Daily salmon, halibut & trout fishing reports for Alaska  

Alaskan Anglers Fishing Reports

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The Canadian and West Coast king salmon runs have shown remarkable returns on many rivers and streams in the past few years. These increased numbers of chinook have prompted the international regulatory commission to modify their forecasts on the numbers of king salmon available for harvest this year in the area from Yakutat to southern Oregon. This windfall has prompted ADFG to set new Daily Bag and Possession limits for Southeast king salmon anglers, both resident and nonresident.

Nothing like getting a little GOOD NEWS for a change, eh?

The official notice has finally been announced by the International Halibut Commission who oversees commercial and sport caught halibut. They not only establish the amount of fish the commercial and charter boat sport anglers can catch but also have the authority to set specific sport limits and restrictions on gear or fish size. If you take a halibut charter now and then this one is for you.

ANGLER:  Shadowangler
TRIP DATE:  4/23
REGION:  Anchorage
WATER:  Anchorage area lakes
SPECIES:  Anything that breaths underwater and has fins...

REPORT: Well, I've been going stir-crazy the past few weeks with all the nice weather we've been having. Thankfully, Spring looks like it actually may be on time this year, which is a good thing because last year's breakup was brutal for all of us. With that said, I've been watching the lakes, patiently waiting for the ice to melt far enough from the shoreline to wet a line. It's slowly starting to happen folks, and hopefully within a week's time (if the warm weather holds) there should be some fishable water out there and hungry fish cruising the shallows. Last year I found great success at Cheney, Jewel and little Campbell lakes. Salmon eggs seemed to be the ticket, suspended from a bobber or on the bottom. They'll be cruising around the ice edge close to shore on the prowl, so try and place your offering as close to the edge of the ice as possible. As soon as the ice melts far enough out, try casting small lures, spinners, spoons and even jigs to get the fish's attention. The hatchery will start planting fish after the ice is gone to hold us over until the Kings arrive (keep your fingers crossed). Me personally? I just need to wet a line after a long winter...

[AOJ: I think its finally here too. My thermometer is running in the mid-50s each day at AOJ HQ and the shorefast ice bergs on the Kenai River in Soldotna are diminishing in size very rapidly. No edge melt yet on local lakes that I've seen but the ice appears to be candlesticking some now. I see the boat dealers' are jammed up with boats being brought in for spring tuneups and repairs.]

ANGLER:  Nanook puppy
TRIP DATE:  4/20
REGION:  Kenai Peninsula
WATER:  Going Soft
SPECIES:  Big bow ya know

REPORT: ? Then answer... Skilak Ice out? Yes. Water level? You gotta check it out. Give a guy a break? Yeah right!

So. Now that it's out. New job puts me back 70 deep between Mon-Fri. Gotta make hay while the sun is shining I guess. Itching bad and hoped for some mercy on some water levels, clarity. Been watching weather reports, etc, etc....have the figure. Just wanted the push to make the jump. Hope we jump together.
P.S. Happy Easter.
P.p.s. Eat a bunny, save the lettuce!
Nanook puppy

[AOJ: You can get Skilak Lake conditions from the Moose Range HQ 262-7021.

I don't know if you are planning to fish in the lake or on the river but just to make sure you know, from Skilak Lake outlet down to Killey River is a No Motor Use area from March 15 thru June 14 and is closed to all fishing from May 2nd through June 10th to protect spawning trout. So time is running out for fishing at the outlet until after June 10. And even then the first couple days remain drift only with no motor use until the motor ban is lifted on June 15th.

The Kasilof River is open in the slackwater at the outlet of Tustumena Lake but I don't know if there is any ice on the ramp left.]

ANGLER:  yes
REGION:  Kenai Peninsula

REPORT: The tractor launch at Anchor Point. Will be launching and retrieving beginning MAY FIRST. I talked to the owner Todd this morning 4/19/2014.

ANGLER:  fishermax
TRIP DATE:  4/17
REGION:  Kenai Peninsula
WATER:  Kasilof Beach

REPORT: Shawn, I found your rod holder and sledge hammer you left behind on Tuesday the 15th.
Mark 575-5588

[AOJ: Ah ha, it sounds like someone has been down at the beach doing a bit of spring scouting for flatfish?? Its getting close to that time! Hoolies are on the way.]

ANGLER:  Crippled Herring
TRIP DATE:  4/16
REGION:  Anchorage/Valley
WATER:  Fire Lake/Valley

REPORT: I know its early, but I'm looking to get my kayak/canoe out onto Fire Lake/the Valley lakes as soon as possible for these hungry spring pike! Its been so warm out lately I feel the time for ice fishing has passed. Does anybody know how much the ice has melted on Fire Lake or any of the lakes in the Nancy Lake area?
-Crippled Herring

[AOJ: Well in spite of the warm weather most lakes had a pretty good ice cover so you may still have a long wait for open water. I'd check out the situation and see how safe the lakes are. I've got friends here on the Peninsula still doing a lot of ice fishing yet. So you may still have time to set out some tip ups for those big females that are going into the spawning mode.]

ANGLER:  Allen
REGION:  Southeast Alaska
WATER:  Craig
SPECIES:  Chinook

REPORT: Greetings fellow northern fishers. Here is my winter wrap up. Bigger fish came in latter February and March with some in the 24 to 28 lb range. I'm guessing fish headed for the rivers in BC and Washington. April is my honey do month but May is the start of the summer season and that's another story altogether.

[AOJ: Pretty lonely out there but who cares when the fish are biting and you are sacking away some kings before 99% of Alaskans have even dusted off the rods. And when you get calm sunny days like that its almost like living a dream. We have been blessed with some great winter kings too and now there is the typical "bruisers" movement coming through our area as they follow the hooligan and herring runs here in PWS and Cook Inlet. Quite a few fish hitting the deck over the 30 pound mark and full of hooligan. Good luck on your summer season and hope to see some results from your summer adventures. Thanks for the report and pics.]

ANGLER:  shtbrd1
REGION:  Kenai Peninsula

I know this is a report section but I am hoping you will respond to my question. It seems the winter King fishery (Homer) gets more attention from anglers every year. My question is if the King population is in such crisis, why is it they are allowed to be targeted while in the saltwater? Are these fish even the same ones that return to the Kenai and other rivers in crisis on the peninsula.
Thanks so much for your response.

[AOJ: To be accurate, it is Alaska's king salmon populations that are in crisis. West Coast king salmon runs have been reaching historical record sized returns year after year lately for many of the streams from B.C. through WA & OR. In 2013 the Bonneville Dam on the Columbia River counted over one million chinook through the fish ladder. There is an extensive tagging program as well as a lot of genetic sampling being surveyed in the harvest zones from AK to Oregon to determine the sources of the fish being taken.

The vast majority of Alaska's coastal feeder king population in Cook Inlet, i.e. those salmon from less than one year old up to four years old in the ocean, are from hatcheries and wild stocks that are along the West Coast of North America down to central Oregon.

The international commission representing the countries that release hatchery salmon into the Pacific Ocean have reported approximately 252 Million kings are released by all countries and states each year since 1997. Of that number Alaska was contributing only 4 million at last count.

So as long as all the hatcheries (and wild streams) south of us continue to crank out hundreds of millions of juvenile kings each year to come north to feed and grow, we here in Alaska have a never-ending supply of ocean-bright feeder kings to target all year long.

It is only during the timing of our summer king salmon returns that some of our own freshwater rivers' kings may be intercepted by sport anglers and the miles of commerical nets. With so few returning lately and with protective measures taken to reduce saltwater harvest in Cook Inlet with the Conservation Zones and Emergency Order closures, very few AK kings in Cook Inlet are now caught in saltwater by sporties.]

ANGLER:  bullfrog bob
TRIP DATE:  4/15
REGION:  Kenai Peninsula
WATER:  Kenai River
SPECIES:  Limits regulations

REPORT: The last time I was fishing the Kenai in August I was catching some nice looking late running reds with the silvers. The EO that year said you could take six reds a day. (Yes I know some people are confusing this with new regs about 6 reds in possession) How does this affect the daily bag limit? If you have a red, a pink, and a silver (3 salmon) are you done for the day? If the EO says you an have six reds per day then you can catch six reds but if you string up a silver you better not have over 3 fish? I try to stay legal.

[AOJ: Its best to just start with the normal regulations on Kenai River salmon limits and expand from there. The newly adopted 2014 regulations are:

Coho, Sockeye & Chum salmon - 3 total salmon per day, 6 in possession. Of which only 2 may be Coho salmon through August 31. (After 8/31 the Kenai coho limit allows up to 3 per day.)
PINK salmon - 6 per day/ 6 in possession. (This is in addition to the coho/sockeye/chum salmon limit.)

If an Emergency Order was issued raising the Kenai sockeye sport limit to SIX per day, you are still restricted to harvesting only 2 Coho in your six total fish for the day. So 4 reds and 2 silvers. Or 5 reds, 1 silver. Or 6 reds. Basically ADFG would be allowing you to ADD THREE SOCKEYE to the existing NORMAL daily limit in place.

BTW, the NEW 2014 SOUTHCENTRAL SPORT FISHING REGULATIONS Booklets should be available at all the license vendors around town now.]

ANGLER:  Fishonbruceak
REGION:  Kenai Peninsula
WATER:  Kachemak Bay - Homer
SPECIES:  Kings, Cod, Rockfish, Halibut

REPORT: Three friends and I finally took the advice of AOJ and went on a charter with Driftwood's Captain Shane. Despite periods of moderate chop, we had what each of us agreed to be one of the best charter experiences we have ever had. As advertised, Captain Shane put us on the kings and along the way we by-caught about 20 cod, five rockfish, a halibut, and five kings (one was caught after the picture was taken. It was a great moment to be a part of Driftwood's famous photos. Fish On!!!

[AOJ: LOL, well you have a good start for the makings of a Captain's Plate dinner with that variety of table fare. Only thing you need to add is some king crab legs and a few shrimp or oysters and you have a $50 per plate dinner. Plenty of fish n chips too.]

ANGLER:  Fishdoc
REGION:  Matsu Valley
WATER:  Big Lake
SPECIES:  Char and burbot

REPORT: The fishing on Big Lake was great on Thursday, and it was hard to beat the bluebird weather! I caught and released 11 burbot and 2 really nice char in the 26 inch range. They are in shallow, 10 feet is ideal. A silver krocadile did the trick all day long. I am headed back out on Saturday!

ANGLER:  Kardinal_84
TRIP DATE:  3/30
REGION:  Kenai Peninsula
WATER:  Kachemak Bay - Homer
SPECIES:  Pollock....and an Irish Lord...ARGH....

REPORT: Sorry for the delay in reports. Had to go to Kenai So I swung down to Homer on Sunday. What a BEAUTIMOUS day!!!!! Only got to fish a few hours but once on the water the sonar lit up with all sorts of activity. I noticed you posted that hooligan were already in the Inlet on your FB page. Maybe it was them. There were several occasions when I would work through a strong THICK black return on my sonar and not catch a pollock. The downside is I caught probably 3 dozen pollock. Nice big fat ones. I had tons of marks where it was larger individual fish. I almost am positive they were kings. What else could they be?

So the good news is the bay seems VERY FISHY for this time of year. Bad news is I still haven't caught a king in Kachemak Bay during the spring time. Well I try and stay optimistic that for kings, every hour on the water is one more hour closer to catching one. I think with the early bait and activity in the water, I am going to push up my normal Halibut hunting time from May to April! Ooooo...it's already April!

Once again I was too hot in my drysuit...fishing in March!! But the rule of thumb we use is that you must dress for immersion in the water and not the air temps. Better to be "uncomfortable and hot" then "cold and dead."

The final excitement of the day was the last cast thing. 100ft off the shore, I pop my rig from the downrigger and leave it in the water while reeling up my downrigger. As I am reeling in the downrigger weight so I can call it a day, but rod doubles over and the tip is just buried into the water! I pick up the rod and it is battling hard...but not like a king. Halibut? Does perseverance pay off once again? Uhh..nope. I see color and it is one of the largest Irish Lords I have ever caught. To make matters worse, somehow I had snagged it in the tail and back though I was deadsticking the bait. Well it was exciting for a few seconds! LOL.

I suppose to be useful, you have to report your bad days with the good days! But it's definitely worth a shot. I'll be back in the area sooner than later I hope!!!

[AOJ: Hey, you caught more fish on 3/30 than 99.998% of all other sportfishing Alaskans. How can you complain? Ha. You know I've made mention of you halibut fishing yak'ers needing a big drift sock to throw overboard for drag resistance when you finally tie into that 100 pound halibut to keep you from being dragged to Seldovia or Kodiak since its just pulling a "bobber" on the surface. In a pinch you could drag one of those Bucket Mouths for a drift sock!!]

ANGLER:  Fishermax
TRIP DATE:  3/30
REGION:  Kenai Peninsula
WATER:  Clam Gulch
SPECIES:  Razor Clams

REPORT: Headed down to Clam Gulch yesterday for the -3 ft tide. The results were not promising for this year. It took me an hour to dig 25 clams and none were larger than 3 inches. Most were a mere 2 inches. There were approximately a dozen other folks doing the same. I have to wonder why F&G didn't close this area also. I surely would support it. In California they alternately close and open areas every other year. This is an ongoing policy/law not an emergency order. My buddies down there have sent me photos of beautiful 6 inches plus limits (20) this year that were taken on a 0.1 plus tide.

