Opportunities to catch fish remain abundant, but anglers on the central Kenai Peninsula should read the regulations before wetting a line this weekend.
A slew of changes took effect today for gear restrictions and daily possession limits on the Kenai, Ninilchik and Anchor rivers, as well as Deep Creek and Stariski Creek.
Through Dec. 31 on the Kenai, only unbaited, single-hook, artificial lures are allowed from the Upper Killey River upstream to an Alaska Department of Fish and Game marker at Skilak Lake.
However, bait and multiple hooks are allowed from the mouth of the lower Kenai upstream to the Upper Killey through Nov. 30.
The daily possession limit for silvers also changed today, jumping from two to three in all sections of the Kenai through Nov. 30.
The limit is three in the upper Kenai as well, except in fly-fishing only areas and in the sanctuary portion of the Russian River, where it’s one.
Jason Pawluk, an assistant area management biologist with Fish and Game, said the season is beginning to peak for rainbow trout and Dolly Varden on the Kenai.
With sockeye salmon in the spawning phase, resident fish are beginning to feast on eggs.
“I imagine the spawn is definitely taking place right now for the upper Kenai bead fishery,” Pawluk said. “We are in that sort of peak right now for rainbows and Dollies.”
Water clarity is good on the Kenai despite recent rain, Pawluk said, and water levels are neither too high nor too low.
The department reported slow fishing for silvers in the lower Kenai this week, but fair to good conditions for the middle river — Bings Landing upstream to Skilak Lake.
Pawluk said there’s been a lull in the action on the lower river because a first wave of silvers passed through and a second wave, made up of larger fish, has yet to arrive.
“We would be anticipating the arrival of the late pulse starting hopefully around Sept. 7 or 10,” Pawluk said. “Mid-September generally is when the bulk of the later-arriving coho enter the Kenai.”
On the Anchor, Ninilchik, Deep Creek and Stariski Creek, bait is now prohibited and anglers must use single hooks through Oct. 31.
The areas upstream of the two-mile regulatory markers in those four bodies of water are closed to salmon fishing, but open to Dolly Varden, steelhead and rainbow trout.
However, steelhead may not leave the water and must be released.
Anglers are reporting poor to fair fishing for silvers in the lower sections of the Ninilchik, Anchor and Deep Creek.
“Fishing has been better in the morning and on the incoming tide,” said Carolyn Bunker, with Fish and Game.
For saltwater anglers, the action for silvers has been fair at Flat Island, Point Pogibshi and offshore, Fish and Game reported, but poor at the Nick Dudiak Lagoon in Homer.
However, there have been reports of good fishing for feeder kings near Bluff Point, Bunker said.
Fish and Game reported excellent conditions for the 27 stocked area lakes, many of which also support natural populations of rainbows, lake trout and Dolly Varden.
For lake trout, try fishing at Kenai, Skilak, Tustumena or Hidden lakes.
Popular methods include trolling with spoons, plugs, stick baits and spinner rigs, or drifting using jigging tackle tipped with dead-baits like herring.
Lake trout have moved into deeper waters, Fish and Game reported.
For clamming, there will be good tides through Saturday on sandy beaches between Kasilof and Homer, where razor clams are abundant.
The daily bag limit is a combined 80 for littleneck and butter clams.
As always, check the regulations before heading out.