A car passes over the Deep Creek bridge as an angler tosses a line in the water on Sunday, May 28, 2018 in Ninilchik, Alaska. Despite the perfect weather and holiday weekend, few anglers dotted the banks of the Ninlichik River and Deep Creek on Sunday, in part because the number of salmon in the rivers so far is still fairly paltry. The Alaska Department of Fish and Game classified the fishing over Memorial Day weekend as poor, in part because the water temperatures are still chilly for this time of year. (Photo by Elizabeth Earl/Peninsula Clarion)

A car passes over the Deep Creek bridge as an angler tosses a line in the water on Sunday, May 28, 2018 in Ninilchik, Alaska. Despite the perfect weather and holiday weekend, few anglers dotted the banks of the Ninlichik River and Deep Creek on Sunday, in part because the number of salmon in the rivers so far is still fairly paltry. The Alaska Department of Fish and Game classified the fishing over Memorial Day weekend as poor, in part because the water temperatures are still chilly for this time of year. (Photo by Elizabeth Earl/Peninsula Clarion)

Few kings to be seen in peninsula rivers, sockeye start surfacing

The weather on the lower Kenai Peninsula streams couldn’t have been more perfect this weekend, but many visitors hung closer to the grills and RVs than to the water.

By midmorning Sunday, only one angler remained on the water near the mouth of Deep Creek, where the braided streams usually attract dozens of anglers on nice early summer weekends to fish for king salmon. Upriver, a few more tossed lines in the water, but most of the people were up in the campgrounds and RV parks. On the Saturday before Memorial Day two years ago, more than three dozen fishermen packed the same estuary, many banking king salmon.

Fishing was slow yet again this weekend on the Ninilchik River, Deep Creek and the Anchor River on the lower Kenai Peninsula. Fish counts climbed a little over the weekend in the Anchor River at the Alaska Department of Fish and Game’s weir, but only 90 kings have passed the weir so far, according to the department’s online fish counts. The weir in Deep Creek has seen more kings so far, at 192 total for the season.

Fish and Game connects the slow fishing so far to chilly water temperatures in Cook Inlet and the freshwater streams. The Anchor River, for example, is much colder this year than in the last few years. At midday on May 30, 2015, monitors measured the river temperature at about 59 degrees Fahrenheit, and at 53.6 degrees Fahrenheit on the same day in 2016, according to conservation nonprofit Cook Inletkeeper’s stream temperature monitoring network. This year, the monitor is reading the river at only 47.3 degrees Fahrenheit as of midday Wednesday.

However, that’s actually a little warmer than the river was on the same date in 2013 and 2014, when it was about 46 degrees Fahrenheit, according to Cook Inletkeeper. Water levels have fallen to a fishable level, but fishing will likely be slow this week as well, according to Fish and Game’s weekly sportfishing report for the lower peninsula.

Kings are the main fish in anglers’ sights this time of year. Every angler has a different idea of what hook and lure setup kings go best for, from plugs to weights and eggs to flashers to spinners. It really depends on the river, according to Scott Miller, co-owner of Trustworthy Hardward and Fishing in Soldotna.

“When we start people out, we’ll set them up, show them how to floss, like for reds — you never know where you’re going to end up (in the river),” he said.

There are different techniques and types of gear for different spots in the river. Anecdotally, people have said they are having luck close to the tidewater in rivers, Miller said. Down in the tidewater area, he recommended a bobber and eggs as bait to fish for kings or a spinner. However, people have luck with a variety of setups — some people use heavy weights and eggs, sometimes called “plunkers,” while others stick with plugs.

Though much of the attention is on the lower peninsula rivers, there are some out fishing on the Kasilof and Kenai rivers this year. Miller said there are some kings in the Kenai, though some are too big to retain so far — anglers can only keep fish smaller than 36 inches long right now. Others are having luck on the Kasilof River, too, where the run is a mix of hatchery fish and wild fish. Wild fish can only be kept on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays, he said.

