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Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Photogenic Rainbow Trout



We have written many articles about fishing the Kenai River, how to catch Rainbow Trout, and the why’s and where’s. The one thing we haven’t covered, and equally as important as catching fish, is how to properly photo and release the fish.



Getting a great photo of that beautiful Kenai River Rainbow starts with a good net. Most serious Trout anglers use a rubber net, the thick rubber holds it’s shape while the fish is in it, doesn’t rip the slime off the fish, and allows for easy working with the fish. The mesh, or rubber coated mesh nets do a great job of scaring the Trout, and rip the slime off, this is bad, the slime on a fish protects the fish from infections.

Now that you have successfully put a beautiful Rainbow Trout in rubber net, what next? A round of high fives is in order, then its decision making time. Do you want to go to shore with the fish? Do you want to measure the fish? How is the fish doing?

The easiest place to work with a photo fish is from the shore in slow to stagnant water. If you are on the Middle Kenai odds are you caught the fish from a boat in some form of moving water. Getting the fish safely to shore for that photo can be tricky.

1. Once the fish is in the net see how the fish is doing. If it was a long fight the fish is probably tired, let the fish hangout in the net for a bit before you handle it or head for the shore.

2. Figure out a good shore spot to work on the fish. Slower the water the better. If at any time you see the fish is pinned to a side of the net due to water current or moving the fish from main river to shore, stop! This is causing harm to the fish. Find slower water and or move to shore at a slower speed.
3. Plan where you want to go to shore, and take your time getting there. We have seen people net fish, then lift the net out of the water and quickly run to a shore spot – not cool. If the fish is not in the water it cannot breathe if the fish is pinned to the side of the net, it cannot breathe.

Here are a few tips for those that photo from the boat:

1. Always be aware of your surroundings and where your boat is floating. Photoing a fish from a moving boat can be dangerous if someone is not watching where the boat is drifting at all times.

2. Never bring a fish into the boat for photos or measuring ever. We have a rule for our boats that no Rainbow Trout or any fish that is going to be released cannot come across the gunnel.

Ok, now you have the fish in a safe, controlled environment the next move is to get an awesome photo and some measurements for accurate bragging rights. The school of hard knocks taught us that it is better to get a photo than a measurement first. Sometimes fish find their way back into the water sooner than we would like.

When preparing to get a photo orientate yourself so the sun or best light source is on you, not behind you. Now grab a hold of the fish, with the fish still in the water communicate with the cameraperson to make sure they are ready. If all parties are ready do a three count, 1,2,3 lift the fish get a quick photo then put the fish back in the net in the water. While the fish is resting check to see how good the photo is. Repeat this process for every photo.



Remember that you put a lot of time and effort into catching a great fish; make sure you put the same effort into keeping the fish safe and healthy while you get your photos and measurements.

Once you get your photos its time to get a length and a girth. The girth can be done with a soft tape with the fish in the net, in the water. For the length we recommend getting a dun rite fish measuring board or something equivalent. Put the dun rite in the water and carefully slide the fish on the board for the measurement.



Now that the fish is in the water on the board releasing is easy. Hold the fish by the tail and help it to get reoriented. Soon as the fish is ready it should take off.

Catching a “photo” fish is an addictive thrill, there is nothing better than getting a great photo to capture the moment and share the memory. But it is our responsibly to take as much time and care to release the fish and preserve the resource as necessary. Be a role model on the water.

Monday, February 17, 2014

 It’s a Pink Year!

Happy 2014! Weeeeeeeeeeee! Why are we sooooo excited? Well, even number years on the Kenai River = Pink Salmon show up and spawn! You may find yourself thinking that Salmon show up and spawn every year, what’s so special about Pink Salmon?

                        
We love them!

It’s true! When the Pinks return to the Kenai River they come with an army, 1million is not a huge return! How this relates to Rainbow Trout is a ton of food for them to get fat and happy. With the King Salmon returns being bleak, an additional food source is quite welcomed by Kenai River Trout.

Usually our biggest Rainbows come on Pink years, it seems the big Bo’s are willing to hang out longer in the river due to the extra easy food source. By early fall most Trout are already showing some signs of obesity. This fattening trend contiues through the fall making for exceptional fishing.

