Fishing season a little cool to start: Will things pick up for this weekend's king openers?

Posted: Thursday, May 21, 2009

It's springtime here on the Kenai Peninsula, and everyone seems to know it but the fish.

Clarion File Photo
Clarion File Photo
This weekend is the unofficial start of the sport fishing season on the Kenai Peninsula. Many anglers will be looking for a hook up with a fresh king salmon.

The Anchor River opened last weekend and the Ninilchik River and Deep Creek will follow this weekend.

Reports coming in indicate there's a slow bite on the Anchor.

"We had a pretty slow weekend, the weir count on the Anchor is not very high," said Nikki Szarzi, a fisheries biologist with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game in Homer.

Since weir counts began on May 12, zero to three fish headed up the river every day. As of Tuesday, 11 fish had passed the weir so far this year.

"That's somewhat comparable to last year at this time, but much lower than previous years," Szarzi said.

Dick Marshall, of Kenai, said he flogged the Anchor for a few hours last weekend, but other than a rumored handful of fish, he didn't see much action.

Both Marshall and Sarzi said water levels are low in the Anchor.

Marshall said that in his experience the fish hole up in deep pockets when that happens.

"They're tough and they're spookier too, especially on sunny days and especially with people moving and splashing water, but we all hope they're going to show," he said.

The Anchor is open for king(Tide information for Deep Creek)

fishing on weekends, from 12:01 a.m. Saturday through 11:59 p.m. Monday, and on Wednesdays to June 17.

Deep Creek and the Ninilchik will have their first opening this weekend, and Sarzi said to expect similar low and clear water conditions there as well.

She was optimistic about the fishing, saying "Normally the Ninilchik is very good on opening and Deep Creek is too."

Both rivers are open to kings Saturday through Monday until June 8.

If you're heading to the Ninilchik, remember that while you're allowed two 20-inch or longer fish per day, only one may be a wild fish.

Wild fish are easy to distinguish as they still have their adipose fins. Those without are hatchery fish.

Farther north on the Kasilof, Robert Begich, a Fish and Game sport fish area management biologist, said that creel surveys show a few fish are being caught.

"It should just get better as we head out from here," he said.

Rocky Laster of the Kasilof Mercantile, which arranges fishing trips and sells fishing tackle said, "I heard it's good for this early. As far as the amount of people coming in and getting fishing stuff, its pretty high for this early if that's any indication."

Laster said he thought water levels were up as well.

Don't forget the special regulations in effect for kings this time of year.

Two hatchery fish -- those missing their adipose fin -- can be kept seven days a week.

Only one wild fish however, easily identified as still having their adipose, can only be kept on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays.

Anglers may only have two fish in possession at any time.

On the Kasilof's big sister, the Kenai, kings have been making a steady return as well. About 40 fish are making their way past the Fish and Game sonar, located 8.6 miles from the river's mouth.

As of Tuesday, 162 kings had made their way into the river since counts began on Saturday.

Remember to always check the 2009 Alaska Sport Fishing Regulation Summary before you start fishing.

You can find hardcopies anywhere licenses are sold, or online at

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