Happy 2018 – The Return of Pink Salmon

Happy 2018 everyone,  we hope that your holidays were fantastic!  2017 was a solid year of fishing on the Kenai and Kasilof rivers, we are excited for what 2018 will bring and most importantantly the return of Pink Salmon.  Pinks run every year, but even numbered years they can return with over 1 million.  

Once pinks enter the river they mutate rather quickly where as other salmon will remain chrome then slowly change into their spawn colors, making them not the best eating.  Catching them is easy, but the lethargic fight they produce once hooked loses its luster quickly.
Why are we excited and making Pinks the topic of interest for the first blog of 2018?  Simple, trout love Pink salmon, as trout enthusiasts we also love them.  With returns nearing or exceeding 1 million the number of eggs and carcass left from the Pink spawn creates a large source of food for the gluttonous pink-sided trout of the Kenai.
Historically we see more above-average fish making it to the net during Pink years, the abundance in food spread over many miles of the Kenai allow large populations of fish to congregate in each prime feeding zone and remain there for longer periods of time until an event changes the story.

An example of a more above-average Kenai Rainbow Trout making it to the net during pink years.

The time

We will start seeing Pinks in the river in late July, while the full invasion happens during the middle of August coinciding with the 1st run of Silvers and continuing into September.  Some begin spawning during mid-end of August and peaking through mid-September.  We love finding early spawning Pinks during August.  This is typically a tough and transitional time for trout as the Red run is slowing down and Kings have not really begun to spawn.  Unfortunately, the early spawning of the Pinks is not a complete panacea to the mid-month slog but can offer some great surprises.

Big Kenai River Trophy Trout caught in Alaska

When’s the best time to get a piece of the action?  Roughly August 22 – September 25, with August 25 – September 15 as the peak.  Each year and return is different, and factoring in the water and weather changes can expedite, prolong, or just complicate the heck out of things. If you have been thinking about experiencing trout fishing on the Kenai during a pink run and want peak dates you should book now!  Many of our repeat clients book far in advance to secure these times so space disappears quickly.
The Pink spawn also opens up more water as they can be found spawning from Skilak Lake all the way to Bings.  This allows us to branch out and avoid other anglers.  The numerous spawn beds hold large quantities of trout and offer many “big fish” zones to work all day long without exhausting or killing an area.
How is this season going to pan out?  We have no idea, but what is for certain, there will be some absolutely banner days during this time and we eagerly look forward to sharing that experience with you.