The conversation in the checkout line at Trustworthy Hardware and Fishing in Soldotna on Wednesday morning was whether or not to fish bait or artificials starting today.
Upstairs in the business office, company owner Paul Miller said his preferred silver fishing is done by trailing an egg rig off the back of a boat set on anchor. That’s it. Nothing more fancy or fishy than that.
For the second year, Miller and everyone else wishing to pitch eggs for passing coho will have to fish above the Soldotna bridge crossing the Kenai during the next two weeks. As of 12 a.m. this morning, emergency orders rule out bait use below the bridge to the mouth of the river in an effort to take incidental pressure off the dwindling king fishery. The restriction runs through Aug. 15.
Some fishermen in the store were buying bait gear to fish egg rigs as others remained focused on single-hook artificial lures — and of course each telling the other what to do. One man, with treble hooks in hand, claimed to have lost 20 fish Tuesday because of the single-hook restriction.
Fishing guide Floyd Ring has not seen any silvers, yet, as he’s been working the Kenai River with fishing clients. However, Ring said he has word from a friend dipnetting below the Bridge Access Road Bridge that silvers are at least far. He only caught three or four sockeye, but netted 22 silvers in the process, Ring said.
Though that number seems suspiciously like a big ol’ fishing tale to Alaska Department of Fish and Game Assistant Area Manager Jason Pawluk, he said there is sign that silvers have arrived and even some indication that the runs might be above average this year, according to indications from the commercial catch.
The average size of the silver run heading for the Kenai River varies from 100,000 to 200,000 fish during the early and late runs. Those numbers come from a test period in the late 90s. The run is no longer counted, as with kings and reds.
Pawluk said the test net at mile 8.6 on the river held silvers as of early this week.
“Time will tell,” Pawluk said. “We know of silvers entering the system.”
Ring would rather use an egg rig on a treble hook than almost anything else because of its effectiveness. Eggs on anchor is the way to go, he said.
Those who fish the lower Kenai River will do well with Rapala’s “Kwikfish” or “K-15s.” If you’re looking to back-troll, and want to copy a guide with 24 years on the river, use the Kwickfish with sardines. That’s what Floyd’s going to do.
Soldotna resident and fisherman Vernon Hook was down at the river Wednesday with a friend from Washington state. His take on slaying silvers without bait is a simple one when considering use of any wiggler, any mixture from rainbow of color combinations of coho flies or a Spin-N-Glos.
“Just watch the guy below you,” Hook said. “Then look at the guy next to you.”