This is the last fishing report of the season, but don't put away your rods and waders. Some of the year's best fishing is yet to come.
The silver salmon fishing just keeps on going, according to Captain Jeff King, at King's Budget Charters, in Ridgeway. Like most anglers this year, King has been back-trolling for silvers with the K15 Kwik-fish.
"I fish them with just one single hook," King said. "It hooks them right in the corner of the mouth, so they're easy to unhook."
Silvers are being caught pretty much throughout the Kenai drainage, according to reports, and fresh fish are still arriving in fair numbers. The best silver fishing usually occurs early in the morning, before the sun hits the water. (This is generally true in all streams.)
The so-called "late run" of Kenai silvers typically begins in early September, with peak catches Sept. 7-15, according to Department of Fish and Game records. By regulation, silver fishing ends at midnight, Sept. 30.
State sport-fish biologist Bruce King (unrelated to Jeff King), at the Soldotna offices of the Department of Fish and Game, says this year's silver salmon run appears to be better than last year's, which was a good run, compared to those of recent years. The agency doesn't have a creel census going, but is in the middle of a mark-recapture coho study, catching the fish in fish wheels and recapturing them upstream in gillnets.
This year's fish-wheel catches are running about 20 percent higher than last year's. The netters, who work on the river in the Sterling area, are also doing about 30 percent better than they did last year, in terms of total coho catch, King said.
With sockeye salmon spawning at a peak, fishing for rainbow trout and Dolly Varden char on the upper Kenai has been slower than it will be later on, when the fish are hungrier. Right now, it's a matter of "matching the hatch" with salmon egg imitations.
Some anglers like Glo-bugs; others prefer plastic beads. If you use beads, be sure to abide by the regulation. Anywhere in the Kenai drainage, a bead must be either fixed to the hook or free to slide on the line or leader. "Pegging" a bead to the line or leader is illegal.
As the sockeye spawning tapers off, over the next two or three weeks, trout find fewer loose eggs to eat, and it becomes easier to tempt them with an artificial one. On all but the uppermost few miles of the Kenai River, rainbow and Dolly fishing is open throughout the winter. Fishing usually improves throughout September and October.
High and turbid water may play hob with trout fishing in September, particularly if the lake behind Snow Glacier dumps while the Kenai is already high from rain in the mountains.
Silver fishing improved this past week and should keep right on improving as more fish move into this clear-water stream.
Creative anglers may want to take advantage of the fact that, as of Aug. 21, it has been legal to fish with artificial lures other than flies in the fly-fishing only area. (See page 31 of the Sport Fishing Regulations Summary for a description of this area.) This means spinners, plugs, plastic beads and other lures are legal, providing they comply with the single-hook, artificial-lures-only regulations that still apply.
Anglers have been catching silvers in the Swanson River. During the next few days, the fishing could improve still more before the run peaks.
The Kasilof continues to crank out silvers, although it can't compare with the Kenai. On Saturday, the Kasilof goes to no bait, single-hook artificial lures only.
Crooked Creek, a tributary of the Kasilof, is open to silver fishing. It, too, goes to no bait, single-hook artificial lures only, as of Saturday.
Any rainbow trout/steelhead caught in the Kasilof or Crooked Creek must be immediately released and may not be taken from the water before being released.
Lower Peninsula Streams
A few silvers are being caught, but the peak of the run appears to be past.
As of Saturday, no bait is allowed in the Ninilchik and Anchor rivers or in Deep and Stariski creeks. Only single-hook artificial lures may be used. The purpose of this regulation is to protect steelhead runs. All steelhead hooked must be immediately released and may not be removed from the water before they are released.
Steelhead fishing in the Anchor is starting to pick up, and should remain good from mid-September until freeze-up.
Deep Creek-Anchor Point Marine
Halibut fishing off Deep Creek is expected to be only fair this weekend. Most of the flatfish seem to have moved south, and Saturday's afternoon high tide is a 19-footer, not the best for keeping bait on the bottom. The best bet for fishing this area might be close-in, and using a salmon carcass for bait. Big halibut commonly feed on the carcasses of spawned-out salmon that wash out into the inlet.
Don't forget razor clam digging. There's a decent set of daylight minus tides starting Sept. 15 and running through Sept. 19. After that, the "lows" are at night, until next spring.
The best halibut fishing is reported to be in the area of the Elizabeth and Barren islands, outside Kachemak Bay.
Some anglers have been catching silvers by casting spinners and spoons from the tip of the Homer Spit.
Silver fishing has also been good at the Homer Spit Fishing Lagoon. On the flooding and ebbing tides, try drifting a bobber and salmon roe in the inlet channel of the lagoon. Silvers are also being taken by anglers trolling herring, spoons and spinners outside the lagoon, in Mud Bay. These salmon should be here through about mid-September. A few king salmon are present. The daily bag limit for silvers is six; the daily limit for kings, two.
September is usually one of the better months for feeder kings. The most productive method of taking this fish has proven to be trolling with downriggers. The most popular spots are off Bluff Point and Glacier Spit, in Kachemak Bay. Several charter-boat outfits remain "open" for this fishing through the fall and winter months.
In February and March, it's about the only fishing available, other than ice fishing.
Resurrection Bay/Gulf of Alaska
Fishing for silver salmon from the beach near the Seward Lagoon outflow culverts and near the Lowell Creek waterfall is "very good," according to the latest Fish and Game report.
Fishing from boats at the head of the bay has also improved. This can be a great fishery for small boats on calm days in September.
Schools of feeding silvers can sometimes be found by watching for birds diving on baitfish near shore between Caines Head and Seward.
By approaching the birds slowly and fishing the edge of the baitfish, you can avoid spooking the birds and the silvers below. These feeding silvers will take most any lure. Fly fishers should go armed with baitfish imitations. Be careful not to cast too near a bird, as they, too, will take most any lure, and are extremely difficult to release.
In Resurrection Bay, you can harvest six salmon (other than king salmon) per day and have six in possession. All six can be silver salmon.
Halibut move into deep water in the fall, so expect fishing to slow down in the coming days. Charterboats fishing the gulf were still limiting out, weather providing, this past week. Here, too, some charter outfits fish almost all winter.
Fishing for lingcod and rockfish along the edge of the gulf continues to be excellent. Lingcod season ends Dec. 31. Rockfish season is open year-round.
Prince William Sound
Silver fishing was good on the north and south ends of Culross Island last weekend, and the fish should still be there this weekend. Try trolling green hootchies or herring at depths of 20 to 50 feet.
Fall is a great time to lean back in a float tube and watch the birds fly south while you troll a fly along the shoreline of a lake. Tip: Troll a size 6, black or purple leech pattern fly near the surface. Between now and freeze-up, fishing in lakes will improve as trout, char and landlocked salmon go on pre-winter feeding frenzies.
Pick up a free pamphlet on 28 stocked peninsula lakes at the Department of Fish and Game, 34828 Kalifornsky Beach Road, Soldotna.
Some of the best trout fishing in Alaska occurs during the next month or so in Bristol Bay drainage streams. Contact local air charter outfits for information on access and lodging.
Be sure to mail in your personal-use permit(s), whether you dug clams or fished for salmon.
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