The biggest crowds in Alaska this weekend will congregate on the lower Kenai Peninsula. The action will center on the clam beaches, the halibut and king salmon in the marine fishery and the midnight king salmon opener on the Ninilchik River.
Lower Peninsula Streams
Due to breakup runoff, the Anchor River and Deep Creek were muddy at midweek and will likely remain muddy for another few days. Not that they can't be fished, but expect them to be out of shape this weekend and in better condition next weekend.
The Ninilchik River should be in excellent shape for this weekend's king salmon opener, which runs Saturday through Monday. Whether the kings will be in is anyone's guess.
There are several ways to fish the Ninilchik. In the deep water of the estuary, most anglers cast Vibrax spinners or fish with salmon roe under a bobber. The slow water upstream of the estuary lends itself to fly fishing. Upstream from there to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game markers two miles from the mouth, most anglers drift rigs that combine something on the order of Spin-N-Glos or Lil' Corkys with yarn. Some use bait.
Deep Creek-Anchor Point Marine
King salmon fishing this week has been "iffy," at best, with the weather keeping most boats off the water and only a few fish caught. That said, everyone is optimistic about the next few days. The consensus seems to be that the bulk of the kings have yet to arrive in the area, but that they are on their way and could arrive at any time. The trick is to be there and fishing when they do.
Windy weather kept a lot of boats off the inlet this week, but some that went out brought back good catches of halibut.
The kings are in the Kasilof, but not in great numbers, yet. This fishery should improve through the middle of June. The river is still low, but steadily rising.
Ty Van Lier, of Swifter Drifter Guide Service, said his three clients caught three kings Tuesday, and two kings and a steelhead Wednesday.
"We had to work for 'em, but hey, it's fishin'," he said.
Remember, all rainbows or steelhead trout must be released immediately without removing them from the water.
A few nice-sized kings came out of the Kenai this week, but the main run remains to be seen. It's still early for the usual peak of the early run.
The Kenai is still low, but rising at about 1 inch per day. It has remained clear and is very fishable. If you don't want to risk a prop or lower unit, this would be an excellent time to cast spinners and spoons from the bank for kings. Due to the low water, there isn't much current, so landing one from shore is still possible. Keep in mind that all Kenai River fishing is still "no bait," single-hook and artificial-lures-only.
Garth Bradshaw, at Central Charter Booking Agency in Homer, said no kings had shown up at the fishing hole on the Homer Spit, as of midweek. He expected some to show up on this week's big tides.
It's still a little early for many big halibut to be coming into Cook Inlet, but the smaller ones being caught are fatter than usual, according to some charterboat captains.
One captain, whose name I dare not mention, said he had found a "honey hole" where he had taken several feeder kings early this week. He seemed to think the baitfish were plentiful in this spot, and the kings had been attracted to them.
Feeder kings continue to dominate salmon catches in the inlet south of Anchor Point. Downriggers are the best way to reach these fish, as they are usually found at 60 feet or deeper and near the bottom.
The minus tides occurring through Memorial Day are plenty low enough for raking butter and littleneck clams on the beaches across Kachemak Bay from Homer.
Be sure to pick up a free permit from a license vendor before heading out.
Gulf of Alaska
Julie Graham, at The Fish House in Seward, said anglers have been catching Dolly Varden from shore at Lowell Point.
"They've been spotting kings, too, but nobody has caught one yet," she said.
King salmon, stocked as smolts at the head of the bay, are due back at any time, Graham said.
Weather providing, charterboats have been bringing good catches of halibut back to Seward.
Since the ice went out, fishing for rainbow trout in the stocked lakes has been excellent. Fishing a lake would be a good way to avoid the salmon-crazed crowds this weekend. Fish and Game has a brochure containing maps that show how to access these lakes. For a free copy, stop by their Soldotna office, at 43961 Kalifornsky Beach Road.
If you go out on any water, be sure to wear a PFD (life jacket).
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.
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