Alaska Fishing News BLOG



July Fishing Report

August 1, 2017

As usual July came and went in a hurry, and as a whole it was another great month of fishing.  Our guests had great times on the Kenai river, flyouts, and salt water.  Keeping up with the norm, the Board of Fish and Alaska Department of Fish and Game entertained (mostly infuriated) Alaskans and tourists with their continued inability to effectively manage the interests of user groups and fish returns.  More on that in the Sockeye Salmon portion of the blog.



Sockeye Salmon



As a whole the fishing for Sockeye during July on the Kenai River was tough.  We were getting limits almost everyday, but they did not come easy.  Fish and Game did a great job of preventing fish from entering the river with extensive netting, don't worry this was all in the name of resource management.  At one point during early/mid July the commercial fisheries had just shy of 1 million Kenai Sockeye netted while 150,000 made it into the river.  Follow this link to read a well researched and written article laying out this debacle https://craigmedred.news/2017/07/16/the-curtain-falls/


The past few years have been riddled with poor managment choices from Board of Fish and ADF&G, slowly their practice has become publiczed and is floating to the surface much like a turd in a pool.  After this past year it will be very interesting to see how the public acts and what will be done with this problem.  Only time will tell, but a motivated and educated public has the power to make the necessary changes so all user groups can fairly utilize the resource.



Rainbow Trout


We've said it before and we'll say it again,  JULY 20th - AUGUST 5 IS ONE OF THE BEST TIMES OF THE YEAR TO TARGET TROPHY RAINBOW TROUT ON THE KENAI!!   

The reason?  This is the first real opportunity for Kenai trout to eat a ton of food, sockeye anglers are filleting and throwing the remains back into the river where a steady supply of hungry trout eagerly await an easy meal.  When the planets properly align this time of year can and will compete or be better than the fall trout fishery.  We highly encourage you to give it a try!

For some unfortunate reason we had very few trout only days this July.  Typically we will go after rainbows after we get a limit of Sockeye, but with the tough fishing this year most days were spent concentrated on filling limits of salmon.   The few days that we did get to focus on trout were pretty fun and hope to show more folks how awesome the Kenai can be for Trout in July.

Halibut


The fine folks at J&J Charters are consistently filling limits and freezers with a smile on their faces!  We encourage you to book a day or two with these guys and add some delicious Halibut to the mix. J&J launches out of Deep Creek in the Cook Inlet,  this spot allows the captains to only travel a short distance for good fishing (30 - 45 min is average), and the very Alaskan style of  launching and loading the boats is always fun.


Flyout Fishing


Our guests had a wonderful time on flyout excursions this year.  A steady supply of Sockeye and an above average return of Silvers kept clients entertained and limits filled.  A flyout trip is always an adventure and exposes you to the raw beauty of backcountry Alaska.  There are several trip options all season,  give us a call to find out more.







June Fishing Report

July 1, 2017


Another June has passed and as a whole it was a good one.  The late and cold spring maintained through the entire month, keeping water levels down and clients bundled up.  The low water on the Kasilof didn't seem to have any drag on the Kings as they poured up river fairly steadily through most of June, while the Kenai trout fishery was met with an interesting surprise, gin clear water.  The Red salmon are still taking their happy time moving up river and seem to be a week or two behind.  What lies ahead for the rest of the season, we have no idea, but are excited to find out.  Stay with us as we update our blog with recaps each month.  Have a great summer!


King Salmon on the Kasilof River


This year bait was reintroduced and allowed on it's normal opener of May 16, we haven't seen this regulation for several years.  It has been single hook artificial for some time, with mid June last year being the first time bait was opened.  


The Kasilof fished strong from June 1 well into the third week with several fish being hooked and landed almost daily.  This was definitely the best first run of Kings on the Kasilof we have seen in a long time.   Besides strong numbers, we also saw above average size on both hatchery and natural fish, typically 12-18lbs is the average, but we saw many fish over 20lbs and close to 30lbs. Those of you that were able to experience this run saw some of the best fishing in years!


Rainbow Trout on the Kenai River 


This June we were met with a surprise, gin clear water above the Kiley River.  We were able to make out bottom in 14ft, and see bottom with great detail in 9ft.  We have only seen the middle Kenai this clear a few times in the past 15 years.   Needless to say the trout fishing in this clear of water requried some extra stealth and a jedi mindset.


