The good news for anglers heading down to the southern Kenai Peninsula's salmon streams for this weekend's king salmon opener is that water conditions are great for catching fish, and there's plenty of fish entering the streams.
Of course, there will be a few challenges last fall's flooding has changed the Anchor River and Deep Creek into completely different rivers, complete with different channels and different holes where the fish will be holding.
For anglers who have been there before, it will be like fishing those streams for the first time.
"People will be less familiar with where they're fishing," said assistant area biologist Robert Begich with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game out of Homer.
"People might not recognize some places they've traditionally fished."
Anglers will have an easier time of scoping out new holes, though, as low water and high water clarity should make for some excellent fishing.
"We're into our summertime flows as far as water height and clarity," Begich said. "We don't have any snow runoff. It's excellent conditions for fishing."
While the holes may be different, the tactics will be the same.
A Spin-N-Glo fished ahead of eggs is a popular choice in tackle, but Heath Harrington at the Anchor Angler tackle shop in Anchor point said a wide variety of lures or flies should be effective.
"Even fly fishermen and spinner fishermen will have success this weekend, with the big number of fish coming in," Harrington said.
The Anchor River, Deep Creek and Ninilchik River open to king salmon fishing at 12 a.m. Saturday through midnight Monday.
Harrington added that trolling for saltwater kings has been excellent, as has halibut fishing in lower Cook Inlet.
On the central peninsula, Fish and Game reports that anglers are beginning to catch early-run kings in the Kenai and Kasilof rivers.
Anglers need to be aware that major regulation changes have been implemented on the Kenai this season.
From its mouth upstream to the its outlet at Skilak Lake, king salmon less than 44 inches and greater than 55 inches in length currently are legal for harvest.
Nonresident anglers are prohibited from fishing from a boat on the lower Kenai from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. through June 30, and through July 31, and harvested king salmon greater than 55 inches must be sealed by Fish and Game or Fish and Wildlife Protection with three days of harvest.
Tackle on the Kenai is restricted to one unbaited, single-hook artificial lure.
On the Kasilof, many anglers opt for small or medium Spin-N-Glos fished with a piece of yarn or eggs. Bait is allowed, but only one single hook may be used.
Regulation changes also affect the Kasilof fishery, most notable that only hatchery-reared kings, identifiable by their clipped adipose fin, may be retained. Harvested king salmon may not be cleaned in a such a manner that the fin-clip scar can not be identified before taking them from the fishery.
Fishing regulations on the peninsula can be complex, and anglers should be sure to read the regulations summary before heading out.
King salmon fishing also is picking up in Resurrection Bay, where anglers trolling have been hooking hatchery kings. A few sockeye salmon have been caught at the head of the bay, as well as a the first random silver salmon of the season.
For those wishing to avoid the salmon-hungry masses, Fish and Game reports that action in the area's stocked lakes should be good right now.
Information on stocked lakes is available at Fish and Game offices on Kalifornsky Beach Road in Soldotna, or on the Web site at www.sf.adfg.state.ak.us.
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