Plain and simple, this was one of the best Septembers in several years for trophy Rainbow Trout on the Kenai River! Thank you Mother Nature for cooperating this year. It’s true, the main reasons for tougher fishing the past few Septembers was the high water, and blown out Kenai.
For the most part the planets aligned and stayed on course for the entire month, we had a few weird days, but it was easy to work through the changes and quickly get back on the big fish. For those of you that were lucky enough to be fishing when the formulas worked, what you saw was something magical, what the true potential of the Kenai River is all about. Even the few “off” days that appeared during the month did not suck. An off day this September was only hitting 2-10lb + fish in a day vs. 5 or more! I know, we are spoiled on the Kenai River.
It was such a banner month, that I don’t feel like words can describe what went down, so this month’s blog is going to be mostly pics of fat Kenai Bow’s.
The first set of pics are from the first 2 weeks, below are the last 2 weeks. Take a peak at the cfs chart; we started getting nervous during week 3 with rising water levels. As you can see it dropped off as fast as it came up, this was the time we saw some funky days. Thankfully the bite would only be a touch off for a day or two. Declining water temps with a quick rise or fall of water level (cfs) was the culprit.
Watching the fall unfold we were very optimistic about an epic flesh bite, unfortunately for us our beads dominated the flesh flies. There’s no doubt that swinging flesh will get big fish, but every time we would put various flesh patterns out the bead would out catch big fish. The proof was in the pudding.
As you can see this fall was one for the ages! Don’t worry next season will be here soon. If you have been thinking about booking a Trout trip on the Kenai for next year now is a great time to get peak dates locked in for the 2015 season!
July 12 – August 8ish is another great time to target big Kenai Trout (this time can rival the fall). This is a sleeper time with big results and options of filling the freezer with Red Salmon too!
For us at Drift Away Fishing this is our last post regarding the 2014 season. We had a great time and hopefully you did too! Stay posted, as we will continue to add new content to our blog during the off-season. Tight Lines!
What a great time to be fishing Trout on the Kenai! We did not see much of a lull between the Red Salmon food supply and the beginning of the Pink spawn. The Pink Salmon showed up with a vengeance and wasted no time getting on the spawning beds.
The Kenai saw a huge increase in water volume during mid August causing the CFS to hit over 20,000. With a huge rise in water the fishing can be tough, or it can be awesome. We found pockets of water holding fat Trout that were eager to party. During periods of high water it is crucial to think outside the box on where you would normally look for feeding Rainbows, instead, think about where the food is being relocated.
The last 10 days of August had a very consistent decrease of water level coupled with a heavy spawn of Pink Salmon. The end result was nothing short of phenomenal Trout fishing! As we roll into September the current outlook is great, we’ll just have to see what Mother Nature has planned for us.
The Kenai River experienced an average run of Silvers this year, but the ones that returned were well fed! A little extra work was required to track these finicky bitters down, however, the rewards were typically over 10lbs.
Due to the intense volume of Pink Salmon entering the Kenai back trolling was not a very good option. It was next to impossible to keep the Pinks off the plugs. Casing spinners and fly fishing was the best solution to the problem, offering hands on action and thrills!
The Kasilof River didn’t turn of until the end of August, but when it did huge Silvers over 15lbs filled the fish box up in only a few hours. We were very excited about the later part of this run.
It was a banner month of fishing for Red Salmon! There were peaks and valleys, but the overall assessment was awesome. We did not receive a large run, however, they kept trickling in every day and provided action and limits most days till the 10th of August.
With our King Salmon experiencing a period of declining numbers Red Salmon are a great alternative. Actually after quizzing many of our repeat King clients we were pleasantly surprised that most of them would rather fish for Reds. There is more action, more catching, and on average you will walk away with more pounds of fish than a day of King fishing.
If July salmon is what you are thinking about for next year, book now! We are already filling up fast for the 2015 season!
This time period is the new late August – September fishery! Not kidding, we have had many days during this time that will rival fall days! The secret is Red salmon, the increased fishing for reds due to lack there of Kings is providing a great food source for Trout. The past few years have been amazing Trout fishing during this time. Fat, hard charging, big Trout are being hooked. Honestly we love this time more than the fall. Just like the fall, when the planets align with salmon and weather the trophy Trout fishing is off the hook. Especially for those of you that want to stock up on salmon and have fall quality Trout fishing, THIS IS THE TIME!
Try it we are certain you will love it!
The 2nd run of Kings on the Kasilof was a tough one. Low return coupled with emergency opener after opener led to inconsistent fishing. This was the fist super tough year in a long time.
