool.  I was using 1/0 gamakatsu's that are super duper sharp but still the 4 pound line was not burying the hook point.  The first solution was winding 20 yards of 8 pound leader material so I could set the hook.  After getting bored of landing a bunch of fish (am I spoiled or what?) I decided that a smaller, therefore thinner hook might be the way to go.  Yup, hook sizes in the 2 to 4 gamakatsu's allowed for much better penetration.  

ryoss.gif (16366 bytes)SSKEN.gif (9956 bytes)During an one hour period, the silvers just went nuts.  you'd miss a strike, then once you moved the bait, 4 or 5 silvers would savagely attack the bare hook, the sinker, the bobber, and anything else that moved through the water.  I have to figure out what causes these feeding binges.  I know I could have hit a few on dry flies skimmed across the surface.  what a blast that would be.  Watching 10 pound fish attack on top water.

I've heard good reports from several anglers about the upper Kenai river for the big 'bows and Dolly Varden.  I've also heard a few fish are still being caught in the streams up north with Sunshine Creek and Sheep Creek being mentioned the most often.   While there is no doubt in my mind that the silver run is smaller than before, the run also appears late in many of the streams.  I say you have several more weeks of at least some sporadic fishing left on the Peninsula!  Go get'em!

August 15   Ship Creek          Target Silvers

Sat around all weekend playing catch up from vacation!  The weather has just been brutally poor the past 6 weeks or so in Alaska.  RAIN RAIN RAIN RAIN! Many of my favorite rivers are running so high and muddy that they are nearly impossible to fish.   Check out the River forecasting center to see what the flow is like in a stream near you by checking their home page at:

Still I had to get some fishing in so I took my ultralight down to Ship Creek  at low tide.  Not too many people so I thought I'd give it a try.  the water was relatively clear and you could hear people on the bridge saying they could see fish.   I managed to take a average size silver on 6 pound line at low tide with the current running hard!  too much fun!  had it on the shore, took off between my legs, passed the rod through, step over, switch was like some kind of choreographed dance...except I was all muddy in chest waders!

In the two hours I fished, I saw maybe four fish.  Of the four, two were snagged, one was lined under the jaw, and my fish swallowed the hook.  I was the only one using roe.  Everyone else was flipping the traditional flipping rigs.

Looking in my logs from last year, my previous experience in fishing smaller stream silvers, and hearing stories from this year, I have concluded that flipping for silvers is a very different game.  Maybe I am wrong.  You just can't seem to get a silver to take a fly as readily even though they are noted as being relatively more aggressive fish.  There is no doubt that they will hit properly cured roe.  Still on many occasions I have watched 30 silvers pass by my bait and for unexplained reasons one fish in the middle up the pack will move up and smack my bait which is often suspended under a bobber in small streams.  Not all the fish will hit but there always seem to be that one fish in the crowd.  The one sure rule is that the "Fish are in the water."  Gotta be fishing to have any chance at the "catching!"

August 1 -8 Lake Ontario, NY

Finally a quick second to update my logs after being away on vacation!  Wow, email is a great thing but a back log of over 125 emails is a bit out of hand!  Still what a Blast!  The first day the weather was near 100Deg! But a thunderstorm quickly cooled the river down to a more tolerable temp.

Just because there were too many things to do, I didn't fish as a much as a normal vacation.  Still we hammered smallmouth bass in the Black River in Dexter.  I also managed my first walleye out of the same area.  Other species caught included largemouth bass (tiny one!), sunnies, rock bass, crappie, Sheepshead, Channel cat & a bullhead.  Dang no carp!  Still I caught all my fish on my ultralight outfit.   The bait of the week for the smallies was no doubt live crayfish.  they didn't seem to care if they were softshelled or not so we used the less expensive hardshell crayfish/crabs.  We also hammered a few smallies in Lake Ontario.  Pound for pound, those smallies almost fight as hard as our Salmon! Well we'll say its a tie.   To bad they only get to 5 or 6 pounds instead of 10 to 80 pounds! 

All in all a good vacation for relaxing.  Now to get some more serious fishing in!  

July 17th &18th, 23rd & 24th Kenai river

A quick update while I have the time!  Well the Wall o'reds has finally hit the Kenai River.  On the 23rd, a group of 4 went dip netting from our group and managed 80 reds.  Wow!  the Week prior, Martin and I managed 30 reds in two separate short attempts.  The counters are still ringing up the reds so it should be good another week.

I personally tried the King fishing but found it to be waaay to crowded for my tastes.   We saw good number of fish, but with the sheer number of boats on the river, it still felt like a lottery.  I am DEFINITELY fishing the early season much harder next year...bait or not!  The run is in, the counters are going crazy for the reds.   IT IS TIME! 

A touch of the Flu and a bad work week laid me out.  Bummer.  Still I managed to hammer a few reds on rod and reel.  They should be present all up and down the river by now.  Limited out on Sunday in about 2 hours.  I even managed a 8 pound red on my GL loomis ultralight outfit with 6 pound test.  A pretty good feat in the raging Kenai River!

July 10th &11th Hidden Lake, Kasilof River, Deep Creek Marine.

Well at Midnight Erick and I head out of town with one our bigger boats in tow. We wanted to get it down to Kenai so we can prep ourselves for the upcoming "wall o'reds" that we always anticipate starting anytime after July 15th.  Well with absolutely no plans, we are on the road!  We decide that we better test boat before we drop it in the River or in the ocean so half way down to Kenai we turn off at Hidden Lake and in goes the boat.  Well we didn't catch anything but the boat ran fine so we head to the Kasilof River.  Well I have to admit, I'm not much into dipnetting fish out of the Kasilof.  they are beautiful fish but they are tiny when you compare them to the second run reds in the Kenai.  So Erick, after spending the day on Saturday creating an impressive home made dip net from virtually scratch, we head off and try a little dipnetting.

Well the escapement up the Kasilof River was in the 10,000 fish per day range throughout the week, but once the season opened, the count had dropped below 4,000 fish.   It showed.  Erick worked hard for a couple of hours and did manage to net 6 bright reds.  Size wasn't huge, but they were mint bright and when he cleaned them, they looked awesome!

So finally we get to the real fishing story of the weekend.  We wake up Sunday morning and the air is completely still.  Jumped on the internet, looked at the weather and it seemed perfect!  No choice ,but to try the marine fishery.  Well we got there and the weather was perfect!  We launch early and fish hard for hours without a strike.  But of course the current was simply raging due to the tidal flow so I wasn't too worried until the tide started to slacken up. 

With the large tides for the day, it didn't slack up for an hour or two after book time high tide.  But sure enough we started getting small taps.  Then one time Erick sends his herring down, clicks the bail lever, and DOH!  Line continues to tear off the reel.  Hey, are we drifting?  Heck no that's a fish, and a good one at that.   Erick battles and battles finally he gains line and the fish is nearing the surface.  Just about when we looked over the edge to see if we couldn't see the fish, it takes off again and without hardly any resistance, the line goes slack!   NOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!  Erick retrieves his line and we discovered the Knot had failed/cut/broke on 100 pound mono!  THAT IS THE LAST TIME, I use pre-rigged hooks I buy in a store.  The knot looked a bit funky, but I figured they knew what they were doing so I rigged it up.  The ease in which the line broke and the twisted broken end immediately told me that somehow the knot had failed.  Dang it!  I was using a J-hook instead of the usual circle hooks since right before then we were drifting along with the tide.  With the circle hooks, I like to give them a second or two or ten to have them take the bait solidly before I set the hook.  Tough to do when the current is moving as quickly as it does in cook inlet.  The old style J-hooks allow for almost an immediate hook set, and when you are drifting the force of the current and the boat is usually sufficient to set the hook.  The problem with J hooks is that the fish get off much more often than on circle hooks.  Also the circle hooks more often than not hook the fish in the corner of the mouth.  Whereas the J-hooks  can be hooked anywhere down to the gullet so the mono gets frayed by the Halibut's teeth much more quickly.

Well ya learn your lessons!  We only caught one tiny halibut after that, though it made a great meal for two! And at the end of the day we are praying for one more hit.   C'mon give us something BIG & FLAT!  Dang it, I need to be greedier and ask for more or at least be more specific.  Once before I whispered the same request to the ocean.  Sure enough I didn't learn a thing.  The result was the same as last time!  I hear Erick say "I think I have one."  As he reels up the fish seems like its fighting harder and by the time it nears the surface it is pulling hard!  Wow!  Too cool.  I look over the edge, and I can "see color"  Oh yeah!  It looks like a good one at least 40 pounds.  Well I was right. It was big and flat but it was a SKATE!  It was a massive one at that running bout 35 to 40 pound I bet.  A picture or two and back it goes.  Well the weekend was pretty uneventful, but we had a good time, go the boat ready and we are really looking forward to this coming weekend!  Let the MAYHEM BEGIN!

