Two anglers work together to land a silver salmon from the steps on the fishing platform near the Soldotna Visitors Center on Wednesday, Aug. 30, 2017 in Soldotna, Alaska. The silver salmon fishing has been reportedly good throughout the Kenai River since early August, and silver salmon continue to enter the river throughout the fall. (Photo by Elizabeth Earl/Peninsula Clarion)

Two anglers work together to land a silver salmon from the steps on the fishing platform near the Soldotna Visitors Center on Wednesday, Aug. 30, 2017 in Soldotna, Alaska. The silver salmon fishing has been reportedly good throughout the Kenai River since early August, and silver salmon continue to enter the river throughout the fall. (Photo by Elizabeth Earl/Peninsula Clarion)

Fishing report: Silver fishing keeps up quality on Kenai River

A draft morning schedule for a silver salmon angler:

4 a.m.: Alarm goes off. Pat self on back for packing tackle the evening before.

4:30 a.m.: Start car. Early fall temperatures in Alaska in August can be in the 40s before the sun comes up, and last one to the fishing dock is the loser.

5 a.m.: Roll up to the fishing docks, sometimes at Bing’s Landing in Sterling, sometimes at Centennial Park in Soldotna, depending on the day. Unload gear and queue up with the dozen or more other early-morning anglers that know the habits of silver salmon.

5:15 a.m.: Rig up pole. Peek at other anglers’ setups and shake head, because no one agrees about what the best tackle to fish for silvers is.

5:30 a.m.: Toss first cast out, and wait. Reconsider water movement patterns, dismiss the reconsideration, reconsider the reconsideration.

So the morning goes for a lot of silver salmon fishermen on the Kenai River. By 8 a.m. Wednesday, the fishing platform below the Soldotna Visitors Center just downstream of the David E. Douthit Veterans Memorial Bridge was a thinner crowd than at 5 a.m., though a few were still walking away with their fish for the morning. The anglers left kept up a rotation of casting, walking their poles downstream, reeling in, and walking back up the boardwalk to cast again.

Silver salmon, also known as coho, often hit hard early in the morning when the water temperatures are cool, and again in the evening. The silvers that the anglers were taking home from Soldotna on Wednesday morning were still bright, some with hefty girths pushing up their weights.

However, the water quality took a dive in the early part of the week due to the rain and the Killey River pushing mud into the Kenai River, clouding up the water and dampening fishing conditions.

“Yesterday we limited out,” said Dave Goggia, owner and guide at Hooky Charters. “We did pretty good (Wednesday) morning until the water got dirty and then they just quit biting.”

Goggia said the silver salmon fishing has been relatively good so far, with anglers catching limits in his boats, depending on the day. Success depends on where anglers are in the river — for the last several days, guides have been down in the lower river in locations like Eagle Rock, near the state boat launch, he said.

However, many may now be headed upstream with the water muddy, said Jason Pawluk, the assistant area management biologist for the Division of Sportfish in Soldotna.

“When conditions get like this, the best place to go fishing is between Skilak (Lake) and above the Killey,” he said. “…That’s where everybody’s headed. It’s good that there’s bait in the water for coho, because that can really help.”

Logbook data from the guides, which isn’t a formal measure but gives an idea of how the guides are doing, shows that silver fishing has kept up for the last few weeks: many people are still getting limits, Pawluk said. There’s no saying exactly what the abundance of silvers on the river is, but fishermen both in the commercial fisheries and in the sport fisheries have been seeing a lot of them this year.

That’s hopeful for good fishing throughout September, said Jimmie Jack Drath, owner of Jimmie Jack’s Alaska Fishing Lodges in Kenai.

“The silvers are really nice on the Kenai River right now,” he said. “It’s been pretty consistent. I think the water is getting a little muddy right now, so I think we might have a couple of days (of slower fishing) … But there’s plenty of fish in there.”

The bag limit for silvers longer than 16 inches on the Kenai River drainage other than on the Russian River and in the Russian River confluence area also increases from two to three fish per day with six in possession effective Friday. The bag limit for silvers smaller than 16 inches is 10 per day with 10 in possession, by regulation.

However, up on the section of the Kenai River upstream of the Killey River to Skilak Lake, anglers also don’t get to use bait or multiple hooks after Sept. 1. Regulation requires that anglers use only unbaited, single-hook artificial lures in that area between Sept. 1 and Dec. 31. Some anglers will likely continue fishing that area, especially if water conditions stay muddy downstream of the Killey River, but their gear restrictions will make angling less efficient, Pawluk said.

Moving forward into the fall, with sockeye salmon spawned out and kings gone, the fishing is all about the silvers and resident species.

“This is some of the best fishing of the year the river has to offer,” Pawluk said. “Coho fishing is going to be excellent whenever the water conditions are good and probably will be through October. We’re just hitting the peak of (resident species fishing) with the sockeye spawning.”

On a foot survey up the Russian River on Wednesday, Pawluk said Fish and Game staff saw coho moving into the river system alongside the sockeye. Sockeye fishing on the Russian River is closed for the season as of Aug. 21, but anglers can still target coho, trout and Dolly Varden in the river, which is a clear, snow-fed river as opposed to the teal, glacial Kenai River.