The clear water can be attributed to a heavy snowfall and late/cold spring.  The lack of melt off the glaciers from snow and glacial ice is the reason for the clarity.  It is pretty cool to see the river that clear and offers some great education, but fishing could get pretty tough when the sun poked out and/or heavy boat traffic entered  the clear water.


It seemed like many of the bigger fish had followed the smolt down river fairly early, even with the late spring, we see this migration every year, but typically hook more fish over 25".  We feel the clear water made the ever scrutinizing large rainbows hyper aware and ultra picky about eating anything that did not look perfect.  These fish can pick apart an egg pattern in normal water clarity of ~ 2 ft with food moving at them 5mph.  This June these fish had spotting scopes and plenty of time to decide if they wanted to eat or not.  There were still plenty of big fish in the clear water,  as we could see large shadows darting away 30ft from the boat, but convincing them to bite was an entirely different story.


Thank God for float rods!  These set ups allowed as to run great dead drifts and swing drifts over 50ft from the boat, which is what we figured was the minimum distance an angler needed to be from the boat to have a successful day.  We absolutly loved the challenge, and our clients enjoyed seeing the bottom of the Kenai while fighting fired up trout.


Red Salmon on the Kasilof River


Red Salmon ususally start running in fishable numbers by early-middle of the third week in June,  even then the fishing can still be inconsistent as it is the beging of the run.  This year has been a bit interesting with the return of Reds to the Kasilof.  Very scratchy fishing was becoming the norm, the interesting part is dip netters were doing well at the entracnce of the Kasilof river, what happened to them and how and why they would spread out and sparsely run up river is unknown to us.  Was it the low water, water temp, or another reason that kept these fish from running up river in the large schools that we are used to?  Hard telling.  What is always consistent with salmon runs is it is a hindsight game, they always return, but when and how many can only be answered at the end of the run.

Smoked Salmon Brine Recipie

March 10, 2017

Summer is fast approaching! A recent trip to the freezer greeted me with a nice supply of salmon left over from last year. I love smoking the remainder of my salmon in the spring to make room for a new summer supply. There are many ways to brine and smoke salmon just ask Uncle Google. A quick search will leave you with overwhelming options. Through some research and trial and error I have come up with a formula that works well for me. So here it is!

Brine

~ 6-8 whole salmon fillets (fills my master built smoker perfect)

1 c. non-iodinized salt
1 c. brown sugar
1 c. white sugar
2 qts water

Seasoning

3-4 bay leaves
2 tsp rosemary
1 Tbsp old bay seasoning
5 crushed dried red chillies

Syrup

1 bottle white whine
2lbs brown sugar

Mix the brine and seasoning in a large vessel ( I use a 5 gallon bucket), Cut the salmon into 1" strips the entire length of the fillet and add them to the bucket. Marinate for a minimum of 12 hrs. Remove salmon from marinate, rinse with cold water, and set aside. Meanwhile slowly heat the white whine and disolve the brown sugar into a syrup. Let this cool before adding the salmon to the mix. Let the salmon soak in the syrup for 1 hour. Remove and place skin side down on the smoking rack ( take the racks out of the smoker) Let air dry until a candy glaze is over the fillet. Now it is time to smoke!

Smoking Salmon

I absolutly love Cold Smoking salmon and leave it in the smoker for 48 hrs at ~90 degrees using alder for the wood. Now many store bought smokers have trouble heating at 90 due to the heating element usually running at 100 degrees for it's lowest setting. Fortunately there are a few simple aftermarket redneck modifications that can turn most units into a cold smoker, which I will illustrated in our next blog.

Once the salmon is done I take the skin off, air dry it and cut it into bite size chunks, not for me, but our dog loves them for treats and it makes his coat soft and shinny.

 


 

Alaska Drift Away Fishing is proud to announce Silvertip Lodge and Cabins as its feature lodge.

Feb 20, 2017

 

Silver Tip Fishing Lodge

 

Andrea,  Jeremy and GavinJeremy, co-owner of Drift Away, and his wife Andrea purchased the lodge in April 2016 and operated it last summer. George Holthe, a long time friend, client, and fishing rep turned them on to the property several times over the last 3 years. The Anderson's finally decided to see the property and immediatly made an offer to Dean & Mary Talley, the previous owners.

Many of our repeat clients stayed at Silvertip last summer and most of them are already booked for 2017 along with the Silvertip repeat clientele as well. That being said, there is still space available but they are starting to fill in peak dates, if you are looking to get a fishing package together for the 2017 season act now!

