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Opportunities abound on Kenai despite king run

Posted: June 22, 2012 - 8:33am

Recent news about the dismal king salmon run, one that the Alaska Department of Fish and Game has said might be the worst in recent history, is certainly discouraging.

Emergency orders closing or restricting king fishing on the Kenai, Kasilof, Ninilchik and Anchor Rivers throughout the summer is not what anxious anglers would like to hear and there's really no way to sugar coat it.

Certainly a good portion of our local economy is built on a king salmon foundation and residents take pride in the annual harvest of these majestic creatures, but these actions are attempting to make sure we have future king runs.

Temporary pain from these closures sure beats prolonged suffering caused by irreversible damage to the fishery.

So that leaves us with this question: What now?

Fortunately for us, the Kenai Peninsula is a literally choked full of fishing, hiking, boating and other recreational opportunities for fishermen and tourists to try. King salmon isn't the only thing the area has to offer.

Last year's sockeye run was one of the better ones in recent memory and while this year's run is still starting up, we're hoping for similar results. The big push of sockeye through the Russian River usually happens at the end of the month, so we have that to look forward to enjoying.

The Kenai River is also one of the world's greatest rainbow trout fisheries. Regularly we see photos of smiling fishermen with giant rainbows larger than some sockeye or silver salmon caught on fly fishing gear. So perhaps instead of a king salmon trip, anglers could book a driftboat rainbow trip -- some might even consider that more fun than sitting in an idle boat at 6 a.m. staring a lifeless rod with 30 other boats at Honeymoon Cove anyway.

The Peninsula also has the Swanson River canoe system with some unbelievable rainbow fishing on the fly. Don't forget about our numerous lakes, most of which have rainbows, Dolly Varden and grayling.

Just down the Peninsula, Homer is the halibut fishing capital of the world with more charter companies than one could shake a fishing pole at. Anglers are also catching feeder kings off Flat Islands, too. There's fishing out of Deep Creek and Seward and anglers can try multiple species starting July 1 -- halibut, ling cod, rockfish and perhaps some early silvers.

Also, don't forget about clamming -- there's a minus 1.1-foot tide at 12:34 p.m. on Saturday and a minus 0.3 foot tide at 1:12 on Sunday.

Moreover, there are tons of opportunities for hikers to see parts of the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge not accessible from the road. Also up for consideration are kayaking in Resurrection Bay or Kachemak Bay, glacier viewing and a trip on a float plane or other aerial tour. Perhaps mountain biking, golf or disc golf are more your style. The Peninsula Oilers baseball team is also back in town on Sunday and throughout July.

Don't forget about the number of festivals, local farmers markets in Kasilof, Soldotna and Kenai, the wildlife art exhibit at the Kenai Visitor's Center, or our numerous local restaurants and breweries.

Really, we feel blessed to live in an area with so many recreational opportunities and if one of them isn't performing to our hopes, then that's just another reason to try something new.

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