King season sees slow holiday start

The Ninilchik River was the best bet for fishing, but was pretty light.

The Anchor River, Deep Creek and Ninilchik River were open to sport fishing this holiday weekend but high water levels left anglers with a lot to be desired.

“Overall, fishing was rather slow this last weekend which was to be expected,” said Gary Sinnhuber of Silverfin Guide Service. “We had quite a bit of rain, so the Anchor River and Deep Creek rose up pretty high and murky.”

The Ninilchik River was the best bet for fishing, but was pretty light.

“The encouraging thing, though, is to look at the fish counts … it looks like the numbers are increasing by a good amount. It’s looking much more favorable,” Sinnhuber said.

The Anchor River weir has counted 288 king salmon so far. Deep Creek weir is reporting 228 fish.

A weir at the second mile marker on the Ninilchik River weir has seen 144 king salmon since its installation on May 15.

Sinnhuber operates a ‘walk and wade’ guiding service, where he shows his clients how to fish from the banks of the rivers.

“I don’t have a boat, I just take people on the rivers and we walk about a half a mile,” he said. “It’s pretty simple, but it’s also about letting people know the regulations and the proper handling of fish.”

An important aspect is teaching his customers, and other fishermen, how to properly release a fish. On the Ninilchik River, anglers are only allowed to retain hatchery fish, so wild king salmon have to be released.

When releasing a fish, it’s important to land the fish as quickly as possible and to leave it in the water, avoid dragging the fish onto the river bank. Remove the hook back through the same hole it entered while the fish is still in the water before releasing it.

“You need to keep the fish and the gills in the water so the fish has the best chance of surviving,” Sinnhuber said.

The Kenai River has seen some king salmon. Fish and Game is reporting that a few have been caught and released on the lower Kenai River, where water conditions are low and clear. The Kenai River fish count is at 203 for the early run.

Kasilof River king salmon fishing is also expected to pick up over the next week or so, according to Fish and Game.

Local lakes are also warming up, leading to improved fishing for rainbow trout, Arctic char, Arctic grayling and land-locked salmon.

“Sport Lake has been producing nice-sized rainbow trout and fishing the Swanson River Road lakes is reported as fair,” according to Fish and Game. “Try fishing with dry or wet flies such as an egg sucking leech, bead head nymph, or mosquito pattern, small spoons and spinners size #0 or #2, or small bait under a bobber.”

Island Lake in North Kenai was stocked on May 17 with nearly 5,000 catchable Arctic char. Arc Lake in Soldotna and Tirmore Lake in North Kenai were both stocked with catchable Arctic grayling on May 23.

Reach fisheries reporter Kat Sorensen at ksorensen@peninsulaclarion.com.

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