Kenai king fishing heating up

Posted: Friday, July 15, 2005

Back-bouncing, back-trolling, drifting — no matter what technique is utilized, this weekend is likely to offer excellent opportunities for catching big Kenai River king salmon.

The late run is off to a strong start. Reports from anglers fishing the last few days indicate the conditions have ranged from "very good" to "as good as it gets."

"The king fishing is great. There's a lot of fishing pushing in and everything being caught has been big and bright chrome," said Scott Miller of Trustworthy Hardware and Fishing in Soldotna.

Miller's assessment is based on first-hand knowledge from recent fishing forays with family and friends. He said this past week his 11-year-old nephew got a 72 pounder, while his little brother got a 68 pounder. "We caught and released several others too," he added.

Miller also hears a lot of scoop and scuttlebutt from guides and he said they too have been doing well.

"Most guides have reported catching at least one 50 pounder a day, but there have also been numerous 60 pounders and a few 70 pounders caught. When you're on the water you just see nets up everywhere," Miller said.

Eagle Rock and the vicinity has been a real hot spot according to Miller and soaking eggs may even tip the scales of success a little further in an angler's favor.

"There's been a little more of an egg bite than a Kwikfish bite," he said.

Tackle and techniques aside, Kenai king fishing should continue to improve this weekend and into next week based on building sonar estimates.

The Alaska Department of Fish and Game sonar counter — located 8.6 miles from the mouth of the Kenai River — has recorded more than 800 kings passing by every day since Saturday. Tuesday, that number spiked when 1,292 fish swam by. On Wednesday, the daily counter dropped back to 873 kings for 9,369 fish cumulatively in the late run.

Late run sockeye salmon are also starting to return to the Kenai River in large numbers, although you would barely know it based on the fishing pressure as of late.

"There's not as many people as usual fishing for reds," Miller said, adding that while floating the river he has seen only a few dozen anglers in places where hundreds typically are crowded.

"It's kind of weird because the fishing is good. We put up at River Quest the other day and caught four fish in 20 minutes," he added.

According to Fish and Game, on Tuesday 48,794 reds came barreling into the lower river, followed by 26,336 reds on Wednesday. Meanwhile up at the Russian River weir — located at the outlet of Lower Russian Lake — 1,677 fish were counted on Tuesday, followed by a dip to 632 fish on Wednesday.

As such, anglers may fair better targeting reds around Morgan's Landing or Bing's Landing this weekend and then move further up toward the Russian next week.

"It'll take the fish coming in a few days to make it up river, but you can already see them jumping everywhere and it's only going to get better from here," Miller said.

For those that do decide to target the upper Kenai and the Russian River, the Fish and Game Emergency Order increasing the bag limit of fish ended at midnight on Thursday.

Beginning today the bag limit for sockeye salmon is again — and until further notice — three fish per day, three in possession.

For those that have already filled their freezers with both kings and reds, the early run of silver salmon are arriving at the Homer Spit Fishing Lagoon.

The best results have involved drifting eggs near the inlet channel on the flooding or ebbing tides. Silver fishing has been only been fair, but as the run builds strength throughout the remainder of the month, this fishery should move from luke warm to red hot.

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