I also got a few of the pictures back from the Kenai Kings.  I'll post them as soon as I have time to scan them!

July 3rd & 4th Kenai River Target: Second Run Kingskurtkenaiking72.JPG (16167 bytes)

We are currently in between runs for the Kenai River. The king salmon count up the Kenai River has dwindled below 500 fish. The condition were great in terms of water temp and clarity, but I guess it doesn’t matter how good the conditions are if there are no fish! Still I guess the proper attitude is that if one fish goes up the river, I can catch it! Well that’s’ what it took. Have I ever mentioned in my logs about how perseverance pays off??? Well not this weekend! Still I got fish for my guests and despite long hours on the River, I think they both went home happy. You couldn’t ask for better weather!

kenaiking73.JPG (16203 bytes)Well the tale unfolds on Saturday. We hit the River early at 5:00am. The Kenai River has been restricted to Single hook only, though you can still use bait. We launched out of Eagle Rock. After hitting a variety of holes as high as Riverquest and as low as the High Banks, things were not looking too good for the boat. Because I hadn’t bought large single hooks for the Kwikfish, I opted to run Spin and Glo and Roe rigs on a 6/0 or 7/0 hook.

About 11am We decide that before lunch, we’d try to backtroll the "cross-over" hole below Eagle Rock. After a few minutes we FINALLY see a net go up 4 or 5 boats below us. Then a minute later a net goes up 3 boats below us, then the boat directly next to us hooks up. "C’mon, C’mon, C’mon Don’t skip us" we are saying out load. These 3 fish are pretty much the only fish we have seen caught all day long. Then lady luck smiles on my friend from Phoenix and Whammo his pole dips down, you can see the line skirt off to the side and he makes a perfect hook set and the battle is on! About 15 minutes later we have a beautiful chrome hen of 45 pounds in the net! SWEET! Kurt-san was using a Quantum rod, with a penn320 Gti reel loaded with high vis 30 pound Ande mono. His terminal tackle was 40 pound Maxima Chameleon leader, 6/0 single gamakatsu hook, with a chartreuse and flame spin & glo with roe cured with Pro-glo.

We take a break and the other guest and I fish from 6pm to midnight with only one small trout that we released. Well Sunday, we once again see no signs of a "morning bite". Bummer. Still we opt to backtroll the cross over hole where we had luck on Saturday. After 5 hours of nothing, the exact same thing as Saturday occurs. We had seen a few more fish on Sunday but it was slow slow slow on the river. We see a boat hook up 6 or 7 boats below us, then 3 then 2 then Whammo my guest is hooked up to a nice King! It darts right, immediately tangling up with 4 other lines on another boat. It happened so fast that there was nothing we or the other boat could do about it. I look over to Ryo (my guest) and ask, what pound line you got on that thing? TWENTY?!?!?! Its plenty to land a fish, but definitely not heavy enough when you have two spin & glos and two kwikfish dangling on your line while a 40 pound King is trying with its life to get away! The cool thing was that the other boat did everything perfectly. They had one adult and three kids and they handled the situation better than most guides would have. I should have gotten their names but after it was said and done, I gave them an extra kwikfish since they lost one in all the mess. Whoever you are, we very much appreciated your courteous attitude and patience during our fight with the fish!

ryoking73.JPG (17542 bytes)kenaisunset73.JPG (9343 bytes)Ryo was using a St Croix Rod, an ambassador 6500 loaded with 20pound Trilene XL. Terminal tackle was a watermelon with black winged spin & glo with roe, 40 pound Maxima Chameleon leader, 7/0 Gamakatsu Octopus style hook.

I suppose I should also mention in my logs that I lost a fish and missed two great takedowns while backtrolling. I am not very happy about missing the fish. Just so I remember I better tell the tale. Later in the evening, Eagle Rock hole opens up with nobody drifting it. Well I’ll sneak in and backtroll it since I’ve done well their in the past. Sure enough, after the second pass I hear Bzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz, Doh! Line is peeling off my reel and I swear I could virtually see smoke coming off my reel! I ‘m thinking unless the line breaks this one is mine! I set the hook and the battle is on! Boy, I’ve caught a few kings in my lifetime and this one feels really good. There was no stopping this fish for at least 50 to 75 yards! Kurt-san was handling the boat and Ryo had the net in the air!. It zips off to one side and then I see a small fish jump exactly where my line was. HUH?!?! No way! The fish was only like 25 pounds! At the time, It didn’t even occur to me that it could have been a different fish displaced by my fish from its hole. But I saw how small it was and I kind of relaxed and said, I’m releasing this one. Then the fish surges again and if it was a 25 pounder, it was on steroids! A momentary slack occurs in my line when I mis-communicated with the driver and its off! BUMMER! Oh well. Maybe the 25 pounder was snagged….backtrolling? Probably not. I wonder?!?!?!?!?!?!? Oh well, I’ll keep at it! My luck is bound to change! Fish and game checked us on both days since we had a rod out of the water and on both days they said we were lucky to have that one fish. Well I guess that makes me feel a little bit better. Still I’m nagged by the fact I’m losing fish on the Kenai. This does not make me happy one bit. I have no problems with releasing fish, I’d just rather be able to "touch" the leader to make it a shorter distance release!

ADVICE FOR THE WEEK: Use a fill flash when you take a picture.You can see that it was an awesome day out fishing.  So we didn't even think about using a flash.  We forgot that the comfy hat that blocks the light from our face also means no face in the pictures cuz its so bright around us!  Take your hat off or use a fill flash and it will solve the problem!

July 1    Ship Creek     Target: Kings

  Well my guests from out of town decides that maybe he does have room for one more king in his cooler before they leave so off we go to Ship Creek at Midnight.  We wanted to get to Ship Creek and keep the first bright fish that we catch between the two of us.  Well Sean, hits two fish in about an hour and succeeds in landing the second fish.  Its small but its a beautiful chrome buck of maybe 10 pounds.  We had seen a few larger fish but about 75% of the fish were getting to be dark red.  So a quick executive decision was made by Sean that 10 pound tasty chromer beats a 40 pounds of inedible or at least not so tasty King so we whack it over the head and up it comes on to the shore.

Sean was using an Mitchell Orca spinning reel on a Ugly Stick rod, flipping corkie rigs, with 30 pound line.  The run is definitely dwindling but the half a dozen fisherman we saw that morning, we probably saw 10 fish or so.  The problem is that you need to release a few before you get a decent fish in terms of color and fat content.   The color alone is not an indicator but as the fish get closer to spawning, they are surviving off of body fat and the same fat is also being used to generate the roe or the milt in the fish as they sexually mature.  If the fish is a bit red, make sure its nice and firm before you decide to keep it.  Otherwise you'll take it home, have one bite, and throw the rest away.  One way to utilize the darker fish is to smoke it.  The loss of fat in the fish makes the flesh soft and mushy.  The brine used in smoking helps to firm up and flavor the fish a bit.  You'll never make bad fish good, but you can make a marginal fish edible!  The trick in my opinion is to only keep fish in good condition to begin with.

With the good stuff in my logs, I have to also air out my complaints. What has happened to common courtesy in this world? It was obvious after a minute or two that Sean's   fish was a small one.  We were playing the fish near where one guy was standing so he had to pull in his gear.  As he watched the battle, he saw it was a small one and proceeded to reach out, grab Sean's line,  pull on the line while saying "he's a small one, just pull him in."   He's lucky he took his hand off the line as soon I gave him the "death glance".  If he hadn't, I would have broken his fingers, my net was already in the backswing stage of tomahawking his hand.  He had absolutely no right determining the importance of that fish to my guest.  What the bonehead didn't know was that we were down at Ship Creek trying to fill an extra tag on the last hour of the last day with full intentions of leaving after the first bright fish, 5 pounds or 50.  What he also didn't know was that Sean had been trying really hard to catch a king while flipping all week long. though he's landed good fish on the Kenai and baitfishing, this was his first one flipping.  I don't want to make this log a "whiner's log"  but for God Sake, let's show some common courtesy out there! 

I added a few tips and rules for combat fishing right here on my general tips page.

June 29     Ship Creek     Update on Montana & Sheep Creek  Target: Kings

Well, Maybe June 30th. After my marathon weekend, I found myself sleeping unless I was working.  Well too much sleep and I was wide awake around 11pm.  Well better do some light reading so of course I picked up the area tide tables!  High Tide at 9pm?   hmmmm  means fishing should be good but with fewer people about now.  So I did what any sane and rational human being would do.  I went fishing!

