Tight Lines: Kings make an appearance, lakes heat up

Enough fish were caught during last weekend’s king opener on the southern Kenai Peninsula’s salmon streams to keep things interesting, and other options for catching a salmon are beginning to open up to anglers in the coming week.

“On the Anchor River, fishing was steady enough to keep people interested, and the same with Deep Creek,” said Carol Kerkvliet, an assistant area management biologist with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game in Homer.

The Ninilchik River was a bit slower, Kerkvliet said.

Fishing for kings in Cook Inlet also has been good, and Kervliet said fresh schools of kings have been arriving at the Nick Dudiak Fishing Lagoon on the Homer Spit. Kings also have been showing up across Kachemak Bay in Seldovia, she said.

Fish numbers on the Anchor River also appear to better than previous seasons, with 507 kings counted at the sonar and weir site through Tuesday.

Kerkvliet said that while the numbers are better than recent years, it’s still too early to draw any conclusions about the strength of the run. Manager will continue to see how the run develops.

On the central Kenai Peninsula, area lakes continue to be a good option.

Dave Atcheson, author of “Fishing Alaska’s Kenai Peninsula,” said he’s been exploring the lakes of the Kenai Canoe Trails on the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge, accessed by taking Swanson River Road to Swan Lake Road. Details on the canoe trails are available from the refuge at fws.gov/refuge/Kenai/visit/visitor_activities/canoe.html, or at refuge headquarters on Ski Hill Road in Soldotna.

“(Lakes) back in the Swan Lake, Swanson area are really hot right now, especially if you get off the road system little bit,” Atcheson said.

Atcheson, a fly-fisherman, suggested bringing along a variety of flies.

“If there’s a big hatch, some of those really small flies, chironomids, midges, and their corresponding nymphs are good to have in your arsenal. If there isn’t a hatch, try going to a leech or egg-sucking leech,” Atcheson said.

According to Fish and Game, bait fished under a bobber, or small spinners and spoons also are good options for early season lake fishing.

Opportunities to catch a salmon also are increasing.

Jason Pawluk, Fish and Game assistant area management biologist, said reports from the Kasilof River are that king fishing is still slow, but fish are being caught. The Kasilof king fishery typically starts to pick up during the first week of June.

“We’re getting close to that period,” Pawluk said.

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.

Pawluk also said for anglers willing to put in some time, the early run of red salmon will be hitting the Kenai River soon. Those fishery head straight for the Russian River, but can be caught on the lower Kenai River.

“If you time it right, you can catch those reds,” Pawluk said.

Pawluk suggested finding locations conducive to fishing for reds, such as where a swift current is pushing the fish closer to shore.

Anglers should note that the opening date for sockeye salmon fishing on the Russian and upper Kenai rivers was incorrectly listed as June 1 in the printed version of the regulation booklet. The correct date for sockeye salmon 16 inches and longer is June 11. Pawluk said Fish and Game has posted signs in the area alerting anglers to the error.

Anglers should always check the regulations for the area they plan to fish before heading out on the water.

Got a fish tale to tell? Photo to share? Reach Will Morrow at 907-335-1251 or email will.morrow@peninsulaclarion.com.

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