Anglers feeling despair over the low showing of Kenai River reds, get ready to turn that frown upside down. Silver salmon have been hitting the river in decent numbers, and a bit earlier compared to their typical run pattern.
"They started showing up pretty strong the last week of the king season, and in larger numbers than usual," said Robert Begich, area sport fish manager with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game.
Silvers typically start running hard in August and September, but it is not uncommon for them to continue entering the river, in low numbers, into early winter.
Begich said silvers are starting to distribute themselves throughout the Kenai River.
"Right now they're present in the entire river. We had some through the weir up at the Russian, and I was at Moose Range Meadows and saw a couple there, but the lower river is where they are the most concentrated," he said.
With numerous silvers coming in on the tides, anglers on the lower Kenai River have not been disappointed for their fishing efforts.
"The fishing has been consistent and good," Begich said.
Anglers have found silver success at Big Eddy, Mud Island, Cunningham Park, and a few against the grain anglers have even landed fish under the Warren Ames Memorial Bridge on Bridge Access Road.
As it is an even numbered year, prolific numbers of pink salmon have also started showing up on the end of many lines.
"People have been getting a lot of pinks, having fun with them too," Begich said.
A few people are still targeting sockeye, but these fishermen should remember there are two emergency orders in effect on the Kenai River. Sockeye fishing has been closed downstream of the Fish and Game sonar located at river mile 19, which is located approximately two river miles below the Sterling Highway bridge. The other emergency order reduced the sockeye bag and possession limit to one fish upstream of the sockeye salmon sonar station located at river mile 19.
These orders were issued by Fish and Game in an effort to make their sockeye in-river goal for the Kenai River, which is 750,000 to 950,000 sockeye. As of Wednesday, they were getting closer to meeting the lower end of this goal, since 10,903 sockeye entered the river for a cumulative 535,845 sockeye total so far in the late-run.
Begich remained optimistic that the goal may still be met.
"Hopefully, we can continue to grind it out," he said.
Anglers still hoping to fill the freezer with sockeye may want to move to the Kasilof River, which as of Wednesday was roughly 50,000 fish over the upper end of Fish and Game's in-river goal of 250,000 sockeye for this waterway.
Begich reminded anglers fishing the Kasilof River to be aware the emergency orders liberalizing the sockeye fishery on this river expired at 11:59 p.m. on Thursday. The sockeye bag limit is again three per day and in possession. Also, the personal-use fishery has closed.
Farther to the south, according to Fish and Game, anglers fishing the lower sections of the Anchor River and Deep Creek have found fair silver salmon fishing, especially around high tide. Anglers can also expect fair to good catches of Dolly Varden and pink salmon on these waterways, as well as on the Ninilchik River.
For more information on the rules and regulations for fishing in Southcentral Alaska, visit the Fish and Game Web site at www.adfg.state.ak.us.
Joseph Robertia can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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