Of course it was late so I set a time limit of 12:30am to get off the river Got down to the river and no one was hooking up.   Hmmmm...maybe the run is over.  The I see a small flurry of fish below me.  But they all were dark red in color.   Rats! Maybe the run is over.  About 30 minutes later I tie into a really good fish.  It blasts up and down the river taking me for a serious ride!  Wow was that a blast.  Eventually I land a beautiful nearly chrome 35 pound Buck.  By far the largest I have caught out of Ship Creek this year.  Have I ever complained about the group of  fisherman right below the road bridge.  They were in rare form last night.  First they won't move ( no surprise) then they all start yelling that my fish is snagged.  Yeah, they wish.  After ceremoniously unhooking the hook from the mouth in plain view of everyone, I slide it back into the water while every one just stared.  Man, does that feel great!  Fighting and releasing such an awesome fish.  People don't understand it often, but you don't have to kill the fish to enjoy it!  They are tasty, but with stricter regulations forcing you to quit after keeping a king, I want to have some fun.  I made the mistake of keeping a couple of fish early and ended up sitting on my back end while everybody else enjoyed fishing!   Doh!

I spoke with a couple of buddies that fished the streams up North.  All my info tells me that Montana Creek has been slow and spotty.  however many of the knowledgeable anglers tell me the last weekend should be the best. 

June 26 & 27 Kenai River (Kasilof update) Target: Kings

I am sooo tired! Spent a great weekend chasing Kings on the Kenai River. On Saturday, I took a co-worker and friends out on the Kenai. Conditions looked good, expectations were high! BUT, it was just not meant to be. Have you ever had one of those days when nothing goes right? Well I got "those days" for the decade out of the way.

The day starts out with no "early morning" bite. What! There is always an early morning bite! Even if my boat doesn’t hook up, some one always seems to around us…well, not today! A few fish are being taken but it was really spotty. Near noon, my reel starts sizzling as my line tears out off my reel as we backtroll K-16 Kwikfish below Eagle Rock. SWEET! The rod is throbbing and doubled over, the drag is tight but the fish continues to pull out line, I grab the rod, set the hook and NOTHING!!!!! WHAT!!!!! How can that be??!?!?!?!?! It was a major league take down, my thumb hurts from stopping the spool as I set the hook, and NOTHING? You have got to be kidding me! Okay life goes on.

Soon after, my guest’s rod dips down, she sets the hook at the right moment, and fish! Hmmmm….okay, keep trying. She lets line out, and WHAMMO another fish on. This time it’s on! Klunk! AUGHHHHHH!!!!!!! NOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! The reel fell off the rod! WHAT! .....Double WHAT!

I grab the reel as it slams up against the first eye, the fish tears out line, She’s fighting it with the rod, I’m fighting it with the reel and we eventually get the reel seated and of course the fish is no longer on. So we continue……but after many many hours (15 or so!), a few kinda – sorta takedowns, we are ready to give up.

Well the guest’s 7-year-old son wants to give it one last crack! You betcha, I like that attitude! Well, as you might expect after a 15-hour day, the boy is getting bored for sure! So I’m thinking of anything to get him some action. What brilliant idea does Rudy come up with? I’ve seen lots of Dollies get pulled up! So let’s rig his trout rod up with a miniature spin and glo rig to catch dollies to save the day. The "Big Boys" will continue to fish Kings. While the idea was a good one, there was a major flaw in the logic.

Most of you probably know where this is going already…… Second pass with the trout gear, the kid’s rod starts bouncing kinda lightly, Alright! Rudy’s ingenuity pays off!!!! "Reel him up, the rest of you can stay in the water, .it’s just a Dolly…sure looks like a good one…wait...huh?…What!….Oh no!" He pumps the rod a couple of times and all the sudden his rod just goes berserk! Uh-Oh! That’s no Dolly…AUGHHHH………. KING ON!!!!!!…. …bbbzzzzzzzzzzz……zzzzzzzzzz……..SNAP! I thought that 6-pound line might be a bit light for those Kenai Kings. Well it probably would have been some kind of record if he would have landed it!

Well, I guess that’s why that call it fishing. If for no other reason than to make my logs more interesting, Sunday was a whole different ballgame…sort of. Well, Martin and Bob are kicking me at my house trying to wake me up. After a little delay, we are on the river at 5am. Since the whole kwikfish thing wasn’t working on Saturday, and I was too tired to backtroll, I rig up for the old-fashioned drifting method utilizing lead weights, spin and glo, and roe. We decide to fish Eagle Rock’s drift hole.rudy&meb.jpg (10720 bytes)

First pass of the morning…..WHAMMO! My Lamiglass doubles over and we have a fish on! After a bit of a struggle we bring to the side of the boat a beautiful chrome 30 pound hen. Good Start! After 15 hours and no fish on Saturday, 5 minutes, we have a fish on! I was using a "Kenai Killer" Lamiglass Baitcasting rod, Shimano Tr200 reel, 30 pound Maxima Fibreglow line, 40 pound Maxima Chameleon Leader, Chartreuse with black stripe spin & Glo, 7/0 Gamakatsu Octopus Hooks, using roe cured with Pro-Glow bait cure

seankenai.JPG (14506 bytes)Second pass of the morning…Sean’s rod doubles over and the battle is on for the second time in two drifts! This fish refuses to come in! Everytime it saw the boat or the net, it would find some energy to dart off. Sean battled and battled for what seemed like forever. We must have had it within 10 feet of the boat over a dozen times! Still Bob with a lot of patience waits for the right moment and in comes a rose tinted 40 pound buck! Alright Sean. His biggest King ever! His was on the same terminal tackle as mine except a clown spin & glo 6 foot heavy action ugly stick   with an Ambassador 7000 reel loaded with 40 pound Maxima Fibreglow

Could we catch three fish in three passes?!?! Is that possible???? Yeah right..Dream on!.

BUT on the fourth pass, Bob is locked up with a smaller chrome hen of about 25 pounds that he releases. WOW! Four passes, three Kings! That has to be some kind of record for me. Too Cool! Well Bob tags another that I end up fighting after one of those pass the rods/untangle nets/start the dead engine fiascoes. Another chrome 30 pound hen that Bob decided to put on his Mom’s proxied license. What a great thing this "proxy system" is! Basically Bob can harvest two limits of fish because his Mom is either older than a required age or physically unable to fish. This way, his mom can still enjoy fresh fish and Bob gets to keep fishing for his second limit! Sounds like a great thing to have for a halibut charter! Much more economical!  He was using an Ambassador 6501 baitcaster reel on a Kenai Special Lamiglass rod.  It looked to be loaded with 30 pound berkley big game line.

Well except for that one hour flurry, it was dead dead dead the rest of Sunday. Oh well, the weather cooperated and I had a good time fishing. It’s always a good thing to be on the water with good company. I hope everyone enjoyed themselves. I have to admit that I was disappointed that I couldn’t get my guests "hooked up" on Saturday! I hope they will give me another chance sometime in the future! Man, my face hurts after getting too much sun! Better quit, I’m whining now!

Oops! Here’s the Kasilof River update. Went and set up some guests on the Kasilof River Monday morning at 2am. By the time I left at 4:30am (still needed to make a 150 mile drive into work!) we had hooked up and lost three or four reds and a couple of kings. We had managed between three of us to also pull out three jacks. After seeing relatively few jacks, they seem to be showing up a whole lot more. The water in the Kasilof was high, but there seemed to be decent number of fish still present in the river. Despite deeper water, surface activity remained relatively high during the morning hours.

June 20th Kenai River Target: Wild Kings

Well my first day out on the Kenai River. Went out with some friends and a guest to see if we couldn’t land an elusive Kenai River King. I saw on the internet and had heard reports that the Kenai was a lot tougher fishing than it had been in weeks since the water clarity was down. However, the run is very strong and we were hoping that that would balance things out to at least a normal day. Well we were wrong. It was a great day! Not a super day, but a great day. Huh? Well unless you know the Kenai River, it may sound a bit confusing.  All standards are relative.  The Kenai is a trophy fishery.   Lots of hours in between strikes, but you are fishing for the next world record or for more ambitious folks like myself, the first triple digit King!!!!!!!

