Sunday, November 24, 2013

Homer Winter Kings Nov 24, 2013

I got back Saturday afternoon from Seattle and scrambled to get studs put on the truck.  Managed to get everything done so I set the alarm for 4:30 am and get out the door by 6am.  Drive down wasn't too bad...normal winter conditions unlike the black ice we have been having lately.  Get to Homer around 10:00.

I immediately notice there is no bait where I have been fishing.  I search around and discover all of the marks on my sonar are not shallow anymore but at least 50ft down in 80 to 120 ft of water.  So I go back to the truck to install my down rigger.  Definitely helped...with the pollock.  After not hooking anything for an hour or more, I start consistently hooking pollock deeper down.  At least its something.  After getting tired of dealing with the pollock, I try to shallow up to avoid the pollock and final get hit.  really the only good hit of the day.

Fish didn't even know it was hooked until it was right up to the boat.  Not that it had any chance with 65lbs spectra and 50lbs fluorocarbon leader.  Not taking ANY chances!!! LoL.  The gear is actually more to insure I don't break off a halibut and the thicker leader imparts more action to the hooch's I was using anyways.  It was just a hair over 8lbs on my handheld scale.  As many of these sub 10 pound kings I have caught this year, next year should be a BANNER year for these kings!!!

Monday, November 11, 2013

Homer Winter / Feeder Kings in NOVEMBER!

So with the fishing picking up in Homer for the winter feeder kings, you know I had to make a run.
Since my last post I took a few more trips.

Let's see, since I already wrote the reports for the Alaska Outdoor Journal website, you'll have to excuse my laziness and I am going to just copy and paste them here.

November 8 & 9

So I took a day off after watching the marine weather and drove down to Homer on Friday. For the past two years, I haven't taken a vacation of more than a couple of consecutive days. That means I have lots of time off in reserve 5 weeks I think. That's a lot of three and four day weekends which suits my fishing style perfectly. 

Rolled into Homer and hit the water around 10am. I get hit almost immediately but I lose the fish dinking around with the GoPro. ARGH. But the next one sticks and it feels like a good one. Bouncing between 14 and 15 lbs on my boca grip scale. Following the largest fish of the two days, I manage the smallest king of the trip. After missing one more, I fish till 4pm and finish 2 for 4 on the day. Not bad. Given I can't really move around much (in my kayak), I will take a limit almost any day except today since I have a proxy! But no complaints!! 

Day Two I am on the water at 8:30am. Within the first 30 seconds I have a pollock. Release it and no more than 30 seconds later as I was lowering the bait, I hook my first king of the day! WOOHOO!!!! Well the action wasn't super hot, but I would say going 4 for 4 in 4 hours is pretty dang good fishing for kings. All of the fish on day two ran 5 to 7 pounds. Nothing huge but I've done crazier things to go catch a limit of 3 reds or 2 silvers. Besides I consider the meat quality of the kings to be totally worth the effort. 

I did catch two of my kings on hand tied mylar tube flies. It worked out pretty well and will be testing them again. The other fish were caught on my needlefish hoochies I have been using of late. Oh yeah, incredible (to me at least) I went fishing WITHOUT BAIT!!!! I will give up one tip or at least an observation of mine. Where I am fishing, the fishing is better as the tide is falling down to low tide. I have my theories on why that is and though I haven't tried it, I think it applies if you are going to try it from shore as well. 

So the video is a little longer than normal at 4min 43 seconds. I added music since I didn't know how to adjust the audio. This is the first video I posted using iMovie so its a learning process. I prefer the live sounds but until I can adjust the volume and such, I'll add a soundtrack. Bear with me. 

But more than entertainment, it serves for me to see where I caught the fish and log other details like weather, tide, wind, etc. I suppose I shouldn't be sharing my super duper secret location but heck, I haven't run into very many people yet. It really amazes me. 

I guess I hadn't heard about this fishery for the longest time and even after I did, it was one of those crazy things the locals did in Homer when they got bored and lucked into good weather. Well that may be true in a way. I would not want to have driven back into Anchorage Saturday night with a 26ft boat in tow! But c'mon! Limit is two per day. You don't have to tag them on your license or harvest card. Though keep in mind limit and possession is two so you have to drop the first day's fish off at a friends or somewhere they can freeze them. [AOJ: If the weather is cooperating, leaving your fish outside in the back of your truck or outside your motel room overnight can freeze them too for removing from your possession limit.] 

