In other parts of the country, midnight madness generally refers to the first day college basketball teams can practice -- programs generally start with an open session to whet the appetite of their hoops-crazed fans.
Midnight madness on the Kenai Peninsula takes a slightly different form, though it can be just as crazed.
The Ninilchik River, Anchor River and Deep Creek open up at 12:01 a.m. Saturday, and those fisheries are sure to be packed this weekend as anglers will try to land an early-run king salmon.
"It's quite a social experience," said Nicky Szarzi, an area-management biologist with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game. "A lot of people go for that as much as the good fishing."
Fishing is restricted to the lower part of the rivers, as indicated by the Fish and Game markers, and the fisheries close at midnight Monday.
Including Memorial Day weekend, the Anchor River will be open to sport fishing for five consecutive weekends, while Deep Creek and the Ninilchik River will be open for three consecutive weekends.
Szarzi said anglers need to make sure they have their sport fishing license and king tags, and recommended they look through this season's fishing regulations.
The limit on the Anchor River, Ninilchik River and Deep Creek is one fish per day. Szarzi said that once an angler retains a king, he or she must stop fishing for the day. She also said that once a fish is taken out of the water, it counts toward the limit.
"Once a fish is out of the water, it's chances of surviving decrease markedly," Szarzi said.
The season limit for kings is five, and not more than two can be taken from the Anchor River and Deep Creek combined.
Szarzi said that Fish and Game officers will be out all weekend for a variety of reasons.
"Anglers are going to have a lot company," Szarzi said.
In addition to enforcement, Fish and Game biologists will be conducting a study on the Ninilchik River, comparing hatchery-spawned fish to non-hatchery fish in this season's harvest.
"If they see someone asking a lot of questions, we'd appreciate their cooperation," Szarzi said.
Saltwater anglers have been returning home with full coolers, according to Laurie Johnson at Silver Fox Charters in Homer.
"When the weather's been good, they've been out fishing," Johnson said. "All of our boats are going out on Saturday, and most of them are going out again on Sunday."
Johnson said the halibut fishing has been excellent, and with the small tides for Memorial Day weekend, the trend should continue. It's much easier to keep bait on the bottom when the rip isn't as strong, and it's much easier to reel in a lunker when an angler is only fighting the fish, and not the tide.
"With a small amount of water moving through, it just makes for easier fishing," Johnson said. "Some of the captains like a little more water moving through to get a better scent trail, though."
Johnson said that with nine "six-pack" boats and one "party boat" in the Silver Fox fleet, the outfit's captains have been able to cover a lot of water. She said they usually head toward the Chugach Islands and the Barren Islands.
"Wherever they think they're going to find fish," Johnson said.
Johnson said the biggest halibut of the season was a 205-pounder caught Sunday on the boat Mako, skippered by Tom Bunnell.
Johnson said a few kings have been landed -- most notably a 45-pound fish brought in Tuesday.
Halibut fishing out of Seward has been very good as well, according to Bob Crocker of Captain Bob's Charters.
Crocker hasn't done a halibut charter yet this season, but he said that on the way home from a hunting trip across Blying Sound, he stopped and dropped a few lines and was pleased with the results.
"They look to me to be a little bigger than what we caught last year," Crocker said. "What we got was nice, and it didn't take us too long to get it.
"(As far as the rest of the season,) it's too early to guarantee. I'll tell you what's happened, but I tell you what's going to happen."
Crocker said that salmon fishing out of Seward usually picks up later in the season.
"If you can get two or three kings in a day, you've done excellent," Crocker said.
The small tides make halibut fishing a dream, but they aren't as conducive to catching marine king salmon, which tend to move in on the big tides.
"Kings are slow -- we're trying to accuse the small tides," said Steve Smith, a captain for Ninilchik Saltwater Charters. "The halibut fishing is excellent. We've caught a lot of big fish."
Smith said anglers are bringing back plenty of halibut in the 20- to 30-pound range, and a good number in the 60- to 80-pound range. He said the biggest catch of the season weighed in at 140 pounds. Smith said he launches out of Deep Creek and fishes for halibut in the lower Cook Inlet.
"We've had just a couple of salmon, though," Smith said. "We're fishing for salmon mostly between the Deep Creek mile marker and the Stariski marker. I'm looking forward to the next set of high tides to give us a burst of kings coming through."
Fishing along the Kenai River is starting to pick up as the early-run kings begin to head up river. The Kenai is closed to all fishing above the Upper Killey River due to spawning rainbow trout.
Fishing the lower Kenai is limited to unbaited single hooks and artificial lures. Rainbow trout caught in the lower Kenai must be released.
"They're hooking a few, but they're not landing too many," said Ken Lacey, owner of Ken's Alaska Tackle in Soldotna, of anglers fishing from the bank on the lower Kenai.
Anglers on the Kenai are using Pixees, Syclops and Krocodiles from the bank, and Magnum Hot Shots and Kwikfish from boats.
Lacey said anglers on the Kasilof River are using Spin-n-Glos from the bank and salmon eggs, Spin-n-Glos and Kwikfish to catch the early-run kings, with some success.
"They're doing good, but not excellent," Lacey said.
Fish and Game has opened up the Kasilof to bait and treble hooks, but steelhead trout must be released.
Peninsula Clarion ©2013. All Rights Reserved.