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Thread: Kenai question..... got CHUM????

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    Member fishNphysician's Avatar
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    Default Kenai question..... got CHUM????

    Quote Originally Posted by iceblue View Post
    U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service operated a weir with an underwater video system in Funny River in 2009.....


    They also counted 2 chum salmon and 6 lamprey's.
    Just curious to know how many board members have ever caught a chum or personally seen a chum caught out of the Kenai.

    My oldest brother caught one back in 1976 from the bank at Eagle Rock. A lifelong home grown native neighbor said that was only the second he had personally ever seen.

    Never seen another one since. How about you?
    "Let every angler who loves to fish think what it would mean to him to find the fish were gone." Zane Grey
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    I've only caught one myself out of the Kenai but I did have someone on my boat catch one a few years ago as well. Both were in the mid July timeframe while fishing for kings with plugs.

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    Doc,

    Yeah, not too many of those in the Kenai. I know they have been documented in several tributaries, such as Quartz and Ptarmigan creeks of Kenai Lake and Grant Creek at Trail Lakes. Having fished the Kenai drainage extensively for some 30 years, I can only attest to having caught four specimens personally -- all of them on the Upper Kenai, including one from the mouth of Russian River that I snagged accidentally. Seen a few more in the streams mentioned above while fishing for char in late summer. Saw a guy a few years ago catch one on the Russian right below the Pink Salmon parking lot. It was in full nuptial colors and could not possibly be mistaken for another salmon species. The ones I caught were well into their spawning phase as well.

    Heard of a few being caught on the lower Kenai. One gentleman I spoke with claimed he landed two of them in a row while lining reds. At first he thought they were reds but when cut open he was surprised to find barely pink flesh. Upon closer examination by fellow anglers, they all determined that what he had caught were actually chums. The fish were in the 8- to 10-pound range and very faint vertical marking could be seen on the sides. Now what are the odds of that happening? A guy comes up from the Lower 48 on vacation and lands two chums right off the bat while locals having lived on the river for decades never even saw one before.

    --GP

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    I've seen a few in Quartz, I'd bet a few get caught and people think they are sockeye, but not many.
    I choose to fly fish, not because its easy, but because its hard.

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    As you wisely noted, the only documented areas that have chum salmon in the Kenai system are Quartz and Ptarmingan creeks. There could be other places too, and they could utilize the main stem of the river, but to my knowledge, the research has not been done to prove or disprove it either way.

    Quote Originally Posted by gpedersen View Post
    Doc,

    Yeah, not too many of those in the Kenai. I know they have been documented in several tributaries, such as Quartz and Ptarmigan creeks of Kenai Lake and Grant Creek at Trail Lakes. Having fished the Kenai drainage extensively for some 30 years, I can only attest to having caught four specimens personally -- all of them on the Upper Kenai, including one from the mouth of Russian River that I snagged accidentally. Seen a few more in the streams mentioned above while fishing for char in late summer. Saw a guy a few years ago catch one on the Russian right below the Pink Salmon parking lot. It was in full nuptial colors and could not possibly be mistaken for another salmon species. The ones I caught were well into their spawning phase as well.

    Heard of a few being caught on the lower Kenai. One gentleman I spoke with claimed he landed two of them in a row while lining reds. At first he thought they were reds but when cut open he was surprised to find barely pink flesh. Upon closer examination by fellow anglers, they all determined that what he had caught were actually chums. The fish were in the 8- to 10-pound range and very faint vertical marking could be seen on the sides. Now what are the odds of that happening? A guy comes up from the Lower 48 on vacation and lands two chums right off the bat while locals having lived on the river for decades never even saw one before.

    --GP

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    U.S Fish & Wildlife had a weir with an underwater camera in Funny River which is a tributary of the Kenai in 2009. They documented two chum salmon last year. They also had the weir up and running the last three years but I do not have the data from those years but I am betting that they recorded chums then as well.

    For years we heard that there were no steelhead in the Kenai River as they were not "documented" either. Well, guess what? The Funny River had 172 steelhead pass the weir last year and they are finding that this is not the only tributary of the Kenai that has them. Just because it has not been documented does not mean they are not present in the Kenai.

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    Default +1 Chum

    I caught one a few years back in the middle river (Torpedo Area) while fishing for reds in late July. He was already in full spawning color, so there was no mistaking what I had caught.

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    2 while fishing for Silvers below Skilak. 1 below the Moose while fishing for reds.

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    Default Quartz Creek Chums

    ADF&G operated a weir in lower Quartz Creek from 1981-1983. High water prevented total counts in 1981 and 1982, however in 1983 improvements to the weir and lower water levels allowed a more accurate accessment of salmon returns to this system. Here are the weir counts for 1983: 73,345 sockeye, 1542 coho, 351 chinook, 63 chum, and 54 pinks. There were also 2171 Dolly Varden counted at the weir.