[AOJ: Well for the first 40 years I have been up here the clam beaches of Cook Inlet have had no problem dealing with the resident and tourist digging pressures and harvest each year. But during the past five years we have had some very unusual events occurring with our razor clam life cycles. These clams don't necessarily spawn every year like fish so there isn't a steady juvenile recruitment going on each year as younger clams grow up to replace the larger adults that were harvested. The spawning routine got disrupted and appeared to miss its normal timing. Couple that will a couple of major storm events that wiped out TONS of fully mature razor clams at Ninilchik just two years ago and you can see this has snowballed into some major impacts. Typically the 1 to 1.3 million razors harvested each year show little impact other than perhaps a bit smaller size compared to decades ago. ADFG does beach surveys to make these EO restrictions and there will be more surveys in April and May to make sure their assessment was correct and not just a few bad days of digging. But we have seen the problems developing for a few years now so this wasn't unexpected. Just the magnitude was not fully known until now. The lowering of the limit to 25 was to prevent overharvest of the the other beaches such as Clam Gulch when all diggers are forced to work fewer beaches. Its possible that from the next surveys other EOs may be announced but that remains to be seen. For now, the best approach is "Give the Razors a break!" and choose not to go digging this year as a voluntary conservation effort. Encourage your friends and other family members to do the same and it will add up. I haven't punched a king salmon on my license in over ten years now as I started to see the writing on the wall a long time ago. Winter kings is a different story since most are hatchery fish destined to spawn in other states or country.]

ANGLER:  Andy Couch
TRIP DATE:  3/29
REGION:  Matsu Valley
WATER:  Irene Lake in the Kepler - Bradley system
SPECIES:  Rainbow trout

REPORT: The weather has been so nice for several days that I had to get out and go fishing. I went about 3 p.m. when it was nice and warm, and fished the entire time in a sweatshirt and tennis shoes. Ice was over 2 feet deep and good and solid. I started by drilling 6 holes in spots I'd caught fish before, then walked between the spots until I found some biters. Caught about 15 - 20 rainbow trout out of 3 different holes on single Pautzke salmon eggs fished just off the bottom in holes with depths of about 7 - 10 feet. The largest trout were only about a foot in length -- and although I kept hoping for a larger rainbow or a good sized char I only managed to hook smaller fish. Only saw one other group of two anglers on the lake and they were catching fish regularly when I was watching from a distance. On a great weather day like today --- this is by far my favorite time of year to go ice fishing. Looks to me like we should have at least another 2 - 3 weeks of decent ice fishing unless something very dramatic happens to melt the ice in a big hurry. This time of year I always like to start by drilling close to shore and checking the ice out before venturing out away from the shore. With the cold nights and then warmer temperatures into the 40's in the afternoon, the ice was making some noise, but I felt totally comfortable out there catching fish. I would be especially careful this time of year when fishing a lake around an inlet or outlet stream as ice is often thinner in those locations.

ANGLER:  DryFlyGuy
TRIP DATE:  3/28
REGION:  Kenai Peninsula
SPECIES:  rainbows

REPORT: Things have been quiet on here until lately so I decided to share a report from this Friday. Flew into a remote alpine lake and was pleasantly surprised by the fishing. Caught a few 17inchers and then one fatty bow that made the day! He barely fit through the hole and was as long as the ice was thick! Too much fun.

[AOJ: Yes it has been quiet this winter/spring so far. All that will be changing soon. Hooligan scouts seem to be entering Cook Inlet perhaps a bit earlier this year - maybe due to the weather and water temperature conditions. Still plenty of ice for lake fishing. A friend went out to Drake/Skookum lakes on Swanson River Road on Monday and said he had 20+ inches of ice out there yet.]

ANGLER:  Scotc11
TRIP DATE:  3/28
REGION:  Kenai Peninsula
WATER:  Skilak Lake
SPECIES:  open water

REPORT: Just like everybody, I want to put my boat in the water. Any estimations or actual way to know when Skilak Lake will break up and be navigatable? They need to put a camera in a tree!

[AOJ: You can call the Refuge headquarters at 262-7021 and see what the latest flyover or fish cop knows about the lake conditions.]

ANGLER:  CSilook
TRIP DATE:  3/27
REGION:  Kenai Peninsula
WATER:  Kenai Lake
SPECIES:  Lake trout

REPORT: Just curious, where do you get out on the lake at? I have been wanting to ice fish at Kenai Lake and just might do that this weekend, hopefully if the ice conditions are safe. Any tips will help out a lot.
Thanks~ Curtis

[AOJ: You can park in the lot at the bridge boat launch and walk along the shoreline to get to the ice. Same for over on the north side of the bridge there is a right of way parking spot and you can walk under the bridge. Another access spot is turn down the side road at Sunrise Inn and drive down to the Quartz Creek campground and boat launch area where you can walk of from there.

Fishing in the lake by the outlet has special regulations. Bait cannot be used closer than 1/4 mile radius from the bridge. You are allowed 10 lake trout under 20 inches per day and two per day if over 20 inches.]

ANGLER:  Klondike Kid reporting
TRIP DATE:  3/22
REGION:  Kenai Peninsula
WATER:  Kachemak Bay - Homer
SPECIES:  Homer Winter King Derby results

REPORT: For all those who didn't make it down to Homer last weekend to participate in the derby I have a few pics and the complete details on the final results. That includes the Top Twenty cash and merchandise winners which includes fish weights and the boat they were fishing. The winners of the Boat Side Bet pools are also on the list and the amounts awarded. There were about 200 more anglers this year than last year but the fishing was still challenging with only about a 22% catch rate.

Here is the 2014 Homer Winter King Salmon Derby Results. Photos by J. Lavrakas. Left to right, Top Three Winners, 2014 Winter King Tournament Champion Raymond Tepp of Kenai, MC Tim White mans the podium, Kayaker Rudy Tsukada aka Kardinal_84, and Kayaker Jeff White.

ANGLER:  Fishdoc
TRIP DATE:  3/22
REGION:  Matsu Valley
WATER:  Big Lake
SPECIES:  Char and Burbot

REPORT: The fishing on Big Lake picked up a little from weeks past. I landed 3 out of 5 char I had on and caught my first burbot of the year! 10-15 feet of water with a little weed on the bottom seemed to be the key. I was using a 3/8ths ounce krocadile. I have enclosed a few pictures and videos from my last couple trips for your viewing pleasure!

ANGLER:  Kardinal_84
TRIP DATE:  3/22
REGION:  Kenai Peninsula
WATER:  Kachemak Bay - Homer
SPECIES:  Homer Winter King Derby

REPORT: So three of us tried the Homer Winter King Derby out of our kayaks. This was my second attempt. Too bad we didn't get a fish. I did have two strikes that were very king like but didn't connect. We took a water taxi out to the Islands and it proved to be a good choice. Well, probably too good. The weather was so nice and winds calm enough that we were just ROASTING in our drysuits. Hard to complain about that though in March!!!

The derby was tough for everyone. Out of 906 anglers, there were only 202 fish caught. So we were part of the 78% of anglers (assuming no one caught two which I am sure happened) that didn't manage fish. In other words, 704 anglers didn't catch a fish either fishing out of powerboats! But frankly that made it even more compelling as any one fish gave you some great odds of making some big money.

Not only is it the second time I have fished the Homer derby, but it was probably only my third time ever fishing for Winter Kings in March. As we all know, Kings aren't easy and to think I could connect on a king on my third attempt in March might have been a bit optimistic. But you got to start somewhere!!! It took a lot longer to get the September through November fishery there dialed in for me.

We did get a nice little write up in a few papers. The most recent one was the Alaska Dispatch that reprinted an article from the Homer Tribune with a few modifications (like pointing out we didn't catch one...argh. LOL.) here's the link: http://www.alaskadispatch.com/article/20140325/hardy-alaska-kayak-anglers-trade-power-paddles-soak-beauty.

I will get it figured out. It's just a matter of putting in the time! My motto for kings (and most fishing) is that "Perseverance Pays Off!!!". You can bet I WILL BE BACK!

[AOJ: Remember my cuz has a new Tandem Island, fully rigged. But alas its down in WA and he won't be heading up the Alcan until beginning of May. I am hoping we can venture out on his rig, perhaps under sail just to get to a salmon or halibut spot and then use peddle power for the fishing portion. Just don't know if I'm up to buying a kayaker dry suit when I don't even own one (YET) myself. I guess getting the suit would be impetus for writing a check for the boat. As a matter of fact, while he is down in WA....hmmmm....I could save shipping costs if he picked me up an Adventure Island and put it in his utility trailer for the trip up. That would help pay for the tramps and some accessories. But geez, counting my inflatable I've got five boats already! HA]

TRIP DATE:  3/23 & 3/24
REGION:  Kenai Peninsula
WATER:  Kenai Lake & Drake Lake
SPECIES:  Lake Trout & Rainbows

REPORT: Great day on the ice Sunday. Yes there is some ice on Kenai Lake now although we had to move about 150 yards further out into the lake than where we would typically be fishing due to the thin ice closer towards the bridge. Ended up in 40 feet of water. No one else out there. Started fishing at 9am and it was slow slow slow. Using roe, scampi jigs, belly meat. Then about 2-3pm the bite started up. All in all between the two of us we caught about 35 lakers. All were most 12-13 inches with one at 18 inches. Kept 7 for folks back at the church and one for dinner. Lakers under 20 inches have a limit of 10 per day so it can add up to some good eating if you want to put food on the table. By far the belly strip off of a bleeding dinker we had to keep turned out to be the magic bullet and caught 15 fish on that one bait. Ice was 7 inches and good quality where we were fishing.

Took a hike out to Drake-Skookum lakes on Swanson River Road today/Monday. Great weather, warm and sunny, no wind. Trail in great shape. We fished for quite a while, all the way around the island. Hit a dozen and a half rainbows with the biggest only hitting the 18 inch mark. Still was very enjoyable.

ANGLER:  Fishermax
TRIP DATE:  3/22
REGION:  Kenai Peninsula
WATER:  Homer Derby
SPECIES:  Winter Kings

REPORT: Hello KK, after having success every time on winter kings this year I didn't have a strike for the derby. Oh well, it was a beautiful day and a great time was had by all. Numbers reported at the end of the day were (approximate) 270 boats, 900 fishermen, and 200 fish. I heard a 30#er won it.

[AOJ: I'll post a link to the standings or the newspaper article once all the details are finalized by the committee. Looks like 200 more anglers than last year. Gotta love climate change. And its going to be an El Niņo Pacific Ocean event this year. No telling what next winter will be like. Might be catching tuna in the derby next year.]

ANGLER:  Klondike Kid
TRIP DATE:  3/24
REGION:  Kenai Peninsula
WATER:  Kachemak Bay - Homer
SPECIES:  Homer Winter King Derby results

REPORT: Sorry I don't have more to offer at this time, noon Monday. The 1st Place winning fish was a 30.6 pound king caught by Raymond Tepp. 2nd Place fish was a 25.9 pounder landed by Eric Kjelland and the 3rd Place finisher was Jon Bartelds with a 25.7 pound king. The only other info I have on the event so far is there apparently wasn't a liquor license so there was no beer at the weigh-in area and it sounds like they ran out of food before all the participants had a chance to get something to eat.

ANGLER:  AK Fisher
TRIP DATE:  3/18
REGION:  Matsu Valley
WATER:  Knik Lake or Kepler Bradley Lake
SPECIES:  Bows and char

REPORT: Hey there old timer. My wrist is out of the cast and into a splint! Working on range of motion and strengthening exercises now. Have to take advantage of the weather and last bit of hard water fishing this weekend. My friends out there today with the kids had a ball. Hot dog pieces and shrimp at about twelve feet of water was the trick. Biggest was 15" bow and 12" char. Others ranged 9-12 inches. I'll see how I'm feeling this weekend, I'll drop you a report if I make it out. Might have to use restraint and better judgment to finish healing up tho. Can not stand sitting on the side line! What happened fellow hard water fishermen? Tight lipped not wanting to give up your secrets? Lol. Guess I don't blame you. What's the latest on the "Misty Ma"? Getting withdrawals with no knew reports! Lmao

[AOJ: Ah, well, its like this. It could be some folks got burnt out from the BOF ordeal last month or ?? Crazy weather keeps us all guessing. Was 40F today and melting, then at 11pm tonight its snowing like crazy and got 4 inches out there so far at 31F. They were talking possible rain for Anchorage and Valley. What a mess. Lakes here on the Kenai Penn have been kinda slow and not what is expected for this time of the season. Looks like some clear skies and sunshine right around the corner.

On the flip side of NEWS the Homer Winter King Salmon Derby is this coming Saturday March 22. Homer weather is forecast for sunny and in the mid to upper 30s for the weekend. 2014 HOMER WINTER KING SALMON DERBY information. I think a lot of us are just waiting on Mother Nature to make up her mind and get on with Spring.]

ANGLER:  capt cuervo
REGION:  Kenai Peninsula
WATER:  Kenai River

REPORT: Well it appears the ripples are moving out from the big regulation splash. The long time guide I have been booking my charters with for King and Coho salmon has sold his boat and closed the business. I was saddened to hear this. Questions I have are:
Is this just the beginning of the trend?
Was this part of the commercial fishing plan?
How will this affect the states tourism revenues?
How does the state claim the fisheries are sustainable when small businesses are forced out of the market and has anyone notified the businesses and agencies that make the sustainability decisions?