There are six cabins ranging in size with the ability to sleep 4-6 guests. All cabins have a full kitchen, private bathroom, wifi, private grill, and coin op laundry is available on site. These cabins are nestled on 9 acres of rolling, wooded, old growth birch forest making you feel as if you were far away from everything. The beautiful part is you are only a 5 minute drive Soldotna. There you will find several restaurants, grocery stores, bars, etc. There are a handful of public fishing spots within 10 minutes of the lodge as well. Most drives to boat lauches for guided fishing trips are within 15 minutes of the cabins and other activities sites are 10 - 45 minutes away. Bottom line this property is perfectly centrally located for your relaxing adventure with us.

 

Silver Tip Fishing Cabin rentals

New this summer is an enclosed fish processing station and freezer space. Silvertip always had this amenity but not indoors with freezers next to the fish processing station. This new additon will decrease the amount of time spent processing & increase time spent sitting around the fire pit telling stories! Silvertip also plans on remodeling the fire pit. They are going to build a new large gravel pad a nice distance away from the cabins with a central fire ring and plenty of seating. Other new things that were done last season include things such as blackout blinds in all cabins so you can sleep well, water filtration system for all cabins to get awesome water, and a complete wifi system for good internet.

Follow this link to view more photos and learn about Alaska Silvertip Lodge & Cabins: http://silvertiplodgeandcabins.com/

Read what other people have to say about their stay here: Read Silvertip Reviews


 

2016 Fishing Season Review

January 15, 2017


We hope everyone had a geat holiday season! At Drift Away Fishing we are full steam ahead for the upcomming season. If you've been thinking about heading to Alaska in 2017 contact us , we'd love help you set up the trip of a lifetime. There are still peak dates available but space is filling fast.

Before we move into the future lets recap the 2016 fishing season:

1st Run Kasilof Kings

We absolutly love fishing Kings during this time and what a run it was! The fishing started off as a trickle, but quickly turened into hitting several Kings in a trip. Once Fish and Game opened bait around mid June we were hitting double digits for the first few days. Reality set back in shortly after and we went back to hooking several fish a trip. All in all the 1st run on the Kasilof was one of the best returns we have seen in a few years.

1st Run Kasilof Reds

Usually by the third week of June we start seeing fishable numbers of Red Salmon returning to the Kasilof, however this year started off pretty slow and very inconsistent. As early July began numbers started showing up, but by then we were over to the Kenai because it was on fire!

2nd Run Kenai Reds

They showed up early this year and were big! We were pleased with how early the Reds showed up in fishable numbers (late 1st week in July). Quick limits lasted through July, but as August approached the run simply died. This is very unusual as early August is typically great Red fishing, but salmon are salmon and will return when they want to with as many as there are for that year.

1st Run Kenai Silvers

Silvers showed up a touch late, and thinned out a touch early. Once they arrived in fishable numbers limits happened pretty quickly and almost everyday. The trend slowed fairly early though, limits were still hooked but a fair amount of work went into filling the fish box

2nd Run Kenai Silvers

This was a pretty tough fishery from early September through the 3rd week where it seemed that more fish were starting to push in. Limits were tough to achieve at first, but soon with some persistence fish started to regularly fill the fish box.

With the exception of 1st run Kasilof Kings the salmon run was a touch off and mirrored eachother in terms of size and percentatge of return. Off years happen and have no correlation on a year to year basis. We are very excited for what 2017 brings and so should you!

Kenai Rainbow Trout

Our trout opener (June 11) quickly put into perspective the dynamic situtation that was at hand and about to unfold. An early, warm spring lead to high water an early trout spawn and migration down river. This happens every year, but usually not this quick. The first few outings of the season quickly brought us aware that the trout have drastically moved down river in search of food due to the high water, causing the trout population to be spread ou over 45 miles of river. Good fish were still being found, we just had to cover lots of water.

The next peak time for Kenai rainbows occurs during the last two weeks of July. As Reds enter the river anglers beging to catch them and release the carcasses back into the water where hungry Trout voraciously feed on the easy food source. This time of year can and will rival the fall fishery in terms of size and numbers. The below average return of Reds in coujuction with high water kept food and rainbows spread out and inconsistent. Once again we were still able to find some great fish, but hard work and persistence was the ticket.

