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Thread: Salmon Fishing Alaska

  1. #1

    Default Salmon Fishing Alaska

    Hello. My husband and I are planning a first visit to Alaska in 2011. Doing early planning, and wanting to figure out where we will be going fishing. we want to spend 2 or 3 days on guided fishing trips for Red or Silver Salmon. My husband loves to fish, he mostly fishes spinner but dabbles in fly fishing. He's not an expert. We want to hit a great salmon run, looking for plentiful catches rather than the biggest fish. We are pretty wide open to where and when we go, we are going to time the trip around the best fishing opportunity. We'll be in Alaska 2 weeks and will be sightseeing, but the fishing is a priority and we want to get the timing and location right. We want to try to avoid the height of the rainy season (I know, it can and will rain anytime), so we were leaning towards mid-July to first week of August but could as easily come in June. From our research so far we figured we'd hit the Kenai Penninsula and were leaning towards a trip on the Kenai for reds and a fly-out to the Kustatan for silvers, with maybe a third day at Big River/Wolverine Creek for more silvers/reds and some bear watching, but we wanted to make sure these were good choices. We went to our local fly fishing shop today and they had tons of brochures but never mentioned the Kenai at all. Lots of mentions of Bristol Bay, and some other rivers I never heard of in our research. Is our plan good or is there a better location for what we need? The tentative plan is to be on the Kenai Penninsula for a week and then a road trip Hatcher Pass/Glenn Highway/Richardson Highway/Wrangell-Elias NP/Valdez, but we'll go where the fish are. Fly-outs are okay, fly-in overnight lodges too if they aren't extremely expensive, which most of them are. Any feedback would be appreciated. Thanks.

  2. #2

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    I should add he wants to fish freshwater, not ocean fishing. Thanks.

  3. #3
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    i could be wrong on this but in my experience, reds and coho don't run at the same time. if they do, the reds will be sour(almost completely turned and likely not biting flies/spinners) and the silvers will just be coming in. unless your targeting pinks/chum/reds you will not hit mulitple runs at once. i think the silvers will be holding in saltwater while the reds are in full swing. Im from Juneau, so i don't know about kenai but im sure its not to far off. last year the Coho freshwater fishing didn't get good for me until early/mid September. My advise would be to target 1 species during the prime time to ensure a good fishing trip. But agian im not an expert so take it for whats it's worth. Hope you enjoy your trip

    EDIT: looks like i might be wrong, looks like early august would be a time to hit both, but in my experience you cant count on these run charts but this one is tailored to freshwater fishing http://www.alaskaflyfishinggoods.com...-Timing-Chart/
    I Wish i could change my name to Shimano, because i recently started hating Ambassdor Abu_Garcia.

  4. #4

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    Thanks for the reply. From what I've heard, the Kenai should be great for reds the last week in July. I've also read that the Kustatan which is a fly-out river over Cook Inlet has a good early silver run at the same time, and that Big River/Wolverine has both during that time. So we wouldn't be fishing the same river for reds and silvers at the same time. We have spoken to a couple of guides and found guides we really like with a good reputation, I'm not really doubting them, but I've been burned before (not in Alaska) by booking at a lodge based on what they told us, and ended up coming at the completely wrong time for what we wanted to catch, so it's good to hear other opinions on this. Also on the areas to go and whether the Kenai will area will give us what we are looking for, since when we look for brochures and such at the fishing stores they don't feature the Kenai but feature other areas like Bristol Bay. Thanks for the reply.

  5. #5

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    Here's a link to some good charts on run timing: http://www.alaskaoutdoorjournal.com/Sonar/sonar.html
    Lot's of other good information such as fishing reports there, too.

    Last week of July can be good for reds on the Kenai, but the run is in the decline at the time. But if you hit a day when a good slug of fish enter the river it can be exceptional.

    And silvers are just starting to enter the river, so you might get into some of them, too, though they get better the later in August you go. I'm not sure about the silver run timing on the Kustatan since I've never been over there, but certainly Googling "kustutan fishing guides" would give you plenty of people to call or email to ask about it.

  6. #6

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    Thanks for the link. I've googled and talked to alot of guides, so I think and hope the information on the timing of the Kenai and Kustatan is accurate. I'm more concerned as to whether there might be better areas, such as Bristol Bay, Copper River or other areas that you recommend that might be better for us to look into and compare to the Kenai area, or whether the Kenai Pennisula is indeed best for what we are looking for. Thanks for taking the time for all the replies.

  7. #7
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    I would definately go with the last couple weeks of July. Real good chance to get into Reds on the Kenai, Pinks on Resurrection Creek, Dollys and Rainbows on many nice inland streams, and maybe a hike to an inland lake or two.

    Right now I am partial to the Kenai Penn, as we have been there twice, both our trips are on our website and give you a pretty good look at a lot of different areas.

    Do lots of research, have a plan "A","B" and "C". Bring good rain gear, it's pretty much impossible to spend two weeks in Alaska and not be in the drizzle, if not rain.