[AOJ: The short answer is "time will tell."

The numbers of registered Kenai River guides have been on the decline for the past 5 years with a few more guides deciding to pull the plug each year than those entering as new recruits. Those fish guiding operations whose majority of their income is/was derived from taking anglers out on the Kenai are the ones seeing the biggest financial impacts. This spring will probably see a much larger percentage decline in the registered guide numbers still planning to fish the Kenai. When a business is involved in relying on Mother Nature to provide stability for their customers as well as income for their livlihood they are in a crap shoot. No different than the billions and billions of dollars that will be lost by California farmers this year who have no water to grow crops that provide 35% of America's fruits, vegetables and produce. In the big scheme of things, what is happening to a small number of businesses here in Alaska is "small potatoes" compared to what is going on in other industries who have their own troubles to work through. I'm not saying I'm insensitive to the plight of my fellow Alaskans who are experiencing major problems. Afterall I've been promoting Alaska tourism and outdoor recreation on the Internet for 19 years now which has brought millions to the businesses of this state. But our tough times are no different than the West Coast drought. At some point the rains will come for them and the fish should rebound at some point. The big question is who will still be in the game?

Saltwater charters took a gigantic HIT a couple years ago when a Limited Entry Permit system was adopted for halibut charters in Alaska. Because of the requirements to qualify for a halibut charter permit required very specific periods of active fishing, 40%, yes 40% of the entire existing Southeast and Southcentral charter fleet (Kodiak, Cook Inlet, North Gulf and PWS) were eliminated from the industry. Had to sell their boats, pack up and move on. That was just a couple years ago. Now the newest halibut regulations will reduce the remaining halibut charter boats to only ONE TRIP per DAY. No more double and triple trips to the Chicken Hole for a quick limit and then back out for another limit of ten pounders. Imagine the financial loss for those boats who relied upon double trips each day. This now makes bookings very crowded. Only the number of anglers equal to the numbers of seats on the total number of boats can go out on any given day. In addition, the final touches are being put on the Chartered Angler Halibut Limit for Southcentral area where one fish may be any size and the second fish in their two fish limit may not exceed 29 inches (a ten pounder).

SOUTHEAST Chartered halibut anglers have faired much worse. Their limit is now restricted to ONE halibut per day and it must be UNDER 44 inches (40 pounder) or OVER 76 inches (235 pounder). Everything caught inside the slot limit must be released. So basically any chartered halibut angler fishing with a SE charter boat is going to hit the dock with less than a 40 pounder for their one fish with the exception of perhaps two lucky anglers each season who catch that barndoor. The POSITIVE thing about this regulation is there will be a lot of halibut reaching that 76 inch size over the years so barndoor catches and keepers should see a gradual increase. ]

TRIP DATE:  2/28
REGION:  Kenai Peninsula
WATER:  Kachemak Bay - Homer
SPECIES:  Winter Kings, Halibut, Cod, Rockfish

REPORT: Well Captain Shane is back on the water and hitting some impressive fish already. He had a group of three guys for a combo trip on Friday and after some discussion they decided to go with a rockfish/king salmon combo instead of trying to track down some halibut. Couldn't ask for a better day with the temps in the 40's and the seas cooperating.

First on the agenda was the king salmon and it didn't take long to start getting some takedowns and some fish in the box. Eventually everyone on board, including the skipper had a limit of two kings each as well as picking up a few cod. Then it was time to go work the rockfish zone. Uncharacteristically the rockfish were not cooperating this day. But Mr. Halibut to save the day. Captain Shane prefers TROLLING for his rockfish so the flatties were coming up and hitting the troll herring. And it wasn't just one lucky fish. They landed a 48" fifty pounder and a 35" 19 pounder and a 28" nine pounder. Oh and finally one rockfish. Go Figure~! So it turned out to be a very rewarding day with some pleasant surprises mixed in. With no snow on the ground, highways totally ice free, its time to pull that boat out of storage and start getting ready for the Homer CC Winter King Salmon Derby the third week of March.

Oh BTW, the frozen Kenai River here at AOJ HQ sagged in the middle and slotted out to running water down the center to my place. Still ice covered below me and downstream of the Soldotna Bridge but this 2nd ice over of the Kenai was much thinner and didn't have the low temps to lock it tight. So the river will be breaking open again pretty soon.

With the severe restrictions on the returning river kings in Southcentral the only real game in town is going to be the feeder kings unless you want to wait until June when the sockeye begin to arrive. Oh and for the saltwater charter boats there are now NEW regulations for sport fishermen allowing one halibut of any size and the 2nd halibut must be 29" OR LESS which means less than a TEN pounder. In addition, the charter fleet BOATS are now restricted to ONE HALIBUT TRIP PER DAY. The days of putting 100 pounds of fillets in your fish box will be as rare as catching a king salmon in the Kenai River. Its going to be an interesting year to say the least. Good Luck and Good Fishin'.

ANGLER:  Buckeye Steve
TRIP DATE:  2/28
REGION:  Kenai Peninsula
SPECIES:  New Kenai Regs

REPORT: Not a report. A question. The Feb 25 ADF&G release apparently increases the limit on Sockeye to six in the Kenai Drainage. Does that include the Russian River fishery?

[AOJ: To be clear for everyone, you'll need to read the ADFG News Release again. The new changes DO NOT raise the daily sockeye salmon limit on the Kenai drainage. It raises the POSSESSION LIMIT to six reds, thereby allowing anglers to legally fish two days in a row with their catch in the ice cooler and unpreserved. The daily limit for reds on the Kenai remains at THREE per day, with now Six in Possession.

As far as this minor change applying to the Russian River area, the announcement does say Kenai DRAINAGE and not Kenai River. With the Russian River a tributary to the Kenai drainage, I am speculating that the 3 per day and 6 in possession will apply to anglers on the Russian and in the FFO zone too.

This change to six in possession is really just a change in semantics. I'd say that 95% of anglers who travel to the Kenai to fish for reds on multiple days (i.e. not us locals who are close to our homes) were breaking the law by keeping the entire weekend catch in their coolers unpreserved and therefor were over the previous 3 in Possession law. This change is just "adjusting" to reality and fairness for all those thousands of traveling anglers who spend multiple days at the Russian and on the Kenai fishing for sockeye salmon to take back home and process there.

So increases or decreases in the daily limit of 3 reds will still only be initiated through Emergency Orders issued as run size and strength is determined during the season.]

ANGLER:  get a grip
TRIP DATE:  2/23
REGION:  Kenai Peninsula
WATER:  Upper Kenai
SPECIES:  Rainbow & Lost Flyline

REPORT: Well this is a two part report. Firstly, fishing at the Cooper Landing Bridge did not produce any bows on Flesh or Sculpins. One of 5 anglers on either side of the river by the museum caught one bow on beads. So not great numbers of fish. Still plenty of spawned out silvers that are barely still swimming.

Secondly, I broke off my complete spey fly line and sink tip just above the bridge on river right. 570 Skagit Compact, 12ft of T10 sink tip. Managed to hook it a few times but could not recover it. If anyone happens to recover it, please call me at 350-4223. A small reward and peace of mind for all. The line is horizontal to the big exposed rock on river right above the bridge.


TRIP DATE:  For Meeting 3/4
REGION:  Kenai Peninsula
WATER:  Kenai Dip Net Work Session
SPECIES:  Rick Koch, City Manager (907) 283-8200 ext. 8222

REPORT: Just a heads up City Manager Rick Koch is holding a dip net work session March 4th from 6pm to 7pm Kenai City Hall. Rick Koch in the 2013 Dip Net Report wants to start a 10.00-dollar drop off fee and start no parking in old town Kenai and now is talking about closing the beach in July from 11pm to 6am so they can maintain the beach. How can they charge for parking and camping and not have that available! Since they put up the no fish waste signs I have never seen the beach so clean. The city of Kenai takes in close to 500,000 dollars, made 70,000 dollars last year from July 10th thru July 31st. Not bad for 21 days. When will they be happy! It is all in the 2013 dip net report at http://www.ci.kenai.ak.us/. You can contact Rick Koch at Rick Koch, City Manager

210 Fidalgo Avenue, Kenai, Alaska 99611-7794 (907) 283-8200 ext. 8222 Email: rkoch@ci.kenai.ak.us. Lets talk to our Legislators and see if the state can take the beach away from the city of Kenai. Let's stop the fleecing of Alaskans!!

[AOJ: For those that want to read the report, you can view it online in your browser at 2013 Kenai River Dipnet Fishery Report. As far as the state's ability to take land, I do know that it has the authority to CONDEMN private property and seize ownership when it is in the state's best interests. This is often encountered on road right-of-way expansions where property owners feel they are not being offered fair market value for the land the state wants to use for road widening or building new roads.

The State of Alaska, through its Board of Fish process, by creating the Kenai River Sockeye Management Plan has given Alaskan residents "rights" to those sockeye salmon entering the river. And within that management plan there are allowances in bumper years to allow the fishery to go to 24 hours per day. THAT is what the state and the mgmt. plan is granting the dipnetters. To have the City of Kenai close those beaches during 24 hour openings would be denying Alaskans access to those fish resources. In an event such as that, it may be justification for the state to condemn the beach properties and put them under the jurisdiction of the State of Alaska. The city of Kenai should tread lightly when considering any such move as 35,000 Alaskan families who dipnet have a mighty powerful political voice to scream at the Governor as well as our legislators!]

ANGLER:  AK Fisher
TRIP DATE:  2/20
REGION:  Matsu Valley

REPORT: Well unfortunately I'm out of commission for a while, broke the hell out of my wrist. Was four-wheeling near my home at night. In a rush to get home hit ice couldn't stop or slow down hit some rocks flew over handle bars. Don't know if broke bones in my forearm and wrist on handlebars or impact of the ground. Really banged up, other arm took a pounding, legs on handle bars, hip on impact when tossed and flopped like a rag doll, and my lower back. Had I not been wearing my helmet I think I could have died out there in the could dark night alone busted up un able to get up. Happened so fast don't really know what really happened. Moral to the story always wear helmet, never go too fast in the dark on frozen trails or roads. And let someone know where you are going and when you will be back. I was able to get my phone out of my pocket and call for help. I'll be in a cast for eight weeks. Was in hospital for five days bones came threw my skin. Had two surgeries. Did the math and I should be good to go by Memorial Weekend. Ruined my plans to hit the hard water, saltwater. I'm relying on your reports to get me threw this unfortunate incident. Getting too old to be busted up. Three plates and eleven screws total of hardware in my body now. Seventeen broken bones total. Be careful no matter what you do life is too short my friends. You don't want to spend most of it in constant pain believe me. Good fishing to all hope to hear about your adventures. I'll yak at you later old timer.

[AOJ: Well I guess you have me beat on the total number of broken bones but I've done my share of healing up from humpty dumpty stuff. Two broken hips (same one), removed the 1st titanium plate and screws hardware a year later, then broke it a second time falling off a ladder on icy ground clearing snow from my utility trailer roof. Still have the 16 inch titanium rod down the center of my femur and one screw and 4" lag bolt connecting it together. Broken lower leg in three pieces = 11" titanium plate with 9 screws, plus two screws up through the bottom of my broken ankle and a fractured wrist all at the same time on that one lower leg episode. The broken hips are actually fast healing with the iron in place. I was out on the ice dragging my spearing house 5 days after the surgery without crutches. Modern medicine!!

Once the ice is safe on the lakes, I put my two sets of chains on the rear tires of my 6 wheeler and they don't come off until clam digging season. Serves two purposes: 1) great traction and control on any surface (except open water) and 2) it keeps me running at 25mph or slower. I'm done finding out how quickly I heal up. I always take my cell phone with me the instant I'm out of bed. As you say, it happens in the blink of an eye.

Hopefully you won't end up with any persistent debilitating after-effects and all the parts and pieces will work the same as before.]

TRIP DATE:  2/15
REGION:  Kenai Peninsula
WATER:  Swanson River Road - Nest Lake trail
SPECIES:  Rainbows

REPORT: Trail was in good shape, packed down by trapper on snowmachine. His Sign lets folks know to keep your dogs close as there are traps in the area. No real snow on the lakes once we got to the hardwater. Maybe a half inch dusting. All the meltdown and overflow has froze back. Measured 20 inches of ice on this day. Only a couple other groups making the hike back into the lake chain. The two of us got on fish right away. I didn't have my scales with me but did have a tape measure. We caught a dozen rainbows and they all measured 15 to 19 inches. Beautiful Swanson River stock. Males are a deep dark coloration and the females a bright color. Fish were hitting rubber tail jigs.

ANGLER:  Kardinal_84
TRIP DATE:  2/15
REGION:  Matsu Valley
WATER:  Finger Lake Fishing derby
SPECIES:  Landlocks...again!

REPORT: First of all a HUGE THANK YOU to the 477th Fighter group for putting this derby on and having so many prizes for the kids!!! Well you know if there is a fishing event anywhere within driving distance, I am going to try and make it. Took my son out to the Finger Lake Ice fishing derby to give it a try. $15 entry for the adult and my son's entry was FREE!

