A small crowd digs for butter and littleneck clams in China Poot Bay earlier this week. The big minus tides running through Saturday will make ideal conditions for digging the bountiful bivalves.
Photo by Joseph Robertia
Current weather patterns, favorable tidal fluctuations, and new changes to the sportfish regulations should all combine to produce plenty of king salmon to go around during the Memorial Day weekend opener.
"We're right on track for a good weekend," said Stan Harrington, of the Anchor Angler tackle shop in Anchor Point.
The weather forecast for the lower peninsula is predicted to be a cloudy with a few showers possible this weekend.
"The lower pressure and rain should really help out," Harrington said, adding that many rivers have been running unseasonably low, clear and warm as of late typically unfavorable conditions for king fishing.
"Fish counts have been continuing to build, and it's looking a lot like last year when we really had the fish come through between May 28 and June 17," Harrington said in regard to the Anchor River.
As of Tuesday, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game's sonar/weir estimate for the Anchor River had cumulatively recorded 1,473 salmon passing by, with 216 salmon Tuesday. By comparison, sonar on the Kenai River had had counted an estimated 58 king salmon Wednesday for a total 544 so far.
The bag limit for kings on the Anchor River is one per day, one in possession. Harrington also pointed out that large numbers of steelhead have moved down the river. There is no retention of steelhead or rainbows, and these fish should not be removed from the water.
Large tidal fluctuations this week have contributed to bringing the salmon into many of the lower peninsula waterways.
"The big tides brought in fish at the Homer Spit Fishing Lagoon. King fishing there has been improving daily," said Nicky Szarzi, area management biologist at the Fish and Game office in Homer.
Szarzi reported that the marine king fishery around Bluff Point continues to produce well, while fishing in Kachemak Bay has been hit or miss.
She reminded anglers fishing the Ninilchik River to familiarize themselves with the new regulations.
"This year, the bag limit for kings has been changed to two per day, two in possession, only one of which may be a wild salmon, recognized by the presence of the adipose fin," Szarzi said.
Harrington said he thought the Ninilchik opener may produce well.
"The fish buildup there should be pretty good and they haven't been disturbed yet, so from the opening at midnight, up until around 4:30 a.m., the fishing should be productive," he said.
The weekend conditions on the waterways of the lower peninsula have already begun to bring an exodus of anglers from Anchorage and beyond.
Starting mid-week, state parks and campgrounds from Kenai to Homer, but particularly those around the Ninilchik, Deep Creek and Anchor Rivers, began to fill up with pop-up campers, travel trailers and RVs anxious anglers eager to stake out a good spot for the Memorial Day weekend fishery.
"It'll be crowded just about everywhere you go," Harrington speculated.
Shoulder to shoulder fishing for kings is nothing new to most Alaskans, but for those looking for a little less congestion, Harrington recommended Deep Creek.
"There's fish in there by now and there is usually less pressure on them, so it should be a good sleeper spot," he said.
The king salmon bag limit for Deep Creek is one per day, one in possession.
Anglers heading south may also want to take along a clam shovel, as minus tides will produce favorable clamming conditions. The lowest tides will be today and Saturday.
For razor clams, try digging anywhere from the Kenai River south to the Homer Spit, and expect crowds in the hot zone from Whisky Gulch to Clam Gulch. The bag limit for razors is 60 per day, 120 in possession.
"Across Kachemak Bay, the crowds are thinner and there's two different kinds of clams depending on what people have a hankering for," Szarzi said, referring to the butter and littleneck clams that are prolific in most of the coves across the way.
Bag limit for butter clams is 700 per day, while the limit for littlenecks is a whopping 1,000 per day.
Regulations for clamming have also changed this year. A shellfish permit is no longer required. A valid sportfishing license needs be obtained prior to digging.
Peninsula Clarion ©2013. All Rights Reserved.