Sitka Fishing Report: 2022
by Jon Martin
Our season began a little early in 2022 as I hung up my rifle to focus more on chasing fish rather than spring bears. As usual, the month of May stood out both in terms of great weather and opportunity. King salmon showed up in force with sizes averaging 12 to 14 pounds, fairly typical for this month. The fish seemed to be a bit deeper and a tad more dispersed, which made mooching these beautiful fish up more challenging. We did a fair amount of trolling tight along kelp beds in May using small dodger flashers and AP tackle spoons. This proved to be highly successful.
Much like May, the Sitka fishing report for the month of June was memorable for king salmon and also bottom fish species. Kings put on excellent weight as they consume foraged fish and we started picking up some hefty kings. In June, the halibut began to move closer to shore and we went from targeting them in May in 400 to 600 feet of water to targeting them in 250 to 350 feet of water in June. King salmon bag limits remained excellent for non-resident anglers during the month of June. This is why I tell clients that the month of May and June are peak in terms of opportunity and retention limits.
July shaped up to be one of the craziest salmon fishing months I have seen in years. Typically, July feels like the transition month as kings taper off and silvers begin to show up. This season, the kings kept surging in terms of numbers and the sizes were considerably larger than we saw in May and June. We had several days in July where we caught and released well over 40 kings per day with some of them tipping the scales between 35 and 40 pounds! Bag limits for kings in July were a little less favorable for non-residents but the opportunity to sore lip those fish was spectacular. By mid-July the silvers began to trickle in and by the end of the month we were consistently reaching full limits on the boat. The halibut fishing in July was unbelievable both in terms of numbers caught but in the size and quality of the fish. This is exactly the kind of news I love to share in our Sitka fishing report!
By early August the king salmon really began to disappear. Groups could catch a few here and there but the silver fishing began really going full steam. Silvers can gain one pound of weight per week so by the time August rolls around they are starting to look like nice fish with some weighing as much 12 to 14 pounds near the end of the month. We got into some massive schools of these hard fighting-fish with every client catching their generous limit of 6 silvers often in less than 45 minutes! Those days of whacking and stacking had this captain running around the boat gaffing, netting, baiting and taking care of the fish laying on the deck….total pandemonium. As with the other months we fish in Sitka, the halibut, rockfish, and lingcod fishing remained excellent all the way through August.
Looking ahead to the 2023 season the bookings are pouring in with folks excited to get back up to Sitka for more world class fishing. Between March and April of 2023, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADF&G) should release the king salmon abundance index which will determine bag limits for the 2023 season. We anticipate that there will not be a reduction in limits compared to 2022 and there even may be a slight increase. Halibut slot limits will be set by the North Pacific Fishery Management Council and the International Pacific Halibut Commission and released to the public around the same time as the king salmon data is release but we do not expect any reductions and may even see a slight increase in slot limits for halibut in 2023.
That’s our Sitka fishing report for 2022! Give me a call if you want to join us next summer at 907-738-3017.