Buy a few raffle tickets and off we go. I set up a little deeper to see if I couldn't catch something other than a landlocked salmon. Nope. Having said that, once the landlocks started swarming around the camera, there was no getting my 9 year old son to switch to something that might attract bigger fish...or I should say keep the smaller fish off the hook.

I tried to tell him this was a fishing derby and we really couldn't spend time dealing with all these little fish. He would try with a larger set up for a little while but seeing so many landlocks around his larger bait, he got frustrated that he couldn't hook them. I kept telling him that that was the whole point of using the larger baits. But seeing how much fun he was having, I relented and set him up for the landlocks which he landed one after the other. Seeing the smile on his face, I will admit now that A) It was worth it. B) 9 year olds just aren't going to be very good companions for a large fish derby...especially when they can see all the fish below us. I barely fished I was so busy trying to deal with the fish he hooked.

I know I have posted some videos recorded from my Vexilar FishPhone camera. But the resolution is terrible at 240P. So here's a completely unedited one minute clip I took with my iPhone of my iPad. It's a lot clearer when you are looking at the iPad. I think to record the action I need to either put my gopro under my fish phone camera, or maybe just build a mount where the gopro is shooting the iPad directly. My POOR iPad..it's days are definitely numbered as it's always getting wet. I'll need to look into getting a case of some kind.

But we had a BLAST! My son won an ice fishing rod and reel set up for the 36th fish entered. We won a 2 hour rafting trip near Denali in the Raffle. Of course it's the one decent raffle prize I did NOT want to win since who the heck has time go rafting WITHOUT a fishing pole in the summer time here in Alaska?!?!?!?!?!

Here's the happy camper showing how he utilizes technology to catch fish. You CANNOT tell me this is NOT the world's BEST video game!!! You even get dinner out of it!!!!


[AOJ: Ah, you ended up sending the Feb. 9 fishing video link but I tracked down the Ice Derby vid from today and got the link corrected. Sounds like you did well on the prizes and raffle. You'll have to put that GoPro on your head when you take the raft trip!

As far as the iPad protection out there around water, snow, ice, spray, rain, fog, dirt, grit, mud, fish slime, scales, blood, guts, and fish bait, this is a simple waterproof "baggie" my bro got me for Xmas to protect my Galaxy Tab3 8 inch tablet while I'm out in the elements. I think this one was quite affordable. Ziplock type of closure. Clear on both sides so both front and rear cameras can be used although there will be some sacrifice of quality shooting through the clear plastic. Not shown in the image is a zipper pull that you insert in the ziplock slot for easier opening and closing but you can use it without too. I was doing some searching on Amazon and there are quite a few brands of waterproof protection for tablets so it pays to shop around and read the reviews too. I have been saving my little descicant packets from shipping boxes and put one or two of the tiny ones in with the tablet to prevent fogging and condensation.

Since I have a full-blown GPS Marine Chart Plotter program on my Tablet now, this baby will be around saltwater a lot. Plus when setting up camera angles on the WiFi GoPros out on the boat it stays protected when out in the elements and around flying saltwater drops from the fish net.]

ANGLER:  Andy Couch
REGION:  Matsu Valley
WATER:  Alaska Board of Fisheries Meeting
SPECIES:  coho, chum, and sockeye salmon

REPORT: After careful consideration the Board today (Monday) adopted changes in the Central District Drift Fishery Management Plan to ensure more adequate escapements of July / August salmon stocks will reach their home streams in the Mat-Su Valley, Anchorage, and Turnagain Arm areas during the next three summers. These changes will also ensure a more reasonable sport fishing and harvest opportunity with considerably less likelihood of sport inseason salmon fishing restrictions or closures from mid-July through early September.

It is anticipated the Drift Management Plan change will require the commercial drift gillnet fishery to fish more days and / or longer hours closer to the Kenai and Kasilof Rivers in order to harvest a similar amount of sockeye salmon bound for both of those rivers. This should allow a more dependable and steady supply of fish for processing companies, and hopefully the commercial terminal harvest fishery may also be managed in such a way as to provide just a steady and dependable migration of sockeye salmon into the Kenai and Kasilof Rivers during the month of July.

The Drift Management Plan change was the biggest and most anticipated change made at the Board meeting today on a 7-0 Board vote.

Another needed conservation change was made by the Board that will close sport salmon fishing on the Jim Creek fishery on Mondays and Tuesdays starting after the second Saturday in August through December 31.

[AOJ: Thanks for the Status Report update. Those BOF changes are most likely going to show some immediate results in this summer's salmon runs to the Valley.]

ANGLER:  Laker taker
REGION:  Interior
WATER:  Harding Lake
SPECIES:  Lake trout and char

REPORT: Anyone have any news about Harding lake outside Fairbanks planning a trip in a couple weeks would be very appriciative of any feedback or info on "hard luck" thanks always.

[AOJ: No news. Might check IceShanty.com Alaska Forum for any recent posts by the guys who fish there a number of times each winter.]

ANGLER:  Andy Couch
REGION:  Southcentral Alaska
WATER:  Upper Cook Inlet Area
SPECIES:  Salmon Primarily

REPORT: There were NOT a lot of Board decisions made Sunday -- but there was a strong showing of interested Alaskans on the public panel (subcommittee D) considering Northern Cook Inlet commercial, subsistence, and sport proposals -- primarily dealing with salmon fisheries. Committee C also met and discussed Kenai guiding issues concurrently so I do not know what happened that discussion other than Committee C wrapped up its work for the day perhaps 90 minutes before Committee D.

It was a whole day without Board action on the Central District Drift Gillnet Fishery Management Plan -- But this will be a significant decision and I'm hopeful board members are doing all they can to get it right.

The meeting should resume tomorrow morning (Monday Feb. 10) at 8 a.m. at the Egan Convention Center in Anchorage.

Thank You for everyone who attended the meeting today and to those who tuned into the live feed. The Board process has been a drawn out slow process --- but I remain hopeful we may see some positive progress soon. Lots of people have given liberally of their time to see some changes occur. I encourage those who can attend to once again do so on Monday.

ANGLER:  Kardinal_84
REGION:  Matsu Valley
WATER:  Finger Lake..AKA WINDY Lake
SPECIES:  Stocked Chinook - Luxury Ice Fishing - Look Ma No Tent

REPORT: So my son wanted to go ice fishing given the success we had last time out. Weather looks good so off we head to Finger Lake. About at the Palmer Flats, I knew we had made a mistake. The wind was gusting super hard. I would have to say 40 to 50 mph. Oh oh. Well I guess you never know and we are most of the way there.

Get onto Finger Lake and it was a very odd sensation driving on a lake where you can sort of see the bottom. Ice was plenty thick but you could see all the cracks and such. I stepped out and tried to auger a hole but I couldn't get my footing and my auger just spun me round and round. LOL. Finally I punched a hole close enough to my truck so that I could at least brace a foot against it and I was in business. There was no way I was breaking out the shelter as it would have been a chore to set up in the wind. So we just opened the doors on my truck and fished out of the truck.

In one hour with one rod, we managed 14 landlocks and it was time to go. The temps weren't that bad, but the wind chill was just too much.

So here's a quick video to show the numbers of landlocks under the hole. Also at the end there's a segment where my son gets out of the truck to go retrieve something that flew out and he couldn't get back to the truck with the wind gusting so hard and the ice so slick. LOL. Still a good quick outing where we caught enough fish for dinner!

Here's the video: http://youtu.be/ax30ouT23TY

[AOJ: With our weather patterns having so many meltdowns on the lakes during every winter I've been in that auger-spinning mode a number of times. My solution was to just "bump" the throttle enough to scratch an inch deep hole then scratch another inch deep hole overlapping the first in the ice. That gave me a foothold so to speak for anchoring my body. Most times I always have a pair of those $6 rubberband style ice cleats in the bucket. Climate Change survival gear!]

ANGLER:  Andy Couch
REGION:  Anchorage
WATER:  Alaska Board of Fisheries Meeting
SPECIES:  King, coho, and sockeye salmon -- and more


It's 9 days of Board of Fisheries meeting and counting -- with most previous Board action dealing primarily with Kenai River or Kenai Peninsula area fisheries.
It looks like tomorrow (Sunday) Feb 9 the Board may finally take up proposed changes to the Central District Drift Fishery Management Plan. The possible changes to this one management plan are likely the largest single issue that could allow additional salmon to pass north through the Central District and into Northern Cook Inlet as they head back to their home streams. Of particular interest to sport anglers is that sufficient silver (coho) salmon be allowed to migrate north so that Mat-Su Valley spawning goals may be attained and with enough harvestable surplus to allow some of the excellent fishing Mat-Su Valley was known for in July and August.

The Board should also consider whether it is appropriate to establish a one-mile buffer area around the Little Susitna River mouth where commercial salmon fishing would no longer be allowed. Most important salmon producing streams in Upper Cook Inlet have had such buffer areas for decades -- many of us feel now would be a very appropriate time to enact a one-mile sanctuary around the Little Susitna River -- one of the most important recreational use streams and one of the largest salmon sport fisheries in the Mat-Su Valley.

Also coming up for public panel (subcommittee) discussion tomorrow will be a proposed Deshka River King Salmon Management Plan, sport fishing restrictions on Little Susitna River, a proposed outboard motor restriction on Little Susitna River, and the topic of establishing salmon spawning escapement goals for
  1. Deshka River coho salmon,
  2. Moose Creek king salmon,
  3. Kashwitna River king salmon,
  4. Little Susitna River chum salmon,
  5. Little Susitna River sockeye salmon.

Alaska Department of Fish and Game already has an established sockeye salmon goal on Fish Creek that crosses Knik - Goose Bay Road, and coho salmon goals on Fish Creek and Little Susitna River, but the Alaska Outdoor Council has submitted a proposal requesting the Department be required to manage the Northern District commercial set net fishery based partially on the projected attainment of those escapement goals.

Two proposals seek to amend the Upper Yentna River subsistence fishery to:
  1. extend the season for 3 additional days, and
  2. allow dip net harvest from the Yentna River mouth upstream to a point 300 feet downstream of Alaska Department of Fish and Game's Yentna River Sonar project.

For those who have never seen how Alaska fishing regulations are created and those with a particular interest in fishing regulations being considered for the Mat-Su Valley and Anchorage areas Sunday's meeting should be an eye-opening experience. The meeting will start at 8 a.m. in Anchorage at Egan Convention Center interspersed with a few breaks, including a lunch break, and then likely continue through the afternoon.

[AOJ: Thanks for the Itinerary Schedule for the Sunday Board meeting. Hopefully there will be some new folks stopping by to watch the proceedings on those fisheries that are close to home. For those who can't make the meeting you can always use the LINKS at the top of this page to listen to the LIVE AUDIO STREAM direct from the meeting floor and download the proposals file and follow along with the discussions as each one is brought to the table.]

ANGLER:  hopeful
REGION:  Kenai Peninsula

REPORT: KK- Being here so long I am sure that you remember back in the 70's and 80's when there were not 300+ guides and another couple hundred private boats patrolling the waters of the Kenai... Not sure if you remember the dirt road that used to link the KP to Anchorage... Point being, the amount of pressure on the Kenai has DRAMATICALLY increased over the past thirty years and thus helped in the decline of the kings. When you thump every fish over 40lbs, those genes are gone forever. Not sure how much experience you have had up north, but the same thing has happened in the MatSu. Sure the commies and the trawlers get a lot of kings, ours or not, but when you have 400 boats stacked up at the mouth of Alexander, or Deshka, or Lake Creek, there is going to be a direct correlation between the amount of fish that return to the amount of anglers. Like it or not, the extermination of salmon on Alexander Creek was caused in large part by the pike, but also to the many many many sport anglers that fished it day in and day out for years... As a sport angler, I think we all need to take responsibility for our part in helping hurt all of these runs. Rivers like Willow, Montana, Little Su, all of these rivers do not have the run size to support the kind of pressure that we put on them. Like you have said MANY times, ADF&G needs to incorporate sport anglers into the action plan to help reduce the number of sockeye salmon that escape because we sure can harvest them... The same should be taken into consideration for the kings. We need to ALL help out.
A Concerned Guide And Sportsman

[AOJ: Actually, yes, I do remember the beginning days of commercial sportfishing on the Kenai. And personally knew two of the three first guides on the river. Spence DeVito, the guy in the "world famous" postcard holding up the big blushed king while standing in the river was a local teacher who guided in the summer and that one postcard probably accounted for a majority of the ensuing stampede to the Kenai in the following years. I knew Rich Hill and Bernie White who were also the first guides out there and remember Bernie's policy for taking out King anglers was No Fish, No Pay. And he rarely missed a paycheck! LOL

As a biologist type sportie and dipper I have faith in all of our king runs to rebound IF the conditions Mother Nature is throwing at them eventually passes. Just like waterfowl numbers dropping from multi-year droughts on the breeding grounds, it only takes a year or two of good rainfall for those birds to rebound in huge numbers. Our fish have the same potential although due to a longer life cycle to reach adulthood and spawn it will take several more years. My fear though is the loss of the genetics for our large, five ocean kings. I continue to contend that the five ocean gene was recessive and required two five ocean kings to spawn together so that a proportion of their progeny would return as 5 ocean fish. ADFG has not sealed a 55+ inch Kenai King now for at least four seasons, from either the early or late run. Additionally the test net crews at the Bluff Hole sonar area have not captured any 5 ocean kings in their nets for fish scale and age sampling (safely releasing all the captured fish). We may see the kings come back in time but the big ones I fear will be as rare as California Condors, perhaps clinging to the slightest hope of recovery. I think its going to take a hatchery effort, IF ADFG can even find a boy and girl 5 ocean king in the same year and at the same time. (Perhaps freezing a male's sperm in case they find a female in another year.) An alternative would be to acquire egg sources from British Columbia where there are hatcheries on one or more streams still producing the Mega-kings in those returns. Desperate times require desperate measures. Right now the Kenai Kings are not even "marketable" to the non-resident angler seeking a quality king fishing experience. Not in angler success rates or in size of the fish anymore. The number of Kenai River registered guides continue to decline each year as more businesses drop out compared to new guides entering the fishery. The surviving operations are realizing that SOCKEYE ARE THE KING now for sport fishermen, in the quality of the experience, the enjoyment of the activity, the quantity of meat you can get, and the delicious flavor they command.]

