Kasilof hot for kings, Kenai warming up

Posted: Friday, June 16, 2006

Kasilof is the word on the water this weekend as the king fishing continues to remain hot there, and the sockeye bite isn’t bad either.

“The fishing has been great. The kings have just been boiling the water the last few days, and the sockeye have been streaming in, too,” said Rocky Laster of the Kasilof Mercantile.

Not only have large numbers of kings been pushing in, but Laster said they haven’t been picky, either.

“They’re hitting everything. Bait — especially cured roe — is working well, but they’re also hitting artificial stuff, too,” he said.

Brain Miller or Trustworthy Hardware and Fishing in Soldotna echoed similar sentiments in regard to the Kasilof River.

“It’s picked up considerably. I’ve even had reports of some seven-fish days for a few folks,” he said.

Miller said guides are picking up fish in many spots while drifting downriver from the Sterling Highway put in. Bank angling is slightly slower, but anglers are still doing well at the People’s Hole, where the Kasilof River and Crooked Creek meet.

Although the Kasilof River personal-use setnet fishery opened Thursday morning, the fishing is expected to continue to be good throughout the weekend for all user groups, since this is historically when the Kasilof River king run reaches its peak,according to Alaska Department of Fish and Game records.

On the Kenai River, the king counts also are starting to skyrocket. On Wednesday, 688 kings were counted by the Fish and Game sonar station 8.6 miles from the mouth of the river, for a cumulative 9,179 kings so far this season.

However, muddy water from this week’s persistent rain is holding down the catch rate.

“When the water is clear the Kenai is getting to be excellent, but this rain keeps muddying it up. People are still catching them, but it’s tougher when it’s muddy,” Miller said.

Further up the Kenai River and on the Russian River, sockeye are trickling in but their numbers are puny in comparison to recent years at this time.

In 2004, roughly 2,300 fish a day were recorded at the weir at the outlet of Lower Russian Lake, while in 2005, an even more impressive 4,700 salmon stormed the weir.

This year only 410 salmon were counted at the weir Wednesday, for 657 sockeye cumulatively. This may be a sign that the Kenai sockeye run will be weak this season, as Fish and Game biologists predicted.

Further to the south, an emergency order issued Wednesday by Fish and Game reopened the Ninilchik River to fishing for hatchery king salmon for an additional month. The Ninilchik will remain open until 11:59 p.m. Friday, July 14.

The Anchor River opens for its final weekend at 12:01 a.m. Saturday until midnight (11:59 p.m.) Monday. Although past the peak of the run, large numbers of kings are still coming in. On Wednesday, the weir count was 156 kings making it 5,667 kings so far, based on weir and sonar estimates.

King fishing also is said to be exceptional at the Nick Dudiak Fishing Lagoon in Homer. salmon eggs and herring are the preferred bait, and Fish and Game reports that the lagoon may soon open to snagging.

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