Ketchikan Fishing Minute 09/28/2017

Welcome back to another Ketchikan Fishing Minute.

We’ve reached the end of the 2017 fishing season, with large groups closing out September at both Silverking Lodge and Clover Pass Resort. The great weather that we have enjoyed for much of September disappeared this week, with wet and windy conditions taking over.

On Friday, Alaska Sportfishing Expeditions General Manager Russell Thomas joined Oscar and I in one of the Clover Pass Resort yellow boats. Almost immediately, a container we were using to brine bait fell overboard, leaving us with just one package of herring between the three of us. We trolled our usual area near Tatoosh Rocks for a bit, marking a lot of fish, but not getting many strikes. Seeing the fish on the depth finder, we decided to try to “mooch” some salmon, dropping our bait down through the school and retrieving it back through – almost like jigging, but through the entire column of water rather than just bouncing off the bottom. After a few minutes of this, we realized the fish we were marking weren’t salmon, but were instead small sablefish. We landed three of those then went back to trolling.

While headed back toward Pup Island, Russell noticed something odd floating in the water – our bait container – which we scooped up with the net. Eventually, I did land two nice coho, but Oscar and Russell were not so lucky – ending the day with only sablefish in the box.

Oscar and I hit it again this morning for a few hours. We took one of the yellow boats from Clover Pass Resort and trolled north. There was very little action, with my only fish being a jack king, while Oscar kept us from being skunked entirely, pulling one nice silver on board before we called it a day.

The final groups will depart Ketchikan on Sunday, then the process of removing docks and shutting down for the winter begins. There won’t be a whole lot of fishing for the next few months, but I hope to share some recipes and some fishing techniques periodically through the winter. Check back for those, and check back next May, when the kings start rolling back in, and I bring you another Ketchikan Fishing Minute.

 

 

Ketchikan Fishing Minute 09/21/2017

Welcome back to another Ketchikan Fishing Minute.

We’re reaching the end of the 2017 season, with only a week or two to go. The weather has been terrific in September, with clear skies and mild temperatures for most of the month. There is a crispness in the air early in the morning however, indicating that October is not too far away.

I hit the water last Friday with Erik, leaving Clover Pass Resort at about 8:00 AM in one of the yellow boats. That was a bit later than I would usually get out, but still two hours in front of the tide change. I went with the black gold set-up, and within the first hour, I had two nice silvers on board. After that, I didn’t have much action, finishing my day with just the two fish.

Erik fished mostly with a cut plug, but did not have much luck, pulling in just one coho that morning. Overall, the bite was slow that day, with guests at Clover Pass Resort reporting that they too were having a tough day.

On Tuesday, Oscar and I got back out there in one of the Livingston skiffs. I again ran the black hoochie, while Oscar threw out a cut plug behind a dodger with deep blue color on one side. We trolled from Pup Island to Tatoosh and back, as usual, and before long, Oscar had four nice coho in the boat, while I only had one. I then switched over to a cut plug as well, and saw my luck change a bit. By the time we headed back to the dock, Oscar had his limit of six silvers, while I added another three, including one that weighed just over twelve pounds.

Silverking Lodge General Manager, Jeremy Merrill, was also out on Tuesday, fishing a green hoochie and a blue True Roll lure. In three and half hours, he and his buddy brought seven silvers on board, with most of the strikes coming on the True Roll.

I will be hitting the water again on Friday with Alaska Sportfishing Expeditions General manager Russell Thomas, plus probably one more excursion before next Thursday. I will give you all the details then on another Ketchikan Fishing Minute.

 

 

 

Ketchikan Fishing Minute 09/14/2017

Welcome back to another Ketchikan Fishing Minute.

Since the beginning of September, we have had fairly dry, sunny weather in Ketchikan. When the sun is out, the fish tend to run a bit deeper from the surface, making dowriggers more useful than they otherwise would be at this time of year.

Oscar and I took off from the Clover Pass Resort dock on Wednesday in one of the Livingston skiffs, which do not have downriggers. So we both used diving weights to get our bait down a little deeper than we could just using banana weights.

I was using a green hoochie behind a black flasher to start, while Oscar went back to his “Black Gold” set up from last week, again trailing it behind an Abe & Al flasher.

We were on the water about an hour ahead of the 7:00 AM tide change, fishing the area from Pup Island to the Tatoosh cut. Oscar pulled in a silver and I pulled in a pink during that time, but the bite was not as hot as we had hoped. At about 9:00 AM however, Oscar got three nice strikes in a row, pulling in three silvers, two of which had some good size to them.

