Saltwater best bet for weekend salmon

Posted: Friday, May 18, 2001

Weather permitting, most of the action this weekend will probably be in the Deep Creek marine fishery. If this isn't to your liking, you might want to stay home and gird your loins for next Friday night, the annual midnight king salmon opener and bacchanal at Deep Creek and the Ninilchik and Anchor rivers.

Kasilof River

Gary Hull, at Slammin' Salmon, said the hogs aren't thundering yet, but they're fixing to.

"It ain't red hot, yet, but there's fish," Hull said, after fishing the Kasilof Wednesday. "Every boat I saw had a fish. We hit one, and I was just on a shake-down cruise."

Wednesday was the first day bait was allowed on the Kasilof, which attracted lots of anglers. There were two or three drift boats in every hole, according to Greg Bush, of EZ Limit Guide Service. But even with the present low water, the fishing was good for this time of year, he said.

"I hit two and landed three, with two guys fishing," Brush said.

Remember, if you catch a rainbow or steelhead trout, you must release it immediately without removing it from the water.

Kenai River

Kenai River guide Jeff King said he caught his first king May 8, and the fishing has been improving a little each day.

"Tuesday was really good," he said. "Every boat had one or two fish."

The Kenai remains treacherously low, so not many people are fishing it, yet, King said. The risk to props and lower units is high, due to barely submerged rocks. There were maybe 10 boats in the entire lower river Wednesday, he said.

A visitor from Montana caught a nice king from shore, King said.

"He'd probably been on the river half an hour, throwing a spinner, and he caught about a 30-pound king from the bank," King said. "Caught it on a number 6 Vibrax, on 12-pound-test."

With the river as low and clear as it is, this is a good time to cast spinners and spoons from the bank. Keep in mind that fishing in the Kenai is now under "no bait," single-hook and artificial-lures-only regulations.

Wasilla resident Regan Walker caught a 62-pound Kenai king while fishing with guide Monte Roberts Tuesday. A lot of decent size fish were caught Tuesday and Wednesday, Roberts said.

Deep Creek-Anchor Point marine

King salmon fishing has been spotty, but anglers who focus on kings did well early this week, with some boats bringing in two or three. Several charterboat operators said they expect the fishing to really turn on during the next two weeks, when the early-run of kings is expected to peak.

Halibut fishing has been good, with most anglers bringing in limits. This fishing, too, is expected to greatly improve as the water warms up and more flatfish swim into the inlet to spend the summer.

The next series of clam tides begins Monday and goes right through Memorial Day weekend. The lowest two tides, -3.8 at Deep Creek, occur May 24 and 25.

Homer-Kachemak Bay

Captain Steve Novakovich, at Emerald Pines Lodge in Homer, reported that charterboats have been bringing in lots of halibut, and a few in the 100-pounds-plus category. Most of the kings have been feeders, so far, but they've been big ones, he said.

"The other day, the smallest feeder we had was 30 pounds and the biggest was 40, so they're big fish this year," Novakovich said. "We're seeing the best feeder king fishing that I've seen down here for several years. Tuesday, in the first hour, we hit seven fish."

In recent years, he has had to work harder to find feeders, he said. Reports from the Northwest are that salmon runs are making a comeback, probably due to changing ocean conditions. This could mean improved fishing in lower Cook Inlet, part of the feeding circuit of those wandering kings, Novakovich said.

Any of the minus tides in the series beginning May 21 are low enough to rake butter and littleneck clams on the beaches across Kachemak Bay from Homer.

Resurrection Bay/Gulf of Alaska

Julie Graham, at The Fish House in Seward, said charterboats there started fishing in early May, and the fishing has been getting better ever since.

"People have been limiting out on halibut," Graham said, adding that two 100-pounds-plus flatfish had been brought in.

The Fish House has two boats fishing for feeder kings, and they've been doing "real well," she said.

"We had a record feeder, about a week and a half ago. Fifty-four pounds," Graham said.

Peninsula lakes

The ice is off all of the lowland lakes on the peninsula, and the fishing is excellent. Right now, immediately after the ice has gone out, is the best time to fish these lakes. The fish are hungry and not finicky about what they eat. Try casting flies or trolling them behind a float tube or canoe. Small spinners and spoons will also produce fish, as will single salmon eggs and other baits.

Twenty-eight peninsula lakes are stocked. Most are stocked with either rainbow trout or landlocked silver salmon, and some get both species. Jerome and Upper Summit lakes contain rainbows and resident populations of Dolly Varden char. These latter two lakes were still covered with ice last Sunday, but should be open by this weekend.

How to stay out of trouble

If you go out on the water, be sure to wear a PFD (life jacket). If you go swimming, a PFD greatly enhances your odds of survival.

Before heading for the water, read and become familiar with the regulations that apply to the water where you'll be fishing. Also be sure you have a current sport-fishing license and king salmon stamp. Anglers who aren't required to have a license, such as those younger than 16, must carry a harvest record card. Licenses, king salmon stamps, harvest record cards and copies of the 2001 Sport Fishing Regulations Summary are available at many local stores.

For a 24-hour recording of information about central peninsula fisheries, call (907) 262-2737. For a 24-hour recording of information about lower peninsula fisheries, call (907) 235-6930. If you have questions, call the Department of Fish and Game at (907) 262-9368.

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