Week 9: Salmon Fishing and Hidden Lake

The weather took a dramatic turn for the worse: cool with rain/drizzle/low clouds most every day, continuing into 10 day forecast. It’s hard to motivate for a long wet hike with no views. We decided we really needed to get out of the van for a few days, and booked four nights in a fishing lodge half way between Soldatna and Kenai, and I booked a half day Sockeye Salmon fishing trip. The lodge was really nice, and a pair of moose came right up to the deck our first night there.

I knew nothing about fishing for Sockeye, and it’s really a unique style of fishing. Sockeye only eat plankton, so bait/lures are not useful. You just pull an empty hook past them and hope they run into it. The limit is 3 per day, and my guide and I caught our six in about four hours. (We actually caught around 18, but all but 6 got away). I must say, Christine’s Salmon Chowder is amaze balls. There is a lot of luck involved in picking the right day to go out, and each day the number of salmon vary a lot. The week that I went out the daily totals of salmon entering the river from the ocean were: 21,400, 20,600, 8000, 9600, 5500, 5200, 18,700, and 45,600 (they use sonar to count the fish as they enter the river). I went out the day there were 20,600, and I met some folk who went two days later and only caught two fish between six guys. Alaskans are also allowed to go ‘Dip Netting‘ the last three weeks of July, where you just stand still with a net and wait for a salmon to swim into it. Crazy.

Next we wanted to go to Kenai Fjords National Park, but the weather forecast was for rain, so we decided to hang out for a few days at Hidden Lake Campground (on the way from Kenai to Seward) and try to do some hiking/kayak between rain showers. Hidden Lake Campground is an incredibly nice campground managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service–and only $10/night! I managed to both hike and kayak, but I got quite wet from the rain doing so. The trails in the area are extremely well maintained. I also decided to get my 2nd COVID booster on the way (before SalmonFest) and felt pretty crappy for a couple of days.

A collection of photos from the week are here.

First catch of the day!
Total haul. We squeezed about half of this into the freezer in the van, and will be eating it over the next month.
Greener than green hike near Hidden Lake

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