The season is starting off slow, but anglers targeting king salmon are making their way down the Kenai Peninsula for a Memorial Day weekend of fishing on the lower peninsula streams.
Several changes in king salmon regulations, alongside low returns of king salmon may have been to blame for the slow start to the Anchor River’s king salmon season — however, several people in Anchor River campgrounds said they expected to see larger crowds during the Memorial Day weekend.
At Trustworthy Hardware in Soldotna on Wednesday, Allan Yost, of Ninilchik, considered several kinds of hooks.
“I make my own lures, but I’m going to need some hooks eventually,” Yost said.
Typically, he prefers siwash, or open eye, hooks because they’re easy to clamp on and off of a lure, he said.
Yost plans to fish Deep Creek or the Anchor River for king salmon this coming weekend.
“Sometimes I fish the Ninilchik, but the Ninilchik hasn’t been very good the last couple of years,” he said.
Fishing Deep Creek will be interesting, he said, as flooding in 2013 changed the riverbed.
“It wiped out all of the usual fishing holes,” he said.
New regulations and pre-season emergency orders issued by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game may change the way he fishes as well, he said.
The combined annual limit for the Anchor River, Deep Creek, Ninilchik River and all marine waters south of the mouth of the Ninilchik River down to bluff has been reduced to two king salmon, 20 inches or greater in length.
For Yost, this means he may be letting more kings go.
“If I catch two fish and then I have to be done on those two rivers for the rest of the year, I’ll have a tendency to release my fish this weekend,” he said.
Any angler who harvests a king salmon, 20 inches or greater from any of the three streams is required to stop fishing for any species on those streams for the rest of the day.
The Anchor River is also closed to sport fishing on Wednesdays.
The restrictions are part of several put in place by Fish and Game designed to protect struggling king salmon runs in the Cook Inlet.
The Anchor River king salmon opener began at midnight May 16, but many of the campsites at the Anchor River State Recreation Area were empty.
Fishers blamed poor king salmon returns.
“I think it’s because of the bad reports we’ve been getting,” said Gail Sheffield, a field supervisor for Alaska Recreational Management Inc., a concessionare for Alaska State Parks.
Sheffield said Saturday that the sites were seeing about half of the normal attendance for an opening weekend.
“No one wants to drive down to try to catch a king,” she said.
Reach Rashah McChesney at firstname.lastname@example.org