I see some folks legitimately concerned about the potential impact of the fishery on the king salmon stocks. My understanding after discussing it with several folks including a Fish and Game biologist is that these stocks originate mainly, if not very close to 100%, from much further south in SE Alaska, Canada, Washington and even Oregon. While I can't speak for every stream these stocks might originate from, in general, currently the stocks down south are doing considerably better than the local stocks here. So I guess if you are going to harvest kings, very generally speaking, its probably better to harvest these. Have I mentioned HOW GOOD these kings are??? OK, that's no reason to overexploit any stock, but given the very mixed stock generally originating from healthier stocks and did I mention you get to catch chromer salmon in NOVEMBER? Well, I guess what I am trying to say is I don't lose too much sleep over it. 

Well I can't believe I got another weekend of fishing on open water in November!!!! I even caught some fish!!! I can't believe it - I LOVE THIS PLACE!!!!! Oh yeah here's the video!!! 

P.S. A short BONUS clip! Haha. I may have to take out my 4wt floating line flyrod. I was hoping and hoping and hoping that a King might emerge to smash the fly but alas, it wasn't meant to be. But it was fun to watch! 

November 3

Had to give it another try with this warm weather. Wind was blowing pretty hard but from the south. So it was pretty choppy and lots of spray but the water was manageable. Still too rough to try and get out to the "can" so I concentrated my efforts directly in front of the condos next to the Land's End Hotel. 

Started at low tide around 9am and the action was decent during the first few hours. Not as many pollock today though I caught my fair share. Used the same hoochies I have been using the past few times behind the classic dodger. It was pretty rough out so I opted to use my deep six diver rather than my down rigger. 

Today the bait was concentrated closer to shore when the tide was running. I missed two tiny kings. Both I had right up to the yak but got off while I was trying to net them. The dinky ones are harder to net as the planer and dodger waving around in the wind is enough to change their direction or even lift them part way out of the water. There's never any tension. But that's OK because for once the bigger one didn't get away. 14 pounds on my boca grip scale. 

Technical difficulties with the video, I only got a 9 second clip but it does show the fish so maybe I will post it later. Too rough to dig the new sd card and battery from my pocket inside my drysuit. I need to plan better. 

The king I kept hit the hoochie as I had the rod in my hands so it was pretty cool. Just about ripped the rod out of my hand since I was using braid and there is no stretch. 

Having went hiking the day before, I was tuckered out. So I took a break at noon then tried for another hour or so at High tide. Didn't get a strike that seemed like a king. I did find a batch of pollock in 15ft of water that I could watch hit my hoochie. They were literally fighting for it 6 inches under my kayak. Entertaining...for about 2 minutes. During high slack, there were decent marks in deeper water. All the way on the bottom in about 80 to 100 feet of water. By the time I figure it out on my sonar, I was too lazy to break out my down rigger gear. 

Still, who can complain? I know the weather is unseasonably warm but for as long as I lived here, I can't believe I am still catching kings in November...from a kayak!!! Just INSANE!!! And the food value of these feeder kings are as good as it gets. Super oily and delicious! It's a long drive to catch fairly small kings. But given the high quality and the simple challenge of catching kings in November...I'm addicted!

October 26, 2013

So up at 4am, on the water by 9am Saturday morning. Had a Halloween party commitment at 7pm back in Anchorage so I had to be off the water at 2pm. So 8 hours of drive time to fish 5 hours? Sounds about the right level of commitment to hammer a nice king! 

Well to make a longer report a little shorter, I manage to go one for three but the one king was even tinier than the ones I caught on Tuesday. Not sure if I would call it a jack or not. Almost doesn't even look like a king. 

The problem of the day was pollock. So I fished 5 hours or 300 minutes. I stopped counting pollock around 20 and that was less than 2 hours into my fishing. Think about that. That's dealing with a pollock every 6 minutes. Good thing I was using a hoochie set up today. I bet I landed 50 pollock literally. I also would drag them in on bait checks even if I didn't think there was a fish on. It got so bad that I was checking the bait every 3 to 5 minutes...and most time it would have a pollock. Very strange feeling to feel a sense of relief when a fish WASN'T on the line! Basically what it meant was that I bet my gear was "trolling" for kings less than 60 minutes of my day. THAT'S frustrating. Deep, shallow, fast, super didn't matter. 

In fact the two fish I lost, I hooked them in 30 ft of water which was easily within casting distance of the shoreline trying to avoid the pollock. Both of these fish were of course "real" kings and not jack. Though one jumped a half dozen time like a silver. Of video. The major disadvantage of a kayak is it's tough to move spots while on the water. The good news is that I can run down just for the price of car gas and put in a half day. I would never made the effort like that towing a big boat down. The fish are there! 

