For his patience a Canadian teacher standing in the Kenai River at the Funny River campground was rewarded with his day’s limit of sockeye, though they were small and hard won.
Brian Bowers, of Calgary, fished for more than three hours Wednesday standing in the shaded water near the grated sidewalk that leads from the small 10-unit campground and day use area sitting at the confluence of the Funny and Kenai rivers. The campground, about 11 miles from Soldotna down Funny River Road, offers a quiet place to camp and fish early in the season.
He stood at the site’s fillet table, cleaning his three fish at about 10 a.m., talking to the handful of other anglers who made their way down to the site for a chance at the sockeye run. The group agreed one a few things: one, that the fish seemed smaller this year; and two, that the run had not yet pushed into the river in full force.
“I’ve been fishing here for 23 years and I haven’t seen them this small,” Bowers said.
As he spoke, he dropped an egg into the water and watched dozens of smolt swimming around in the shallow water near shore converge on the tasty treat.
“They’re waiting for food,” he said.
Bowers’ largest catch for the day, a 5-pound sockeye salmon, was one he said he’d typically release. But, he’s still willing to eat them.
“My wife says the small ones taste the best,” he said. “I don’t know about that. The bigger ones are more fun to catch.”
He caught his reds on a fly rod with a coho fly.
Nearby, Paul Pichette avoided the rocky bottom of the fishing hole with a slinky-weight setup. Pichette, of New Hampshire, said he didn’t have any trouble with snags using the long fabric tube weight in that area of the river.
While Bowers owns a cabin on Funny River Road, Pichette said he drives up every year to fish and stays at the campground.
“I camp all over the place, the Russian River, Bings Landing, anywhere they’ll have me,” he said.
At least one person in the group had a good fishing tale to tell.
Willow resident Terry Anderson sat on a nearby bench watching the fishing and recovering from a late night binge of catching fish.
Anderson said he and his family fished at Centennial Park late into the evening Tuesday.
“We caught six reds and a king,” he said.
The group started fishing around 6 p.m. and didn’t finish until midnight.
“We were watching the tide and had a mad rush come in,” he said.
The Anderson family will camp in town for a few more days and then they’ll head to Seward where they have a boat moored.
“We’re just chasing fish,” he said with a grin.