With winter quickly approaching, time is running out for Juneau anglers to top off their freezers with fish to get them through the long, cold, dark months.
Just two weeks or so remain of the late-season coho runs in the Juneau area. Despite strong runs by several species of salmon, some sport fisherman have been thwarted by the elusive fish this season.
According to Bruce White of the Alaska Department of Fish and Game's Division of Sport Fish, it was a typical year for coho fishing, but below average for chinook as well as halibut.
"For the Juneau area, it was an average coho season," White said. "King fishing was a little below average. We don't have the final numbers tallied. The kings were healthy, but it just took a little longer to catch them."
This week's fish report looks promising for late-season anglers. The coho fishing improved from last week with many looking bright and healthy when landed.
"There are still opportunities to catch cohos," White said. "We pulled our samplers off the docks, but cohos should be going another couple of weeks."
According to Rich Focht, director of research and evaluation at Douglas Island Pink and Chum, chinook and coho returns were good this year, but chum returns were low.
"We've got a good couple weeks more of the fish coming back," Focht said. "Flesh color is still good. As far as sport fishing goes, there's still some time left."
This year's strong coho return bodes well and for some fisherman and made up for what seemed to be a lack of king salmon and halibut.
"I think it was pretty good season fishing-wise," said Mike Windred of Alaska Travel Adventures, which operates fishing charters. "The season seemed to last longer with a real strong September. When the cohos came around, they were fairly consistent. There were a lot of big cohos - in the16-19 pound range."
Windred said numbers were down as far as passengers, but it does not mean that less people were fishing in the Juneau area.
"The numbers were down compared to last year," Windred said. "There were a lot more tours to choose from compared to the previous year. The pie was just split up more ways."
Longtime Juneau resident Ron Taug, who placed 14th in the Golden North Salmon Derby, claimed the fishing was pretty good for him this season.
"Almost every day I went out, I caught a salmon," Taug said. "I did better than most. I caught something like 22-25 kings - quite a few of them at Outer Point in May."
Mike Millar, who has been in the charter business for 14 years at Alaska Salmon Guaranteed, also said coho fishing was good this year, but king salmon and halibut fishing were down.
"I did well on cohos. Coho season seemed pretty good," Millar said. "The sizes depended on the schools - some days they were big, other days they were small. The hatchery fish seemed small, but the wild ones were big. The hatchery kings were excellent, but the wild ones were poor. I think that the hatchery enhancement of kings helped our season."
Millar said halibut fishing continues to be bad.
"I've been fishing here for 40 years and the halibut are just not out there." Millar said. "I go to places I've been in the past and there's nothing there. I shouldn't have to go out so far to get them. They should be here."
Jeff Kasper can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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