Tight Lines: Anglers gear up for fishing season

Memorial Day weekend marks the traditional start of salmon season on the Kenai Peninsula, and while numerous conservation measures are in place, there have been reports of good fishing for kings in Cook Inlet.

“The fishing has been surprisingly good out in the salt,” said Brian Miller at Soldotna Trustworthy Hardware and Fishing on Wednesday.

“We’ve had reports that king fishing in the areas that are open has been fantastic.”

Miller noted that the weather also has been cooperative in allowing anglers to get out on the water.

For anglers hoping to land a king in a freshwater stream, this weekend also is the first opening on the Anchor River, Deep Creek and Ninilchik River. The streams open at 12:01 a.m. Saturday, and close at midnight on Monday. Anglers are restricted to one unbaited, single-hook artificial lure.

From April 1-July 15, the combined annual limit is two king salmon 20 inches or greater in length in the Anchor River, Deep Creek, Ninilchik River and all marine waters south of the latitude of the mouth of the Ninilchik River to the latitude of Bluff Point.

Grant Anderson, owner of The Fly Box Tackle Shop in Anchor Point, said the Anchor River is in great shape for fishing, and reported some king salmon already spotted making their way upstream. He recommended anglers use “bigger meat-and-potato-type” fly patterns while fishing for kings.

The Alaska Department of Fish and Game reports that halibut fishing has been fair and will start to improve as more fish migrate into shallower summer feeding areas.

On the central Kenai Peninsula, the Kenai River is closed to king fishing by emergency order.

Fish and Game Assistant Area Management Biologist Jason Pawluk said he hasn’t had any reports from the Kasilof River as of yet, and noted that the water levels on the Kasilof are low.

On the Kasilof, 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.

On the Kenai River, personal-use gillnetters have had success fishing for hooligan by the Warren Ames Bridge in Kenai, and Pawluk said the department’s in-river king sonar has been picking up hooligan heading upstream.

While the central peninsula rivers have yet to heat up, fishing the area’s lakes has been very good.

“A lot of people have been hitting the open lakes. A lot of little sport fishing lakes are phenomenal — as always,” Miller said.

Miller suggested trolling little spinners, casting dry flies, or giving nymphs a try.

A list of stocked lakes is available at Fish and Game offices or online at adfg.alaska.gov.

Pawluk reminded anglers to make sure they have their 2015 sport fishing license, and for those chasing kings, a king salmon stamp.

He also urged anglers to be aware of the emergency orders that have been issued, which 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.

Anglers also should be sure to familiarize themselves with the regulations for the area they plan to fish.

Reach Will Morrow at will.morrow@peninsulaclarion.com.

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