Alaska Fishing Forecast
During the late May time frame most of our effort is centered around the salt water fisheries out of Seward, Homer and Deep Creek. At all three locations you can fish for halibut and also troll for King salmon. Seward and Homer offer the option of fishing for Seabass and Yelloweye. King salmon fishing can be pretty good in the salt this time of year. Towards the very end of the month the ultimate expedition is available for large Pike, Grayling and lake trout fishing. Pricing and crowds are down this time of year.
River fishing is beginning to heat up! We are usually able to intercept some Russian River bound Sockeyes this time of year and the Kings will be arriving, though usually we are restricted to catch and release, except for fish under 36 inches. Monte is quick to point out that the “catch and release” approach keeps pressure down, and that he has had some great days fishing for Kings in late May and June these last three years. June 11, the upper river opens to rainbow fishing. Our Upper River Drifts are excellent trips to catch and release rainbows and Dolly Varden and have a good chance at a Russian River sockeye limit of three fish. The salt water fishing is similar to the late May timeframe though the Kings may not be as readily available by the end of the month. Last year had the highest return of Sockeye salmon to Wolverine Creek on our Float Plane Fly In Trip that we’ve ever seen. This trip is usually reliable by June 10 and is a great place to view coastal brown bears with Cubs from a close distance. The early part of this month is the best time for the Ultimate Expedition giant pike fishery. Generally we have excellent Lake Trout fishing and we are starting to get into some Grayling. Flying back through Tuxedni Bay viewing the bears on the flats is a spectacular experience. Generally great weather in June makes for great flight seeing on the Ultimate Expedition Trip.
July is when the river fishing really takes off. It is certainly the most reliable time to have the potential to catch a 50 pound plus King salmon. In the last decade or so, fishing has been up-and-down and we have experienced some restriction on King salmon retention. I remain concerned about the long-term health of the King salmon runs in Alaska. The Kenai is still probably your best bet at that trophy fish. Sockeyes are generally reliable and can fill the gap if the Kings don’t show up well. The Department of Fish and Game forecast for 2019 for the Kenai River is approximately 3.8 million sockeye salmon (range 3.1–4.5 million), which is approximately 200,000 fish greater than the 20-year average run of 3.6 million. The worst case scenario – if you schedule some river trips in July and you’re flexible – you’ll go home with a healthy fish box full of Sockeye salmon fillets. I plan on hosting a Wellness Week July 21-28 and there are still a few openings left. The salt water fishing remains consistent out of all three locations with the biggest difference being that Silver salmon are starting to show up as fairly regular quarry on the multi species trips out of Seward and Homer. Ling cod season opens July 1 and Seward remains solid for producing good catches. Fly out fishing options include our Float Plane Fly In to Wolverine Creek which remains solid for bear viewing and Sockeye fishing throughout the month, or in the same Lake system, by the end of the month you can start to target the incoming Silver salmon run which can be great action on bait, hardware or even with your fly rod. An alternative location is the Kustatan River, which is an excellent bait fishery for Silver Salmon with a three fish limit and fishing usually becoming consistent by July 20th and peeking towards the end of the month. There are excellent Ultimate Expedition venues both in the Lake Clark and the Kenai Fjords National Parks with possibilities for Sockeye snagging, high volume Sea Run Dolly fishing, Grayling on Dry flies, Arctic Char and great Lake trout fishing.
King salmon officially closes on July 31. Sockeyes will remain a reasonable target through about August 10. If the returns have been good, the limit is often increased from three fish to six fish. Depending on how hard the commercial effort has been, Silver Salmon fishing on the Kenai River may be reliable early in the month but is generally always good by August 10. The August Silver Salmon limit is two fish per person. Salt water action out of all three locations should be consistent on halibut, with the multi species trips out of Seward and Homer continuing to provide Silver salmon and Seabass as well as Lingcod (primarily out of Seward). The Float Plane Fly In in August should be consistent at either Big River Lakes or the Kustatan for producing three fish limit catches of Silver salmon. During early August, Ultimate Expedition guests can fish for Silver salmon on the Kustatan River as part of their Multi Stop Experience with Lake Clarke National Park Grayling and Lake trout/Char fishing really heating up this time of year. By the end of the month our attention usually turns to the Bay of Pigs’ Giant Silver salmon. Fishing here has remained very consistent. You also have to consider the opportunity for a Wheeled Plane Fly In. Once again, these fisheries remain very reliable for three fish Silver Salmon limits and generally provide opportunity for Chum salmon and Sea Run Dollies. Brown bear viewing is usually part of the experience. Another great brown bear viewing opportunity is the Crescent Lake Fly In.
September on the Kenai River is when the Rainbow fishing is at its best and Silver salmon fishing can be good to great. The Silver limit is increased to three fish. Rainbow fishing can be done from power boats in the lower river drifting flies or back-trolling plugs or you can enjoy an Upper River Drift. The Kenai river also offers Duck Hunting in September. Most of the salt water operations are shutting down after Labor Day, but we have a couple of hard-core captains that do really well out of Homer if you’re still inclined to get some white meat. September is my own personal favorite time of year, as the Bay of Pigs’ Silver salmon fishery is at its peak, the fall colors are amazing by mid month, and it’s time to start hunting some ptarmigan. The last couple of years have seen ptarmigan numbers return to historic normals. Winter has been easy thus far, so we just need a decent hatch. Space is filling up but the end of the month is open and should be great.