All about the salmon

Fishing opportunity is picking up on the Kenai Peninsula as salmon runs to area streams continue. Numerous lake and marine water fishing opportunities are also available for anglers who are looking for something other than salmon.


The Kenai River opened to king salmon fishing Monday as the early run gave way to the late run. Alaska Department of Fish and Game managers said the opening was slow according to reports from guided and unguided anglers.

“Some only heard or saw maybe one or two fish caught and they were all small,” wrote assistant area management biologist for Fish and Game Jason Pawluk. “(The) water is pretty dirty right now, not conducive to fishing without bait, and there were just a few fish in the river to have good catch rates.”

A February emergency order closed the Kenai River to king salmon fishing for the entire month of July from a Fish and Game marker located about 300 yards downstream from the mouth of Slikok Creek upstream to a Fish and Game marker at the outlet of Skilak Lake. Bait is also prohibited in the Kenai River king salmon fishery.

The Kasilof River king salmon fishery is also open, anglers are restricted to single-hook, no-bait fishing.

On the southern Kenai Peninsula, the Ninilchik River is open to hatchery king salmon fishing, the limit is one 20-inches or greater in length. Hatchery king salmon can be distinguished from wild king salmon by their missing adipose fin, the fleshy fin on the fish’s back just in front of the tail. After harvesting a king salmon 20-inches or greater in length, a person may not fish for any species of fish in the Ninilchik River on the same day.

In the saltwater, trolling for king salmon has been successful near Flat Island, Point Pogibshi and Bluff Point, according to Fish and Game data. Popular trolling setups for king salmon include herring, hootchies, tube flies and spoons, according to the Fish and Game Lower Cook Inlet fishing report.

Anglers are also having luck catching king salmon in the Nick Dudiak Fishing Lagoon on the Homer Spit and in Seldovia and the Halibut Cove Lagoon.


The late run of sockeye to the Kenai River is off to a strong start with 10,392 counted by the Fish and Game DIDSON sonar 19 miles upstream. Late run sockeye salmon numbers on the Kenai River are expected to pick up as the season progresses, according to the Fish and Game area fishing report.

On the Kasilof River, Fish and Game managers have been trying to stem the tide of sockeye salmon flooding into the river, more than 152,000 fish were counted in the river by Tuesday — the second largest passage through that date on record.

On the Russian River 39,131 sockeye salmon have been counted by a weir at the Lower Russian Lake. Managers liberalized the fishery on June 24 by allowing fishing in the Russian River Sanctuary Area and increasing the bag limit to 6 per day and the possession limit to 12 per day from Skilak Lake to the Fish and Game regulatory markers upstream of the public boat launch at Sportsman’s Landing and the Russian River from its mouth upstream to a Fish and Game marker located about 600 yards from the Russian River Falls. Fishing has slowed in the area however, according to the Fish and Game fishing report for the area.

Other species

Fishing for rainbow trout on the Kenai Peninsula has been fair, according to Fish and Game reports.

Halibut fishing has been fair to good with several large fish caught over the past week, according to the Lower Cook Inlet fish and Game fishing report. The fish are currently moving from their deep, over-wintering waters into shallow, summer feeding areas according to the report.

Lingcod season opened July 1, the bag and possession limit is two fish and the minimum legal size is 35-inches.

Fishing from the Homer Spit, an angler can land walleye pollock, Pacific cod, several types of flatfish, Dolly Varden and salmon.

Catches of walleye pollock and Pacific cod have been good in Kachemak Bay, according to the Fish and Game report.


Rashah McChesney can be reached at

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