It all started on Friday the 13th. The weather was strangely hot for May, reaching into the high 70’s and shattering the previous high record by more than 10 degrees – a combination that might send suspicious types into a tail spin. Nonetheless, the first half of the season came off quite nicely.
For the third year running, the overwhelming majority of our fishing took place at “The Cape”. For reasons unknown, the tradition grounds to the north – Georgiana, The Bowl, Point Amelia, The Parking Lot, Point Mary and Shelikof Bay produced very inconsistently and often not at all.
Fishing the Cape has its advantages. Running time from the dock is shorter, thus more fishing time. Halibut are often available where we salmon fish. If we go offshore for halibut, it’s also a shorter run. Also, the dreaded sea lions don’t bother us at all there. The only downside is a lack of protection in windy weather.
The AU crew included many new faces yet gelled nicely as the season got underway. The combination of decent weather, solid fishing, and the AU ethic of hard work and customer service produced an endless parade of smiles among our guests.
Onward to the grades:
For the third year in a row, we enjoyed a higher than normal abundance index and that means great regulations – 2 kings per day, 6 king annual limit. Beginning on May 13, we found kings in decent numbers. It was strangely consistent thru May and June – seldom lights out and seldom slow. The average size of the kings was down, a phenomena noticed throughout the North Pacific and at least partially attributed to the combined warm water effects of El Nino and “The Blob”. Warm water is not productive for king salmon food sources. The smaller average size offset the regulations and consistent production – thus the B-.
Cohos (silvers): The coho started showing up in our catches in late May which is very early. They were sprinkled into the catches throughout June in a generally increasing trend. For early season coho, they were larger than normal which suggests that coho experienced a better food situation than kings on their stretch of the ocean. By the last 10 days of June coho catches approaching limits weren’t unheard of. The bigger size, the early arrival and the building numbers all add up to a solid A.
As I say ad nauseam – halibut catching is fun but halibut fishing is not. This May and June featured mostly catching. We were able to get to the grounds and get the job done quickly with lots of decent size halibut. The quick bite and the good size delivers a solid A.
Rockfish: Always a solid A – fast and furious, available in shallow water, willing to bite near the surface, and wonderful to eat.
The challenge isn’t finding lings. It’s catching them within the 30 to 35- inch slot. It’s all about how much time people want to devote to it.
We’ve had three years in a row with a similar weather pattern. May starts out sunny with a sometimes persistent Northwest wind. As we slip into June we see more clouds, many days with light winds, but the occasional weather system that blows through with a bit more organization (meaning wind) than we’ve come to expect in the summer months. As always, when the wind blows we’re able to find lee shores that provide the promise of good king catches – Biorka to the south, the Shark Hole to the north.
Here’s a look at some of the highlights from the first half: