SAFARI Camp Season Summary, 2022
If you like pictures more than words, check out the 2022 SAFARI camp photos instead of reading the summary below.
2022 delivered a light silver salmon run in camp’s home waters. The chum salmon run was very good. The pink salmon numbers were good. The Dolly Varden fishing was excellent in the river. The bay fishing for halibut was very strong in August.
After 8 or so years of really strong silver runs, the 2022 silver run was strangely light in camp’s waters but thankfully stronger on the helicopter fly-outs. So anglers could at least end the week with strong silver fishing. Even with the lighter run at camp, anglers were more than satisfied with the overall fishing experience.
After two lighter chum runs, 2022 was more normal and that’s nice to see because these salmon are such cool, underrated sport fish! They do deteriorate quickly in fresh water relative to other Pacific Salmon. But when they’re caught close to the ocean in their “sea-bright” or “chrome-bright” phase, watch out, they are great fighters! We caught good chums on the tidal flat and up the river, which is typical. The beach fishing was not too productive this season. But heli-fishing was definitely good for chums!
The pink run was good/healthy for an “off” year. Meaning the run was pretty good for an even year (2020, 2022…) – the dominant pink run generally occurs in odd years (2021, 2023…) on the Pacific coast of the Alaska Peninsula. (Contrary to the Pacific coast, the strong pink run is in even years in Bristol Bay.)
The Dolly Varden fishing rarely disappoints at SAFARI camp. 2022 was no exception – good numbers of fish along with good numbers of bigger fish were caught. Like last year, we’ve found some extra phenomenal dolly fishing waaay up the river valley. Note, only a small percentage of guests are willing to make the really long hike, but if you’re game, wow, you will be certainly rewarded!
Halibut for dinner is the usual goal when we fish the bay. And the halibut fishing was really good in August to very early September but it noticeably slowed down soon thereafter, which seems just a touch early. We also caught a good number of black rockfish, starry flounder, sole, skates and gray cod – you never know what you’re going to catch in the bay!
Last year was lighter bear activity relative to an average season. 2022 was definitely not! There was actually an uptick in bear sightings and activity. First, we observed more than the average numbers of sows with cubs. It seems like everywhere you looked there was family of bears trying to feed itself – I recall at least 6 different families of bears working the area. And, man, those Momma bears work really, really hard to catch fish for 2, 3 or 4 hungry cubs! Second, in September we observed a higher than average number of solo transitory bears – bears temporarily moving from one bay system to the next. Why? Perhaps because of the lighter silver run bears had to move around more than normal to feed in mid/late September. Or perhaps because of an early winter – it did seem to cool off quickly in late September.
I can’t recall any wolf sightings but we did see a couple of caribou on the heli fly-outs (we used to see a lot more 15+ years ago). However, we saw a ton of moose this August and September – more than typical, and that’s always a real treat.
The most unusual wildlife observation of 2022: we did not see one single whale in the bay. That’s never happened in 20+ years!
August and September leaned towards wet, but not in a bad, stormy way. I think we had one heavy rain event, but mostly we just had a lot of light rain. And that’s ultimately good because our water levels stayed healthy throughout the season.
Air temps were normal in August, normal in most of September, and leaned towards colder in late September. The lower mountains did receive a few dustings of snow. The big 7,000′ mountain got hammered with snow several times.
One oddity this season: the bugs were the worst we’ve ever seen on the Pacific coast. And that’s so incredibly weird because in the early and mid 2000’s we hardly ever saw any bugs out here. But they have, unfortunately, turned worse over the last 10 or 15 years. But keeping things in perspective, if King Salmon’s bad bugs are a 10. Bad bugs at SAFARI camp are a 2 or 3.