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Welcome back to "this week at Great Alaska'! It has been an amazing couple of weeks and kind of shows how quickly things can change up here...the weather went from huge storms to beautiful blue skies, but in the meantime an ice dam broke in the mountains above Sklak Lake and brought the water level up around 2 1/2 to 3 1/2 feet on the Kenai. This flooded out some of the homes on the lower elevations of the river around the "Kenai Keys" area, about 6 miles above Great Alaska Adventure Lodge. Fortunately for our fishing guests, the water clarity remained good and the fishing has been stellar. More on that on the fishing report, you'll see below.
Our largest group of the year just left- Carlisle SynTec from Pennsylvania..they brought their "champions" winners...a great group of roofers, contractors and other who use their fine products. The group enjoyed our fine Silver salmon fishing, Trophy Rainbow trout, wade fishing for Dolly varden, offshore Halibut and salmon as well as Hiking, flightseeing and horseback riding in the Chugach mountains. The trip was a great success and we will miss them, and look forward to seeing them again in 2011.
Fishing here at great alaska has a been fantastic since the end of King season. The high water we've experienced has had our guides (here they are ---->) working extra hard to find fish as they find new cover and move upstream towards their spawning water below Kenai and Skilak lakes. Fortunately, our wade fishing has been absolutely stellar, and the Rainbow Trout on the Kenai have been as good as ever. We are beginning to get a higher percentage of fly rod fishermen as the season changes, but our spin fishing aficianados are targeting the beautiful first run Silver Salmon with french style spinners cast into shallow water. The early run of Silvers has been very strong with lots of big, bright fish. Halibut fishing has been great this year, with daily limits of nice bottomfish and Silver salmon as well. The season is about over as we ready ourselvelves to pull the boat out of the harbor.
Rainbow trout has been again, spectacular as the big fish are feeding on the spawn from the Sockeye and King salmon that have been returning since early May. As the spawn drop increses, we'll be getting larger and larger fish as they fatten up for the long winter. Both Spinning and flycasters are getting incredible catches with lots and lots of double digit caught already. Guide Ken H. may have lost one of the largest of the season so far with a 15 pounder that threw the hook near the boat. The fish dwarfed the 30' x 18 inch specimen that the group was able to bring to the boat later in the trip. Here's the smaller fish that they did bring to hand:--------------------->
We are nearing the end of our non-fishing safaris acivities. Our final day for bearcamp is the 28th of August, and the final day for our Seacoast Adventure Camp finishes it's season on the 2nd of September. We are hoping that the weather holds out for these final few trips, as late August is always a noticeably more variable time frame than earlier in the Month. Bear Viewing has continued to be spectacular, with lots and lots of bears around the creek feeding on the chum and Silver salmon returning to spawn. The young cubs are learning to fish from their mother and the big boars are getting more and more solitary (except during fishing time) as they ready for denning in November.
Essentially we are readying for the final phase of our Alaskan summer- fall fishing and teardown of all the remote camps/putting away the offshore boats and river boats and amazing amount of gear that is required to run this operation. We'll be posting pictures of the teardown operations for those that are interested in the "behind the scenes" kinds of activities that go on here at Great Alaska!
Well, we are back at the computer after a couple of super busy weeks! The fires on the peninsula have all been put out with a heavy dose of stormy weather that heralded in the end of the king season. While the forests and wildlife were appreciative, it meant some wet kayaking, fishing, hiking and bear viewing for our guests! Fortunately, our friends from all over the world kept in fine spirits and everysone had a great time. We'd like to thank everyone that has visited us so far this season...we've made a lot of new friends and lots of folks are talking about coming back soon. Mike and Brenda Williams, Howard and NIna Ewart, Oscar McCloud and Gene Turner, the Steve Woodworth family, Dave Bonathan and company, Garnett WHitehurst, Elaine Hoffman and Bob Frey and Felix and Kathy Johnston all returned again in '09 and we'd like to thank them along with all of our first time guests.
The Fishing Report:
Well, the fishing has pretty much continued along the same lines as our last report. The stormy weather actually created a crisis of sorts as an Ice dam in the harding Ice Field (above Skilak Lake) was overwhelmed and released into the Kenai. As of this writing, the water on the Kenai and Kasilof rivers are at nominal flood stage (although you may disagree with the word nominal if you live in the Kenai Keys area and your home is surrounded by water!). As usual, our guides job is to produce great fishing no matter the conditions, and they were successful once again. Whale the Kenai River never received the number of fish we see on a usual year (it was tough all over for kings in Alaska this year) we managed to get some really quality fish for our guests. Here's a shot of the final Kenai King of the season..a 63 pound buck taken with me (Kent) by first time guests John Welsh and his fiancee Janine. Janine would want you to know that she took a nice 42 pound fish, as well!