Finally, people often ask me "What is the most dangerous thing about kayak fishing?" My answer is consistently "The drive down to the fishing hole." Near Clam Gulch while dark I hit black ice and my back end breaks free twice. ACK! Seemed like dry pavement but fog or other moisture was on the road. Be careful folks! No fish is worth pushing the limits.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Homer Feeder Kings from a Kayak

Over the past two weeks, I’ve had work obligations that required tuexedo’s and suits…YUK!!!!  So since I have a bunch of leave time accumulated, I had to go fishing!  Left Anchorage at 4:30 am to be on the water by 9am in Homer.  I wonder what the day holds?!?!

Water looks relatively calm, a few boats fishing the area, birds working the water so things look good!  I start by trolling a red label herring behind a flasher using a downrigger.  That resulted in a dozen pollock and one tray of herring GONE in less than an hour!  I am a HUGE bait guy.  But I also know from experience that there are select cases where the artificials can out produce bait (think Big Lake ice fishing).

So I decide to try some hoochies I have had forever.  These weren’t your typical hoochies, but ones with narrower bodies.  I was trying to imitate the sand lances.  Pedaling faster than normal, it did minimize the pollock catch a bit.  Just shy of the green can I get my first whack!  Wow, these things do work!  Reel it up and it’s tiny maybe 5 pounder at best.  Well I have a proxy and I am never going to catch four so into the yak it goes. 

Somehow while fighting the fish the line strikes my downrigger cable (100lbs spectra) and the downrigger ball breaks off!  Huh?  You’d think 30lbs mono would cut off first but it didn’t.  Well THAT’S a BUMMER.  Now what?  So I tie on a deep six diver and switch over to my rod that I have loaded up with braid and a short topshot of fluorocarbon.  I caught the downrigger king 40ft down in 120 ft of water so the diver should work.  The other bummer of the day was I knocked one of my rods overboard.  ARGH.  Ugly stick lite and an old abu Garcia 6000.  Should have had it leashed but I didn’t.  Live and learn.  Everyone does it once…unfortunately this is twice for me….

So over the next 5 hours I manage to go 7 for 10 on Kings.  Not a single fish weighed more than 10 pounds.  Two were jacks, but the other 5 were adult kings but tiny.  I’d say if the big fish weighed 8 pounds, I’d be stretching it.  I did cut them open and the meat quality was excellent!!! I have found the tiny jacks (the 12 inchers) are very dry and NOT a “little salmon” at all on the table.  One of the four looked to be a marbled white/red king.

So epic day of King fishing??  Let’s see….Lost a rod and reel, Lost a downrigger ball, skipped work, went 7 for 10 on small kings….hmmm…HECK YA!  EPIC!!!!!!  I had a blast!!!

Here’s the video from the day.

Homer winter Kings from a powerboat

Place holder for full report!  Coming soon!

Friday, September 06, 2013

Cohos using a Downrigger from my Hobie Outback

I arrive in Valdez about 5pm Saturday. Only had a few hours so I try from the ferry dock to mineral creek. Hooked one up right away and landed it. Then it was a hit an hour but missed them all. So one for four. The water closer to the harbor was murkier. Visibility didn’t improve till out by Mineral Creek. Best success was up against the shoreline versus out in open water from what I saw.

Sunday I get up early and pedal out to gold creek, 5+ miles one way. I’m not driving 10 hours round trip to repeat a one for four day! Nothing as I troll all the way out at dead low tide. But once there, fish are hopping everywhere. Good decision though had I waitied for the tide, I probably could have limited out a mile maybe two closer.

Easy limit going 10 for 10 in two hours. I had strikes that didn’t hook up, but every fishI popped the clip on the downrigger, I landed. My hangback rigs worked well. My second trailer hook 12 inches back caught most of the fish. Some were snagged but its legal in saltwater here. Besides, they were willful biters that got stuck in the wrong place. I don’t have an ethical problem as long as the regulations allow it.

I had to get back home so I headed back right after my limit. I did release a few fish that were pretty beat up. It would have been fun playing with the cohos on fly rods.

All caught 20 to 40 ft down using a downrigger in less than 80ft of water for the most part. The best action was 20ft down in 35 ft of water. Herring and flasher or a #6 blue vibrax caught fish. Frankly I think anything would have worked. It was quite the sight to see all the jumpers. But the odd thing was I didn’t have a single silver jump after I had hooked it. Very unusual.

Video is a tad hazy due to rain and fog. A little longer than my normal videos but the fishing was good enough in a short enough span that I had lots of video. I also wanted to include some continuous video of deployment to landing a salmon and putting it away from a kayak sequence. That uncut sequence was only 3 minutes!

Thursday, August 01, 2013

Middle Kenai River

Decided to float the middle Kenai River with my kayak. First time on my kayak, second time ever! Hard to believe since I grew up in Kenai. I used to be a meat fisherman so I know the lower Kenai like the back of my hand but never the Middle.

