hotspot
The most productive roadside fisheries this week:

 

Updated Thursday, August 6, 2020

CURRENT HOT SPOTS:  KENAI REDS, PINKS, RAINBOWS; SHIP SILVERS, PINKS; FISH REDS, SILVERS; TONSINA KINGS; SUSITNA SILVERS, CHUMS, RAINBOWS; RUSSIAN REDS; KLUTINA KINGS, DOLLIES; LITTLE SUSITNA SILVERS, CHUMS; GULKANA GRAYLING

Weekly Summary: The late summer streak of great angling opportunities continues as all areas of Southcentral Alaska are reporting quick and easy action for all salmon species, trout, char, grayling, and a myriad of saltwater fish in multiple of locations. On the Kenai Peninsula, late-run reds and pinks along with early-run silvers, rainbows, and Dollies are keeping anglers busy as the Matanuska/Susitna Valleys are smack in the middle of sizable returns of reds, chums, and silvers with pinks holding on still amidst a wonderful trout and grayling bite, and to the east in Copper Valley resident gamefish such as lake trout, rainbows, and grayling are really amping up. Even within the city of Anchorage and along Turnagain Arm, urban anglers are not being disappointed as silvers, chums, pinks, and Dollies are staging a show for those wanting to stay closer to home. For salmon enthusiasts, the zenith of roadside fishing is happening this weekend.

ANCHORAGE AREA-TURNAGAIN ARM

Area Summary: There are at least two places that stand out in terms of catching quality fish right now, with Ship and Bird creeks being the highlights for returns of hatchery silvers along with a number of pinks and chums. While these waters are not tops for resident species, anglers need not go far as Campbell and Chester creeks in the city of Anchorage as well as Portage creek at the head of Turnagain Arm will suffice in action for rainbows and/or Dollies. But even as the aforementioned hot spots do draw plenty of attention and some crowds, there are several other, less-visited locations to fish that may still provide enough action. And as always, area lakes are stocked with landlocked salmon, trout, char, and grayling that provide decent sport at dawn and dusk.

SHIP CREEK: From now on and for the next ten days or so silver salmon will be flooding this downtown stream, providing solid hook-ups on the incoming and outgoing tides using eggs and spinners. The limit is 3 silvers and some anglers are achieving just that in short order. With clouds and rain forecast over the area this weekend, the bite could prove to be excellent. But outnumbering the silvers are the smaller pinks, which are also piling into the creek on the tides; although very numerous, most of the fish are getting dark but a fair count of bright and semi-bright specimens available still. They are hitting spoons and spinners with flies being tops on low tide. A few chums are present and caught incidentally to fishing for other species.

BIRD CREEK: As the pink salmon run matures and slowly winds down, a decent slot of silvers and chums are opening up opportunities here. The incoming and outgoing tides are best, with good catches of silvers on primarily eggs but spinners and flies are also effective. As a hatchery stream, the limit for silvers is 3 fish. The chums are a mix of chrome brights to dark spawners and can be targeted at any tide stage; some of the better fishing usually takes place right after high tide in deeper parts of the stream using roe clusters or flies. For those seeking solitude, Dolly Varden are biting flies and beads on sections of tributary Penguin Creek and upper Bird accessed by trail; exercise caution, brown bears are active in this area.

GLACIER CREEK: The run of pink salmon is rapidly maturing but some chromers and semi-bright fish are still around, providing fair opportunities on fluorescent lures and yarn flies. Adding to the potential excitement are the larger chums that occupy the lower section of Glacier as well as the mouth of tributary California Creek. A few silvers have been caught but the run appears to be small again this year; try using eggs or spinners in deeper holes right after high tide.

PORTAGE CREEK: There are now four species of salmon present in this stream in addition to Dolly Varden. The best opportunities right now are for chums and pinks which occupy the lower section of the stream; fluorescent lures and attractors with roe are taking the main share. Expect fair to good action. A number of reds are moving upstream and may be found in small schools from the mouth of Williwaw Creek downstream to just above tidewater; flies worked in current may spark success but catches range from slow to fair at best. As for the silvers, fishing for them has been poor to fair, although the run is just now picking up a bit and should begin peaking in about a week to ten days. If targeting Dolly Varden, corkies, small fluorescent lures, and eggs fished on the bottom in the middle stream is good.

KENAI PENINSULA

Area Summary: Late-run reds and pinks are dominating the salmon scene on the peninsula, primarily on the Kenai and Kasilof rivers, as rainbows and Dollies are keeping anglers busy on the salmon spawning beds throughout much of the area drainages. Silvers have yet to make a big debut anywhere but are making a showing in an increasing number of locations and should be considered a main target in another 10 days or so. Chums, while generally not very abundant in most spots on the road system on the peninsula, nevertheless provide decent opportunities in Seward and Hope. If seeking saltwater species, all area ports and points in between are yielding a mixed bag of bottomfish that also includes halibut and rockfish. Early August is a great time to get out and explore as good fishing may be found most anywhere, even in the most obscure places, not only the hot spots mentioned below.

SEWARD/RESURRECTION BAY: The main action here is for pinks and chums; the mouths of Spring and Tonsina creeks are good for bright to semi-bright pinks while the latter is producing nice chums too. However, the bay is teeming with pinks and decent action may be had anywhere along the beaches for this species using spoons, spinners, and flies. Incoming, high, and outgoing tides are best. A few late-run reds may be picked up as they home in on spawning streams at the head of the bay. A few silvers are now available to surf-casters; try spinners or herring off the rocks along Lowell Point Road. The hatchery run of kings destined for Seward Lagoon has ended but an occasional straggler may be around still. Casting bait and jigs into deeper water from shore is a good way of connecting with a variety of bottomfish, including flounder, codfish, and greenling. Halibut and rockfish are available as well.

QUARTZ CREEK: The red salmon run has arrived and started spawning, providing a good bead bite for Dolly Varden and a few rainbows and whitefish. Fish may be found anywhere from the headwaters of the stream on down to the oulet at Kenai Lake. There are also some nice Dollies to be had in tributary Daves Creek.

UPPER KENAI RIVER: Late-run red salmon are streaming through, with best fishing occurring in the stretch of water from the Russian River confluence downstream to the inlet at Skilak Lake. Good catches can be expected using flies; however, a sizable number of salmon are turning color so be prepared to either sight-fish to individual fish or catch-and-release until brighter specimens are found. The run will peak this weekend, then slowly taper off the remainder of the month. A few silvers are showing up but action has been slow thus far. Yet the best action on this river is for rainbows and Dollies; beads are absolutely the top producers but egg-imitation as well as forage flies are taking these species as well. Whitefish are being caught on beads too.

LOWER KENAI RIVER: Anglers can expect this weekend or early next week to be the last really productive days for late-run reds in the Soldotna area as the run will soon start to slow down. Success has been good the last several days with a flurry of even better fishing time to time in some spots, especially at dawn and dusk. The middle river above Sterling will continue to provide decent red fishing well through mid-month. Chrome fish are common but an increasing percentage of the fish are semi-bright to blush or darker. Fishing for silver salmon is still slow but will probably pick up after the 15th when the use of roe becomes legal again and the early run gains traction. The late run of mainstem pinks are swamping the lower end of the river, with anglers experiencing excellent catches of chrome to semi-bright fish using a variety of lures such as spoons, spinners, and plugs. This run is entering its peak and numbers of fish will increase throughout the river from tidewater up to Sterling and beyond during the next ten days to two weeks. If targeting rainbows and Dollies, these fish are well distributed from Soldotna on up to the Skilak Lake outlet, providing good to excellent action on beads, especially in areas where kings are spawning or just downstream of places where anglers are cleaning/gutting salmon.

KASILOF RIVER: Likely the last weekend of good fishing for reds on the lower river as the run will begin to taper off; however, nice catches of fresh salmon may still be had along sections of the upper river above the Sterling Highway, such as in and along the rapids, for another week to ten days still. Yarn flies is the item to use and the greatest success can be realized at around peak high tide near Crooked Creek Campground and some 8-12 hours after high near the highway crossing. Very few silvers have been caught. Pinks are present in fair numbers on the lower river. Fishing for Dolly Varden is fair.

HOMER/KACHEMAK BAY: Good to excellent fishing for bottomfish off the end of the spit; mainly flounders, codfish, and sculpins but this is the time to try and catch halibut and even skate using long-distance surf-casting gear. Limits of smaller halibut in 10- to 20-pound range possible on high tide using herring. A number of pinks and some silvers are patrolling the surfline of the spit; cast spinners. However, the better bet is fishing the Dudiak Lagoon on the incoming and outgoing tides as small schools of silvers are present. This early run has been lackluster this season with success only being fair at best; use eggs and spinners. Some nice pinks are also making it into the lagoon so a mixed catch is possible.

MATANUSKA-SUSITNA VALLEYS

Area Summary: This area is seeing some intense angling opportunities these days as a variety of salmon species along with resident fish are showing up in a multitude of drainages from the Knik Arm drainages to the tributaries of the Susitna and on up to the headwaters of the Chulitna. While kings are done for the season, all the other kinds of salmon are available in varying numbers, providing good to excellent action, with Fish Creek and Little Susitna River near Wasilla and the typical strongholds of Willow, Little Willow, Sheep, and Montana offering anglers a much-needed supply of fish after a rather dismal king salmon season. Additionally, the higland lakes offer great fishing for landlocked salmon, trout, char, grayling, and pike in early mornings and late evenings. In other words, the peak fishing of the year is upon this area right now.

FISH CREEK: While typically a weekend-only fishery targeting silvers later on in August by regulation, this small clearwater stream is seeing a strong return of red salmon this year, thus the emergency order allowing anglers an early opening in addition increased fishing time. As of the 4th, the stream is open to salmon fishing daily through the rest of the year and the bag limit for reds is doubled to 6 fish. The fishing was excellent on opening day and has stayed good until the time of this report. Expect fair to good success this weekend and into early next week before the run starts to drop off; try around the high tides. Flies are catching the most fish. Silvers are also being landed with fair to good prognosis as this run should peak in another week to ten days. A smaller number of pinks and a few chums are also present.

LITTLE SUSITNA RIVER: The silver salmon action is picking up at the lower access point and anglers should do well here this weekend and for the next 10 days or so. Although the use of bait is prohibited now on through September by emergency order, anglers are taking a good slug of fish on spinners, primarily in deeper holes at dawn. In addition, chums are showing up in good numbers and fish range in quality from dime bright to blush; use spoons and flies. Fishing for pinks is fair as most of the run has matured with relatively few chrome or semi-bright specimens left. Anglers are also catching a few rainbows and an occasional Dolly or grayling. At the Houston access point on the middle/upper river, pinks and chums are present in decent numbers but the condition of the fish is subpar as most are blush to near spawning phase; a few silvers should be around too.

WILLOW, LITTLE WILLOW, SHEEP, MONTANA CREEKS: The best salmon fishing is at the mouths and in deep holes of the far lower reaches. Large numbers of pinks and chums are present, many of which are blush but there are enough bright and semi-bright fish available to provide good action for quality fish, especially chums. Spoons and flies are most effective with nice catches throughout the day. Those targeting silvers are finding fair to good success at dawn with eggs and spinners top offerings. If searching for fish in the middle reaches, near the highway crossings, concentrations of pinks and chums can be high with mostly blush to pre-spawning fish available but brighter specimens are also present; sight-fishing can be very effective, especially at Willow and Montana. Expect a smaller number of silvers in these upstream areas. Apart from salmon, anglers are finding excellent rainbow trout and grayling fishing in the middle and upper stretches with beads and egg- and flesh-imitation flies yielding the most fish; kings are spawning and dying so there is enough food source in the water to fuel the bite. Some Dolly Varden and whitefish may be caught, the latter being common on Little Willow and Sheep right now.

CASWELL, SUNSHINE, RABIDEUX CREEKS: Anglers hitting these small drainages at dawn are sure to find some good fishing, especially at their mouths on the Susitna River. Salmon of all species are congregating there with pinks and chums being especially abundant right now, spoons and flies being top enticements. This weekend should be the last decent action for these game fish in these locations; however, silvers are becoming more common with good catches possible using eggs and spinners. Reds may be encountered, particularly at Sunshine. Typically, the silvers will make a decent showing from now on and for the next two weeks. Burbot may be caught soaking herring or pieces of salmon parts just downstream of the mouths along the Susitna River.