Around this time, I switched to a black hoochie behind an Abe & Al flasher on a banana weight, and while it was clearly Oscar’s day, I did end up with two silvers and two pink salmon before we headed back to the dock. Oscar finished with five silvers and two pinks as well, giving us a total of seven silvers and four pinks, along with a quillback rockfish.

I have no doubt that had we fished the whole day, rather than heading back to the dock before noon, each of us would have hit our limit of coho. Utilizing the downriggers on one of the Clover Pass Resort yellow boats would have undoubtedly sped up that process a bit.

Mostly clear skies with some patchy rain is the forecast for the next week to ten days. I will get on the water a couple more times over the next week and give you the details next Thursday on another Ketchikan Fishing Minute.

 

 

 

Ketchikan Fishing Minute 09/07/2017

Welcome back to another Ketchikan Fishing Minute.

After dealing with record rainfall for the past couple of weeks, we got a break in the weather, with clear skies and temperatures into the upper 70’s this week.

I got out last Saturday with a couple of friends, and we headed to Grant Island to start our day. It didn’t take long for us to pull in our first coho, but overall the strikes were few and far between. So we pulled up our gear and headed to the Tatoosh area. We spent a couple of hours there, bringing in three more silvers, four pinks and a cod before heading back to the dock.

On Tuesday, Oscar and I were joined by his mother, Karen. Rather than head over to Grant Island, we decided to make the Pup to Tatoosh troll our first stop. Oscar set his mom up on a downrigger with an Abe & Al’s flasher trailing a black hoochie with a gold twinkle skirt – what we call an oil slick or black gold set-up. Oscar went with a cut plug behind a dodger on a banana weight, while I used my black flasher and a very small pink hoochie on the other downrigger at about forty feet. I ended up switching to a green hoochie, then to a black hoochie as well, catching one silver on each rig. The bite was steady again most of the day. We were marking fish on the depth finder, with large groups showing up in the coves north of Pup Island and south of Tatoosh.

Karen was the big winner of the day however, as she pulled in her limit of silvers along with a chum and a couple of pinks. Oscar and I also brought in three silvers each, and a few pinks, giving our boat a total of twelve silvers, seven pinks and a chum before we headed back to the dock around noon that day.

The pinks are really starting to turn color at this point, so their numbers will probably drop off pretty dramatically over the next week or so. The silvers are gaining weight, and we’re seeing more fish over the 10 lb. mark each day. I expect the coho run to peak over the next couple of weeks, but remain strong until the end of the month.

I will get out there a couple more times over the next few days, and give you an update next Thursday on another Ketchikan Fishing Minute.

 

 

Ketchikan Fishing Minute 08/31/2017

Welcome back to another Ketchikan Fishing Minute.

The rain has not let up much this month. Remember we had about twelve days of sunshine to start August, but since that time, over 23 inches of rain have fallen in the Ketchikan area!

Luckily, this past Monday was one of the few recent days without much rain. Oscar and I headed out from Clover Pass Resort and motored over to the back side of Grant Island, where Silverking Lodge is located. That area is typically productive at this time of year, with large fall coho congregating on that side of the island.

We both used downriggers at a depth of about forty feet. I was trailing a hoochie, as usual, while Oscar was using a cut plug herring. We took a few trolls back and forth in that area, pulling in three silvers over the course of about 90 minutes. Oscar got a strike on top of the water, with a nice coho hitting his bait before he could lower it on the downrigger. That fish turned out to have some good size to it, weighing nearly 12 pounds. In hindsight, we probably should have fished closer to the surface, as we marked a lot of bait on the depth finder, and could see bait fish jumping as we trolled through.

We then moved over to the west side of Betton Island, and while the bite picked up a bit, there were definitely more pink salmon hanging around that area. We pulled in two more silvers and three pink salmon before heading back to the dock.

While the bite was never very heavy that morning, it was steady, with strikes coming at a consistent pace. This is typical for late August and into September, as the pinks move into the freshwater to spawn, and the silvers spread out.

While we may complain about the rain in Ketchikan on occasion, we want to take a moment to send our thoughts and prayers to the people in southeast Texas, and our hope for a speedy recovery from the devastating effects of Hurricane Harvey.

I will get on the water a couple of times this week and give you the details next Thursday on another Ketchikan Fishing Minute.

 

Ketchikan Fishing Minute 08/24/2017

Welcome back to another Ketchikan Fishing Minute.

I spent a few days away from Ketchikan this week, attending a class reunion in Southern California. While I endured temperatures over 100 degrees for most of the week, Ketchikan was pummeled with rain, with over five inches falling on Monday alone.