I pedal a mile to the inlet of the River. Hundreds of reds jumping. Tried trolling a dodger and mini hoochies for about 20 minutes but nothing.

Tried an oversized egg sucking leech pattern for a little bit. One good strike. Switched to a red flesh fly with bead and managed several strikes and two small rainbows of maybe 14 inches. I got to Kenai Keyes where a pig roast was going on! Great break! They had 4 to 6 fishermen in the water for about 4 hours and had 7 reds to show for it. Pretty slow. I saw maybe 2 reds hooked on my way down by maybe 30 total fishermen.

Below Kenai Keyes the water clarity diminished and I only go one more quasi strike and the float was over.

What a beautiful section of river. I was impressed with how my Hobie Outback performed. Hands free kayaking and the ability to slip downstream hugging the shoreline in a very controlled fashion makes it the ideal one man rig. 

I can't wait to try plugs and side drifting a bobber and roe or jig combo for the silvers. I'm betting if I can improve my abilities in fly fishing this Hobie is going to be the ultimate craft to fish as a single person for the Kenai. Oh, disclaimer. I have no ties to Hobie other than I own one! Lol, been accused of that before.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Deep Creek July 13, 2013

I decided to take a day off and head down to Deep Creek.  The past few outing have been great fishing/poor catching for me.  I never realized how significant the lack of Kings are to my fishing schedule.  In the past it seemed like you could always scratch a few out somewhere but this year the system wide failure in South-central is taking a toll on my fishing time.

My primary target was trying to troll up a red.  I start the day trolling a mini hoochie behind a dodger.  First minute of fishing I get hit but it’s not a salmon.  Up comes the smallest halibut I have personally ever observed.  Maybe 5 inches long.  Well that was a good start.

Next 5 hours, absolutely nothing.  No jumpers, no bites, not even a nibble from an Irish Lord.  I mainly fished 1.5 miles to 2 miles out in about 60 ft of water.  As the tide started coming in I did mark a few schools of what I think are reds, but not anything exciting.

So after giving up, I decided to head in.  As always, I troll all the way into the shoreline since as long as your bait is in the water, you have a chance.  So after spending 5 hours and drifting probably 10 miles or more round trip, 100 yards from my truck in 25 to 30 ft of water my rod doubles over.  Perseverance pays off!!!!!

Unfortunately, I haven’t caught a fish in a LONG time and it showed.  I bring the fish up on the wrong side to Gaff or use the boca grips.  My kayak is in complete disarray.  I almost lose a finger when the fish rips out line after a failed gaff attempt.

People who say halibut fishing is just lifting weight off the bottom have never fished halibut shallow.  Even these chickens can make long hard drag screaming runs.  So despite the rust from not catching, I manage to land it.  I can’t believe the pile of fillets I got from this one fish! 

Slow but no complaints.  Beautiful day out, porpoises everywhere & ALWAYS better when you are fishing!

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Resurrection Bay, June 12

So I took a day off as our company generously gives a day off for Birthdays. 

Stayed close as I took my 8 year old out. Didn't see any jumpers. I will say I have some confidence trolling bare red hooks behind a dodger. Unfortunately it's because I managed to pull up four small cod. So I guess it does look like food. 

My son did ok. At the closest seat pegs and at number one he could get maybe two thirds of a stroke in. He did great. Next time I'm taking the amas off. It interferes too much when coming along the side to help with fishing. 

A few pics. He is wearing a pfd under the wind breaker. 

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Fox Island, Resurrection Bay AK May 25

One post out of order.  This trip was prior to my run down to Whiskey Gulch.

Michele and I decide to take a water taxi out to Fox Island Spit.  We get to Miller's landing only to run into a dreary super foggy day.  We get off to a late start with one boat having engine problems but we are delayed less than an hour. 

As we get dropped off, dall porpoises are everywhere.  But more importantly, it seemed like every cove we passed had jumping salmon in it.  Not crazy numbers but ones and two's every few minutes almost in every cove.  The sockeye are coming!!! 

I stuck to bottom fishing.  Maybe a half dozen quillback rockfish that I kept one.  One small dusky rockfish and one small yelloweye.   

So the fishing continues to be slow for me, but I love the fact that I am getting out!  There was a day not too many years ago that my Memorial Day would have signaled the start of my open water fishing.  Though I am not doing as much catching versus fishing, this has been a great way to extend the season via my Kayak. 

Having Michele around is like having your own personal photographer.  So once again the highlight of the trip is not the fish, but the pictures Michele was able to capture!  Even then, she missed a few great opportunities.  Sort of like fishing.  You can put yourself in the right spot with the right equipment but it still takes a LOT of luck and perseverance to get that one great shot! 
 One example was she had sealions within 10 yards of her but they insisted on following her so she could never get the shot behind her.  lol.