REGION:  Kenai Peninsula
WATER:  Southcentral

REPORT: Hello, after taking the time to read your Board of Fish reports, I wanted to bring forth a couple of points, although not necessarily the perspective prevailing here. I'll keep it short, realizing it probably won't make the web site cut. First, while these contested fish {salmon} are spawning in Alaskan streams, they rear in US and International waters, which in some respects give all US citizens a right of ownership. The way for the average US citizen to partake is through commercially caught fish. Secondly the word commercial, which by definition is product exchanged for pay, has to be applied to guides and charters for any plan to be executed. Third and lastly, there has been commercial net fishing in CI for over 100 years. The King salmon runs were sustained and continued healthy until environmental conditions changed, primarily in river, and in river fishing escalated on spawning beds. I appreciate your 43 years of observations. I also have observed for a goodly amount of time. Sixty five years. Time to bite the bullet and clean up the in river usage before its too late. Bob

[AOJ: Well Bob as you can see you "made the cut" but not because you are entirely correct in your statements, facts, or point of view. I could go on for a page with regard to the points you make, supporting my own comments with hard facts and numbers that are easily referenced in many documents available on the Internet. But enough of that.

Do tread very lightly though when you make bold statements about the Kenai River environment inferring there has been some irrepairable damage to the ecosystem. I can assure you from living ON this riverbank since 1981 and monitoring all aspects of this ecosystem (as a degree'd Zoologist) that if anything, the Wild West Days of the 1980's and widespread and often unregulated construction along the Kenai River has been reversed and actually improved over the natural setting by the intense efforts of river property owners to rebuild, repair, and improve the shoreline habitat for rearing salmon and trout fry. Millions and millions of dollars have been spent by these private property owners and the State who provides some subsidy repayment of a portion of those costs to encourage everyone to "do their part" to allow this river to continue to be the most productive on-the-road-system drainage in the entire state. There is no other place in this state that can come even remotely close to what we land owners have invested financially in this river from our own check books. And BTW, find me even ONE other river in Alaska that has totally banned the use of 2 stroke outboard motors on the entire river 365 days a year.]

ANGLER:  Salmono and Company
REGION:  Southcentral Alaska
SPECIES:  All species

AOJ COMMENT FIRST: I know some of you readers will take one look at the size of Salmono's comments and decide not to read it. THAT would be a big mistake if you value your rights as a sport angler, personal use dipnetter, or subsistance user to HARVEST a fair share of our renewable fishery resources. My own personal feelings are much aligned with Salmono's frustration after living here 43 winters and observing and sometimes participating in the BOF process. Please Read On! ~KK~

The Sunday, Feb 2 Anchorage Daily News holds a "Notice of Proposed Changes in the Regulations of the ADFG" (printed in Section D-9). There is opportunity for public comment on these proposed regulation changes, which must be in writing, submitted to Jesse Coleman, Anchorage ADFG office (333 Raspberry Rd, Suite 2088; 99518) or via email (jesse.coleman@alaska.gov) -- all comments must be received no later than 5pm March 7, 2014.

The ADFG proposes to adopt changes in Title 5 of Alaska Administrative Code (AAC) dealing with waters important for spawning, rearing, or migration of anadromous fish for all six regions of AK; and including changes in AK Statutes 5 AAC 95.011 and 16.05.871 -- in more detail, the first pertains to the Atlas to the Catalog of such Waters, and changes in the Catalog itself, and the latter pertains to changes in the listing of actual waters (specifically what rivers, streams and lakes, or the portions of those waters, that are important for the spawning, rearing, or migration of anadromous fish). The notice indicates the list of such waters will be updated, including additions, deletions and changes to the legal descriptions of many of these waters. ADFG's proposed changes (for each region) are available for review and copying at ADFG offices in Anchorage, Fairbanks, and Douglas, the Alaska Resources Library in Anchorage, and State Library in Juneau. For proposed changes in specific regions only, hit the ADFG offices in the regions of interest (Palmer, Soldotna, Homer, Cordova, etc.)

As for the BOF meetings...

I don't know about you, as for me though I am approaching near-fed up stage with the whole BOF process and all the political jockeying that goes on by all the parties. Per my own observation of what goes on at these BOF meetings, as an attendee onsite and daily listener to the streaming live audio, and fanatical info junkie who is an avid reader of whatever I can find, all the news/ research such as what attendees got at the BOF January 31-Feb 1 (copies of the ADFG data and other info including the commercial fishing regs) -- having all that info plus knowledge contributed by others whom I have met or heard from online, including you KK (all this time, as in years) plus other folks who have attended prior BOF meetings, and some who issued proposals to protect Kenai kings and assure the State Constitutional rights of AK recreational fishers, but whose proposals were shot down by the BOF -- has led to a significant understanding/ insight as to what a core problem is, and it's a people-centered problem first and process-centered problem second, and policy-centered problem third -- not a sole matter of policy that's the problem.

Be it problems and oversights in Obamacare or ADFG regs, its the leadership and management team who drive those problems. Put another way, a MAJORITY of problems in ANY industry, ANY field or ANY endeavor, is due to the mindset/ level of awareness/ values/ biases/ experiences/ skills/ priorities/ interests and agendas of decision makers -- the PEOPLE who are in leadership or management positions is where the key problems lie. On its Facebook page ads the KRSA suggests the solution is better F/G management. I vehemently disagree. The solution is a much different F/G management structure including a better leadership team. That's the purpose of a Board: to be leaders; and good leaders are not weak nor buyable.

I have researched and published on the Non-Commercial Fishers of Alaska (NCFA) Facebook page -- https://www.facebook.com/noncommercialfishersofalaska -- a posting in regards to who's who on the BOF, including their appointer (which Governor put x person on the BOF) and their background/ interest (commercial fishing, subsistence fishing, or sports fishing). Well, at least 3 of the 7 BOF members are long-time commercial fishermen. 2 of these 3 commercial fishers are also active subsistence fishers. 1 of the 7 BOF members is a traditional Native subsistence fisher. 1 of the 7 BOF members is a sports fishing guide in the interior. The other 2 BOF members are supposedly sports fishers but I cannot find any mention of what specifically these men do as sports anglers, meaning there is no confirmation obtained which affirms that both of these BOF members are holding a priority interest in sports fishing. Both men hold leadership positions on the BOF (one is the BOF Chairman; and the other is BOF Vice Chairman). Get this, not one BOF member mentions having participated in personal use fishing. So....

That's 3 strong voices for commercial fishing. 3 strong voices for subsistence fishing. Absolutely 0 voices for personal use fishing. And 2-3 weak to moderately strong voices for sports fishing (I say "weak" because the sports fishing guide in the interior is far removed from Cook Inlet, which is where the hotbed of issues and concerns are, in regards to Kenai kings especially -- and per my considered opinion I think its irresponsible for Parnell to have appointed a Fairbanks sports fishing guide to the BOF instead of a seasoned Kenai River sports fishing guide; and given it's no secret Gov Parnell is pro-commercial fishing, I can't help but wonder if said weak appointment was intentional, because no doubt a KR sports fishing guide on the BOF would not be passive nor weak by any means).

So, let's see, per the above breakdown of the AK BOF who has the strongest voice? Commercial fishing and subsistence fishing. And who has the weakest voice? Personal use and sports fishing. And who of course has the majority vote: Commercial fishing. This is why we sports anglers and personal use fishers continuously get screwed.

What to do about it is a big ???? I have ideas, and have an outspoken voice, am very independent in my thinking and a risk taker, and don't give a rat's ass who I piss off, and though I am told all of which are ideal qualities for one who takes on such a big fight as this battle with ADFG/ BOF/ CBOF/ commercial fishing industry groups/ Gov Parnell and other elected officials in bed with the commercial fishing folks, I must say I am just one person and hold zero influence, zero power, zero clout. So I question my efficacy in this battle. Not to mention my sanity sometimes.

Its tempting to just say "F-it" and move on to something less agitating/ frustrating than dealing with AK F/G matters and worse, people who just plain don't give a damn about the health of our fish and our fishing. Stepping off the soapbox now and taking a chill pill.

[AOJ: I hope that wasn't a BITTER PILL TO SWALLOW. LOL! I guess the Lord was looking out for me for this BOF cycle to keep me here at HQ. From listening to the live online audio I would have been RAISING MY HAND to comment on just about every proposal that hit the main floor for public comment. As readers know, I TOO am not one to care who I piss off or offend when it comes to injustices served on Alaskan resource owners which are unfair, biased, and uncalled for. So Salmono, EMAIL me. All is NOT lost.

And for the readers INFO: Tourism in Alaska
  • Statewide, direct visitor industry spending is more than $2 billion annually. It directly generates 37,800 jobs in Alaska and $1.24 billion in labor income.
  • On average, each visitor spends approximately $941 in Alaska during their visit.
  • More than 53 percent of visitor industry related spending in Alaska is in the Southcentral region.
  • One in 13 Alaska jobs is in tourism. Here in Southcentral Alaska, seven percent of total employment is directly related to the visitor industry. That's 13,400 people in Southcentral that work in tourism, with $392 million in labor income.
  • Indirectly, the visitor industry generates an additional 5,500 jobs and $188 million in labor income.
  • Annual visitor industry spending in Southcentral tops $1.9 billion, including $584 million in direct and indirect labor income.
Folks, that is not even figuring in ALASKANS participating in recreation, fishing, rafting, camping, taking charters, and other expenditures of our money related to our fishery resources. The entire Bristol Bay commercial financial contribution is advertised on TV as only $600+ million. Here in Cook Inlet the commercial fishing industry value is pocket change that can't hold a candle to the money generated by Alaskans and visitors participating in our sport and PU fisheries just here on the Kenai Peninsula and Matsu Valley.]

ANGLER:  salmono
REGION:  Southcentral Alaska
WATER:  Anchorage Board of Fish Meeting
SPECIES:  Cook Inlet/ KR kings

REPORT: Thanks for the link to the audio feed at the BOF! I'm making a nuisance of myself on Facebook via KRSA commentary out the whazoo -- am just livid with what I am reading and hearing! Yet at the same time I am delighted to see so many people speaking up candidly about these BOF injustices. Given our Lt Governor, Mead Treadwell, is accountable for our AK State Constitution and its Article 8 governs our natural resources, and he is seeking a seat in the U.S. Senate, I elected to direct my frustration to him as regards what the BOF is doing (or rather not doing).

In the event my fellow (equally pissed off) readers have interest in doing the same on Facebook, the Mead Treadwell for U.S. State Senate Facebook link is https://www.facebook.com/TreadwellforSenate?ref=br_tf

My post to Treadwell for Senate:
Given you're running for a seat in the U.S. Senate may I be so bold as to ask what your position is in regards to salmon management -- more specifically, conservation and sustainability of our Cook Inlet Chinook salmon stocks? Kenai River and Northern District salmon are mismanaged by ADFG/ AK Board of Fisheries (BOF). As a resident sports angler and personal use fisher and owner of a travel advisory business, I'm acutely concerned with BOF collusion with Alaska commercial fishing industry representatives including but not limited to the Commercial Board of Fisheries (CBOF). Yesterday, Feb 3 the BOF issued its ruling on late run Kenai kings SEG; its ruling on minimum escapement goals was sound (assuring both the conservation and protection longer-term of these world-class kings). Last evening, however, the CBOF met in private with two of the BOF members after the BOF finished its deliberations. Today, as a result, the BOF reversed its decision and raised its Kenai kings SEG which further threatens this already-at-risk (if not threatened or worse, endangered) species. We Alaska residents own the fish in Alaskan waters. Yet commercial fishers -- many of whom are nonresidents -- are awarded more access to our fish than we are. This is in violation of Article 8 of our State Constitution; our State policy on natural resources is "maximum use consistent with the public interest." By definition, "public interest" encompasses all user groups; however, the BOF rules in favor of only one special user group: the commercial fishing industry. At stake is not only our rights, but our quality of life and financial wellbeing. Not to mention the future of our magnificent State Fish. Commercial fishing is always given sole credit for its economic value. But that's a red herring (pun intended). The practice of sports fishing among residents and visitors is contributing more revenues and incomes than Cook Inlet commercial fishing. So, why is it and how is it legally possible for Alaska's BOF to conduct itself without regard for our State Constitutional rights and our fishing traditions and privileges? As a registered voter in Alaska and a business owner, a professional writer and speaker, and advocate for ethical, equitable, honorable, responsible, efficacious and cost-effective practices as regards ADFG matters, I respectfully request a response per the above. I would venture to say that a healthy number of Alaskan voters are fiecely passionate and concerned about the health of our salmon and salmon fisheries. Thank you for the opportunity to voice my concerns. ~Mac

ANGLER:  AK Fisher
REGION:  Matsu Valley
WATER:  Eco Lake
SPECIES:  Bows /Char

REPORT: Got back from Hawaii a few days ago, vacation with my family. Missed the heat wave here, pissed missed opportunity to do some ice fishing or Homer winter king fishing with the warm temps! I heard it was pretty windy tho so maybe I didn't miss much, love fishing but don't care much for holding on to the boat getting rocked by large rollers! Any how, most of the Valley lakes had too much over flow for me. Eco Lake was frozen solid. So me and the boys started fishing around four p.m. We used hot dogs, shrimp, and bacon. Hot dogs was the ticket for an hour then shrimp seemed to be on fire. We were only ten feet deep close to shore. The deeper we went less less action. Nothing with much weight or length. 8"-12" average size. We each kept three each for dinner. Perfect pan friers! Still have not tried my GoPro under the ice yet. Next outing give it a try. Three and half months to go until spring king fishing ladies and gentlemen! The count down begins. If it wasn't a family tradition to try for spring kings I would not waste the money or time with the poor returns we have been having. But it's about the adventure with family and friends enjoying this beautiful country we are blessed to call home. One of these days I'll run into you down on the Peninsula! Yak at you again old timer.

