Fish report: Kenai River closes, Russian River sanctuary opens

Tony Weaver
Photo courtesy of Andy Mezirow

I cannot complain -- the weather these last couple of weeks has been nothing short of spectacular. I dare not jinx too much of a good thing. After last year's long prolonged wet summer I was starting to wonder if we would ever get a stretch of good weather during the fishing season.

Naturally, with all of the great weather comes a record year for mosquitoes. The mosquitoes are out in force and they are hungry.

I fished up north last week and there were areas on the river where the bugs were so thick that the fishing was not enjoyable.

Loading my boat at the end of day was tough. The mosquitoes were having a heyday on my scalp, ears, neck, ear tips and every other inch of exposed skin.

I managed to get in the truck with only a couple of hundred of the blood thirsty critters trapped inside. I immediately turned on all of the fans and the air conditioner and drove like a madman for a dozen miles or so to blow those suckers out the windows and sunroof.

I thought I had them after an hour of open windows and smashing them with my hat against the windshield. I thought it might be safe to roll up the windows, but you never get them all out of the car. The next morning I got in my truck and they were still there, waiting.

Next trip I'll bring a headnet.

Here's the latest fishing report from the field.



The Kenai River is experiencing a very low return of king salmon, requiring a complete shutdown of this fishery.

The latest closure, due to low escapements of chinook, was issued Tuesday. Check the Alaska Department of Fish and Game website for specifics.

The Kasilof River is also closed to fishing with bait. Additional hook restrictions are in effect, so check the ADFG website for details.

The Russian River is fishing well for sockeye and trout. Last weekend saw an influx of anglers with long lines into the Russian River campground.

A friend said he waited in line for an hour to get to the fee station only to find out that they were only accepting cash. He turned around and drove back to Anchorage. Another friend managed to get to the river and said his party saw lots of sockeye. He also mentioned that the trout fishing was excellent.

The Russian River sanctuary opened Wednesday morning. The projected run is estimated at approximately 51,000 returning sockeye. Check the ADFG website for specifics on this fishery.

The middle river has been fishing well for trout with some really nice rainbows being caught.



The rivers up north are still trying to clear up and it looks as though the Parks Highway streams may be a week or so from clearing. The snow in the higher elevations has to eventually burn off with the high temperatures.

The Deshka River is still behind in total chinook counts compared to last year. The weir counts are under 500 and last season we were at 4,772 at this date. Needless to say, the fishing has been spotty, with most of fish being caught at the mouth during the early and late evening.

The Little Susitna River weir is still out of commission and the water is high and dirty. Fishing has been very slow, according to Mike Hudson of Three River Fly and Tackle.

Hudson said the valley lakes -- Nancy Lakes, Kepler-Bradley and Memory Lakes -- are fishing well. Try small spinners, single eggs and small bobber setups with nymphs for best results. The damsel hatch is also going strong, so fly anglers should give a damsel fly nymphs a try.



The halibut fishing has been consistent, with most being caught east of Cape Resurrection. Ellrington, Cape Junken and Montague Straight are producing fish.

I spoke with Bob Candopoulos of Saltwater Safari Company on Tuesday and he mentioned that last week low tide cycles saw a slower bite and smaller halibut.

I also spoke with Andy Mezirow of Crackerjack Sportfishing. He and Candopoulos both said they like more water movement and higher tide cycles. The caveat is that some of the best tides occur during the evening. Later this week the tides should improve.

Mesirow and Candopoulos both said the Montague king-bite and yelloweye fishing has been good.

The sockeye terminal fisheries at the east end of Resurrection Bay are starting to wind down. A few fish are being caught on incoming tides.



Fishing has been steady with most anglers catching their limits of halibut, most in the 12- to 20-pound range. The weather has been fantastic.

The new Homer Jackpot Derby leader is Greg Mendenhall of Florida, who landed a 153.2-pound fish June 15 with Big Bear Halibut Charters.

Fishing off the end of the Homer Spit can be a fun way to pass the time. Species available include walleye, pollock, pacific cod and a variety of flatfish species.

Anglers are catching Dolly Varden along the east side of the Homer Spit.

The Nick Dudiak Lagoon is fishing better, and try the Halibut Cove fishery for kings.



Anchorage bowl lakes are fishing well and most are stocked.

I spoke with Dustin Slinker of the Bait Shack on Tuesday and he said the early incoming coming tides at Ship Creek have produced some nice fish. The water is still high and off-color but the fishing has been pretty good. A 44.5-pound king salmon was caught 30 minutes after the Ship Creek derby closed last weekend.

Fish are being caught from the marker below the dam to the mouth. Slinker said size six Vibraxes in UV colors and standard bait set-ups are producing.



The fishing in Prince William Sound has been good with most boats reporting catches of halibut, with most of those in the 15- to 25-pound class. The big fish are still not on the shallows.

The rockfish and yelloweye fishing has been very good with some large yelloweye being caught.

I spoke with Kristen Labrecque from Saltwater Excursions on Tuesday and she said the morning bite has been slow but is getting better in the afternoon with recent tides.

Labrecque said she has seen lots of whales in the area with occasional orcas. Boaters should be on the watch for commercial nets in the water.



Copper River Chitina Subdistrict will remain open through 11:50 p.m. Sunday. A supplemental harvest of 10 additional sockeye salmon is being allowed for the personal-use dip net salmon fishery during this period. The water level is high but fishing has been productive the last few days. Updated information can be found at

The preliminary schedule is based on the projected daily sonar counts at the Miles Lake sonar and is subject to change based on actual salmon escapement. If actual counts are below the projected counts, fishing time will be reduced. If actual counts are above the projected counts, fishing time will be increased.

There have been no reports of sockeye being caught in the Klutina River or the Gulkana River. Use caution when fishing from the shore -- with the recent high water, the riverbanks could be undercut. With the recent pulse of fish passing the Miles Lake sonar, expect fishing to get better in the coming weeks.

Arctic grayling will be released in stocked lakes in the Lake Louise area next week.

For the best rainbow trout fishing, head out the McCarthy Road to Strelna, Silver, and Sculpin lakes which offer the best opportunities, both in numbers and size of fish.

Silver Lake was stocked with catchable rainbow trout in 2010 and again in 2011. These rainbows are transferred from Summit Lake in the Wrangell Mountains. Silver Lake has walk-in access only, and fishing has been great.

Peanut and Tolsona Mountain lakes are also excellent for rainbow trout, but an ATV is helpful to access them. These two lakes are not readily accessible from the road system but have been stocked in past years and receive little pressure.

Tolsona, Tex Smith, Buffalo, and Ryan lakes were recently stocked with catchable rainbow trout in June.

Most of the stocked lakes in the area are ice-free and will receive catchable sized rainbow or arctic char this month.



Daily News correspondent