CHULITNA RIVER: The clearwater tributaries of Troublesome and Byers creeks are currently experiencing returns of pink and chum salmon at their mouths and lower reaches with reds being a common catch on the latter as well. Most fish will be blush with a smaller number of bright or semi-bright specimens present, except for reds that may be in very decent shape and range from bright to very light blush. A few silvers are starting to show also. This can be a good time to sight-fish for schools of trout on Byers with fish frequently stretching into the high teens and low 20s. Exercise caution, brown bears are very active along these two streams. Higher up in the drainage, Honolulu, East Fork Chulitna, and Middle Fork Chulitna are seeing good opportunities as well, in particular for rainbow trout and Arctic grayling. Note that king salmon are spawning and dying in all of the aforementioned waters; match the “hatch” (beads and flesh).

COPPER VALLEY-VALDEZ ARM

Area Summary: With red salmon fishing shut down in all of the waters of the upper Copper River drainage by emergency order, anglers in this area have just a few more days to go after kings before the lull in salmon action hits until later in the month when silvers begin arriving. The Klutina and Tonsina rivers are the last really productive freshwater fisheries for king salmon of the season on the road system in Southcentral Alaska and the runs are doing well, yet the reds presented numbers far below average and thus a closure was warranted. But even so, the cooler days of August are bringing other opportunities at hand, such as the magnificent lake trout fisheries of the deeper lakes in the area, such as Louise, Paxson, and Summit. Additionally, the marine fishery for salmon in Valdez is continuous from mid-summer and well into fall, and as the huge pink salmon run winds down, the chums and silvers are filling the void.

GULKANA RIVER: Fishing for grayling is superb on the middle section of water from the rapids up to the outlet of Paxson Lake, with trophy-sized specimens to 20-plus inches possible. The rapids area is also the spot to catch resident rainbows. Try beads, flies, and small spinners. As a note, fishing for kings and reds is closed on the Gulkana.

KLUTINA, TONSINA RIVERS: Fair to good fishing for king salmon possible in these glacial systems, with most catches being made in the middle reaches. The majority of salmon are blush with only a few semi-bright specimens left. Large specimens to 50 and 60 pounds have been landed recently; use attractors with roe. The season ends by regulation on the 10th of this month. Fishing for Dolly Varden is good on the upper Klutina by the lake outlet. Dolly Varden and grayling are also being caught at the mouths of streams draining into the Tonsina, such as the Little Tonsina River. Expect silvers to begin arriving in another couple of weeks.

PORT VALDEZ: Pink salmon are very abundant throughout the port with the largest concentrations of fish at and around Allison Point and the Solomon Gulch fish hatchery. The majority of pinks are turning dark but there is a fair number of fresh pinks still arriving and spoons and spinners are catching them. Most anglers catch and release the older fish, keeping the bright and semi-bright specimens. By emergency order, the limit for pinks has doubled to 12 per day for the remainder of the year. Late-run chums are showing up at the city breakwater and in the harbor area; now is the time to target bright chums. A very few silvers have reportedly been caught from shore but it is still early for consistent catches. Casting for bottomfish is fair from the city dock. In nearby Robe River, blush and dark pinks are abundant, attracting a number of Dolly Varden; use beads or egg-imitation flies for some good action.

 

 

Updated Thursday, July 30, 2020

CURRENT HOT SPOTS:  KENAI REDS, RAINBOWS; TONSINA KINGS; SUSITNA CHUMS, PINKS, RAINBOWS; RUSSIAN REDS; HOPE PINKS; KLUTINA KINGS, DOLLIES; KASILOF REDS; VALDEZ PINKS; LITTLE SUSITNA CHUMS; GULKANA GRAYLING

Weekly Summary: Excellent fishing is the only way to describe opportunities for this weekend and next week. Salmon of all species are moving up rivers and streams as trout, char, and grayling provide plenty of sport as well. Saltwater game fish are found inshore and in the shallows too, increasing choices even further. This is one of those times of the hectic summer season when there is great action somewhere no matter which direction heading out. Enjoy the best of Alaska fishing right now before various runs will begin their inevitable decline.

ANCHORAGE AREA-TURNAGAIN ARM

Area Summary: In terms of plain numbers of fish and fast action, it is hard to beat the pink salmon. Although the runs in this area may not be enormous this year, the fishing is still very good and fish on every cast possible in some spots at the right time. However, many pinks are starting to turn, so anglers are releasing lots of fish in order to find chrome or semi-bright specimens. Chums are pushing in harder now with this being a great time to find really nice quality catches. Finally, silvers are showing in decent numbers and Ship Creek leads the way as the hot spot for this species this week; however, there are some opportunities in other area waters also. If salmon is not the game, Campbell and Chester creeks and most all drainages of Turnagain Arm provide fair to good angling for either rainbows or Dollies, sometimes even both as is the case with city streams. Stocked lakes yield fair to good catches of landlocked salmon, trout, and grayling in early morning and late evening.

SHIP CREEK: After a lukewarm start, the silvers are starting to arrive in force with some tides producing good to even excellent action. Floating or drifting eggs and casting spinners is the way to go here. One- or two-fish stringers are common with limits possible. Remember, as this is primarily a hatchery fish location, the daily bag limit for silvers is 3 fish. However, there is an even larger number of pinks flooding the creek with excellent fishing on the outgoing tides drifting yarn flies in areas with at least some current. The quality of these fish range from chrome to blush so effort in releasing older fish in favor of fresh ones is the way to go to find food quality pinks. A few chums are also showing up.

BIRD CREEK: While pinks are the most abundant species also here, the main attraction these days is the silver run which is steadily building. Most successful anglers get their fish using roe or spinners on the incoming and outgoing tides; the limit is 3 fish. This run is about a week away from its peak. Anglers are also reporting fair to good catches of chum salmon with a mix of chrome and blushed specimens present; sight-fishing for them can be great fun in holes and runs immediately following a high tide. Back to the pinks, the run is waning and the majority of fish turning color but bright specimens are there with limits doable. For Dolly Varden, head upstream to tributary Penguin Creek where kings are spawning; use beads.

GLACIER CREEK: Pink salmon are packing into the mouth of California Creek but may be caught in numbers anywhere from the bridge in the townsite of Girdwood to tidewater. Many of the fish are turning but bright and semi-bright salmon are still around and providing good fishing, especially in the lower end of the stream near the Seward Highway bridge. Chums are also available and present fair opportunities. Both species are being caught on fluorescent spoons and spinners as well as yarn flies. Only a very few silvers have been showing up.

PORTAGE CREEK: A mixed bag of opportunities here, including reds, pinks, chums, and a few early silvers. Reds are more hit and miss with a few spots producing fish but the pinks are distributed throughout the lower stream in decent numbers. Chums are starting to enter the stream in increasing numbers and should peak in about ten days. For reds, drift yarn flies; pinks and chums strike fluorescent spoons, spinners, and attractors with roe. For silvers, fish eggs on the bottom in the tidal area. Dolly Varden are striking eggs fished on the bottom too. Overall, with all species counted, the fishing is fair to good.

KENAI PENINSULA

Area Summary: With the Kenai River shut down to kings and Kasilof catch-and-release only for the species, most angling activity in this area has been directed at the quite decent late runs of red salmon to these drainages as well as the Russian. Runs are at a peak and parts of these waters should produce plenty of nice reds for the next week or two. Pink salmon fishing is more inconsistent this year, with the lower peninsula streams seeing relatively scant runs compared to those of Resurrection Bay, Passage Canal, and Turnagain Arm; however, late-run pinks are entering the lower Kenai River and typically yield some of the most intense action for the species on the peninsula. Some places are also seeing a respectable influx of chums right now, primarily around Seward and Hope. Silvers have been noticeably slower to arrive this season, with the lagoon in Homer being the better place to go so far due to the early timing of that particular run. Rainbows and Dollies are very prolific these days throughout much of the vast Kenai River drainage and anglers will have no issue at all connecting with nice-sized fish. If wanting saltwater action, all of the coastal ports in the area support both salmon and bottomfish with surf-casting being a great way to hook up.

HOPE/RESURRECTION CREEK: Fishing for pink salmon is still highly productive but the run overall is showing signs of slowing down as more fish are turning color and anglers connecting with fewer chrome specimens. The total action, including catch-and-release, is superb with fish on every cast possible on low tide and in spots upstream. However, for bright and semi-bright pinks, the outlook is fair to good. A smaller number of chums are arriving daily with anglers hitting them using yarn flies from tidewater on up. A few silvers have been caught on the tides.

SEWARD/RESURRECTION BAY: Pinks and chums are the most abundant salmon species in the bay at this time as the late runs of red salmon are fairly small and the hatchery kings almost done for the season. Silvers, although relatively plentiful in the outer bay, remains a rare catch for surf-casters still. The mouth of Tonsina Creek is a hot spot for fresh pinks and chums with good to excellent action happening now; casting a variety of lures and flies does the trick as does snagging. But schools of pinks may be encountered most anywhere around the bay this time of year; look for fish breaching the surface. Flounder, codfish, and greenling are being taken from the rocky beaches in front of town with anglers reporting good catches, especially on the tidal changes. Larger cod, rockfish, and an occasional halibut may be caught from spots on the western side of the bay, such as along Point Lowell Road. Targeting Dolly Varden is fair in saltwater and starting to pick up in clearwater streams flowing into the bay.

UPPER KENAI RIVER: The late run of red salmon has arrived and anglers are finding very good action, especially in the section of water from the Skilak Lake inlet upstream to the mouth of Russian River. Many of the salmon are still bright with some specimens starting to turn; expect this weekend and next week to be the peak of this run for quality fish. Drift a variety of flies and even beads for success. A few blush early-run pinks are present but no firm accounts yet of any silvers being caught. Rainbow trout and Dolly Varden are providing good to excellent catches on forage flies and even beads with some larger specimens starting to show up. Whitefish are fairly common.

RUSSIAN RIVER: Although low and very clear water conditions prevail here, anglers still manage to find good fishing for late-run red salmon at dawn with limits common. Down in the sanctuary, the fishing is also very good but anglers are having success throughout the day. The run is peaking and should stay productive for the next two weeks. The first few silvers are due any day. Casting flies and beads for rainbows is fair to good, with early morning and evening and rainy days being best. Dolly Varden are not abundant yet in the mainstem river but August should see a good increase in numbers of fish present.

LOWER KENAI RIVER: Late-run reds have shown in relatively large numbers the last several days around Soldotna and the fishing should stay good to excellent for another week, possibly a little longer. Anglers have commented that the fish do not appear to be very large this year compared to most other years. Fishing on the “middle” river above Sterling typically sees the run linger around until mid-August. Late-run, mainstem pinks are now entering the lower river on the tides with fair to good success in spots near the city of Kenai. Only a very few silvers have been caught as of yet but that should change as the new month progresses. Rainbow trout and Dolly Varden are abundant and yielding good to excellent catches from the outlet of Skilak Lake downstream to top of tidewater; forage/flesh flies and beads are working. As soon as the dip netters clear out at the mouth of the river, surf-casters will be able to sample the opportunity of landing a few spiny dogfish and skates.

KASILOF RIVER: Also here the late-run reds are booming with anglers enjoying an increased limit of of fish; expect good to excellent success the next several days before the run starts to wane. If fishing the lower river around Crooked Creek, the salmon arrive on the tides; the upper river from the rapids on up generally produce catches all day long. A number of pinks are being landed too but the silvers remain scarce. Fishing for Dolly Varden is fair. As a reminder, the king salmon season ends August 1.

HOMER/KACHEMAK BAY: Surf-casting for bottomfish is good to excellent off Coal Point (Land’s End), with flounder, codfish, and sculpin being the mainstay species, but a few halibut and skate may be hooked using larger bait and long-distance casting gear. Silvers and pinks patrol the shoreline of the spit with schools of fish often producing fair or better opportunities. The Dudiak Lagoon is seeing a small but steady arrival of silvers and anglers are catching them drifting eggs and casting spinners and herring on the incoming and outgoing tide; expect fair success. A few blush king salmon linger in the lagoon as well.

MATANUSKA-SUSITNA VALLEYS

Area Summary: This area, although largely dormant for roadside salmon fishing opportunities earlier in the season, is finally seeing solid numbers of reds, pinks, chums, and silvers arriving with the action expected to last through the rest of the summer. The Little Susitna River along with the tributaries of the larger Susitna River are all reporting strong movements of salmon coming in, accompanied by what can be described as the best trout and grayling action of the season thus far. Additionally, the weekend-only streams of Cottonwood and Wasilla are experiencing a push of fish that should keep rods bent for the next several weeks. Jim Creek is starting up too, as some reds and an occasional silver are being caught at the Knik confluence. The Eklutna Tailrace, however, is not yet up to par in action but typically sees its hatchery silvers arrive in force by the second week of August. Fishing in local lakes has slowed down somewhat with higher water temperatures but may still produce worthwhile catches of landlocked salmon, trout, grayling, and pike in very early morning and late evening.