We've continued to have lots of great families visiting..one of the great ones was Milt Klungness and his family who just left. Both kids had a chance go fishg and land some big kings on both the Kenai and Kasilof rivers..heres a shot of young linebacker and hockey phenom Ryan, who took this nice fish on their last day fishing. While Haley did not get a fish that day,( "Team Midget- population one!") was in good spirits and was comforted by the 40 pound king she had taken on the kasilof earlier in the trip!
The Kasilof river continued right to the end with the finest fishing in that stream in a decade. Many fish over 40 pounds were caught, kept or released for happy anglers. The Woodworth family had especially good luck, there, with two charters with guide Tom K. with 4 fish limits taken by 10:00 in the morning! Tricia Woodworth was particularly happy, as she got her "Kenai Peninsula Limit"...3 kings on the Kasilof and two on the Kenai. Here she is showing off fish number five and her completely filled in license! (I'm sure we'll hear about that next time we see Tricia)
The saltwater fishing has continued to be outstanding, although we have really suffered in the offshore fishing with the huge storm that sat on us for the last ten days. While the halibut fishing was catch as catch can (because of the high seas) the inshore fishing for silver salmon has been simply outstanding. Captain Tom N. and deckhand Eric have been working hard and keeping their guests happy with limits of beautiful, hard fighting silver salmon, along with the occasional Yelloweye Rockfish (snapper) and Ling cod, black bass and of course Pacific Halibut. Here's a couple of shots about our beautiful offshore sportfisher, "The Fair Chase".
Here's Capt Tom, Deckhand EricT and happy angler Donnie Darko---------------------------------->
<---------------Group sales/Wade Guide Andrew w/ a couple nice ones!
Our safaris team has been fantastic this year, with Safaris Coordinator Clair working with guides Johnny H. and Kate, plus Bearcamp* team members Caprice and Verm, Adventure Camp's Christie and Charlie and KWL's Taylor and Adalie to put it all together, with the help of provisioner extraordinaire, Ali. While the weather and rough seas have made for some challenging condtions, the bear viewing, sea kayaking, hiking, whitewater rafting, fishing and cultural and scenic touring have continued to be a big hit. Here's a great shot of guide Johnny H. at Russian River lake on one of our mountain bike trips.
Bear viewing has continued to be outstanding with the Chum salmon now coming into the creek/slough below our raised viewing platform. this makes for some great bear viewing as the big sows teach their young protegees how to catch salmon right in front of our guests. While we are not seeing the huge numbers of bears we see in June and July, if your trip is still coming up this month, you should see the big bruins up close and personal while they are fishing...there is nothing like it! Here's local homesteader Wayne with his trusty pup, whom many of our guests have had a chance to chat with over an evening campfire!
While the kayaking has been bumpy and wet at times, it's also been outstanding. Here's a shot of the training session for one ofour larger groups of the season, the wonderful Adventure Women group.
Well, that's it for now- next up, Silver Salmon, Trophy Rainbow trout and more kayaking, hiking, rafting and bear viewing!
Hi from the Mighty Kenai...We at Great Alaska have been readying for the return of many of our old friends who visit us each July, along with the many first time guests who will be with us as well. Weather has continued to be truly amazing, (here's a link to our current weather). Our outcamps have been the real beneficiaries of the 70 degree temperatures and calm seas, with fantastic paddling at our Kayak Camp, warm evenings at bearcamp and blue skies and bare mountaintops in the distance when you look from the main deck. Unfortunately, the warm temps are playing havoc with forest fires..here's a shot of a 12,000 acre inferno that superheated and exploded yesterday in the area between Skilak Lake and Tustemena Lake south of the Kenai. There are over 400 firefighters from all over the country flying in and fighting the blaze..we'd like to take a moment to thank them for all of their hard work..it's definitely appreciated!
The Fishing Report:
Fishing has continued to be quite good, in spite of the unseasonably warm temperatures. Offshore halibut fishing has been rock solid all year, with limits the order of the day for Halibut in the 24-50 pound range, Ling cod and Yelloweye Rockfish occasionally and Silver Salmon being outstanding. Our guests enjoying the fising in Kenai Fjords National park can't say enough about the spectacular scenery and calm seas..what's not to like? Cook Inlet has also continued to produce great catches through small and large tide swings, on the low and High slack tides alike. Here is yesterdays catch , taken with guide Jeremy aboard our offshore boat "The Raptor".---------------------------------------------------->
The big Kings of the Kenai are finally hitting the river, with an incredible 90 pound king released yesterday (Great Alaska's largest official weight on King Salmon was an 89 pound King caught by one of our guests in 1989). In addition, an approximately 80 pound king was released by one of our old guides on Tuesday, and our guests caught two fish in the mid fifties yesterday. Today, each of our three boats on the lower river have hooked multiple fish so far this morning with a few fish released and a few fish kept.
