The Cook Inlet tide book is probably one of the more abused reference materials for the Kenai Peninsula fisher. Shoved into back pockets, crammed into the bottom of tackle boxes or used as a dashboard coaster, it goes where the angler goes -- always ready to provide that bit of instant information.
Last week, the lower Anchor River held a smattering of coho salmon, with a series of low tides keeping most of the fish milling about near the mouth of the river. But a peek at the ever-present tide book brings promise for many anglers this week, as higher tides have put waves of fish into the river, signaling that the run is on.
"There are plenty of fish in the river -- the main run is here for sure," said Heath Harrington of the Anchor Angler. "Plus, they are bigger fish."
Harrington said the typical Anchor River coho weighs in the 7- to 8-pound range, but this year's run so far has yielded a 9-pound average. Harrington added he's seen silvers weighing up to 13 pounds caught in the last week.
Elsewhere on the river, Harrington said, the larger Dolly Varden have moved upstream, while a few early steelhead have begun to show up.
The recent string of sunny days has limited fishing success for most anglers to the early morning or late evening hours as well as on the tides. But a weekend forecast calling for clouds and showers could change things for the better on the Anchor.
"All we need is a little bit of rain," Harrington said, "and it should bring on some hot fishing."
On the Kenai River, silvers have become evenly dispersed from the mouth to Skilak Lake, with shore and boat anglers doing well in the early morning and late evening, said Ken Lacy of Ken's Alaskan Tackle in Soldotna.
"Guys throwing lures are doing well with Pixees, Vibrax and Mepps in the (No.) 4 to 5 range," Lacy said. "Boat fishermen have had success back-bouncing eggs as well as using Qwikfish."
Lacy said greater numbers of pink salmon have moved past the Sterling Highway bridge and have been reported up to the Funny River.
On the Kasilof River, Lacy said shore anglers were finding success with lures and eggs, while eggs and Qwikfish were producing silvers for boat anglers. Fishing early and late remains the rule on the Kasilof as well. Lacy added that the Swanson River also was producing good numbers of fish on the incoming tide.
Lacy said early risers can find good numbers of rainbow trout, Dolly Varden and kokanee in the Swanson Lakes area. Fish range in the 1/2- to 1-pound range and dry flies are working best.
Halibut fishing out of Deep Creek has slowed somewhat due to the lower tides, Lacy said, but anglers are still producing respectable catches of fish in the 20- to 40-pound range.
Over in Seward, high winds from earlier in the week have subsided, allowing Silver Salmon Derby anglers a chance to get back on the water. As of Thursday afternoon, Soldotna resident Bill Bixby still held the derby lead with a 20.14-pound coho he landed Saturday. Bixby won the derby in 1992 with a 19.4-pound silver. Soldotna resident Richard Vehmeier held 10th place as of Thursday with a 16.6-pound coho he caught Tuesday.
Farther north on the peninsula, trout fishing on the upper Kenai River has been steady, while a few silvers have begun to show up in the Russian and upper Kenai rivers, said Kenai Cache owner Darwin Peterson Jr. in Cooper Landing.
"There are some silvers (in the upper Kenai), but no one is really fishing them heavy yet," Peterson said. "Trout fishing is yielding some good fish. Beads, egg flies, Glo-bugs and flesh flies have been working well."
Peterson said anglers looking for fresh sockeye salmon still can find a few in the Russian River, but added that the river closes for reds Sunday.
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