LITTLE SUSITNA RIVER: The best salmon fishing is on the lower river around the road access point there with pinks and chums piling in, providing a very good bite using a variety of lures such as spoons, spinners, and flies. Though some of these fish are starting to turn, there are plenty of fresh and semi-bright specimens available as these runs are now starting to peak. Silvers are harder to come by but anglers are having some success in the deeper holes at dawn. A few rainbow trout are being caught too. On the upper river in Houston, a fair number of salmon are seen coming through, although the quality of these fish is generally not as good as those landed on the lower river. As a reminder, the use of bait is prohibited until August 6.

WILLOW CREEK: The morning action at the mouth of the stream has been good to excellent for pinks and chums with a fair number of silvers showing up as well. Chrome fish are available and now is the time to target these species in their prime. Spoons and flies are getting results; try eggs if going for silvers. There is also an upstream movement of fish and anglers hiking in to various spots from the highway bridge are finding schools of mainly pink and chum salmon and relatively easy catching by sight-fishing; silvers are spotty. Flies have been tops in this area. Besides salmon, good to excellent rainbow trout and grayling fishing may be had in the middle and upper reaches of this stream, from the highway crossing on up along the Hatcher Pass Road. Kings are spawning in this section and the bite has been solid on beads. Some Dolly Varden and whitefish are also present.

LITTLE WILLOW CREEK: The main quarry at the road crossing on the middle stream are rainbows and grayling, with very good opportunities hiking up- and downstream. Find kings spawning and there will be fish to be had using beads. Pinks and chums are making an appearance here as well but not in large numbers yet as they are still working their way up from the mouth; expect fair fishing this weekend, good later on next week. Whitefish can be quite prolific in some spots. A float trip on this stream is a great way to access more remote water and no crowds.

KASHWITNA RIVER: Normally flowing heavy with silt during warmer summer days, cooler periods sees the water clear a bit and thus producing some very worthwhile angling using fluorescent spoons, attractors, and bait. Pinks and chums are relatively abundant, especially at the mouth. Seek out slower water and salmon will be there, including silvers. Fishing for trout and grayling is fair to good when water conditions allow, the best stretch of water being upstream of the highway crossing.

CASWELL CREEK: Anglers need to be here early in the morning to sample the best fishing with pinks and chums schooling at the mouth along with a smaller number of silvers. Catches of burbot are common during the lowlight hours using herring sitting on the bottom. Not much salmon action happening at the road crossing but a few trout and grayling are available.

SHEEP CREEK: The slough area at the Susitna confluence has very good opportunities for chums and pinks throughout the day using spoons and spinners; a smaller number of silvers are being caught on eggs and spinners primarily at dawn. A few Dolly Varden are available too. Burbot may be taken on herring fished on the bottom. Upstream, around the road crossing, the action is fair to good for salmon with chums being the main catch with silvers being spotty. If targeting trout and grayling, this area and on upstream can be good to excellent using beads and flies. Whitefish are common on beads and small corkies.

MONTANA CREEK: Very productive right now at the mouth for fresh pinks and chums and a few silvers are being landed as well. This will be the peak weekend for quality fish as these species turn quickly as August progresses. Sight-fishing to schools of salmon can be exceptional in the lower stream right above the Susitna confluence. Use spoons and flies for the pinks and chums, eggs for the silvers. Burbot can be taken in the calm water around the stream mouth using bait sitting on the bottom. A few Dolly Varden are present. On the upper stream, off access points along the Talkeetna Spur Highway, fishing for rainbows and grayling is good to excellent. As kings are spawning, beads are a hot item.

CHULITNA RIVER: The clearwater tributaries of this glacial drainage supports good fishing for rainbows and grayling right now, with the middle and upper reaches of Troublesome, Byers, Honolulu, East Fork Chulitna, and Middle Fork Chulitna all being locations of interest for either or both species. Kings are spawning so beads work best. Salmon are moving into these tributaries in moderate numbers as well, with pinks and chums being the most common catches; try the mouths of Troublesome and Byers. There are also reds to be caught, mainly at Byers, and this run should yield some decent opportunities shortly.

COPPER VALLEY-VALDEZ ARM

Area Summary: Although the recent emergency order closing the Copper River drainage to red salmon fishing for the remainder of the year due to low returns, there are two other species picking up the slack in this area in a big way. Decent numbers of late-run king salmon are moving up the Klutina and Tonsina rivers and pinks are present in huge swaths in Valdez. Topping that off, grayling are on the bite in most of the highland lakes and streams with trout and landlocked salmon also being taken in stocked waters. While lake trout action has slowed a bit with the advent of warmer water temperatures, there is still some good opportunities for the species in the larger, deeper lakes, such as Louise, Paxson, and Summit. Silver salmon have yet to make an appearance in Copper Valley or along the shoreline of Port Valdez, but this will change soon as August comes around.

GULKANA RIVER: With fishing for kings and reds closed for the year, anglers here may still find great action targeting grayling and rainbows. The prime area for these species is the mid or upper section of water upstream of the rapids to and including the outlet of Paxson Lake. Beads, flies, and spinners are all very effective.

KLUTINA RIVER: Late-run king salmon is the main target here, with the lower river being open to king fishing through August 10. The run is at a peak with anglers experiencing fair to good action using attractors with bait. Most fish are slightly blush but there are also bright specimens being caught. Boaters have a distinct advantage of accessing prime holes on the river but anglers willing to hike in can do very well also. Fishing for Dolly Varden is very good on the upper river around the Klutina Lake outlet. As a reminder, the upper river is now closed to all salmon fishing.

TONSINA RIVER: This fast-flowing, glacial river is producing good to excellent catches of king salmon in its lower reaches as late-run fish are arriving and stacking holes and eddies or anywhere with a slower current. Attractors with roe is very effective in getting these kings that often top 40 pounds. Those with experience floating this river or similar waters will find the best spots; anglers hiking in generally experience less success. Dolly Varden and grayling may be caught at the mouths of clearwater tributaries.

PORT VALDEZ: A recent emergency order doubled the bag and possession limit here for pink salmon, with anglers now allowed 12 per day and 24 in possession. Pinks are very abundant throughout the port with the better fishing occurring along Dayville Road and Allison Point; try fishing around high tide. The mouth of Solomon Creek can be hot on the outgoing tide. Spoons and spinners work best but flies are effective too. Although this run has already peaked in quality, anglers are getting their fish relatively easily by catching and releasing older fish in order to find brighter specimens. The harbor area and out towards Gold Creek is also productive for pinks. A moderate number of chums is available. No confirmed reports of silvers being caught from shore yet.

 

Updated Thursday, July 23, 2020

CURRENT HOT SPOTS:  KENAI REDS, RAINBOWS; TONSINA KINGS; HOPE PINKS; KASILOF REDS; VALDEZ PINKS; LITTLE SUSITNA CHUMS; GULKANA GRAYLING; SUSITNA RAINBOWS, GRAYLING; KLUTINA DOLLIES

Weekly Summary: The fishing season in Southcentral is hitting stride again as all five salmon species plus several resident species in both salt- and freshwater are providing good to outstanding opportunities in the main areas of Kenai Peninsula, Matanuska-Susitna Valleys, and Copper Valley-Valdez Arm. Even the Anchorage area is picking up and should get better leading up to next week. Even though there are new emergency orders in effect shuitting down fishing for late-run kings in Cook Inlet and the Kenai River, the late run of king salmon in Tonsina in Copper River country is doing very well. Overall, reds have been normal to a bit below average this season in most rivers, yet a few drainages have experienced very decent returns of late-run fish. For kids and adults alike, pinks are keeping rods bent all over the place but few spots can compare in intensity to the stream in Hope and the briny of Valdez and Allison Point. Chums are ascending several drainages in decent numbers, mainly the streams of Susitna Valley. Silvers, while present in many locations throughout the region, have not shown in any great numbers as of right now but this could change come next week when early runs begin peaking. Rainbows, Dollies, and grayling are active in most waters as the feeding frenzy on salmon spawn has started with really successful fishing reported. Anglers plying the salt around the coast are finding nice catches of not just migrating salmon but various species of bottomfish, including a few halibut. For variety, this weekend and for the next ten days could very possibly see the best of roadside fishing in Alaska this year.

ANCHORAGE AREA-TURNAGAIN ARM

Area Summary: With pinks, chums, and silvers rolling into a handful of waters in and around the city, anglers do not need to travel far in order to enjoy good action. Although Ship Creek has yet to produce some solid silver salmon action, there are some pinks coming in alongside them but not enough yet for a quick bite to occur. In the streams down along Turnagain Arm such as Bird, Glacier, Portage, and Ingram, the story is similar, with a smaller showing of silvers and better numbers of pinks in addition to chums. Fishing for sea-run Dolly Varden is also productive. Resident species like trout, char, and grayling are active in stocked lakes within the city, and the smaller drainages of Campbell and Chester creeks support decent opportunities for both rainbows as well as Dollies. As a note, Campbell is currently open to fishing for silver salmon but very few fish have been caught as of this point; this fishery typically picks up in mid-August.

BIRD CREEK: The silver salmon fishing here is slowly improving, with anglers focusing on the incoming and outgoing tides using roe doing best. One or two fish is typical right now but a few limits have been achieved in the right spot. Spinners and streamer flies also yield fish. Pinks are abundant but not in huge numbers; a fair number are already turning but there is still good action to be had for bright and semi-bright specimens, especially in holes on low tide. Chums are present too, presenting fair opportunities using spoons and flies. Dolly Varden fishing is slowing down as fish are moving upstream away from the roadside access point.

GLACIER CREEK: Fluorescent lures and flies are landing a decent number of pinks here with some very good catches the last several days. A few chums and occasional silver have also been hooked. Focus on deeper, slower sections of water, in particular after several days of cool, cloudy weather. Warm temperatures will spark snowmelt in the mountains, making stream high and turbid. Some Dolly Varden are available.

PORTAGE CREEK: Runs of reds, pinks, and chums are arriving and the first silver or two should be caught this weekend or early next week. There are no very large numbers of salmon present but enough pinks to keep things interesting; best place is in or near tidal area. Use fluorescent spoons and spinners fished deep and slow for success. The other species may take lures too but salmon roe fished on the bottom is more effective.

INGRAM CREEK: Pinks are the main game in this small, clearwater stream. Sight-fishing is possible from around the highway crossing on upstream with good catches possible. Check out spots with deeper, slower moving water. Lures and flies are equally effective. A few chums and even occasional silver present. Fishing for Dolly Varden is slowing down as fish move upstream.

KENAI PENINSULA

Area Summary: The Kenai and Kasilof rivers are still the top destinations for salmon anglers as the late runs of reds are arriving, providing great opportunities. Silvers are showing up more frequently as well, with the lagoon in Homer providing the earliest return for the area; a few silvers are starting to appear in the lower Kenai according to sources and should be present in small numbers in waters draining into Turnagain Arm as well. The northern peninsula streams of Resurrection and Sixmile are focal points for chums right now, with the saltwater around Tonsina in Seward also being good. Pinks are scattered around in most locations throughout the area but are abundant in only a few spots for now. The latter, however, will change as soon as the late run of pinks move into the Kenai, probably starting in about a week or so. Otherwise, the waters of the central peninsula are yielding good fishing for trout and char and will only get better from now on into August. Surf-casting is tops for bottomfish and the larger tides this month and next and will provide decent opportunities to land halibut from Cook Inlet and Resurrection Bay beaches.

HOPE/RESURRECTION CREEK: The annual run of pink salmon is peaking and anglers are experiencing excellent action on the tide cycles, although a lot of fish are also moving into the middle parts of the stream and can be targeted at any time. Sight-fishing is great as the water is fairly low and very clear. Flies and spoons work very well. Many pinks are beginning to mature so for quality fish it is important to focus on the tidal area. In addition to pinks, angler have started catching a number of fresh chums and a few silvers; try the incoming tide for the latter. Fishing for Dolly Varden in the lower stream has slowed down but more char are now found in upper reaches behind spawning king salmon.

SIXMILE CREEK: Following cloudy and cooler days, this glacial stream has seen some very respectful action for chum salmon in its far lower stretches along the Hope Highway. This opportunity will not last long as fish are turning rapidly with chrome specimens getting fewer with each passing day. Attractor lures and roe are receiving plenty of strikes. A decent number of pinks are also present. A few silvers are showing up but will not be a reliable species in this stream for another couple of weeks yet.

