2011 SAFARI Camp Season Summary
The Fishing: The chum salmon fishing was clearly exceptional this year. Big numbers of aggressive fish (the run in 2010 was also exceptional) and some nice days fishing off the beach.
The pink salmon run was good and sustained longer than normal – we were still seeing fresh, bright pinks with sea lice into early September, which is unusually late.
The sea-run dolly varden fishing was slightly lighter than normal in our home waters relative to an average year, but still good by anyone’s standards. We did see several salmon-sized dollies landed up our home creek (and several lost, too)! We also experienced some exceptional dolly fishing on the helicopter fly-outs. To keep it in perspective, though, the dolly fly-out rivers see, literally, only a few rods a year!
We did see some strange silver salmon fishing in our home waters – the run did finally happen, sort of, but it was clearly late and lighter than normal. But the late silver run was seen statewide in Alaska in 2011. (I talked with several other operators who also experienced normally prime weeks with few or no silver salmon.) However, once the silvers showed up in good numbers, they acted less aggressive than normal – maybe something with the water conditions (which didn’t make sense because river levels were very healthy), maybe something with the genetics of these fish (related or correlated to the statewide late run), or perhaps just a Mother Nature unexplainable. We still had some great days catching silvers in the home waters, and the 2 silver fly-out rivers we access with the helicopter fished very well.
Halibut fishing was overall very good this year, on both fly and conventional tackle.
Alaska (grey) cod fishing was overall very good this year, which has been consistent since 2008.
Water Levels: Remained healthy all season long, overall.
The Weather: July and August weather seemed fairly typical, except fewer than normal hot, sunny days. We did have some crummy change-out day weather early on this season, though (but the helicopter helped move people to/from camp anyways). September was, overall, colder (and wetter in early September) than the last couple of seasons. But mid to late September was exceptionally nice weather this year – chilly, but little to no rain. The big mountain in the bay retained almost all the snow it received during the month – signifying how cold September was this year.
Wildlife: We saw no sows with this year’s cubs this season, which is extremely atypical. But we did see a higher than normal number of larger, adult bears in the bay. Caribou sightings are up from the last couple of years (which is a nice change). Fox and eagle sightings normal. Moose sightings light. Wolf sighting light. No whale sightings this year in the bay (but we did see some small dolphins).