Area management biologist for the Division of Sportfish Brian Marston said there are kings coming into the Kenai River now, but that he hadn’t heard of any being harvested yet because the ones being caught are too big to keep. Fish and Game’s sonar counter on the Kenai River had counted 338 kings as of May 29. On the same date last year, 892 kings has passed the sonar, according to the online sonar counts. Fish and Game doesn’t have any quantifiable data on Kasilof River kings yet, which are counted at the Crooked Creek weir, Marston said.

There are some sockeye in the river, too — Marston said Fish and Game biologists have seen some schools of sockeye moving upriver in recent days, though not a huge number.

The first big opened for sockeye salmon will be on June 11 downstream of the confluence of the Russian River and Kenai River, near Cooper Landing. The area directly around the confluence, known as the sanctuary, will be closed until July 15.

Anglers are headed out for halibut, too, with success close to shore.

“Anglers are having success within a few miles of shore in Upper Cook Inlet on most days and well into the inlet when conditions are good,” Fish and Game’s Lower Cook Inlet fishing report states. “Halibut sizes range from 10 to 250 pounds, with an average size being 14 pounds.”

Young anglers can also head to the Nick Dudiak Fishing Lagoon on the Homer Spit Saturday for a youth fishing day, with part of the lagoon reserved for anglers 15 years old or younger for the entire day. Fish and Game staff will help young anglers fish from 2 – 4 p.m. at the lagoon. Some king salmon are returning there now, though fishing is still slow, according to the fishing report.

Reach Elizabeth Earl at eearl@peninsulaclarion.com.

Anglers prepare to head out onto Cook Inlet from the tractor launch at Deep Creek State Recreation Site on Sunday, May 28, 2018 in Ninilchik, Alaska. Halibut fishing has been reportedly fair so far this year, with anglers regularly landing halibut smaller than 100 pounds and a few over 100 pounds out of Ninilchik. (Photo by Elizabeth Earl/Peninsula Clarion)

Anglers prepare to head out onto Cook Inlet from the tractor launch at Deep Creek State Recreation Site on Sunday, May 28, 2018 in Ninilchik, Alaska. Halibut fishing has been reportedly fair so far this year, with anglers regularly landing halibut smaller than 100 pounds and a few over 100 pounds out of Ninilchik. (Photo by Elizabeth Earl/Peninsula Clarion)

An angler tosses a line in at Deep Creek on Sunday, May 28, 2018 in Ninilchik, Alaska. Despite the perfect weather and holiday weekend, few anglers dotted the banks of the Ninlichik River and Deep Creek on Sunday, in part because the number of salmon in the rivers so far is still fairly paltry. The Alaska Department of Fish and Game classified the fishing over Memorial Day weekend as poor, in part because the water temperatures are still chilly for this time of year. (Photo by Elizabeth Earl/Peninsula Clarion)

An angler tosses a line in at Deep Creek on Sunday, May 28, 2018 in Ninilchik, Alaska. Despite the perfect weather and holiday weekend, few anglers dotted the banks of the Ninlichik River and Deep Creek on Sunday, in part because the number of salmon in the rivers so far is still fairly paltry. The Alaska Department of Fish and Game classified the fishing over Memorial Day weekend as poor, in part because the water temperatures are still chilly for this time of year. (Photo by Elizabeth Earl/Peninsula Clarion)

Patient anglers wait for a bite near the mouth of Ninilchik River on Sunday, May 28, 2018 in Ninilchik, Alaska. Despite the perfect weather and holiday weekend, few anglers dotted the banks of the Ninlichik River and Deep Creek on Sunday, in part because the number of salmon in the rivers so far is still fairly paltry. The Alaska Department of Fish and Game classified the fishing over Memorial Day weekend as poor, in part because the water temperatures are still chilly for this time of year. (Photo by Elizabeth Earl/Peninsula Clarion)

