Sitka Fishing Report

HERRING RUN WAS A HUGE SUCCESS

Wednesday, April 28, 2021

Greetings from Sitka,

The herring run was a huge success.  The ADF&G observed a grand total of 90.4 nautical miles of spawn along Sitka Sound shorelines.  This is an indication of a healthy stock of herring.   The commercial fishery is over for this year, and the herring have moved out of Sitka sound.  There are a handful of whales that are still hanging around Sitka Sound, but the majority of the whales have moved offshore with the herring.

King salmon fishing is very good.  Vitskari Rocks and Cape Edgecumbe have been producing fish with clockwork consistency.  The big run of early columbia river kings have shown up offshore, and we have had some very good days mooching on those fish.  They are moving around quite a bit, so we have been trolling to start the day of fishing, and once we find a concentration of Kings we switch over to mooching and are getting limits.

Spoons, flashers, and hoochies are really starting to work, which indicates that the fish are starting to feed with the intent to put on weight for their run up the spawning creeks this fall.  Herring are still working very well, and we are sure to keep good baits in the water at all times.  Winter colors on artificial baits are losing their effectiveness.  Summer colors of green, blue, chartreuse, and glow are working best.  The fat content of King’s caught on the ocean is off the charts which indicates a healthy stock of feed, and should produce some good size fish this year.

The weather has been getting better as we move closer to the peak of the summer.  When the wind blows, it’s becoming lighter and blows for less time.  The ocean is calming down, and the base ground swell is indicating that we are in the summer weather pattern.  We should see some flat calm days in the month of May.

Sitka just had a 7 day stretch of clear blue skies and 60 degree weather.  The beaches were full of locals enjoying the spring sun, and the warm weather melted a lot of snow pack on the mountains, which sent plenty of nutrient rich cold fresh water into Sitka Sound.  This combined with the 16 hours of daylight and direct sun caused a plankton boom in the local waters, causing the water to turn a beautiful green blue color.  This is the start of the time of plenty.  Feed such as needle fish, copopods, capelin, krill, brits, cuttlefish, squid etc. are congregating in the sound to feed on the plankton, and this is keeping King’s in local waters.

Bottom fishing continues to be red hot when we put the boat over the honey holes, and with the state of the art electronics on the Kimshan, we are able to focus on catching fish, rather than finding them.

It’s shaping up to be a great season with full fishboxes.  We have our fingers crossed for calm seas this summer.  See you on the deck of the Kimshan!

HERRING SPAWN IS IN FULL SWING

Tuesday April 13, 2021

As of writing, Alaska Department of Fish and Game has observed a cumulative 82 miles of spawn along shallow shorelines during daily aerial surveys.  Active today is over 10 miles of spawn on shorelines around Sitka sound.  The winter king salmon have moved out of local waters as the herring spawn is so thick that the fertilized eggs and free floating milt will clog up a salmons gills.  Fishing action has ground to a halt with the abundance of bait, and feed in the local waters.  Even rockfish will pass on a cut plug herring presented right in front of them.  Literally hundreds of humpback whales are sighted daily feasting on the abundance of herring.  You cannot go anywhere in Sitka sound without seeing dozens of whales.  The visibility underwater is essentially zero and this also contributes to the slow bite in near shore waters.

Salmon action on the open ocean is decent once we put enough wake between the back of the boat and the cloudy water of the sound.  Run times are long compared to normal, but the run is worth it to get to better fishing.   King salmon are biting light on the ocean and salted threaded herring are working best to entice strikes.  Occasionally a lure or artificial gets a bump or two, brighter green and glow colors are starting to work, but the fish are so full from all the herring around that they aren’t hooking up well with any consistency on artificials.  The next set of big tides after the spawn event should clear out the murky water in the sound and bring in some early mature Kings.  So far this season we have been catching Kings with loose scales, and the first spawner is surely less than a week or two away.  Stay tuned for the official start to the spring/summer king season when we catch one that has mature roe.

The early run of Columbia River spawners haven’t shown up offshore of the coast at this point, but every day that goes by is another day closer to the wide open chinook bite that happens every year in the offshore waters of Baranof island.  Stay tuned for the “hot bite” report that is sure to come any day now.  We’ve got the mooching gear ready to go as soon as those fish show up.

Bottom fishing continues to be very good.  The commercial longline fishery for halibut and black cod opened in March, and there have been great landings with good sized fish.  Sport fishing around structure in 600 to 400 feet of water has been really productive for halibut and rockfish.  The weather on the open ocean has been the biggest challenge when targeting bottom fish.  Anchoring is a necessity when targeting white meat in these weather conditions, and the “Kimshan” with her commercial stabilizing rigging is making setting at anchor in tough weather a breeze.