Fishing for kings, reds picking up

Posted: Friday, June 24, 2005

Midweek showers created a temporary lull in the Kenai River king salmon fishery, but as the clouds blew off, the bite picked backed up.

"The rain washed in a lot of mud and made it cloudy," said Brain Miller of Trustworthy Hardware and Fishing in Soldotna, referring to the water conditions.

However, by Wednesday evening and early Thursday, fishing conditions began to improve from fair to good.

"It's picking back up. A lot of 20-30 pound fish have been getting picked up and bigger fish are on the way," Miller said.

On Wednesday, 283 kings were recorded swimming by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game sonar counter located 8.6 miles from the river mouth, for a cumulative 10,113 salmon so far this season.

The Kenai River opened to bait fishing by Emergency Order last Saturday, and remains open, which should help angler's odds of catching a king, and if the current weather patterns — sunny, clear and highs in the 60s — stay the same, it may produce good fishing over the weekend.

"Hopefully the weather will hold," Miller said.

However, forecasters are calling for showers to arrive late Saturday evening and continue into Sunday.

The wet weather won't make a dent in the large numbers of red salmon returning to the Kenai and Russian Rivers.

"Fishing on the Russian, around the confluence and further downstream, has been great," Miller said.

Over the past two years, daily counts of early run reds have been in the range of 1,200 to 2,300 salmon at the weir at the outlet of Lower Russian Lake between June 12 and June 17.

A similar jump in numbers occurred a week ahead of the run's peak in 2004, and two weeks earlier than the peak in 2003.

This year, the early run red numbers began to skyrocket around June 12. Daily counts of more than 4,400 salmon were recorded at the weir on June 14, 15 and 17.

Counts at the weir tapered over the weekend before picking up again Tuesday, when a daily count of 1,686 salmon was recorded at the weir.

This was followed on Wednesday by another 2,741 salmon, for a cumulative 28,850 salmon so far this season.

Further to the south, the Kasilof River is also seeing large numbers a little earlier than usual for returning reds.

Sonar estimates for Kasilof reds recorded 9,405 salmon on Tuesday for a cumulative number of 82,229 salmon so far this season.

Most anglers on the Kasilof are still targeting kings though and the fishing has been reported as fair.

The lower portions of Anchor River, Deep Creek and Ninilchik are closed to fishing for king salmon for the rest of the year, and closed to fishing for all other fish until July 1.

Down at the Homer Spit Fishing Hole, sea bright kings are still available. Pixees, Rooster Tails, and Vibrax spinners in sizes 4 and 5 are working well.

The Fishing Hole is currently closed to snagging, but will open to snagging beginning at noon June 29, through July 4 at midnight.

This weekend also brings another series of good clamming opportunities to the beaches between Kenai and Homer. At Clam Gulch, a minus tide of 4.6 feet occurs today at 12:23 p.m., followed by a minus of 3.8 on Saturday and 2.5 on Sunday.

A valid sport fishing license is required to harvest clams.

Big fish lead derbies

Frank Willes of Provo, Utah, is the overall leader of the Ninilchik Halibut Derby. Willes landed a 154-pound fish on June 11. The derby, sponsored by the Deep Creek Charterboat Association with the proceeds to benefit the community, runs through Sept. 5 and has a grand prize of $5,000 in addition to weekly prizes.

John Ossowski of Soldotna was the winner in the Ninilchik King Salmon Derby, which ended June 6. Ossowski was the winner of a $3,000 prize for his 42.52-pound king.

Dale Nelson of Grand Forks, N.D., still leads the Homer Jackpot Halibut Derby. Nelson landed a 276.2-pound fish in May.

Glenn Buchhorn of Bartlett, Texas leads the June standings with a 228.8-pound fish landed while fishing with Falcon Charters. Daniel Gajewski from Irma, Wis., is in second with a 223.8-pound fish landed with Spirit Charters, and Christopher Peeples of Chico, Calif., is in third for his 215-pound catch caught while fishing aboard a private boat.

Oliver Ede of Scappoosa, Ore., is in fourth (206.2 pounds, Spirit Charters) and Jeff Hash from Nampa, Idaho, is in fifth (205.4 pounds, Ivory Queen Charters).



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