Rainbows gorging, silvers pulsing [+ video]

Joe Tommy freshens up his bait Wednesday afternoon while fishing for silver salmon on the Kenai River at Cunningham Park. He said his niece caught one fish earlier in the day.

Rainbow trout gorging themselves on eggs and flesh from the Kenai River’s large sockeye run this year will provide anglers with plenty of opportunity this weekend.


And if the trout aren’t there, the silvers might be tucked in nearby.

Standing in the middle of the Kenai River sanctuary near its confluence with the Russian River on Wednesday, Colin Lowe, owner of Kenai Cache Outfitters said rainbow trout and Dolly Varden action was good.

“I’ve caught quite a few in less than 20 minutes,” he said. “Just released a fatty 21-incher.”

Lowe said bead fishermen should concentrate their efforts on natural-colored beads, which are a constant in the presence of a spawn — those are tangerine, orange, dark rose and natural rose colors.

“About a week in or two weeks in is when you start messing with the nuances like the apricots and the peaches and the peach fuzzes and the shrimps and I could name all 33 or 50, 60 colors,” he said.

The white, hazy shading on the outside of the bead is critical as it mimics what happens during the spawning process, Lowe said.

“As soon as those eggs hit the water they take on a smoky tint,” he said. “If you don’t have that smoky tint, say you take a regular orange bead and it has no tint on it … then it is not going to look natural to the trout.”

Monte Roberts, a guide for All Alaska Outdoors, said trout fishing in the middle river has been a little slower due to the massive amount of food in the water.

“They are doing well on the little trout, but the bigger trout are in behind the spawning kings and are really hard to get at,” he said.

Anglers shouldn’t have to worry about sockeye by-catch as spawners have spread out along the river — a good signal the spawn is on, Lowe said.

“I’m looking out here right now and they are pretty spread out, which means they are looking for a redd and the males are just waiting for an opportunity to fertilize the nest,” he said. “That’s a good sign and it helps with fishing because you can actually fish these silvers and not hook a red every cast.”

According to Alaska Department of Fish and Game estimates, 60 silver salmon pushed through the Russian River weir on Tuesday and 27 on Monday bringing the run’s total to 229. That’s well above last year’s 65 through the same time period.

Roberts said silver fishing in the main Kenai is slower than usual, but they are spread throughout the river.

“It was pretty slow, but they were hidden in the humpies,” he said. “So they outrun the humpies and there are quite a few fish up here. Not as good as normal years, but there are plenty of fish around.”

Pink salmon are still stacked thick in the lower river, Roberts said, but anglers can strategically fish around them.

“The silvers were good in the lower river up until the mud (flow) on Sunday afternoon … in the lower river so the fishing slowed down there a little in the lower river, but we are in the upper river today and we’ve hooked seven,” he said.

However, fishing could be good the few days after the dirty water flushes out of the system, Roberts said.

“When the water dirties up in the lower river there is no fishing success so basically it is like closing the river for four days — it loads back up and once it clears up it is usually pretty good,” he said.

Robert Begich, area management biologist for Fish and Game, said each time silver salmon fishing picks up it flattens out again.

“It has been hot and cold and it is kind of iffy as far as success rates go,” he said. “I know we have had some bright sunny days here and I know that doesn’t help things. The water got a little turbid here on Monday in the lower. It is fair I would say.”

The same goes for other silver fisheries in the area — Kasilof and the south Peninsula’s streams.

“I know that some people were having some success on a tide here and there — they were getting some limits, but pretty much the same story of nothing consistent,” he said.

But, Begich said fingers are crossed for a better second run of silvers.

“We usually see a lull in the action and then it picks up again with later arriving fish in September, usually after the first week of September,” he said. “So everybody is hoping for a better September than August for silvers.”


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


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