[AOJ: Hopefully your tan won't fade wearing your parka for the next week. ARCTIC BLAST Advisory issued by NOAA today. Jet stream is heading DUE SOUTH from the arctic and bringing high winds (30mph) and single digit cold to Southcentral Alaska and southern mainland of AK beginning around Thursday and running far into next week. I'm sure the winter king fishing is going to see some weather restrictions from high seas and freezing spray to keep most folks in the harbor til this blows over. So all that overflow on the lakes is going to LOCK UP tighter than a tick on a dog. And again it will be dry and comfortable but you'll have to stake down your ice tent. NOAA is saying this will be a dry freeze meaning NO SNOW during this event. It was a good run though for sure that you missed. I consider first week of MARCH my springtime on most years as that is when I hit the beaches for first-of-the-season clam digging.]

ANGLER:  salmono
REGION:  Upper Cook Inlet
WATER:  BOF meetings
SPECIES:  all finfish in all CI fisheries

REPORT: Attended the BOF meetings from 8:30am on -- all day Saturday at the Egan Center. And wish I could have attended all day today. Had planned to present testimony in person at the meetings Saturday (documents in hand and copied x 27 for the BOF/ advisory committee members). But made a critical error in judgment -- assumed I could sign in before 9am Sat and speak sometime during the Saturday meetings, as a result of assuming the 1st day of BOF meetings (Friday, Jan 31) managed to get through most of the pre-determined testimonies documented on the agenda, thus any additional sign-ins on Saturday to speak would result in ability to speak on Saturday. Not so! The sign-in's yesterday (Feb 1) required attendance today (Feb 2) to testify. That was a HUGE disappointment. Because I knew today, Sunday, I would not be able to attend due to a lack of babysitter and the BOF meetings being no place to bring a toddler. So I should have been better prepared and submitted my name for testifying months ago. In fact, to avoid this from happening again I am already preparing for the 2017 BOF!

So anyway, as a result of my own poor planning, my two-cents for the BOF -- which is a letter including a list of what proposals I support and a long list of proposals I vehemently oppose -- is going into an email to the KRSA who will in-turn submit to the BOF today.

Overall, I was quite impressed by the presentations by a majority of sports anglers and/or personal users, sports fishing guides and others who are non-commercial fishers. The morning/ pre-lunch testifying was mostly commercial fishers talking of their family traditions and justifying their need for more and more and more fish and borderline hate-speech as regards sports anglers and personal use fishers. But the post-lunch testifying was dominated by us (pro-recreational fishing user groups across the board). But my talks with others in my user groups, and in particular a conversation with both a Kenai and Kasilof Rivers sports fishing guide and a CI set netter, has me thinking a bit differently as to the root issues which are driving all of these problems we are experiencing and what's essential for solutions.

It's going to be interesting how the BOF rules. I was relieved to see/ hear/ read in others' testimonies and letters, or conversations during breaks in the BOF yesterday and other talks, that ALL of my concerns are addressed to the BOF. That's awesome but wish I'd have been able to share my voice and ideas. I waited too long to get involved but that's my doing. At least I AM involved now and will never again be passive and merely hold-and-hope others speak up for my interests.

P.S. KK I credit you 100% for the awareness and education as to how the BOF works and the access to the proposals submitted months ago, and lighting of the fire under my ass to get involved and help drive change. I scanned the crowd of ~250 in and out of the meeting room, trying to figure out who you might be -- going by a pic, taken of you 20+ years ago (sent by my wife via phone; as a result of texting her stating I'd wondered if you were present but had never met you, per my memory). No success of course. But comically, I approached and talked to a guy who seemed to have many of the attributes I perceived you'd hold -- articulate, intelligent, intellectual type AK sourdough at least mid-50's, angler, prospector, dog lover ...

Nope, not you. Ha

[AOJ: LOL, you are correct, that wasn't me. Not able to make it to the meeting. Just too tough sleeping in the cab of my truck during winter anymore. Especially for two weeks. I'm monitoring the proceedings from here at AOJ HQ and have provided other readers with the links and information necessary above to follow along with what is going on at the meeting each day beginning at 8am. You can download or view in your browser window the 2014 Proposals Book and read each proposal information while members of the public provide their comments on the issue up for discussion. The Matsu Borough Fish & Wildlife Commission has also put together a very good presentation regarding the Valley's fisheries and the facts that surround those runs. WELL WORTH READING BY ALL.]


DATE CHANGE ON FISHING TOURNAMENT DUE TO WEATHER CONDITIONS. The tournament is now moved to FEBRUARY 15th which will allow all our wet, slippery, and sloppy ice conditions to firm up in the coming weeks of cooler weather. This will provide more comfortable and safer conditions for the participants. Please pass this info on to your friends who were planning to attend also. Thanks, ~KK~

Announcing the 477th Fighter Group's annual ice fishing tournament that will be held at FINGER LAKE on FEBRUARY 15th in Palmer area. Its a fun event for KIDS and adults. Please CLICK HERE or the logo above for the full details about the event. Hope you all take the kids for a fun day on the ice. Kids 12 and under participate FREE with a paying Adult. Great Group of folks that deserve your support for a one day event.

Remember to get your 2014 Fishing License before heading out on the ice.

ANGLER:  Allen
TRIP DATE:  1/29
REGION:  Southeast Alaska
WATER:  Craig Saltwaters
SPECIES:  Winter Chinook

REPORT: Been picking a few winter fish but it's slow going. Fairly typical for this time of year. Usually a fish every couple of trips but good quality. Fish are ignoring hootchies/flasher combinations and going for herring. Lately what has been working for me is a combination of fish flashes and trout pop gear all in tandem as the pic here illustrates. Then I run a slow roll herring on a clip about 3 ft up on the wire and 12 ft behind. The water is very clear so guessing too much razzmatazz could spook fish. We can use 2 rods here in SE in the winter per person and the limit is one fish a day. Most all the winter fish here have nothing or very little in the stomachs even though feed is abundant. Bites are at low or high tide periods. All the fish have been of the pop gear side and my switch up gear side is going untouched. I envy your hot winter fishing in Homer but it's good enough here to keep me going.

I've included couple recent fish pictures plus a screen shot of the incredible Furuno and the gear above that's been producing for me. Regards to all my fellow winter fish enthusiasts up North.

[AOJ: THANKS SO MUCH for postings your fishing report info from Southeast. Especially on winter king fishing. We rarely get information from those Alaskans for some reason so this extra "insight" into the "other" Alaskan fishing opportunities is much appreciated. You are lucky you can fish two rods down there. That is a great aid when you only have one or two people in the boat. More lines, more bait & lures, better chances for a fish. Plus you can have hardware, software (hootchies) and bait at the same time to discover what seems to be on their "Menu of the Day."

Our fish here have a variety of food in their bellies for those which are feeding and plenty that have empty guts. Of particular note up here and it would be interesting to know if you have seen the same thing, is that during a certain time of our winter season when apparently the baitfish are not present, our kings switch over to rooting in the rocks and gravel for marine worms as a food source. They will even show "wear" on their noses from digging up these critters to eat. Sandlance/needlefish are our predominant baitfish for Cook Inlet. Whereas PWS and Resurrection Bay seem to have more herring of all age groups available.

We see a variety of preferences with our kings. Some days its all bait. Other days hardware is the only way to put fish in the box. And some days I've seen bait hot in the mornings until around noon and then only spoons will get the hits for the rest of the day. Tides? I'm sure there is some affect on the "bite" but Capt. Shane frequently catches fish from the first dropdown to the last fish limit for the anglers with little change in consistent action. Not saying there aren't slow days but we have a very large area and if the fish are marking on the screen there are many other locations to shoot over to and dropdown.

Your use of cowbells and christmas trees is something I have fished with in the past for coho. On days when none of the other boats were landing any fish, a herring three feet behind my cowbell spinners was a consistent producer. I think it is creating a baitfish school effect to get the atention of the fish. Thanks again for your contributions.]

ANGLER:  agimarc
TRIP DATE:  1/20
REGION:  Anchorage
WATER:  Upper Cook Inlet Board of Fish Meeting
SPECIES:  any/all


Submitted the following to the BOF meeting the end of the month. Note that UCIDA (Upper Cook Inlet Drift Assoc.) is in federal court trying to arrange a federal takeover of all fisheries management in Cook Inlet. They participated in a hearing in front of Bill Stoltz and Mike Dunleavy last week and did not have a good time. Note also that Speaker Chenault has a comm fish guy as his COS. We have some serious political problems with fisheries management here in Cook Inlet. And it is not just the dip netters. It is subsistence and sport fish. Participate in the meeting the end of this month. Cheers -

Over the last decade I have watched the salmon returns into Turnagain Arm, Anchorage Bowl, the MatSu decline. I believe this is mismanagement as the Board of Fish concentrates on managing the second run of reds into the Kenai. When the run is a strong one, emergency opening after emergency opening is approved to the point where salmon runs into the Northern District are decimated. If you want to manage the second run, put the commercial fleet close to the mouth of the Kenai rather than allowing them to roam the entire inlet. Second, emergency openings on the Kenai should be a collaborative process between sportfish and commfish offices in Kenai, Anchorage and the MatSu. It should take 4 out of those 6 offices to approve an opening rather than the Kenai commfish office. The current management plan has been a disaster. Time to give the sport, personal use and subsistence users equal priority with commfish users.

[AOJ: I announced during the Kenai River Dipnet Season, based on my 43 years on fishing the Kenai River, that the ADFG sockeye counting was seriously flawed and that the counts were off by 50% based on factual record-keeping by guides, lodges, fish processors, sport anglers and dipnetters' observations. In fact I was SCREAMING that the counts were erroneous. Fish & Game's face to face response to me was and I QUOTE, "Oh the sport anglers just don't know how to catch the sockeye salmon on the Kenai River this year." THAT is a quote from the person in charge of the sockeye counts. And my observation of the dippers showed catch rates were extremely disappointing. Every single INDICATOR including factual information that could NOT be refuted was ignored by the division responsible for counting those sockeye salmon. It IS a manual counting process by the way. Not an automated computerized enumeration of the fish. A human sits there and counts fish on the screen. Something was VERY WRONG with the staff who were "trained" to count those fish and there should be a PUBLIC OUTCRY demanding a full RECOUNT of every single sockeye day that was reported to have 25K or more reds counted. I claim the counting staff did not accurately count the sockeye during the summer of 2013 and a full investigation of their skills and capabilities and training be initiated as well as moving to get a court order to have the counts independently verified in a "blind count test" process where actual dates and fish counts will be withheld from the staff recounting the numbers and see how close they are to the reported numbers USED BY COMMFISH to manage additional fishing time for the commies at the sport and dippers expense.

I had claimed last summer that the 2013 dipnet harvest for the Kenai personal use fishery was going to be one of the LOWEST in the past ten years due to the actual poor numbers entering the river. I have been unofficially informed that the 2013 Kenai River Dipnet Harvest, based on the returned permits, was 350,000. In 2012 the dipnetters harvested 526,992 sockeye and the SPORT ANGLERS caught 485,756 reds from the Kenai and Russian rivers in 2012. A year when the Kenai River escapement numbers were almost identical to the numbers reported for 2013 counts. Sport harvest for 2013 won't be available until fall of 2014 and I can ASSURE ALL YOU READERS the harvest numbers calculated from the Mail In Sportfishing Survey will be unexpectedly low for the salmon run escapement ADFG claims occurred.

My recommendation to every sportie and dipper that has been considering going to the BOF meeting - don't think about it, Just Do It! And tell the BOF and ADFG and the COMMIES that to continue using antiquated management methods for Kenai River sockeye escapement is a disgrace to the department and is becoming a serious major financial impact on the infrastructure called tourism and sport fishing on the Kenai Peninsula. WE can and have harvested ONE MILLION REDS in our Dipnets and with our Rod and Reels and to IGNORE our presence as a VIABLE and DEPENDABLE group for assisting in the management of the Kenai River sockeye escapements is unacceptable.