Oscar and I did end up getting one day on the water however, as we left the dock from Clover Pass Resort on Wednesday morning. The rain had let up somewhat, and the water looked smooth in front of the resort. we decided to run to Bond Bay once again, and did make it across, though it was a much bumpier ride after we swung around Pup Island and headed out toward Caamano Point.

We spent a little over an hour trolling Bond Bay, but only had a couple of weak strikes and did not land anything, so we pulled up our lines and headed to Tatoosh Rocks. We spent a bit of time trolling back toward Clover Pass Resort, and finally pulled in our first fish of the day, a jack king that we released. Eventually we did land a few pinks, a couple of which we threw back, as they were getting pretty ugly. Most of the fish still had a nice chrome color however, which is kind of a surprise, considering we’re nearing the end of August. Typically, you don’t see a lot of pinks this late, as most of them would have already hit the streams to spawn.

We trolled back toward the northwestern point of Betton Island, in the cut between Betton and Tatoosh, when Oscar landed his first coho of the day. Circling over that spot a few more times got each of us one more silver, with mine showing some girth and looking more like the fall cohos we expect at this time of the year.

In the end, each of us landed three nice pinks, while Oscar pulled in two silvers to my one.

I will hit the water a couple more times in the next week or so, and give you an update next Thursday on another Ketchikan Fishing Minute.

Ketchikan: The Salmon Capital of the World

 
Across the lower forty-eight, there are many big cities that are famous for pieces of their culture and unique traditions. From Mardi Gras in New Orleans to Spring Break in Miami, there are lots of exciting activities to partake in throughout the continental United States. During these big events, cities experience extreme crowding thanks to the visitors that flock to the areas to celebrate. In Ketchikan, Alaska, there is a very different type of crowding that happens each year that many people head to the area to enjoy, and this crowding doesn’t involve wading through hordes of tourists.

A school of young salmon.


The crowding that takes place in Ketchikan each year is a crowding of incredible salmon. For those looking for a once in a lifetime experience, a trip to Ketchikan, Alaska during the annual salmon run is the best vacation opportunity there is. The salmon themselves have an internal clock that brings them in droves to Ketchikan every single year at the same time, giving an incredible show to onlookers. 

From mid-July to mid-September, five different types of salmon work themselves to near exhaustion trying to fight their way up stream at Ketchikan Creek Falls. As these magnificent fish crowd together, swimming and jumping in the same direction, they seem to form a solid wall between the open air and the water with their bodies. This incredible scene cannot be described, it must be seen to be believed. 

The five different types of salmon that flock to the Ketchikan area are Chum Salmon, Sockeye Salmon, King Salmon, Silver Salmon, and Pink Salmon. These different salmon all work toward the same goal of making it upstream to spawn and carry on their legacy. Watching these fish fight and climb to calmer waters is like watching the survival of the fittest in action. 

These salmon face more challenges than just the rough waters ahead. Most people who take to the streams during this time are fisherman looking for their biggest catch yet. Hooking a giant King Salmon or any other type of salmon, for that matter, is a thrilling experience that will also provide an incredibly tasty meal. 

Since the waters are teeming with salmon, nature’s fisherman head to the waters, as well.

View of the boat harbor and marina in Ketchikan, Alaska.

Those hoping to see one of Alaska’s native bears or eagles are much more likely to see them where the fish are thick in the water. These animals expertly pick out the salmon as they jump near the surface of the water, giving onlookers and incredible show.

The salmon capital of the world, Ketchikan, Alaska, is a terrific place for outdoor lovers, fishermen, and those who just want to check Alaska off their bucket list, to travel. For guests hoping to catch a glimpse of the massive amounts of salmon attempting to spawn or those who are looking to make a meal of these salmon, a trip to Ketchikan will be an unforgettable and awe-inspiring journey. Traveling to the Last Frontier has never been as exciting as it is during the annual salmon run.

Ketchikan Fishing Minute 08/10/17

Welcome back to another Ketchikan Fishing Minute.

The weather in Ketchikan has been great over the last week, with sunny days and temperatures climbing into the 70’s and touching 80 degrees at times. With the great results we had in Bond Bay, I took a couple friends out there again on Friday afternoon. We headed over in a Clover Pass Resort yellow boat, and spent about two and a half hours fishing. We had one line on a downrigger and the other fishing a banana weight set-up. The downrigger was far more successful on this trip, as all but one fish was caught on the downrigger. While we again caught more silvers than pinks, the big surprise was that we also brought in three cod while circling a pinnacle in Bond Bay.

