20 Mar 2018 March Fishing Report – Our first Preview into Spring
Late March in Alaska is our first preview into spring, the days are longer, you can actually feel the warmth of the sun, and people are crawling out of their winter slumber to celebrate the spring and talk with anticipation about the upcoming summer. The recent sunny weather and marginal skiing have ramped up our longing and excitement for the fast approaching guide season. One of our favorite things to guide is Kenai River rainbow trout, and taking a stroll down memory lane brings back our three favorite times (peak times) to come to the Kenai and target the trophy trout that inhabit these waters and torment your dreams.
June 15th – june 25th
Trout season opens on June 11, and some great fishing can happen on that day, but it is also busy. It seems that the Keani needs a day or two to recover from the clamourous first day of trout season. By the 15th trout appear to be moving about on their daily activities and allow us to pattern them and begin fine-tuning their movements. Historically we see strong fishing through the end of June before the food source severely diminishes and the trout spread out. Our favorite way to target trout during this time is swinging streamers.
The why factor on how this time became one of our favorite three is the high energy, chrome, mid 20″ firecrackers that hang in the main channel feeding on anything that floats by. We often get interrupted by bows in the high 20″ range also, but this is not the strongest time for them. The long warm days of summer add to the experience hunting Kenai bows during the opening of the season.
july 15 – August 5
The annual return of the 2nd run of Red Salmon to the Kenai River is welcome to both anglers and rainbow trout. As Reds enter the river anglers line the river bank to take advantage of a delicious food source. Trout are hanging below anglers feeding on the filleted remains and egg skeins. This is the first real plentiful food source for rainbows since the fall and they put on the feed bag. We often have had days better than fall fishing during this time in terms of quantity and quality of trout. 50 -100 trout days while hooking into a few over 10lbs is can be quite common during this time. Dead drifting egg and flesh patterns is the way to match the hatch.
August 25 – September 25
The end of August kicks off the fall party. We have seen the Kenai start fishing stong as early as August 20, but by the 25th you are definitely going to see some good fishing. The reason is king salmon, they can be found spawning early in August, but not consistently. By the end of August, the majority of kings that entered the river in July and early August are now on beds dropping eggs. Trout are eagerly positioned behind them gulping up the easy food source.
As August fades and September begins red salmon can be found spawning in full swing while late arriving kings can still be found on beds. This is probably one of the most productive times on the Kenai for trout. On even-numbered years pink salmon will also be spawning during late August into mid-September. The culmination of several species of salmon spawning creates a buffet of food for trout that want to stack on the pounds. This is the time of year when 24″ bows can boost a girth of 18″!
By late September most salmon are done spawning, and dependent on the water levels the food source for trout is slowly starting to dwindle. Historically we see a pullback in productivity towards the end of September. But, that does not mean the big fish have left, the decreasing water levels, temp, and light contribute to the finicky bite fluxes during this time. Patients and observation can lead to big results, quite often there is a major bite that takes place during a part of the day which can quite possibly be the only big fish window of the day.
Tying it together
From June 11 – the end of September anglers can quite easily put themselves in a peak time for rainbow trout on the Kenai River no matter what your schedule looks like. Approximately 75% of the time the Kenai is in peak season for trout. How incredible is that?!
All three peaks also coincide with a salmon run, the June peak offers king salmon, the July peak offers kings and reds, and the fall peak offers silvers. The ability to target trout and salmon is becoming a popular idea for many folks and adds some exciting diversity to their fishing experience.