Rain can't cool salmon fishing

Posted: Friday, July 25, 2008

It may not be the best weather to be out in, but at least all the rain isn't affecting the fishing too badly, and the bite should be on this weekend for numerous salmon species.

"I think we're looking at a darn good weekend for king fishing," said Scott Miller of Trustworthy Hardware and Fishing in Soldotna.

Miller said while the clarity of the water is off a bit, he has still seen several kings on the end of his line in the past week, and he's seen lots of other nets in the air while on the water. Most of the kings have been hitting eggs, but a few fish have been caught on Kwikfish lures, too.

"The river still has good visibility. It was a little slow (Wednesday) morning, but it picked up good in the afternoon and was great in the evening and (Thursday morning). There's a been a lot of 50-pound fish. I got a 62-pounder (Wednesday night), and heard a report of an 80-pounder being caught (Thursday morning)," he said.

Miller added that without much water moving on the tides, more fish should also start to move into the freshwater over the next few days.

"The tides are easy right now, so king fishing should get better going into the weekend, I think we'll see a bump to the counts of fishing coming into the river," he said.

According to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game's sonar counter -- located 8.6 miles from the mouth of the Kenai River -- daily counts of kings have not been less than 1,000 fish any day this week. Monday, 1,257 kings were counted, followed by 1,292 kings Tuesday and another 1,160 Wednesday, for a cumulative 17,173 kings so far in the late run.

Sockeye are also continuing to make their way into the river in massive numbers. They are being caught in numerous locations on the lower and middle Kenai River, and fish should start showing up on the upper river and at the Russian River by the weekend.

"They've been running big this year," Miller said in regard to the sockeye.

According to the Fish and Game's sonar counter -- located approximately 19 miles upstream from the mouth of the Kenai River -- the sockeye daily count number dipped significantly around midweek. Monday, 32,015 sockeye were counted, followed by 31,450 Tuesday, but Wednesday a paltry 10,543 were recorded, bringing the cumulative count of sockeye up to 312,707 fish so far in the late run.

While it is still a little early, a few silver salmon have also started to show in the Kenai River.

"Not big ones, but a few silvers are in there. I caught one across from Slikok Creek and I saw a few caught up near River Quest," Miller said.

For the unexperienced angler, kings and silver salmon can appear quite similar since they may both carry spots, but Miller said if the fish is throwing scales while in the net or on the bank, and it has a white gumline instead of a black gumline (like kings do), then the fish is definitely a silver.

With the coming of silvers also comes the running of the pink salmon in even-numbered years, but Miller said few have made there way up river yet.

"I've seen a few caught in dipnets, but that's about it," he said.

In Kasilof, the fishing is still going strong, too. A new leader has pulled to the front of the Kasilof River King Salmon Derby sponsored by Eagles Aerie No. 4317. Andres Margado, of Puerto Rico, boated a 53-pound, 7-ounce king last Saturday while fishing with Bob Ball of Piscatorial Pursuits guide service.

On the Kasilof River, kings weighing 50 pounds or more are consider "trophy fish" by Fish and Game, and anglers that are lucky enough to land these fish are eligible for a trophy certificate. Ball said his client was more than a little pleased with his catch.

"He didn't think it could happen to him. He didn't believe it, even after he caught it. He said it was the fish of a lifetime," he said.

Ball said Margado picked the fish up on the lower river, while fishing the low tide, and it put up one heck of a fight.

"It made an extremely long run, right off the get-go," he said, but after three or four more runs, Margado wore the fish down.

While he may win the derby if no one trumps his fish between now and the end of the month, Darrin Millin of Vancouver, Wash., earned himself $500, when he won the Kasilof Mercantile's "Catch of the Day" contest on Monday for a 47-pound, 9-ounce king he caught on the Kasilof River that same day.

The derby ends on July 31 and will award cash prizes to the first-, second- and third-place entrants, but all who purchased a derby ticket, and retained their stub, will get to partake in a pig roast and halibut feed at Coho Cove campground on Aug. 2.

Joseph Robertia can be reached at joseph.robertia@peninsulaclarion.com.

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