Fishing stays steady

Posted: Monday, July 19, 2004

Anglers on the banks of the Kenai River on Sunday morning were taking things slow and steady.

The number of salmon entering the river had dropped from the more than a quarter of a million fish that had surged their way in Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. However, with 48,378 sockeye passing the Alaska Department of Fish and Game sonar counter Saturday, and many salmon coming in Sunday, angling opportunities were plentiful.

"I hit my three-fish limit," said Byron James, on vacation from New Mexico. He pulled in his salmon from the waters at Centennial Campground in Soldotna.

"It took me most of the morning to do it, but I wouldn't have it any other way. I heard they were pulling them out one after another on Friday, but I came to fish, and so I didn't mind putting in a half day's work," James said.

A few miles up, angler reports were much the same.

"It was good on Friday, but it slowed down on Saturday. Today I got two fish, around 7 pounds each, in just a few hours," said Kum Yi of Anchorage, who was fishing behind the Kenai River Center.

Yi's husband was happy with his catch, even though he didn't land as many as she did.

"We got to hook up, have fun and enjoy the fresh air, so it was worth the trip down. I only caught one fish, but it was a 10-pounder that put up a good fight," Cha Yi said.

A few spots down from the Yis, Carl Evans of Washington was off to a slow start.

"I've been here 30 minutes and nothing yet, so I'm ready to get a fish on," Evans said.

His spirits remained high, though, since unlike days earlier, he didn't have to wait for someone to limit out and leave, thus opening a spot to fish on the crowded riverbank.

"I limited out Thursday and Friday within about four hours after I got in the water. The first day it was all hens around 8 pounds, then Friday it was all bucks around 9 pounds. Both are nice, but I like the bucks better because they put up more of a fight," Evans said.

John Molinar of Illinois got there a little later in the morning Sunday and wasn't so lucky.

"I'm just waiting for spot to open," he said while looking down from the boardwalk at the shoulder-to-shoulder crowd.

Molinar said waiting in line to fish wasn't bothering him, since he already had seen plenty of action over the weekend.

"I started on Thursday floating the Kasilof. My son-in-law caught a 44-pound king and I caught a 32-pounder," he said. "On Friday we went back to the Kasilof and caught a few reds in the morning, then fished for more on the Kenai later that afternoon.

"On Saturday, we went clamming and fished for rockfish and lingcod and caught a few. Now today were back on the Kenai hoping for more reds."

Across the water at Swiftwater Campground, many anglers also were hitting the fish.

"I caught my three and now I'm just waiting on my sons. They've each got two fish and are trying to see who will be the first to get their third," said Bill Pentler of Wisconsin.

Further up the river at Morgan's Landing State Recreation Area, anglers also were bending their rods battling it out with sockeye.

"We came up here hoping to follow the fish up river that came in earlier in the week in big numbers, and it seems like there's a lot of fish here," said Lee Smith of Anchorage.

He and his son caught their three-fish limit Saturday and Sunday.

"We didn't have much trouble at all filling the cooler, so if it stays this good, we'll be down again next weekend," Smith said.

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