Fishing Report: Waiting for the second run of salmon

Photo by David Litt

We're in the transition-fishing season -- between the trout opener and the too-brief early salmon runs. We're waiting for the frenzy of the second run of sockeye and second run of Kenai kings. Then we'll finish up with silvers, big halibut and great trout fishing in late fall.

Transitions can be good -- normally they give you time to visit a new fishery or explore a new area. Or mow the lawn. A few fisheries are starting to percolate and I'm hearing improving reports from the eastern, southern, western and northern fisheries. I hope it won't be long before our "second season" really gets rolling.

After a few years searching for new water, I've found a few gem fisheries, but most are far off the grid. For example, I spent the last week way out west in search of kings. I caught some nice trout and some other species of salmon as well.

Of course, with every new river come unexpected surprises. This year, on an unnamed river, I experienced some of the best chum fishing I've seen in a long time. The king fishing was fine, but the chrome dogs were great sport. Not only were they large and dime bright, they took flies with authority.

In next couple of weeks we should see a nice return of these underrated fish to most Southcentral streams. Spend a little time researching some of the chum fisheries. Not only are chums easy to catch, they fight like Mike Tyson. Take the kids up north to the Parks Highway streams and you could be rewarded with a great day of catching -- if they show in decent numbers.


Kenai Peninsula

With only 2,038 kings counted as of June 30, the Kenai River is still disappointing. Second-run king fishing is getting started but is still slow. Water clarity is fair to good. The majority of the second run is still probably weeks away.

Greg Brush emailed me Tuesday to say he had caught a nice king early in the morning but fishing was slow for the rest of the day.

The official season for kings began July 1. There are additional restrictions for the second run, with single hooks and no bait being the main ones. Check the ADFG website for further details.

The late run of Kenai reds is showing up early and in fair numbers this year. Brush said two friends hooked a number of big ones in the Lower Kenai two nights ago, with one of them getting his three-fish limit. His wife and kids went out one night for two hours and hooked a few.

The Kasilof River is still decent for kings. Boats are seeing a fish or two caught for each day of angling effort. This is a hatchery-fish-only fishery, meaning anglers can only keep fish with a clipped adipose fin. Check the ADFG website for details.

The Deep Creek marine/Anchor Point halibut fishing is going well. Anglers report solid 20- to 35-pound fish and a fair number of 45- to 90-pounders.



King salmon fishing is described as fair to good at the Nick Dudiak Fishing Lagoon on the Spit. I also hear that good numbers of small king salmon, and a few larger ones, have returned to the Seldovia Lagoon.

The China Poot personal use dipnet fishery is open to Alaska residents through Aug. 7. No permit is required. The bag and possession limits are six sockeye per person per day. Only sockeyes may be kept.

Clamming tides look promising between July 7 and 11. Digging for razor clams on Ninilchik beaches has been poor. Try Clam Gulch or beaches on the west side of Cook Inlet.

Littleneck (steamer) and butter clams can be found in gravel beaches on the south side of Kachemak Bay from Seldovia to Chugach Island.

Good numbers of butter clams are found on the islands in China Poot Bay. Butter clams can be found up to two feet deep. Littleneck clams can be found in a variety of habitats from Jakolof Bay to Bear Cove. Try exploring new beaches. Typically, littleneck clams are found up to eight inches deep.


The Parks Highway creeks -- Willow, Sheep, Little Willow and Montana -- have been decent for trout, with the water in good shape. Trout are biting flesh flies, Dolly Llamas and Sculpins. Spin fisherman should try smaller spinning lures.

Talkeetna River and Clear Creek fishing has been pretty good for kings and trout; the king fishing is catch and release only. Anglers have been doing well backtrolling. Trout fishing in Clear Creek has been decent; try flesh flies or beads.

The Deshka River has had a decent return of kings this year. Anglers are catching a few fish at the mouth. You'll do best early and late in the day.

The Deshka's water level has dropped, so boaters not familiar with the upper river should proceed with caution. I've had reports of boats run aground.

The lakes in the valley are still fishing well. The weed blooms are fully under way now and trout can be caught in those areas. Try leeches and nymphs in greens and browns.

Mike Hudson at Three Rivers Fly and Tackle said the Little Su is finally starting to clear and the king run is decent. At least a few anglers have been catching fish. He also recommended that anglers interested in pursuing trout explore the upper river. The water is clearing and Dolly Varden fishing can be good. Hudson also said kings are showing up in Lake Creek, where water conditions are good.



Salmon fishing in Seward is picking up by the week. Karl Hughes with Aurora Charters has caught limits of silvers recently in the Pony Cove and Cheval Island areas by mooching with herring. He mentioned that most of those fish have been caught in water 15 to 35 feet deep.

Rockfish and Lingcod fishing has also been good, particularly in the west part of the bay. Try Harris and Ayalik bays.

Hughes also halibut fishing has been consistently good, with most boats doing well. The king fishing out east toward Ellrington and Montague is still good. Hughes has been doing most of his charters for halibut and kings to the east near Montague Island.

Kings are still in the bay. Lowell Point, inside Fox Island and other points are producing kings for trollers.



Fishing has been good for salmon and halibut outside Passage Canal. Kristen Labrecque texted me Tuesday evening with this report: "We are on a weather hold today. The past three times that we have gone out fishing we have limited the boat out by 11 o'clock. The bite has been really good. The fish seem to be getting larger in size. The yelloweye fishing has been good with large fish being caught. There have been reports of silvers being cleaned at the dock however we have not caught any ourselves. The humpbacks are showing in large numbers as well as the Orcas. Commercial nets are everywhere. We are finding fish between 260 feet to 315 feet. We are fishing Kodiak custom tackle with circle hooks with clear and pink squid skirts."


Copper Basin

The Klutina is picking up for reds, and anglers are still picking up a few kings from the first run. I spoke with Rick Grove from Groves Campground (on the Klutina at the bridge in Copper Center). He said bank anglers have been catching reds from shore and riverboat anglers are getting a few kings. He reports that the second run of kings have not shown up yet, but they should be there by the middle of the month, along with a bigger push of reds.



Ship Creek is closed for fishing below the Chugach Power Plant by emergency order. Check the ADFG website for more details.

Ship Creek will open for silvers July 13.

Campbell and Chester creeks have both been stocked with rainbows. Both of should be good bets over the Fourth of July weekend

Symphony Lake is now open for grayling and should produce. Try fishing near the inlet and outlet streams.

All Anchorage-area stocked lakes have received their second planting of rainbow trout.


Tony Weaver has fished all over Alaska for more than 40 years. He is the host of Wolf Outdoors, which airs on FM-96.3 Saturday mornings. He worked as chief technical editor for Fish Alaska and has written for Fish and Fly, Flyfisher and Flyfisherman magazines. He is a photographer and author of "Topwater: Fly Fishing the Last Frontier Alaska."