August presented itself with two hurdles, the first was due to the small return of reds and high water, the second was a small return of King salmon. Usually the first week and a half of August produce spectucalur trout fishing, but our food source was not there keeping the trout spread out and elusive. We almost always see this for a few days during mid august as the river transitions from red salmon to King salmon spawning. The low return of Kings lead to a small and inconsistent King spawn. The saving grace was the Pink salmon, they came in the river fairly early and began to spawn fairly early. Trout began to actively seek out Pink beds and the few King beds. We had some great days during this time, but it was short lived as spawn beds would turn on and turn off quickly keeping the bows constantly on the move.

September wasn't as tricky as August, but patience and a strong plan was need to connect the dots and put big boys in the net. The sporatic and inconsistent Pink spawn kept things interesting during most of September a glut (too much food in the water) during week three(ish) required us to be very tactical to hook the Kenai Trophy's that we all love. Both situtations created moving and picky fish.

From start to finish we had some incredible days, the Kenai is world famous for a reason. The overall trend for the trout fishery in 2016 was definitely tougher, having years of experience was a huge help at piecing toghter the puzzle to make rods bends and memories happen. Thankfully we guide the Kenai home to monster rainbows, so even when it's tough you still have the chance to hook into the fish of a lifetime.

Looking forward to fishing with you in 2017 and creating new memories and adding to exsiting ones



September Fishing Report: Kenai River
October 15, 2016

Rainbow Trout

Mother Nature kept us on our toes for the entire month. Two major factors contributed to a tough fishery; an intermittent pink salmon spawn, and a mid to late September glut above torpedo. The Pinks returned much like the Reds and Silvers, not many, but big. The lack of Pinks kept the trout moving during early September, by mid month solid patterns were forming, but not a ton of consistency. Mid to late September began to ramp up but quickly tapered off due to what we believe was a glut (too much food) above torpedo.

Below third hole held nice fish, but a ton of work was needed to extract them. We didn't see many fish pushing through transition holes most of the fall keeping those normal sweet spots consistently inconsistent. We think the trout remained pretty spread out through the Kenai during September, keeping in line with the June thru August trend.

The best part of fishing the Kenai River in tough conditions is it's still the Kenai and you run the risk of hooking the fish of a lifetime if you remain persistent.

Silver Salmon

September was one of the toughest 2nd run silver fisheries in a long time, once again the size of the the fish was nice, but no numbers.


August Fishing Report: Kenai River
September 10, 2016

"Kind of" is a great way to describe August as a whole. As always we will break down the month by species fished, but the trend across the board was definitely, "kind of". Does a tough month or season have any weight on the next month or next year? Absolutely not, Mother Nature has her way and reasoning, all we can do is hang on for the ride and work through the curve balls and duck, ducking is good.

Red Salmon - Kenai River

The first week of August was tough, it was quite evident that the Red run was definitely slowing down as we were having to pick through the fish that have been in the river longer. Putting fresh fish in the fish box happened, but not as easily. Historically by the end of the first week in August the Red Salmon run slows down and picking through the fish to get a limit of fresh ones is typical. Hilarity with ADF&G's prediction of 2.5 million was felt deeply during this time. Granted predicting a run is well, a prediction, historics, and probabilities come into play and best intentions are utilized. There are many factors that come into play for the return of salmon. We often tell our clients when we see a dead spawned out salmon floating down river in September that it is truly a small miracle for that fish to have made it back to its spawn ground and completed its life cycle. It is very cool.

1st Run Silver Salmon - Kenai River

The trend continues with the first run of Kenai Silvers, above average size but not many. The sheer size of the 1st run was impressive (10-12lbs) and almost made up for the lack of them. Limits were brought to the boat, but we did have to put forth some effort, the easy days of limits in a couple hours where not present this season. Back trolling seemed to be the best technique to get silvers into the fish box.

Kenai River Rainbow Trout

The "kind of" return of Red and King Salmon made for kind of decent trout fishing. Consistently inconsistent kept us on our toes and trying to keep up with the ever moving Rainbows. High water and a small King spawn kept the food and trout moving from one location to the next. The minute we could develop a patten, they were gone. We did find nice fish on almost every outing, but Mother Nature kept us working hard to achieve big fish in the net.



July Fishing Report

July 31, 2016

July was met with great weather and as usual great clients. The fishery was interesting, but productive. We typically fish the Kenai exclusively for Red salmon and trout during this time of year. (This marks our 3rd year not targeting Kings on the Kenai and Kasilof due to the continuing decline in King Salmon returns)

Red Salmon

In like a lion out like a lamb is a great way to describe the July Red salmon fishery on the Kenai River. We began by getting quick limits starting in the first week of July, which is early, and continued this trend through the third week. The run numbers were not big, but consistent, a steady trickle if you will.

