The Kasilof River is seen from the Kasilof River Recreation Area, July 30, 2019, in Kasilof, Alaska. (Photo by Erin Thompson/Peninsula Clarion)

The Kasilof River is seen from the Kasilof River Recreation Area, July 30, 2019, in Kasilof, Alaska. (Photo by Erin Thompson/Peninsula Clarion)

Fishing for steelhead trout and Pacific halibut ‘just beginning’

The first Northern Kenai Fishing Report of 2023 was released Friday

The first Northern Kenai Fishing Report of 2023, released Friday, marks the start of fishing season for Kasilof River steelhead and Cook Inlet halibut.

According to the report, released by the State Department of Fish and Game’s Division of Sport Fish, fishing, hunting and trapping licenses, as well as Cook Inlet Personal Use permits, will be available next weekend at the Kenai Peninsula Sport, Rec and Trade Show at the Soldotna Regional Sports Complex.

Also at the show, children can participate in a youth-only rainbow trout fishing pond, stocked from the William Jack Hernandez Sport Fish Hatchery in Anchorage.

Freshwater

Flowing waters of the Kenai River mainstem from the Lower Killey River marker and all Kenai River tributary streams will be closed starting Monday and until June 10 to protect spawning rainbow trout, the report says.

Kasilof River steelhead fishing, the report says, is “just beginning” and expected to improve over the coming weeks. At this time, no rainbow or steelhead trout that are caught may be removed from the water. They must be released in the water immediately.

Hooligan fishing should start soon, the report says.

Saltwater

Surf fishing for halibut along Cook Inlet beaches south of the Kenai River is “just beginning.” The report says that these Pacific halibut fisheries are managed by the federal government instead of by the department, and encourages anglers to double check those regulations.

Local Lakes

The local lakes will soon be free of ice, at which point lake fishing is expected to be “good to excellent,” the report says. With warming temperatures, lake fishing for rainbow trout, Arctic char, Arctic grayling and landlocked salmon will improve. The report recommends fishing with dry or wet flies such as an egg sucking leech, bead head nymph or mosquito pattern; small spoons and swimmers either size #0 or #2; and small bait under a bobber.

Emergency Orders

Please review the emergency orders and advisory announcements below in their entirety before heading out on your next fishing trip.

Emergency Order 2-KS-1-10-23 closes sport fishing for king salmon of all sizes in the Kenai River from the mouth upstream to the outlet of Skilak Lake from 12:01 a.m. Monday, May 1 through 11:59 p.m. Friday, June 30, 2023. Fishing for king salmon will remain closed from 12:01 a.m. Saturday, July 1 through 11:59 p.m. Monday, July 31, 2023, in waters of the Kenai River drainage from an ADF&G regulatory marker located approximately 300 yards downstream from the mouth of Slikok Creek, upstream to the outlet of Skilak Lake. This closure prohibits all sport fishing for king salmon, including catch-and-release fishing. King salmon may not be retained or possessed; king salmon accidentally caught while fishing for other species may not be removed from the water and must be released immediately.

Emergency Order 2-KS-1-11-23 closes the Kenai River to fishing for king salmon and prohibits the use of bait and multiple hooks in the Kenai River from its mouth upstream to ADF&G markers located at the outlet of Skilak Lake from 12:01 a.m. Saturday, July 1 through 11:59 p.m. Monday, July 31, 2023. This closure prohibits all sport fishing for king salmon, including catch-and-release fishing. King salmon may not be retained or possessed; king salmon caught while fishing for other species may not be removed from the water and must be released immediately.

Emergency Order 2-KS-1-09-23 restricts the duration of fishing periods in the personal use set gillnet fishery at the mouth of the Kasilof River. The hours open to fishing in the personal use set gillnet fishery shall be reduced from 6 a.m. until 11 p.m., to 1 p.m. until 7 p.m. Thursday, June 15 through Sunday, June 18 and 4 p.m. until 10 p.m. Monday, June 19 through Saturday, June 24, 2023.

Emergency Order 2-KS-715-23 prohibits sport fishing for king salmon (including catch-and-release) in the salt waters of Cook Inlet north of the latitude of Bluff Point (59° 40.00’ N. lat.) effective 12:01 a.m. Monday, May 15 through Monday, July 31. King salmon incidentally caught while fishing for other fish may not be removed from the water and must be released immediately.

Emergency Order 2-NP-1-04-23 prohibits the retention of any species of fish in East Mackey, West Mackey and Derks lakes for the 2023 season.

Emergency Order 2-DV-1-03-23 establishes a bag and possession limit of Arctic char/Dolly Varden in Stormy Lake of one fish, less than 16 inches in length for the 2023 season.

To review all regulations and emergency orders, visit adfg.alaska.gov.

Reach reporter Jake Dye at jacob.dye@peninsulaclarion.com.

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