Fishing in Southcentral Alaska ranges from good to great, though not necessarily easy or everywhere.
Fishing for reds on the middle and upper Kenai has been very good -- lots of fish, lots of fishermen, normal water levels and some pretty nice weather.
Anglers are slaying the silvers on Ship Creek downtown.
When the weather cooperates, saltwater fishing out of Whittier and Seward has been excellent, with good catches of halibut, lingcod and rockfish. Silvers are still not in thick but certainly available if you're willing to go find them.
Here's our roundup by areas.
Starting closest to home, Dustin Slinker at the Bait Shack said silver fishing on Ship Creek is in full swing (his exact words were "fish are everywhere"). If you can cast, he said, you can catch fish. Of course, that means legions of other fishermen too.
Slinker said he caught his limit of three fish in 20 minutes Wednesday morning. Most of the silvers are four- to six-pounders. You can use bright-colored Vibraxes in sizes 4 or 5, but his top recommendation is cured eggs under a bobber. You could also try a very basic bead and yarn fly.
Sockeye fishing has been phenomenal on the Kenai below Skilak Lake, and it's good and improving on the upper river, according to Paul Tornow of Alaska's Angling Addiction in Cooper Landing.
There are a lot of carcasses in the middle river, so he recommends a variety of flesh imitations for trout. Anglers are catching rainbows on dry flies on sunny afternoons without much wind. He also said fry patterns drifted up to log jams have been turning trout as well.
Laura Nugent at Troutfitters in Cooper Landing agreed that the middle Kenai has been fishing great. Fishing in the upper river has been good, with more reds than usual for this time of year.
She thought the trout fishing was better described as fair. It's too early for reds to drop eggs -- but trout fishing should improve noticeably in the next week.
Sockeye fishing on the Russian River has been fair, she said. There aren't tons of fish there. She said she thought trout fishing has been better on the Russian than on the upper Kenai.
When we asked about fly patterns for trout, she replied that the key is where you put your fly, not what fly you put.
So far, she said, there are just a handful of reds in Quartz Creek, but they're coming and Dolly Varden fishing there should peak in a couple of weeks.
Fish and Game prohibits the use of bait and multiple hooks in the Kenai River from its mouth upstream to the Sterling Highway bridge in Soldotna, beginning at 12:01 a.m., Thursday, Aug. 2, and continuing through 11:59 p.m., Wednesday, Aug. 15. Only one unbaited, single-hook, artificial lures are legal.
If you choose to clean your sockeye on the river, please take the time to cut the carcass into smaller pieces and throw them into fast-moving water. And, with the crowds being what they are, a little consideration for those around you makes for a better experience for everyone.
Silver fishing in the valleys has been slow, according to Mike Hudson of Three Rivers Fly and Tackle.
The coho run is "soft" for this time of year, he said, but it's too early to declare it a bad season. He said there are lots of pinks and chums in all the Parks Highway streams, and some of the chum fishing has been nothing short of excellent.
Trout fishing in both lakes and streams has been good. Water conditions are generally normal, which means low and clear.
Pike fishing has been great in the canoe system lakes behind Nancy Lake.
The Deshka has been fair for silvers, with lots of pinks and chums in the lower portions, and good for rainbows.
We caught Kristen Labrecque of Saltwater Excursions in town Wednesday, catching up on shore business and waiting out the lousy weather.
She said the fishing Sunday, Monday and Tuesday was fabulous for halibut, rockfish and ling cod. "We limited out in five minutes," she said.
Her boat landed good-sized halibut and picked up some silvers too. The silvers are still pretty far offshore. Still, the current leader in the Whittier silver salmon derby is a 13.2-pounder.
She said there are plenty of derby-size halibut being caught. For bottom fish she recommends a Kodiak Custom Tackle jig or the white grubs (scampi) with blue tails.
The fishing in Seward continues to pick up, with silvers spread from Pony Cove to Caines Head. Lingcod and halibut fishing have also been hot.
Jim Lavrakas of Skookum Charters said he hasn't been able to get out much this week himself, but he's hearing that a "trickle of silvers" appeared near Pogi (Point Pogibshi) and they, like every other salmon species this year, seem to be running late.
Lavrakas said he's caught some huge pinks trolling for feeder kings out near Pogi. The red run into China Poot is slowing, but locals have had a field day dipnetting there in the past two weeks.
A portion of the Nick Dudiak Fishing Lagoon will open to anglers age 15 and younger on Saturday from 12:01 a.m. to 11:59 p.m. The youth-only sport fishing area will be posted. The rest of the lagoon will be open to all anglers.
Fish and Game staff will be on hand from 2-5 p.m. to help young anglers gear up and fish for silver salmon returning to the lagoon. Fishing rods will be available for kids to check out and use. The best chance to hook fish will start at 3 p.m. as the rising tide flows into the lagoon.
Fish and Game announced that the Chitina Subdistrict will open from 12:01 a.m., Monday, Aug. 6, through 11:59 p.m., Friday, Aug. 31. Between the Aug. 6 start and 11:59 p.m., Sunday, Aug. 12, a supplemental harvest of 10 additional sockeye salmon will be allowed for personal-use dipnetters. Supplemental permits are included in the Chitina Subdistrict fishery permit. Any supplemental harvest must be recorded on this permit before leaving the fishing site. The supplemental harvest portion of the permit is valid only if the original permit limit has been harvested.
Fish and Game said this week it expects a big run of hatchery silvers to return to Monashka Bay on Kodiak from early August to mid-September. Fish should be available by trolling and casting from shore near Pillar Creek and at White Sands beach.
LATEST REPORTS From Fish and Game:
Soldotna (907) 262-2737
Palmer (907) 746-6300
Anchorage (907) 267-2510
Homer (907) 235-6930
Kodiak (907) 486-5176
Fairbanks (907) 459-7385
Juneau (907) 465-4116
Ketchikan (907) 225-0475
Haines (907) 766-2625
Pat Dougherty is editor of the Daily News.