In the infinite wisdom of Fish and Game they raised the limit from 3 to 6 in the beginning of week four. Normally this makes sense as the run escapement of 750,000 fish have been accounted for. However this year they decided to open it up at 680,000 on a prediction of 2.5 million fish returning. Literally the run came to a screeching halt the moment the limit was raised. Is the run over? Hard to say, salmon runs are a hindsight. Attached is the link for the emergency order,   the interesting thing is the Kenai was not ahead of schedule, but 100,000 fish shy of the escapement limit.

https://www.adfg.alaska.gov/sf/EONR/index.cfm?ADFG=region.NR&Year=2016&NRID=2304

 

As i sit a write this (August 7). We are seeing an increase of Reds hitting the river, could we see 2.3 mil? Who knows. What I do know is the continued dereliction of ADF&G's management system regarding the Kenai and Kasilof rivers has now caught the public eye and is quickly being scrutinized and put under the microscope. Many are quickly realizing the decisions made by ADF&G over the past few years regarding the 2nd run of King and Red salmon are not entirely for the preservation of the resource, but fueled by political and commercial interests. The plot to this story will only get more interesting over the next few seasons......stay tuned!

Rainbow Trout

July was definitely off it's normal mark of productivity for Trout. This did not come to much of a surprise as the high water in conjunction with the small return of Reds made for tough and inconsistent fishing. The correlation between Kenai River Trout and salmon returns are ying and yang as Kenai bows primary feed off of salmon eggs and flesh. Anglers fillet and throw the carcass and eggs from reds back into the river creating a wonderful mid season food source for Trout. We are staunch believers that the July trout fishery has the ability to match and sometimes out preform the fall fishery due to the above reason. Even though the fishing was tough we were still able to squeeze out some nice fish!


June Fishing Report
June 30 2016

1st Run King Salmon - Kasilof River

The guides of Alaska Drift Away Fishing were absolutely stoked at the 1st run of King Salmon on the Kasilof River. It was one of the best returns in many years. Towards the beginning of the third week of June Fish and Game opened the river to bait. Obviously the days following that emergency order where exceptionally good.

Before bait we could only use artificial, which we love anyways. Most days throughout the early King run were met with 3-6 fish on. The three days following the bait opener where quite outrageous, with over a dozen Kings hooked each day. But the fishery quickly balanced out and by day 4 after the bait opener we were back to hitting 3-6 fish again.

 

Rainbow Trout - Kenai River

June 11th marks the opening for Rainbow Trout on the Kenai River. The first few days of the opener fished pretty good, but the writing was on the wall for what to expect in the near future. An early, warm spring lead to unusually high water causing the majority of the food source to be washed down river. The trout followed suit as well. We always see a migration of fish downriver, but not this rapid. Plain and simple if there is not a high volume of food in a given area you will not find a high volume of fish anywhere. The bows simply spread out looking for food, the result was covering water looking for our pink sided friends.

On a positive note the early spring caused the trout to spawn early and finish spawning early. This is great as by the time the opener happened the vast majority were off the spawn beds. Obviously targeting/catching rainbows while they are spawning does nothing positive for the future generations of Kenai Trout. Thank you Mother Nature!

We expect tough fishing for Trout until the 2nd run of Red Salmon show up i.e. early - mid July, but once a strong food source enters the river it should be pretty awesome fishing!

Red Salmon - Kasilof River

Consistently inconsistent is the best way to describe the beginning run of Kasilof River Red Salmon. Salmon are salmon and will come in the river where they are ready. The high water is making the fish that do enter the river swim up at a high rate of speed, making life tough to get on them. Anytime now.....is the common thought amongst the guides.

Caring for Salmon

July Fishing Report

July 31, 2016

July was met with great weather and as usual great clients. The fishery was interesting, but productive. We typically fish the Kenai exclusively for Red salmon and trout during this time of year. (This marks our 3rd year not targeting Kings on the Kenai and Kasilof due to the continuing decline in King Salmon returns)

Red Salmon

In like a lion out like a lamb is a great way to describe the July Red salmon fishery on the Kenai River. We began by getting quick limits starting in the first week of July, which is early, and continued this trend through the third week. The run numbers were not big, but consistent, a steady trickle if you will.

