Things are warming up, more big Dollies are being caught, and steelhead numbers have finally bumped up. The next week looks like milder weather that will help keep kicking things into gear.
Wild salmon fry continue to leave the lakes and streams and make their way to saltwater, only to be ambushed by marauding Dolly Varden and cutthroat trout. Beach fishing has steadily improved and the last few hours of a dropping tide have been very productive for anglers.
Next week, DIPAC is planning to release half their chum fry at three different release sites. At that time they will be releasing:
- Sheep Creek/Thane: 10 million fry
- DIPAC: 7.5 million fry
- Amalga Harbor: 20 million fry
Then approximately two later they will release the same amount of fry again from these same sites. As always, beaches around Juneau turn into a feeding frenzy for the predators! Once the releases happen try Salmon Creek, the beach by the Whale or the shoreline by Bayview subdivision. The low end of the tide will be the most productive. Larger fry patterns such as Stinger Clouser Minnows in Olive/White and Gray/White are good imitations of DIPAC chum fry so make sure you have some in your box. We have Grab & Go Dolly Selections made up and ready for you, too!
Switching gears to steelhead, although water temperatures have remained sub-40 degrees, a decent push of fish came in this past week. We are forecast to get a good slug of rain this Friday which should warm up the rivers just a bit and a few more fish will come in. If you ever wanted to venture out and give Cowee Creek a go, this would be the weekend to try. The water may be high on Saturday but it should settle back down by Sunday.
Peterson Creek is closed to all fishing until July 1 to protect the fragile stock of steelhead. We've had some questions about the status of Peterson Creek steelhead so we called the hardworking folks at ADFG Sportfish for an update. In case you're not familiar with Peterson Creek, it had a nice run of steelhead that was very popular amongst Juneau anglers. For such a small creek, it had a reliable run of 100-200 steelhead per year and was relatively easy to access and fish. ADF&G had a weir on the creek for a number of years to count the incoming fish. Since that time they snorkel the creek throughout the season to get an idea of how many fish are in the river.
The run remained strong into the 2000's but a few years back it started to drop off precipitously. Where once there had been over 100 steelhead in the run it dropped to the point where there were less than 10. These ultra low numbers continued and the future of the run was in serious question. The good news is that this year, for the first time, ADF&G snorkel surveys have seen a nice increase in fish numbers. Not enough to open the run to sport fishing, but things are heading in the right direction. We are all hopeful the next few years will continue to see the run improve.
The big take away from all this is that even in the best of times, these runs are incredibly fragile. With runs of 100 fish being common, if you land a steelhead, you are quite literally holding 1% of the run. So fight the fish quickly, snap a quick photo, and release them gently. Also remember that all steelhead on the Juneau road system must be released.
Get out there and have a little fun this week!