Area Sport Fishing Reports
The Bristol Bay area usually sees nice summer weather in July. Waters clear up, and get back to summer levels. Warmer temperatures bring out the bugs, too, so bring plenty of bug repellent, and head nets with “No See Um” mesh are a good idea, too.
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
Bears often move onto salmon-plugged streams as the month progresses. Avoid confrontations by keeping a clean camp. Don't clean your fish in camp, and throw carcasses well into the stream. Don't store food in your sleeping areas, and try to set up the cooking area away from sleeping areas, too. Make plenty of noise traveling through brushy areas.
Early July is often the time when the department issues special in-season regulatory actions (Emergency Orders) on fisheries governed by management plans. Anglers are encouraged to contact the Dillingham regulation recorder at 907-842-REGS (7347) to stay apprised of these emergency orders.
The first weeks of July usually provide good to excellent action throughout Bristol Bay drainages. Bristol Bay kings average 20 to 25 pounds, with very few fish exceeding 50 pounds. Keep in mind that most drainages close to fishing for king salmon (including catch-and-release) by July 31, and most of the Nushagak and Mulchatna drainages close earlier, on July 25. Anglers who enjoy catch-and-release king fishing are encouraged use single hooks with pinched barbs. There is a new regulation to leave king salmon in the water if you plan to release them.
The end of the first week of July typically sees the peak of the king run to the Naknek, with fish available through mid-July. Please pay attention to the marker buoys and signs showing the closed waters around the outlets of King Salmon and Paul's creeks.
Fish availability declines steadily after the first week of July. There is a sonar counter on the Nushagak, and estimates are available from the Dillingham office at (907) 842-2427.
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 and don't forget to record a harvested king salmon immediately.
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. 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 fisheries in the Alagnak and Togiak rivers normally start slowly the first week of July, and peak by mid-July - a little later than other Bristol Bay waters. As with all other rivers in Bristol Bay, note the 5 king seasonal limit and harvest recording requirements for all anglers. The Alagnak kings tend to be a little bigger than fish in other Bristol Bay rivers.
Sockeye (red) salmon are the fish of the month for 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 the fisheries. Most runs peak by mid-July, and are pretty much done by the end of July.
Sockeye are usually running in good numbers in the Naknek, Nushagak, Kvichak, and Wood rivers by early July. Prime waters to consider are the Egegik, Naknek, Wood, and Alagnak rivers. The outlet of Becharof Lake, and later in the month, the outlet of Ugashik Lake, can also be good.
Anglers headed to the Kvichak River drainage (Igiugig, Iliamna, 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 fish, particularly on a fly rod, and are at their most abundant levels by mid-July. Use your #7 or #8 weight rod, some strong size 4 to 2/0 dark purple and pink or salmon marabou flies, and have a great time. Spoons like pink PixeesTM and orange VibraxTM work well for the spin anglers. Good bets should be the Nushagak, Alagnak, and Togiak rivers.
Look for silver salmon to begin returning by late July. Modest opportunities for coho anglers will be found on the lower Nushagak, Wood, and Naknek rivers. Bright pink or orange lures, like size 2 to 4 Tee-SpoonsTM, PixeesTM, VibraxTM, Hot RodsTM, MeppsTM, polar shrimp patterns, and flash flies all work well on coho salmon. Sometimes chartreuse or yellow-green lures work very well on cohos.
Anglers planning coho salmon fishing trips should note that the bag limit for coho in the Kvichak River and the Lake Iliamna drainage (excluding the Alagnak River drainage) is 2/day.
On even-numbered years, Bristol Bay anglers will find plenty of pink salmon action throughout the area from about mid-July to the end of July. Caught in saltwater, or just after entering freshwater and still bright and silvery, pinks make a great light gear sport fish and provide excellent table fare.
Rainbow trout fisheries are fair to excellent in July. In systems with large salmon runs, success for rainbows may decline as the salmon dominate the waterways. Die-hard 'bow anglers welcome the challenge of enticing a rainbow full of salmon eggs to strike a fly. If you are a catch-and-release angler, please consider putting on single hooks and pinching the barbs. This makes it much easier to release fish unharmed..
Good places to try are the Naknek River, the Wood River Lakes system, and the Alagnak River. Flies and lures that imitate insects, salmon eggs, or salmon flesh are your best bets. Fishing in the early morning and late evening hours will generally produce the best results this time of year.
Anglers are reminded that the Board of Fisheries adopted catch-and-release only regulations for rainbow trout fishing in the Alagnak (Branch) and Nonvianuk rivers. In the Naknek River, 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.
Arctic Char/ Dolly Varden and Arctic Grayling
There are some excellent opportunities for Dollies and grayling in southwest Alaska. These fish are concentrated at stream mouths feeding on drifting salmon eggs and flesh. In most Bristol Bay waters the daily limit for Dollies is 3 fish with a few more restrictive waters such as the Agulowak River (2/day) and Iliamna River (catch-and-release only).
Resident fish are an added bonus for salmon anglers. Spending an afternoon catching grayling or Dollies on light tackle will add to the fishing trip. Use small (size 0-3) silver and/or orange spinners and spoons, egg imitations, or salmon eggs where allowed. Grayling and some rainbows and Dollies may go for dry flies, bead-headed nymphs, traditional wet flies, and leech imitations.
Like the rainbow trout fishery, char success may go down as sockeye salmon plug the rivers. It may take more skill and patience to outwit full fish.
There are bag limits for pike in Western Alaska - check the regulation booklet carefully. Northern pike are a native species to our waters, and an important subsistence item. Very good pike fishing can be found in the lakes and in the many side sloughs and slow waters of area rivers, especially early morning and late evening hours. Pike fishing usually tapers off by late July.