SEWARD/RESURRECTION BAY: The bay provides a variety of salmon species as well as locations to go. Presently, anglers are snagging early-run chums off the mouth of Spring Creek but this run has peaked in quality as more fish are entering spawning condition with lesser bright or semi-bright fish to be had. Pink salmon are being hooked in fair numbers; these fish will hit stride later on in August. A few blush reds are lingering in this spot too. The mouth of Tonsina Creek is doing fair to good for fresh chums as this run is reaching its peak from now on for the next ten days; expect a decent showing of pinks very shortly. Try the incoming tides in both of these locations. Over at Scheffler Creek in downtown Seward, the action has slowed down for kings at the mouth as only a few nice specimens are still around with most fish having ascended the stream up to the lagoon. If fishing off the rocks along the gravel road to Lowell Point, anglers can experience a variety of opportunities. Pinks are available in enough numbers to make it worthwhile as chromers are hitting spoons and herring at moderate depth. Do not be surprised if a king or chum would strike too. With proper surf-casting gear, Pacific cod, rockfish, and even halibut are very much possible. In areas closer to town, the waterfront provides good fishing for flounder, smaller codfish, and greenling. Fishing for Dolly Varden is fair around the bay.

UPPER KENAI RIVER: Late-run reds are appearing in this section of the river, with anglers experiencing fair to good catches. The best area includes spots between the second highway bridge downstream to the Skilak Lake inlet. Although numbers of fish historically peak early next month, this is the best time to pursue bright specimens. A variety of flies and beads will draw a strike. Good fishing is also happening here for rainbow trout and anglers are seeing an uptick in the action as well as size of fish as salmon are now entering the drainage; forage flies are best but beads are becoming increasingly effective. Dolly Varden offer fair success in addition to round whitefish.

LOWER KENAI RIVER: Strong pulses of red salmon are moving through the river from Cook Inlet, providing anglers good to excellent fishing using yarn flies. Fish are well distributed throughout the river from the Skilak Lake outlet down to tidewater. No huge spike of reds have been noted thus far this year but there have been several days with fish numbers ranging between 30,000 and nearly 50,000. So far this season, the run is trending similarly in timing to the run last year, albeit not the large tally of fish. Pink salmon are in the system as well with early-run fish present at the mouths of clearwater spawning tributaries and the late run beginning to show in the lower mainstem downstream of Soldotna; expect action to pick up very shortly. First few silvers are due any day. Rainbow trout fishing is good on the middle river upstream of Sterling, while Dolly Varden are doing better farther downstream between Soldotna and tidewater. On another note, an emergency order has been issued closing the river to king salmon fishing due to low returns.

KASILOF RIVER: The last two weeks have seen a huge surge of red salmon, prompting the daily bag limit to double from 3 to 6 fish. Good to excellent action is possible in spots, such as around the highway bridge and the Crooked Creek Campground on the lower river (best at peak high tide to several hours after), and up in the rapids of the middle and upper river (productive all day long). Fishing typically stays productive through the month before slowing down. There are a smaller number of king salmon present in the river with anglers doing fair at best; on a note, by emergency order, this is a catch-and-release fishery for the remainder of the season ending July 31. Dolly Varden fishing in the river is described as fair to good. Smaller number of pinks are available.

HOMER/KACHEMAK BAY: Anglers targeting bottomfish are doing best at the tip of the spit (Coal Point), where flounders, codfish, and sculpin are in abundance. It is also feasible for anglers using long-distance casting gear to hook both halibut and skate this time of the season. Silvers and pinks are cruising along the beaches of the spit as well and some fish are being caught using spinners and spoons. However, the better bet for salmon would be the Dudiak Lagoon which is currently experiencing a return of early-run silvers. Although success is being noted on the incoming and outgoing tides, this fishery has yet to see a large surge of silvers typical of late July. Expect action to be fair. A few dark kings are still present.

MATANUSKA-SUSITNA VALLEYS

Area Summary: Things are really starting to improve as late-run reds, pinks, chums, and silvers begin their assault of area rivers and streams. The Little Susitna is seeing a good spike of chums moving through, and the tributaries of the main Susitna (Willow, Sheep, Montana, etc.) are seeing chums in addition to increasing numbers of pinks and silvers, especially at the confluences, although some waters are noting fish movement upstream near the road crossings as well. These spots are also experiencing really good trout and grayling action right now. Down around the Knik Arm, the weekend fisheries of Cottonwood and Wasilla are producing a fair number of reds and some silvers, with the latter also yielding pinks. A few silvers along with chums are being taken at the Eklutna Tailrace; this fishery will turn on soon, probably the first week of August. Fish Creek, although closed to sport fishing until the second weekend in August, is open to dip netting through the month, targeting mainly reds but silvers and pinks are harvested too. Jim Creek is starting to see some reds and possibly early silvers at its mouth.

LITTLE SUSITNA RIVER: A decent push of chums is occurring here and now is the perfect time to go to experience these fish in their prime. While not as numerous as in some previous years, anglers are reporting good success using spoons and plugs as well as flies. The run appears to just now gain steam so should stay productive for anther ten days to two weeks. Silvers and pinks are somewhat slow in showing at the road access point but will improve shortly. A few rainbows and grayling are being caught. As a reminder, the river is closed to the use of bait until August 6.

WILLOW, LITTLE WILLOW, SHEEP, GOOSE, MONTANA CREEKS: With king salmon spawning in the middle and upper reaches of these waters, anglers are scoring big on rainbows and grayling using beads of appropriate size (“match the hatch”) in the same areas; expect fishing to be good but some days may be even better. Dolly Varden and round whitefish are being hooked also. As for salmon, chums along with pinks are found at the mouths of these locations and a few silvers are being caught as well, especially at dawn. Salmon roe (if legal) and spinners are taking most of the silvers, with the other species hitting a variety of spoons, spinners, plugs, and flies. Expect salmon to take the spotlight here starting next week as runs build to a peak.

CHULITNA RIVER: The clearwater tributaries of Troublesome, Byers, Honolulu creeks and the Middle and East forks of the Chulitna are experiencing some decent fishing for rainbows and grayling, with some anglers reporting very good catches using both forage flies and beads. King salmon have started spawning in these locations so the bead bite is on. The first few reds should appear in Byers Creek any day now, with pinks and chums soon thereafter.

COPPER VALLEY-VALDEZ ARM

Area Summary: While the early summer period was somewhat tumultuous in respect to the early runs of kings and reds to area waters, anglers are now looking forward to the late season and hopefully more stable salmon runs. Some reds are still moving through the Gulkana and Klutina rivers but the late runs have yet to appear, which is typical. However, the late runs of king salmon are now arriving into the Klutina and Tonsina rivers with the latter providing some noteworthy action in a year that has seen depressed or below average returns in most drainages throughout Southcentral (and Alaska in general). Resident species are still active with the absence of hot, dry weather periods this summer. The cooler, cloudier conditions have meant good to excellent catches of lake trout and grayling in the larger lakes, while stocked waters are seeing fairly productive success for rainbows, landlocked salmon, and grayling. To the south, Valdez is hopping with a sizable run of pink hitting the port.

GULKANA RIVER: The best thing going here is for grayling in the middle river section from the forks upstream to the outlet of Paxson Lake. Fish-on-every-cast action is being reported with some fish measuring more than 20 inches. Rainbows are being caught around the rapids area. The lake itself is also outstanding for grayling and has some good lake trout fishing also. The king salmon season ended here on the 19th of this month but there are still some reds to be targeted if the water is low and clear; expect fair success at best as this run is winding down and the late run is still about two weeks away.

KLUTINA RIVER: Dolly Varden are making a strong performance on the upper river at the outlet of Klutina Lake, with very good action reported; there are some noteworthy fish being caught, with some specimens weighing up to 5 or 6 pounds. The early run of red salmon is for all practical purposes finished, although a few fish still linger around on the lower river near Copper Center. The typically smaller, late run will appear in another ten days or so. Fishing is fair for late-run king salmon but should improve during the course of next week.

TONSINA RIVER: One of the better locations for king salmon on the road system this year, the few anglers that go to this spot are greeted with good to excellent catches of big fish. Attractor lures tipped with salmon roe is the way to go in the deeper holes and eddies where fish concentrate to avoid the otherwise strong current. The section of water between the Richardson Highway bridge and the Edgerton Highway bridge is best but for those able to access the river mouth, the fishing there can be equally rewarding. Red salmon are available and can be caught on yarn flies. Target Dolly Varden and grayling at the mouths of clearwater tributaries.

PORT VALDEZ: Arguably one of the best places on the road system to go for saltwater pinks at this time, with excellent success enjoyed around the Allison Point area using spoons and spinners. The incoming and outgoing tides are best; the outgoing is also a great time to fish the mouth of Solomon Gulch Creek using spoons and flies. Pinks are also making a decent showing in and near the city waterfront, such as off the ferry dock and the harbor breakwater, as well as near the mouth of Gold Creek. Fresh chums are in these latter locations too; no reports of silvers yet. Robe River on the outskirts of town is worth a visit to catch pinks; fair to good catches are being made at the mouth where it flows into Lowe River.

 

Updated Thursday, July 16, 2020

CURRENT HOT SPOTS:  LOWER KENAI REDS; UPPER KENAI RAINBOWS; KASILOF REDS; GULKANA KINGS, GRAYLING; VALDEZ PINKS; COPPER LAKERS; HOPE PINKS

Weekly Summary: As mid-July has arrived, so are the summer runs of all salmon species in Southcentral Alaska. The late runs of reds are showing in good numbers in the Kasilof and Kenai rivers and are starting into other waters throughout the region as well. Late runs of king salmon are present in the Kenai and to a lesser degree the Kasilof, but the Klutina and Tonsina have yet to hit stride and generally peak later this month and into August. After a slow start to their season, pinks are now appearing in many locations with Valdez and the clearwater drainages of Turnagain Arm, such as Resurrection Creek in Hope, leading the way. Chum salmon are available in Seward and Turnagain area waters too and becoming more abundant in streams in the Susitna Valley each passing day. Even early-run silver salmon are now being caught, albeit not in great numbers yet, although there is a decent shot for them in the lagoon in Homer, Ship Creek in downtown Anchorage, and in Bird Creek. Sea-run char are entering freshwater after a summer feeding in the salt and are being taken in many places, including the lower peninsula and Turnagain Arm streams. Resident species like rainbows, grayling, and Dollies are presenting great opportunities in both lakes and streams in all main areas of the region. We are just now entering the busiest fishing period of the entire Alaska fishing season.

ANCHORAGE AREA-TURNAGAIN ARM

Area Summary: This area will have a lot to offer from now and for the next several weeks as salmon of all kinds are moving into streams within the city and all along Turnagain Arm. Bird Creek just opened to fishing with mixed fanfare with anglers catching pinks, chums, and even a few silvers. The king salmon season is now closed in Ship Creek but pinks and silvers are arriving on every tide and anglers are picking up a few of them; expect this to be a hot spot in another week to ten days. The streams down in Turnagain Arm are producing nice catches of sea-run char in addition to decent numbers of pinks along with a few chums and early-run silvers. Beginning next week and on into the early part of August, this area will be dense with opportunities.

BIRD CREEK: With the season having started on the 14th, anglers here are seeing fair to good pink salmon action along with a few nice chums and hatchery silvers. Although worthwhile fishing may be had at any stage of the tide cycle, better success is usually had on the incoming and outgoing tides. Most silvers are falling to salmon roe and bobber setups but spinners hook fish as well; expect the bite to really pick up in another week to ten days. Sight-fishing is possible on low tide with mainly pinks being caught. Dolly Varden are also present. As a reminder, Bird is closed to king salmon fishing, including catch-and-release, and there are a few of these fish still cruising the stream.

GLACIER CREEK: When water conditions permit, anglers here are connecting with a number of pinks. From the mouth of California Creek downstream into tidewater using high-visibility lures and flies is best. Success is fair to good right now and the fish are in prime condition, chrome bright; this run will peak next week. A few chums and silvers may be present. Dolly Varden action can be good using bait in tidewater.

INDIAN, KERN, PORTAGE, INGRAM CREEKS: These locations are seeing good Dolly Varden fishing in their lower reaches in and near tidewater. Bait is most effective but small lures and flies work great too. Pinks are arriving in increasing numbers with fair reports recently but bound to get better the next several days. Reds are moving into Portage on the tides. Expect a few chums to show.

