Fishing conditions improving

A stringer of salmon chills in the upper Kenai River during the opener in 2009. The upper Kenai and Russian rivers open to fishing Saturday at 12:01 a.m.

It figures to be a successful weekend for anglers across the central Kenai Peninsula as water conditions continue to improve and more fisheries begin to open.


On the Kenai River, water levels are finally rising from unusually low levels and catch rates are beginning to climb, said Robert Begich, biologist with the Department of Fish and Game.

The department reported Monday that 556 king salmon passed through the sonar, bringing the season count to 3,237.

Josh Hayes, owner of Alaska Trout Guides, said the action was good on the Kenai early this week as he saw about 25 or 30 kings caught one morning between 6 and 9 a.m.

The fishing should get even better, he added.

“It’s as good as I’ve seen it in a long time in June,” Hayes said. “It hasn’t peaked.”

Scott Miller of Trustworthy Hardware and Fishing in Soldotna said anglers are finding success on the Kenai with Quik Fish lures and Brad’s Plugs. Three guides with whom he talked Tuesday caught their limits.

Many of the reported catches have been small, Miller added, although he said two 35-pounders were brought into the store on Tuesday.

“It seems to be a mix of smaller fish, but there are still a lot of good fish out there,” Miller said. “Almost everyone I’ve talked to this week has caught fish on the Kenai.”

Miller added that the Kasilof continues to improve as anglers are finding success from the banks.

“It’s getting better and better every day,” he said.

The Russian River will open to sockeye salmon at 12:01 a.m. Saturday and early surveys from fish and game indicate there are fish present, Begich said.

There is a limit of three sockeye per angler per day, according to the 2011 Alaska Sport Fishing Regulations. As always, be sure to familiarize yourself with the regulations for the body of water you’ll be fishing before heading out.

Miller said he saw a bear feasting on sockeye during a recent drive past the Russian.

“There are definitely fish rolling in there,” he said.

The sanctuary area of the Russian, which includes water downstream of the ferry landing to about 300 yards upstream of the public boat launch at Sportsman’s Landing, plus the mouth of the river, is closed to sockeye fishing until July 15. Check the regulations for additional information on the sanctuary and which areas it includes.

The Russian also opens to rainbow trout on Saturday, as does the upper Kenai River, and the fishing should be steady if water conditions hold.
Copper colored Hot Shot lures are effective for rainbows, Miller said, as are Wiggle Warts and plugs.

“The rainbow fishing can be overlooked, but it’s really good,” Miller said.

South of Kenai and Soldotna, the lower portions of the Anchor River, Ninilchik River and Deep Creek reopens to kings at 12:01 a.m. Saturday, remaining open until midnight Monday.

The water conditions in the Anchor, Deep Creek and Ninilchik are low and the clarity is good, according to fish and game.

“King salmon fishing is expected to be fair, with the best fishing during the early morning hours and with the incoming tides,” said the department’s Carolyn Bunker.

Suspending salmon roe clusters off the bottom with a bobber or drifting them along the bottom with weight has been working for kings, Bunker said, as have small troll herring, spinners and flies. However, Fish and Game on Thursday issued an order prohibiting the use of bait on the Anchor and Ninilchik rivers, and Deep Creek, for this weekend's king salmon opening, extending through Wednesday.

Bunker said some anglers have landed steelhead trout while targeting kings. It is against regulations to remove steelhead from the water and they must be released immediately.

Halibut fishing remains fair to good out of Homer, Anchor Point and Deep Creek as larger fish are beginning to arrive in all locations, according to a Wednesday report from fish and game.

Herring is the most popular bait, but octopus, squid, salmon heads, and jigs also work.

There will be good clamming tides from June 12-18, Bunker said.
Razor clams can be found on the sandy beaches between Kasilof and Homer on tides of minus-2 or lower. The bag limit is 60 regardless of size.

Expect small clams on the Ninilchik beaches, Bunker said, with Clam Gulch beaches producing medium-sized catches. For larger razor clams, dig the Deep Creek to Whiskey Gulch beaches.

All shrimp and crab fisheries in Kachemak Bay are currently closed.

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