Photo by Rashah McChesney/Peninsula Clarion  Mike Matheny, of Kasilof, tries to see his fish as Matt Buta, of Soldotna, runs around him to keep a hold of his own as the two fished the Kasilof River on Tuesday June 2, 2015.

Photo by Rashah McChesney/Peninsula Clarion Mike Matheny, of Kasilof, tries to see his fish as Matt Buta, of Soldotna, runs around him to keep a hold of his own as the two fished the Kasilof River on Tuesday June 2, 2015.

Tight Lines: Fish on! on the Kasilof

Just before 11 p.m. Tuesday as the last of the suns rays bounced off of the Kasilof River, an hours-long lull in fishing broke when Matt Buta and Mike Matheny hooked into king salmon at the same time.

As they danced around each other when one ran upstream and the other ran down, the handful of other anglers on the river bank near Crooked Creek reeled in and stepped back to watch the action.

Most of the conversation at first revolved around how surprised Matheny was when he realized he had a 20-pound king at the end of his line. The Soldotna man said he had been fishing for about two hours took a break to untangle a knot in his line when a splashing in the water caught his attention.

“It hooked itself,” he said, visibly startled.

After slowly reeling the king in, unhooking it and letting it go, Matheny stood in the water breathing heavily.

“They wear you out,” he said. “You can only do one or two of those a day.”

Other anglers reported varying degrees of success; most said it was the busiest they had seen the river all season.

Buta, of Soldotna, said he has been fishing the river near the Crooked Creek Campground for about a week.

“I do drywall for ten hours and then I come here,” he said. Typically he has is 5-year-old and 7-year-old sons with him — but he was fishing solo Tuesday evening when he landed his fourth king of the day.

Both Buta and Matheny landed naturally produced kings but the Kasilof also has a run of hatchery kings that can be distinguished by a missing adipose fin.

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.

Most of the fishermen along the shore said the season for early run Kasilof kings would be productive for about two more weeks before tapering off. Late run king fishing will pick up again in July.

The early run is the best time for anglers to have a chance at catching a king salmon from shore as the water rises and runs swiftly during the late run making it nearly impossible to catch a king without a boat.

Gary Ingman, of Montana, was another lucky angler to land a 20-plus-pound king salmon.

Both Ingman and Matheny fished successfully with orange-colored lures.

Ingman said he had been fishing on the Kenai Peninsula for decades. The trip was a nostalgic one for him as he used to often make it with his son. But the king fishery has morphed from one that lands anglers a massive meat fish to one that requires catch-and-release.

“It feels good to let them go,” he said. “Especially the natives. They seem to recover real well.”

Reach Rashah McChesney at rashah.mcchesney@peninsulaclarion.com.

Photo by Rashah McChesney/Peninsula Clarion Mike Matheny, of Kasilof, eases a 20-pound king salmon back into the Kasilof River after catching it on Tuesday June 2, 2015 near Crooked Creek in Kasilof, Alaska.

Photo by Rashah McChesney/Peninsula Clarion Mike Matheny, of Kasilof, eases a 20-pound king salmon back into the Kasilof River after catching it on Tuesday June 2, 2015 near Crooked Creek in Kasilof, Alaska.

Tight Lines: Fish on! on the Kasilof

Photo by Rashah McChesney/Peninsula Clarion Mike Matheny, of Kasilof, eases a 20-pound king salmon back into the Kasilof River after catching it on Tuesday June 2, 2015 near Crooked Creek in Kasilof, Alaska.

Photo by Rashah McChesney/Peninsula Clarion Mike Matheny, of Kasilof, eases a 20-pound king salmon back into the Kasilof River after catching it on Tuesday June 2, 2015 near Crooked Creek in Kasilof, Alaska.

Photo by Rashah McChesney/Peninsula Clarion Mike Matheny, of Kasilof, eases a 20-pound king salmon back into the Kasilof River after catching it on Tuesday June 2, 2015 near Crooked Creek in Kasilof, Alaska.

More in Life

Several pages from David Brame's "After the Rain," adapted from Nnedi Okorafor’s short story “On the Road.” (Photo courtesy David Brame)
New Homer creator brings Afrofuturism to town

David Brame’s new graphic novel will be published in January

Friends of Elmer Gaede effect repairs to the doctor’s Maule Rocket airplane, which crashed a short distance from Forest Lane between Soldotna and Sterling on Aug. 2, 1967. The airplane was eventually made “fly-able” again and was sold in the early 1970s. (Photo courtesy of the Gaede Collection)
Dr. Gaede drops in, Part 2

By Clark Fair For the Peninsula Clarion Author’s note: This is Part… Continue reading

Nick Varney
Unhinged Alaska: A guide to the seasons

Figuring out the signs of seasonal change is easy, right?

Essential ingredients for my family’s lemon cake recipe, photographed on Tuesday, Nov. 17, 2020, in Anchorage, Alaska. (Photo by Victoria Petersen/Peninsula Clarion)
Kalifornsky Kitchen: Great-grandma’s lemon cake

It’s not much, but it’s also everything.

A match latte is on display on Jan. 3, 2019 at Brother’s Cafe, in Kenai, Alaska.
Kalifornsky Kitchen: Something warm please

I’m normally not a warm drink person.

A row of dyed silk wall hangings shows how common Alaska plants found on the lower Kenai Peninsula can be used to make organic dyes, as seen here Tuesday. The hangings are included in Elissa Pettibone’s exhibit, “Swatches,” showing at Bunnell Street Arts Center in Homer.
Michael Armstrong / Homer News
‘Swatches’ explores art of organic dyeing using native plants

Pettibone finds magic in fireweed, other common plants

Dr. Elmer Gaede relaxes at home a few weeks after his airplane crash. His facial hair and glasses hide much of his scarring. (Photo courtesy of the Gaede Collection)
Dr. Gaede drops in, Part 1

Part 1 of a three-part story of a single-engine airplane crash more than a half-century ago.

Pepperoni pizza is ready to go into the oven, on Monday, Nov. 2, 2020, in Anchorage, Alaska. (Photo by Victoria Petersen/Peninsula Clarion)
Kalifornsky Kitchen: Election night pizza

It’s a time-honored tradition to have pizza in the newsroom on election night.

Virginia Walters (Courtesy photo)
Life in the Pedestrian Lane: The race is on

Here we are 33 weeks later wondering how we are going to celebrate the grandest time of the year.

Will Morrow (courtesy)
Keeping myself in stitches

The pandemic hit, and we all brushed off some skills we hadn’t thought about in a while.

A homemade nut mix takes on a sticky, spicy finish with a recipe from Anthony Bourdain, on Friday, Oct. 23 in Anchorage, Alaska. (Photo by Victoria Petersen/Peninsula Clarion.)
Kalifornsky Kitchen: I’m going nuts

I’m enjoying the nuts while I work from home and occasionally daydream about the international travel

Nick VarneyNick Varney
Unhinged Alaska: 2020 — The Halloween Year

2020 has nixed Oct. 31 as the official observance of Halloween and hijacked the mantle as its own.