USGS Stream Data

Kenai Rvr @ CooperLndg

  • Water Temp: 42.8 ° F
  • Flow: 4780 ft³/s
  • Water Level: 9.97 ft
USGS

Middle Kenai @ Skilak

  • Flow: 7820 ft³/s
  • Water Level: 9.68 ft
USGS

Talkeetna Rvr

  • Water Temp: 50 ° F
  • Flow: 5990 ft³/s
  • Water Level: 5.41 ft
USGS

Situk Rvr

  • Water Temp: 55.94 ° F
  • Flow: 246 ft³/s
  • Water Level: 65.69 ft
USGS
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Posts Tagged ‘alaska’

Spring Fishing – Plan D: A Friend of a Friend

So it’s mid-April and we’re having an extremely early and warm spring this year. Coupled with a very mild winter, this means that spring fishing is at least 3 weeks early and we are already seeing signs that if we don’t get out soon, the rivers are going to silt up with runoff and high water. Our challenge is that the river boat operator that we usually hire to run our rafts up the river we like to fish in early spring is out of state until May and we don’t have that much time. Lance is saving up vacation time for June when his brother is coming to Alaska, so fishing needs to happen on a weekend. Due to my schedule, I have only one open weekend, the 23rd of April, which is before Rhett at Phantom Charters will be back. What now?

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Flying Rafts

This blog was supposed to be so much different than it is, but (BLEEP) happens!

We were going to fish the Upper Kenai again this weekend. Only this time we were planning on staying in the lake above the bridge and the slow section of the river just below. Reports were that, although there were fish being caught down in the upper river, this section was producing well. Besides, after last Friday’s adventure of getting off the river at dark-thirty, we wanted to be within an easy row of the truck and trailer. Lance and I had decided to take our flippers and slow troll our flies back and forth across the outlet banks. We felt that even below the bridge, the current was slow enough that flippers would allow us to cover the water much like we do in lakes. And, if we needed to, we could just get our feet up on the pegs and row out of any faster current. My brother Dennis decided to take his electric motor and Hummingbird fish/depth finder. He had tried the fish finder a few years earlier while floating the main river and it didn’t work well. He was pretty sure that at least he would be able to find the ridge line that defined the shallower water just up from the bridge from the much deeper hole a bit up into the lake. Saturday worked for all three of us, so we planned for a 9:00AM “Get out of Dodge” departure. Surprisingly, we were loaded and away from the house about 10 minutes ahead of schedule. Read the rest of this entry »

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Earliest 1st Trip Ever

The First Day of Spring in Alaska is usually acknowledged with an understanding wink between those of us that live here, as we know “spring” is still four to six weeks away.

Boats loaded and ready by mid-morning

Boats loaded and ready by mid-morning

However, this year we’ve had an unbelievably mild winter, and with virtually no snow and lots of day time temperatures in the low 40’s Lance & I decided we needed to go fishing. Besides, a fishing trip is good for what ails you.

I had driven to Homer on March 5th and the Upper Kenai was as low as I’ve ever seen it. No bank ice, clear water (for the Kenai) and a spurt of late run Silvers that arrived in the upper river in really late, all promised for as good of fishing as you could hope for. Now we were not after the Silvers; the season for them is closed, but where there’s spawning salmon you can be sure there will be Rainbows, and since we were going to be by the lake, possibly Dolly Varden.

As luck would have it, Friday March 20th was the earliest day we could get together that the temperatures were going to be near the 40 degree mark; the First Day of Spring. This would be the earliest first trip of the year I had ever been on, and by no small margin. However, as usual, Murphy started to mess with us. (Murphy is a regular on lots of our fishing excursions. He seems to just invite himself.) Lance ended up with a doctor’s appointment first thing Friday morning. No biggie, we’ll just leave later; that will give the day time to warm up. Dennis discovered a leak in one of his tubes Friday night and can’t find his patch kit. Ok, off to Alaska Raft for a patch kit (and some advice about the fishing at the bridge because the guys at AK Raft are like that). I had friends that came in from Nome Thursday afternoon and back off to Texas at 3:00AM Friday morning. Deal with it; a couple of short naps are way better than no sleep.

