Monday, June 27, 2011

The difference

Up in Cooper Landing this weekend, a mere half-hour east of Sterling, fishing the Russian River for Russian River reds, there might not have been a ton of fish passing through, but there sure was a lot of advice.
"I've been here a week," "I've been here a day," "I've been here all afternoon;" "you've got to stand over here," "stand over there;" "red and yellow is hot!"
Even if they weren't talking directly to you, it seemed like tid-bits of knowledge and guidance were rising from the water like the gurgle of the clear water stream running over the rocks.
Now, all this advice is really generous, and given that the Russian River is known as a "combat fishery" where anglers stand shoulder to shoulder trying to flip for their reds, it was a relief to hear nice words, but it got me to thinking about where experience really counts.
Here at Big Sky, our three on-staff guides, Ryan, Adam, and owner Joe, have an easy half-century of combined experience fishing the Kenai River alone. This says nothing that all three are seasoned life-long sportsmen. Likewise, all the guides we contract and partner with for both river and saltwater fishing on have been in business for decades working their respective waters.
There were some genuinely experienced folks out there on the Russian this past weekend, and there were also some people who had just caught their first fish and now knew everything there was to know about fishing.
It's not quite that bad when fishing the Kenai River with a guide or outfitter, most can claim to have caught more than one anyway, but when the fishing gets tough, as it has been of late, experience really starts to show.
We had a fairly quiet week from a business perspective, but as is seen below, that didn't keep us from landing some gorgeous Kenai River kings.
The Kenai River is coming up slowly, and it is starting to get a little of its beautiful teal color it's so well-known for. That will really give us even more of an advantage, but as is, the best fishing has remained in the tidewater.
We've got a full week coming up here with some great clients, so we're looking forward to helping land them some more beauts like these from the past week.

Linda Klueh and her bright and shiny Kenai River king salmon.

Watch out, you'll poke someone's eye out with that thing!
How do you feel about holding one of these at 6:30 a.m.? Trust me, you won't need any coffee for the other hand.
Brittany Klueh and her big 35 pound Kenai River king salmon that she kept out of the jaws of a hungry seal. Nice work!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Clean and clear

More of the same for us on the Kenai River this week folks. The river is still running low, clean, and clear.
Kenai River king salmon continue to enter the mouth of the river, but with these types of conditions, we sure do have to work for a living!!
While the weather has been behaving quite typically for Alaska (that means a whole lot of everything) we did have an absolutely gorgeous Friday and Saturday, with temperatures climbing into the high 70s.
We like that, not because we're into tanning to a golden shade of brown (our rain bibs give us funny tan-lines anyhow) but because all that heat helps to spur snow and glacial melt, which sends a flush of silt, and "glacial flour" as we refer to it, into the rivers.

Here on the Kenai Peninsula we're always looking for a balance in visibility. If the water is too clear, and too low, king salmon can see too much and get skitish. If it's too cloudy and turbid though, we have to practically whack them on the head with our lures just in order to coax a bite.
To say the least, visibility is a frequent point of conversation at the dinner table at Big Sky.

We'll spare you all that nonsense, here's some fish that didn't know any better!

Ever-reliable guide Gary Chamberlin holds the net with a stunning 52-inch "slot fish" Kenai King caught by Tessa Robertson Easley. The chrome beauty is protected by regulations, and is still somewhere in the Kenai River, hopefully bound to produce plenty more just like it in years to come.

Chief guide Adam Reid with a fish nearly as big as his young client!

Both these guys obviously ate their Wheaties!

Monday, June 13, 2011

Clearly working

The world famous Kenai River is known for throwing "kurve balls" at us all season, and that's what she's doing again.
The river is running low and clear, just about the opposite from a week ago (and yes, for all we know in another week, it will be mudded back up!)
That being said, Big Sky's chief guide Adam was able to lure in some easily spooked fish this week.
Like many rivers in Alaska, the glacial-fed Kenai will run higher and muddier when we see warm sunny weather that melts down the ancient ice sheets in the interior of the Kenai Peninsula at the headwaters of the Kenai River.
This past week, however, was rather gray, so our near 24 hours of daylight weren't heating up enough to cause much melt.
When flow is down, the river clears up, and while we want our target fish to see, we don't want the water to get too shallow or have them see too well.
Salmon have excellent vision, and being a sought after species everywhere (not just by humans) they're also smart and skitish.
Adam reported that this week the best fishing was early in the morning after the pressure had been off of for several hours. After that, well, that's when it really became fishing.
The good news is, with a steady stream of fish coming into the river, and a steady movement upriver, king salmon are starting to be seen well beyond tide water. This gives us a few more options in terms of where to fish, and can also spread out the fishing pressure.
The Kenai is still closed to bait as of yet, and we are eagerly awaiting an announcement from state officials to open it up, but until then, well, looking at this week's catch, I'd say we're doing alright!

The Zane party from Pueblo pulled in some great fish this week.

This two ocean year fish might not tip the scales like his big brothers and sisters, but we like to call these guys "barbecue kings." Got any guesses why that might be? Fire up the grill!

Even in the Kenai's clear waters this week, this guy couldn't hide.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

So it begins

June is off, and we're ready to start seeing some fish here at Big Sky!
The beginning of June is typically a little slow, but all the signs are hopeful for what's to come.
Sonar counts provided and calculated by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game for Kenai River kings entering the river are looking good so far, and there are definitely fish in the river.
No one is wagering any bets on when the state officials will allow anglers to use bait just yet, but things are certainly looking alright.

In the meantime though, we have to trick these fish into clamping down on our lures using only sight.
Unfortunately, a combination of some very warm weather over Memorial Day weekend, followed by heavy rains in the mountains through the following week, has pumped a lot of melt and runoff into the river and clouded everything up.
To catch a king in these conditions basically entails getting in the right spot with the right fish, whacking it square upside the head with a lure, and then hoping it's dumb enough to bite!

On other fronts, the Russian River reds are also definitely starting to head up the Kenai for their mountain lake destinations.
A few have been spotted flopping in the hole out in front of camp, and if their numbers continue to come in steadily, we may seem some opportunities to intercept them before they reach Cooper Landing.

Saturday morning, Chief guide Adam and company scout for Kenai kings.
To use an analogy, June is a lot like getting a halibut bite. It usually starts off soft, with a few "tap-tap-taps" as the flat fish mouths the bait. Often, June ends like the hook set when it turns out that halibut down there turns out to be a 100+ pounder: with the rod doubled over and the angler just about getting pulled over the rail, line screaming off the reel.
This June is looking to be a 100 pounder, at least.

We still have plenty of space through the third week of June when things should be getting hot, give us a call: 1-877-536-2425.
We can also still arrange river and saltwater trips through the rest of the summer season.