Fishing report: King fishing improves, sockeyes building slowly

There are more salmon streaming into central Kenai Peninsula streams, but anglers may have to put in some time to catch their limits.

Sonar estimates from the Kenai River for sockeye salmon have fluctuated between 12,000 and nearly 25,000 fish per day over the past sevearl days. While the numbers indicate an uptick in fish in the river — 20,172 on Monday and 24,744 on Tuesday — Alaska Department of Fish and Game managers say they have yet to get any indication that there’s a significant pulse behind them out in Cook Inlet.

With that in mind, sockeye fishing on the Kenai River is likely to follow the current trend over the next several days, with pulses of fish moving through, but some periods of slow fishing as well.

“It’s fishable, but it might be one of those days where you’ve got to spend 4 to 6 hours getting your fish,” said Jason Pawluk, assistant area management biologist for Fish and Game.

The Kenai River also has seen an uptick in king salmon numbers, and anglers have had better success over the last several days.

“That’s the encouraging news so far, king fishing has improved,” Pawluk said. “We saw nice movement of kings into the river, and sport catch rates indicated that as well.”

Water conditions on the Kenai have improved, with better visibility. Restrictions on king salmon fishing limiting anglers to a single-hook, unbaited artificial lure remain in place, but Pawluk said word is getting out that there are some kings in the river.

For anglers wanting to get away from the salmon-frenzied crowds, Pawluk said now might be a perfect time to check out the Russian River, with a lull between salmon runs and fishing pressure focused on the Kenai and Kasilof rivers.

“Put on some dry flies or a flesh pattern and fish the Russian for trout,” Pawluk said.

Anglers should not that bag limits for sockeye salmon on the Russian and upper Kenai have returned to 3 fish per day, and 6 in possession.

In the saltwater, fishing for halibut continues to be good. The current leader in the Homer Jackpot Halibut Derby is a 199.8-pound fish caught by Jason Solberg of Glyndon, Minnesota. The derby runs through Sept. 15. Halibut fishing out of Seward also has been good, with Fish and Game reporting that catches have picked up with nicer weather.

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