We were fishing shortly before 6am. Traditionally the best bite of the day comes at first light. I bet I catch half of my Kings between 4:30 am and 7am. However, during the first few hours, Erick had a good strike, but no fish were hooked. Things were not looking too good. I decide to start with two K-16 Kwikfish and two rigs with Spin and Glos and roe. We started backtrolling by Riverbend Campground. Some of the folks on the Kenai are suggesting fishing higher up in the River but if we keep one, we want it to be mint bright so we always fish in the Lower River. In fact, in my nearly 30 years of fishing the Kenai, I don’t think I have ever targeted Kings above College Hole which is well below the Soldotna bridge.

After a break, we are back at it around 10am and the bite begins to pick up. We see a few boats hook up to smaller fish and then whammo! Martin’s Pole dips down and we are on to fish. Well it wasn’t a huge fish, but it was mint bright. I bet it was around the 18 to 20 pound mark. He was using a new Chartreuse herring bone on Chrome pattern K-16 Kwikfish with a sardine wrap. The strike was at the "falling in hole".    Martin was using a Daiwa Millionaire on a 6 foot heavy action Ugly Stick.

One fish doesn’t make a pattern but now we run an extra Kwikfish. Very next pass and Erick is hooked up. A tiny 10 pounder that Erick releases without hesitation. Once again it was on a chartreuse herring bone on chrome Kwikfish. Well, two fish doesn’t make a pattern either,  but pretty soon we are all running some sort of K-16 kwikfish with chartreuse patterns. Erick was running a Medium Size Penn Spinning Reel on   carbon boat rod I picked up in Korea.  Stiff as a broom handle except for the last 6 inches which is a real light action. Worked great.

Another pass or two in "falling in hole" and I am hooked up. Oooooh it’s a good one! It jumps, thrashes on the surface, you can hear the line sizzling as it trails behind the King which is zippin back and forth between the banks. I have it on over 10 minutes….then the hooks pull free. Oh man! I felt nauseous when my line went slack! That’s King fishing! My guesstimate has the fish at about 45 pounds. Not a big one by my Kenai standards, but it still would have been the biggest of the year for me.  Darn darn darn darn! Okay, life goes on. Time to start fishing again!

An hour or two later I hook up again! This time it looks like a red salmon! Tiny…still to add insult to injury it comes off after a second or two. Ouch…this is starting to really hurt! Still three out of four people in my boat have hooked up to the elusive kings in a span of less than two hours.

Still my guest from Japan has yet to hook up. Have I ever mentioned in my logs about perseverance paying off?!?! Well it did once again! My guest hooks up late in the afternoon and we are running up and down the river chasing a solid 30 pound King. It wasn’t huge but it was an honest 39 inches plus! Why is that significant? He had been dreaming of landing a salmon at least one meter long. Guess what 39.4 inches equals? One meter! To add to the value, it was silver silver silver bright hen. His fish came while we were backtrolling an area between Eagle Rock and the Pillar hole. He did a great job fighting it. He brings it up to the boat, I get designated as the "net man" since Martin was captain for the hour. I go to net the fish, but before I am ready, the Kwikfish pops out! Oh no, I hear everyone say simultaneously. But WAIT! I feel something heavy in the net…….You have got to be kidding! The fish came off the hook and jumped/flopped/fell/swam or whatever into the net! LUCKY!!!!! So there was much rejoicing…yay ! I claim it was all my experience that saved the fish, but reality is that I have really no idea how it got into the net as I was a bit busy ducking the two massive treble hooks attached to the K-16 Kwikfish that went flying right by my face!!!!!!!  He was using a Lamiglass Kenai King with a Ambassador 6500 C4 High speed reel.  Don't buy the High speed reels for King fishing.  The gear ratio that makes them fast, makes it too hard to crank on a big fish or even a big Kwikfish.  I think the high speed will be great for Silvers though!

Advice: Buy the best landing net you can afford for the Kenai River Kings

I picked up a large Frabill landing net and it worked like a charm.  How did I get by with those half price cheapo nets in the past.  The frabill was much easier, better designed from a usability standpoint, and I figure its good to about 75 pounder. My other net was poor underrated for anything over 50 pounds.  Its hard to find good quality nets.  But I see more fish lost at the net then any other time.  Get a good net!  You'll be glad you did!

eckenaiking621.JPG (10035 bytes)To top off a great "number" day of Kings, Erick hammers another 30 pounder on a Kwikfish at Eagle Rock. So Erick got to release 2 kings on the Kenai! WOW! So all in all we had 7 takedowns, 6 fish on, 4 landed and we kept two. It had to be the single best non-peak (peak =July 15 to 30) day I have ever had on the Kenai in terms of number of fish. Still the odd thing was that all the fish were very small (except the one that got away…it’s true!) It seemed to be the one constant we saw and heard about all day was the small fish. Oh well, you can’t complain about the day we had! Time to concentrate on those trophy Kings. As many small fish as we hooked into Sunday, we are due for a 50 plus pounder. Heck I’m ready for another fish over 70pounds! No complaints though. This year has been a great year on the Kenai with anglers averaging something like 25 hours per fish even though the latest reports show something more like 46 hours per fish Friday. Well we shattered that average! Can’t complain about that.

June 19th     Kasilof River Target Kingskasking62999.JPG (15151 bytes)

Saturday I drove to the Kasilof River with company trying to hook up into Kings. The action was really slow given the time of the year. We baitfished for a while but with no results. Well not completely true, I pulled up a Dolly that had to be pushing about 3 inches. How it impaled itself on 4/0 gamakatsu is anyone’s guess. We did get constantly hit by trout or some other smaller creature. No kings though. About 2 hours into the day, I decide to put the bait gear up and warm up by flipping a corkie rig around. Yup, it was a chilly morning for sure!

Well flipping must have been the way to go since I hooked up to 4 fish, landing one in a very short time. I think the Kasilof River is now beginning to tail off. I saw about 60 to 70 percent of the fish had already begun to turn red. The early morning hours didn’t produce like normal. In fact an observation we made was that the fish seemed to moving better when the sun was out. The river was completely different with much higher volumes flowing through the Kasilof. Although the fishing wasn’t great, we saw plenty of fish rolling and jumping. I think the higher water levels are going to make the fishing harder for the rest of the season. It doesn’t mean you can’t catch them though!


June 17th /18th Ship Creek Target: Kings

Well for the third consecutive day, I set my alarm for after midnight! I've fished Ship Creek every day of the week since last Saturday.....Ship Creek is HOT, so what can ya do. If you don’t know the answer by now, stop reading.

The answer is: You go fishing!

Got on the river at 2am ( hit the snooze a half a dozen times or so) met up with Erick and I also had a guest with me from Japan who had never caught a King. Ship Creek at low tide is not the best place for a first timer, but its so dang close!

Well, as I expected Erick had already nailed three or four fish and looked worn out by the time I arrived. I have got to buy an alarm clock without that dang snooze button! He released them all. I hooked up 5 minutes into the fishing and then my guest hooks up and the battle is on! After a few words with people who will not get out of the way, we manage to battle the fish into shore and land it. SWEEEEET-O, frankly I didn’t think a first timer would have much of a chance on his first king at ship creek but he handled it great!   It was a bright fish of about 18 pounds.   All the fish I saw today were bright.  Maybe a new slug of fish is passing through.  All of our fish were caught flipping the corkie rigs.  Erick managed to hook a couple of fish with bait at high tide.

I tell ya, I could never be a guide. We hooked up in less than an hour, but I was sweating it out for over 59 minutes! I woke up early, I offered to take him, I drove, and I didn’t charge him, of course, and I still felt kind of impatient and guilty for the hour. I can’t imagine how bad I would feel if I had just taken $150 from him! Besides, guides are too busy to fish and since I love to fish, I probably would make a terrible guide. Still watching him battle the fish, the number of photos he took, and the major league smile afterwards made me realize that what I get to do EVERYDAY in Alaska is an extraordinary thing and I really really really need to appreciate it more. Everyone I take fishing always tells me that it would have been enjoyable even without catching a fish (easier to say if you did catch a fish though!), but I also know that expectations are high when people come to fish Alaska.

Every year I end up taking friends of friends or people who email me out fishing. I always have a great time. Some of my friends think I’m nuts that I help, but I think a lot of folks are a bit overwhelmed when they come to Alaska to fish, especially if they are on a budget. Without being able to fly out or hire guides everyday, fishing in Alaska is not necessarily the same as the "image" Alaska has of a remote and isolated wilderness. You think I’m kidding? Take a look at the pictures Ship Creek during normal hours! You can find fishing articles by the Anchorage Daily News right here with a few combat fishing photos. Hard to believe that we were fishing a stretch of river very close to the photos and we had hundred yards of the river entirely to ourselves.

