Kenai Peninsula's fall color -- silver

Posted: Friday, August 15, 2003

There's a silver lining on the clouds which descended upon the Kenai Peninsula last week. Make that a silver salmon lining.

Silvers began to show up in fishable numbers on both the north and south peninsula streams over the past week, as cooler, rainy conditions combined with some large tides to point more silvers toward home.

From the Homer Spit lagoon to the Kenai River, anglers reported fair to good catches of cohos last week, with the hottest fishery being in Homer.

There, silvers are now splashing and flopping madly about the small fishing hole, and anglers who try there should not have much trouble picking up a couple fish. Salmon eggs suspended below bobbers seem to work best for these finicky fish, although spinners and spoons are also effective.

On the Anchor River, a strong morning bite has been reported over the past week, and anglers who follow the rising tide from the mouth inland have been having good success with eggs, as well as by dead drifting orange, red and pink flies.

Anglers are reminded that rainbow and steelhead trout may also be present in the Anchor, Deep Creek and Ninilchik Rivers, and are often similar to silvers in coloration. These fish may not be retained on these streams, nor can they be removed from the water before being released.

The easiest way to tell a steelhead from a silver is the fight, as steelhead are known as extremely strong, aggressive fighters. However, steelhead can also be distinguished by their mouths, which are white with white gums. Silvers have a black mouth with white gums. Steelhead also have black spots covering their tail, while cohos may have spots only on the top of the tail.

The Ninilchik River and Deep Creek have also seen silvers returning, although the number of fish is not very high. However, now that fall is hear, both streams are nearly deserted, and anglers should have not trouble finding a secluded place to wet a line.

The Kasilof River is running extremely high and murky right now, making finding the fish a bigger challenge than on the clear lower peninsula streams, where silvers can be spotted from shore. However, anglers drifting eggs or pulling a variety of plugs have been catching silvers with regularity on the Kasilof since the beginning of August.

On the Kenai, reports have begun to come in of anglers taking home their limit of silvers. However, the fishery has not yet picked up enough to call it a sure thing.

Silvers can often be tough to locate, and finding a good spot is usually key to catching them on the Kenai. Good locations for silver fishing include tidal areas during the incoming tide, shallow gravel bars near shore and backwater sloughs.

Fishing from a boat at anchor with salmon eggs and spin-and-glos is the most popular method for catching these fish. Kenai silvers have also been known to chase a variety of lures, including flies, spinners, spoons and plugs.

Anglers are reminded to check all fishing regulations before hitting the water, as rules vary from species to species and from stream to stream. The regulations can often be confusing, so read carefully.

One regulation you should not heed however, is one dealing with bag limits of silvers on the Russian River. The department incorrectly states in its regulation booklet that the limit for silvers in the Russian River and the Russian River sanctuary area is two fish per day.

Further confusing the issue is an emergency order which upped the number of sockeye salmon anglers can keep to six fish per day through Aug. 20.

The department announced in a press release Thursday that the limit at the sanctuary remains six total salmon per day, but only one of those may be a silver.

Fish on.

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