What has been a good season in terms of fishing so far appears to be angling toward excellent during the next week.
"This is prime time for fishing," said Linda Skelton, a manager with Inlet Charters in Homer. "I would say that this is the most excellent time to be fishing. All those Kenai River-bound kings are just entering the inlet here. We had a client last week that had to quit fishing because he had already caught his yearly limit."
Skelton said that the halibut trips out of Homer also have netted excellent results.
"People have been catching nice-sized halibut every day. We've had several in the 50- to 100-pound range," Skelton said.
Skelton said that her guides are reporting big balls of bait fish in the inlet -- a sure sign that bigger fish can't be far behind.
In addition to the fishing, Skelton said that clamming on the west side of Cook Inlet for butter and littleneck clams has been productive and should be even better with the upcoming series of clam tides.
Dan Harrington, owner of the Anchor Angler in Anchor Point, said fishing on the Anchor River, the Ninilchik River and Deep Creek was moderate for last weekend's opener, but typically improves as the run progresses.
"There was probably a record number of campers in this area," Harrington said of the turnout for last weekend's opener. "They were fishing sporadically, though. It's a big social event."
This weekend's big tides should bump plenty of king salmon into the rivers, and Harrington said that river conditions are looking good. The water has cleared, but still has a little bit of a tint to it -- perfect conditions for landing a king.
"You don't want it too clear, or they get spooked in the shallow water," Harrington said.
Saturday's high tide will roll in just about the same time the sun rises in Anchor Point, making for ideal conditions. The Anchor River, Ninilchik River and Deep Creek sport fisheries open at 12:01 a.m. Saturday and close at midnight Monday.
Harrington said the majority of fish taken last weekend were landed using small Spin-n-Glos and eggs.
Saltwater fishing in the lower part of Cook Inlet has been excellent, according to Harrington. Anglers are catching halibut in fairly shallow water, and many are hooking a flatfish while trolling for kings.
Harrington said anglers fishing on the lower peninsula's rivers should be aware that steelhead trout have finished spawning and will be heading back down river over the next couple of weekends.
The species is catch-and-release only, and Harrington said that many anglers will inadvertently catch a steelhead while fishing for kings.
Saltwater fishing out of Seward is beginning to pick up, according to Sablefish Charters captain Mike McCall.
"Things are picking up," McCall said. "It should consistently get better as we head into June."
McCall said the halibut fishing has been pretty good while fishing for king salmon has been moderate. He said he did have a pleasant surprise on a recent outing, though.
"We picked up a handful of silvers," McCall said. "I don't know where they came from, or where they were headed. They're nice fish, though."
Fishing for king salmon on the Kenai River and the Kasilof River has been slow, but both fisheries should benefit from this weekend's big tides.
"It's early in the run, and right now the count is lower than we were hoping," said Mike Bethe, the area management biologist for the Alaska Department of Fish and Game. Bethe said he expected the number of king salmon entering the Kenai and the Kasilof to jump significantly over the next few days.
Beverly Lindstrom, of Big Dog's Guide Service in Soldotna, said there hasn't been much activity on the lower part of the Kenai.
"The river the last couple of days has been really slow," Lindstrom said. "I just haven't seen that many boats going by."
The Kenai River is open downstream from the Upper Killey River for sport fishing, but the upper part of the river remains closed due to the rainbow trout spawning season.
Bethe stressed that anglers should keep safety in mind when fishing, as well as the sport fishing regulations for the Kenai Peninsula.
"Safety is always an important issue," Bethe said. "Read the regulations -- they're complex here on the peninsula."
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