A little effort (mainly waking up or hiking a few minutes) and a bit of local knowledge was the difference between combat fishing and catching nothing (which my guest had done the previous day) and going to the same river, with almost no people and catching a king. What did it cost me???? Absolutely nothing! I’m going fishing anyway. If you want to tag along, just drop me a line. I obviously have commitments for guests and work (yes I work!) but if I have the time, I rarely say no to anyone who takes the time to write or call. Call it selfishness but the more people with good impressions about Alaska and Fishing, the better the world is… least from my own selfish perspective!

June 16th    Ship Creek      Target: Kings

The early bird gets the worm.      Hmmmmmmmm......

Ever notice that we make fun of a lot of "old sayings". But why are they perpetuated so often…because a lot of times it’s true! Well I wake up at 3am and meet Erick at Ship Creek. I HATE crowds. But what can you do? There’s plenty of fish, just not plenty of space….during normal human hours. We had pretty much the entire river to ourselves at 3:45am. Too cool. This is the same river that is shoulder to shoulder during normal business hours.

Well, no one is around, I make one flip, two flips, three flips..AUGHHHHH Fish ON! It just about took my knuckles off since I was hardly expecting a strike so early and my fly reel just went from zero to a couple hundred rpm’s in less than a second. Well it was snagged but it was fun. Without all the people, I just decided to take my time and land it. A great start to a pretty good day. We fished from 4am to about 7am and the total was 4 kings to the bank, half dozen more fish on, and at least another dozen solid strikes.

The action continually tapered off as it became lighter, I’m not sure why. Also we both managed to land a jack. A jack is a male salmon that decides to return after only one year at sea. They generally run 14 to 20-inches long. They are sexually mature and they are almost always males. Last year we caught a bunch, this year, not so many. Once again, I have no idea why.

The water appeared murky. Most likely a result of the light rain we had. The run is peaking so now is the time. The percentage of rose colored fish is rapidly increasing. Still I’d say half of the fish are nice and bright.  All the fish were caught flipping corky rigs at low tide.

June 15th Ship Creek Target: Kings

It’s the peak of the run so sleep or no sleep I am FISHING! Wandered down to Ship Creek last night about midnight. Lots of people where I normally fish. No problem. They either catch fish and leave or they don’t catch fish and give up. Well not tonight. Nobody was catching anything and nobody was giving up.

A lesson in life I have learned is that the day you think you are better than everybody is the day you’ll get a lesson showing you how wrong you really are…but not last night! Okay, with that being said, it was major league frustrating watching 10 people occupy one of the best holes in the river and by watching them, you knew that any hook up would be a fluke. Well no problem, we all had to learn at some time. But what kind of irritated me was that I offered up some advice and they laughed at me. So they "flailed and failed" while kings continued to roll in front of them. Tip of the day is to absorb all information, right or wrong. Then apply that knowledge to the current situation.

I know people stand around watching and it seems really basic as far as flipping for Kings goes. However, if you look really carefully, people are doing things differently. Part of my success in combat fishing is being able to identify groups of fisherman that WILL catch fish and wait behind them. Once they kill a king, in many rivers they are done and I can fit in. I can also tell you that the successful "look" has nothing to do with clothing or expensive tackle. If you want to know how our group fishes kings, take a look at my King’s tip sheet right here.. The flipping and plunking techniques are both applicable to Ship Creek.

Well since I couldn’t fish in the good hole, I dropped into some faster & shallower water at the end of the line of fisherman. It turned out well since there were so many fish in the river that I ended up landing two fish while the rest of the group continued to flail away. I rolled a couple more fish and I left. 5 hook ups, two landed versus no hook ups for the other group. I sat on the bank and watched for a half hour drenched in sweat from running up and down the bank chasing the kings. No one hooked up. I know it sounds mean and evil, but I chuckled, said good luck (they needed it), got my minor dose of harmless revenge, and left. Ahhhhhh…urban combat fishing……ya gotta love it. Its not the ideal Alaska fishing scenario that many dream about, but it’s a blast. Just know that you are entering a combat zone, have a good attitude, be polite and you’ll have a great experience.

Oh yeah, the most important combat fishing tip: Eye protection and a hat (preferably with a brim wide enough to cover your ears) are MANDATORY. A fish isn’t worth losing an eye or getting snagged in the head. You laugh? Stop by the Soldotna hospital on a trip to the Kenai Peninsula. They have a board shaped like a fish to which they place all the lures they remove off of unfortunate fisherman through the course of one year. YIKES! It gets loaded! It’ll make ya think twice about saying "yeah, that doesn’t happen to me!"

June 14th    Ship Creek     Target: Kings

Beautiful day out so I had no choice but to go fishing. Its funny how many people think I’m joking when I say "I have to go fishing"…especially my friend's wives!  IT"S TRUE!!!!

Nevertheless Douggie and Martin show up at Ship Creek around 11pm. Well it was lined with people so I sat back and didn’t wet a line for the first 90 minutes. As midnight and darkness rolls around, the people start leaving. Too bad, the tide was just going out and the action was about to begin!

Sure enough as the current picked up, I threw out a spin and glo and eggs and I had over 5 solid take downs, hooked two, and landed one in less than an hour. The fish I landed was a 20 pound, rosie colored male so I released it. Martin also hooked up and released a similar male while bait fishing.

As the tide dropped, I switched over to my flyrod for flipping. As the tide started going out, I bet between Martin, Doug, and I, we were hooking up to something every 5 .minutes. We all eventually landed some really nice fish

Two new tips for the week. Keep in mind that I am not trying to tell anyone how to fish. There are simple too many different methods and means that works. These tips are usually generated because I was stupid or negligent and my error reduced my chances of landing or catching a fish. You can find my previous general tips here and my King fishing tips right here.

Tip #5 : Using properly cured roe outfishes store bought roe.  DUH!

If you are baitfishing, use bait that you have cured yourself with pro-glo or pro-cure. I prefer Pro-Glo.  What genius thought this up?!?!  Well its so obvious I have to mention it. Good bait means good fishing. Especially since the last several days, I have seen store bought or poorly cured roe on about 80% of the lines being fished.   For the third or fourth time in a row (well really for the past 25 years), I have watched hand cured king roe outfish store bought roe easily by a two to one margin...and I am being very very conservative.   People will hook up using the other bait, but there is absolutely no doubt that the good bait will out perform store bought stuff. There’s a guy selling roe at Ship Creek that comes walking around, but its too firm too hard, and looks terrible. Bucky's Bait, a popular bait company, has roe that will work but is still poorly colored and hard.  Our roe is all a very Fluorescent red, firm but still moist and natural.  

Now when I am flipping, MAYBE I can claim I am better at it since I have done it longer.  But when fishing with bait, let's face it, its a blob of roe floating off the bottom attached to a sinker anchored on the bottom.  Really the only difference is the bait.  We hook up and get hits at a rate double to the other people fishing.   Put two and two together......I wish I could say it was my fishing technique, but its not.  IT'S THE BAIT!

Tip#6: Check your line after each fish

Last night I landed a nice fish using roe. I landed it then released it. Minutes later, I have another fish on…for about 5 seconds. Then with hardly any pressure the line breaks. DOH!…DOUBLE DOH! Anyone that reads my logs knows that I absolutely HATE it when my mistakes costs me a fish. Apparently while fighting the first fish, the line weakened somehow.m  Salmon's teeth, Sharp rocks, another person's line...anything could have weakened the line.  Let the fish beat you (and they will) don’t beat yourself! For King fishing, it often takes too many hours to land the fish.  Check your leader, check your line as often as possible.  If you hesitate for even a moment when checking the line, replace the line immediately.  Not only do I check my leaders, but I will cut back 10 feet or more line every other hour.  Especially flipping in the current, the line takes abuse.

June 12 &13 Kasilof River & Ship Creek Target: Kings

It is my opinion that both the Kasilof and Ship Creeks are both at the peak of their King salmon run. If you want to catch a king, this is the time!

On Saturday, I went to Kasilof River and in a short 2 hour span, I had at least 7 or 8 hook ups landing several nice fish. We are starting to see some color in about 25% of the fish. All my fish were caught flipping corky rigs in the current.

Danny France of Salmon Herder Charters comes through again. He took our some friends of mine out on the Kasilof and the total for the day was 4 people 4 kings.

