Photo courtesy Darren Woodhead Wade Hudson presents his unofficial Alaska record pink salmon. Unfortunately, weights and measurements weren't recorded prior to the behemoth's release.

Photo courtesy Darren Woodhead Wade Hudson presents his unofficial Alaska record pink salmon. Unfortunately, weights and measurements weren't recorded prior to the behemoth's release.

Fishing report: Silvers in Seward, trickling into Kenai

Silvers may be elusive on the Kenai River so far, but anglers can get their fill of them in Resurrection Bay.

The 61st Seward Silver Salmon Derby is well underway, working its way toward a conclusion on Sunday. Anglers from all over the U.S. have tried their hands for the famed silvers that return to Resurrection Bay each year since Saturday.

The leading fish in the derby so far weighed in at 15.42 pounds, leading the men’s category as well. All of the top 10 fish on the leader board weighed in the 13–14 pound range. Anglers can also bring in tagged fish for a chance at winning prizes ranging from cars to cash.

Participants have to purchase a derby ticket before heading out fishing. The angler with the heaviest fish on Sunday afternoon will win $10,000, the second heaviest will win $5,000 and the third place will win $2,500. The anglers with the three heaviest fish will also win the weight of their respective fish in coffee.

In general, silvers have been slow to arrive to the Kenai River on the western side of the peninsula. Anglers at Swiftwater Park in Soldotna on Sunday morning mostly saw sockeye and pink salmon on the ends of their hooks, though a few upriver hooked into silvers. The fish are starting to arrive at the weir on Lower Russian Lake, though the run there tends to be small, with a total of 385 fish through the weir in 2015.

Sockeye are still moving up into the Kenai River, but the number of fish passing the sonar every day is staying consistently below 30,000 fish per day. With low counts, fishing for sockeye tends to be slow, but it’s still possible to catch them in certain places. The sockeye return to the Russian River so far is about par with the 2015 return, with about 30,403 sockeye having passed through the weir as of Tuesday compared to 31,229 by the same day in 2015.

The Kenai River surpassed the upper end of its escapement goal for sockeye as of Saturday, reaching 1,357,978 fish past the sonar as of Tuesday. The late run of king salmon looks to finish out just shy of the 22,500 fish mark, with 21,733 fish having passed Fish and Game’s sonar as of Friday.

For marine fishermen, halibut fishing remains fair to good in Homer and Seward. Two weeks remain on the Homer Jackpot Halibut Derby, with Soldotna local Daniel Spies caught a 251-pound halibut on his own boat on Aug. 11. Gayle Magglio of Miles City, Montana held the record for nearly a month with a 167.2-pound halibut she caught on July 8 until Greg Betts of Boise, Idaho caught a 244-pound fish on Aug. 3. Betts currently holds second place, with Magglio in third.

The average halibut harvested out of the Homer port weighed 12 pounds, ranging between 3.3 and 82.7 pounds, according to Fish and Game’s samples.

Fishermen in Seward often also head out for rockfish and lingcod. In recent years, the stocks of lingcod in the Seward area have been low, and the fishing for lingcod has been mixed so far this season, said Jay Baumer, the area management biologist for the Division of Sportfish who oversees the North Gulf Coast.

“I’ve heard from anglers that say they’ve had a lot of difficulty picking up lingcod,” Baumer said. “In looking at the numbers from the guide books, it looks pretty standard. I just think it’s not one of those things where I’m ready to say lingcod are doing great.”

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

Ben Boettger/Peninsula Clarion  A sea otter rips a tasty mouthful out of  a lingcod in Seward's small boat harbor on Saturday, August 13, 2016 in Seward, Alaska.

Ben Boettger/Peninsula Clarion A sea otter rips a tasty mouthful out of a lingcod in Seward’s small boat harbor on Saturday, August 13, 2016 in Seward, Alaska.

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