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Mixed bag: halibut, sockeye, trout on tap

Posted: June 21, 2012 - 9:29am  |  Updated: June 21, 2012 - 9:50am
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Josh McNeal submitted this photo of his first Kenai king salmon caught on July 7, 2011.
  Submitted photo
Submitted photo
Josh McNeal submitted this photo of his first Kenai king salmon caught on July 7, 2011.

Russian River sockeye salmon and Kenai River rainbow trout remain the best option for anglers looking for action this weekend.

Sockeye continue to stream through the Kenai up into the Russian River at a pace of about 500 per day. As of Tuesday, 3,735 fish had passed through the Russian weir, but typically the big push of reds comes the last week in June.

Last year that pulse started on June 24 and peaked on June 30 with 2,571 fish through the weir. That could mean good things for eager fishermen with water conditions normal and weather forecasts calling for sunny days in the low 70s.

However, anglers wanting to increase their chances can try fishing in the cover of dark as sockeye are slow to move during the heat of day.

"Anglers we have talked to and people we have gotten reports from say that it kind of slowed down a little bit, but they say the fish are still moving through," said Jason Pawluk, assistant area management biologist for the Alaska Department of Fish and Game. "The fish seem to be moving through earlier in the morning. If anglers are wanting to have some success, be there either over night if you are a die-hard angler, or get there kind of early while the fish are still moving upstream through the clear water."

The portion of the Kenai River downstream from Skilak Lake to the confluence of the Moose River is fishing well for rainbows. However, as the summer goes on, trout will start to disperse throughout the river in preparation for the fall salmon egg feast, Pawluk said.

King salmon action on the Kenai River remains slow and fish and game took several more conservation actions this week, including closing the river through the end of the month to king fishing. Those emergency orders are:

* From June 22 through June 30 no king salmon of any size may be retained in the Kenai River from the mouth upstream to Skilak Lake, and in the Moose River from its confluence with the Kenai River upstream to the northernmost edge of the Sterling Highway bridge. King salmon may not be targeted and any king salmon caught while fishing for other species may not be removed from the water and must be released immediately.

* From July 1 through July 14 king salmon may not be targeted and no king salmon of any size may be retained in the Kenai River from Fish and Game regulatory markers 300 yards downstream from the mouth of Slikok Creek, upstream to the outlet of Skilak Lake, and in the Moose River from its confluence with the Kenai River upstream to the northernmost edge of the Sterling Highway bridge. 

* From July 1 through July 31, the use of bait or scent is not allowed in the Kenai River drainage from the mouth upstream to Skilak Lake, and in the Moose River from its confluence with the Kenai River upstream to the northernmost edge of the Sterling Highway bridge.

* The Kasilof River remains open to king fishing, however bait and multiple hooks have been prohibited and only hatchery-reared salmon may be retained, which are have a clipped adipose fin.

A pulse of sockeye is also making its way up the Kasilof -- so far there have been 8,166 fish to pass through the sonar, 2,000 of which came on June 19.

Barbi Failor, a biologist with Fish and Game, said anglers fishing in the saltwater out of Homer are catching nice sized halibut off of Elizabeth and Chugach islands and feeder kings are coming in from the area south of Flat Islands.

Pam Seward of LaMirada, Calif., currently holds the lead in the Homer Jackpot Halibut Derby with her 219.6-pound barn door caught June 15 on the Arctic Addiction with Captain Mike Manns of Mann's Charters.

Sammuel Sommerschield of Winchester, Tenn., took the lead of the Seward Halibut Tournament with his 187-pound halibut caught aboard a ProFish-*-Sea charter with Captain Kevin Knight. Jason Humphrey of Colorado Springs, Colo., is in second place with his 161.8 halibut also caught aboard the ProFish-*-Sea Pursuit. Jeff Strowe of Anchorage is in third place with a 144-pounder caught aboard Alaska Coastal Ventures Huntress with Capt. Eric Higbee.

Anglers are reminded that fishing within one mile of the coast from the Ninilchik River south to Bluff Point is prohibited, but beach halibut fishing near the mouth of the Kasilof and Kenai rivers is allowed.

Brian Smith can be reached at brian.smith@peninsulaclarion.com.

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