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Fall fishing means change of pace

Posted: Friday, September 01, 2000

The yellows and reds of autumn are beginning to appear on the flora of the Kenai Peninsula, and with the change in seasons comes a shift in angler patterns.

"This is a pretty typical fall time," said Mike Bethe, Alaska Department of Fish and Game's area management biologist for sport fisheries on the upper Kenai Peninsula. "We're getting into our fall fishing patterns."

School is back in session, moose season is open and the tourist season is winding down, which means a little more space on the river for the angler hoping to catch a nice silver salmon or a rainbow trout.

"It certainly appeared to be a strong return," Bethe said of the early run of silvers. "Things have slowed down in the lower river, but fishing is still pretty good in the middle river (from the outlet of Skilak Lake to the bridge in Soldotna). Coho fishing on the Russian River has been pretty good."

Anglers fishing for rainbow trout have been successful in the middle and upper portions of the Kenai River as well.

And Bethe expects the late run of silvers to hit the Kenai River sometime in the next two weeks.

"The second week of September, if it follows the normal run timing," Bethe said.

Halibut outfits in Homer are anticipating a busy holiday weekend, as anglers take one last shot at the Homer Jackpot Halibut Derby, which ends Mon-day.

The pot is now in excess of $30,000, and Dave Chaparro of Chica-go has the largest fish of the bunch -- a 337-pounder landed on Aug. 6.

Beating that won't be easy, as weather and tides have conspired against anglers over the past week. The recent cycle of big tides ends this weekend, though, as the final minus tide at Seldovia will be 11:35 tonight.

"They've been up against the weather this week," said Rachel Schindler at Silver Fox Charters in Homer.

Schindler said anglers have been coming back with plenty of nice fish, when the boats are able to get out into Cook Inlet. She added that fishing for silvers has been a nice option when the weather won't let the boats get out to fish for halibut.

"It's easier to get out silver fishing when the weather's bad, because they fish more protected areas instead of going out on the open water," Schindler said.

One of the most protected fisheries is the Homer Spit Fishing Lagoon, which is at the peak of its run of silvers, according to Heath Harrington at the Anchor Angler in Anchor Point.

Harrington said the silver run on the lower Kenai Peninsula's rivers and streams is beginning to taper, but the run of steelhead trout is getting stronger everyday.

Steelhead is a catch-and-release species, and the change in legal tackle from treble hooks to single-hook artificial lures on the Anchor River, the Ninilchik River, Deep Creek and Stariski Creek is intended to increase the survival rate for hooked steelhead.

"They're extremely fun to catch," Harrington said. "It's like catching a rainbow, only 10 times bigger, and they come from saltwater.

"They'll jump, and they'll run several times."

Regulations prohibit removing steelhead from the water, and Harrington recommends debarbing the hook to maker it easier to remove from the fish.

"Our steelhead run draws a crowd," Harrington added. "These are the only four rivers you can drive to that have a wild run of steelhead. There's not a whole lot of people here, but definitely more than you'd expect for this time of year."

Fish and Game reports that Resurrection Bay's run of silver salmon has hit the beach, and anglers are having good success landing the fish near the boat harbor and the Seward Lagoon outfall culverts.

Snagging is legal in Resurrection Bay, though many anglers are using lures to catch their silvers.



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