In adidtion to the Kenai, the Kasilof River has continued it's trend of the finest fishing we have seen in years. Our drift boat guides have been producing fine catches of beautiful native Tustemena Kings all month- with lots of 35 to 45 pound kings being broght to net. Guide Ken had a particularly good day, with 3 fish over 40 pounds on a single trip. Guest Mr. Ferguson of Nashville, Tennesee has the largest Kasilof King Salmon so far, stretching to 55 pounds. Here it is, with guide Tom!---------->
The Safaris Report:
As I said earlier, the warm weather and calm seas has made for some super succdessful non fishing adventures. Our REI and Kenai Multi-Sport packages have been a big hit as usual, with lots of bears at bearcamp and great paddling at Seacoast Adventure Camp. In addition, our trips to Denali National Park have taken full advantage of the clear skies to afford our guests incredible view of Denali ("The High one") and the surrounding Mt. Foraker and others. The trails have been dry, so Mt. Biking has been outstanding.
Hiking has been superb as well, with Skyline, Skilak Lookout and Russian River Falls and Exit glacier being our most popular right now. In addition, for the more adventurous hikers, trips like Skyline and the Harding Icefield are tops on the list. Here are John and Kate (two of our Safari Guides) at the top of the icefield hike----------------------------------->
Other than that, the only thing missing is you, so we hope to see you soon!
Kent ---- 7/16/09
Today is the first day that feels like summer for a couple of weeks...must be around 70 degrees and bright blue sun. I thought
some first time guests may enjoy a shot of the lodge from the air- KWL tent camp is up the Moose River (upstream of the bridge), and Great Alaska is everything on the west side of the river from the confluence down to the end of the shot.
Jim Singer and his son Sawyer, (Jim's 11th trip with us) along with the Jastrzebski family just took off from the beach, returning to Anchorage on a floatplane. Smiles all around as they said goodbye and the crew gathered to watch them float out to the Kenai river and take off downstream. They'll land at Lake Hood (the only lake in the world with a tower for flight traffic) and shuttle about 1 miles to the airport. If you'd like to depart that way, ask our office- we can arrange it for group of 2 or more for a small increase over the commuter flight return.
Bear camp has been busy, with great viewing for the past few days, and the safaris team has a few days before our next group of 12 from REI adventures arrives...
Our fishing was great yesterday, with a limit of halibut, ling cod (released, with the season opening July 1st) and Silver salmon to go along with a beautiful day with calm seas. All three driftboats hit King Salmon on the Kasilof river,with 3 fish brought to the boat in the 15-25 pound range. Kings open on the Kenai on Tuesday (Sundays and Mondays are closed to King Salmon fishing on the Kenai) so we'll see if the bite is better than it was last week.
That's if for now..
As we near the 4th of July weekend and prepare to celebrate our countries independence, we near the midway point for our season. Things are a bit quieter traditionally this time of year, before the big push of July and August. For those looking for last minutes opportunities, check out our specials page...it's not too late to set up a trip for this summer!
Our remote camps have had their first big push of guests (with some new friends and lots of smiles and a little wet weather there at the end) Be sure and visit this week at KWL or This week at Bearcamp. We'll have "this week at Adventure Camp" online in a few days.
Special thanks go out to Marc Holzafel, a guest from last season who took some of the incredible images you've been seeing featuring bearcamp...Here's one of his amazing shots--->
(with more to come!)
well, we are in sort of a good news, bad news scenario as we speak. The Sockeye Salmon have continued their epic early run, and ther are some fresh fish coming into the river well earlier then the traditional beginning of the second run. Trout fishing has remained steady with some really nice fish being caught all over the river, but overall numbers still well below what they will be soon.
Offshore fishing has been excellent (although last weeks Clam-tide lows put a real crimp in our Cook Inlet halibut fishing as the tide swings were simply too big for good fishing.) King fishing on the Kasilof river has continued to be solid, with some larger native fish being caught by our guests in the past week, and most everyone getting hookups each day. Unfortunately the big King salmon on the Kenai are a diferent story. Most of the first run of fish are already through the river and into the Killey river (the main spawning tributary for first run Kings) and we are waiting for the second run..leaving tough fishing for the time being.
