The end of August on the Kenai River usually means silver salmon action that's red hot, but this past week, the fishing hasn't even been lukewarm, according to several fishermen.
"It's been kind of slow for pretty much most of the week," said Mary Jean Lopez of New Mexico.
She and her husband, John, were soaking eggs at Cunningham Park in Kenai on Thursday morning, much the same way they had been doing all week.
They arrived in mid-July to fish for sockeye and silver salmon. They said they come to Kenai annually and stay through the end of August because that's typically when they do their best catching, but the last two years haven't been good for silvers.
"It was better about three years ago. Last year there were no silvers in August, but the reds came late, so we got lots of them. And this year, the run just really hasn't hit the river yet," Lopez said.
Despite the fact this season's silver fishing wasn't stacking up to past years', the Lopez's still had more fish to show than many people on the water.
"Yesterday there were only six fish caught, but we caught three of those six," said John Lopez.
"It was luck. We were just in the right place at the right time," Mary Jean added.
In addition to landing the largest haul of the day on Wednesday in terms of fish caught, the Lopez's said their salmon were decent-sized, too.
"They were 10 to 12 pounds," said John.
"They were really nice fish. We steaked out all three of them," Mary Jean added.
A little further upriver, the story was much the same since the bite was equally slow.
"Absolutely nothing," said Schopfer Narcel of Switzerland, in regard to what he and his three foreign fishing buddies had to show after several hours of fishing at Swiftwater Park in Soldotna on Thursday morning.
Narcel said he and his friends had been fishing for two and a half hours and hadn't even had a bite, but he was going to give it a few more hours before throwing in the towel.
"I'll go till noon, lunchtime, then we'll see," he said.
While Thursday was lackluster for landing fish, it certainly wasn't anything new for Narcel and the others. He said they came for two weeks of fishing and had wet hooks at numerous other locations on the Kenai, including further downriver by Centennial Park, and upriver near the Kenai's confluence with Funny River. They also had fished a variety of tackle including eggs, Spin-n-glos and spoons, but at the end of the day their cooler was just as light as when they arrived.
Narcel said the only action he's had on the end of the rod this week was when he went halibut fishing on Wednesday.
"I got my two," he said.
While the silvers are still slow to show, fishing for resident species such as rainbow trout and Dolly Varden is reported to be good to near excellent in the Kenai as those fish are busy feeding on the eggs of salmon that already have spawned.
According to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, drift boat anglers fishing the upper Kenai River between Skilak and Kenai lakes have found success, and rainbow trout fishing below Skilak Lake downstream to the Soldotna Bridge is also reported to be good.
Almost every stream has different regulations for rainbow and steelhead trout, though, and Fish and Game advises anglers to review and understand all regulations before fishing.
On the Kasilof River, silvers continue to be caught intermittently, but like the Kenai, the run hasn't really shined yet. Things may get more difficult for fishermen this weekend as on Saturday the Kasilof goes to no bait, single-hook artificial lures only, as does Crooked Creek, a tributary of the Kasilof.
Also, any rainbow trout or steelhead caught in the Kasilof or Crooked Creek must be immediately released and may not be taken from the water before being released.
Further south still, the Anchor River, Deep Creek, and Ninilchik River are closed to all salmon fishing, upstream from the Fish and Game markers. This includes catch-and-release fishermen. Waters downstream of the markers are open to fishing for Dolly Varden and rainbow or steelhead trout, but rainbows and steelhead must be released immediately and may not be removed from the water not even for photos.
Also, like the Kasilof, these more southern waterways go to single-hook fishing and no bait as of 12:01 a.m. on Saturday.
Anglers fishing the lower sections of the Anchor River and Deep Creek have reported good catches of silver salmon, especially around high tide. Also, if this weekend's predicted wet weather gets the fishing moving like the last rainstorm when the weir on the Anchor jumped from a daily recording of seven salmon on a dry Friday to 2,021 fish on a rainy Saturday the bite may really be on.
In Homer, the Nick Dudiak Fishing Lagoon continue to be a sure thing for silvers since three times as many smolt as normal were stocked last year. This bite is expected to remain good into September.
Joseph Robertia can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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