Fishing report: Slow start for kings, but plenty of other options

The Kenai River opened to sport fishing for king salmon on Wednesday, and despite restrictions on bait and the area open to king fishing, a fair number of anglers were on the water to wet a line.


Jason Pawluk, assistant area management biologist with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, said creel survey crews estimated more than 100 boats on the Kenai between 6 and 7 a.m. Wednesday morning. Fishing was reported to be slow to start the late run.

Pawluk said water in the Kenai, while not terrible, wasn’t ideal, particularly with anglers prohibited from using bait. An upcoming series of big tides also won’t be conducive to fish entering the river, Pawluk said. Anglers fishing for king salmon on the Kenai River are limited to single-hook, artificial lures. The river is open to king fishing from a Fish and Game marker downstream from Slikok Creek, downstream to the river’s mouth.

While the king fishing might have been slow, other fisheries continue to be productive.

Sockeye fishing on the Russian River and upper Kenai River is expected to continue to be good for at least a few more days as the tail end of the early run moves through the area. The bag limit for sockeye on the upper Kenai and Russian has been raised to six per day, 12 in possession.

“The Russian is still where it’s at,” Pawluk said.

Pawluk said that as anglers turn their attention toward other fisheries, the Russian might even get a little less crowded.

And fishing for rainbow trout and Dolly Varden has been good, particularly in areas where sockeye are being harvested and there’s plenty of eggs and flesh in the water to feed on.

For those keeping an eye on the late run of Kenai River sockeye, sonar counts began on Wednesday.

With a big run of sockeye salmon on the Kasilof River, Fish and Game has liberalized the sport and personal-use fisheries there, too. The bag limit has been increased to six fish per day, and the possession limit is now 12 fish. Personal-use dipnetting from the bank in now allowed all the way up to the Sterling Highway bridge, and the area open to dipnetting from a boat has been expanded up to river mile 3.

Further to the south, the Ninilchik River re-opened to fishing on Wednesday. Anglers are allowed to retain hatchery king salmon, which are identifiable by a healed scar where the adipose fin has been clipped.

On the saltwater, halibut fishing continues to improve, with a number of larger fish being landed. The new leader in the Homer Jackpot Halibut Derby is a 199.8-pound fish caught by Jason Solbreg of Blyndon, Minnesota, while fishing with Capt. Shane Blakely of Driftwood Charters aboard the Misty.

Out of Seward, Fish and Game reports good halibut fishing, as well as catches of king salmon for anglers willing to put in the effort. Fish and Game also reports catches in Pony Cove on Resurrection Bay.