Fishing Report for the Central Kenai Peninsula for salmon, halibut and trout
I can sum up the fishing on the Kenai over the last week with one word, "WOW"! The historical peak has come and gone, however the real peak for king salmon on the Kenai is going on right now. The cumulative for the season as of June 15 is 10,753 with over 1,000 fish passing the sonar on June 12.
As reported last week, things are still about a week behind. The water is still low, the fish numbers are catching up and things are looking really good, but late. Indeed, some area managers in the MatSu Valley are concerned with the low numbers and have imposed restrictions limiting the use of bait. But, a very good commercial fishing source (my son) in the middle of Cook Inlet reports that the fishing has been very good with good numbers of chinook. So again, things may look low, but in my opinion, they are simply late.
The Kenai River fished very well this week. The drift boaters on Monday reported an exceptional day with multiple hook ups and great action throughout the day. Then, Tuesday was indeed Super! The bite was on at 6:00 just about anywhere on the river and lasted for about 1 hour. This continued through Wednesday but Thursday and Friday saw a lower catch rate. And again on Saturday things were once again hopping.
It seems that the desirable tackle is the fisherman's choice. In other words, the kings are hitting on plugs as well as bait. Most are back-trolling or back-bouncing with a few endeavoring to side-drift.
According to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, the harvest rate is "above-average". This is good because last week it was less than average, so again this is representative of the run finally making its way up the Kenai. The run forcast is still looking like about 18,000 fish to pass the sonar. The water clarity is surprisingly still excellent at about 4' and the water levels continue to rise. Currently the statistical average time to catch a king from a guided boat is 24 hours which is typical for this time of year.
Other opportunities on the Kenai are the first run of Russian River sockeye. The reports are coming in as very good in the upper Kenai and at the Russian River. While most reported a slow start at the June 11 opener, things have definitely improved. Many are leaving with their daily bag limit after a few hours of fishing. When fishing the Russian, however, keep this in mind: It is a fly-fishing only area and the hook gap cannot exceed 3/8". Also, coolers are now allowed on the ferry; nor can you ever be more than 3 feet from your pack or stringered fish. These rules are intended to reduce the number of uncomfortable bear encounters. So, do take the proper precautions. Also, I have heard that fish grinders have been installed on some of the cleaning tables, but have not heard about their effectiveness quite yet. If you don't use the grinder, remember to chop up the carcass and throw it to the main current of the river, again this will help to reduce the bear problem on the Russian.
The Kasilof reports haven't been quite so rosy. There certainly are fish present and folks are catching, but things seem to be winding down in between runs. Each day is a different day with different results, so I certainly wouldn't give up on the idea of fishing the Kasilof. As last week, the best fishing is out of a drift boat, however, some folks are still finding fish but it is taking a bit more effort than before.
The sockeye are starting to show up on the Kasilof as well. So, if your are up for a challenge, and not too much into the crowds, consider hitting the Kasilof for some reds.
The weather seemed to cooperate this week with some great halibut fishing to be had. I have received many reports of limit catches from the halibut charters (and even some private drift boats!). The fish are still a bit small, but I did hear of one boat with a box full of 50 pounders! I am expecting that as the summer matures, the fish will get larger and larger.
If you truly want to have a great time catching and are not too worried about the size, the local area lakes are on fire! Johnson lake is one in particular where fishing is catching. The fish are ranging between 6" and 18" but are very hungry and aggressive. This is a great place to take children and introduce them to the wonderful sport of fishing.