At midday on Wednesday, the sockeye salmon were slow to show in a fishing hole on Keystone Drive in Soldotna. But the cool, breezy, weather and lack of bugs — alongside the irresistible lure of solitude on the Kenai River — brought Tim McCormick and Chris Davis down to the bank to flip for reds.
McCormick, of Soldotna, happily discussed the relatively slow day of fishing, season timing and his previous success in the area — on the condition that his exact location not be revealed to other anglers looking for a place to get away from the crowds.
Over the course of the week that McCormick has been fishing for early run reds on the Kenai River, the water level has risen about a foot — but that didn’t stop the two of them from regularly catching on the rocky bottom of the river.
Most of the early run sockeye salmon are bound for the Russian River where the popular sport fishery is set to open Thursday. Typically the Russian River opener is one of the busier one on the Kenai Peninsula and later in the season the spot is a magnet for anglers — its name has become synonymous with combat fishing in recent years.
McCormick said he prefers to catch a few sockeye in peace, before they make it far enough up river to encounter the crowds.
So far, it has been slow going.
“You’ve got to work for it and they come in spurts,” McCormick said. “It’s bang, bang, bang and then slow.”
McCormick caught one on Wednesday, Davis hadn’t had much luck by noon.
He said he’s heard that the run is late this year from guides who headed onto the river from a nearby boat launch.
“Usually they’re here by the end of May, but he didn’t start limiting out until June,” McCormick said.
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