King salmon fishing continues to pleasantly surprise

Anglers on the central Kenai Peninsula have been pleasantly surprised with opportunities to catch a king salmon.

“We’re still right at beginning stages on the Kasilof, but things have been really consistent,” said Mark Wackler of Fishology Alaska. “It’s a nice surprise, especially when you consider we aren’t using any bait.”

Alaska Department of Fish and Game Assistant Area Management Biologist Jason Pawluk said things have been picking up on the Kasilof. Pawluk said that based on log book data being reported, the catch rate has improved, and many guides are reporting a king per trip. He said the kings have been reported be nice-sized, in the 15- to 20-pound range.

Restrictions remain in place in the Kasilof, limiting anglers to a single-hook artificial lure and prohibiting the use of bait. The daily bag limit for kings is one hatchery-produced fish, except on Saturdays when an angler may retain a hatchery-produced or wild salmon. Hatchery fish are identifiable by a healed adipose fin-clip scar. The adipose fin is the small fleshy fin on the back just ahead of the tail.

Brian Miller at Soldotna Trustworthy Hardware and Fishing said anglers fishing from drift boats on the Kasilof have had success back-trolling Spin-N-Glos and smaller Kwikfish. Bank anglers tend toward Corkies, sometimes adding a piece of yarn.

“It’s the same old stuff,” Miller said.

While the opening on the upper Kenai River and Russian River is still a week away, the early run of sockeye salmon has started making its way up the Kenai River. Those reds, which are headed for the Russian, are catchable in the lower and middle Kenai for anglers willing to put in the time. Pawluk said the Fish and Game sonar has started picking up fish in the sockeye salmon size range, and Fish and Game netters saw catch rates of sockeyes increase.

To the south, the Anchor River, Deep Creek and Ninilchik River will see their final king salmon openings of the season. A pulse of kings were counted by Fish and Game’s Anchor River sonar earlier this week, boding well for the coming weekend.

Out of Homer, Kelly Gross at The Sport Shed reported “pretty good” fishing options — good trolling for saltwater kings, good fishing in the Nick Dudiak Fishing Lagoon on the Homer Spit, and good halibut fishing in lower Cook Inlet.

Out of Seward, Fish and Game reports catches of king and sockeye salmon on Resurrection Bay. Halibut fishing is reported as fair, with the average size bigger than 20 pounds.

Anglers should be sure to familiarize themselves with regulations, as well as relevant emergency orders, for the area they plan to fish before heading out on the water. Regulations and emergency orders are available online at adfg.alaska.gov. Printouts also are available at the Fish and Game office, 43961 Kalifornsky Beach Road, Suite B in Soldotna.

Have a fishing photo to share? A story or recipe? Email tightlines@peninsulaclarion.com.

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