Anglers who have made catching a king salmon into their own personal chase for a white whale this summer have one more weekend to land themselves a chinook.
The Kenai River closes to fishing for king salmon Monday at midnight. Until then, Mike Bethe, area management biologist for the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, said he expects prospects to be good.
"It's actually excellent fishing on the river," Bethe said. "This year's catch exceeded last year's."
With 36,914 king salmon counted entering the river through Wednesday, Fish and Game is projecting an escapement of king salmon to fall within the upper range of its escapement goal of between 17,800 and 35,700 fish.
Should the escapement total exceed 35,700, Fish and Game has the option of extending the king season through the first week of August, but Bethe said he does not anticipate any extensions.
Fishing for red salmon at the confluence of the Russian and Kenai rivers has tapered, but Bethe expects another run of fish to arrive over the next few days.
"There's a fair number of fish in the upper river, and there's still fish moving out of (Skilak) Lake," Bethe said. "I don't know how hot it's going to be, but it should be pretty continuous. It's not over yet."
Bethe reminded anglers that from Aug. 1 through Aug. 3, retention of silver -- also called coho -- salmon is prohibited -- a closure implemented to give the first silver salmon entering the river a little bit of a head start.
"It gives a time break from the intense effort for kings," Bethe said. "The intent is because of that break, we won't have all that intense effort immediately focused on coho."
The bag and possession limits for coho also have been changed, from three fish to two per day.
With the Dolly Varden and pink salmon fisheries in the Anchor River, the Ninilchik River and Deep Creek producing plenty of nice-sized fish, anglers on the lower Kenai Peninsula are anxious to see what the upcoming run of silver salmon will produce.
"We're seeing (larger fish) in all of our fisheries," said Stan Harrington at the Anchor Angler in Anchor Point. "The Dolly Varden were unusually large for Anchor River fish. We've seen a lot in the 4- and 5-pound range, and we usually see maybe one 5-pounder a season.
"The kings and the pinks are bigger, too. I'm really looking forward to seeing what the silvers do."
Pink salmon are starting to move into the lower peninsula's streams and rivers in good numbers, and Harrington said that anglers are finding success using small spinners.
Harrington called Dolly Varden a "good, versatile fish," because small flies, such as streamer flies and nymphs, small spinners and bait all work well when fishing for Dollies.
The set of big tides that makes keeping bait on the bottom when fishing for halibut a struggle also makes for fantastic clamming conditions around Cook Inlet.
The final set of clam tides this summer begins today, with minus 5 low tides predicted for Monday and Tuesday at Deep Creek.
Razor clams can be found along the beaches from Kasilof to Anchor Point and can be harvested during low tide. For hardshell clams, Fish and Game recommends digging along the south shore of Kachemak Bay or along the east side of the Homer Spit. A free shellfish permit is required before digging for butter and littleneck clams, but razor clams may be harvested with a regular sport fish license.
The pink salmon are in thick in Resurrection Creek near Hope. Mel Hislop at Hope Fishing Charters said that the leading fish in the pink salmon derby weighed in at 5 pounds, 11 ounces, but he said he expects to see a pink anywhere from 6 1/2 to 8 pounds take the grand prize, an ounce of gold.
"Our pinks run every year," Hislop said, "but in the odd years, when nobody else gets them, ours seem to be smaller."
Anglers interested in trying their luck on Resurrection Creek should register for the derby at BJW Mining and Gifts in Hope prior to fishing.
Fishing for silvers from the beaches in Seward has yet to pick up, but good catches of silvers have been reported in Resurrection Bay, from Pony Cove to Fourth of July Creek, according to Fish and Game.
In addition, fishing for rainbow trout is excellent all over the peninsula this summer, from the freshwater drainages around Seward to the stocked lakes on the central peninsula and the middle Kenai River, from the outlet of Skilak Lake to the bridge in Soldotna.
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