Pinks still dominating the waterways

While anglers are waiting for the waves of silver salmon to flow through the Cook Inlet tributaries, pink salmon are easily accessible and still plentiful.

However, a convergence of poor water conditions are negatively affecting fishing climate in the Kenai and Kasilof rivers, said assistant area management biologist for the Alaska Department of Fish and Game Jason Pawluk.

Due to recent heavy rains and large tides occurring in the Cook Inlet, the large flow in and out of the river mouths is resulting in low numbers of fish moving higher into the streams, Pawluk said.

“Water levels on the Kenai are nearing minor flood stage,” Pawluk said. “It makes it more difficult to find where fish are and water clarity is not ideal.”


Fishing for pink salmon is still the best bet for anglers and is still making it a challenge to catch anything else. For finding the fresher pink salmon, concentrating efforts near tidal zones is a good idea, Pawluk said.


Fishing for coho salmon on both the Kenai and Kasilof rivers is slow, Pawluk said.

With large populations of pink salmon moving through the streams, catching coho salmon is challenging.

A small pulse of coho salmon was detected entering the Kenai between Friday and Monday, Pawluk said. However, those numbers have since declined.

Pawluk said the best place to find coho salmon right now is in the lower areas of the rivers. The large walls of pink salmon will be moving upriver after big tides come in. Additionally, look for places where coho salmon schools have separated from pink salmon schools upriver.


Fishing for sockeye salmon will likely no longer yield success for anglers, Pawluk said. Sockeye salmon fishing is almost completely over for the year.

Pawluk said a few catches are still being reported in the Lower Kenai River, but required a significant time commitment. The best bet for sockeye now is the Upper Kenai and near or in the Russian River, he said.

Resident Species

Pawluk said rainbow trout and Dolly Varden catches are being reported more frequently again. Salmon spawning has begun in the mainstem Kenai River, which attracts resident species as a food source.

Pawluk suggested to try beads and flesh patterns while drifting in the Kenai River, which look like resident species natural food sources.


Kelly Sullivan can be reached at

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