KENAI PENINSULA

Area Summary: The big news in this area is the arrival of late-run red salmon to the Kenai and Kasilof with the latter even deserving an emergency order upping the daily bag limit due to the unexpected early abundance of fish. King salmon are present in these waters as well as the waterfront in Seward, and pinks are becoming increasingly common in many drainages with some of the better spots being in Hope and Whittier. The famous fishery of big, late-run pinks in the Kenai will begin later this month. While silvers are present in very decent numbers in outer parts of Resurrection and Kachemak bays, the most promising roadside location right now is the Dudiak Lagoon in Homer; however, a few silvers may start into other waters as well, primarily the lower end of the Kenai River and in northern peninsula streams draining into Turnagain Arm. Chums are locally abundant in this area with Seward, Whittier, and Turnagain harboring the best opportunities during July. As for other species, rainbow trout, Arctic grayling, and Dolly Varden are available in good numbers in many parts of the peninsula and will give excellent account in the fisheries from now on and into fall. Halibut are moving into shallower water again but the tides this weekend are not conducive for successful catches by surf-casting in Cook Inlet; next weekend should be much better. Other bottomfish are abundant in nearshore waters right now.

HOPE/RESURRECTION CREEK: Pinks are arriving in good numbers on the tides and anglers targeting them are doing well on small spoons, spinners, and flies as well as jigs fished below a bobber. Water has dropped and is flowing clear, presenting excellent opportunities sight-fishing for salmon. Expect nice, chrome fish. A smattering of chums are also moving up. It is still early for silvers but a few of them are typically present starting about now. Dolly Varden action is good on the incoming and high tides. Nearby Sixmile Creek is seeing salmon too, with chums being the main catch.

SEWARD/RESURRECTION BAY: Anglers here are finding a mix of species to focus on, including early-run chums peaking at the mouth of Spring Creek (in addition to a few reds) and hatchery kings making a late appearance at the mouth of Scheffler Creek in front of the city. Both locations are producing a fair to good number of fish with snagging being the primary harvest method; incoming and high tide is best. Casting spoons off the rocks along Lowell Point Road is a decent way of connecting with chrome pinks just arriving to the area; try the entire high tide cycle. Surf-casting along this road is also productive, with Pacific cod, halibut, and rockfish providing fair opportunities. Dolly Varden fishing is fair to good at Lowell Point and the mouth of Tonsina Creek.

UPPER KENAI RIVER: Although red salmon are moving through the river in fair numbers with limits possible in the right spot at the right time, anglers here are primarily focused on rainbow trout. Forage flies are providing good success and a few more adventurous anglers are also scoring using dry flies. Dolly Varden are becoming more numerous and whitefish are taken on occasion. Look for the first good push of reds next week. Nearby Quartz Creek has a few smaller Dolly Varden and whitefish present but success is only fair at this time. Russian River is slow for reds but picking up at mouth and should produce fair catches by early next week.

LOWER KENAI RIVER: Late-run red salmon are arriving in good numbers at a clip of 30,000 or more per day and should see a major spike very shortly, perhaps this weekend given weather conditions and neap tides. Anglers report good to excellent success using yarn flies and beads. Boaters on the lower end of the river, downstream of Slikok Creek, are enjoying fair to good fishing for late-run king salmon; this is a catch-and-release fishery right now by emergency order. A few early-run pinks are present and the first silvers should appear within the next week. Rainbow trout are becoming more distributed through the drainage but the best action is still in the middle river section. Sea-run Dolly Varden are moving into the river on the tides with good catches reported by those targeting them.

KASILOF RIVER: Red salmon are making a very strong showing since the end of June with an escapement well over 220,000 to date, thus prompting the ADF&G to issue an emergency order allowing anglers to harvest six reds per day, up from the regulatory three. Fishing has been consistently good for the last three weeks with the peak of the run expected this weekend and next week. Anglers are likely to experience some excellent catches; best access is from the Crooked Creek Campground and the Sterling Highway bridge area. Yarn flies and corkies/beads are taking fish. Late-run kings are catch-and-release by emergency order and fishing has been slow to fair the last few days. Dolly Varden are becoming numerous in the river.

ANCHOR & NINILCHIK RIVER, DEEP CREEK: Fishing for sea-run Dolly Varden is fair to good in the lower river and more fish are arriving on the tides daily. Beads as well as forage flies are working. The bite will improve as the king salmon begin spawning shortly. Some pinks are coming in also with fair opportunities in the tidal area of these drainages. The Ninilchik is still open for hatchery king salmon (wild fish must be released) but the run is well beyond its peak with most salmon in or near spawning condition; however, a few chrome or semi-bright fish are available.

HOMER/KACHEMAK BAY: Surf-casting off Coal Point at the end of the spit is good to excellent for bottomfish; flounder, codfish, and sculpin are the most frequent catches. Halibut and skate are available to those with long-range casting equipment and abilities. Pinks are providing fair opportunities off area beaches along with an occasional silver. The better spot for silvers is the Dudiak Lagoon, which is experiencing a decent early showing of these fish with catches up to two or three fish or more possible; use spinners or herring.

MATANUSKA-SUSITNA VALLEYS

Area Summary: With the king salmon season closed for the year in this area of Southcentral (except for the Eklutna Tailrace, where a few blush fish are still lingering), and the narrow window of opportunity on Fish Creek for reds has closed as well and this stream will not reopen to salmon fishing by regulation until the second weekend in August. So, anglers are now focused on the other salmon runs coming into local rivers and streams. Pinks and chums are both confirmed from the Little Susitna River and the first silvers should be caught this weekend. Cottonwood and Wasilla creeks will be open to salmon fishing (other than kings) this weekend and the following weekends through the season, prompting an opportunity for anglers to target the runs of reds and silvers that are just now starting up these streams; expect fair catches of reds, slow fishing for silvers until next week. When water conditions cooperate, the action on the east-side Susitna River tributaries is good and the rainbows and grayling are well distributed throughout these waters in anticipation of the king salmon spawn. A few pinks and chums are present in this area too. Lake fishing for both wild and hatchery trout, grayling, char, pike, and landlocked salmon is good.

WILLOW, LITTLE WILLOW, SHEEP, GOOSE, MONTANA CREEKS: King salmon are starting to spawn in these locations and should be dropping eggs for the next few weeks, providing good fishing for trout and grayling in the middle and upper stream reaches. Try beads; forage flies may work at times also. Pinks and chums are arriving in small numbers at the mouths and fish are being caught; expect first few silvers to be taken by this weekend. Generally, the best salmon fishing this early in the season is lower down in the Susitna drainage, around Willow and Little Willow, with upstream locations turning on as the month progresses. Hit these waters at dawn for best results.

CHULITNA RIVER: The tributary streams of Troublesome, Byers, and Honolulu creeks are seeing fair to good success for rainbows and grayling, with the mainstem East and Middle forks producing decent catches as well. Beads and forage flies are effective. The king salmon season ended on July 13; these fish will begin spawning very shortly and trout, grayling, and whitefish will be there for the feast.

COPPER VALLEY-VALDEZ ARM

Area Summary: This summer has seen a pattern of wet weather in this area and subsequently periods of high and swift or muddy water in many rivers and streams. But this has also kept the water temperatures down, which has helped the fishing for resident species, mainly lake trout, grayling, and stocked rainbow trout and landlocked salmon. Although the smaller waters are seeing more of a warm-up recently, the larger locations, such as Louise, Paxson, and Summit, have seen continued good catches of lakers and grayling. But the main salmon rivers have been less fortunate as the early runs of king and red salmon are below average in strength, yet enough fish have come in to provide some decent opportunity at least. The Klutina performed well below expectations this year regarding reds and the late run of kings is just getting started; Tonsina is just now starting to see a few late-run kings arriving along with a number of reds. Gulkana River is the top salmon producer this week and where anglers need to focus their efforts. Farther to the south, Valdez is seeing a surge of pink salmon into the port and certainly worth a “hot spot” mention.

GULKANA RIVER: With only a few days left of the king salmon season (Sunday is the last day), anglers here are finding relatively good fishing in holes or stretches around the Sourdough area as long as the water remains clear. Expect a mix of semi-bright to dark red fish to be present. Attractors and plugs are taking the majority of fish but some are also caught on flies. Red salmon are not abundant but anglers can have decent success targeting fish moving through in small schools. Grayling fishing is outstanding on the middle river up to and including Paxson Lake.

PORT VALDEZ: The long-expected run of pink salmon is entering the port and fishing off Allison Point is good to excellent using spoons and spinners. The incoming and outgoing tides are best and some anglers are limiting out easily. The mouth of Solomon Gulch Creek can be a relative hot spot on outgoing tide. Some fish are also present around the city dock and mouth of Gold Creek. This run is expected to start peaking next week; however, now is the time to go targeting big, chrome specimens. A few fresh chums are cruising in front of city breakwater. No reports yet of silvers.

 

Updated Thursday, July 9, 2020

CURRENT HOT SPOTS:  KASILOF REDS; GULKANA KINGS, GRAYLING; UPPER KENAI RAINBOWS; LOWER KENAI REDS; KLUTINA KINGS; COPPER LAKERS

Weekly Summary: The month of July is progressing quickly and so are the salmon runs around the Southcentral region. Late runs of red salmon are making a very decent showing in places like the Kasilof and lower end of the Kenai with some fish even pushing into Fish Creek near Wasilla. Additionally, pinks, chums, and silvers are now confirmed in a handful of locations in the region, from Homer to Seward and Valdez as well as Anchorage area streams. While the traditional late runs of king salmon have yet to hit the rivers in any appreciable numbers, a few of the early runs are still hanging on and producing some very nice angling opportunities, primarily in the Copper Valley, yet some catches are also reported in a couple of spots on the peninsula. As for resident species, both rainbows and Dollies are becoming increasingly dominant in salmon spawning streams and the cooler highland lakes are producing plenty of lake trout and Arctic grayling. Surf-casting for smaller bottomfish is at a peak in and around the coastal ports and before long there will be a greater presence of halibut, skate, and shark too.

ANCHORAGE AREA-TURNAGAIN ARM

Area Summary: If targeting salmon, there is a mixed bag of species to be had, but not in any good numbers just yet. A few fresh and semi-bright kings continue to roll into Ship Creek and some silvers and a few pinks are arriving along with them. Pinks and chums are also heading into streams down along Turnagain Arm, although runs are a bit reserved and will probably remain so until after this weekend. Sea-run char, however, are peaking in Turnagain. Landlocked salmon, trout, char, and grayling are fairly active in area lakes and ponds in early morning and evenings or during rainy days.

TURNAGAIN ARM STREAMS: Due to recent heavy rainfall, water conditions are high and turbid in spots but hopefully things will drop and clear soon. A few pinks and the occasional chum are available in Glacier, Portage, and Ingram and runs are building; try the incoming and high tides. Reds are also starting into Portage in small numbers. But the most action has been for sea-run Dolly Varden in the locations mentioned above as well as the mouth of Kern Creek. Given more favorable conditions the next several days, the bite should be good using small smolt and fry imitation lures and flies; salmon eggs produce excellent results.

KENAI PENINSULA

Area Summary: While there are very few places producing excellent fishing on the peninsula at this time, there is a plethora of decent opportunities to be had throughout the area. The late runs of red salmon are building, most notably in Kasilof, but are also doing quite well already in the Kenai. The upper Kenai and Russian are seeing some reds yet anglers there are more focused on rainbows. Ninilchik, which has been a relative shining star for kings this season, still has some fresh and light blush hatchery fish arriving in addition to sea-run char. Homer has the earliest opportunity for roadside silvers, while Seward is seeing surf-casters taking kings, reds, pinks, and chums. Whittier has so far produced little action but a few kings, pinks, and chums are present in and around the harbor and the breakwater outside of town. Landlocked salmon, trout, and grayling are yielding fair to good fishing in area lakes and ponds.

HOPE/RESURRECTION CREEK: The main activity here is still for sea-run Dolly Varden with fishing best at the mouth on the incoming and high tide cycle. The stream is flowing fairly high and fast but clear. A small number of pinks are present with opportunities, again, best on the incoming tide but the outgoing can produce fish as well; few fish have ventured upstream to any extent. Fishing should improve mid next week. An occasional chum or even an early silver is possible.