But as it turned out we were buying sandwiches at Subway just after 12 Noon, and didn’t get onto the water until about 3PM. Read the rest of this entry »

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Lake Fishing Lessons from a Master

We had an opportunity  to fish with a fellow AFF member that is, in my opinion, a master lake angler. Lance and I are making an effort to fish lakes a bit more. We’ve been off of them for over 10 years and it’s amazing how much methodology has changed. Mike Malone, a long-time friend, offered to help us out in that department.

Mike has lived in the north Wasilla area for over 20 years and has spent most of his fishing time on the local lakes that surround his home. In the Mat-Su Valley ADF&G lists over 80 lakes that they stock, and almost 40 that are managed as wild fisheries. Granted the Mat-Su Borough is huge in terms of square miles, but most of these lakes are near a road, have public access points, and are within a 50 mile radius of Wasilla. As a result, Mike has experience fishing a diverse set of waters. Read the rest of this entry »

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Spear-It™ Hooks

Confession time; as a fly tyer I have an addiction to hooks.  Not just your “run of the mill” everyday hooks, but to really nice, custom, specialized hooks. Hooks that, like micro-brewed beer, are built for those of us that will spend a little more money for something special.

Cool looking hooks!

Cool looking hooks!

Even when I’m not shopping for hooks, I have to at least seek a glance at the hook rack; which is how I ended up with the new Spear-It™ Sickle Octopus style hooks. And not just a single package of a specific size; but four packages in a range of sizes. I just had to. I couldn’t help myself.

Spear-It Sickle hooks are not designed specifically for fly tying, although they are listed as a fly hook; but rather are designed to be use as a stinger, or trailing hook. Almost any short shanked hook will work as a trailing hook, although most tyers prefer an Octopus style of some sort. If you’re using something stiff to attach your trailing hook, you can position it so that the hook point rides up, with the hopes of minimizing snagging. The problem with a standard Octopus style is that the gape is usually big enough to have the hook point out away from the body a bit. (I’m not talking about offset bends, that’s a whole other design feature.) This new Sickle design seems to have overcome that design flaw. The hook point is in-line with the eye, and the bend is angular instead of a continuous curve. Read the rest of this entry »

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Knik Lake Outing

Finally! We are out on a lake again. Lance & I use to fish lakes all the time. We both have float tubes, and when he lived in Wasilla we’d often spend an evening fishing one of the local lakes. But then life changed; Lance ended up out of state for a few years, my float tube didn’t get unpacked from winter storage the next year (and the next, and the next …), and my fishing life morphed away from float tubing. But this year, we’ve decided to make an effort to get back onto our local lakes. They’re close enough for an evening of fishing; most of the time you can find some action and every once in a while you can get into some really nice fish.

Lance after launch.

Lance after launch.

Knik Lake was our first outing. It was Memorial Day weekend, so we picked Saturday night to minimize the holiday traffic and late afternoon to fish into the twilight hours (as much as we get in late May). We had decided to take our pontoon rafts instead of float tubes. We both were curious about how they would handle on lakes. (Pros & cons below.) Our 3PM start was delayed a bit by Murphy; but we were on the road by 5:30PM. It’s a bit over an hour drive from my house, and it took us about thirty minutes to get prepped and in the water. The sun was low, and orange-red from smoke from the Funny River fire a couple hundred miles away. We still had plenty of light; we just were not going to be able to cover more than one area. Read the rest of this entry »

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Salmon Fishing Ethics

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

OK; I’ve slept on it, waited twenty-four hours to write; slept on it again, re-read my copy with a second cup of coffee today, did some research, and re-wrote entire sections. All in an attempt not to sound all ranty. I don’t want to rant; I want to educate. Or, at the very least, make a solid argument for my point of view.

