The salmon are returning to the Kenai River in massive numbers these days, meaning anglers should have success virtually anywhere they try their luck.
The king salmon fishing continues to be hot on the Kenai, with reports of 70-plus pound fish coming in almost daily. And the sockeye salmon have begun to flood into the river, with 89,193 fish crossing the Alaska Department of Fish and Game Kenai River sonar counter on Wednesday alone.
"That's a big day," said Alaska Department of Fish and Game area manager Mark Gamblin Thursday.
Gamblin said the red run is shaping up to be quite strong, though there are no plans to liberalize any sport fishing regulations at this time. Gamblin said that would not happen until the department was assured of at least reaching its minimum escapement goal of 750,000 fish. As of Thursday, a total of 318,559 sockeye had swum past the sonar site.
Last year, the department relaxed restrictions on sport and personal use fishing on July 25, easing bag restrictions on sport fishing and increasing the hours dipnetters could fish. Currently, personal use dipnetting is only allowed between the hours of 6 a.m. and 11 p.m.
In addition to fish, also expected to return this week to the peninsula will likely be a horde of both sport and personal use fishers. Anglers should use plenty of common sense and courtesy when venturing out on to the water, as the near-ideal fishing conditions will likely mean most fishing holes will be very crowded.
Fishers should also be aware of wildlife in the area. Due to the proximity to the road system of many popular fishing holes, anglers often forget that the peninsula is still very much a wilderness area. A man was severely injured by a brown bear earlier this week at the Russian River, and fishing in the Russian downstream through its confluence with the Kenai to the powerline crossing has been suspended during the hours of 11 p.m. until 6 a.m. through Monday to avoid further incidents.
Be careful, be safe and enjoy your time on the water.
Some mighty big king salmon have been landed on the Kenai and Kasilof rivers of late. A quick roundup:
n Gary "Big Dog" Lindstrom of Big Dog's Guide Service reported that Larry Pollack of Reno, Nev., landed an 82-pound king salmon Saturday at 6:40 a.m. while fishing the Kenai River.
The salmon measured 54 inches long with a girth of 34 1/4 inches.
n Andreas Wessolleck, visiting from Germany, was fishing with friend and retired guide Bill Gavin of Soldotna Tuesday at the No. 3 Hole in the Kenai Keys when he hooked into an 80-pound king.
"It's unbelievable," Wessolleck said of the experience.
Wessolleck said the party had been fishing for about an hour when the fish hit, and the battle lasted 25 minutes. He said he didn't know just home big the fish was until he saw him in the net.
"It was a fighter on the bottom," Wessolleck said.
Wessolleck said his cousin, Uwe Reichert, caught and released a 55-pounder the same day, and that fishing with friends made the day one he'll cherish.
"It was the best day of my life fishing with with my best friend in Alaska, that's the reason," Wessolleck said. "The Kenai River is fantastic. It's the best fisherman's place in the world. Even when you don't catch a fish, the nature is unique. You see (wildlife) everywhere -- moose on the banks, eagles in the sky, ducks and terns in the water."
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