This is the inaugural fishing report for 2004 season.
Floated the Kasilof River the first day that the use of bait was allowed. The opening day of bait has become an annual ritual for my good friend Grant & I to get together to kick off the sport fishing season. My mother, who with Dad retired to Kasilof, likes to tag along whenever a is seat available. Of course, if I am not guiding, my boys Chris & Zach usually have dibs on two of the seats in the boat.
The morning began slowly, because Chris & Zach stayed up too late for the early reveille Grant & I had arranged. It wasn't until we threatened to leave without them that we started making progress toward the door. Suddenly, Zach's socks and waders began feuding, resulting in a conflagration of mythical proportions and the pair of sock's banishment to the clothes hamper. During this upheaval, I left the thawed sardines on the kitchen counter where they stayed until our feral cat, Shadow, discovered them sometime later that morning. We arrived at the boat launch 45 minutes later than we had planned on meeting Mom there.
Grant & I have been fishing together for years. I have a trilogy of scrapbooks devoted to pictures of he, his family's, his friend's and fellow fishing enthusiast's sport angling adventures. I call this collection "The Lord of the Kings". It is an inspirational story of an eclectic group of individuals brought together by a common desire to recreate on the Kenai Peninsula. We always have fun.
Today would be no different. Grant, Mom & Chris were back bouncing spin-n-glos and salmon roe. Zach was back trolling a K-15 Kwikfish lure wrapped with a partially thawed sardine. Grant encountered the first king, which we found resting on the lee side of a boulder above the confluence of Crooked Creek and the Kasilof River, bringing a 20+# king alongside the boat . The forecast was for inclement weather so I hadn't brought my video or digital cameras. I took a couple snapshots with Grant's 35mm before we released the fish. Mom had something grab her bait on our next pass but she didn't hook up.
We floated down to People Hole. There were very few shore anglers as I decided to make a pass where the clear water of Crooked Creek mixes with the glacial waters of the Kasilof, water we rarely get to fish once the sport fishing season gets underway in earnest. Another group of anglers, in an 18' Willie I had sold 10-11 years ago, fished on the other side of us as we discussed the history of their boat with them. They hooked up, landed and released a very nice male king. While Mom was watching the activity in their boat, wondering aloud why I hadn't chosen to fish that side of the river, a king nearly yanked the rod out of her hand as it grabbed her bait, pulling off line on an extended run before eventually spitting the hook. Obviously, there were some fish around so we rowed to the top of People Hole to make another pass.
We back trolled the entire length of the run. Grant had another hookup at the top of the hole but started having doubts about his tackle (not provided by NGS) after he lost it. We mostly entertained ourselves watching as other anglers in boats and on shore encountered kings. Several were landed and released. We were starting to feel snake bit at the bottom of the run when Mom's rod suddenly folded as a king impaled itself on the hook at the end of her line. We floated around the bend into Leaning Tree with it where we brought it close enough to the boat to see that it too had an adipose fin, requiring its release.
Up to this point, neither Chris nor Zach had had much action, hooking up with a couple of dolly varden. Chris had run out of fish stories focusing on his past exploits and we started to get incessant requests for food, drink and anything that would entice a king to strike their lures. Then, Chris had two bites in quick succession at Coho Cove. He managed to get a hook into one king, which he lost after too brief of a struggle. But this reenergized him for the last couple of holes we would fish. Grant had another take, which he botched miserably, below the takeout at Coho Cove. The only two fish we saw retained were at Coho Cove and at Grassy Bank. Passes at Grassy Bank, Power Line and Satellite Slough resulted in little action in our boat, as rain began to fall and Cook Inlet's incoming tide started slowing the current on the Kasilof. We called it a day so we wouldn't have to row in the rain against the wind and slack water to the takeout at Old Kasilof Landing.
Fishing from 6:30 to 12:30, we released 2 king salmon, lost three others we had on at least long enough to determine they were actually kings and had three other bites that were very suspicious. We had several dolly varden show interest in the bait also. I've floated the Kasilof in mid-May before and seen nary a king, dolly or steelhead caught. We experienced and/or witnessed action for most of the float by both shore and boat anglers. From our perspective, it was a very auspicious start to the 2004 sport fishing season.