Its official, the kings are in the Kenai and entering essentially all of our cook inlet streams. The run timing looks to be consistent with more ‘normal’ years past. ADFG counted 36 large kings as of May 16th, so the fish ninja skills of Isaac and JP really came into play when they nailed a 40″ buck on Wednesday.
The last time the early run started as “open” was three or four years ago, so its nice to at least be on the water in pursuit. Closing the Kenai early run puts additional pressure on the Kasilof during May and June, so we are hoping that leaving the river open will alleviate some of the traffic and spread out the fishing pressure. In years past we adapted as well or better than any lodge in coming up with things to do with river closures, but its always convenient to walk down the boardwalk, jump in a boat and go fish for kings on the lower Kenai.
Today was opening day for the Anchor River king salmon season. This fishery is only open during weekends and Wednesdays for usually around 5 weeks (depending on how many fish arrive). ADFG has counted 380 kings as of May 3rd which puts this run on track for a good year. Its always possible that the run is front loaded and will end up short of the escapement goals, which also holds true for the Kenai, so we will see how it shapes up. As far as catch rates on opening day, the word is the bite was pretty slow, couple fish harvested, but nothing spectacular. I predict we will need some big days in the 200 to 300 fish per day before fishing becomes good because the weir marks the extent of the open area. Any fish you see in the fish counts are essentially “off limits,” so you gotta stay ahead of the counts and look closely at the trends. Water level is another important factor when fishing the Anchor. High water levels allow the fish to push through holes at their choice, whereas with low levels, they tend cross gravels bar late at night and early in the morning. This speed at which they move up the river then effects how you can use the fish count information to determine when those fish are moving through holes below the weir.
Halibut fishing is now consistent and should remain so until the end of August. This time of year can be great for shallow water halibut fishing near the river mouths as hooligan migrate into the river and salmon smolt head out to the ocean. The guide crew went out this week and hit the hooligan “hatch” just right nailing four limits of flatfish in shallow water. There have also been reports of larger fish (150 lb class) being caught in Homer. As a reminder, charters vessels are only allowed one over 28″ and one under 28″ per client, and you are only allowed four halibut a year by use of a charter vessel.
Its shaping up to be a strong year at Tower Rock. The rest of the crew will be arriving this week and we already have some short time guests. Lately we have received inquiries about booking for this season (which is great!) and somewhere in the message it says something along the lines of “Are you still taking bookings for 2017?” or “I know it is late notice…” For those wondering, it is never too late to book a trip at the lodge! We will continue to book 2017 and 2018 trips throughout the season! -DJ