Anglers looking to bring home the bacon this weekend would do well to forego the king salmon and go hog-wild on clams, halibut and red (sockeye) salmon.
King salmon fishing in the Kenai remains somewhere between poor and fair, depending upon whom is telling the tale. Earlier this month, the river was full of algae that clung to lines and lures, making fishing difficult. That has mostly cleared up, but now the Killey River is dumping mud into the Kenai, cutting water clarity to about half of what it was a week ago.
It's the warm weather that causes the Killey River to run high and carry mud. The sun melts the snow and the Killey River Glacier, causing the Killey River (and several others in the Kenai River watershed) to rise. With plenty of snow remaining in the mountains, it will take a few cool, cloudy days for the Killey to clear up.
According to acting area biologist Larry Marsh at the Department of Fish and Game, whether the Kenai will be opened to fishing with bait before July 1 remains in doubt. If it happens, area radio stations and other news media will announce the emergency order, he said. At present, the department isn't comfortable enough with early-run king salmon escapement to liberalize the fishery, Marsh said.
Fishing at the Russian River for red (sockeye) salmon has been excellent for more than a week, Marsh said. The Russian, itself, is starting to tail off, probably due to the multitudes of anglers that descended upon it last weekend. Crowds of anglers have a "fragmenting" effect on the fish, he said.
Fishing for reds in the Kenai River below its confluence with the Russian should remain good for at least another week, Marsh said.
King salmon fishing has been good, but is now past the peak. Kings should be available for the next couple of weeks, but many will be turning dark in anticipation of spawning.
Anglers casting flies near shore in fast water have been catching a few Kasilof River reds, along with the occasional king.
Lower peninsula streams
The final king salmon opener on the Anchor River begins at 12:01 a.m. on Saturday and runs until midnight of Monday. After being high and muddy for the first three openers, this stream has finally cleared and dropped, but the run has definitely peaked. The fishing this weekend is expected to be fair, at best.
Deep Creek-Anchor Point Marine
Some nice catches of halibut have been coming in to the beaches at Ninilchik and Anchor Point. Anglers have been catching limits and releasing a lot of smaller fish, fishing till they drop.
This weekend, big tides will make halibut fishing difficult in deep water. Clammers, on the other hand, will have ideal conditions.
Good minus tides run through Tuesday of next week.
Halibut fishing out of Homer has been "better than excellent," according to Captain Steve Novakovich, at Emerald Pines Lodge.
"There are a lot of fish coming in, and they are very aggressive and healthy," he said.
The larger flatfish are being caught in the Flat Island area, but there are plenty of smaller ones in Kachemak Bay, Novakovich said.
Fishing for feeder kings -- heavy on the white kings -- remains good off Bluff Point and Glacier Spit, he said.
"King salmon-wise, we're still not seeing many spawners," he said. "I think those guys came up the middle of the inlet and stayed deep."
For those who can't get a king to bite, the terminal fisheries at Halibut Cove Lagoon and Seldovia open to snagging at 12:01 a.m. on Saturday. The Homer Spit fishing lagoon will open to snagging by emergency order.
Call the Homer 24-hour fishing information line, (907) 235-6930, for opening time.
Minus tides through the weekend will make for good clamming for butter and littleneck (steamer) clams on the beaches across Kachemak Bay from Homer. If you go, be sure to pick up a free shellfish harvest permit.
And fill it out before leaving the beach.
Gulf of Alaska
Anglers have been bringing limit catches of halibut into the docks.
A few king salmon are still being caught from the beach, mainly by snaggers armed with weighted treble hooks.
Lingcod fishing remains closed until July 1. Any lingcod caught must be released immediately.
"The sockeye fishing and bear watching are good at Big River Lakes," said Shelly Helfer, at Talon Air Service, in Soldotna.
Despite the close proximity of bears and humans at this fly-in spot on the west side of Cook Inlet, both species get along well, Helfer said.
"They're just there for the fish, just like the people are," Helfer said. "There's such an abundance of fish, the bears don't feel like they're being threatened. They take the fact that you're there real well."
These fully guided trips are $265 per person and usually last for six hours, Helfer said. They continue until July 20, when silver salmon start running in the Kustatan River.
No other form of fishing is quite as enjoyable as lying back in a float tube and taking in the scenery while paddling along the shoreline of a lake, trolling a fly and watching for feeding trout.
The peninsula's lakes may well be its most under-utilized resource. Containing several species of native and stocked fish, these waters provide a sure way to escape the salmon-crazed mobs on the road-accessible streams.
All peninsula lakes are now open to fishing, with the exception of Crescent Lake, which opens July 1. Johnson Lake, in Kasilof, and Longmere Lake, just off the Sterling Highway between Soldotna and Sterling, have been producing nice catches of rainbow trout and landlocked coho salmon.
The Department of Fish and Game has a free brochure containing maps that show how to get to the 28 stocked Kenai Peninsula lakes. For a copy, stop by the Soldotna office, at 43961 Kalifornsky Beach Road.
No matter what water you go out on, be sure to wear a PFD (personal flotation device).
For a 24-hour recording of information about central peninsula fisheries, call (907) 262-2737. For a 24-hour recording of information about lower peninsula fisheries, call (907) 235-6930.
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