SAFARI Camp Season Summary, 2016
2016 was the year of the chum salmon and silver salmon – the chum run was truly impressive and we had another strong silver run. The pink salmon run was very light and the Dolly Varden fishing was excellent throughout the river. Windy weather and rougher seas prevented us from our typical amount of bay fishing but we did find a few halibut, and rockfish numbers were solid as usual.
The chum salmon run of 2016 can be summed up in one word – WOW. We had the best fishing for them on the tidal flat right in front of camp.
The silver run was also quite exciting in September. Late August was just OK. We started catching big numbers while heli-fishing in very early September, then big numbers were caught in camp’s home waters (when the weather permitted) from that point on.
The pink run was definitely on the lighter side but we still caught decent numbers. They generally peak in odd years on the Pacific side of the Alaska Peninsula (even year pink runs are bigger in Bristol Bay). 2015 was an immense run at SAFARI camp, and throughout much of Alaska, so we predict a large to very large run in 2017.
The Dolly Varden fishing was excellent overall and on par compared to a typical season, maybe even a half notch better than typical. One his fourth trip one guest claimed,
“This was the best dolly fishing I’ve ever experienced at SAFARI camp!”
That’s a pretty good indication. Other weeks, high water prevented us from really showing off the river in its usual glory. As normal, for those willing to take the longer hike to Lion’s Head the fishing was superb. (You don’t have to walk that far to find good dolly fishing.)
The bears were thick this year up the river valley and we saw them on a regular basis, sometimes up close and personal. However, the usual everyday tidal flat and meadow activity we often view from the observation table was lighter than usual.
Moose, caribou and wolf track sightings were typical.
Whale sightings were way above average in early to mid August – we saw them on nearly a daily basis. We even had some sensational close encounters from the boat while halibut fishing. And a few folks were treated to whale sightings from the air, on the charter flight between King Salmon and camp.
Multiple species of sea birds were seen throughout the season from the boat, as usual. Migrating ducks and geese sightings were light. There was a noticeable increase in sea otter sightings on heli-fishing days as we flew up and down the coast to various the heli-fishing areas. But we did not see one single river otter the entire season, and that’s a first.
Overall the weather was very wet – the wettest season I can remember at this camp. But the weather came in week-sized chunks: 2 weeks of good, 2 weeks of crummy, 2 weeks of sensational, 1 week of crummy, 1 week of good. So if you were lucky, you had the chamber of commerce week. If you weren’t so lucky you tested your raingear… and maybe even your wits. (Remember: always buy good raingear on your Alaska fishing adventure!)
The upside of a rainy season is healthy river levels. We started off with good flows and ended with good flows, and that’s a good thing for future salmon generations.
Check out the 2016 SAFARI camp photo gallery for some great images from a great season of fishing and adventure on the Alaska Peninsula!