Sockeye salmon run slows, still good fishing

After several days of hard hitting red salmon jumping up the rivers, anglers have reported a slowdown in catch.


Jason Pawluk, assistant area management biologist for the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, said sockeye fishing has slowed dramatically.

“All indicators out in the inlet are that we’re seeing a decline in sockeye abundance, so what we expect to see enter the river over the next few days probably isn’t going to change from what’s happening now,” he said.

According to fish and game sonar counts, the last three days have seen fewer than 40,000 sockeye a day swimming upriver.

Despite the drop Scott Miller, co-owner of Trustworthy Hardware in Soldotna, said it was still possible to hit the limit of red salmon allowed to anglers.

Miller said he had seen people limit out in less than four hours, depsite the slowdown.

Miller said there was a ball of red salmon near Bing’s Landing and Morgan’s Landing was doing well.

The red salmon may have moved upriver from Sterling toward Skilak Lake, he said.

“We’re starting to hear some reds at the Russian (River) are hitting up there,” Miller said.

Weir counts on the Russian river showed a slight uptick in the number of sockeye salmon, Pawuluk said.

“Weir counts for yesterday jumped up to 1,300 reds, it had been averaging around 400 a day,” he said.

King fishing is still slow, but Miller said it was fair. “We went out the other night and got three kings, in about four hours of fishing,” he said. “Some good size fish.”

Among other things, Miller suggest Spin-N-Glos to target the king salmon.

The Kenai River king fishery is set to go to catch-and-release and trophy king salmon fishing today and Pawluk said anglers should be aware fo the regulation before they go out.

“Technically you’re allowed to retain a king salmon that is under 20 inches and if you’re fortunate enough to catch a king salmon over 55 inches and decide to harvest that fish, it must be brought into the department (of Fish and Game) to be sealed,” he said.

Miller said halibut fishing was still doing well and suggested that anglers check out the weekend’s clamming tides if they wanted a change of pace.

Inriver trout fishing is also doing well, Miller said.

“This time of year, people don’t focus on that, but ... even in the lower river rainbows and Dollies are doing well,” he said.

He suggested using drifting beads or flesh flies to lure the elusive trout.

“Flesh colors are going to work really well right now because of all the carcasses in the river,” he said. “Ginger color or pink color would work,” he said.

For anglers looking to take a break, Miller said lake fishing was a good escape.

“People get so focused on filling freezers and it’s just kind of nice to sit back and relax,” he said.

So, this weekend, he took his daughters to Scout Lake in Sterling for a quiet day of fishing. “We caught 20 or 30 grayling and that’s pretty simple to do because they bite pretty easy on a little mosquito fly,” he said.

Fish and Game stocks 28 lakes on the Kenai Peninsula and Miller said anglers shouldn’t rule out the option for a less crowded fishery.

“Fly fishing along the shorelines in the evenings or the mornings are really good,” he said.


Reach Rashah McChesney at


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