By all accounts the silver salmon season continues to be a good one.
"The silver return is looking good so far and it's still going on," said Larry Marsh, assistant area manager biologist with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game.
Marsh added that silvers weren't the only species being caught.
"Pinks are starting to taper off but are still being caught, or getting in the way, depending on your point of view. Also, from the outlet of Skilak Lake down to Bing's Landing, the rainbow fishing has been reported to be very good," Marsh said.
He added that the area just below Skilak also is a typically productive silver area for anglers using hardware, rather than soaking eggs. Soaking eggs is more common in many locations on the lower Kenai River.
A few regulations went into effect earlier this week that could slightly curtail the number of fish being caught.
As of September 1, fishing on the Kenai upstream of the Killey River is restricted to one unbaited, single hook with an artificial lure. Bait remains legal on the remainder of the Kenai until Oct. 1.
The Kasilof River below the Sterling Highway bridge also is closed to bait as of the first of the month. Crooked Creek, Ninilchik River, Stariski River, Deep Creek and Anchor River also are restricted to one unbaited, single hook with an artificial lure as of the first.
Bait or no bait, the Duck Inn Silver Salmon Derby, which began Aug. 28 at 6 a.m., is expecting to bring in a few more fish before it wraps up at 6 p.m. Sunday.
"Like the past five, it's been a good derby with plenty of fishing and plenty of anglers," said Jody Donaghe, owner of the Duck Inn and organizer of the event.
"It's just a little derby for the local people. We're not looking for it to get one person bigger. Our concerns are like everyone else's, and we watch the counts, keep up with all Fish and Game regs and everything else," Donaghe said in regard to a few calls he's received from concerned citizens believing that the derby may put pressure on the returning fish.
"If we thought this derby had any detrimental effects on the fish population we would stop it immediately, but right now the river is just chocked full of fish," he said.
The current derby leader (as of Thursday morning) is Rick Brewster of Soldotna, who landed an 18-pound fish on the second day of the derby.
"I caught it near Eagle Rock on a blue spinner. It put up a major fight. It took me probably 15 minutes to get it in," Brewster said.
As to how he caught such a big fish, he said it may have been a bit of beginner's luck since he's not even a resident of the state yet.
"I just moved here in June from Montana. It's only the second silver I've ever caught. The first one was smaller, so this is my first really big one," Brewster said.
Brewster said he thought his fish would maintain its first-place position until the close of the derby, but with three days of fishing left, it's not too late for someone to unseat him. Weigh-in continues through the weekend from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.
The second-place contender, Cindy Stonecypher from Soldotna, isn't far behind with her 17.25-pound fish landed Aug. 28, and area resident Jerry Hansen is holding in third place with a 16.35-pound fish also caught on the 28th.
"We could still see an 18.5- or a 19-pounder come in over the weekend as more people get off work and start fishing," Donaghe said.
The angler with the first-place fish at the end of the derby will net themselves a $500 first prize in addition to quite a bit of bragging rights. Second place will take away $300 and third will take $200.
Donaghe explained there also is a separate guide category to encourage their clients to enter the derby, and that Hook Setters guide service was in the lead with a 16-pound fish.
The guide whose client lands the top fish will earn themselves $300 for first place, $200 for second and $100 for third.
One hundred percent of the derby proceeds go to the prize money and the end of the derby banquet, according to Donaghe.
The banquet, which will be held at the Duck Inn on Sunday at 7 p.m., is where cash and prizes will be awarded to participating anglers. It also will feature an all-you-can-eat barbecue, live music and door prizes.
Derby ticket holders get in for free. For all others, admission is $10. For more information on the derby or the banquet, call 262-1849.
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