Sunshine makes for happy anglers

Posted: Friday, June 25, 2004

Continued sunny skies across the peninsula have contributed to a marked improvement in the Kenai River king salmon fishery in recent days.

"I've seen more fish caught today than Tuesday or Wednesday," Kenai River guide Greg Brush said Thursday morning from the water.

Although the water on the Kenai is still extremely high for this time of year, Brush said the amount of debris floating in the river has decreased quite a bit since last week, when rain showers muddied the river and made fishing nearly impossible.

"The water is getting cleaner each day," he said.

Anglers are having some success on the Kenai, but fishing is not what Brush would characterize as excellent. Rather, he said anglers are having to work to get their kings but that fish are to be had.

"I've seen 10 or 12 caught today," he said.

According to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game's sonar estimate, 552 kings entered the river Wednesday, so there are fish to be found on the Kenai. Bait is not allowed until July 1, and anglers on the Kenai are mostly finding success by backtrolling with Kwikfish or Spin-and-Glo lures.

In addition to the increased success rate, Brush added that he's beginning to see some larger fish appear in the river, a sure sign that the late run of kings is starting to move into the area.

"We're seeing some of those big, girthy, late run fish," he said.

The Kenai is probably the area's best bet for king fishing, as the Kasilof River appears to be in between its first and second runs. Brush said anglers fishing for kings on the Kasilof are having very limited success on the Kasilof right now.

"It's definitely between the early and late run," he said.

Fishing regulations on both the Kenai and Kasilof will change beginning July 1, and anglers should always remember to pick up a copy of the rules before hitting the water.

On the Kasilof in July, anglers will be allowed to retain both hatchery (denoted by a healed adipose fin scar) and wild king salmon. Kasilof fishers can also continue fishing after retaining a king in July, although the daily bag limit will remain one fish per day. No more than three kings may be taken from the Kasilof over the course of the season. Currently, only hatchery fish can be retained, and anglers must stop fishing after harvesting a king.

As for the Kenai, bait will be allowed starting July 1, and anglers will be able to retain any size of king they catch. Through June 30, bait is illegal and anglers may only retain fish measuring less than 44 inches or 55 inches or longer. The daily bag limit will remain one fish per day in July, with a total of two for the season.

Anglers heading for the Kasilof might want to try their hand at sockeye fishing, as strong numbers of red salmon are being reported in the river. On Wednesday, 26,143 sockeye entered the Kasilof, bringing the year's total to 78,697.

At the confluence of the Russian and Kenai River, sockeye salmon fishing continues to be steady, and anglers who spend time flipping flies there have reported good success getting their three-fish daily bag limits over the past few days.

Area residents hoping to fill the freezer with salmon will have plenty of opportunities beginning today, as dip net season officially begins with the opening of the sockeye fishery at the mouth of the Kasilof River. This fishery is open to Alaska residents only, and a harvest ticket from Fish and Game is required.

As always, fishers should check all regulations before hitting the water, as rules for the various peninsula lakes and streams vary from place to place.

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