If you're after poundage, head for the saltwater this weekend. But watch the Kenai River, where tens of thousands of sockeye salmon could enter any day, turning the central peninsula into Salmon Central.
Due to cool weather, both the upper and lower Kenai have been steadily clearing and dropping for the past week.
Drift-boat anglers on the upper river between Kenai and Skilak lakes have been back-trolling with plugs and catching some nice rainbow trout.
King salmon fishing on the lower river has been only fair, but the best is yet to come.
On Wednesday, Captain Mike Fenton, of Fenton Brothers Guided Sportfishing, said, "Fishing today was a little slower than it was Tuesday, but some nice fish were caught."
There seemed to be lot of jack salmon (small, male kings) in the river, Fenton said.
"I'd call the fishing 'fair and getting better'," he said.
Not many reds (sockeye salmon) are showing, yet, but they could come in strong at any time, Fenton said.
For a recorded message of the sonar count for reds and kings, call 262-9097. Savvy anglers consider reds to be present in fishable numbers any day the sonar count exceeds 10,000.
The Russian River has been dropping slowly for about the past week, and it should be in good shape this weekend. By Tuesday, it was low enough for anglers wearing chest waders to cross.
The Kenai-Russian River ferry started running again July 6, after a closure due to high water. Most of the early-run reds have now migrated up the Russian. By Tuesday, 76,789 had passed the Russian River weir.
Red fishing has been slow, but persistent, skilled anglers were still catching three-fish limits early this week.
Jack Hollister, at Cohoe Cove, said bank anglers were catching reds and that late-run kings were starting to come in.
The entire Kasilof River, from Tustumena Lake to the mouth, is open to hook-and-line fishing for reds, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. This is a great river to float with a drift boat or raft. Please don't destroy the vegetation along the banks or trespass on private property.
On this river or any other, always wear a PFD (personal flotation device, or life vest). Earlier this week, a drift boat overturned.
Lower Peninsula Streams
The Anchor and Ninilchik rivers and Deep Creek are open in their lower sections to fishing for species other than king salmon. Any rainbow/steelhead trout caught in these streams must be immediately released.
A fresh steelhead can easily be mistaken for a fresh silver salmon. Note the pictures and descriptions on pages 8 and 9 of the 2001 Sport Fishing Regulations Summary. One difference is that the steelhead has a white mouth while the silver has a black mouth. Both species have white gums at the base of the teeth on the lower jaw.
Dolly Varden char fishing has been good in the Anchor River. The daily bag limit and possession limit for all three lower-peninsula streams is two Dolly Varden.
A few silvers have been showing. All three streams are low and clear, so the best fishing will be before the sun hits the water, early in the morning. When reds, pinks and silvers are present, the daily bag and possession limit is three per day and three in possession, in any combination, except that only two per day and in possession may be silvers.
Deep Creek-Anchor Point Marine
Halibut fishing off Deep Creek and Anchor Point remains excellent, with lots of fish in the 20- to 30-pound range being caught, along with a few barn doors. Wednesday, Captain Dennis Randa, of Randa's Guide Service, reported that anglers on his boat, besides catching two 60-pound halibut and a bunch of smaller ones, hauled in two big skates.
"They were the biggest skates I ever saw, probably four-and-a-half feet across the wings," Randa said. "They would've weighed more than 100 pounds. We had a couple others on the line, but as soon as they came off the bottom and into the current, they flew off in the direction of Kodiak."
A few kings are being brought in, but very few, according to John Hylen, who operates the tractor launch at Deep Creek.
Barbara Buzzelli-Ault, at Inlet Charters, says the halibut fishing has been going "really well."
"This recent cloud cover makes for smoother water, and now we're going into a nice set of tides," she said. "People have been coming back with bag limits, of course. Our biggest in the last couple of days was 229 pounds."
The Tanner crab fishery will open on July 15-Dec. 31 in Kachemak Bay east of a line from Anchor Point to Point Pogibshi. Only male Tanner crab may be taken. A shellfish harvest permit is required and must be in your possession while harvesting Tanner crab.
Gulf of Alaska
Fishing for halibut, lingcod and rockfish in the bays and off the capes east of Resurrection Bay has been excellent.
This week, many anglers caught six-fish limits of silvers while trolling near Pony Cove, in the outer part of Resurrection Bay. The silvers will grow in size and number during the next four or five weeks. They will also move farther up into the bay and become available to anglers fishing from skiffs and shore.
Hot Tips of the Week
If you didn't get enough pink salmon last year, when an estimated 5 million humpies spawned in the Kenai River, here's your chance. Fishing at Allison Point near Valdez is hot and expected to get hotter. An estimated 8.9 million pinks will return to the Solomon Creek Hatchery in the Port of Valdez this month.
With pink salmon starting to home in on their natal streams and hatcheries, now would be a good time to book a salmon shark trip. Several charter outfits are geared up for catching Alaska's only big-game fish.
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