Fishing report: Good time to chase rainbows

With king salmon fishing slow and a lull in the numbers of sockeye moving into the Kenai River, now might be a good time to go chasing rainbows.

“In the middle river (below Skilak Lake) trout fishing has been fantastic, if you have a boat to get up there,” said Scott Miller at Soldotna Trustworthy Hardware and Fishing.

Miller suggested fishing with beads and egg patterns for the rainbows that are getting ready to gorge on salmon roe.

“Rainbows are spread out (in the Kenai River), waiting for those sockeye carcasses to be thrown,” said Jason Pawluk, assistant management biologist with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game. “Rainbow fishing is good throughout the river.”

Miller said area lakes also have been good, particularly if fishing deeper, and hitting the water early in the morning or late in the evening. Miller said a recent successful outing on Longmere Lake with his daughters was a blast.

The combination of murky water and bait restrictions on the Kenai River has made king salmon fishing a challenge right now. Pawluk said that after the late run of kings opened to fishing on July 1, creel surveys have indicated a drop in the catch rate, as well as a drop in angler effort. Miller said that as the water clears up, anglers should have a better chance at hooking a king salmon.

The Kenai River’s late run of sockeye salmon also is beginning to trickle in, though Pawluk said that based on current information, those heading to Kenai for the personal-use dipnet fishery, which starts Friday, should expect a slow opening weekend.

Fish and Game is reminding dipnetters that fish harvested in the fishery must be recorded on a personal-use permit before leaving the area where the fish were caught. That means recording the catch while still on the beach or in the boat, rather than waiting until you’re back in the parking lot.

Fish must also have the upper and lower tail fins clipped before they are concealed from sight, such as in a cooler or tote.

Retention of king salmon in the Kenai River personal-use fishery has prohibited by emergency order.

This year, those wishing to participate in upper Cook Inlet personal-use fisheries can get permits online at In addition, personal-use harvest can be recorded online at, which can be also accessed by scanning a QR code on the permit with a smartphone.

Pawluk said Fish and Game is developing the online option to be more user-friendly, and to give the public another choice instead of having to bring the permit card into a Fish and Game office or stick it in the mail.

For those hoping to catch some reds using rod and reel, Pawluk said the sonar numbers are still low, but trending in the right direction. Pawluk said that anglers typically report good fishing when the sonar counts hit the 20,000-30,000 mark; Monday’s count was 11,292 and Tuesday’s was 13,288.

Still, anglers who put in the effort are picking up some fish. Miller said anglers have been in for dip net supplies, as well as coho flies and 2/0 and 3/0 hooks.

“The Kenai is starting to show signs,” Miller said. “There’s fish in there if you’re willing to put in the time.”


Reach Will Morrow at Have a fishing photo, story or recipe to share? Email

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