SEWARD/RESURRECTION BAY: One of the better spots right now is the mouth of Spring Creek off Nash Road for early-run chums and some leftover reds. Expect fair to good catches. This is mainly a snag fishery targeting these species but there are a few pinks and occasional king to be had also; incoming tide is best. The snag fishery at the mouth of Resurrection River is slow but a few reds are being caught. Hatchery kings continue to show off the mouth of Scheffler Creek in front of town and a few reds are present here too. For sea-run Dolly Varden, try along the beaches of Lowell Point or hike in to the mouth of Tonsina Creek. Surf-casting for flounder, codfish, greenling, and other bottomfish is good around the bay; the area around the SeaLife Center and along Lowell Point Road can be productive for larger specimens in addition to the opportunity of hooking smaller halibut and rockfish.

UPPER KENAI RIVER: Rainbow trout rule this stretch of the river with anglers reporting good catches on forage imitation flies. Lesser numbers of Dolly Varden and a few whitefish are present. Red salmon bound for Russian and various drainages of Kenai Lake are moving through with success ranging from slow to decent depending on the location on the river with some limits possible; late run should start peaking in about ten days.

LOWER KENAI RIVER: Late-run red salmon are building in numbers with each passing day and some anglers are limiting out in and around Soldotna. While the action is currently fair, things can quickly escalate this time of the month with good to excellent success not unusual starting around the 12th. Drifting yarn flies is best. Late-run kings are slow in showing but a few are being caught from boats downstream of Slikok Creek. A small number of early-run pinks are present. Dolly Varden are now moving into the river from Cook Inlet; try the tidewater portion, with fair to excellent catches possible. If wanting to target rainbows, head to area upstream of Bing’s Landing.

KASILOF RIVER: Recent days has seen great fluctuations of red salmon moving upstream, with some days producing fair catches, others excellent. Successful anglers are getting their fish using small yarn flies or beads. Best time on the lower river around Crooked Creek is at high tide to two hours after, the highway bridge area being best around eight hours after high tide. Late-run kings are slow entering the drainage but a number of blush early-run fish are still available in the channel right below the Crooked Creek Campground; try fishing at dawn using yarn flies or corkies. Dolly Varden and resident rainbows are present.

HOMER/KACHEMAK BAY: Surf-casting for bottomfish continues to be good to excellent off the end of the spit with flounder, codfish, and sculpin making up for the majority of species being caught. Anglers can expect an occasional halibut or skate if distance casting. Salmon anglers are seeing a few silvers arriving at Dudiak Lagoon, with herring and spinners fished on the incoming and outgoing tide the best options at this time. A few nice hatchery kings are also still coming in, providing some variety to the experience. Reds and pinks can be seen jumping along the beaches of the spit; cast spinners for potential hook-ups. Fishing for sea-run Dolly Varden is slow to fair at best.

MATANUSKA-SUSITNA VALLEYS

Area Summary: Things are slowly improving concerning salmon in these parts as reds are beginning to arrive at Fish Creek and this weekend should provide some fair opportunities. A few early pinks could be present as well. And the Eklutna Tailrace has a decent number of kings lingering, albeit most are quite dark at this point but a few light blush or even semi-bright specimens are possible. The Little Susitna River, while struggling all season concerning low numbers of king salmon, a catch-and-release emergency order for kings, and less than ideal water conditions, is now only a few hundred fish from meeting the low end of the biological escapement goal after a relatively strong push of fish this week. UPDATE: As of Friday, July 10, the Little Susitna River reached and surpassed the sustainable escapement goal for king salmon and will reopen to the harvest of fish starting this Saturday, July 11, and through the remainder of the season ending on Monday, July 13. Fishing for kings is expected to be fair with some holes yielding good success. The most action, however, is for resident species in the tributaries of the Susitna River with some respectable catches being made up along the Chulitna too. Landlocked salmon, trout, pike, and grayling are yielding fair to good fishing in area lakes and ponds, with stocked waters being especially popular.

WILLOW, LITTLE WILLOW, SHEEP, GOOSE, MONTANA CREEKS: With king salmon present and soon to spawn in these streams, the fishing for rainbow trout and grayling is good and should stay very productive barring any heavy rains and subsequent turbid water conditions. If water flows clear, try forage imitation lures and flies as well as beads; if high and off-color, use beads and small corkies. There are no reports yet of any other salmon species showing up but typically a few pinks, chums, or even silvers are present by the 15th on the Willow and Little Willow, possibly Sheep too. As a reminder, fishing for king salmon is closed this year by emergency order.

CHULITNA RIVER: The clearwater streams flowing into the Chulitna River are yielding some nice fish, primarily trout and grayling. Troublesome, Byers, Honolulu, and the Middle and East forks of Chulitna are suggested spots to find success. The East Fork Chulitna is open to king salmon fishing and some are being caught as the run is peaking; no retention of fish allowed, catch-and-release only by emergency order. Last day of king season is Monday, the 13th.

COPPER VALLEY-VALDEZ ARM

Area Summary: Cooler weather conditions has kept the fishing for resident species very productive so far this season with the larger bodies of water such as Louise, Paxson, and Summit being good for lake trout. Also the smaller lakes in the area are offering very decent opportunities for landlocked salmon, rainbows, and grayling. King salmon runs are staying quite prolific in a couple of locations still but the reds are lagging this year compared to other seasons. Hopefully the late-run kings and reds later this month will provide plenty of opportunity. Down in Valdez, pink salmon are arriving but not in any solid numbers yet as the bulk of the run is still outside of Valdez Arm.

GULKANA RIVER: Flowing somewhat high but clear at the time of this report, anglers are experiencing good catches of king salmon in deeper holes and runs from the highway bridge upstream to Sourdough and beyond. The run is peaking and should stay worthwhile for another week or more still. Most fish are light blush but semi-bright and even bright specimens are being caught. During the last several days, the run of reds has picked up too, with anglers managing fair success drifting yarn flies in areas with proper current. Grayling are providing excellent catches on the middle river upstream of the forks to and including Paxson Lake; look for rainbows to be present additionally.

KLUTINA RIVER: It appears that the usually highly productive early run of reds to this river is not materializing as expected with anglers reporting slow to fair fishing with occasional flurry of better catches. The fishing for early-run king salmon, however, is fair to good on the middle/upper river, although most of these fish are blush to quite red; expect the late run to build over the next few weeks. Dolly Varden fishing is quite decent on the upper end of the river and the outlet of Klutina Lake.

 

Updated Thursday, July 2, 2020

CURRENT HOT SPOTS:  KASILOF KINGS, REDS; UPPER KENAI RAINBOWS; NINILCHIK KINGS; LOUISE LAKERS; PAXSON GRAYLING

Weekly Summary: The mid-summer season has arrived in Southcentral, with warmer temperatures and the start of late-run king and red salmon runs as well as the appearance of pink, chum, and silver salmon. It will only get better from here on out for the next two to three weeks as numbers of fish grow substantially in rivers and streams throughout the region. As the early runs of kings and reds are fading as summer progresses, the later salmon runs described above are filling in the void and should provide good to excellent opportunities after a very short lull in action. Although the fishing for resident species has slowed in lowland lakes and ponds, it will stay very productive in cooler upland waters for the next week to ten days.

ANCHORAGE AREA-TURNAGAIN ARM

Area Summary: As the king salmon run to Ship Creek is dwindling, anglers in this area are experiencing a lull in salmon action. However, the wait for other salmon species to appear is likely to be brief as a smattering of early-arriving pinks, chums, and reds are infiltrating a few streams in the area already. And it will not be long before silvers show up too, very likely the first few catches will be made sometime during this coming weekend. If wanting quick action, look to the streams down along Turnagain for sea-run char or one of the many stocked lakes around town for trout, grayling, and landlocked salmon.

TURNAGAIN ARM STREAMS: The most productive action in these parts are still for sea-run char and success is good to excellent off the mouths of streams on incoming and high tides. Smolt or fry pattern lures and flies work; salmon eggs are great. Area pink salmon runs are starting with a trickle of fish being present in Indian, Glacier, and Portage creeks and Ingram likely as well. Note that road construction around Indian may make access difficult at this time. Also, Bird Creek is closed to fishing until July 14.

KENAI PENINSULA

Area Summary: With the early runs of kings and reds almost completed in this area, a few rivers are already seeing late-run fish arriving. The Kenai and Kasilof are seeing promising numbers of reds coming in on the tides with enough fish to specifically target them; kings, however, are a little slower showing up but a few fish are present. Look for these fisheries to really ramp up in another week to ten days. Additionally, the hatchery return of silvers to Dudiak Lagoon in Homer should roll in at any time. Pink salmon are trickling into quite a few streams right now and chums are making a presence in places too. Until the mid-summer salmon runs become prolific, anglers can always focus their efforts on resident species as rainbow trout and Dolly Varden are available in many locations and grayling are a solid option as well in a couple of waters.

HOPE/RESURRECTION CREEK: Sea-run Dolly Varden rule the action at present time, with small smolt and fry imitation lures and flies fished on an incoming and high tide producing good catches. A few pink salmon are present in the lower stream reaches but success is still poor; expect fair action by next week as the run builds. An occasional chum may show up.

SEWARD/RESURRECTION BAY: With the early run of reds to Bear Lake slowed to a trickle, salmon anglers here are focusing on the small number of fish left around the mouth of Spring Creek where chrome chums are also making a showing. Hatchery kings bound for Seward Lagoon are producing fair catches at the mouth of Scheffler Creek; snagging is yielding most fish but a few are being taken on spinners or bait. Fishing for pinks is still slow. No reports of silvers yet along beaches in front of town but they have been caught from boats inside of the bay. Sea-run char are best around Lowell Point and the mouth of Tonsina Creek. Casting for bottomfish is good to excellent using bait and small jigs near the SeaLife Center and along Lowell Point Road.

UPPER KENAI RIVER: Anglers are tagging a lot of rainbows, primarily from Sportman’s Landing to the Skilak Lake inlet. While forage pattern sub-surface flies are producing most trout, dry flies can be effective this time of the season also. Fishing is good and expected to hold until the egg bite begins in August. Success for Dolly Varden is fair. The early-run of red salmon to the Russian River has slowed considerably with action only picking up as late-run fish arrive in numbers.

LOWER KENAI RIVER: Late-run red salmon are entering the river and building in numbers; expect fair opportunities over the weekend with some anglers being able to take limits with patience in the right spot. Areas downstream of Soldotna to tidewater is best at this time; try yarn flies. Late-run king salmon are available with restrictions in place; only fish smaller than 34 inches may be retained, area open is downstream of Slikok Creek confluence (check recent emergency order). Expect fishing for kings to be slow for at least another week. Fishing for rainbow trout is good to excellent on the middle river upstream of Bing’s Landing in Sterling; some Dolly Varden are also available throughout the lower river to the mouth in addition to a few early-run pinks.

KASILOF RIVER: As water levels and temperatures have been rising, red salmon are entering the river in increasing numbers and the action fair to excellent the last several days. Streamer flies, small beads, and yarn flies are all yielding nice fish. Try the stretch of river around or near the Crooked Creek confluence from peak high tide to two hours after. Early-run king salmon continue to be available, primarily in the channel right below the Crooked Creek Campground, and a few late-run salmon are now present too; both hatchery and wild fish may be retained. The kings have been hitting corkies and yarn setups and yarn flies. Check recent emergency order concerning bait and lure restrictions. The majority of the kings are blush to light red in color but some chrome and semi-bright salmon are being caught. Dolly Varden are becoming more common. Pinks may start showing shortly.

NINILCHIK RIVER: There are still a good number of king salmon situated in this small, clearwater stream, from the harbor area near the river mouth upstream to the 2-mile boundary marker. While chrome fish are becoming more scarce with each passing day, small groups of fresh kings continue to enter the river on the tides. Most fish are blushed to light red in color. With very large tides dominating the scene for the next several days and some of them occurring during the nighttime hours, expect a push of fish heading up from the tidal area into the lower river; be there at dawn. Also look for steady rain to prompt upstream migration. Water conditions are very low and warm; sight-fishing to kings is possible in stretches upstream of the highway. Only hatchery kings may be retained. Dolly Varden are present in small numbers along with a few pinks.

HOMER/KACHEMAK BAY: The best action these days is for bottomfish off the end of the spit, with anglers experiencing good success using bait and small jigs. Flounder, codfish, and sculpin are most common but a few halibut and skate may be caught too. After snagging was permitted in the Dudiak Lagoon, the number of king salmon in the area has dropped substantially; however, a few fresh and semi-bright fish will continue to arrive for another two weeks still. Silver salmon are due any day and a few specimens are expected to be present in the lagoon by this weekend. A few pinks and reds are jumping along the beaches of the spit. Success for sea-run Dolly Varden has generally dropped off as fish are entering salmon streams to feed; a few fish are still around.

