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Thread: A few questions for Upper Kenai Veterans

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    Default A few questions for Upper Kenai Veterans

    So I have tried the Kenai River a few times and what an interesting fishery.

    I have a few questions for people who have more time on the Upper Kenai.

    1) What is the typical ratio of Rainbows to Dollies? I ask because I have only caught rainbows (and a whitefish) in three attempts. Of course that's 5 fish landed and maybe 10 more that I think I saw after hooked. Super small sample size.

    2) None of the rainbows I have caught were the typical aerial battle I seem to have with rainbows in other places I catch. No complaints about the fight, they sure do pull hard. Is this just the fish I have caught? time of year? Any observations?

    3) Can you adjust the quantity vs quality factor as you fish. What I mean is ( I know there are always exceptions) that when I was using 6mm beads, in the time I tried, I caught some nice fish but also the small ones. But when I switched to big flesh flies, in one hole in under an hour, I managed two of the largest rainbows I have ever caught and no smaller fish. I love the story about huge rainbows sipping size 24 midges but is it your experience that big bait baits improve quality but at maybe the cost of quantity?

    4) Finally, I love to use whitefish for bait ice fishing. The one I caught had the hook inside the mouth and the bead 2 inches ahead of it. I don't think it hit the bead. I think it hit the hook thinking it was something. Any chance I can specifically target whitefish in any decent numbers (would love to get a few per trip to stock up for the season) using small nymph or other patterns? Not to upset the strict C&R folks especially on this River but is taking whitefish out of the system detrimental to the wild rainbows and char? I can buy them so it's not a big deal. I heard one guy say he had caught a lot more than normal this year.

    Just curious. I am sure I will get more info as I try to learn this fishery. But I know there are a ton of folks here that know the river like the back of their hand. So thought I'd ask. Thanks in advance for any info.

  2. #2
    Member Raptor_1's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kardinal_84 View Post
    So I have tried the Kenai River a few times and what an interesting fishery.

    I have a few questions for people who have more time on the Upper Kenai.

    1) What is the typical ratio of Rainbows to Dollies? I ask because I have only caught rainbows (and a whitefish) in three attempts. Of course that's 5 fish landed and maybe 10 more that I think I saw after hooked. Super small sample size.

    2) None of the rainbows I have caught were the typical aerial battle I seem to have with rainbows in other places I catch. No complaints about the fight, they sure do pull hard. Is this just the fish I have caught? time of year? Any observations?

    3) Can you adjust the quantity vs quality factor as you fish. What I mean is ( I know there are always exceptions) that when I was using 6mm beads, in the time I tried, I caught some nice fish but also the small ones. But when I switched to big flesh flies, in one hole in under an hour, I managed two of the largest rainbows I have ever caught and no smaller fish. I love the story about huge rainbows sipping size 24 midges but is it your experience that big bait baits improve quality but at maybe the cost of quantity?

    4) Finally, I love to use whitefish for bait ice fishing. The one I caught had the hook inside the mouth and the bead 2 inches ahead of it. I don't think it hit the bead. I think it hit the hook thinking it was something. Any chance I can specifically target whitefish in any decent numbers (would love to get a few per trip to stock up for the season) using small nymph or other patterns? Not to upset the strict C&R folks especially on this River but is taking whitefish out of the system detrimental to the wild rainbows and char? I can buy them so it's not a big deal. I heard one guy say he had caught a lot more than normal this year.

    Just curious. I am sure I will get more info as I try to learn this fishery. But I know there are a ton of folks here that know the river like the back of their hand. So thought I'd ask. Thanks in advance for any info.
    1) I'd have to say I've caught more dollies this fall than bows. Since dollies and bows feed on the same things, there really is nothing you can do to change your ratio other than putting time on the water and finding out what kind of water each like and concentrating on those spots.

    2) I've had some aerial battles with trout on the kenai, but they tend to stay in the water and head toward deeper, faster water.

    3) One of the unwritten laws of fishing is bigger baits/flies/lures catch bigger fish. Small stuff will catch big fish but if all you're swinging is huge flies, you'll catch bigger fish. A lot fewer fish, but they will average bigger.

    4) Almost certainly the white fish you caught hit the bead, but when you set the hook, you pulled the bead out of his mouth and buried the hook. I have caught a few in the kenai but not in any numbers. I'm not sure where to tell you to go to target them. The only ones I've caught have been by chance. I don't think you'd be causing any harm to the native rainbow population. They both eat relatively the same thing so you might actually help by eliminating some of the competition.

    Best thing I can tell you is go fishing, try different things until you find something that works. Fish as much water as you can with as many different flies as you can. You'll quickly figure out what works and what doesn't. What type of water holds fish and what doesn't.
    Alaska: We're all here cuz we're not all "there"

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    Member 900fusion's Avatar
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    I concur on what some of raptor said. Ive to caught a few whitefish this year on beads from size 6-size 8, I guess i need to fish where your fishing because 90% of the fish that i have caught this fall all have been dollies. As for aerial acrobatics, ive too noticed a lack in the very few bows that ive hook, more than not they just bulldog me into the fast current and head south, but did have a monster just after hook set launch about 4 ft out of water before he dug down into the deep current which of course i lost but thats fishing. As for size of fly or bead smaller seemed to be the ticket ive fished 8's for 2 hours with a couple hookups then switched to 6's and the hook ups increased instantly.
    -Tight Lines & head shakin

  4. #4

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    Good stuff. Thanks for the insight guys.