On Wednesday, the anglers targeting trout and Dolly Varden on the Russian were doing well with beads designed to resemble sockeye salmon eggs, Pawluk said.

Drath said though Jimmie Jack does some trout fishing, clients usually prefer silver salmon fishing in the fall. However, the rainbows have been biting on the lower river as well, he said.

Goggia said his trips for trout have been having good luck as well recently.

“The sockeye are starting to put some eggs out, and that definitely helps,” he said.

Reach Elizabeth Earl at elizabeth.earl@peninsulaclarion.com.

A rod strains agains the Kenai River’s current pulling its line downstream in Cunningham Park on Tuesday, Aug. 22, 2017 in Kenai, Alaska. One of the most popular setups to fish for silver salmon in the tidally influenced Cunningham Park area is a four- or six-ounce pyramid weight with a leader and a hook with eggs as bait to allow the hook to sink into the water, though gear for silvers varies all over the Kenai River, depending on the local geography and the angler’s preferences. (Photo by Elizabeth Earl/Peninsula Clarion)

A rod strains agains the Kenai River’s current pulling its line downstream in Cunningham Park on Tuesday, Aug. 22, 2017 in Kenai, Alaska. One of the most popular setups to fish for silver salmon in the tidally influenced Cunningham Park area is a four- or six-ounce pyramid weight with a leader and a hook with eggs as bait to allow the hook to sink into the water, though gear for silvers varies all over the Kenai River, depending on the local geography and the angler’s preferences. (Photo by Elizabeth Earl/Peninsula Clarion)

In this Wednesday, Aug. 16, 2017 photo, a silver salmon flips out of the water on its way upstream near Centennial Park in Soldotna, Alaska. Silver salmon have been running to the stream systems of Cook Inlet in large numbers this year, making for good fishing in most parts of the river. The salmon will continue to run into the river in varying numbers throughout the fall. (Photo by Elizabeth Earl/Peninsula Clarion)

In this Wednesday, Aug. 16, 2017 photo, a silver salmon flips out of the water on its way upstream near Centennial Park in Soldotna, Alaska. Silver salmon have been running to the stream systems of Cook Inlet in large numbers this year, making for good fishing in most parts of the river. The salmon will continue to run into the river in varying numbers throughout the fall. (Photo by Elizabeth Earl/Peninsula Clarion)

Sockeye salmon mill in the pool below the Russian River falls before pushing their way up to spawn in the upper reaches of the river on Aug. 6, 2017 near Cooper Landing, Alaska. Sockeye salmon fishing is closed for the season on the Russian River as the fish move up the system and spawn. (Photo by Elizabeth Earl/Peninsula Clarion)

Sockeye salmon mill in the pool below the Russian River falls before pushing their way up to spawn in the upper reaches of the river on Aug. 6, 2017 near Cooper Landing, Alaska. Sockeye salmon fishing is closed for the season on the Russian River as the fish move up the system and spawn. (Photo by Elizabeth Earl/Peninsula Clarion)

More in News

Kenai City Manager Paul Ostrander speaks at a ribbon-cutting ceremony at Kenai Municipal Airport on Friday, Aug. 6, 2021 in Kenai, Alaska. A kiosk that will offer educational programming and interpretive products about the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge is coming to the airport. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsua Clarion)
Wildlife refuge kiosk coming to airport

Kenai National Wildlife Refuge stickers, T-shirts, magnets, travel stamps and enamel pins will be available.

This illustration provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in January 2020 shows the 2019 Novel Coronavirus. (CDC)
5 more COVID deaths reported

The total nationwide fatalities surpass population of Alaska.

Velda Geller fills goodie bags at the Kenai Senior Center on Friday, Oct. 22, 2021 for next weekend’s drive-through trick-or-treat event. (Camille Botello/Peninsula Clarion)
‘This has been a lifesaver’

Seniors seek human connection as pandemic continues.

Kenai City Hall on Feb. 20, 2020, in Kenai, Alaska. (Photo by Victoria Petersen/Peninsula Clarion)
‘A very slippery slope that we need to be careful of’

Approval of library grant postponed after Kenai council requests to preview book purchases

This undated photo released by the Alaska State Department of Public Safety shows Robin Pelkey just before her 18th birthday. The remains of a woman known for 37 years only as Horseshoe Harriet, one of 17 victims of a notorious Alaska serial killer, have been identified through DNA profiling as Robin Pelkey, authorities said Friday, Oct. 22, 2021. (Alaska State Department of Public Safety via AP)
DNA match IDs serial killer’s victim after 37 years

Robin Pelkey was 19 and living on the streets of Anchorage when she was killed by Robert Hansen in the early 1980s, investigators said.

A moose is photographed in Kalifornsky, Alaska, in July 2020. (Peninsula Clarion file)
Illegal moose harvest down from past 5 years

The large majority of moose this year were harvested from North and South Kasilof River areas.

Renee Behymer and Katelyn Behymer (right) of Anchorage win this week’s vaccine lottery college scholarship sweepstakes. (Photo provided)
Dillingham and Anchorage residents win 6th vaccine lottery

“Get it done,” one winner said. “Protect us all, protect our elders and our grandchildren.”

Most Read