This is not the 1960's and 1970's when there was a state population of 270,000 people and a very small tourism base. And during that period commercial fishing was the ONLY way to manage escapement numbers in the Kenai River.

We are NOW, in the 21st Century, nearly 700,000 resident sport anglers and dippers as well as hundreds of thousands of VISITING ANGLERS engaging in the Sockeye fishery on the Kenai River. WE DEMAND TO BE RECOGNIZED AND INCORPORATED AS A MAJOR MANAGEMENT "TOOL" IN THE KENAI RIVER SOCKEYE MANAGEMENT PLAN going forward. And yes folks, I did intend to YELL that statement. Stand up for your rights! And the resources YOU OWN!! Those are Alaskan Residents' fish. Not the commercial fishermen, not the commercial fishing industry, not ADFG's. WE THE PEOPLE of the State of Alaska own those fish. It is our right to be included in a fair portion of that harvest based on our abilities to help control the final escapement numbers.

ANGLER:  bullfrog bob
TRIP DATE:  1/21
REGION:  Kenai Peninsula
WATER:  Stormy Lake

REPORT: I thought they killed out everything in Stormy during Sept. 2012? WELL if no one else knows whats now in the lake I'll let you know after late Aug.

[AOJ: Indeed ADFG did perform a rotenone treatment on the entire lake. Prior to this treatment, ADFG netted as many of the remaining Arctic Char and moved them to a holding pen area in another lake where they were cared for and fed to keep them healthy and strong. Once the rotenone treatment had become inert and no longer posed a threat to any fish species those remaining few char were re-introduced back into Stormy Lake. In addition there were plans to re-introduce the native longnose sucker species, sticklebacks and sculpins to establish the same ecosystem that was present before the illegal introduction of Northern Pike. It is also hoped that the silver salmon fry from Swanson River will again move up into Stormy Lake to overwinter as they do in many other Swanson River drainage lakes. And hopefully some rainbows from Swanson River will again find their way into the lake to re-establish that population too.

In order to protect this extremely vulnerable rehabilitation project and the species in the lake, ADFG has closed the lake to all fishing for a while in order to allow the resident population to grow to numbers that can again sustain at least limited angler fishing pressure. They will make an announcement through their News Releases when that lake will again be open to fishing. In the meantime its still OK for water skiing, wakeboarding, canoeing, picnicking and swimming activities.

It may take a couple years before fishing is allowed so it would be best to call the Soldotna Fish & Game office 262-9368 before heading out there to make sure angling is allowed. Its a long way out there for nothing if it remains closed.]

ANGLER:  Kardinal_84
TRIP DATE:  1/18
REGION:  Matsu Valley
WATER:  Big Lake
SPECIES:  Phantom Char and Pike

REPORT: Headed out to Big Lake to give it a try. Instead of my normal locations, I opted to go seek out weed beds to see if I couldn't find a pike or two. There was quite a bit of overflow but all of the plowed roads were free of water and seemed solid.

Set up in the same Bay as the North Campground. Put tip ups out anywhere from 4 ft to 12 feet of water. Set up my Portable shack in about 12 foot of water and jigged for whatever would come in. The reason I don't like fishing in this Bay is that the water, especially near weed beds seem to be very murky. And as you know, not only do I like to sight fish but I like trying to get videos of the action as well.

No flags all day long so that was a bust. Saw three char on my camera, hooked one and lost it. People sometimes ask me "Have you ever lost a fish because of the equipment or trying to do too many things at once?" My answer till today was "no." But today, I lost what felt like a really nice char because it wrapped around the camera cord. ARGH. Today I was shooting vertically down into the hole. I saw what appeared to be a normal size char hit my jig. Set the hook, and the fish went ballistic. It felt as heavy as any char I have ever hooked in Big Lake. Peeled off line, then I could feel the camera cord so I began to pull it up. It got off while I was meeting around with the camera. I think the fish are larger than they appear on this camera or maybe they are all that way underwater.

I had two other fish come in but the lighting was terrible. But even so I am mesmerized by any hint of fish that I can see. Of course I can't possible know what the fish are thinking but after watching today's char strike on a spoon, I am almost 90% convinced that most strikes on a spoon are not directed at the spoon but rather the hook on the spoon. I think in all my years of fishing Big Lake, I have only seen a few fish just smash the spoon when I am using anything larger than say 4 inches long. They seem to almost be "sipping" at the hook. This was reinforced to me today talking to one of my friends who was trying to spear a pike on Big Lake saying he had a large Dolly come in and strike at the metal "fins" of a 8 inch Pike decoy. I am going to have to think about that...I think I have a solution. It's nothing new but I will report back if it works.

While I appreciate this warmer weather for a shot at getting back out on my kayak, what I have noticed is that during winter, warm pineapple express weather is accompanied by too much wind. Hopefully I will get a shot sooner than later. But between work and parenting, it might be tough.

So once again, VIEWER BEWARE. The videos are of TERRIBLE quality but I think if you can watch the fish strike and how they react, there is always something to be learned about their behavior. Also in the first segment, you can see how much better the video looks when I pull the camera out of the hole into a semi dark fish shack. So I am hoping it works better off my kayak Fish appeared very lethargic today. Well I got skunked, but that's ok. At least I got out!


ANGLER:  GerfsinNZ
TRIP DATE:  12/26
REGION:  New Zealand
WATER:  Lake "O" and Lake "W"
SPECIES:  Rainbows and Browns

REPORT: KK - thought I would send a fishing report to you from New Zealand, went there over the holidays and fished for rainbows and browns. Awesome trip and amazing country -put it on your bucket list for sure.

Fished Lake "O" (Lake Otamangakau) on the North Island (close to Lake Taupo) for rainbows from a boat using an 8 wt fly rod with small flies (sworn to secrecy sorry) at about 10' deep and used the wind to drift and roll cast. My wife caught (7) and I only got (4) but beat her on size with one close to 8 lbs. The Kenai Rainbows are awesome but would have to say NZ is right up there.

Went to a mountain lake (Lake Wakaremoana) and did spot and stalk from the shore for brown trout cruising in crystal clear waters. Like big game hunting - use the shore cover (yes they can spot you too!) and once target is acquired set up for the ambush with a green beetle imitation fly. Had way more failed attempts than hook ups but man it was fun, but the browns don't fight like a rainbow.

Sent pictures via email - and see you on the Kenai soon for some ice fishing at Hidden Lake. Cheers

[Ah, sampling the world I see. No doubt NZ has some incredibly beautiful waters, both lakes and rivers. It has been a place that resides in fond memories in my mind for a little over 50 years. Back when I was a young teenager I would wait impatiently for the mailman at certain times of the month during the summer when school was out. Those were the days when my dad's subscriptions to Field & Stream, Outdoor Life, and Sports Afield would arrive, all on different days. I would take each issue and find me a spot on the couch and read each one cover to cover non-stop, every single word, label, advertisement, and the tips and stories each issue contained. I vividly remember one specific article about trout fishing in New Zealand. That was in the early 1960's. The photos of some of those rivers with exceptionally clear waters and the riverbed covered in a myriad of rainbow-colored rocks, much like the colored stones in aquariums, was unbelievable. At that time several of the rivers on the South Island had saltwater sea-run Brown Trout populations that lived in the ocean like our steelhead and would migrate up the rivers to spawn and then return to the sea. In those days the average Brown Trout weighed 10 kgs or over 20 pounds. Fish in the 8-10 pound range were "dinkers" and seldom targeted by the anglers. Things have changed since then as I read now "Lake Otamangakau is managed as a trophy fishery with fit and strong rainbow trout commonly exceeding 4kg in weight. Large brown trout can also be caught." It goes on to mention your exact experiences of casting from boats and also shoreline stalking trout to sight fish.

Got the photos OK this morning. Those are some beautiful fish and unlike many of the big Kenai rainbows they don't have missing jaws or lips, they have both eyes and no snag marks and rips on their bodies. According to details on that lake there are NO baitfish as food sources and these browns and 'bows attain those sizes solely from the insect hatches on the lake. Anglers swarm to those waters during major insect hatches from what I understand. (Speaking of NEW ZEALAND, they just experienced a 6.3 magnitude earth quake on the North Island and shook up Wellington pretty good.)

As far as fishing at Hidden Lake soon, my suggestion is tread lightly my friend. We have had one of the warmest winters following the warmest summer on record. Kenai Lake has no ice! Skilak Lake may be breaking open again at this time. It is doubtful that Hidden Lake has thick enough ice for any vehicular travel and even a snowmachine could be dangerous to ride on the lake. It would be best to give the Moose & Goose Headquarters in Soldotna a call (262-7021) and get the latest conditions information from their fish cops before venturing out. Below is the six day forecast from today Sunday through Friday. As you can see Seward, which pushes massive amounts of warm temperatures through the mountains to Cooper Landing area is in a major Pineapple Express phenomena (along with Homer) that has been going on for nearly 10 days already.]

TRIP DATE:  1/14/14
REGION:  Kenai Peninsula
WATER:  Kachemak Bay
SPECIES:  MISSION OBJECTIVE: Find Dinner for the Barbecue

REPORT: Well the Misty is out of the water for a few days getting some long deserved Boat Spa Treatments at the shop. When you are on the water 200-250 days a year the boat needs a little TLC now and then. You would think Captain Shane would take advantage of this lull in the action and kick back, go watch his son at the local hockey rink in Homer and RELAX.

Half right! He did take in the hockey games but its apparent he is severely afflicted with an incurable Fishing Virus. So on Tuesday he and Denny and Hans jumped in Hans' boat and headed out on a Quest to track down some fixin's for the barbecue and the dinner table. There is no doubt when you put that Trio of Fish Sniffers in the same boat its going to be guaranteed they won't go hungry that evening or any other for that matter. (Hey Kardinal_84 BIG HEAT WAVE with up to mid 40's for a week down in Homer. Hint Hint.)

As those AOJ regulars who hang out here all year long may have noticed, the winter kings ending up in the fish box are beginning to show some significant size increases for some of the fish on the deck. Those fish that are the three and four year olds are beginning to show up in greater numbers now. Some of the largest ones are on their last year here in Alaskan waters before heading back south in late summer to become a part of the West Coast's Fall Chinook runs on many of the hatchery-enhanced streams.

Captain Shane is still running charters in-between the seasonal maintenance projects he does at this time. Fishing continues to be RED HOT! Pictures don't lie. Just give him a call to find out what the schedule is that may fit into your timing. In the meantime here is the results of their short expedition at Homer's "local seafood market." :-) I think I'm missing one trip's fish count for the Tally Board so Shane is going to check his log to see if I lost track.

TRIP DATE:  1/7/14
REGION:  Kenai Peninsula
WATER:  Kachemak Bay
SPECIES:  Keeping in shape for New Year's Resolution - WINTER KING STYLE

REPORT: It doesn't seem to make any different whether Captain Shane has any bookings for the day or not. This guy spends between 200 and 250 DAYS on the water at Homer every year. Not likely many other skippers, charters, or private boats can match that. Shane likens being a successful charter captain to being a professional athlete of sorts. At least from a comparison perspective. You must train, practice, and test yourself to the limits all the time to become an Olympic champion, top ranked golf or tennis player, skier, hockey player, etc. Its a 24/7/365 life-style as you all know from watching sports. Those Winter Kings in the ocean are constantly on they move. One location may be hot for only a day or perhaps for several weeks, then go cold. Baitfish move around and the kings are sure to follow. Fish will want bait on one day and hardware tackle the next. Or bait in the morning and lures in the afternoon. With the very small number of boats on the water in the winter to "network" with for tracking down the next hot spot, you often must just go out there and track them down yourself. Try new locations, hit spots that you haven't fished at that particular time of the year, try new tackle or bait, and burn a lot of gas educating yourself on every single outing. Shane will be the first to admit that he continues to learn something new about these fish all year long.

Shane and Denny and a couple other guys were out last Tuesday the 7th on another scouting and "research" expedition. Fish are where you find them and this day was a very good producer. The day before Shane went 12 for 12, meaning the boat had 12 hookups and landed all 12 kings. On this trip they hooked up with 13 kings and landed 12 fish. It was a mixed bag of sizes on Tuesday with a couple of very nice size fish in the bunch. Enough to get Captain Shane in the photo with a smile on his face. I have added Driftwood Charter's 2014 Tally Board Totals through the first seven days of the New Year. That is an impressive start and more kings harvested in a week than most individual river guides land in an entire summer. All of these winter kings are primarily hatchery stocked salmon from BC and West Coast hatcheries. These fish travel to Alaska to feed and fatten up in our food rich waters before heading back to their home streams to provide those anglers some recreation and enjoyment. Its a very amicable "relationship." They supply 252 Million kings each year and we protect them, fatten them up and send them back pollution-free and wild as any salmon that roams the sea. (Sorry for being so poetic. HA) So you don't need to feel like you are impacting Alaska kings. These hatchery stockings are no different than our own which fill our lakes with fish to catch and keep because they are a renewable resource from hatchery production. You will never run out of fish to plant.

I just called Shane today, MONDAY January 13th and I have to announce that his $150 Special has now ended..........for now. He is doing some routine maintenance on the boat and just fitting in regular trips as the opportunity allows. It won't be long before he is back on the water full-time and perhaps he will have a new incentive to get you folks out there. My meat grinder, jerky and pepperoni spices just arrived at the PO today so I'm itching to make some winter King salmon snacks soon. I'll keep you all posted as to how it turns out.