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    caught 2 in the last 5 years... both while fishing silvers in August around the Kenai Keys area. One was pretty dark and colorful and the other was relatively bright.
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    To expand a bit on the chums I caught on the Upper Kenai, every one of them were hooked while sight fishing for reds. They were moving upstream very rapidly, close to shore along with a zillion sockeye. Three were encountered in August, one in September. Suspect they were headed for Quartz Creek or one of the other clearwater tributaries of Kenai Lake, but who knows… Looked through my mountain of notes and discovered that I spotted a spawned-out chum on the upper river many years ago so I suppose that could mean some fish also spawn in the mainstem or around the mouths of tributaries. As T. R. Bauer noted above, there is a lack of research on the subject.

    While I have observed chums moving through the lower section of Quartz, the only place I have actually seen them spawn is in the upper end of the drainage, upstream of the Sterling Highway bridge. That section of the stream is more akin to spawning habitat typically associated with Turnagain Arm drainages, which produce good chum runs.

    Iceblue is spot on with his comments regarding “documented” fish runs in the Kenai system. In particular, as he mentioned, the presence of steelhead trout – which would make for another great thread on fish species and runs in this dynamic river. In addition to Funny River, I believe there was steelhead counted through Slikok Creek as well. Know of a guide and lodge owner that has found a “sweet spot” for autumn steelies on the middle river and he will boat two or three fish per trip – occasionally half a dozen! And yes, he definitely knows the difference between resident trout and sea-run fish. A few of the fish he has caught still had sea lice.

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    Just goes to show you what a wonderfully diverse river system the Kenai really is....

    Kings x2 runs
    Sockeye x2 runs
    Coho x2 runs
    Pinks x2 runs
    Chums
    Resident/lake run/sea run rainbows
    Resident/lake run/sea run dolly varden
    Grayling
    ....

    Northern pike are the only species I would consider a scourge.
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    Quote Originally Posted by fishNphysician View Post
    Just goes to show you what a wonderfully diverse river system the Kenai really is....

    Kings x2 runs
    Sockeye x2 runs
    Coho x2 runs
    Pinks x2 runs
    Chums
    Resident/lake run/sea run rainbows
    Resident/lake run/sea run dolly varden
    Grayling
    ....

    Northern pike are the only species I would consider a scourge.
    Can't forget white fish, Doc. We caught several each trip below Skilak in the fall when we fished that area back when I was a kid. I suspect they are still caught in that area.
    Spending my kids' inheritance with them, one adventure at a time.

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    To your list of species add steelhead, although I question if they are wild or from Kasilof strays; probably 2 species of lamprey (arctic and pacific); whitefish (I think humpback and round). Am I forgetting any?

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    Sturgeon? I believe I read somewhere that they may have been found in the lower river. Anyone know?

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    Default Do not forget...

    ... the humble hooligan.

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    Quote Originally Posted by sayak View Post
    ... the humble hooligan.
    Speaking of hoolie's....

    Anybody ever caught a dark spawner?

    All the Kenai/Turnagain/Susitna hooligan I've ever seen were bright.... maybe some fine peppered pigment.

    The ones in the Kanektok late June were dark ugly things.... painted witha dark charcoal band down the entire body with fearsome teeth like an old chum. Is it the same fish that's just undergone the full spawning transformation or are they different species altogether?
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    I've never caught or seen a dark hooligan out of the Kenai. Even the spawned out dead ones seem to have retained there color but they get that "skinny" look to them. Ditto for the Susitna Drainage.

    Another species of fish is the Resident Lake Trout.
    Last edited by iceblue; 02-02-2010 at 08:08. Reason: spell check

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    I'm pretty surprised that I haven't caught a laker in the river.
    You would think they would migrate to get in on the egg bounty offered in the river. I have fished other salmon rivers attached to laker lakes and have caught plenty of trout that come in with the salmon to feed.

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    Quote Originally Posted by DRIFTER_016 View Post
    I'm pretty surprised that I haven't caught a laker in the river.
    You would think they would migrate to get in on the egg bounty offered in the river. I have fished other salmon rivers attached to laker lakes and have caught plenty of trout that come in with the salmon to feed.

    It depends upon what you consider "the river" but both lake outlets have lakers right up to the entrance of the river. for some reason they don't seem to cross that imaginary river/lake line, but they come awfully close. I've caught one while fishing trout just below Skilak, but only when I've pushed my drift all the way up to the lake.
    I suspect you should add "Lakers" the the list Doc.
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