2015 Southeast Alaska Fishing Report: Jeff’s 2016 Fishing Forecast

By on March 8, 2016

Chinook (King) Salmon

Alaska King Salmon

52-pound King caught on guided  fishing charter.

2015 was the year of the King salmon in Ketchikan, Alaska. The return of our local Chinook in June was above average with most of the kings in the 15-25 lb range. The fishing started out hot in early June and continued on a typical up and down pattern throughout the month. Beautiful weather in May and June helped. The hot spots on any given day were Survey Point, Vallenar Bay, Caamano Point, Grant Cove and Nelson Cove. As usual we had the most success fishing a whole herring doing a slow barrel roll.

While our local King salmon run began to dwindle in July the fishing really picked up on migratory Chinook. The migratory fish typically pass through our area and stop to feed on their way to spawn in Canadian B.C. rivers and the Columbia River. Our captains found a little honey hole where some big kings were feeding and almost every day for two weeks we hooked into kings over 30 pounds. We also hooked into a couple over 40 and landed one that weighed in at a whopping 52 lbs. This was some of the best king salmon fishing I’ve ever seen.

2016 Forecast – Things look good for the coming spring and summer as the 2016 winter commercial Chinook troll fishery just finished up in Southeast Alaska with record numbers harvested in the shortest season ever. The Alaska Fish and Game will announce the daily and annual angler catch limits this spring after the Pacific Salmon Commission determines the U.S. and Canadian Chinook quotas.

Coho (Silver) Salmon

Silver Salmon

Nice coho salmon caught during September Silver Salmon season.

The 2015 Coho return was down state wide in Alaska last summer. Coho began showing up first of July (as usual) and we had some pretty good fishing early on but it was spotty. They just weren’t hanging out at the usual spots so we had to chase them around. I think part of the problem was the warm water and algae bloom that plagued the entire west coast for most of July and August. We’re lucky we have nice boats with better, bigger and faster ones on the way. Some years the fish just aren’t biting in the normal spots close to our lodge so it pays to have bigger faster boats that can safely travel further distances to catch more fish.

The Fall Coho run (late August through September) was better than the summer run but we still had to work for them. HOWEVER, when you put it in perspective is having to work harder to catch 12, 18 or 24 Coho a day, 10 minutes from the lodge that bad? Not at all.

2016 Forecast – I haven’t seen a forecast for Coho salmon at this time but I don’t know of any reasons why we shouldn’t expect anything but an average return of Coho in Ketchikan this summer and fall with a daily bag limit of (6) per day.

Pink (Humpy) Salmon
The 2015 Pink salmon return was below expectations but was still considered a strong return of 34 million fish according to the Alaska Dept. of Fish and Game (ADFG).

2016 Forecast – The ADFG has announced the 2016 pink salmon forecast at 34 million fish, which is the same as last year’s harvest and is roughly equal to the 10-year average. The highest pink salmon harvest was over 90 million fish in 2013. 2013 was also one of the highest Coho returns on record. The daily pink salmon limit is (6) per day.

Halibut

Halibut Fishing in Ketchikan

200-pound caught by self-guided angler.

2015 was a great year for Halibut in Ketchikan. Fishing started out good in June and by mid-July it was excellent. By late August the halibut were on the move out and catches began to drop, which is usual for September. The biggest halibut brought in by a self-guided angler was right at 200 pounds and there were a couple others in the 190 lb range. Most of the halibut however were around 20 lb, which is a great eating size and will yield 10 pounds of filets. The 20 pounders are also a heck of a lot easier to get into the boat.

2016 Forecast – The International Pacific Halibut Commission (IPHC) gave Southeast Alaska a little bump in our 2016 Halibut quota indicating that it should be another great year. The daily bag limit for guided anglers fishing from a charter boat is one halibut per day under 43 inches or over 80 inches. A 43” halibut weighs 37 pounds and an 80” halibut weighs about 270 pounds. Self-guided (unguided) anglers will continue to enjoy a daily bag limit of two (2) halibut any size.

Other Bottom Fish

Rockfish and Ling Cod 2016 Regulations – Nonpelagic Rockfish (Quill back, Copper, Yelloweye, China, Silver grey, etc.)

  • Southeast Alaska inside waters (Ketchikan, Juneau, Petersburg) – two rockfish daily one of which may be a yellow eye, two yellow eye per year.
  • Southeast Alaska outside waters (Yakutat, Sitka, west coast prince of whales) – one rockfish daily, one yelloweye per year.
  • Lingcod regulations have not been announced for 2016 at this time.
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