In the infinite wisdom of Fish and Game they raised the limit from 3 to 6 in the beginning of week four. Normally this makes sense as the run escapement of 750,000 fish have been accounted for. However this year they decided to open it up at 680,000 on a prediction of 2.5 million fish returning. Literally the run came to a screeching halt the moment the limit was raised. Is the run over? Hard to say, salmon runs are a hindsight. Attached is the link for the emergency order, https://www.adfg.alaska.gov/sf/EONR/index.cfm?ADFG=region.NR&Year=2016&NRID=2304 the interesting thing is the Kenai was not ahead of schedule, but 100,000 fish shy of the escapement limit.

As i sit a write this (August 7). We are seeing an increase of Reds hitting the river, could we see 2.3 mil? Who knows. What I do know is the continued dereliction of ADF&G's management system regarding the Kenai and Kasilof rivers has now caught the public eye and is quickly being scrutinized and put under the microscope. Many are quickly realizing the decisions made by ADF&G over the past few years regarding the 2nd run of King and Red salmon are not entirely for the preservation of the resource, but fueled by political and commercial interests. The plot to this story will only get more interesting over the next few seasons......stay tuned!

Rainbow Trout

July was definitely off it's normal mark of productivity for Trout. This did not come to much of a surprise as the high water in conjunction with the small return of Reds made for tough and inconsistent fishing. The correlation between Kenai River Trout and salmon returns are ying and yang as Kenai bows primary feed off of salmon eggs and flesh. Anglers fillet and throw the carcass and eggs from reds back into the river creating a wonderful mid season food source for Trout. We are staunch believers that the July trout fishery has the ability to match and sometimes out preform the fall fishery due to the above reason. Even though the fishing was tough we were still able to squeeze out some nice fish!


May 1, 2016


August Fishing Report: Kenai River
September 10, 2016

"Kind of" is a great way to describe August as a whole. As always we will break down the month by species fished, but the trend across the board was definitely, "kind of". Does a tough month or season have any weight on the next month or next year? Absolutely not, Mother Nature has her way and reasoning, all we can do is hang on for the ride and work through the curve balls and duck, ducking is good.

Red Salmon - Kenai River

The first week of August was tough, it was quite evident that the Red run was definitely slowing down as we were having to pick through the fish that have been in the river longer. Putting fresh fish in the fish box happened, but not as easily. Historically by the end of the first week in August the Red Salmon run slows down and picking through the fish to get a limit of fresh ones is typical. Hilarity with ADF&G's prediction of 2.5 million was felt deeply during this time. Granted predicting a run is well, a prediction, historics, and probabilities come into play and best intentions are utilized. There are many factors that come into play for the return of salmon. We often tell our clients when we see a dead spawned out salmon floating down river in September that it is truly a small miracle for that fish to have made it back to its spawn ground and completed its life cycle. It is very cool.

1st Run Silver Salmon - Kenai River

The trend continues with the first run of Kenai Silvers, above average size but not many. The sheer size of the 1st run was impressive (10-12lbs) and almost made up for the lack of them. Limits were brought to the boat, but we did have to put forth some effort, the easy days of limits in a couple hours where not present this season. Back trolling seemed to be the best technique to get silvers into the fish box.

Kenai River Rainbow Trout

The "kind of" return of Red and King Salmon made for kind of decent trout fishing. Consistently inconsistent kept us on our toes and trying to keep up with the ever moving Rainbows. High water and a small King spawn kept the food and trout moving from one location to the next. The minute we could develop a patten, they were gone. We did find nice fish on almost every outing, but Mother Nature kept us working hard to achieve big fish in the net.

August Fishing Report: Kenai River
September 10, 2016

"Kind of" is a great way to describe August as a whole. As always we will break down the month by species fished, but the trend across the board was definitely, "kind of". Does a tough month or season have any weight on the next month or next year? Absolutely not, Mother Nature has her way and reasoning, all we can do is hang on for the ride and work through the curve balls and duck, ducking is good.

Red Salmon - Kenai River

The first week of August was tough, it was quite evident that the Red run was definitely slowing down as we were having to pick through the fish that have been in the river longer. Putting fresh fish in the fish box happened, but not as easily. Historically by the end of the first week in August the Red Salmon run slows down and picking through the fish to get a limit of fresh ones is typical. Hilarity with ADF&G's prediction of 2.5 million was felt deeply during this time. Granted predicting a run is well, a prediction, historics, and probabilities come into play and best intentions are utilized. There are many factors that come into play for the return of salmon. We often tell our clients when we see a dead spawned out salmon floating down river in September that it is truly a small miracle for that fish to have made it back to its spawn ground and completed its life cycle. It is very cool.

