Things shaping up on Russian River

Posted: Thursday, June 11, 2009

It's shaping up to be an exciting weekend on the Kenai Peninsula. The Russian and upper Kenai rivers open to fishing Thursday, and there looks to be a good number of fish moving up those streams this week..

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Kenny Bingaman of Alaska's KingSize Adventures reports his clients' catch rate has been improving, and sent us this photo of a very happy local business owner, Scott Cunningham, with a 44-inch, 45-pound king caught on a Kwik Fish lure.

"There's several thousand reds moving through, so I would give it a good to great report for opening day," said Kyle Kolodziejski of Keen Eye Anglers.

Kolodziejski said he scouted the upper Kenai from Sportsman's Landing to Skilak Lake earlier this week.

" I'd say if you're going to hit the river, sockeye fishing is going to be where it's at," he said.

The fish he spotted earlier this week should be moving into the Russian River by now, making for good salmon fishing all the way around. In fact, on the first day of weir counts Tuesday, 334 sockeye were tallied by Alaska Department of Fish and Game counters.

Area managers are asking for the cooperation of anglers on the Russian River to minimize negative interactions between humans and bears. The Russian River Interagency Coordination Group has modified its "Stop, Chop and Throw" campaign, and is asking anglers not to fillet their catch on the Russian River. Instead, fishermen are being instructed just to gut and gill their catch streamside, carry the fish out whole and process the catch at home or drop it off with a professional fish processor.

The goal is to prevent the build-up of salmon carcasses in eddies and slackwater areas on the Russian, which has been attracting bears to the river over the past several seasons.

Anglers who do want to fillet their fish streamside are asked to hike down the confluence of the Russian and Kenai rivers, cut the fish carcass into numerous pieces, and toss the pieces into the deeper, faster-moving current.

The Russian and upper Kenai also open to trout fishing Thursday, which Kolodziejski expects to be fair to good.

Water levels are a little on the low side, and Scott Miller at Soldotna Trustworthy Hardware and Fishing recommends that anglers bring a variety of weights to achieve just the right drift.

"You might have to use a little less weight than you're used to. Bring an assortment of split shot -- and lots of coho flies," Miller said.

Waters of the Russian River from its mouth upstream to markers 600 yards below the falls, and of the upper Kenai River from the powerline upstream to the ferry crossing, are designated as fly-fishing only, and anglers should be sure to check the regulations for tackle restrictions.

Also, the sanctuary area at the confluence of the two rivers remains closed. Anglers should be sure to know where the Fish and Game regulatory markers are before wetting a line.

Fishing for king salmon on the lower Kenai River has been steady, though the bite slowed last weekend as rains last week muddied the water a bit.

"We've had reports of fish coming in every day, but it hasn't been red hot. When the water starts clearing up a little bit, it should be good," Miller said.

Miller said that sockeye fishing on the lower river has been good, too, as anglers are picking up those fish headed to the upper Kenai from the various parks along the river.

On the lower peninsula, the emergency order closing the Anchor River and the adjacent saltwater to salmon fishing remains in effect through June 30.

Reports out of Homer are that halibut fishing is heating up, and this weekend's smaller tides should help everyone hitting the saltwater keep their bait on the bottom a little better. Halibut fishing out of Seward also is reportedly improving.

Remember, keep those photos and fish tales coming. You can e-mail them at, or submit them from the Tight Lines page at

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