Sunday night I checked into Facebook. Nothing major, just popping in to see what’s up. My header showed 5 recent notifications, three of which were from the International Federation of Fly Fishers (IFFF), an international organization, based in the US, to which I’ve been a member of for most of my adult life. I had recently linked with their Facebook page to stay in touch with what was going on in their world in-between the quarterly magazine. Normally the feeds they send warrant a quick glance and then I’m off, but last night one caught my eye: “Fly fishing Alaska’s Kenai river system”. Cool, I thought, let’s see what’s up here. So I clicked into http://vimeo.com/55600424

Half through the video, I’m heated… three minutes into it and I’m boiling, and overflowing with words I want to say. These guys were doing things that make us locals want to pull out our can of bear spray and test the spray’s range and effectiveness. I knew exactly where they were fishing, almost to the rock. I can even closely estimate the time of year they were there, within a week, given water conditions and plant growth. This video was shot on one of our local, road accessible, highly used, stretches of water. I wanted to vent!

However, I work hard to be a reasonable person. And by that, I mean I try and see things from another’s point of view even when it’s drastically different than mine. So I slept on it; and spent an hour tossing and turning with my brain on overdrive before I finally relaxed enough to drift to off sleep.

It finally occurred to me that the guys in the video probably did not mean to be the idiots they initially stuck me as, but probably were unaware of how un-sportsman like their actions were, given their location. And, they’re young. Not to be mean, but I’ve been fishing over twice as long as they’ve been alive. Over the course of that time, I’ve taught myself to treat each fishery, and all fish, with respect. So Monday I backtracked into their Vimeo site and watched a couple of other videos they’ve posted: one on steelhead (with spinning rods), and another fly fishing cutthroats in a mountain lake. OK, so they’re not total idiots. They seem like average young guys that really enjoy fishing. Maybe even a little bit (or a lot) like myself a lifetime ago. I even saw one of them pick up some trash and throw it in the back of their truck. (Major points there in my book.) So I’m going to go with the ignorant defense here and not pick on these guys specifically.

Here are my points of contention; hopefully with some common thread that leads to my conclusion.

Sockeyes_Spawning* You can’t come to southcentral Alaska (more specifically, the confluence area of the Kenai/Russian River where these guys were fishing) in late July/early August and expect sockeye salmon; at least not fresh ones. The runs are over! Yes, there are fish in the water, lots of them. Big red ones with green heads – spawning colors. And yes, you can “lip hook” them (because trust me; they’re not on a bite). But every Alaskan knows that these fish are mere days away from their spawning beds where they produce offspring for our fishing four years down the road. Leave them alone! Don’t burn up their precious body reserves by practicing catch and release, just because you can. Catch & release fishing before fish are on their beds is not illegal, but molesting (harassing) spawning fish is, and it’s a thin line! Study the life cycle of salmon and you’ll realize that once they are past their prime and off on their mission to spawn, they should never be a targeted species.

Sockeye-wRod_5650If you want to fish for sockeyes (and they’re a blast), or any other species of salmon, do some research and come up when the runs are peaking and the fish are fresh.

* Please treat our fish with the same respect you treat yours. Of the four fish I saw landed in the video (with the intention of being released) all were pulled up onto the rocks. (I didn’t see that happening with the steelhead or cutthroats in the other videos.) Unfortunately, even we locals are guilty of this one; especially when we mis-hook one of them while fishing for rainbows and Dolly Varden during the egg and flesh hatch. (The males are really bad about being territorial.) My point being; you should be using a net when catching and releasing larger fish of any species. If you can’t pick them up with your rod and one hand, get a net!

* What really bothered me most is that, according to FB, just over 6400 people “liked” this video. That number simply astounded me! And, as it has come to light, is highly mis-leading. IFFF has just over 6400 people linked to its page, who receive any share item from the IFFF. It was this number that FB attributed to the video. Look past the FB hype and you see that Vimeo shows only 318 views (172 of which has happened since the Jan 12th sharing from IFFF) and only 4 likes. Even IFFF’s own FB numbers show only 1071 views and 36 likes, just over three percent; a number that softened my initial ire considerably. This sort of mis-information from social media sites can have the effect of conditioning young, inexperienced anglers, who are prime web users, into thinking that this type of fishing is an acceptable sportfishing ethic. I’ve seen plenty of local and national advertisements for fishing services showcasing big green headed males being held like they’re trophies. (And as a photographer, I know red sells.) But really, should we allow marketing and advertising to mis-lead anglers into thinking that fish ready to spawn are a viable target? I think not. And it’s not that I am against social media, it’s a great tool. Just take what it tells you with a grain of common sense.