Sunday, I spent most of the day prepping our two boats. I didn’t get back into Anchorage till 9pm. Well after dropping the off and chatting with some friends, I called ,Erick. No answer at 11pm??? Okay, I know where he is…FISHING! So sure enough I head down to Ship Creek. Erick is sitting on the bank waiting for a spot. I can’t sit by a river and not fish so I go put my waders on and we are fishing. In two hours, we must of hooked up easily over a dozen times. I finally landed 25 pound chrome hen that was legally hooked but a lot of the fish were being snagged. Still it was the best number of fish I have seen in Ship Creek so far this year. May have to try it again tonight! We were once again flipping corky rigs in the current. I’d say Erick or I had a fish on every 5 minutes or so during the peak. Its was pretty fast and furious for about an hour and a half.

June 7-11 Ship Creek Target:Kings

Well since work is getting a bit out of control with the upcoming fiscal year so I haven’t been as motivated to fish as usual. ZAP!!!!! &^%$#!. That was a bolt of lightening striking me for even suggesting that fishing doesn’t motivate me….ouch.

Still the rest of the crew was out busily flailing the waters of Ship Creek. The action has seemed to take a short break. There are plenty of fish available but it just seems as though there is more space in between the "pods" of fish. Erick, Doug, and Martin always hook up though they often release their catch. While short of spectacular, they have been managing to hit fish on a consistent basis.

The most consistent method appears to be flipping the corky rigs right after the tide goes down. Still both spin and glo and roe and lures have produced fish. Our group has been doing best with size 5 vibrax, silver blades and Flo. Red body or a #6 all silver vibrax spinners.

Well this is the week when both the Kasilof river and Ship Creek Kings peak. Gotta hit those kings NOW! Still lots of other opportunities. I’m trying to be ambitious so check out my planned weekend itinerary. If I can get in half of the action, I’ll be happy!

June 5-6. Ship Creek & Kasilof River      Target:  Kings

Well Friday night/Saturday morning the gang congregates at Ship Creek. Boy, with the derby going on it’s a major crowd! I’m not much into combat fishing so I wait it out and the others eventually squeeze in. Well if there is one rule my Dad once taught me about fishing that’s a sure thing,  it’s the fact that "Son, the fish are IN the water." Sure enough, I didn’t get a hit the whole time I was sitting with my pole unrigged, and the other three guys managed a couple of hook ups. Go figure! Well eventually a spot opens up and I also hook up after finally wetting a line. Mine was a small one that got away after a good fight. Erick’s fish was much better but he broke his line when some boneheads wouldn’t get out of his way. That is SO rude! You would think that people could back out of a spot for just a minute so someone could land a potential fish of a lifetime. No big deal for our group, but if I was paying non-resident fees or it was my first king, I’d be downright ornery. At any rate….The good news is that Doug manages a nice fish before the night is through and Erick returns after a coffee break to hammer a really nice fish.

Well Sat eve/Sun Morning we are back at it again. The tides are low and the action appears to have temporarily tapered off. It should pick up as the peak of the season should be happening at any time now. Still with the crowds I make an executive decision at 1am to hop in the truck to make a 3 hour drive to the Kasilof River. Not a bad choice since I was fishing at 4:30am and a nice but small hen of maybe 18 pounds on the bank by 5am. I wish I wasn’t so tired, I would have fished longer. Oh well. Went home, took a nap, and played one of my better rounds of golf before driving back to Anchorage. Ya gotta love this place….have I ever said that before???

Both rivers seemed to be a bit slower than the action that we saw or heard of accounts of during the week. Some theorize that the smaller tide series are holding the fish back and that the larger tides will push them up the inlet. I’m not quite sold on that theory but it makes sense given the current conditions. We hit a few of the fish bait fishing at high tide but the flipping in the current seems to be the more consistent method. The typical rig our group is using is two hooks gamakatsu octopus style hooks in the 2/0 to 5/0 range. In between the two hooks we place one two three small corkies and top it off with a piece of yarn. While color seems unimportant, our top colors include metallic blue, chartreuse, Flo red for the corkies and our group uses chartreuse yarn almost exclusively. I wonder why that is, Flo. Red works equally as well.

June 1. 1999   Ship Creek Target: King Salmon

My first trip to Ship Creek!  Well it was raining and I got down there at midnight.  Earlier that morning Bob calls me on his cell phone bragging about a 30 pounder that he just got done pulling up at Ship Creek.  Well most of ya know me already, I'm NOT going to let anyone monopolize the fish anywhere!  So I went FISHING!  Well the tide was just headed out.  Spin and glo and roe four once sinker and tossed it 10 feet out.  Well wadda ya know!  A beautiful 20 pound chrome buck hits the line and off it goes.  Great fight. Ummm...Did I mention it was hooked in the tail....well sort of.  Can you believe that while still fishing with bait, I caught a 20 pound king that for some reason had a wire leader wrapped around its tail that I had hooked.  Go figure!  Well of course I released it. 

Another fisherman next to me still fishing with bait also caught another person's broken line with a fish attached.  Didn't land it so there's a king trailing a couple hundred yards of line still out there.  The main concern now is that with the high muddy waters, baitfishing might be a bit tough.   The forecast for the Southcentral area streams can be found here.  Looks like it should hold steady despite the rain.  We'll see.

May 28th-30TH. 1999   KASILOF RIVER Target: King Salmon

KCkas53099.JPG (13937 bytes)tsukada.JPG (17178 bytes)What a great weekend!  Let’s hear it again for "The Herder"! . I went on my annual charter with Danny France of Salmon Herder Charters on Sunday and boy oh boy, did I make him earn his money. It was cold, wet, windy and miserable! Yet, Danny worked the oars and battled the wind. The results, my 85 year old grandmother landed a nice King, my dad caught his first "drift boat" king, and Kelly landed her first King from a boat. Thank you Dan!

He ALWAYS makes me look good. The funny thing is, I have never had a day where I’ve gone out with Dan when the bite is hot. But that’s the point. ANYONE can catch fish when the bite is hot. We saw very few fish being hooked up by the boats around us or the fisherman on the bank. Yet, we still caught fish. If you need a good guide for the Kasilof or the Kenai River, Danny France is my guide of choice. He’s the only guide I can recommend without having to worry. Born and raised in Soldotna, Alaska, he is infinitely more knowledgeable than the "part timers" who come up for only the prime time from out of state. I bet a lot of folks don’t even know that a LOT of the guides working the Kenai and Kasilof rivers are from out of state. Nothing against that, but who would you rather fish with? Someone that has fished the river since they were kids, or one just coming up to make a quick buck in a few weeks?

martinkas530.JPG (17491 bytes)Well the weekend was just awesome! It’s hard to beat going fishing with good company. What a great time we had this weekend. We had 4 families and me (always the fifth wheel), three kids and two dogs all gathered at the Kasilof River. Two large wall tents, a RV, and three dome tents created a mini-city with all the creature comforts of home.

The weather was a bit odd going from frigid to heat wave in a matter of hours. But the most important thing was that fish were caught! Its still early in the season but the fish are definitely in the Kasilof River. While we were there, there was only one way to get a hook up, it was to fish from 2 am till 8am. During that period of time, I saw 10 times more fish and only one-tenth the people. Every one of our group who fished the mornings pretty much landed a fish. Out of our "group" we ended up with something like 10 kings for the weekend. Not bad at all! All the fish were chrome bright. A bit on the small side averaging 17 to 20 pounds. Most of the fish were caught on a two gamakatsu single hooks in 3/0 size with small corkies and yarn

We caught one fish on bait but all the other fish were caught flipping in the early morning hours. The Kasilof River was low but the water was rising relatively quickly because of the rains we have been having. I got a call from Bob this morning (June 1) and he landed a nice 30 pounder in Ship Creek.

ADVICE OF THE WEEK-Fish close to shore!

Most salmon species swim very very close to the shore when migrating up rivers. The current is much slower near the shore and the fish find it easier to swim upstream in the slower current. This is ESPECIALLY true of areas where you fish the confluence of a river and a tributary like Crooked Cr/Kasilof or Montana Cr/Big-Su, Sheep/Big Su, etc. You ALWAYS want to fish the line of water where the silty main river mixes with the darker/clear water from the tributaries. This weekend the fish appeared to be swimming in water no deeper than my calf. During the crowded daytime hours, everyone muscles in and wades out to their knees in the water maybe 10 feet from shore, they just can’t believe that a 30 pound king would hold in 3 feet of water, BUT THEY DO! In fact don’t even stand in the water. IF the fish can be covered with water, it’s deep enough. When Dan had us bottom-bouncing some holes, it was less than 2 feet deep. Yet we hooked fish. The closer you fish to shore, the more fish you will present to, you’ll have less line out meaning better hook sets, and you can make 10 casts while the guy next to you flipping further out will only be in the "zone" half that time.


