Area Sport Fishing Reports
Early June can be a surprising time in Western Alaska. Some rivers and lakes are wide open, and have been for two weeks or so. Some lakes, though, may still have a lot of ice, making boat traffic difficult. Normal daytime temperatures range from low 40's on a cloudy/ rainy day to mid 60's on a sunny day. Nights are variable, with some dropping into the mid 30's, especially at elevation.
Once the weather warms up, so do the bugs. Bring plenty of bug repellent, and head nets with “No See Um” mesh are a good idea too.
Most of the Kvichak River drainage (including most waters flowing into Iliamna Lake), the whole Alagnak River drainage, and portions of the Naknek River drainage remain closed to all fishing until June 8. Where the water and seasons are open, such as the lower Naknek River and the central and western portions of the area, there are opportunities to hook a nice fish. Rainbow fishing should be good where open. Other resident species like char, grayling, and northern pike usually provide good fishing opportunities. Pike are usually especially hungry at ice-out. Char and Dolly Varden fishing is usually good wherever out-migrating smolt are found.
Anglers, when visiting any Alaskan small village, please respect the private property and community regulations- a little respect goes a long way to making friends. Please do not fish near subsistence nets - if your hook gets tangled it creates a serious hazard to the owner.
Kings begin to show up in early June in the major drainages. Runs build through mid- to late June. The last week of June often sees some excellent king salmon action throughout Bristol Bay drainages. Bristol Bay kings average 20 to 25 pounds, with very few fish exceeding 50 pounds.
Fishing for king salmon on the Naknek River is just beginning in early June, with fishing improving over the next few weeks. Normally the sport fishery will land about 500 fish during the first few weeks of the season. The marker buoys and signs showing the closed waters around the outlets of King Salmon and Paul's creeks are installed by June 1. The run builds to a mid- to late June peak, with fish available through mid -July.
The king run begins about the second week of June, and peaks the last week of June, with fish availability declining steadily after the first week of July. There is a sonar counter on the Nushagak, and estimates are available from the Dillingham office (907) 842-2427.
The normal daily limit is two (2) per day only one of which may exceed 28 inches in length. There is an annual limit of 4 kings per angler per season of any size in the Nushagak/ Mulchatna River drainage, and other restrictions apply. Check the regulation booklet carefully before going fishing.
The Nushagak River drainage king salmon fisheries are guided by the “Nushagak/Mulchatna Chinook Salmon Management Plan.” The plan addresses how the subsistence, commercial, and sport fisheries are operated at various escapement levels. Portions of the plan relevant to the sport fishery appear in the regulation booklet. Anglers are encouraged to be familiar with the plan. Open seasons, daily and annual bag limits, legal gear, and waters open to fishing may be changed in-season by Emergency Order to meet objectives of the plan. We recommend calling our recorded hotline at 907-842-7347, checking our Emergency Order website or checking with your favorite Alaskan media outlets for in-season regulation changes before you go fishing.
Alagnak River and Togiak River
The chinook salmon sport fishery in these rivers does not get started until late June and peaks in mid- to late July. The Alagnak kings tend to be a little bigger than fish in other Bristol Bay rivers.
Sockeye (red) salmon begin to make their appearance in the Naknek, Kvichak, and Wood rivers by late June. Prime waters to consider by the end of the last week of June are the Egegik River, the Naknek River, the Kvichak River at Igiugig, and possibly the outlet of Ugashik Lake. Better numbers of fish are likely to be available in early to mid-July.
Remember, hooking these hard-to-catch fish in any place other than the mouth constitutes illegal snagging and requires immediate release of the fish. Officers will be patrolling these fisheries. Anglers headed to the Kvichak River drainage (Igiugig, Newhalen, Lake Clark, etc.) should review the “Kvichak River Sockeye Salmon Management Plan” found in the regulation booklet. This plan guides the department in the management of the sport and subsistence fisheries when escapement projections fall below two million fish.
Chum salmon are a great game fish, particularly on a fly rod. Bring a good #7 or #8 weight rod, some strong size 4 to 2/0 dark purple and pink or salmon marabou flies, and have a ball. Spoons like pink PixeesTM and orange VibraxTM work well for the spin anglers. While it's a little early yet, good bets should be the Nushagak and Togiak rivers.
Coho and pink salmon do not show up in Bristol Bay sport fisheries during June.
Rainbow trout fishing opens up June 8 in the premier eastern section drainages of Kvichak (Iliamna), Alagnak, and Naknek rivers. Flies and lures that imitate migrating sockeye smolt should work well. Fishing in the early morning and late evening hours will generally produce the best results this time of year. Trout fishing success may decline as sockeye enter the rivers, since spawning salmon provide a lot of food for hungry rainbows.
Anglers are reminded of the catch-and-release only regulations for rainbow trout fishing in the Kvichak Alagnak (Branch) and Nonvianuk Rivers drainages.
In the Naknek River, angling for early rainbow trout is usually good. Anglers are reminded that in the section from Rapids Camp upstream to the lake outlet (Trefon's Cabin), gear is restricted to unbaited single-hook artificial lures with hook gaps of 1/2 inch or less from March 1 through July 31.
Other good early season bets are the Brooks River, the Kvichak River, Togiak River and the Agulowak and Agulukpak rivers.
Arctic Char/ Dolly Varden
There are some excellent opportunities for char in southwest Alaska. These fish are concentrated at stream mouths feeding on out-migrating sockeye salmon smolt and smart anglers will capitalize on that aspect of their life cycle. In most Bristol Bay waters the daily limit is 3 fish with a few more restrictive waters such as the Agulowak River (2/day) and Iliamna River (catch-and-release only). Like the rainbow trout fishery, char success may go down as sockeye salmon plug the rivers.
In June, grayling feed on the abundant salmon fry that have emerged from the gravel and are migrating downstream. Sparsely-tied alevin patterns like Thunder Creeks, and bead-eyed fry patterns are often good for grayling at this time of the year. Grayling are an added bonus to the fishing experience in these waters. Spending an afternoon catching grayling on light tackle will add to the fishing trip. Soon after the ice is out, some rivers support abundant spring “runs” of grayling moving up to their spawning and feeding areas. Fishing these waters at the right time can produce some spectacular fishing opportunities.
There are bag limits for pike in Western Alaska - check the regulation booklet carefully. Northern pike are a native species waters, and an important subsistence item. Very good pike fishing can be had right after ice-out in the lakes and in the many side sloughs and slow waters of area rivers. Once the weather heats up, pike become inactive during the day. Fishing early morning or late evenings often provides the best success.