Plenty of fish for the taking

Posted: Friday, July 23, 2004

Most people wet their dipnets to catch enough fish to fill their freezer. Dax Carey of Anchorage was just about able to do that with one fish.

While dipnetting from a boat near the mouth of the Kenai River last weekend, Carey felt a mighty bump on his net and was able to haul aboard an 86.6-pound king salmon. The fish measured 58 1/2-inches long and had a girth of 37 inches. Regulations permit a dipnetter to retain one king salmon from the Kenai River; kings may not be retained in the Kasilof dipnet fishery.

"Oh my goodness, it was an amazing fish. I've never seen anything that big," said Carey's father Ron, adding that he had been fishing the Kenai for years and had seen his share of large kings.

Carey's king provided quite a rush on an otherwise slow day of dipnetting at the mouth of the river, but things have picked up substantially over the course of the week.

Anticipating a large number of sockeye salmon entering the Kenai River, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game issued two emergency orders this week, upping the limit of salmon 16 inches or greater, other than king salmon, from three fish per day and three in possession to six fish per day, only two of which may be coho salmon, and six in possession in areas of the Kenai River open to salmon fishing.

The emergency order does not apply to the Russian River or the fly-fishing only waters at its confluence with the Kenai River, which extend from a marker 300 yards upstream of Sportsman's Landing downstream to the power line, where the limit remains three fish per day, only one of which may be a coho salmon.

The second emergency order opens the Kenai River dipnet fishery to fishing 24 hours per day through July 31.

Dipnetting at the mouth of the Kenai River picked up Wednesday morning after several slow days, and things should pick up for rod and reel anglers as the fish move up the river.

Fish and Game reported salmon showing in excellent numbers on the upper Kenai and Russian Rivers, with 25,041 sockeyes counted at Russian River weir Wednesday and 11,435 Tuesday, compared to just 1,256 Monday and 647 Sunday.

Fishing for late run kings salmon has been reported as good, with average water clarity. Fish and Game's sonar counter recorded an estimated 14,007 kings entering the Kenai over the past week at an average rate of 2,000 fish per day, bringing the cumulative total to 32,344.

The Division of Sport Fish is asking for cooperation around the king salmon sonar site, located 8.6 miles from the mouth of the river, where a test-netting project is underway to help with management of the fishery. Other boaters are asked to give the Fish and Game boat room to use the net.

Fishing for halibut out of Homer has been good to excellent, though weather can be a factor. For shore-bound anglers, the early run of silvers has begun to show in the Homer Spit Fishing Lagoon. Marine king salmon fishing also has been reported to be excellent in the waters between Anchor Point and Ninilchik.

Halibut fishing out of Seward remains very good, with the best fishing toward Montague Island. Silver fishing also is heating up in Resurrection Bay as anglers are having success using a variety of techniques.

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