May 24th. 1999   Big Lake   Target : Rainbows & Dolly Varden

dhblrb52499.JPG (10089 bytes)rtbl52499.JPG (15863 bytes)Ya know, the only problem with having fishing fanatics as friends is that its way too easy to convince them to go fishing.  Doug calls me up yesterday at work and as the conversation progresses, some how 5 minutes after work we are loading up the car and heading off to Big Lake.  Its an hour and a half ride one way so we promised to be off the water by 10pm.  Well midnight rolls around and we finally head home....getting there at 1:30AM. I hope Douggie survived his wife! 

For better or worse, I don't have to deal with a girlfriend or wife  The good thing is I can fish anytime, as long as I want to, and spend as much money on fishing gear as I have!  The bad news is..errrr.....well.....uhhhhh....c'mon someone help me out here. Okay let me try this again..... being single, the good new is complete fishing freedom, bad news is...hmmmmm.......never mind! Of course I jest..... I shouldn't say things like that, Doug's wife is a real sport about letting Douggie fish whenever he wants to.  Okay, to the real subject.  THE FISHING!

We HAMMERED the rainbows and Dollies all the way up to the point it was getting dark.   Nothing huge but a constant barrage of decent fish in the 14 to 22 inch range.   Great fun on ultralight tackle.  The dollies would stay deep and pull hard.   The rainbows would clear the air 4 or 5 times leaping 2 to 3 feet in the air everytime.  What a blast.  In fact the rainbows were so acrobatic that often it was impossible to keep a tight line since they were in the air as often as they were in the water.  On four to six pound line they were ripping out line and cartwheeling across the water.  Too cool!

The hot lures continue to be hardware imitating small fish in the 1 to 2 inch range.   We kept a few small rainbows to eat and they were loaded with sticklebacks.   The fish were definitely concentrated  in  small area.  As with many walleye & bass fisherman know, fish the side of the bay where the wind will push all the food.  That is, last night the wind was blowing from the west so we fished the east side of the bay. Almost all of our fish came on small silver colored spoons.

What's with all the boring text and no pictures?!?!?!  Okay, gotta back up the fish story with pix.  I've got two disposable cameras ready to get developed.   I'll try to get them up, ASAP!n  Sorry!

conditions: windy, temp 50, partly cloudy, 8pm to midnight. good surface chop

May 22th. 1999   Susitna River   Target : Big Wild Rainbows

kcgrayling.JPG (8431 bytes)Of course after my last few entries, ya gotta know that I was going to try the Susitna one more time for the big 'Bows!  To our surprise, the water was waaaaaaay down from my last entry 3 days ago.  It was amazing.  We had at least 5 more feet of shore line to work with.  Sure enough after looking at the water flow chart for the Big-Su, the water level was down.  I don't know if that's the reason but the fish were harder to come by.  Erick and Kelly released some really nice rainbows.  but the best part of the trip was likely the 20 inch and 16 inch Grayling they caught.  not quite the battle of a rainbow but the grayling is beautiful fish.  I can't wait to get the pictures.  Oh yeah, me?  I caught a few nice fish Friday night but got skunked on Saturday.  A lot of these fish seem more active during daylight hours.  the late evening and early early morning bite never materialized.

Well we'll see if there is another trip left in me for up north during the spring.   The kings are calling.  this memorial day weekend we'll be down on the Kenai Peninsula trying to hammer a few bright kings for the barbecue!  I'm considering a saltwater excursion out of Seward or Deep Creek and then hitting the Peninsula streams hard the rest of the time.

On another note, I got to meet David W. who has been emailing all winter but finally met him for the first time on the water.  this internet thing is way too cool!   Its most definitely getting to be a small world.  Good thing Alaska is one of the BIGGEST places in this very small world!

May 19th. 1999   Susitna River   Target : Big Wild Rainbows

rtbsu51999B.JPG (14753 bytes)rtsu51999.JPG (13136 bytes)Well, after the big rainbows we hit on the Big-Su last weekend, no choice but to make an "after work" run up North.  WOW, what awesome fishing.  We didn't catch a bunch but the the half dozen fish we landed easily average 20 inches plus and three pounds or better!  My first fish of the day was a 26 inch length, 16 inch girth rainbow.  I bet it weighted at LEAST 8 pounds.  It's the largest "non-steelhead" rainbow I have landed.  I cheated and put 8 pound line on my super ultralight outfit and yet it took me forever to land the fish.  What a blast!  With the relatively light line and the fast current and fishing from shore, I would place this fish in my top 5 percent in terms of "battling effort" expended to land the fish.

The good news....We took a camera!!!!!!!!!!  Well Erick brought a camera, I left my disposable camera in the truck..Duh! rtbsu51999.JPG (8135 bytes) These rainbows are just beautiful fish.....ya gotta have a camera.  Even better news....since its catch and release, all the fish will be there for later enjoyment...bigger and stronger!  And quite possibly the BEST news....we did not see any one else fishing!  We got to the parking lot at about 8pm and we saw two fly-fisherman packing up.  For the rest of the time we fished...not a soul!  World class wild rainbow fishing that you can drive to and you are absolutely alone! Its hard to believe in a couple more weeks the same shores will be lined with hundreds of fisherman flailing shoulder to shoulder for the Kings.    Erick also landed a nice silver Dolly. Ya gotta love it!

It sure looks like they are feeding on small minnows, most likely the smolts heading down river.  Because of the light line and many snags, we ended up using the cheapest lure that might imitate a small fish.  Our lure of choice...1/8oz and 1/4 oz green pixie spoons!  Make sure they have sharp single hooks!  Speaking of single hooks, over the last couple of times we have been using spoons with single hooks, we have landed a dozen fish with only one fish throwing the hook despite major aerial displays and hard pulling.  While I think you miss a few extra strikes, once hooked the single hooks seem to hold much better than the treble hooks.  All the fish we landed were firmly hooked in the corner of the mouth or other hard bony areas.  They were hooked solidly everytime!  I'm going to convert my King spoons over and give it a try on single hooks as well.

Conditions: Clear & Sunny, Temp=60deg, Time 8pm to 11pm

May 16th. 1999   Susitna River and Mat-su Lakes. Target : Big Wild Rainbows

Erick and I went fishing North of Anchorage for a shot at some BIG rainbows.   Erick had the best fish of the week with a huge 6 pound rainbow from a lake in the Mat-Su Valley.  Sorry, I'm under the threat of death to keep the lake name a secret.   We didn't have to hike off the road very far.  It's amazing how many lakes in the area hold some excellent trout and are virtually un-fished because of the emphasis on the salmon.  I was one...until now.  What a great filler waiting for the King run to peak.

The second place we tried was the Susitna River.  Many of the clear water streams flowing into the Big-Su are open for catch and release rainbow fishing.  Consult your regs carefully.  Well we walked to the mouth of a clear water creek and the Big-su.   Since we saw a large flock of arctic terns diving into the water, we tied on anything that might imitate the salmon smolts the terns appeared to be feeding on (single hooks only!).  The tally for less than two hours of fishing was four beautiful rainbow with the big one going 24 inches or so.  These were beautiful fish.   They probably weighted twice the weight of similar length fish caught in a lake.   They looked like footballs! Combine the size and girth with a swift flowing Susitna River and you had a battle.  Erick caught three of the four and I caught the smallest one at about inches.  Still I got mine on a super ultralight outfit.  I moved all the way up to 6 pound line and still the rainbow just about spooled me (90 yards of line) before I got it under control and finally landed.  What a rush!  The fish made some sizzling runs and leapt out of the air a number of times before finally coming to shore.  If you fish the streams or the Big-Su, take a few extra lures.  Lots of snags in the water.  the creek had a surprising amount of water but the Big-Su was still relatively low.

Our only error of the day was that we forgot a camera!!!! DOH!  We did have a tape measure and that was great! Still we are going to try and get back to take a few pictures.   They were really beautiful looking fish.  I love to eat fish, but it sure felt great catching one of these fish and putting it back into the water knowing you might come back next year and hit again...a couple pounds heavier!  We were under time constraints so we didn't stay at the Big-Su long.  Still, I need to put more time into this fishery. 

The total number of people we saw fishing on this at the lake and zero on the River....AWESOME!  Its humorous because one of my friends recently ran into a law enforcement officer on the water.  The wildlife enforcement agent's advice?   "If you are fishing anywhere you are catching big or lots of fish, and nobody else is are likely fishing illegally."  WRONGO!  What kind of stupid advice is that? We were 100% legit and we caught some beautiful fish, yet we didn't see a soul. Okay okay, we walked at least 10 (ten) MINUTES to get to our spot so maybe we were fishing in a "remote" area.   The guy is supposed to be an ambassador from the government to the people fishing.  No wonder people hate these guys so much.  I work for the government and I don't need people telling me all government workers are idiots because of the experiences mentioned above.  I should mention that personally, my experiences have been much better with the Fish & Wildlife folks.  Still one bad apple can make it hard for the rest of them.   Last time I checked, being polite was free and pretty painless.

