Russian River, Kenai River rainbow trout openers set for Monday

Sockeye surfacing, rainbows ready
Mary and Bill Henningfield, and Mike and Mary Massey from Wisconsin, and Troy and Julie Long from Texas came home with a nice catch of halibut and four kings, three over 30 pounds. They were fishing with captain Chris Worley on the MarlieRae owned by Anglers Lodge.

It's perhaps one of the most anticipated days in the central Peninsula fishing season.

On Monday, the Russian River will open to fly fishing for anglers ready for their first crack at this year's sockeye salmon crop. The day also marks the rainbow trout opener on the Kenai River after about a month of spawning.

Standard regulations are in effect for the Russian -- an unbaited, single hook with the shank three-eights inches or less. Try several different locations for your weight on the line -- between 18 and 24 inches from the hook depending on water levels and conditions. The sanctuary is closed and the area below the lower boundry of the sanctuary to the powerlines has the same fly fishing only rules as the clear water of the Russian. Remember to bring polarized sunglasses to help you see the fish better and to shield your eyes from flying hooks of other eager fishermen.

Anglers are also reporting good sockeye fishing from the banks of the Kenai as the first run of sockeye make their way through.

If anglers aren't quite ready for their first round of sockeye combat fishing, they can try the fly on the Kenai trout opener. On the upper river, Paul Tornow, co-owner of Alaska's Angling Addiction, recommended swinging a smolt pattern.

"You've got to kind of stick with the natural stuff like insects and smolt and fish patterns," he said.

If the conditions are right, Tornow suggested breaking out the dry flies and fishing the upper river's slower water and eddies.

"As long as there is some blue sky there will be bugs hatching," he said.

A few days after the opener is a good time to fish the middle river with bright pink, orange and red flesh patterns as more and more sockeye carcasses will be floating down the river, said Brian Richards, a local fly fisherman and owner of Wilderness Way.

"If you were going to fish the confluence up there at the Russian River for trout that's one of the places where within a day or two you might want to start throwing some flesh flies," he said. "Guys are going to be slaying salmon and throwing the carcasses in the water and ... those trout will be kind of into the flesh mode."

Tornow agreed.

"The fish will immediately start to hang around those cleaning tables, because they know the food hangs there," he said. "They've been conditioned. They're opportunistic."

Tornow also suggested fishing sculpin patterns -- blacks and darker colors with orange or red highlights are particularly effective in the middle river, he said. Rainbows caught in deeper water will be a little healthier and will put up a better fight than those darker-colored, shallow-water rainbows still recovering from the spawn.

Richards said the Monday opener will be especially beneficial to middle river trout fisherman because of drift boat only rules in effect.

"It definitely helps on the middle because if you get a bunch of those power boats running up and down, all of a sudden it could possibly turn the fish off," he said.

King salmon fishing on the Kenai and Kasilof rivers remains slower than usual, said Jason Pawluk, assistant area management biologist for the Alaska Department of Fish and Game.

According to Fish and Game, the daily DIDSON sonar passage estimate of king salmon was 92 fish on Sunday. The cumulative DIDSON sonar passage estimate through Sunday was 938 king salmon.

Monte Roberts, a guide for All Alaska Outdoors, agreed king action is slow, but there is a bite to be had.

"We got one nice 35-pounder," he said. "It fished pretty well compared to what it has been lately. It is not like the good old days red hot, but it has definitely picked up."

Roberts was also optimistic about the Kasilof River.

"The Kasilof has picked up a little lately," he said. "It's smaller fish, but usually it's a couple hits a boat now and a couple weeks ago you were just hoping for a bite."

On Wednesday, Fish and Game officials closed the Anchor River to all sport fishing beginning June 9 through June 30 to protect the underperforming run of kings. The Ninilchik and Deep Creek rivers are still restricted to no bait and only artificial lures with a single hook.

For those not yet in the fishing mood, the Peninsula will see several good clamming tides on Thursday and Friday. Those tides for Deep Creek are: 12:18 p.m., Thursday, -4.2 feet; 1:04 p.m., Friday, -2.7 feet. Add 30 minutes for the Clam Gulch area.

Homer resident Christy Russ leads the Homer Jackpot Halibut Derby with her 128 pounder caught June 2 on North Country Halibut Charters with captain Ben Martin aboard the Fringe Benefit.

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