It's not that fishing for sockeye salmon at the Russian River is bad. The problem is the early red salmon runs the past two years were so good.
"On the Russian, it's been poor to fair," said Mark Gamblin, Alaska Department of Fish and Game area sportfish manager, of the fishing. "We want to remind folks this season is being compared to the last two seasons, which were excellent, large returns."
Gamblin said he does not anticipate a problem meeting the minimum escapement. That's why the Russian River sanctuary was opened to fishing at 12:01 a.m. Saturday.
"It's simply a more normal return this year," Gamblin said.
There still is time for the fishing to pick up.
"We're less than halfway into the early run return," Gamblin said. "The run doesn't peak until another week down the road. There's plenty of time for the fishing to improve this season."
Geneese Peterson, the co-owner of Kenai Cache Tackle in Cooper Landing, described the fishing for sockeye on the Russian as spotty.
Peterson said schools of fish will come through every few hours, but those fish will quickly move through the area and leave some frustrated fishers in their wake.
"They're a little disappointed," Peterson said of the anglers. "They should realize that's fishing. That's the name of the game and the challenge of the sport."
On the bright side, Peterson said the fishing for rainbow trout on the upper Kenai has been going very well. She said the best rainbow fishing has been from the bridge at the outlet of Kenai Lake to Sportsman's Boat Launch, which is located in the area of the Russian River Ferry.
Gamblin said the early king salmon run on the Kenai River is still proceeding well. The department has yet to make a firm projection on what the escapement will be. But early estimates indicate that there should not be a problem meeting minimum escapement.
On the Kasilof, Gamblin said anglers are still catching king salmon, but he said the Kasilof king salmon fishery is winding down.
In other news, snagging opened at the Homer Spit Enhancement Lagoon Wednesday at noon. Snagging will close on July 6 at 11:59 p.m.
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