1st Run Silver Salmon - Kenai River

The trend continues with the first run of Kenai Silvers, above average size but not many. The sheer size of the 1st run was impressive (10-12lbs) and almost made up for the lack of them. Limits were brought to the boat, but we did have to put forth some effort, the easy days of limits in a couple hours where not present this season. Back trolling seemed to be the best technique to get silvers into the fish box.

Kenai River Rainbow Trout

The "kind of" return of Red and King Salmon made for kind of decent trout fishing. Consistently inconsistent kept us on our toes and trying to keep up with the ever moving Rainbows. High water and a small King spawn kept the food and trout moving from one location to the next. The minute we could develop a patten, they were gone. We did find nice fish on almost every outing, but Mother Nature kept us working hard to achieve big fish in the net.

July Fishing Report

July 31, 2016

July was met with great weather and as usual great clients. The fishery was interesting, but productive. We typically fish the Kenai exclusively for Red salmon and trout during this time of year. (This marks our 3rd year not targeting Kings on the Kenai and Kasilof due to the continuing decline in King Salmon returns)

Red Salmon

In like a lion out like a lamb is a great way to describe the July Red salmon fishery on the Kenai River. We began by getting quick limits starting in the first week of July, which is early, and continued this trend through the third week. The run numbers were not big, but consistent, a steady trickle if you will.

In the infinite wisdom of Fish and Game they raised the limit from 3 to 6 in the beginning of week four. Normally this makes sense as the run escapement of 750,000 fish have been accounted for. However this year they decided to open it up at 680,000 on a prediction of 2.5 million fish returning. Literally the run came to a screeching halt the moment the limit was raised. Is the run over? Hard to say, salmon runs are a hindsight. Attached is the link for the emergency order, https://www.adfg.alaska.gov/sf/EONR/index.cfm?ADFG=region.NR&Year=2016&NRID=2304 the interesting thing is the Kenai was not ahead of schedule, but 100,000 fish shy of the escapement limit.

As i sit a write this (August 7). We are seeing an increase of Reds hitting the river, could we see 2.3 mil? Who knows. What I do know is the continued dereliction of ADF&G's management system regarding the Kenai and Kasilof rivers has now caught the public eye and is quickly being scrutinized and put under the microscope. Many are quickly realizing the decisions made by ADF&G over the past few years regarding the 2nd run of King and Red salmon are not entirely for the preservation of the resource, but fueled by political and commercial interests. The plot to this story will only get more interesting over the next few seasons......stay tuned!

Rainbow Trout

July was definitely off it's normal mark of productivity for Trout. This did not come to much of a surprise as the high water in conjunction with the small return of Reds made for tough and inconsistent fishing. The correlation between Kenai River Trout and salmon returns are ying and yang as Kenai bows primary feed off of salmon eggs and flesh. Anglers fillet and throw the carcass and eggs from reds back into the river creating a wonderful mid season food source for Trout. We are staunch believers that the July trout fishery has the ability to match and sometimes out preform the fall fishery due to the above reason. Even though the fishing was tough we were still able to squeeze out some nice fish!

When folks contact us about setting up a fishing package one of the most commonly asked questions is, "what do I do with my salmon?"


No worries it's easy, hopefully this post will clarify and answer questions you may have.


On the Water


Once you have your salmon in the net it's time to bleed out the fish.  Some people like to "bonk" the fish on the head to stun it.  We like to just cut the gills on both sides, this method seems to do a great job of getting all the blood out since the heart is still pumping.  Bonking then bleeding sometimes leaves the fish full of coagulated blood making the fillet and cleaning process a pain.  Excessive blood on the fillet will leave a not so great taste on the meat.


At the Fillet Table


Your guide should and better know how to properly fillet a fish.  The most important thing here is to not rinse the fillet off in the water.  If there is blood or excessive slime use a knife to scrape the fillet clean or use a paper towel to blot the fillet clean.  An old timer told us washing the fillet in water breaks down the meat, litterally washing the flavor out of the fish.  How much truth to that idea we don't know, but have followed that practice and have had no problems.  Besides we have seen people wash fillets off in some pretty questionable water. After the fish is filleted put it into a garbage bag and throw that into a cooler with ice.  Never put ice directly on the fish.