We have had our first hike-in Grayling fishing trips, and the warm weather has warmed the high mountain lakes that feature fantastic fly in Arctic Grayling fishing. Here's a shot of one of our employees, Nathan, who hiked in to get a report of the activity last week------------->
Each week I meet with our guides and we go over the current conditions, run status, any regulations that have changed and share info that will allow us to be more successful for our clients. Our last meeting was on a sunny day after happy hour....
By the way, the Grayling report was excellent..good numbers of fish caught on dries!
With a quiet time everone has a bit more time for enjoying the peninsula on their own, and the recent clam tides were a big hit for returning and new staff alike. There have been a few "Hunter/gatherer feasts" so far with Halibut, Sockeye salmon and Razor clams all appearing on the menu. In my humble opinion, the wild Sockeye Salmon is still the finest tasting fish on the planet- whether cooked or sashimi style...here is a view of one of those tasty fillets marinating----
So for now, we at Great Alaska hope you'll have a great Independence day weekend, and safe travels wherever the 4th of July may take you and your family.
Well, we are in the action now! We've got groups coming in from all over the world..Australia, Great Britain, Japan and Idaho among the visitors for the past week. For the fishing report, the Sockeye salmon are continuing a truly epic early run and the King salmon on both the Kenai and Kasilof rivers has been steady if not spectacular. Trout fishing is getting better and better as the guides begin to get a sense of where the big ones are right now (they are a notoriously transient species). Here's a beautiful fish caught by the Sabala party of Boise and McCall, Idaho:
In the wildlife department, the babys of the year are all out in full force, with our guests spotting Dall sheep, Moose, Eagles and many more. A few of the resident moose (we see them crossing the river in front of the lodge nearly every day) have sprouted the fastest growing tissue in the animal kindom...Moose antlers! They are currently in velvet, as you can see in this picture taken by Nathan, one of our camp staff:
Our day-cruises of Kenai Fjords National Park have been featuring gray and minke whales, along with glaciers. a growing number of sea birds (tufted and common puffins, cormorants, etc.), loads of Stellar Sea Lions and some curious sea otters as we leave the Harbor.
All in all, the wildlife are making a mad dash towards taking advantage of the short summer season and many of the fish are already nearing their spawning grounds, with hundreds of thousands (or even millions) more to come. Hope you're enjoying your summer wherever it is you call home, and we'll see you soon...
It's been a busy week here at Great Alaska. Trout season opened on Thursday, the 11th and while the fishing has not been as outstanding as it will be later in the season, our guests have picked up some beautiful big fish, and had lots of fun! Sockeye, or "red" salmon, have been entering the river in big numbers, and the upper river is literally full of fish!
The big Kings are continuing to build on an average first run, with last Sundays count the highest single day of the year so far, peaking at over 600 fish.
Our 30 foot offshore boat "the Fair Chase" is up and running in Seward, and we have had limit catches for every guest so far, with a number of fish in the 40-80 pound class, but no triple digits" as of today (though the 6 folks out fishing today may change that!
(Here's a shot of us departing for seward...it's 70 miles to the harbor through the Kenai Mountains and it's a pretty big boat for trailering...
In addition, fishing off our beach has continued to be outstanding, with another beautiful King landed just moments ago by James Lill, literally minutes after he began fishing on his first day! (here is the happy angler)--------------------------->
Bear Camp has had great first two weeks. with returning friends from AdventureWomen, REI Adventures, and SAGA, along with the Harris party from Australia, among others.
Adventure Camp has also had a sucessful start to the season...the great weather and calm seas has made for some great paddling and fun camping. Charlie and Christie have been taking great care of the guests and knocking their socks off with their dutch oven entrees and some tasty desserts! Here's a shot of some of the guests learning the ropes of remote sea kayaking........
Kenai Wildlife Lodge: our tent camp on the Moose River finally has enough water for Taylor and Adalie to "open their doors", and they are both extremely excited for their arriving guests. The high wall tents are up, the cozy day lodge is warm and inviting, and the organic garden is in full bloom. If your trip includes a stay at KWL, you are in for quite a treat! Here are some beautiful blueberries hosts Taylor and Adalie gathered for guests--------------------------------->
Here at the main lodge, we are just entering the heart of the summer. We have finally stopped dealing with the results of the coldest winter in decades, and everyone is ready for your arrival...we are looking forward to seeing you soon!
This post is a bit late- as usual the first couple of weeks of operations with clients has been busy! Fortunately, the weather has been about as spectacular as I've ever seen it...75 degrees and above for the past few days!