    You'll get lots of good info here, you can also do a search of threads during the timeframe you will be here from previous years to see some of the fishing reports and such.

    Have a great trip.

  8. #8

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    I guess it kind of depends on how deep your pockets are, too. If you can afford to do it you can find lodges in southwest Alaska (Bristol Bay area, etc.) where you can fish in areas where you're going to be the only person on very long stretches of the river. A good deal of the Kenai is road accessible so it can get pretty "combat" in areas, though if you do a float trip the guide should be able to get you into fish in areas where you won't be fishing around a lot of other people. But you're going to pay a big premium to book any time with one of the lodges across the Inlet.

    The link that I gave you before is totally accurate as it all comes from fish counts that are done by ADF&G. So as you can see from some of those charts there are both reds and silvers entering the river at the same time.

    Here are some other links to fishing reports from last year for the later part of the year. These are from people fishing all over the place up here so you'll have to do a little sleuthing to find where you are considering, but these are straight from people that were fishing at the time, so pretty reliable indicators:

    http://www.alaskaoutdoorjournal.com/....09-07.04.html
    http://www.alaskaoutdoorjournal.com/....09-07.20.html
    http://www.alaskaoutdoorjournal.com/....09-08.05.html
    http://www.alaskaoutdoorjournal.com/....09-12.31.html

    And don't discount trying a day or two out on Kachemak Bay fishing for silvers and/or halibut. It's a good chance to see some beautiful scenery and get into some very nice fish. There are a lot of silvers out there at the end of July and beginning of August and can be fished for with a fly rod. Take a look for my reports - Coho Dave - for that time period.

  9. #9
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    Hi LEK,

    This trip planning is lots of fun, huh?

    Your timing pretty much coincides with a trip (my first) that we are planning next year too that I've been fooling around researching for the last nine months. Lots of options - as another first time visitor here said, "Your playground's too big!"

    I'll be watching to see what turns up for replies here about coho (silver) salmon in the fresh water during this time period, (excluding a fly out trip).

    I think it takes a minimum # of posts by you before your Private Message function begins to work. If I can help you with any other questions in the mean time feel free to send me an email.

    jsenglish@metrocast.net.

    - Jay

    PS. Dave, thanks for the reports links

  10. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by oldmil007 View Post
    PS. Dave, thanks for the reports links
    You are very welcome! Yeah, those reports can be invaluable for planning. LOTS of good information there on exactly what was happening on any particular day. I like to cross reference the reports with the ADF&G escapement charts to see how things correlate and make decisions based on that. Those salmon runs can vary significantly from year to year so any "ammunition" you can utilize to pick dates to be here is well worth the effort.

  11. #11

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    Muttley Crew, those reports were interesting. Most of the guides consistently advised to come to the Kenai the 3rd week of July, so we were aiming for between the 21st and 28th. I'd better clarify with them, since it looks like the biggest surge was right in the middle of the month. I also didn't realize it went up and down so much even during the run, on the tentative dates we picked it was way down. I'd better clarify with them, we can just as easily arrive the 16th rather than the 23rd if that's better.
    OldMill007, it's good to know that someone else plans trips as early as me! I have felt foolish calling in January 2010 for a trip in July 2011 but it's going to take all that time to get this trip right. This playground is way too big!
    Thanks all for your replies thus far, input is so helpful in this planning, which is fun but crazy making as well.

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    Default those reports

    are based on when fish pass the sonar counter (in the lower river) - if you're fishing above Skilak Lake, the big slugs of fish could arrive 1-2 weeks AFTER registering on the sonar.
    Gary

  13. #13

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    Oh, so if we're fishing Cooper Landing area, Middle and Upper Kenai, then perhaps the 24th through the 27th would be good. Yes?

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    I really want to stress the importance of Prime fishing times and moderate. There is a HUGE difference. Durring moderate times any givin day could be good or bad. durring the prime it is rare there is a bad day of fishing. Thats ok for residences because we are fishing all the time, but on a trip you really want to ensure everyday is a great day of fishing IMO. i would really consider targeting 1 strain of salmon over 2. but if your dead set on it, those dates look good according to the run tables.
    I Wish i could change my name to Shimano, because i recently started hating Ambassdor Abu_Garcia.

  15. #15

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    Perhaps I'm not understanding. I get that we can't target the same river for 2 strains of salmon. But why not hit the Kenai for reds on a time that's prime, then the Kustatan for silvers on a time that's prime, if those times coincide? If we skipped the Kustatan and focused on the Kenai for 2 days, are you saying it would increase the chances of hitting it when prime? I'm sorry, I think I'm not getting something?

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    basically from what i can tell from researching, your trip seems to be a prime time for Reds, however the silvers will just beginning to show. Thats not a bad thing, and i wouldnt go off changing dates. But basically your main fishing will be for reds, you could still go silver fishing if you like, but your red fishing will have a lot more action than the silvers. granite you could probably still have some good days silver fishing, but you could also have a horrible day as well. agian im not from that area, and i could be totally wrong but be cautious if you are really wanting silvers...
    I Wish i could change my name to Shimano, because i recently started hating Ambassdor Abu_Garcia.