May 13. 1999   Delong & Jewel Lake. Target : stocked rainbows

Well the ultralight outfit I ordered finally came in so I had to go try it out.  I put 4 lbs test on it and frankly it felt like I was using thick cable in the local lakes.   Jewel Lake was uneventful except on the very western edge of the Dimond Parking Lot.  There it looked like combat fishing but the kids were yanking out fish at a furious pace.  Delong was a bit more tame with people spread relatively evenly along the banks.

So what were we catching?  Unfortunately it was a LOT of 6 to 8 inch rainbows.   Flies and single eggs seemed to be doing the trick.  Still it was a lot of fun.  Easy to catch and most of the fish cleared the water 4 or 5 times before coming in.  Heck, I had one jump and hit me in the face while I was sitting on the dock at Delong lake.  Then I caught one fish that was pushing 10 inches and it felt like a huge one.  I can't wait until I luck into one of the larger brood stock fish that can go 2 to3 pounds and past 20inches long.  they stock several hundred of those in each lake every year.  Its a great fishery to keep a few for dinner or to get the young or first timers out fishing.  Oh yeah, despite the fact that these fish were recently stocked fish and therefore super cooperative, I know for a fact that I was catching fish at a pace 3 to 1 over the people around me.  Why?  I was using 4 pound line and a European style match fishing floats.  Super sensitive.  I could see "lift" bites.  That is when a fish hits the bait from below and the float pops up.  Nearly impossible to detect with those clumsy red bobbers.  The people around me were using light salmon gear and those red and white round floats the size of   pool balls.  There were enough fish that next time, I'm bending my barbs down so I can release them easier. 


May 8. 1999   Homer Spit. Target: Misc.

Wow, it was cold down south! Unlike the Anchorage area, all the lakes down south are still pretty much covered with ice.  even Beluga Lake (the float plane lake right before the Spit) in Homer!  It did warm up Saturday evening so off I headed to Homer after a brief detour to Kenai.  Open water casting practice proved was definitely costly.  I HATE SPECTRA LINE!  okay I said it.  Another rod broken thanks to spectra line.  Its great that these super lines have no memory but its too limp.  It wraps around your guides and if it tangles with anyone else, you are out of the water for an eternity.  Try casting a 5 oz spoon as far as you can, only to have it come to a dead stop mid cast.  No fun for the rod or the line.   Like anything else, there are some good applications.  The sensitivity is hard to beat.  Still the only application I will be using spectra line for is light line trout fishing with bobbers (spectra line will float on top of the water), trolling, or deep water vertical jigging.  I also discovered that one of my spinning reels had a problem with the anti-reverse lever.  Something useful to know before a big king smacks your lure.

Oh yeah,. I did end up fishing for a bit.  After breaking a rod, I decided to be lazy and tossed a piece of herring onto a hook.  In three hours I managed a couple of Irish Lords, half a dozen flounders, and a pollock.  A sea lion in front of me was faring much better.  It caught a couple of nice Pacific Cod. Its hard to beat mother nature.

The lakes in anchorage are all opening up.  The stocking truck just hit  a few of the local lakes so its a great time to take the young ones out fishing.  Don't forget a rod for yourself though.  They always stock a few brooder fish in the 18 to 20 plus inch range.  I just got done ordering a super ultralight outfit.  I'll put 2 pound test on it.  The rainbows in town aren't huge but on light tackle, they will jump out of the water a dozen times before coming to shore.  The landlocked salmon are pretty tasty fish as well.  After all,  they are just "little salmon"....right?  In many of the stocked lakes, the rainbows are congregating to spawn near stream inlets and outlets and over gravel beds.  Unfortunately for the fish, most areas are not suitable for spawning in the stocked lakes, so the fish just go through the rituals with out spawning successfully.  In other words don't feel too bad fishing for these fish unlike the wild fish.  The landlocked salmon are plentiful and with proper handling you can always release the nice rainbows to fight another day.   It seems to always be the case, but if you want to keep a few to eat, the small to medium size fish seem to always be firmer and tastier than the larger fish.  The State of Alaska stocks hundreds of lakes (list of the stocked lakes) in the Southcentral area.  The State Fish and Game's sportfishing section has some awesome references on the internet.  Things like the regulations, tip sheets, bathymetric maps of all stocked lakes, stocking records, and a whole lot more.

Ahhhh..the start of another salmon season.  LET THE OPEN WATER FISHING BEGIN!

May 5. 1999   Gear up for the Kings!

Well King Season is almost up on us again.  These are the two slowest weeks of the year for me.  Too early to really have a legit chance at landing a king, but by the third and fourth week of May, the Kings will be in Southcentral Alaska in full force.   For a list of tips and techniques for King Salmon check out my tips page.

Tip of the week: Replace ALL your lines from last year with premium line.  

When it comes right down to it, the line and hook is the only thing holding you onto the fish.  I have landed fish with a broken rod, a broken reel, and a broken net.   I have yet to land a fish on a broken line.  The line is one of the cheapest   aspects of fishing, but the one most often overlooked.  Fresh mono is a lot stronger than you think.  Don't believe me?  Take a hand held scale, tie your salmon outfit to the hand held scale.  Set the drag tight and start pulling on the rod.  You'll be surprised how little "pull" you exert on a rod before it feels like its going to snap in two.  Other than abrasion resistance any poundage over that is excess.  Most of my salmon rods are creaking and cracking when the scale pulls past 15 pounds.  My trout rods have a hard time pulling 4 pounds.  Do I use heavy line?  you betcha.  but once again its for abrasion resistance and the ability to survive several "conflicts" with other fisherman's lines.

Rumor has it that the Homer Lagoon is starting to see a few kings.  The Kasilof River should have a few fish by this weekend with the action picking up considerably after the 15th of May.  Fishing off the Homer spit, you can catch pollock, cod, Dollies, Kings, and chicken Halibut.  Toss a heavy jig that imitates herring or sandlances .  Shouldn't be long before some action.  Herring is great bait, but if you use bait, put a small floater on that will float your bait off the bottom.  The strikes will double.

In 1997, we started catching a few halibut in the second week of May.  A little known fishery is the Halibut fishery off the mouth of the Kenai River.  When the hooligan are running strong, the halibut follow them up the inlet.  Despite the super murky and silty waters, we always seem to generate a few strikes.  This is a relatively shallow water fishery.   Depths are usually in the 50 feet range.   Shallow water, strong tides, light gear add up to a pretty exciting battle once the fish is hooked.  unlike their deepwater counterparts, shallow water halibut tend to make long strong runs.  Definitely more fun than cranking up dead weight from 300 feet!

Finally as the season approaches, learn how to gather information about your fishing areas.  It may be as simple as having a list of tackle shops or lodges in the area you plan to fish.  If you are reading this, you have access to lots of information via the web.  This type of information includes Fish and Game's sonar counts for salmon, forecast of weather, marine weather, area tides and river water flow.  Historic information is also available.  I have graphed the past few years of King salmon counts on the Kenai river right here. I don't want to make fishing sound like work, but the summer and the salmon season are both short.  There are hundreds of places to fish.  you need to be able to make an educated guess as where to fish.

Where I am Going!!!!  When? November    

Well as the Logs suggest, its time to get serious about Ice fishing.  While its most important to be safe, there usually are good rewwards for those willing to be carfeful and fish first ice.  The rainbows in particular seem to be very active as soon as they adjust to the ice.  We have noted that in the past, the very very very first ice is not as good as ice that has been on the lakes for a a week or maybe two.   Perhaps the fish need some time to acclimate to the new environment.  We always caught fish on our first trips, but leading up to end of December the fishing seems to get better for the rainbows.  The rainbows seem much more prone to the lake losing oxygen so if you want to go hammer a good fish, you may want to get on them before they start slowing down in mid to late January in most lakes around here.  There are a few lakes that produce well in feb and march but they seem to be the exceptions.  The Char should be cooperative until the ice goes out again in ...APRIL?  Wow, 6 more months of this ice fishing...hmmm.... you gotta love it!  Sorry, you have to be excited about the snow and ice in November...afterall we have to put up with it for another 6 months.  Still winter is a great time to get out and have a blast!   Good luck!