Halibut charters in Homer are off to a big start this season. The top five fish in the Homer Jackpot Halibut Derby are all over 200 pounds and the derby barely started.
Dale Nelson of Grand Forks, N.D. has the early lead with a 276.2-pound halibut caught on May 25 with Time Out Charters.
The fish haven’t been quite as big in Valdez, where Paul Dresel of Washington leads the Valdez Halibut Derby with a 141-pound fish caught aboard the Dawn Treader on May 25 with Goodhand’s Charters. Devin Huffman of Fairbanks is second with a 138-pound halibut caught on Memorial Day.
Homer Jackpot Halibut Derby
1. Dale Nelson, Grand Forks, N.D., 276.2 lbs.
2. Vincent Gibby, Munds Park, Az., 263.8 lbs.
3. Diana Buckholtz, Soldotna, 262.8 lbs.
4. Phillip Peterson, Anchorage, 236.8 lbs.
5. Gerald Jeffery, Big Lake, 210.8 lbs.
Valdez Halibut Derby
1. Paul D. Dresel, Washington, 141, May 25
2. Devin Huffman, Fairbanks, 138, May 30
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3. Wayne Dahl, Valdez, 113.4, May 24
Casting about Fairbanks
Arctic grayling fishing in the Chena River was just starting to pick up before the river blew out the other night because of the rain. Things should improve as the river drops. Fish are still moving up into the upper portion of the river. … There have been grayling reported in the Delta Clearwater River up at least as high as the campground on Jack Warren Road. … Anglers have reported decent success catching grayling in Piledriver Slough. … Pike season opened on June 1 in the Tanana River drainage.
The Alaska Department of Fish and Game dumped another batch of catchable-size rainbow trout in local lakes this week for anglers to pick on. Among the lakes around Fairbanks receiving fish on Thursday were Ballaine Lake (1,000); North Pole Pond (1,000); Piledriver Slough (500); Stringer Road Pond (500) and Turtle Lake (200). Other lakes to receive fish were Otto Lake (500) in Healy and Parks Highway 225.3 (300) in Cantwell.
Fish and Game stocked lakes in the Delta area last week. Lakes getting fish included Big D Pond (750), Little Lost Lake (1,000); Quartz Lake (16,889); and Richardson Highway 81 (300).;
This marked the last of the catchable-size fish that will be stocked in Fairbanks this summer.
The scoop on Chitina
The Copper River personal-use fishery at Chitina opened on Wednesday and dip netting was rumored to be good, with no access problems reported at O’Brien Creek, according to charter operator Mark Hem.
Dip netters on charters were averaging about 15 salmon per permit, said Hem.
The number of fish passing the Miles Lake sonar continues to impress. More than 218,000 fish had been counted as of Wednesday, which is more than double than preseason projections.
As a result, Fish and Game has announced a supplemental period for the week of June 6-12. Dip netters who fill their permit will be allowed to catch an additional 10 fish because of the number of fish counted for the week of May 23-29. There were 110,497 salmon counted during that time and the projected count was 42,658. Any time the actual weekly count exceeds the projected count by more than 50,000 fish a supplemental period is instituted. Those fish should hit Chitina June 6-12.
“Tough fishing” on the Gulkana
There have been no reports of any king salmon caught in the Gulkana River and the lower river is extremely muddy, making for what sport fish biologist Tom Taube in Glennallen termed “tough fishing.” No kings have been seen at Fish and Game’s counting tower upstream from the West Fork yet.
View from the Valley
The Deshka River is the place to be for king salmon fishing in the Matanuska-Susitna Valley.
With another strong run expected in the Deshka, Fish and Game increased the bag and possession limits for kings in the Deshka from one per day and two in possession to two a day and four in possession.
A run of 49,600 kings are projected for this season, well above the escapement goal of 13,000-28,000 fish. Anglers normally catch about 7,000 kings from the Deshka.
Fishing in the Deshka so far has been reported as fair but should improve steadily.
Other king hot spots in the Valley include the Eklutna Tailrace and the Little Susitna River.
A few kings are being taken along the Parks Highway but it will be a couple more weeks before any large numbers of kings hit the Parks Highway streams.
Rainbow trout fishing in the Parks Highway creeks should be good with the water dropping and clearing up.
Kings on the Kenai
The king salmon run in the Kenai River is picking up but it’s still below average. As of Wednesday, only 1,447 kings had past a sonar counter, which was the fifth-lowest number in the past 17 years. Fishing did improve Wednesday and should get better as more fish move into the river. … King salmon fishing on the Kasilof River was rated as fair and anglers in boats were having more success than those from shore. … The Anchor River, Ninilchik River and Deep Creek are open on the weekend and all three rivers are reported to be low and clear. … King fishing in the Homer Spit fishing hole is rated as “hot.”