MATANUSKA-SUSITNA VALLEYS

Area Summary: The early part of the summer proved to be somewhat of a dry spell for roadside salmon-seeking anglers due to low abundance of kings and heavy restrictions, but that is about to change soon with the arrival of reds, pinks, chums, and silvers. New regulations on commercial activity favoring a greater escapement of salmon to the drainages of Matanuska and Susitna valleys should boost opportunities by magnitude, with effects being felt very shortly as the mid-summer runs advance. Another positive change in regulations this year is the opening of the lower section of Fish Creek near Wasilla to sport fishing on the weekends from June 15 through July 14, giving anglers a great opportunity to intercept the early portion of the red salmon run there. Look for this location to produce catches in another week or so. But until that point, anglers are finding great fishing for rainbows and grayling in area streams and early mornings and late evenings yield good success on lakes and ponds for landlocked salmon, trout, grayling, and pike.

WILLOW, LITTLE WILLOW, SHEEP, GOOSE, MONTANA CREEKS: Conditions are ideal for achieving rewarding catches of rainbow trout and arctic grayling, with low and clear water in most smaller streams; however, with hot weather moving over the area, expect some rising water and turbidity in tributaries that are affected by mountain snowmelt, such as Sheep. Success is good to excellent, with the middle and upper reaches of these waters best. Subsurface forage flies are effective, as are dry flies and small spinners. King salmon are present in varying numbers in all of these streams but fishing for them is closed this year. Pinks and chums are expected to show in a week to ten days.

CHULITNA RIVER: Clearwater tributaries of the glacial Chulitna River are producing fair to good catches of rainbows and grayling with a few Dolly Varden and whitefish also available. Top locations include the East and Middle forks of Chulitna, Byers, Honolulu, and Troublesome. King salmon fishing is open in the East Fork Chulitna, but only catch-and-release; retention of kings is prohibited. A few kings are present and the run is building.

COPPER VALLEY-VALDEZ ARM

Area Summary: The best fishing in this area of the road system is in the lakes for resident species, with lake trout, grayling, and rainbow trout doing very well for anglers, yet there are some smaller streams that are also producing plenty of activity. The early runs of kings and reds did not show in any great strength and it appears they are weak this season; however, good opportunities are possible in spots given the right water conditions and a little luck. Klutina River, in particular, has been a bit disappointing so far this season with typical limits of bright reds hard to come by, but a few anglers willing to put in time and effort are getting their quotas. But for some good news, as of July 1 anglers are allowed to target late-run kings on the Klutina and Tonsina and these runs will continue to build as the month progresses; these drainages and the Gulkana will see late runs of reds too. As for Valdez, pinks are arriving in the port and a few fish are being taken at Allison Point and other locations around town. This is a fishery that should grab headlines in another week or so.

GULKANA RIVER: After a period of very high and muddy water from heavy rains, the river is finally dropping and clearing and should reveal some decent opportunities over the weekend and into next week. King salmon, although not present in any great numbers, will provide fair success with some spots where fish are concentrated even good catches. The bulk of the run appears to be situated between the highway crossing and Sourdough. Reds are also lagging behind in numbers but once water conditions stabilize, should produce some worthwhile action. Grayling are active in the middle and upper river sections and anglers are reporting excellent sport there as well as in Paxson Lake.

 

Updated Thursday, June 25, 2020

CURRENT HOT SPOTS:  RUSSIAN REDS; KASILOF KINGS, REDS; UPPER KENAI REDS, RAINBOWS; SEWARD REDS; NINILCHIK KINGS

Weekly Summary: As the early-season runs of king salmon begin to show sign of slowing down, at least there are a fair number of really productive spots to go pick up some limits of red salmon. On the Kenai Peninsula, reds are streaming into the Upper Kenai, Russian, and Kasilof rivers and there is even an emergency order four doubling the limits of fish on the Resurrection River in Seward. And, hopefully, the typically lucrative red runs to the Gulkana and Klutina rivers in Copper Valley should soon hit stride after a very modest start. But if kings are still the game, there are quite a few alternatives still, albeit the action may not be stellar right now. The above areas, plus the Matanuska-Susitna valleys, are yielding some good to excellent opportunities for resident freshwater fish, such as landlocked salmon, rainbow trout, Dolly Varden, lake trout, Arctic grayling, and northern pike; both lakes and streams are producing some great catches as of late. But to add a little bit more variety to the fishing scene the next several days, pinks and chums are now trickling into area waters in a few select locations, the harbinger of things to come in July. Undoubtedly, the silvers are not far behind.

ANCHORAGE AREA-TURNAGAIN ARM

Area Summary: It appears that anglers are destined for a slight lull in the action concerning salmon in this area as the kings in Ship Creek are tapering off a bit and the other species, such as pinks, chums, and silvers, have not made much of an appearance yet. This is quite typical most years for late June and early July, although some years have more of an overlap between fish runs. For now, enjoy the backside of the local king run before the hectic mid-summer salmon arrive in waters in the city and along Turnagain Arm. Perhaps a better idea would be to target the good populations of rainbow trout and Dolly Varden in Campbell and Chester creeks, as well as the stocked fisheries in the area where landlocked salmon, trout, char, and grayling are providing fair to good sport, particularly in the early mornings and evenings.

SHIP CREEK: Every tide is still bringing in fresh king salmon and some of the fish are being caught but the action is slowing from the previous two weeks. Recent catches have been in the mid-teens to mid-20s, yet no very large kings to date. If wanting a decent shot at these salmon, this is the weekend to go and next week should be fair too. An increasing number of kings are now being taken on spinners, while the popular attractor/roe combination is holding true to form. Expect the first few pinks and silvers any day now.

TURNAGAIN ARM STREAMS: Sea-run Dolly Varden are plentiful at the mouths of many streams in the arm. Fishing can be good at most any tide stage depending on the individual water but generally the incoming and high tides appear to be best overall. Try Indian (if road construction allows), Glacier, Kern, Portage, and Ingram. There should be a few early pinks and chums nosing into these spots right now but no confirmed reports yet. Bird Creek is currently closed to all fishing but will reopen on July 14.

KENAI PENINSULA

Area Summary: The best salmon fishing in this area is around Cooper Landing, specifically the upper section of Kenai River, the Russian, and down in Seward at the head of the bay. Additionally, both kings and reds are being caught at the Kasilof River; the Ninilchik River keeps yielding fresh hatchery kings, as does the lagoon on the Homer Spit. For wild rainbows, the Kenai, again, is hard to beat, but many of the lakes around the peninsula still provides for quick action not only for trout but landlocked salmon, char, and grayling as well. Although not a very consistent fishery these days, Whittier has a few kings and reds showing and rumors of pinks and chums too; herring are being caught in front of town. While boaters are now starting to catch a few silvers in Seward marine waters, the better bet for roadside anglers would be Homer for this species. Bottomfish are very abundant around the area, with Homer, Seward, and Whittier all being solid locations to find a variety of species, including flounder, codfish, greenling, and sculpin; do not be surprised to tie into an occasional halibut or skate.

HOPE/RESURRECTION CREEK: Casting for sea-run Dolly Varden is good on incoming and high tides with salmon fry imitation flies and lures as well as top surface flies getting attention. It is not too early to encounter pinks in this stream and a few fish should be available this weekend. Last year, pinks began showing around the 23rd of June with good fishing by the first of July; normally, however, expect fishable numbers by the second week of July.

SEWARD/RESURRECTION BAY: The red salmon run into Resurrection River at the head of the bay is still reasonably productive but fish numbers are waning. Per emergency order, anglers are now allowed to retain 12 reds per day. Some tides and days are more productive than others and some determined anglers will be able to catch their limits. Expect this weekend and next week to be the last really good shot at getting some nice, chrome reds. Anglers snagging off Spring Creek beach are taking a fair number of reds also, in addition to a few early chums. The first few pinks are due along beaches at the head of the bay any day. The hatchery run of king salmon is spotty to fair, with most fish being caught off the mouth of Scheffler Creek near the boat harbor; snagging is the preferred method. This run is at a peak and will start to slow down shortly. Lowell Point and the mouths of Spruce and Tonsina creeks are yielding fair catches of sea-run char. For bottomfish, head to the northwest side of the bay near the Sea Life Center and in the deep waters along the Lowell Point Road; a few rockfish and halibut are also present.

RUSSIAN RIVER: Anglers here are finding good action for red salmon in the shallow and clear river first thing in the morning, with easy limits possible, and hiking upstream later on can be rewarding. The mouth of the river and confluence section with the Kenai River is a good spot all throughout the day with a steady stream of fish moving through. This run is peaking and should stay relatively strong through the weekend and next week until around the 4th of July. If taking a break from the salmon fishing, gear up for rainbows, which are supporting decent action in the mornings and evenings throughout much of the lower river downstream of the falls. A few Dolly Varden are present also.

UPPER KENAI RIVER: Along with the Russian, anglers trying their fortune along the stretch of water between Sportsman’s Landing and Jim’s Landing are experiencing some good red salmon catches along with quick action for rainbow trout. Water conditions are very good and ideal for both floating as well as wading. With the red run peaking, this is likely the last productive weekend until the late run arrives in mid-July. A fair number of Dolly Varden are being taken now as these fish are moving into the area from Kenai Lake.

LOWER KENAI RIVER: As the early run of reds is starting to dissipate, more anglers are focused on the trout action of the “middle” river between the Skilak Lake outlet and Sterling; good to excellent sport is being reported. Dolly Varden fishing is fair in this section too. But if still intent on reds, try the Bing’s Landing area. Fishing for king salmon will open back up again on Wednesday, July 1. Surf-casting off the mouth of the river is slow but an occasional halibut or a few sand or mud sharks (spiny dogfish) may be encountered.

KASILOF RIVER: This is a great spot to target both kings and reds from shore. Recent catches have been fair to good with the tides being best; however, the morning bite in the channel right below the campground can be decent for kings too. A few quite sizable fish have been landed lately, in the 25- to 35-pound range. Quite a few of the kings are starting to turn color but chrome or silver fish are still available. As a reminder, only hatchery kings may be retained. This will likely be the last really productive weekend for kings here before the late run arrives in July. The red run will fluctuate depending on commercial activity in the inlet with some tides and days being good, others very slow.

NINILCHIK RIVER: With kings closed or slowing down in most locations, this little river is holding up well as decent numbers of fish continue to be present. Small schools of chrome salmon continue to arrive on the tides and fish are stacking up in deeper holes and runs throughout the lower reaches. With water conditions being very low and clear recently, anglers have been able to sight-fish to these kings with quite good results. Also, fishing at the end of the harbor near the river mouth has been productive on outgoing tides. As a reminder, only hatchery fish may be retained; most of them are in the 8- to 12-pound range. However, a few wild kings this past week have topped 30 pounds with a 40-pounder reported. Expect a few pinks any day.

HOMER/KACHEMAK BAY: King salmon are still available in the Dudiak Lagoon on the spit and anglers are connecting with them on the incoming and outgoing tides. While most fish are blushing, there are still a fair number of chrome or reasonably bright salmon to be had. The morning tides are generally producing the better catches. Expect fair success with sporadic good moments. Drifting eggs and casting spinners is best but fish can be caught in the channel between the lagoon and the bay as tide goes out using flies. No reports of silvers yet in the lagoon but a few should be present any day now. UPDATE: By emergency order, the Dudiak Lagoon will open to snagging on Tuesday, June 30, through Thursday, July 2, to allow for more efficient harvest of kings schooling within the lagoon. Expect good to excellent success the first day snagging will be permitted. Elsewhere in this area, casting for bottomfish is good at the end of the spit for flounder, codfish, and sculpin. Occasional catches of halibut and skate may be had. Sea-run Dolly Varden are leaving the bay destined for salmon spawning streams but a few fish may still be picked up along the beach.

MATANUSKA-SUSITNA VALLEYS

Area Summary: The king salmon season here is regulated to only the Little Susitna River and the Eklutna Tailrace, with catch-and-release only allowed on the former and smaller numbers of hatchery fish present in the latter location. Fishing has been fair at best when water conditions and weather cooperates, with the Eklutna providing some mediocre catches in the very early mornings using attractor lures in combination with bait. This run is peaking but expect slow to fair success. The better bet in terms of action are the trout and grayling streams draining into the Susitna River, which are flowing at good levels and clarity right now barring heavy rain showers. The lakes and ponds in this area are producing great sport for landlocked salmon, trout, char, grayling, and pike. No word yet on reds or any other salmon species showing up but historically these fish will start arriving sometime in the first or second week of July.

