Silver fishing off and running

Posted: Friday, August 01, 2008

As the calender flips to August, it is also time for anglers to change tackle, tactics and locations.

Photo Courtesy Of Doug Herford.
Photo Courtesy Of Doug Herford.
Jim Herford, an 84-year-old from Sour Lake, Texas, stands by a king salmon he proudly pulled out of the Kenai River in July while fishing with his son, Doug Herford, of Soldotna.

The end of July also annually means the end of king salmon fishing on the Kenai and Kasilof rivers.

Anyone who didn't get a king this season can turn to silver salmon fishing instead, which is off to a good start. Several silvers have already been caught on the lower Kenai River, and Robert Begich, area sport fish manger with Alaska Department of Fish and Game, said they have seen them far up river, as well.

"We've had a few go through the Russian River weir," Begich said.

Pink salmon, an alternate year sport fish, also are starting to enter the river in increasing numbers each day. They may not be as good to eat as some other species, but they are no less fun to catch, particularly for young anglers.

Sockeye salmon fishing has -- due to emergency order -- closed on the Kenai River below Mile 19, which is just below the Soldotna Bridge. However, the area upstream of Mile 19 remains open to sockeye fishing, and this area includes popular locations such as Centennial Park, under the Soldotna Bridge, Swiftwater Park and Bing's Landing, just to name a few hot spots. Decent numbers of fish are also starting to make their way to the upper Kenai River and Russian River areas.

"It's not great, but it's fair. We've been getting about 1,000 fish a day through the weir," Begich said.

Several anglers already have made a lifetime of memories fishing this season. Take for example, Doug Herford, of Soldotna, who will never forget the day he spent on the water a few weeks ago with Jim, his 84-year-old father from Sour Lake, Texas.

Getting up at the crack of dawn, the two men and a few other family members took to the water of the Kenai River. They dropped lures at "the flats" around 5:40 a.m. and sat back expecting it to be a while before the got their first bite.

"We were drifting and enjoying a nice cup of coffee when all of a sudden my Dad's rod bent almost double," Herford said.

He sprang into action, telling everyone on board to reel up so his father could fight what ended up being a feisty fish.

The senior Herford, despite not being as strong as he was in his youth and having a bad back for the last few years, still managed to face the battle by himself. He fought the fish for 10 to 15 minutes before the salmon succumbed to fatigue and got close enough to the boat to be netted. Once it was out of the water and flopping on the deck, Herford said they couldn't believe their eyes.

"(It) was a size that had never been seen on the deck of my boat. We all whooped and hollered and shook hands," he said.

The fish ended up weighing 65 pounds, measuring 50 inches long and having a girth of 31 inches, but Herford said more important than the size of the fish was the joy he felt in seeing his father muscle it up like a young buck, despite his age.

"(It's) a memory that I will never forget. I cannot express the pride that I felt for him and how proud that I was of him," he said. "There are some things that just can never be replaced."

Joseph Robertia can be reached at

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