Red hot sockeye run still ramping up

It’s a consensus: this year’s early sockeye run is prolific.


“We won’t know until it’s over, but the Russian (River) is fishing really well. It’s similar to the run in ’09,” said Robert Begich, a Central and Northern Kenai Peninsula research biologist for the Alaska Department of Fish and Game.

In the 2009 Russian River early run, sport anglers harvested an estimated 59,097 sockeye and 52,178 swam through the weir, according to a 2008-2010 Fish and Game report.

That’s a total of 111,818 sockeye in that year’s early run. The 2010 early run saw only 27,074, according to the report.

“This (early run) looks considerably better than the last three years,” Begich said.

As a result of the large sockeye run, Fish and Game on Wednesday opened the Russian River Sanctuary to sport sockeye fishing. The daily bag limit still remains at three sockeye per angler — though Fish and Game may increase it if the run continues as strongly. Now, anglers are easily reaching this year’s bag limit, said Scott Miller, co- owner and manager of Trustworthy Hardware & Fishing.

“To get limits this regularly, it seems that there’s quite a few fish,” Miller said.

For Central Peninsula fishing, the Russian, Kenai and Kasilof rivers are flowing with sockeye, he said. If anglers want to catch a quick limit and don’t mind a crowd, go to the Russian River. But if they’re looking for solitude, the Kenai River above the Soldotna bridge is where they want to be.

For Southern Peninsula fishing, options are slimmer. Southern Peninsula streams are closed to sport fishing, king fishing is also prohibited between the Ninilchik River and Bluff Point in Cook Inlet waters a mile or less from the shore.

“It’s a pretty short report down here,” said Grant Anderson, owner of Fly Box Tackle Shop, in Anchor Point, “there’s no fishing.”

Fish and Game also recently issued two more emergency orders.

One order closes the Kenai River king salmon sport fishery. The Kenai River king closure affects fishing from its mouth to Skilak Lake as well as the Moose River from its confluence with the Kenai River upstream to the northern edge of the Sterling Highway bridge. The closure is effective until June 30.

The other order bans bait and multiple hooks on the Kasilof River from its mouth upstream to the Sterling Highway Bridge. Anglers can only use a single, un-baited hook with an artificial lure. The order is effective until June 30.

Despite this year’s weak king run, many other fishing options exist, Miller said.

Peninsula-wide, lake and pond fishing is successful.

He said larger lakes, such as Hidden Lake, are beginning to slow down, but smaller lakes are still fishing well. Anglers have been pulling 10-inch graylings out of Scout and Arc lakes, he said. They are having luck with power leaches and dry flies that mimic mosquitoes or gnats.

Cook Inlet waters are also still fishing well, both for kings and halibut, he said. Halibut have been responding well to most baits and 5-12 ounce jigs.

Anglers are also having luck with trout and Dolly Varden. Trout are best in the early morning and late evening. Dollies are good at low tide in Cunningham Park, off Beaver Loop Road in Kenai.

“There’s lots of fishing. There’s always good fishing,” Miller said. “It just depends what you’re fishing for.”

As always, Fish and Game reminds anglers to check the regulations for the waters they are fishing.


Dan Schwartz can be reached at


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