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Anglers awaiting next push of sockeyes to Russian

Posted: Thursday, June 17, 2010

Up on the Russian River, anglers are casting lines to catch some of Alaska's tastiest meat -- red salmon.

Photo Courtesy Seward Chamber Of Commerce
Photo Courtesy Seward Chamber Of Commerce
Aaron Buscher of Conifer, Colorado has claimed the lead in the 2010 Seward Halibut Tournament with his 337-pound flat fish caught on Monday aboard Crackerjack Sportfishing Charter's Crackerjack Voyager.

Fishing reports say last weekend's opener was slow but things are expected to pick up this weekend.

"We really do expect a push of fish to hit that area any day now," said Jason Pawluk, Fish and Game's assistant area manager in Soldotna.

As of Tuesday, 420 fish have been counted by the Department of Fish and Game's weir, with anywhere from 17 to 162 fish swimming by since counts began last week.

Pawluk said the department conducted a foot survey Tuesday and counted 600 fish holding in the sanctuary, "which really is not a lot of reds for this time of year."

Pat Senzig, of Wisconsin, said the fishing below Russian River Ferry has been alright, but the sockeyes are not coming in heavy yet.

Anglers are "getting a few but you really got to work for them," he said.

Harvey Giebner of Gwin's Lodge in Cooper Landing said not too may people are catching their three-fish limit because of cold and low water conditions.

"We're waiting for the water to warm up a bit so the fish can come in," he said.

Down on the Kenai River, the fish have officially came in. After an extremely slow and worrisome start to the king salmon run, which temporarily closed the fishery, Fish and Game has seen steady numbers in the past week.

On Wednesday, 6,086 kings had been counted in the river, with anywhere from 437 to 687 fish coming in every day.

On Monday, Fish and Game lifted all restrictions for the Kenai's early-run kings. Pawluk said the fishery is back to standard regulations and slot limits.

"It's just good to see the run rebound. We feel confident we're going to make our escapement goal," Pawluk said.

He said with current numbers the return is projected to be somewhere between 7,000 and 11,000 fish.

If the run strength keeps up the department's projections will bump up too, Pawluk said, and perhaps open to bait later in the season.

Fishing conditions on the Kenai have been fair with poor water conditions but that should clear up and pick up shortly, he said.

With the increased run in the Kenai, restrictions on the Kasilof River were rescinded as well. Anglers are once again allowed to retain wild kings on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays through the rest of the month. Hatchery produced king, those without their adipose fins, can be retained seven days a week.

Nicky Szarzi, Fish and Game biologist in Homer, said the swell of salmon in the upper Peninsula has given her hope for the Anchor River.

Weir counts over the past week have tallied a total of 2,661 fish, with a range of 40 to 202 kings.

"They definitely are not looking great for us making our escapement goal so far," she said, "but we really don't know what the run timing will be this year but hopefully the fish will keep coming in at the numbers they're coming in now for a long time to come."

The Anchor sport fishery for king salmon is restricted to catch-and-release and bait is prohibited.

Szarzi said best bets for fishing in the southern Peninsula this weekend are the Nick Dudiak Fishing Lagoon or trolling for kings on the saltwater.

She said anglers could also try fishing Seldovia Bay and Halibut Cove Lagoon where the department's stocked kings are reportedly coming in.

Over in Seward, halibut fishing has been getting heavier with a current 337-pound leader caught by Aaron Buscher of Conifer, Colo.

Remember to keep those fishing photographs and stories coming. E-mail them to tightlines@peninsulaclarion.com or submit them online at www.explorethekenai.com/tightlines.

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



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