Fishing report: Fall anglers have sights on silvers, rainbows, steelhead

While anglers should be cautious with rising water on the Kenai River from the release of the Snow Glacier-dammed lake, the event does come with a silver lining: the pulse of water will raise what have been lower than average water levels for fall fishing.

“Some sections of river were getting a little skinny, and some fishing holes have been changing,” said Jason Pawluk, Alaska Department of Fish and Game assistant area management biologist in Soldotna. “ … What this means is that it will stall the drop in the water level, and should actually bump it up.”

Pawluk sid anglers are still having good success fishing for silver salmon along the lower Kenai River. With the change on the calendar from August to September, the bag limit for silver salmon, also called coho, has increased from two to three fish.

“That’s a bonus for those still at it,” Pawluk said, noting that angler effort tends to taper off after August as well.

Looking ahead, anglers can expect silver salmon to continue to enter the Kenai River over the next month. Pawluk said that the August run of silvers tends to spawn in the smaller streams and Kenai River tributaries, whereas the fish entering the river in September are mainstem spawners, and tend to be a little bigger.

“Mid- to late-September should produce good silver fishing,” Pawluk said.

Pawluk also noted that after taking out the Russian River weir on Wednesday, Fish and Game staff noted quite a few anglers fishing for rainbows and Dolly Varden along the upper Kenai.

“The reds are in full swing for spawn, so beads should be good for a couple of weeks, and then flesh patterns as those fish decay,” Pawluk said.

Runs of silver salmon are reaching their tail end on southern peninsula streams, though anglers are still picking up fish close to stream mouths and inriver, said Carol Kerkvliet, assistant area management biologist in Homer.

Silvers also continue to arrive in the Nick Dudiak Fishing Lagoon on the Homer Spit, though fishing has slowed and the lagoon is now open to snagging.

Looking ahead, Kervliet said anglers have been seeing steelhead in south peninsula streams. Steelhead fishing typically peaks in September. Fly-fishermen generally have success dead-drifting a variety of streamers, leeches and egg patterns, while hard tackle anglers can try spinners, corkies with yarn, or jigs suspended under bobbers.

Fish and Game encourages anglers to familiarize themselves with the differences between steelhead and silver salmon, which can look similar.

Steelhead have black spots all over both lobes of the tail, while silvers have black spots only on the upper lobe of the tail. Steelhead trout may not be removed from the water and must be released immediately.

Silver fishing out of Seward continues to be good, with Fish and Game reporting good catches particularly around Caines Head and Pony Cove. Anglers are finding success trolling or mooching near balls of bait fish.

Halibut fishing out of Seward and Homer also continues to be good, but weather becomes more of a factor this late in the season as halibut begin to migrate into deeper water.

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