Patient anglers wait for a bite near the mouth of Ninilchik River on Sunday, May 28, 2018 in Ninilchik, Alaska. Despite the perfect weather and holiday weekend, few anglers dotted the banks of the Ninlichik River and Deep Creek on Sunday, in part because the number of salmon in the rivers so far is still fairly paltry. The Alaska Department of Fish and Game classified the fishing over Memorial Day weekend as poor, in part because the water temperatures are still chilly for this time of year. (Photo by Elizabeth Earl/Peninsula Clarion)

An angler tosses a line in the water near the mouth of Deep Creek on Sunday, May 28, 2018 in Ninilchik, Alaska. Despite the perfect weather and holiday weekend, few anglers dotted the banks of the Ninlichik River and Deep Creek on Sunday, in part because the number of salmon in the rivers so far is still fairly paltry. The Alaska Department of Fish and Game classified the fishing over Memorial Day weekend as poor, in part because the water temperatures are still chilly for this time of year. (Photo by Elizabeth Earl/Peninsula Clarion)

An angler tosses a line in the water near the mouth of Deep Creek on Sunday, May 28, 2018 in Ninilchik, Alaska. Despite the perfect weather and holiday weekend, few anglers dotted the banks of the Ninlichik River and Deep Creek on Sunday, in part because the number of salmon in the rivers so far is still fairly paltry. The Alaska Department of Fish and Game classified the fishing over Memorial Day weekend as poor, in part because the water temperatures are still chilly for this time of year. (Photo by Elizabeth Earl/Peninsula Clarion)

More in News

The Alaska State Capitol is seen on Wednesday, April 6, 2022. (Peter Segall / Juneau Empire)
Legislature modernizes 40-year-old definition of consent in sexual assault cases

‘Alaska took a gargantuan step forward in updating our laws,’ says deputy attorney general

Project stakeholders cut a ribbon at the Nikiski Shelter of Hope on Friday, May 20, 2022, in Nikiski, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Stakeholders celebrate opening of Nikiski shelter

The shelter officially opened last December

Peter Segall / Juneau Empire
Gov. Mike Dunleavy speaks with reporters Thursday about the state’s budget at the Alaska State Capitol. Dunleavy said lawmakers had sent a complete budget, and that there was no need for a special session.
Dunleavy: No need for special session

Governor calls budget “complete”

A magnet promoting the Alaska Reads Act released sits atop a stack of Alaskan-authored and Alaska-centric books. Lawmakers passed the Alaska Reads Act on the last day of the legislative session, but several members of the House of Representatives were upset with the bill, and the way it was passed. (Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire)
In last-minute move, Legislature passes early reading overhaul

Rural lawmakers push back on Alaska Reads Act

Graduates wait to receive diplomas during Connections Homeschool’s commencement ceremony on Thursday, May 19, 2022, in Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Connections honors more than 100 graduates

The home-school program held a ceremony Thursday in Soldotna

Alaska Senate President Peter Micciche, left, and Senate Minority Leader Tom Begich, right, meet with reporters in Micciche’s office in the early morning hours of Thursday, May 19, 2022, in Juneau, Alaska, after the Legislature ended its regular session. Micciche, a Republican, and Begich, a Democrat, discussed their working relationship, as well as well as parts of the session they were either pleased with or disappointed with. (AP Photo/Becky Bohrer)
After House balks at bigger figure, budget OK’d with $3,200 payout per Alaskan

Budget finishes as second-largest in state history by one measure, but Dunleavy could make cuts

Loren Reese, principal at Kenai Alternative High School, gives Oliver Larrow the Mr. Fix It award Wednesday, May 18, 2022, at Kenai Alternative High School in Kenai, Alaska. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)
Kenai Alternative graduates 22, says goodbye to principal

The ceremony included special awards customized for students

Graduates throw their caps into the air at the end of Soldotna High School’s commencement ceremony on Wednesday, May 18, 2022, in Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
‘We never fell down’

Soldotna High School honors more than 100 graduates

Brandi Harbaugh gives a presentation during a joint work session on Tuesday, March 2, 2021, in Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Mill rate decrease, max school funding included in proposed borough budget

The final document is subject to approval by the Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly

Most Read