 

In conclusion: Whether it’s my local fishery, or yours, you need to speak up and talk to anglers that are obviously unaware of what they are doing. (This saved me from a nasty swim in an Arkansas river several years ago.) I doubt the gentlemen in the video thought they were being un-sporting (they didn’t strike me as the sort that would), but no one evidently told them either. Don’t be nasty or arrogant; simply get your message across in as friendly a way as possible and hope that they’re receptive to what you say. And for heaven’s sake, try to lead by example.

 

I do welcome you to Alaska; “Mi casa es su casa”, or more appropriately in this case, “mi pescado es su pescado”. Bring a rod (or three), a camera, a good attitude, and have a great time. Don’t go fish crazy just because you’re here in the Great Land. And don’t always believe what you see and/or hear about fishing in Alaska. Remember, our fishing is a lot like your fishing; sometimes it’s great, but most of the time it’s somewhere between average to just plain tough. Come with reasonable expectations for your fishing experience and you’ll have a great adventure. As I tell people all the time: It costs me just as much to fish at a remote lodge, with no people and great fishing, as it does you. I just don’t have to fly to Anchorage.

KenaiRussian_HighBank_5742When the salmon are in, so are the people. Very few anglers on the river usually means few to no fish. That’s a fact of life here in southcentral. Lance and I work hard at getting away from the combat fishing in peak periods, but sometimes you just have to deal with it.

Lastly, fish our waters like you’d fish yours, because someday I might be fishing in your waters, and I’ll return the favor.

Thanks for listening.

Hope to see you on the river – Rich

On a personal note: The International Federation of Fly Fishers is a great organization. I would encourage you to become involved with your local and national organizations that are working to protect your fisheries. If you don’t, no one will.

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Russian River – July 6, 2013

The early run of sockeyes has wound down, and the late run hasn’t started yet.  It’s my favorite time to be on the Russian River. Water levels have dropped over 9″ in the last three weeks, and Lance & I were hoping that there would be some hungry trout in the river now that salmon scraps have gotten slim. We parked in Pink Salmon and, after gearing up, hiked a short time to get into the base of the canyon. RussianRvr_2013-07-06_0010-PanoLance decided to continue testing his Hevi-Bead system; I decided to start with a Helmet-head sculpin tube fly. I also threaded a very small pink bead on the tippet hoping the extra attraction might trigger an instinct. (You know, egg-headed anything.)  We fished through the first two runs and down into the bottom of the canyon where it flattens out. No luck for either of us. Since neither of us have had much luck in the broad flat area right out of the canyon, we decided to hike down to the Powerline Hole and drop in just below a couple of die-hard salmon anglers.

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Russian River Salmon Trip – June 19th

We decided after our season opener trip that we needed to make another trek south to the Russian River to try and re-shoot some underwater footage of the salmon at the confluence. But, since we were traveling that far anyway, we’d take our heavier rods and leave early; hoping to catch some of the sockeyes that were moving into the river. It was supposed to be about the peak of the run, and given that it was going to a Wednesday, we thought we’d have less combat fishing and quality time on the river. Well, you know fishing … in Tuesday’s paper it was announced that ADF&G was going to open the Sanctuary (confluence) at 8:00AM Wednesday. Read the rest of this entry »

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A Very Bad Thing at the Best Possible Moment – a safety message and a warning

Ready to Launch

Ready to Launch

 

Occasionally I think I lead a charmed life. Not so much for the fame & fortune I’ve avoided, but for things that happen in my life that convince me that Karma, Guardian Angels, and River/Fish Gods are entities that you should never take lightly. Also, that safety first is a great policy to live by.

Sunday was supposed to be a relaxing day floating the upper Kenai River. Lance has a new Fish Cat Scout raft that he wanted to try out on moving water, and since the river is closed to fishing, we were anticipating a very relaxing day trip; looking for photo ops, and scouting locations for next Tuesday when the river does open for fishing.

This was not to be.

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