Ready or not? Russian set to open

Posted: Thursday, June 10, 2010

Recent fishery restrictions on the Kenai and Kasilof rivers and southern Peninsula streams may have gotten some anglers down, but there is something to look forward to this weekend with the opener of the Russian River.

Clarion File Photo
Clarion File Photo
A stringer of sockeye salmon cools in the waters of the Russian River. Anglers are eagerly awaiting the Friday opening of the Russian and upper Kenai rivers to salmon fishing.

And the river is apparently running red.

"They are here and they are on their way," said Robert Begich, area management biologist for Fish and Game in Soldotna. "It's a small number and less than we normally see this time of year."

Fish and Game installed the weir on Monday and so far the count has been zero, he said.

The weir is located upstream of the fishery, so weir counts may not be a good indicator of the numbers of fish in the area open to fishing.

George Heim, owner of Cooper Landing's Alaska River Adventures, said he has seen several sockeye while out on rafting trips.

"It should be alright. There's not huge numbers down there but there's good numbers," he said about the fishing this weekend.

The river is high, he said, which might make fishing a little tough.

"You won't have them pooled up right in front of you," he said. "It'll be a little more challenging than if they were getting stacked up there."

And the murky water conditions currently might aid anglers hoping to hook salmon.

"They might feel comfortable and move closer to shore," Heim said. "If it's too clear they can see you and move out into deeper water."

The Russian opens 12:01 a.m. Friday.

Anglers are reminded to clean up their fish waste to reduce its availability to bears.

Bobbi Jo Skibo of the Russian River Interagency Coordination Group said fish must be kept within 12 feet of the angler at all times to ensure bears do not grab them.

The agency is also asking anglers to remove the fish whole or fillet only at the tables provided at the ferry site and at the confluence of the Kenai and Russian rivers. The agency's "stop, chop, and throw," program is still in effect for any streamside filleting.

"If people choose to clean their fish where they catch them, chop them up in small pieces and throw them into the current," Begich said.

A new federal regulation regarding food storage is in place this year that requires any food, beverage or garbage items and equipment to be stored in a vehicle, bear-resistant container or within three feet of your person.

If it's trout you're after, the fishery opens Friday for the Russian and Kenai rivers. The rainbow trout fishery has been closed since early May so those fish will be in for a surprise and anglers should expect some good catching, Begich said.

"Water conditions in the Kenai are not great but we expect some pretty good fishing," he said.

The Kenai is still closed to king salmon for the remainder of the month.

On Tuesday 572 kings swam upstream for a total of 2,248 since counts began last month.

"There's been some improvement to the numbers of early run kings entering the Kenai but we're still holding to assess that run," he said. "If we see unexpected and significant improvement we'll take action to reopen the fishery."

Closure of the Kenai has meant the Kasilof River has been crowded with anglers sinking lines for hatchery salmon. Wild kings, which still have their adipose fin, are not allowed to be retained per Fish and Game's recent restrictions.

"It's gotten kind of busy," said Dean Swerin, owner of Aventure Northwest guide service on the Kasilof. "It's just added a lot of pressure down here."

But as far as the fishing goes, it has picked up in the last few days.

There's one more chance to fish Deep Creek and the Ninilchik River for kings this weekend before they close for the season.

Deep Creek is clearing and fishing should improve there, said Homer Fish and Game biologist Nicky Szarzi. Fishing success on the Ninilchik is probably going to stay the same there with fair conditions, she said.

The use of bait is prohibited in Deep Creek, Ninilchik and Anchor rivers.

Grant Anderson of the Fly Box tackle shop in Anchor Point said the Anchor is still high and dirty but slowly picking up.

"Mostly everything that has been caught has been pretty close to the mouth," he said.

Reports out of Homer say the halibut fishing has been slow and the catches have been small in the beginning of June with only one derby leader so far -- a 78.6-pounder caught by Jeremey Schmitt of Loveland, Colo. There's another good clam tide this week starting today and going to June 17.

Remember to always check to 2010 Alaska Sport Fishing Regulations before you put a line in the water. Hardcopies of the regs can be found anywhere licenses are sold, or linked off of the Tight Lines website: http://explorethekenai.com/tightlines/.

Brielle Schaeffer can be reached at brielle.schaeffer@peninsulaclarion.com.



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