Fishing has continued to be very good- the Kenai King salmon have been a bit spotty (as they often are this time of year) but there have been lots of good sized fish in the 40 to 55 pound range and not a lot of the smaller fish. Flyfishing for the big kings has been very very good..here is an example from a fish released a few nights ago... (60+ pounds)
Halibut fishing has been great, with calm seas and warm weather adding to the great catches. We are still fishing in Cook inlet in shallow water (usually under 150 feet) with minimal amounts of lead, making a great fishing experience. Yesterdays trip included 4 whale sightings, flat water and a limit of halibut in the 20-45 pound range.
The Kenai river has been producting some beautiful fish, but as the early season fish move very quickly upriver and the hot sun occassionally puts them off the bite, it has been a on again, off again scenario. The Kasilof river has also had some outstanding catches, with the fish averaging a healthy 15 - 30 pounds.
For our non-fishing guests, the great weather and calm seas have been a real boon as well. Bearcamp has had a fantastic start, with lots of bears, fantastic weather and happy guests. Our annual Adventure Women safari is in full swing- the ladies are returning from bearcamp today and we'll have some images to share soon!
Our REI adventures group is staying at the main lodge, as the water in the Moose river is still too shallow to get upriver with a full load. Check out This week at KWL for the latest report. Kayaking in resurrection bay at Seacoast Adventure Camp has been beautiful with blue skies, calm water and snow capped mountains greeting our adventurous sea kayaking guests.
Hiking has been fantastic with the great weather..here's a shot from taken by one of our guides (andrew) on a trip to the top of "Skilak Lookout trail" looking down on Skilak lake and Hidden Creek, one of the main spawning tributaries of the mighty Kenai for the incredible Sockeye Salmon. The second run of Sockeye target Hidden creek, Quartz creek and our home stream, the Moose river. That's it for now...we'll have some pictures and stories from bearcamp and Seacoast Adventure camp soon! KJ
Our first week with clients in Alaska has been an eventful one. With temperatures hovering around 67-72 degrees, the cold days of winter seem like a distant memory (although thursday's 46 degree high was a reminder) .
Our remote camp teams are in constant motion, readying for the first guests of the season. Bearcamp manager Caprice and lead guide Matt fly to bearcamp tomorrow, where they will get their first glimpse of the camp and how it handled the winter. Caprice will be sending weekly posts from camp, so check back in to see how the bear viewing is starting out this season. Our Seacoast Adventure Camp team (Charlie and Christy) will be boating in to the cove to begin the task of setting up the tents and exploring the area, and we'll have some photos soon to post.
Kenai Wildlife Tent Camp (KWL) hosts Taylor and Adelaie have hiked in to their camp (water is typically too low to get to camp by boat until the 1st week of June) and are opening up the day lodge as we speak. Taylor and Adalie will be "blogging" once the camp is up and running, so look for their posts during the summer.
Last week was "birders week" on the Kenai peninsula, and along with Homer's shorebird festival, the Peninsula was full of folks enjoying our spectacular bird life. As usual, the tundra swans are nesting just below KWL and the young eagles are molting. Harlequin ducks have been spotted on the river and flocks of waterfowl are passing us on the way towards the Alaska Peninsula.
Salmon fishing has been solid, if not spectacular. Our first two groups (Denis O. from Baltimore and the Worden family from Tucson) have taken 5 nice kings from the Kenai (with the largest taping out at 52 inches and estimated 60 - 65 pounds) and just missed on a couple others from the Kasilof river. The Kenai fish have averaged 35-45 pounds and have been great fighters. We have the river just about to ourselves, and the fishing has been super. This is a nice buck one of our guides, Tom K. caught off the beach last night...about 50 pound male with some early season color..released to continue upstream on his way to the Killey river, where most of the Kings from the first run spawn.
Cook Inlet provided some great halibut fishing for the group, with a limit of Halibut, plus some nice cod and even some trophy skates! Water was a little bumpy but it smoothed out in time for a full tide swing, which made for some great fishing. It's a great sign for Halibut for the season.
Back at the main lodge our beach guide has caught the first King salmon of the season, we've had our first bear sighting and staff is coming in from all corners of the country. Chef Lisa and Stan are at work in the kitchen, the guide staff is working on boats and gear and the lodge staff has readied the rooms.
We just took down our first "beetle kill" spruce..a beautiful black spruce tree that succumbed to the dreaded spruce bark beetle. It was quite an event as we took it down to protect the other trees (not to mention two riverfront cabins!)
Water levels are low but rising quickly as the snow melts in the mountains. Summer is finally here...that's all for now!