Kings out, cohos in

Posted: Friday, August 04, 2000

The king salmon fishery on the Kenai River closed Monday, but not before yielding one more day of great fishing.

"For all intents and purposes, I don't think anybody's got anything to complain about," said Richard Hatt at The Fishin' Hole in Soldotna.

Vince Wagner is counting himself among the satisfied after taking the day off from his guide business, Wagner Tours, to fish with family and friends on Monday. Wagner's group, fishing from a drift boat, landed two kings at Honeymoon Cove, and after a passenger switch, the group landed another pair of kings near Eagle Rock.

Wagner said fishing from a drift boat is the way to go -- not only is the fishing enjoyable, so are the sights.

"We saw a couple of harbor seals by Beaver Creek," Wagner said. "We also see river otters. Those things you're just not going to see from a power boat."

Wagner even takes clients fishing for halibut from drift boats.

"We've been doing that for quite a while," Wagner said. "We don't go too far from shore, and we don't target great big fish -- but we do get some big ones, and if the weather kicks up, we can go fish one of the rivers."

With the king salmon season over, many anglers are preparing for the silver, or coho, salmon season.

The Alaska Department of Fish and Game's three-day closure for silvers ended at 12:01 this morning, and good numbers of fish are expected in the Kenai Peninsula's river systems.

"With the closure for silvers, and with the lack of commercial fishing pressure, there should be silvers throughout the river up to the bridge in Soldotna," Hatt said. "The concentrations are going to be in the lower part of the river -- The Pillars, Big Eddy, Eagle Rock and even below there."

Hatt said that many of the anglers he's talked to that are fishing for pink salmon, which also are entering the rivers of the Kenai Peninsula, are finding success using lures rather than bait.

Many anglers are going after rainbow trout on the Kenai River below Skilak Lake, something that doesn't surprise Hatt at all.

"There's a lot of nice fish being taken there," Hatt said.

Silvers also are beginning to move into the Ninilchik River, the Anchor River and Deep Creek -- Fish and Game counted 30 at its Deep Creek weir and 10 at the Ninilchik River weir this week.

"They're catching more silvers than kings at the (Homer Spit Fishing) Lagoon," said David Nakano, an employee at The Sport Shed in Homer. "We're supposed to get a late run of kings, but they haven't been showing very well. The silvers are showing well, though."

Nakano said that most anglers at the lagoon on the Homer Spit are using herring or eggs, but for those anglers that would prefer not to use bait, he recommends orange or blue Vibrax spinners.

Nakano said the halibut fishing out of Homer remains steady, but that the big tides that made for tough halibut fishing this week were great for anglers fishing for salmon.

"The more water in the fishing hole, the more fish come in," Nakano said.

Silvers are beginning to show in the upper Kenai River, according to Darwin Peterson Jr. at the Kenai Cache tackle shop in Cooper Landing.

"That always gives you something extra to fish for," Peterson said.

He said the late run of red salmon is beginning to taper, but that there's still plenty of fish to be caught.

"All that means is that instead of 20 going by every minute, you might see five a minute," Peterson said. "We heard about it being a bad run, but we haven't noticed that up here."

Peterson said fishing along the Kenai River for reds is steady, while reds are moving up the Russian River in spurts.

"Our freezers are full, so that's a good sign," Peterson said.

Fishing for rainbow trout and Dolly Varden always picks up in August and September, Peterson said, giving anglers fishing the Kenai and the Russian plenty of fishing choices and challenges.

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