By: Chris Shaffer
Last year at this time thousands of local anglers and us were frustrated beyond belief as walks along most creeks in the Anchorage Bowl and Turnagain Arm produced few encounters with silvers. This August has been the opposite. The greater Anchorage area is flooded with silvers, which brings up the unthinkable question. Did last year’s fish stay out in the ocean an extra year, wait for better conditions and then return?
No one really knows the answer. Meanwhile, we’ve heard a few biologists think it’s possible. How else can you explain large runs following almost no run in many creeks and popular rivers last year? This theory has legs if you consider much larger fish this season in places like Valdez and Seward, two of the strongest silver runs in Alaska that had horrid runs last summer, big silvers in Anchorage’s own Ship Creek and many other streams. No one has the answer, but we’re thrilled there’s so many fish around.
No one will argue the region is fishing like Alaska used to right now. Rivers, creeks and bays are loaded with silvers. Last night, Dustin Slinker of The Bait Shack called to tell me that Ship Creek was black with silvers as he stood on the bridge in front of The Bridge restaurant. Normally, this time of year he starts to close the Bait Shack for the season as the run fizzles. He’s still open. Fresh fish, large fish and massive numbers of fish are still coming in daily. He saw a pile of fish that have fish lice on them today.
The same can be said for other streams in the region and popular muddy spots like Bird Creek. The region is loaded with silvers. It’s been a bit more than a week since we left Anchorage. Ironically, the last three days we were there seemed like a fantasy. Walking along the banks of Ship Creek, and many other creeks within an hour drive, we were catching a fish every few minutes on Fire Cure roe while filming Pautzke Outdoors.
Many think we are crazy, but we cancelled a fly out to Big Dave’s Alaska Lodge to stay in Anchorage and fish the same public water everyone else can. To be honest, I don’t see how fishing could have been much better than we experienced. And, Slinker tells me it got way better a few days after we left and hasn’t slowed. This is great news for the fishing industry, and as tourist season comes to an end there’s plenty of salmon around for locals.
We fished several creeks in the Anchorage area over a week period (and Ship Creek many times) and caught limits daily with Fire Cure roe. Slinker always brought three bags with us: Natural, Orange and Pink Fire Cure, but didn’t use the red this time of year. As well as they bit the eggs we had I’m sure they would have eaten red, too. What was most exciting to us was watching Slinker pierce a few of our new Fire Balls on a hook and catch silvers on those, too. You’ll see that on a future episode. For now, there’s plenty of fish out there. Enjoy it.
Editor’s Note: Chris Shaffer is the director of operations for Pautzke. He’s been to Alaska to film three times this year. Whispers of a forth expedition are likely to come to fruition in December.