Fishing in June and early July verified the low abundance forecast for the 2008 king salmon season. The schools of kings were fewer and farther between than we’ve ever seen in 16 years of fishing Sitka.
On the plus side, our long held belief that Sitka on a bad day is better than most places on a good day proved true as many of our customers were able to land limits of kings during their stay, plus halibut and rockfish.
Still, the spottiness of the fishing did leave even seasoned fishermen scratching their heads at times. Luck always plays a hand in fishing, but when the fish are scattered, it’s even more a factor.
The right place at the right time includes not only being over the fish, but having your bait at the right depth, often a short lived opportunity. A school of kings at 50 feet doesn’t do you much good when the baits are spinning at 160 feet. By the time everyone frantically cranks up to that school – the fish have moved on.
All our research and contacts in the world of salmon science indicates this season’s short comings are not a trend but a result of very poor ocean conditions in 2006. We expect a full rebound in coming years. We also think the tighter than normal salmon restrictions for 2008 appear necessary to make sure enough fish get back to spawn. Silvers had not shown in strong numbers by July 8, but with all the bait and productivity in the ocean, we expect them any day.
Halibut fishing improved as the month of June progressed and boats ventured into deep water.
Although nobody landed anything monstrous, a fair number fish in the 80 to 100 pound range hit the dock. More on halibut regulations below.