If you have been thinking about fishing the Kenai River for Rainbow Trout, this year would be a good one. The window of awesome will start mid/late August and run into October. Plenty of time for greatness! Hope to see you out there!

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

September Fly Fishing Kenai River, Alaska


The first week of September started off with a bang, our biggest fish of the season came during this time. This can be attributed to the beginning of the Red Salmon spawn and the end of the King Salmon spawn. Water levels were still way above average keeping Rainbows in small pockets, but those pockets were awesome.

           

At this point we were fishing 20 miles of river! Trout were keying in on egg patterns, fresh, old, and sizes 7mm – 12mm were all fair game. Talk about an information overload!

Typically with a “Sockeye year” the majority of productive water consists in the first five miles below Skilak Lake. One advantage of high water during this time was spreading out the food source, resulting in spreading out the fish. Consolidated food equals consolidated fish, naturally making catching Rainbow Trout easier. This is good right? In some cases yes, but on the World Famous Kenai River this means consolidated angling pressure. So long story short the high water made it possible for the creative angler to avoid congested angling pressure to some degree.

For the second half of September our efforts became concentrated in the top few miles below Skilak Lake. Knowing the bite timing and staying on top of which bead at which minute gave us some great fishing. Many mid to high 20” fish were caught. Same as always, being creative and running a little different program than most gave us an edge on netting some Kenai River beauties.

Luckily for us when the afternoon bite turned on most people were not around for it! Spotty bite fluxes kept many anglers moving around to find fish, the fact is the fish were always there, but became ultra sensitive to boat pressure. Once the bite really died it was time to stay persistent and keeping moving around the productive lines because it was bound to turn on. Typically 20 minutes after boats left the Trout mysteriously began to party.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

August 15 - 31

Non Stop Silvers

The best run of early Kenai River Silver Salmon in years showed no sign of slowing down until the last few days of August, even then we still found them, but it just took  a little longer.  Backtrolling sardine wrapped plugs seemed to be the most effective way to bring Silvers in,  casting spinners, and fly fishing also produced results. 

When is the best time for Silvers?

Great question.  August 10thish seems to be when the party gets started and lasts typically through  the end of August (Remember that Salmon runs are very similar to a bell curve).   September is the same typically by the 10th the success level is pretty good.

Two happy Drift Away clients holding a limit of Kenai River Silver Salmon 
Rainbow Trout

The second half of August started to warm up as the King Salmon began spawning.  Above average water levels, and a small King return kept the guides of Drift Away constantly moving to stay on the Rainbow Trout, however, some great fish were caught.  Between the big fish a steady supply of 20”– 24” Trout kept guest smiling.  It seems that the mid range Rainbow Trout fight sooooo hard, often we think that a 10lb rainbow is on until it jumps.  These are some of our favorite fish due to their tenacity!

Guide Nigel Fox and client holding a Trophy Kenai River Rainbow Trout

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Kenai River Rainbow Trout and Silver Salmon:  August 1 – 15 

In the beginning of the month we were still basking in the 80-degree untraditional Alaskan summer.  Then….. the temps dropped and the rain started.  The Kenai River in Alaska went through some dramatic changes during the first two weeks.  For us it meant tracking down and staying on those Kenai River Rainbow Trout was a touch tricky, but we prevailed.    Our hats off to the hard core fly fishing and float fishing clients that stayed focused and persistent!

What Happened?  The Rainbow Trout Saga:

Here is a quick breakdown of the curve ball Mother Nature threw at us.  With all the warm sunny temps we received during May, June, and July the Kenai River began to rise due to the glacier melt, by early August we saw big water that showed no sign of cresting.  Once the heat subsided the clouds came in and brought rain with it, the Kenai kept rising.

 
Soooo with the increase of water levels the Kenai began changing structurally, eddies appeared or disappeared, seam lines moved, holding water became fast runs, etc.   This caused the Rainbow Trout to move and keep moving.  Also, the Red Salmon carcasses and deposition areas for these carcasses (aka trout food) washed down river, and washed out of dead holding water.  Once again causing the Trout to move around to find food.

