Belated July Reports: Kenai Reds, Interior Grayling.
Been fairly busy doing some running for July and haven't posted any fishing reports so I figured I'd combine it into one bigger report right now in hopes that it might be useful to someone searching in forums in the future.
Started the month on an RV trip with the family. Didn't really get to do much fishing at the beginning, but spent two days fishing the Tangle Lakes on July 8th and 9th. Did very well fishing dry flies from shore any time the wind allowed. Lots of fish rising and all eagerly took dry flies. Fished elk-hair caddis flies and parachute adams just because those are usually my go-to searching patterns and never had any reason to switch. After the Tangle Lakes, we spent a day at Blueberry Lake near Thompson Pass. Bugs were bad, but caught tons of smallish grayling, at times on almost every cast.
Got home and started fishing reds on the Kenai on July 16 with my wife and my dad and sister. We all took limits, even my sister who hasn't caught a fish in her life other than little bluegills. Fishing was great, and the crowds weren't bad yet. Had to drop my sister off at the airport on the 17th, so it was my wife, my dad, and I after that. Caught limits pretty easily on the 17th, 18th, and 19th and crowds stayed relatively small. Took a day off to wait for the limit to go to six. Went back on the 21st and 22nd, and I limited both days, but it was slow for my wife and dad (she didn't go on the 22nd either). Was moderately disappointed at the slower returns, but we caught the number of fish we like to keep for a year and didn't have to deal with dipnetting. I was far more disappointed with the attitudes of people we ran into one day on the river. Where we fish has limited shore-line available for fishing and it is usually full. Whenever we go fishing there, we wait to fish until we see people come out and only go in to replace the number of people that come out. On Sunday, this courtesy was not returned to us. After we waited to fish, we were able to eventually get three spots fishing together after three people left over the course of an hour or so. While we were fishing one person left downstream of us and a group of 5 people immediately tried to get in the water to replace him. It was not a case of us being too spread out. The leader of the group squeezed in between my dad and me so close that I would have hit him with the middle of my fishing pole on every drift. I told him that there wasn't room for 5 people where only 1 person got out of the water, and his response was "it's combat fishing, deal with it". We exchanged a few more words, and he moved down so he wasn't between my father and I, but was far too close to my wife. More words were exchanged and eventually he left, but his group continued to fish essentially ruining my wife's drift. The whole time, the people in the group were trampling the river bank and walking right past huge signs saying that the river bank was closed. All of the rest of the days we fished, we had great people around us and enjoyed the social aspect of fishing reds, but it's amazing how one jerk who thinks that "combat fishing" involves being combative with your neighbors really can sour the experience. I sure wish the tour books would call it social fishing or something else that doesn't insinuate that a complete lack of manner, common sense, and courtesy is acceptable.
After finishing with all of our reds, we left for a return trip to the Denali Highway. My wife was biking the entire length of the highway with her friends, and I wanted to do some grayling fishing and scout for my upcoming caribou hunt. Caribou sightings, were scarce, but fishing was good, and the weather was great. Fished at Brushkana creek and caught all the grayling I cared to on a small black x-caddis. None were huge, but I had the river to myself and it was nice to catch fish on flies I tied myself. Moved on to Clearwater Creek and dredged up some nice grayling out of deeper holes with a bead-head, hotwire purple prince. Again, it was nice to catch fish on flies I tied with nobody else around. When we got to the Tangle Lakes, areas close to shore were pretty weedy, and I didn't see any rising fish, so I opted to spend more time with the bicycling crew instead. It was a good trip, but I need to lose more flies to make space in the box. Can't wait to be back up there in a couple weeks to caribou hunt and fish, and I really can't wait to fish grayling on the Chena River over Labor Day!
I can pretty much report the same. We have a place on the Kenai just east of Sterling. It actually faces the river, so we didn't have anybody crowding us. I arrived on Friday, July 19 and easily caught the limit. Same with July 20 to Monday, July 22. On Tuesday, 1 only caught 1 after 3-4 hours of fishing. I left for an overnight halibut trip out of Homer the next two days, and went back home to the lower-48 after. My family (4 people fishing) that's still at the cabin report NO fish caught from Sunday, July 28 until they left for Anchorage (August 1.)
On my way back to Anchorage on Friday, July 26, we could see parts of the Kenai and Russian River were packed shoulder to shoulder with "combat fishermen."