King salmon fishing in the Kenai and Kasilof rivers was reported to be very good this past week and should only get better going into the weekend, as historically the numbers of early run king salmon moving into these waterways reach the peak of the run during the second week of June.
"It's as good as it gets for this time of year, and both rivers should produce through the weekend," said Brian Miller of Trustworthy Fishing and Hardware in Soldotna.
Daily king counts recorded by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game's sonar unit -- located 8.6 miles from the mouth of the river -- indicate 374, 601 and 975 kings came in Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday respectively, for a cumulative 7,316 kings so far in the early run.
As the total number of king salmon in the Kenai River has continued to increase, so, too, have corresponding numbers of fish being caught, particularly for those people fishing from approximately river Mile 18 downstream to Eagle Rock at Mile 11.
"It's been exceptional. People are catching a lot of fish. There's been a few people that have had 18 fish days, literally, and we're starting to see some larger fish showing up that are outside the slot limit," Miller said.
Most people have been doing well by soaking eggs, but Miller said the usual tackle of kwikfish and spin-n-glows have proven effective, and there have been a few anecdotal reports of success from people fishing with flatfish lures and other tackle with an Ultra-Violet coating that is new this year.
Anglers also have had fair success fishing for early run sockeye, particularly in the Swiftwater Park boat launch area near river Mile 23, as well as other areas of the lower Kenai River, such as around Poacher's Cove.
The Russian River also opened to fishing this past week, and early angler reports were the sockeye fishing was worth the drive. The fishing is expected to stay steady in this area through the weekend.
"We walked it on Tuesday and saw several thousand fish, and people have been catching them in the main stem of the Kenai, too, so I'd expect it to be good," said Tim McKinley, a Fish and Game fisheries biologist.
However, anglers should note the Sanctuary Area remains closed by regulation until 12:01 a.m., Tuesday, July 15, unless an emergency order is issued by Fish and Game to open it earlier.
Anglers fishing in the Russian River area are reminded to "Stop, chop and throw" by chopping filleted fish carcasses into several small pieces (2 inches) and throwing the pieces into the moving current of the river to prevent fish carcass buildup along the river. In addition, anglers are asked to clean fish at the designated fish cleaning tables.
Many, but not all flowing waters of the Kenai River, reopened to fishing and rainbow trout fishing Wednesday, including that portion of the river between the upper Killey River and the outlet of Skilak Lake. The upper Kenai River from Skilak Lake upstream to Kenai Lake also opened. The Swanson River drainage remains closed and will open at 12:01 a.m. Sunday.
On the Kasilof River, king fishing also should be productive this weekend, if this past week is any indication.
"The Kasilof has been building consistently and the last few days people have been getting a few fish per boat, with a few boats catching their limit," Miller said.
Sockeye salmon have been reported in the lower Kasilof River, as well. Fish and Game will begin collecting information about the sockeye run for this river soon. Sonar passage estimates should be available by the end of next week.
The lower portion of the Anchor River, as defined by Fish and Game markers, will open to king salmon fishing for one more weekend, starting at 12:01 a.m., Saturday through midnight Monday and again Wednesday from 12:01 a.m. to midnight.
The Anchor River sonar station, located two miles upstream from saltwater, saw a significant dip in daily numbers Wednesday when only 42 kings were counted for a cumulative 2,875 kings so far this season.
However, daily numbers had been in the triple digits for several days prior. On Sunday, Monday and Tuesday, 252, 195 and 327 kings were recorded, respectively.
The bag and possession limits for the Anchor River is one per day/one in possession for king salmon 20 inches or longer. The annual limit of king salmon that may be taken from the Anchor River increased to five per year.
Joseph Robertia can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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