Now lets throw water temp into the mix.  During the warm sunny time we were seeing surface temps on the Kenai River to hit 60, which is roughly 8-10 degrees warmer than normal.  2 degrees is kind of a big deal to our Kenai River Rainbow Trout.  Enter the clouds and rain, and the river dropped back to it normal temps of 49 – 52 degrees.

Adding all of these factors together, you have a really exciting playing field!  Good thing that Kenai Rainbows are smart because they stayed fat and awesome, just a little tougher to stay on.

Kenai River Silver Salmon

While the Rainbows were having an interesting time dealing with Mother Nature, the Silvers seemed to not mind.   Actually, this was on of the best 1st Runs of Silvers in years! Epic Disney Land Unicorn fishing is the best way to describe it. 

From the end of the first week through mid-month limits of Silvers came quick and easy.  Back Trolling sardine wrapped Kwik Fish seemed to work best for us, we would see Kenai Silvers hit the plug as we were letting them out!  Doubles were commonplace as well as landing 5 fish in the first pass!  What a season!

Thursday, August 29, 2013

July 14 – July 31 Kenai and Kasilof Rivers, Alaska



Alaska King Salmon


King Salmon fishing on the Kasilof River during the 3rd week was nothing short of awesome.  Happy clients and nice native Alaska Kings was commonplace.  Nigel found two big fish that were measured, photographed, and RELEASED!  Drift Away Fishing is always very excited when we can release big fish so they can spawn and spread their genetics for future generations of Alaska King Salmon fishing




 


There were a couple days of extremely high tides, which made for some tougher fishing, but the guides of Drift Away Fishing persevered and made rods bend.  As the week unfolded tides dropped, and the fish came charging in.  We ended the season with each guide getting several opportunities at fish and some legends were hooked, but did the big fish thing and kept heading up river to spawn.  It is very humbling to get spanked by a big powerful fish!  As always it is sad to see King season come to an end, but exciting to think about the next year to hurry up and get here.

Kenai River Rainbow Trout

Well the theme of great Rainbow Trout fishing on the Kenai River since its opening on June 11 has not slowed!  We are ecstatic about the quality of fish and numbers of fish hooked.  Most think that Rainbow Trout fishing in July is not that good…check out our photos, the proof is in the pudding.  Fact:  we can find big Trout and good numbers all through July.  Week 3 and week 4 displayed mid September quality!  We highly encourage you to fish with us during this time to see for yourself.  Our guests did not complain about catching world class Rainbow Trout when it was 70 and sunny!  The best part?  August and September are right around the corner, we still have openings in the end of August and early September.  Book now before it is too late!

 

Kenai River Red Salmon

As always the Reds are show pleaser and freezer filler.  Week 3 and 4 delivered great Sockeye Salmon fishing on the Kenai as usual.  If fast action and delicious Salmon are what you are thinking about then get on board for a great trip on the Kenai!  Better yet?  Why not book a Trout/Red Salmon combo trip on the Kenai River for the full mind melter experience.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

July 1 – July 13   Early July on the Kenai and Kasilof Rivers

Kenai River Rainbow Trout Fishing

What a season so far! Early July has shown no signs of slow Trout fishing on the Kenai River.  When most think that this is a horrible time to fish Trout, we at Alaska Drift Away get creative, and are continuing to find nice Rainbow Trout and 20+ fish days!  One of the many perks is the lack of others fishing Trout during this time, so we have the river mostly to ourselves.  Fly fishing and float fishing has been equally productive methods to the madness.  If you like hard fighting fish on an amazing river, then get in on the action!  Here is some eye candy from the past 13 days; this should make a believer out of you…..
A happy client with a Trophy Kenai River Rainbow Trout
A happy client with a beautiful 27" Kenai River Rainbow Trout 
Kasilof River King Salmon

So far the Kasilof 2nd run of King Salmon seems to be right on par.  We are seeing some nice chrome fish entering the river despite the insanely high tides (23ft highs).
1-4 fish getting hooked a day has been the average.  Typically this time of year can be scratchy as we are still in the early part of the run, however this is also the time that some of the biggest Kings get hooked.  As we draw into the 3rd week, the mega tides are subsiding and we anticipate some good fishing.
Guide and client with a 33lb Kasilof River King Salmon
Guide and happy client with a 30lb Kasilof King Salmon