Most of our King trips were switched to Red salmon, and our clients were extremely excited with the change.
The Kenai has been struggling for the past few years, while the Kasilof has held its own, except for this year. Local politics and fish counts need to start working together sooner than later to seriously address this problem. The current situation is dire, and unfortunately show no signs of changing till the fish counts really get run into the ground (more than they already are).
Despite low and cold water the Rainbow Trout fishing on the Middle Kenai was pretty good. As fishing always goes, some days were better than others. Plenty of hard charging chrome Trout came to the net, however we didn’t see very many fish over 25” till the early part of July. We feel that a large factor was the water level and temperature keeping most of the bigger fish in Skilak Lake.
Early July showed signs of big fish life and the Rainbows started to migrate down river. Fish over 25” could be found in small sniper pockets that held ample amounts of food. The Kenai Reds salmon showed up early and were entering the river in 10-15k spurts. The anticipation of reds drew many eager anglers to the river for freezer restocking, this new food supply was also greeted by Rainbows (it is custom to fillet your fish at the river, and throw the carcass back into the water). Fat Rainbows could be found near areas that people were fishing for Reds.
Mid June through the third week was still fishing strong. Several fish a day where being hit. The last week of June was a bit on the tough side, but we were still able to convince a few to party with us.
Once July hit we found some very nice fat 2nd run fish. As always with this time of year the fishing was very inconsistent, some days we hit several and some days we only hit one.
The Kasilof River was producing some great Red salmon action! An above average return of fish was a welcome surprise as we were able to find limits most times we targeted these fish.
On the Kenai, the second run showed up early and hearty! 12lb Sockeye were not uncommon! Limits were also happening most days that we were hunting them.
The regulation change on the Kasilof for this year’s first run of King Salmon discouraged many, and the perceived outlook looked bleak. It showed, the put in and takeout parking lots had a fraction of trucks and trailers, while the normal congestion on the river was absent.
Single hook artificial only, and anglers were allowed to retain only one hatchery King per day. This new regulation alone kept many guides and anglers away from the Kasilof not to mention the past years staggering returns.
Thank God for the pessimistic folks! What unfolded was a river void of boats and full of King Salmon! The return so far was one of the best in years! Hooking several Kings a day was commonplace, and maybe 20 boats a day went down the river. Who needs bait?
Many Kings hooked were Natural Kings so they had to be released. Most of our clients were very excited to experience the thrill of hooking and landing an Alaskan King Salmon, and just as excited to release the fish knowing that it was going to go and spawn.
For us at Drift Away Fishing this was a welcome change, and we hope that this long overdue regulation stays. Hopefully through conservative conservation practices anglers will be able to enjoy hunting for King Salmon and allow the resource to sustain itself for many years to come.
As always the opener for Kenai Trout is on June 11. This year we have been dealt the low and cold water card, making for some tougher Trout fishing. Not to worry we have been finding some very nice hard charging Rainbow Trout. As we speak the water temps and levels are on the rise. This coming week is looking like it is going to be a good one! As always June is one of our favorite times to catch Kenai Bo’s as there are many techniques and presentations to catch these amazing fish. Feeling a Trout smack a swinging streamer is well worth the price of admission!
An inspirational essay on the joys of catching Kenai River Rainbow Trout on Streamers
Feeling a Kenai Rainbow Trout crush a streamer mid swing is arguably one of the most exciting ways to hook one of these mythical fish. There are a couple times during the summer and fall when streamers out perform bead and flesh patterns. This is a nice switch from the standard dead-drift presentation most commonly used.
From the Trout opener on June 11 thru July smolt, leech, and sculpin patterns can add a nice change from the standard dead drift. Swinging through deep holding pockets will put your streamer in the zone for battle with super charged chrome Trout.
A variety of size and color patterns should live in your fly box. Over the years more and more anglers have been fishing the early season Rainbow bite. This increased pressure has educated the Trout population. Olive, brown, and black patterns ranging in size from 2” – 5” are a must to keep up with the constantly changing minds of big Rainbow Trout.
More food for thought……a small quiver of various sink tip lines help get that perfect swing at the desired depth, but, sometimes “swinging” a streamer under an indicator will out fish a traditional sink tip set up.
A quick note for those that will be fishing the opener (June 11) into early July. Don’t target the fish sitting in the shallows! These guys are working hard to make more Rainbow Trout so we have awesome fishing for years to come. Not only does it disrupt them from spawing, Trout during this time are under tremendous stress and are not eating. There is a great chance that a spawning fish will not live after it is released due to exhaustion. So please try to fish in deep holing water and main channel. If you do hook a dark (spawning fish) bring it in immediately and don’t take it out of the water for a photo try to get it released without consuming too much of its energy.