    As for the only rainbow thing, keep in mind my sample size is TINY! The only thing I can say I might be doing differently is I seem to skip by a lot of the spots the guides and others fish because the water is too fast for my 4wt and the distance I can cast. I tried everywhere others were fishing and I can only get about a 5 second drift before I have to recast. So I have been concentrating on the deep (relatively speaking) seams mainly behind small islands and next to eddies. In some ways its harder since there is typically dead water and flowing water right next to each other. But since most of the water is 30ft or less away, I can keep casting till I get a good drift. I have always associated rainbows with faster more oxygenated waters than the char but who knows...I don't! lol.

    My 4wt limited me to spots also that I wasn't casting into the wind as well. So my plan I think is to use my 4wt for beads close in and pick up a 6 or 7 wt faster action flyrod to get a little more distance on the larger flesh flies and leeches.

    If in the next few trips I only still catch rainbows, I know that I am passing up some productive waters and nice water that hold the Dollies. So instead of continually pounding the spots for me that produce the rainbows (albeit infrequently), I am now more likely armed with this info to stop at other places and just give it a try.

    The whitefish I caught wasn't very big. The mouth almost seems too small to take an 8mm bead. It's the only fish so far I have hooked and landed there that had the hook deeper in the mouth so it didn't look like a "line" job (after striking the bead). Well if get bored I will try super small nymph patterns for a few minutes.

    But as typical of my advice and the same as Raptor implied, there is no substitute for just getting out there and flailing away. But in such a new fishery for me, by asking and getting some insight I get a better feel for if I am doing it in a manner that other more seasoned folks fish. That helps with the confidence factor and therefore the enjoy-ability of the day for me.

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    Member Raptor_1's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kardinal_84 View Post
    But as typical of my advice and the same as Raptor implied, there is no substitute for just getting out there and flailing away. But in such a new fishery for me, by asking and getting some insight I get a better feel for if I am doing it in a matter that other more seasoned folks fish. That helps with the confidence factor and therefore the enjoy-ability of the day for me.
    Not saying to not ask questions. There's a lot here, including myself, that are more than willing to offer up advice. Just saying there's nothing better than taking some of that advice, putting your own twist on it, and throwing some flies on the water!
    Alaska: We're all here cuz we're not all "there"

  6. #6

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    Quote Originally Posted by Raptor_1 View Post
    Not saying to not ask questions. There's a lot here, including myself, that are more than willing to offer up advice. Just saying there's nothing better than taking some of that advice, putting your own twist on it, and throwing some flies on the water!
    Ooops..definitely didn't mean to imply that. This forum is great! Especially if you stay away from the "where is your secret hole?" type questions! lol. I appreciate the advice and I can give many examples where it has paid off from the info gleaned from this forum. Very rarely is the info I get "use this and fish here." type of info.

    It's one of the reasons I post here is to try and give back some of the results from the information gleaned here.

    Thanks again. All the information is ultra useful!

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    Member Raptor_1's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kardinal_84 View Post
    Ooops..definitely didn't mean to imply that. This forum is great! Especially if you stay away from the "where is your secret hole?" type questions! lol. I appreciate the advice and I can give many examples where it has paid off from the info gleaned from this forum. Very rarely is the info I get "use this and fish here." type of info.

    It's one of the reasons I post here is to try and give back some of the results from the information gleaned here.

    Thanks again. All the information is ultra useful!
    No worries man! I knew you weren't implying anything malicious. I suck at wording stuff anyway! No doubt this forum has helped a lot of people. It helped me a lot when I first got here. There's some really good people on here to and I've had the pleasure of meeting a few of them and they're all good people. A few bad eggs on here but most are good people. Be happy to fish with you sometime and shoot me a PM if you have any other ?'s.
    Alaska: We're all here cuz we're not all "there"

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    Member 900fusion's Avatar
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    Here is something to try next time your on the kenai if you see guides posted up on a island try to go just below them or above them the fish are laying just off the ledges just off the fast current. Use longer leader and 2 size bb shot about 10-12 inches above your bead with indicator about 6-7ft above them cast up stream a lil more than a 45 degree angle about 4 - 5ft from shore make a quick mend and let her drift. that has been the best trick for myself and buddies.
    -Tight Lines & head shakin

  9. #9

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    Interesting topic. On your rainbow to dolly ratio, things just happen in a weird fashion. I have a buddy that caught his first rainbow on Quartz Creek this year after catching hundreds of dollies in previous years. My first Quartz Creek fish ever was an 18" rainbow, and one day this year, three of my nine fish on Quartz were girthy rainbows. Quite the ratio on that creek. As was said earlier, the diet is the same, so it's hard to target one species. You just run into what you run into. They're all fish. And as for the aerial battles, the fish aren't as stupid as their gluttony implies. In water like the Kenai, they will dive for the deep stuff. When you look at water like upper Willow, for example, there are only so many places they can run, and luckily for us, one such place is in the air. Kenai 'bows have no reason to jump. They tend to move to the safety of deep water. When I hook a fish, I don't give a **** where it goes. That has nothing to do with the fact that I'm catching fish!

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