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BY CHRISTOPHER BATIN
One of the greatest rewards of having the 2012 Alaska conference in September is the abundance of sport-fishing opportunities available statewide. Each year, I personally block out the last week of August through the first week of September for coho salmon fishing because it doesn’t get any better than this, anywhere. Rainbow trout and char fishing is superb, and pike and grayling are feeding aggressively to fatten up for the long winter.
If you fly-fish small streams, on an average day expect to catch and release 10 to 40 or more coho salmon weighing 8 to 20 pounds each. Action is good on the road system, via saltwater trolling or on fly-outs to remote streams. For the brightest fish, you’ll want to focus on Alaska’s coastal areas such as Valdez, Kenai or Seward, where fresh fish are coming in on the tide. The marine fishing begins in mid-August, and continues until well after conference when the fish are in local streams and rivers.
There will be a sponsored multi-day fishing and sightseeing trip to Valdez, plus a special three-day salmon and grayling fishing adventure with Arctic Grayling Outfitters for up to four writers on assignment. Application details for these and other FAM trips will be posted on the conference website, www.owaa.org/2011conference, before year’s end.
Other trips can be custom planned to meet the needs of members arriving and departing Alaska at different times. Oftentimes, this is the best way to enjoy fishing opportunities available in the fall.
Here’s an overview of what you can expect:
Starting out close to the conference site, the upper Chena River offers world-class, catch-and-release grayling fishing. The nearby Chatanika River and the Delta Clearwater River near Delta Junction also offer some of the Interior’s finest grayling fishing accessible via the road system. Expect fair to good fishing before and after conference.
From Fairbanks, fly-out fishing opportunities for northern pike run about $180 per person per day, or $300 for a three-day, two-night trip. You supply all the fishing gear and food, and receive transportation to and from a cabin, plus use of a stove, boat and motor. Consider this trip before conference, as air charter operators get busy once September moose season rolls around.
If you are driving an RV, consider a custom fishing adventure along the road system. The Kenai Peninsula, as well as the many streams and rivers throughout Prince William Sound, offer excellent silver salmon opportunities. Big rainbows on the Kenai, as well as char, are available via do-it-yourself or guided trips. You’ll also find good action on streams along the Parks Highway that heads north to Fairbanks. Stop at Montana Creek, the Talkeetna River tributaries, Willow Creek or the Little Susitna River for the best action.
Do-it-yourselfers with several weeks to spend may want to consider remote travel trips to the Brooks Range or western Alaska, but contact me for details if you are planning this type of adventure.
Halibut and bottom-fishing day charter trips will be available in late August through early September. Most of the charter fleet shuts down soon after Labor Day, so book your saltwater excursions early.
If you prefer a fishing FAM tour, choose one when they become available at year’s end. If you are planning to fish on your own at your own pace and need help customizing your adventure, drop me an email telling me what you want to do, and I’ll point you in the right direction to make the most of your time in Alaska. ♦
—Chris Batin has been a member since 1979. He is the 2012 conference local chair. He is also editor and publisher of Alaska Angler, and Alaska Hunter Productions and Video Productions. Contact him at ChrisBatin@AlaskaAngler.com.