On Tuesday morning, Oscar and I shoved off in one of the Livingston skiffs. We trolled from the lodge to Survey Point, and over to Pup Island, bringing in nine pinks against just one coho. With the warm temperatures and sunny skies, the fish were running deeper than they might normally be found. Normally, pinks take up the top twenty feet or so, while coho are found between twenty and sixty feet, until the pinks move into freshwater. I had a banana weight set-up while Oscar was using a diving weight. He was clearly getting down deeper than my line was getting, and he was rewarded with a limit of pink salmon. I was fishing a shallower depth, and I brought in three pinks and one coho.

As the precipitation moves back into our area, the cloud cover should encourage the fish to move closer to the surface, making it a bit easier to target them without the use of a downrigger. Overcast skies are expected again on Saturday, with the forecast calling for rain for at least a week beyond that.

Skippers at Clover Pass Resort and The Cedars Lodge have been fishing a little further away from town, and we’ve seen some silvers with good size brought to the dock. We expect the fall coho run to be dynamite this year, As those fish move closer to town and the calendar turns to September.

I will get on the water again over the next few days, and bring you the update next week on another Ketchikan Fishing Minute.

Ketchikan Fishing Minute 07/20/2017

Welcome back to another Ketchikan Fishing Minute.

Oscar and I were at it again this week. On Tuesday, we fished from a 14′ Livingston out of Clover Pass Resort, mostly around Survey Point. We got a little bit of a late start that day, but were still in the water ahead of the tide change. I stayed with my Coho Killer while Oscar mostly fished cut-plug herring. There was a little magic left in the Coho Killer, as I brought in three pinks and a chum. Unfortunately, Oscar’s luck ran out and he got skunked for the day.

We had heard a lot of good reports about the fishing around Skin Island and Caamano Point recently, so on Wednesday, Oscar and I took one of Clover Pass Resort’s yellow boats To investigate. We started by crossing Clarence Strait to give Skin Island a shot. Oscar utilized the downrigger while I continued with my banana weight set up. On our first pass, Oscar hooked in to a fourteen pound king salmon, while I lost a couple pinks near the boat. We had a few more bites, and Oscar landed a pink while we were there, but we weren’t getting the action we had hoped for.

About an hour before the tide change, we decided to run back across and see what Caamano Point had to offer. We were marking fish regularly, but not getting a ton of strikes. Oscar pulled in a good sized chum salmon, leaving him with just a silver to go for his second grand Slam in as many weeks. I was the one that landed the coho however, insuring a reward for my efforts that day.

A report from Alaska’s Fish and Game Department on Tuesday said catch rates for silvers, pinks and chum were picking up and that they should continue to improve through August.

I’ll hit the water again over the next few days, and give you the report on Thursday, in another Ketchikan Fishing Minute.

 

 

 

 

Ketchikan Fishing Minute 07/13/2017

Welcome back to another Ketchikan Fishing Minute.

So far this year, we have focused primarily on fishing king salmon, since that run peaks in June. Around the first of July, we tend to see pinks and silvers move into our waters as the kings move out, and that has been the case this year. I often recommend mid-July as a great time to visit, because you have an opportunity at all the Pacific salmon species during that time.

I hit the water Monday morning in a Clover Pass Resort “Yellow Boat” with my friend Erik. We trolled the area out by Tatoosh rocks, and right away, I brought in my first pink salmon of the year. Usually pinks in early July are bright chrome and not showing any signs of their upcoming spawn cycle, but this one was already developing a decent hump. Over the course of the morning, we brought five more pinks in, along with one coho and one chum. Erik was utilizing a downrigger while I fished with a six ounce banana weight. Of the eight fish we brought in, six were caught on the banana weight set up.

On Wednesday, Oscar and I left Clover Pass Resort in one of the Livingston skiffs and headed to Survey Point. The Livingstons do not have downriggers, so I was again using a banana weight while Oscar dropped his line using a diving weight, in this case a Deep Six. Typically, the diving weights are better at getting your line down deeper than a banana weight can, so my line was probably closer to the surface than Oscar’s. The wide variety of salmon species was on display that morning, as I brought in three silvers, three pinks and two chum, while Oscar hit the grand slam by bringing in a king salmon to go along with his two pinks, two coho and a chum salmon!

The ability to catch numerous salmon species, and to do it easily in our fourteen foot skiffs, is another great reason to visit Silverking Lodge and Clover Pass Resort in July and early August. Our reasonably priced, self-guided packages will allow you to create memories that last a lifetime – and fill your freezer!

In addition to the weekly fishing reports, I will be developing some supplemental videos that describe a few of the techniques we use while fishing for salmon and halibut. Be sure to check back for those, and check back next Thursday for another Ketchikan Fishing Minute.