Now that the Kenai River’s personal-use fishery is being closed and sportfishermen are limited to one sockeye per day on most of the river, some fishermen might be scratching their heads wondering what more is left.
The answer may lie behind a motor boat or light tackle rod on the Kenai River, or on an ocean boat.
Fishermen willing to stray from their salmon poles, for example, might want to tie hooks onto their fly rods and tease some trout out of the water.
But trout fishermen may want to pull out their waders rather than a canoe. In the summer, warming lake waters make trout sluggish and, consequently, hard to fish for.
“The lakes kind of hit the doldrums this time of year,” said Dave Atcheson, an avid angler, and author of a local fishing guide.
But as salmon fill the rivers with their eggs and flesh, river trout become voracious eaters and great fishing fun, he said.
And great trout fishing on the Kenai should continue well into fall, he said.
For good trout fishing, Atcheson recommends the upper Kenai River and particularly the area of the river near Skilak Lake.
And the word on the street is that halibut fishing has also been good, particularly if you know where to find a hole, he said.
But although fishermen might not want to limit themselves to just salmon, there are still great salmon fishing opportunities that are not to be ignored. Perhaps most notably, king fishing on the Kenai.
“The king fishing on the Kenai River is excellent, very, very, good,” said Brian Miller of Trustworthy Hardware. “And there’s a lot bigger fish coming out. Most of the people we have been talking to have reported good catches and I’m seeing quite a few fish in the 70s-plus category.”
George Pappas, area management biologist for the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, said that while some large fish have been brought into the office to be sealed over the last week, he has also seen people catch kings as short as 14 inches.
“They come in all shapes and sizes this year,” he said.
Atcheson said king fishing has been heating up over the last week, and ranked Monday as one of the best king fishing days he has ever fished on the Kenai River.
And although it varies from day to day, kings are hitting just about everything from Kwikfish to roe, Miller said.
“It just depends on what you’re fishing and what you’re running,” he said.
And while the sportfishing limits are down from three per day to just one on most of the Kenai River, bag limits in the Kenai River sanctuary near the mouth of the Russian River remain three per day. And sportfishermen looking for sockeye can also give the Kasilof and Russian Rivers a try.
But fishermen still have to work pretty hard for sockeye no matter where they go, Pappas said.
“It’s not hot and heavy yet,” he said.
When thinking salmon, however, fishermen might also want to think out of the box, or at least out of the river.
“The saltwater’s very good for silvers down by Seldovia,” Miller said. “(And) it’s going to get good and better as those silvers start reaching our rivers up here.”
And it won’t be long before silvers hit the river, and in some places small numbers already have, he said.
Some fishermen fishing for sockeye or kings are also picking up a silver along the way.
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