As the heat and eternal sunshine bring globe-trotting anglers to the Kenai Peninsula, it can become increasingly difficult to find a secluded spot to drop a line in the water and wait in peace for that first tentative nibble.
The Robertsons and the Prestons, two couples from Sterling, found sunshine, solitude and at least one nibble from a rainbow trout on Peterson Lake in the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge in mid-June.
While fishing on both the stocked and wild lakes on the Kenai Peninsula is typically the hottest in early spring, just after the ice melts, anglers say they enjoy the chance to get away from the business of the area’s salmon streams and focus on less popular fisheries.
“May is fantastic,” said Norvell Robertson, of Sterling. “You can get your limit in 20 minutes in May on rainbow trout in the lakes. They’re hungry.”
Robertson and Job Preston sat in their camp chairs, soaking up the sun Wednesday, as the surface of Peterson Lake rippled behind them and wind whipped smoke from their small campfire high into calm, blue sky.
Judy Robertson and Gwen Preston sat nearby, while Sidney Robertson — an ancient cocker-spaniel — lay snoring near their feet. The group listened to Rush Limbaugh mid-morning as a few read and Preston worked on a wood carving. He tried fishing on the shallow lake earlier in the day, but the wind made the fishing harder and typically the rainbow trout are easier to catch early in the morning or late in the evening, Preston said.
The area has been peaceful for days, the group said, and much of the rain and storm that rolled through the central Kenai Peninsula earlier in the week seemed to skip right over the campground.
Peterson Lake sits near Kelly Lake; both can be found on the east side of the Sterling Highway at Mile 68.3.
Anglers will find the area scenic with beavers and river otters keeping the fish company in the water and a variety of birds in June and July including loons, and mallards on the lake and spruce grouse and chickadees in the woods.
The scene is similar to many others on the Kenai Peninsula, Jon Preston said. While campgrounds can sometimes fill up fast, typically the lakes are a place to relax and avoid combat fishing.
“When the salmon starts running a lot of people forget about the lakes,” he said.
In the 28 stocked lakes on the Kenai Peninsula, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game puts populations of coho salmon, rainbow trout, arctic char and arctic grayling. Some of those species can be found in wild lakes on the Kenai Peninsula, as can invasive northern pike which are non-native but still available for harvest.
Jon Preston said he typically fishes with both spinners and fly rods and, as he isn’t looking to eat the fish he catches, with single, barbless hooks and spinners. He suggested spinning rods for most anglers as some of the area lakes are deep and are not easy for inexpert fishers. He waits until Peterson Lake is calm and glassy so he can use dry flies.
“I’m here for the fun of it, it’s something to do,” Jon Preston said. He joked that when the women got tired of hearing him talk, he headed out to fish.
Reach Rashah McChesney at firstname.lastname@example.org