P.S. I'm going to be clipping this fishing report back to 2014 ONLY reports and put together the 2013 archived reports. So this page will get very short soon. Need to get you folks to send in some info to fatten it up again!! Take Care, Good Luck, Good Fishing, and Go 49'ers! ~KK~ n AKJake

ANGLER:  Kardinal_84
TRIP DATE:  1/12
REGION:  Matsu Valley
WATER:  Finger Lake
SPECIES:  Landlocks and phantom rainbows

REPORT: Kids wanted to go ice fishing...well at least my son did, so off we go to Finger Lake. I have never fished Finger Lake through the ice and with the news of the upcoming derby, I thought maybe I would go give it a try.

I was surprised to see at least two dozen portable shacks on the lake. As busy of a lake as I have ever seen up here in Alaska. Randomly picked a spot near the shoreline and found myself in about 10 feet of water. I figure that's perfect though when I peer down the hole, there are no weed beds or anything that would hold fish.

As I deploy the camera, and begin setting up the fish house, the kids are all excited they can see fish. Well that's a good start. Unfortunately for me, but it didn't phase the kids one bit, they were all landlocks maybe 10 inches long. Still they were nice chunky fish that were perfect size for pan frying.

I will say the new Vexilar fish phone camera system paid for itself today. The bite was very slow and the fish were very lethargic. But fortunately there were a half dozen of them in camera range at any given time it seemed so it kept the kids entertained and concentrating on catching them. I shouldn't say it was slow, I bet we landed 40 of them. We kept 20 and it should be two meals for the family. We saw a couple of fish that looked "different" but they weren't much larger than the landlocks we saw.

A trooper stopped by and I chatted with him for a while. He was saying he didn't seen anyone with an "adult" sized fish so the bite was definitely slow. Having checked the stocking records, I was amazed we didn't catch a single rainbow. Had it been just me, I probably would have moved but the kids were having a blast, even my "non-fishing" daughter, so we stayed put. We mainly used shrimp for bait.

Even though I didn't even wet a line for myself and all we caught were small landlocked salmon, it was an AWESOME day! It always is when the kids have as much fun as they did.

Here's the video. Once again the fish phone shoots at 240P so better to watch it without maximizing the screen. This video is about 5 minutes of fishing condensed down into little over a minute.


[AOJ: Ah, a little pre-tournament scouting, eh? :-) Looks like you need to visit the lake again and get more mobile to find those 20 inch rainbows that prowl around. The one day derby will be a lot of fun for everyone and there will be some concession stands there too AND you don't even need an auger to fish. They will have folks drilling holes for free. Let's hope the weather is in the 20's for that event to bring everyone out on the ice.]

ANGLER:  pike slayer
TRIP DATE:  1/12
REGION:  Anchorage
WATER:  Upper Fire Lake

REPORT: To the guy wanting to fish Upper Fire Lake. There is an easement where the creek flows in that is not private property. It is a very skinny piece of land to access it.

ANGLER:  A.k.a.. Kai
REGION:  Anchorage
WATER:  Upper Fire Lake

REPORT: I read the highlight about Q&A but I'm trying to find out if upper fire lake has any public access? I want to fish it but from the aerials I can't locate any public access. Looks to be all private property. Thanks for the site and any help.

[AOJ: I would suspect that its all private property but you can go online and search the Anchorage Borough Property Maps that will identify the owners of every lot in the borough. I've used a similar database for the Kenai Borough to find land that is owned by the State, the Feds, and the Borough for getting access to certain lakes in the past.

The ADFG site does have a Bathymetric map for LOWER Fire Lake because its on the Rainbow trout stocking schedule and there is one public access point on that lake. See the Lower Fire Lake Map for the access point. There are also pike in that lake.]

TRIP DATE:  1/2, 1/3, 1/4
REGION:  Kenai Peninsula
WATER:  Kachemak Bay (9 Gallon Gas Hole) and Seldovia
SPECIES:  Winter King Salmon

REPORT: Well Captain Shane & Driftwood Charters has started off the New Year with a BANG! In these first three trips of the year his anglers have had 43 hookups and kept 32 king salmon.

January 2nd, Thursday, had a full boat and headed across the Bay to the south side. Pulled into Cohen Island area and started marking fish so down went the gear and in no time rods were popping. Ended up spending the day just trolling in circles in this area and hitting fish in a steady pace along with a few cod to toss in the fish box. Ended up only using 9 gallons of gas for 15 hookups and 11 kings in the box. AOJ NOTE: Notice in the group photo there are only ten kings on the deck at that time. And the photo was taken by Capt. Shane from atop the cabin. Notice that with six anglers ten fish is still two short of a full limit. So while this photo op is occurring all four rods and downriggers are in the water and the boat is still trolling the gear. That is the sort of Multi-Tasking charter skipper Shane is. If there is still limits to catch and time to fish then if the hooks aren't in the water you aren't going to catch fish. They ended up getting one more king.

January 3rd, Friday, another group of anglers out on this day with a few proxies onboard. Time to head out to the Seldovia area and see what sort of "trouble" these guys can get into on this day. It was RED HOT! They had 23 hookups and put 15 winter kings in the fish box for the day's efforts. No pictures yet from this group but if they turn up I'll post them with this report.

January 4th, Saturday, a miserable day. POURING rain and 25-30 knot winds. A group of two guys were informed of the conditions and what it would be like out there. (The captain was hoping they would reschedule for another better day.) These guys called the shot....full speed ahead, let's kill some kings. And off they went. Even in those extremely challenging conditions they had 5 hookups that day and landed 3 kings for a near miss on a limit for each angler. Shane said it was BRUTAL and wished he could have stayed home! HA. Yeah, he missed the Saturday NFL playoff games!

So there you have it. King fishing out of Homer continues to be RED HOT and seems to be improving each week, at least as far as Shane's success goes. DRIFTWOOD CHARTERS still has Shane's Holiday Special Pricing for 4 or more anglers on Mondays through Fridays at $150 each if you can gather up that many. Otherwise the price is $200pp for less than 4 on weekdays and on the weekends. Time is running out on this special though. And the weather is going to be VERY WARM all week long. Good luck and good fishing. ~KK~ n AKJake

ANGLER:  Kardinal_84
REGION:  Matsu Valley
WATER:  Big Lake
SPECIES:  Pike & Char

REPORT: Well, I'm home alone so no choice but to go fish. Marine weather hasn't been looking so good so I head North. I'm not sure why I fish Big Lake so much. I guess the lure of a BIG char, a good eating Burbot, and the big pike are certainly draws. I hate to admit it but the number one reason is probably access and ease of fishing.

So once again I try out the Vexilar FishPhone. The day was a little brighter so the camera worked a little bit better. It even got bright enough that it shot in color from about noon till 2pm. Unfortunately all I recorded were salmon smolts during the color stage, but I added it into the video so you can see the improvement in picture quality with a little more light.

The first significant fish I see on the camera today was a PIKE!!!! Now I know why people spear them. It looked interested but one wrong jig at the wrong time and it darts off! Drats! But it just goes to show you that if you aren't using a camera or peering down your hole, I would have never known it was there!

I did manage two char...or are they Dollies in Big Lake...hmmm...better check. Saw a third one that was hot to trot but it took off suddenly like there was a bigger fish nearby...but I didn't see it.

Set up in about 10 feet of water and was using my "dodger and jig" rig. The pike didn't seem to care for it much, but the Dollies sure love it.

So not a bad day, not a great day. But it sure beats sitting on the couch!

Here's the video. Once again, not GoPro quality but even when its super grainy, I get mesmerized watching fish. I think I really have some psychological problem... oh well, I could probably have worse afflictions!!!!!!!!!


[AOJ: Yes indeed you could be afflicted by worse maladies than the fishing virus. As far as char or Dolly in Big Lake, Dolly Varden are sea-run fish like steelhead. They live in the ocean part of the year feeding and then move to the streams in the Fall to spawn and quite often overwinter until early spring. Then back to the ocean for a few months. Arctic Char are totally freshwwater residents of the stream or lake they live in and never go to the saltwater. They complete their spawning cycle entirely in the freshwater environment. Since Fish Creek is the drainage for Big Lake and connected to Cook Inlet there is a "chance" some fish in the lake may be sea run Dollies overwintering. But my thoughts are they fish are true Arctic Char living completely in the lake system. Much like the Arctic Char in Stormy Lake out in North Kenai. That lake is connected to Swanson River and the Inlet but those fish remain residents of the lake year round.

As you describe and witness with your camera system, there is a LOT of action going on beneath the ice that your lure is never aware of....or the fisherman aware of. Underwater cameras by AquaVu and Vexilar and other makers are a very valuable tool for ice fishing and a great source of entertainment and encouragement for the younger kids out on the ice. They are fascinated by all the fish that are swimming around down there which give them more encouragement to keep fishing than any thing the parent can provide.]

ANGLER:  Kardinal_84
TRIP DATE:  1/4/14
REGION:  Matsu Valley
WATER:  Big Lake

REPORT: HAPPY NEW YEAR KK!!!!! Here's wishing you and your readers a very successful and SAFE 2014!!!!!!

So for Christmas, I bought myself a Vexilar Fish Phone underwater camera. Its a camera with a wifi unit so you can watch and record videos on your smartphone or tablet. It was $200.

So the good news of the day is my first outing in 2014, I would consider a qualified success. I managed to land a nice char about 24+ inches but it was as skinny as any char I have seen out of Big Lake.

I started fishing about noon. But it was dark and dreary all day. I am not sure what score I would give to the camera.

Negatives: Very poor light gathering ability. Shoots in 240p meaning you can NOT be watching it really on a full size monitor. So I won't be using it much in my videos except maybe as an "inset" where I overlay on top of another simultaneous video from a different perspective. In all but the clearest water, the LED lights are like driving in thick fog with your high beams on.

Positive: Batteries lasted from noon to 6pm. Still had plenty juice left. I even ran the LED lights for about 2 hours. The delay is short enough that you can use the camera to "set the hook". You couldn't do that with the GoPro even if you somehow got the WiFi to work underwater. My neck and back are NOT sore because I wasn't leaning over staring down the hole all day. It added some enjoyment not only for myself but the people fishing with me. I'd say "oooo there's one," and they could glance at the iPad and see the fish. You couldn't do that peering down your hole. The quality you see on the iPad was a bit better and smoother than the video you will see.

So I saw a few more fish but didn't hook them. It really does go to show that if you aren't looking down your hole or using a camera, you could fish all day and think the lake was empty but in reality, a bunch of fish are cruising by.

I'll give the day a 7 out of 10 since I accomplished the initial test of the unit and it worked great for adding some comfort and enjoyment to the day. I caught a nice char and saw a few more. How can you complain.

The video is TERRIBLE!!! You will get a headache if you blow it up to full screen size. But I wanted your readers to see it in actual use. I will say I have seen MUCH better videos shot by the fish phone when it is much brighter out. So your mileage may vary. Today was a pretty dark all day long.


[AOJ: Oh boy Rudy has a new fishing "toy." That means more perspectives from Kardinal_84 on his trips. I too treated myself to many Christmas gifts related to fishing. Added a 4th GoPro Hero2 and 4 new WiFi units for all the cameras now. They work terrific for viewing realtime video on my 8 inch Samsung Galaxy Tab3 tablet in HD. And for controlling the camera its really great to be able to switch from video to time lapse or change to 11 megapixel still photos at 10 per second and then back to HD video recording again all in realtime. And to be able to playback footage you may have shot out on the end of a pole gives you tips for better framing on the next shot all without having to open the waterproof case of the camera. My next trip out with Shane will have video taken from several camera angles; top of cabin to the deck and transom, underwater for netting, "angler cam" view, and HOPEFULLY get the downrigger GoPro gear running to get some hookup shots. I think I've got that gear bullet-proof now unless the camera housing leaks. Ouch.

One GREAT thing you can do with your Fish Phone Cam as well as my GoPro WiFi-equipt cameras is get all your angler buddies to install the Fish Phone app on their phones or tablets. Then they too can watch the same realtime video scenes you are watching. No limit to the number of people that can watch your video as long as they have the app installed and they have your access password to the WiFi hotspot created. I'm hoping to try that on Shane's boat with maybe a few of the anglers too. I have not given up on getting a WiFi signal from a GoPro that is underwater. Still have some things to experiment with. Even if it was just for ice fishing situations.

I haven't had much luck in very low light using my AquaVu and the lights on it. They are focussed as a fairly tight spot beam so they don't illuminate a very wide area. One thing I noticed was how much microscopic feed is in the water for all those sockeye and coho fry to eat during the winter.

To get perfect Color HD video for my ice fishing I'll be attaching one of my GoPros to the bottom of my AquaVu camera. I can then watch the fishing in realtime B&W on the AquaVu screen and know that my GoPro camera is recording perfect footage since it will record what the AV camera is viewing. Kinda like a viewfinder.

Well here's to a Fun 2014 season! RAIN is in the forecast through the middle of this coming week for HOMER so I might head south to intercept some kings. I have 36 ABOVE at AOJ HQ all last night and this Sunday morning and Homer is 45 ABOVE and raining now. YIPPEEE!! MORE PINEAPPLE EXPRESSES PLEASE!!]

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