Fishermen anticipate next run of salmon

Posted: Friday, July 04, 2008

In terms of king fishing on the Kenai and Kasilof Rivers, the first week of July can best be described as the calm before the storm.

"We're between runs on both rivers, and we're in a real high tide series right now, so there's not a lot happening in-river," said Robert Begich, area sportfish manager with the Alaska Department of fish and Game in Soldotna.

Numbers from the Fish and Game sonar -- located 8.6 miles from the mouth of the Kenai River -- have indicated a similar pattern. It's been roughly three weeks since daily counts were more than 1,000 kings, and it may be at least a week or two more before they break triple digits again.

On Tuesday, 527 kings were counted, followed by 520 more on Wednesday, for a cumulative 1,047 so far in the late-run, which began on Tuesday, while 15,355 kings were cumulatively counted in the early-run.

"Kenai River king salmon fishing is reported to be fair," Begich said.

Fish and Game creel surveys also indicate that the best fishing has been occurring upstream of Soldotna. Anglers fishing the early morning hours with salmon roe are having good success. Roe has also been working well on the Kasilof River.

Anglers are reminded to review the 2008 Southcentral Alaska Sport Fishing Regulations Summary Booklet for all king salmon regulation changes that became effective July 1.

Sockeye fishing is also still far from its peak, but fish are being caught on the upper Kenai River and along the Russian River, according to Begich.

"People putting in the time can still get their bag limits at the Russian," he said.

On Monday, daily counts from the Fish and Game weir -- located at the outlet of Lower Russian Lake, about 78 miles from the mouth of the Kenai River -- dropped out of the thousands, but only slightly.

On Tuesday, 800 sockeye were counted, followed by 902 on Wednesday, for a cumulative 25,769 sockeye so far this season.

However, anglers are reminded that the weir at Russian River is located upstream of the fishery and weir counts may not be a completely reliable indicator of the numbers of fish present in the area of the Russian River open to fishing.

Also, it can take approximately 7 to 10 days for sockeye salmon to travel from the lower Kenai River to the weir depending on water levels, and sockeye are known to hold in the Sanctuary Area during the day -- particularly when water levels are low -- and then migrate into the Russian River during the evening and early morning hours.

Sockeye have been returning to the Kasilof River in fishable numbers for several days, as well, Begich said. Bank anglers targeting sockeye may want to consider fishing from the Crooked Creek State Recreation Site or near the Sterling Highway Bridge public boat launch.

Joseph Robertia can be reached at

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