If you like to catch and release king salmon, this was the week to be on the Kenai River.
You really didn’t have a choice.
On 7/13, ADFG issued an emergency order changing the Kenai River king salmon fishery to catch and release only. Even though the king numbers have been tracking below the preseason forecast, the fishing has been pretty good.
When the king fishery changes to catch and release, my day of guiding is a combination of king and red salmon fishing. Since Steve, Dario, Jeremy, and Jarodslav, are experienced red salmon fisherman, they really didn’t want to fish for reds. Instead, they wanted to focus on kings. They were glad they did. The morning action was very good, and perhaps the best action Steve has seen on the river (and he’s fished the river many years). By ten in the morning, three kings were caught and released, and another one was lost after a brief battle.
I’ll begrudgingly give my neighbor Greg, a former river guide, some credit for this king salmon. I stopped by to see him and on his desk was a pile of leaders he had tied up. He gave me one and said “take this one, it’ll catch a fish.” It not only caught a fish, it caught the first fish on the first troll of the morning. You still have “it” Greg…
Fish on! Here are the boys doing the drill after a massive king salmon take down while backtrolling.
I ended the week bank fishing for red salmon. Nancy and her son Joe were scheduled to go, but at the last minute Nancy had a change of plans (she needed a day to recover from the fishing she had done the previous day).
Fishing was not as great as I thought it would be, but Joe, “the Red Whisperer”, had no problems catching his limit. If you’re wondering about the gaping wound on the fish, that was from a harbor seal.
Another blogpost that ends with a moose photo. This little bull decided it was real important to cross the river at the Big Eddy.
For the week ahead, I expect the red salmon fishing to improve. The peak of the run historically happens now. For the king salmon fishery, if the daily counts do not pick up, I’m afraid we’re heading for a closure. All indices gauging run strength are pointing to a smaller run than forecasted. Rats. Double rats.
Come back next week for an update on the fishery.