Once the Kenai drops and the fish start to pocket up to eat as much as possible before winter is another great time to swing streamers. Do to the low water, there are many great gravel bars and wading spots. Swing during this time of year can lead to an encounter with a giant Keani Bow.
We have written many articles about fishing the Kenai River, how to catch Rainbow Trout, and the why’s and where’s. The one thing we haven’t covered, and equally as important as catching fish, is how to properly photo and release the fish.
Getting a great photo of that beautiful Kenai River Rainbow starts with a good net. Most serious Trout anglers use a rubber net, the thick rubber holds it’s shape while the fish is in it, doesn’t rip the slime off the fish, and allows for easy working with the fish. The mesh, or rubber coated mesh nets do a great job of scaring the Trout, and rip the slime off, this is bad, the slime on a fish protects the fish from infections.
Now that you have successfully put a beautiful Rainbow Trout in rubber net, what next? A round of high fives is in order, then its decision making time. Do you want to go to shore with the fish? Do you want to measure the fish? How is the fish doing?
The easiest place to work with a photo fish is from the shore in slow to stagnant water. If you are on the Middle Kenai odds are you caught the fish from a boat in some form of moving water. Getting the fish safely to shore for that photo can be tricky.
1. Once the fish is in the net see how the fish is doing. If it was a long fight the fish is probably tired, let the fish hangout in the net for a bit before you handle it or head for the shore.
2. Figure out a good shore spot to work on the fish. Slower the water the better. If at any time you see the fish is pinned to a side of the net due to water current or moving the fish from main river to shore, stop! This is causing harm to the fish. Find slower water and or move to shore at a slower speed.
3. Plan where you want to go to shore, and take your time getting there. We have seen people net fish, then lift the net out of the water and quickly run to a shore spot – not cool. If the fish is not in the water it cannot breathe if the fish is pinned to the side of the net, it cannot breathe.
Here are a few tips for those that photo from the boat:
1. Always be aware of your surroundings and where your boat is floating. Photoing a fish from a moving boat can be dangerous if someone is not watching where the boat is drifting at all times.
2. Never bring a fish into the boat for photos or measuring ever. We have a rule for our boats that no Rainbow Trout or any fish that is going to be released cannot come across the gunnel.
Ok, now you have the fish in a safe, controlled environment the next move is to get an awesome photo and some measurements for accurate bragging rights. The school of hard knocks taught us that it is better to get a photo than a measurement first. Sometimes fish find their way back into the water sooner than we would like.
When preparing to get a photo orientate yourself so the sun or best light source is on you, not behind you. Now grab a hold of the fish, with the fish still in the water communicate with the cameraperson to make sure they are ready. If all parties are ready do a three count, 1,2,3 lift the fish get a quick photo then put the fish back in the net in the water. While the fish is resting check to see how good the photo is. Repeat this process for every photo.
Remember that you put a lot of time and effort into catching a great fish; make sure you put the same effort into keeping the fish safe and healthy while you get your photos and measurements.
Once you get your photos its time to get a length and a girth. The girth can be done with a soft tape with the fish in the net, in the water. For the length we recommend getting a dun rite fish measuring board or something equivalent. Put the dun rite in the water and carefully slide the fish on the board for the measurement.
Now that the fish is in the water on the board releasing is easy. Hold the fish by the tail and help it to get reoriented. Soon as the fish is ready it should take off.
Catching a “photo” fish is an addictive thrill, there is nothing better than getting a great photo to capture the moment and share the memory. But it is our responsibly to take as much time and care to release the fish and preserve the resource as necessary. Be a role model on the water.
Happy 2014! Weeeeeeeeeeee! Why are we sooooo excited? Well, even number years on the Kenai River = Pink Salmon show up and spawn! You may find yourself thinking that Salmon show up and spawn every year, what’s so special about Pink Salmon?
We love them!
It’s true! When the Pinks return to the Kenai River they come with an army, 1million is not a huge return! How this relates to Rainbow Trout is a ton of food for them to get fat and happy. With the King Salmon returns being bleak, an additional food source is quite welcomed by Kenai River Trout.
Usually our biggest Rainbows come on Pink years, it seems the big Bo’s are willing to hang out longer in the river due to the extra easy food source. By early fall most Trout are already showing some signs of obesity. This fattening trend contiues through the fall making for exceptional fishing.
If you have been thinking about fishing the Kenai River for Rainbow Trout, this year would be a good one. The window of awesome will start mid/late August and run into October. Plenty of time for greatness! Hope to see you out there!
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