Vacuum Packing and Freezing


Finding a fish processor in your area should be pretty easy.  If you are fishing out of the Soldotna area Ed's Kasilof and Custom Seafoods are the top two.  The processor will vac pac your fish, freeze it, store it, and if needed Fed Ex your fish home.  However, if you go this route there is obviously a price.  Fed Exing fish home can get pretty expensive, we suggest buying a cooler or fish box and taking it with you on the plane any additional baggage costs will be cheaper than Fed Ex.  Properly frozen and packed fish will stay frozen for easily 24 hrs. 


Some lodges have thier own vacuum sealer, typically you pay for the bags and freezer space.  This is a great option and usually a touch cheaper than the processors.  But, this process can be a bit time consuming depending on how much fish you have.  One trick that we use when processing fish is to wrap the fillet in plastic wrap then vac seal it.  This technique will help protect the fillet from freezer burn if the vac seal breaks.


Tying it Together


Whether it's your first trip to Alaska or hundredth these techniques will streamline your post river process and ensure you have the best quality fish when you get home.


 



Kings vs. Reds And why we restructured our trips

March 21, 2016

June

There is no denying it we are definitely seeing a decline in our King salmon fisheries on the Kenai and Kasilof rivers.  Many theories and debates as to why are in circulation, but no one really knows for sure. 
 
Both rivers have seen regulation changes regarding Kings ranging from full closures, single hook artificial only, and catch and release.  Its obvious the powers that be are trying different ideas to preserve the run while keeping the sport and commercial interests happy.
 Alaska Guided Fishing Picture
Three years ago we decided due to the lack of return and constantly changing regulations we were going to start switching our focus away from Kings to Red salmon and Trout.  One important point to note is we do fish 1st run hatchery Kings on the Kasilof from Memorial weekend thru mid June.
 
We were definitely nervous as to how this would change would translate into bookings, especially with repeat clients that have fished Kings with us for years.  We did lose some business, but what we found was most folks enjoyed Reds because there was more action and more meat for the freezer.    We also learned most folks wanted to fish for Kings because they heard that’s what you fish for in Alaska without completely realizing how difficul they are to catch, until 6 hours into a trip with no action yet.
 
Now, three years later, Drift Away is looking at a booming calendar with folks stoked on Reds and Trout!  We are excited about the change, but most importantly we feel good about going out and utilizing the resource vs. knowingly taking advantage of a troubled run.
 
Here’s a quick break down of our new Red salmon schedule:  Mid June thru early July anglers can expect to be on the Kasilof, this is a Salmon only mission, but guests can fish Trout on the Kenai another day as part of a package and the Trout fishing is quite good this time of year.  Mid July thru early August we will be on the Kenai this is the trip where switching for Trout to Reds and back again is no problem and much fun.
 
Well, there you have it, the 411 as to why when you call us for Kings and we try to sell you on Reds.  Whether you decide to fish the Kasilof in June or the Kenai in July be prepared for a unique and unforgettable experience. 



 

Why We Love Pink

Posted: February 14, 2016

For most Kenai Trout anglers the thought of an even year (i.e. 2016) brings smiles, anticipation, and wonder.  As a business we notice that these Septembers in particular fill faster.  What is the draw? 

The answer is the return of Pink salmon.  These creatures show up on even years, spawn, and then die.  The reason for a return on even years is after the salmon become smolt they immediately head for the ocean and only spend one year in the salt before making their way back up river to spawn.  Whereas other salmon species typically spend 1-3 years in a river system before heading out to the ocean spending an additional 2-5 years feeding and growing.

  Alaska Guided Fishing PictureAlaska Guided Fishing PictureAlaska Guided Fishing Picture

 

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 continues through the fall making for exceptional fishing.

The 2014 pink year was one for the ages!  We were blessed with perfect fishing conditions throughout the entire fall.  What lies in store for this year?  We have no way of knowing. We can probably expect some close encounters with Rainbow Trout of epic proportions.  When and where is another story.  

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!

Alaska Guided Fishing PictureAlaska Guided Fishing PictureAlaska Guided Fishing Picture

 

****All photos on this blog post were taken during the fall of 2014.

 





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Alaska Drift Away Fishing

Alaska Guided Fishing Trips & Packages | Salmon & Rainbow Trout | Kenai and Kasilof Rivers, Alaska

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Phone: +1 907-529-8776

Email: info@guidekenairiver.com

Mailing Address: Alaska Drift Away Fishing, PO BOX 652, Sterling, AK 99672, USA

Physical Address: 35930 Janota Circle, Soldotna, AK 99669, USA

Trip Departures Address: Izaac Walton State Park Boat Launch Sterling, AK 99672, USA