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    Quote Originally Posted by LEK View Post
    Perhaps I'm not understanding. I get that we can't target the same river for 2 strains of salmon. But why not hit the Kenai for reds on a time that's prime, then the Kustatan for silvers on a time that's prime, if those times coincide? If we skipped the Kustatan and focused on the Kenai for 2 days, are you saying it would increase the chances of hitting it when prime? I'm sorry, I think I'm not getting something?
    I think what he is saying is if you split 4 days between two rivers you only have two days to hit good fishing on each. If you schedule 4 days on one river you have a better chance of hitting a run on that river.

    Conversly you could plan two days on each, catch each run at the peak and have a blast, or spend four days on on river, not catch squat, and you missed the great run on the other river....

    or you could miss both runs and go bust. Two years ago I had a friend spent 3000 dollars on King quides on the Kenai and went bust. The run was off and it was great scenery, but didn't catch a fish.

    I don't want to ruin your thread, but if I were to choose between Reds and Silvers I would concentrate on Silvers. If I were going to get a guide or pay money it would be to fish Silvers. Reds taste great, but you're not really fishing for them, your lining them. Silvers on the other hand are aggressive and you fish for them.

    Put your time and money into Silvers. When you catch enough of them, go to the the Kenai and fish reds on your own. Either fish from the road access spots with everybody else, or rent a raft from Alaska boat and canoe, paddle across Skilak Lake and do a two day drift on your own fishing reds from Shore. Only takes a little research and a couple of questions to figure out reds.

    I may have said it before, but can't stress know your options. You can plan on Reds, Silvers or Kings, but if the run is off your touristing, or you changing your plans to Bows and dollies on an inland stream, hiking in for Grayling, or changing to a completely different drainage system.

  18. #18

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    Well, you know how these things go. We started with a one week trip to Alaska with one day of guided fishing for reds. Now we have a 2 week trip to Alaska with three days of guided fishing. We do go back and forth between the Kustatan for silvers vs a second day on the Kenai or Russian for reds. Problem is I think my husband doesn't quite know which he really wants to fish(any advice on that?) , so he figures he'll do a day of each. I did google the Kustatan again and it's pretty clear on all the websites that their silver run starts July 15-20 and goes into August, I think the silver runs start earlier in that part of Cook Inlet. Don't know if it will be the prime day, but I think we'll hit it okay. Wolverine Creek/Big River is really a just way of seeing the bears close up with a bonus of more fishing. I suggested to my husband that a fourth day is okay if he really wants one, maybe for another day on the Kenai or the Russian, but he said it's getting ridiculous and that three days will be enough and more than he expected.
    My original question was about locations but I get the feeling that we keep seeing brochures for Bristol Bay and other areas because those are the fly-in Lodges and such that advertise that way. Since we haven't gotten any strong advice otherwise I think we'll stick with the Kenai.
    Any thoughts on reds vs silvers is appreciated, and thanks for all the great input.
    (2PawsRiver, I saw your post which came through while I was writing this. Thanks for the feedback and we will consider what you recommend).

  19. #19
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    Go for the silvers, pound for pound they are the best fighting salmon IMO. they are more of a "prized fish". Like 2Paws said, reds taste better, but silvers is fun to catch. i do not know where you are from but think of it like this, Think of reds like catfish and then think of Bass fishing, The bass fishing is a much better throphy fish and fighter(pound for pound). The same time Catfish is a fish you eat while Bass is not a great eating fish (silvers are good so don't think that far into it) it's a sport fish.
    I Wish i could change my name to Shimano, because i recently started hating Ambassdor Abu_Garcia.

  20. #20

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    Quote Originally Posted by oldmil007 View Post
    as another first time visitor here said, "Your playground's too big!"
    Hey Jay,

    I think I wrote that?!!?!

    Alaska can make you crazy! The good kind of crazy when you smile in your sleep!

    LEK, I am liking Abu's information very much. When I was there in 2008, I left on august 2nd and I had barely seen or heard much about silver fishing. I met a lot of people on the Peninsula because I was only there for fishing, and I kept hearing the same thing: "You're leaving too soon!". If only they knew it was my 10th week there . Perhaps I was leaving too late!

    In my opinion, with 2 weeks worth, I would focus only on 1 species. I was there during both strong runs of reds and it was amazing. However, I remember hitting the russian in between both runs and I did not catch anything for 2 days. It was dead out there, with only the occasional rainbow fisherman roaming around.

    This year, I will probably be there during the same times, maybe a little later, but Im not counting on hitting the silvers really hard, even if I do leave the 5th-10th of August. From what Ive been reading on this board, it seems like the later, the more rain, the better.

    However, keep in mind this is advice from someone who has only been there once. I did do A LOT of research, but my knowledge is still very limited. Just giving you my 2 cents.

    Id rather hit 1 really good run, than hit 2 mediocre runs. Lots more to stay awake at night thinking about.
    Random guy in Fly shop: "Where did this happen???? In real life or in Alaska?"

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