WILLOW, LITTLE WILLOW, SHEEP, GOOSE, MONTANA CREEKS: The middle and upper reaches of these waters are yielding good to excellent catches of rainbow trout and fair to good success for grayling. Try around the road crossings and above using forage pattern flies and lures. As long as water conditions stay low and clear, the fishing will be hot and should only improve as salmon show up. As a reminder, king salmon fishing in all of these waters is prohibited this season by emergency order. Although pinks began arriving by the final days of June last year, this year should see a more normal timing pattern.

CHULITNA RIVER: The clearwater tributaries of this glacial drainage typically hold some fair to good or better opportunities for rainbows and grayling and anglers are locating fish in places such as Honolulu, Byers, and the East and Middle forks of the Chulitna River. Although the East Fork Chulitna is open for kings this year, it is by catch-and-release only; no reports yet of fish being caught.

COPPER VALLEY-VALDEZ ARM

Area Summary: It is becoming more apparent that the king and red salmon runs to this area are down this year compared to historical averages. While both species are present in the Gulkana, Klutina, and Tonsina rivers, fishing success has generally been slow to fair. Anglers should keep close attention to these waters as emergency orders could be pending within the next several days. However, fishing for resident species such as rainbow and lake trout, landlocked salmon, Dolly Varden, grayling is good in various lakes and clearwater streams. Lake Louise, Paxson, and Summit are good spots to go for big lake trout, while the smaller stocked lakes are steadily producing rainbows, salmon, and grayling. The Tolsona, Tulsona, Indian, and Little Tonsina are fishing well for a combination of species, mainly char and/or grayling. Down in Valdez, angling opportunities are currently a bit limited but a few reds are present in Robe River and the first few pinks have arrived at Allison Point.

GULKANA RIVER: Flowed somewhat high and muddy the last several days, the river is dropping and clearing and should be producing a mix of kings and reds by the weekend and through next week. Angler success is fair at best as runs appear to be small so far this year. From the highway bridge upstream to Sourdough is the best stretch of water right now for salmon. Grayling are producing fast action on the middle river between Paxson Lake and the falls, with a few rainbows being caught as well.

KLUTINA RIVER: This has surprisingly enough been an off year thus far in the season for reds with slow to fair fishing, although short flurries of activity has produced some good catches for a few anglers in the right spot at the right time. It is anticipated that numbers of fish will improve over the course of the next week to ten days. Dolly Varden, rainbows, and a few grayling are being caught on the upper river and the outlet of Klutina Lake, providing much-needed action. The king salmon season opens July 1.

 

 

Updated Thursday, June 18, 2020

CURRENT HOT SPOTS:  SEWARD REDS; SHIP KINGS; UPPER KENAI REDS, RAINBOWS; KASILOF KINGS, REDS; NINILCHIK KINGS; RUSSIAN REDS

Weekly Summary: There is quite a spread of fishing options available for this weekend and the following days. Kings are still running relatively strong in several locations along with early-run red salmon, primarily in drainages on the Kenai Peninsula, such as Kenai, Kasilof, Russian, Ninilchik, Dudiak, and Resurrection, and in the Gulkana and Klutina in Copper Valley. Even the city of Anchorage’s favorite–Ship–is yielding consistent results. Although traditionally harboring solid hot spots for kings in latter June, the Matanuska-Susitna valleys remain closed to king salmon fishing this season, the only exceptions being the Little Susitna (catch-and-release only) and Eklutna (mediocre success). However, what these regions all have in common is the great action for resident species in lakes and streams, with rainbow trout and Arctic grayling being plentiful and willing. Lake trout, northern pike, and sea-run Dolly Varden are also strong contenders this month. No matter which direction headed out, Southcentral has it covered.

ANCHORAGE AREA-TURNAGAIN ARM

Area Summary: Without a doubt, the presence of king salmon in Ship Creek in downtown Anchorage has this area preoccupied, and for good reason; it is currently one of the better locations on the road system for this species. But it is not the only game in town as anglers desiring a little bit more of a wilderness touch will come to appreciate the population of sea-run char that the streams around Turnagain Arm has offer. In addition, Campbell and Chester creeks are now open to fishing and freshly stocked with rainbows along with decent populations of Dolly Varden. The lakes and ponds around the city as well as at the head of Turnagain Arm (Portage area) are producing fair to good catches of a variety of game fish, including landlocked salmon, trout, char, and grayling. Anglers should take note that as we advance into late June, additional salmon species will be showing up in area waters, including a few pinks, chums, and even silvers.

SHIP CREEK: Challenging even some of the most notorious roadside king salmon destinations in productivity these days, Ship is at a peak right now with anglers scoring big on the tides. Attractor and roe setups anchored on the bottom on incoming and high tide and drifted with the current on the outgoing is responsible for the majority of salmon being brought in, yet spinners are also effective. Most fish weigh in the teens into low 20s with a few 30s having been landed too. Do not be surprised to find lunkers into the 40s range cruising the creek the next ten days. Expect fair to good success, the morning tides being best. As a note, the first silver salmon could be caught by the end of next week.

TURNAGAIN ARM STREAMS: Sea-run Dolly Varden are prolific at the mouths of streams all around the arm, with Indian, Glacier, Kern, Portage, and Ingram being prime spots to find them. Small lures and flies resembling juvenile salmon are tops for drawing strikes, as is salmon eggs fished stationary on the bottom. Incoming and high tides are generally best for potential fast-paced action but sometimes low tide may be hot as well. A few early pinks and chums may start showing in these places within a week. The hooligan season has ended in all areas of the arm.

KENAI PENINSULA

Area Summary: There is no lack of good fishing locations this weekend and next week. Salmon are showing up in variable numbers just about everywhere, from the more popular waters on the west shores to the fisheries of the gulf coast and even in western Prince William Sound. Yet, it is the arrival of red salmon that has most anglers’ attention, with the Kenai and Russian rivers picking up speed over last week along with the Kasilof south of Soldotna and Resurrection in Seward. All of these runs may have been a tad bit slow getting started but are expected to peak starting this weekend and for the next ten days to two weeks. But not to be outdone, the king salmon continue to make waves in the local communities of the peninsula, in particular the hatchery fish locations of Dudiak Lagoon, Ninilchik and Kasilof rivers, and Resurrection Bay. Rainbow trout are providing good catch rates in the middle and upper sections of the Kenai River, and sea-run Dolly Varden are still prevalent along the beaches of Homer Spit and in Seward. Both stocked and wild lakes are producing nice catches of landlocked salmon, trout, char, and grayling. The marine fisheries are recording good to excellent success for bottomfish, although surf-casting for halibut is on the wane for now but will improve again later on in July.

SEWARD/RESURRECTION BAY: Snagging reds at the mouth of Resurrection River off Nash Road has been variable, with some days and tides better than others; expect fair to excellent catch rates. Limits of six fish is very possible as this run is peaking and should stay productive for another ten days to two weeks. The beach areas at Spring and Scheffler creeks are providing opportunity to snag reds too. The hatchery run of kings into Scheffler Creek and Seward Lagoon is improving with shore-based anglers managing to successfully target fish by snagging on incoming and high tides in and around the release site. Additionally, a few kings are available at the mouths of most any clearwater stream draining into the bay, such as Spring, Lowell, Spruce, and Tonsina creeks, on the incoming tide. Sea-run char are being caught in decent numbers, primarily in waters around Lowell Point and Tonsina Creek. Surf-casting for bottomfish such as flounder, codfish, and greenling is good to excellent from the breakwater in front of town and in deeper sections along the Lowell Point Road, with a few rockfish and occasional halibut also present in the latter locations.

RUSSIAN RIVER: While the season opener was generally slow to fair for reds, things are starting to change as more fish continue to enter the area every day with good success now possible at the confluence with the Kenai. The confluence is a steady fishery with catches being made throughout the day, in contrast to the low and clear Russian proper where schools of fish enter the river during the night and can be targeted by sight-fishing at dawn with limits typical; midday action, however, is poor. This run is expected to peak starting next week. Rainbow trout are yielding fair game using flies along the section of water from the falls downstream to the river mouth; only a few Dolly Varden are present at this time.

UPPER KENAI RIVER: This is a nice time to float the river or hike in from one of several roadside access points, casting to schools of reds and hungry rainbows. The most productive section of water overall is from the Russian confluence at Sportsman’s Landing downstream to the Skilak Lake inlet. While the trout action peaked right after the season opener on the 11th, there is still some good fishing to be had. Catch rates for reds has been fair to good with best catches occurring along the south shoreline between the Russian and Jim’s Landing.

LOWER KENAI RIVER: With kings closed until July 1, anglers here are targeting reds bound for the Russian River and other early-run populations with fair success. Some limits of fish are being taken in the right place at the right time with proper technique; try Swiftwater, the Moose Meadows area, and Bing’s Landing. Drifting streamers or small yarn flies is the key. For rainbows, the middle river upstream of Bing’s to the Skilak Lake outlet is best. Action is good and there is a smaller number of Dolly Varden available as well. The hooligan season has ended.

KASILOF RIVER: A mixed bag of kings and reds is possible here. Anglers report fair to good results for kings at dawn just below the Crooked Creek Campground and again around high tide at the bottom of The People Hole. Small corkies and other attractors as well as yarn flies are working for the kings. As a note, only hatchery kings may be retained; all wild fish must be released. For reds, use a variety of fly patterns and yarn flies in faster current, preferably at peak high tide and the following hour or two if near tidewater. At the highway crossing or above, time schools of reds to pass approximately 6 to 8 hours after peak high.

NINILCHIK RIVER: One of the better king salmon locations in Southcentral. While only hatchery kings may be retained (all wild fish must be released), there is a good crop of them this year with most averaging 10-12 pounds. Try casting spinners on the outgoing tide in the harbor area at the mouth of the river, or use flies and lures at dawn in the deep holes around the highway crossing. Many fish are still chrome in the lower river, while upriver fish are starting to turn. Expect fair to very good fishing this weekend and next week.

HOMER/KACHEMAK BAY: For king salmon, the Dudiak Lagoon on the spit is the place to go. Fresh fish are still entering on the tides with eggs and spinners producing most catches; try the incoming tide inside the lagoon and the outgoing tide on the bay side. Sometimes schools of fish can be visually spotted and targeted in the channel following high tide using flies. The success rate is described as fair with some days and tides being better. This run has peaked and many fish are turning but should produce some bright kings for another couple of weeks still. Another point to consider is that a few silvers may start showing very soon at the lagoon as well. Coal Point at the end of the spit is a fast-action hot spot right now for a variety of bottomfish, including flounders, codfish, and sculpin; an occasional halibut or king salmon is possible. As for sea-run Dolly Varden, numbers of fish are declining along the beaches of the bay as the movement towards salmon spawning streams has started; still, fair success may be enjoyed.

MATANUSKA-SUSITNA VALLEYS

Area Summary: With king salmon fishing closed in the majority of waters within this area, anglers are keenly focused on the trout and grayling streams where good catches are being reported. But if a king is still a personal pursuit, the Eklutna Tailrace is the only option if wanting to retain a fish to eat; the Little Susitna is still under a catch-and-release emergency order. A few early-run reds are showing up in local waters but expect slow fishing at best at this time. And then there are the myriad of lakes and ponds of the broader valley areas, all of which are yielding good to excellent opportunities for landlocked salmon, trout, char, grayling, and pike. However, for migratory/ocean-run salmon in most rivers and streams, wait until mid-July for the pinks, chums, and silvers to arrive.

WILLOW, LITTLE WILLOW, SHEEP, GOOSE, MONTANA CREEKS: As water conditions here are finally improving to more seasonal levels, anglers are finding good action for rainbows and grayling, mainly in the middle and upper sections of these Susitna River tributaries. Forage flies and lures are responsible for the brunt of fish being caught, most of which are in the single digits and teens but some trout may go over 25 inches on occasion. Deception Creek, in the Willow Creek drainage, also has good opportunities for rainbows and grayling upstream of the Hatcher Pass Road crossing.

COPPER VALLEY-VALDEZ ARM

Area Summary: Being somewhat slow to arrive in force this year, the salmon runs in this area are finally gaining momentum as anglers on the Gulkana and Klutina are doing well and expected to do better in the coming days. Stream fishing for grayling is good in several locations, in particular the waters of the upper Copper drainage, and lake fishing is highly productive right now, in particular for lake trout and stocked landlocked salmon, rainbows, and grayling. Lake Louise, Paxson Lake, and Summit Lake are seeing anglers catching some large specimens of lake char, often weighing into the teens with 20-pound-plus fish always a possibility; use plugs or spoons. Port Valdez has a population of sea-run char available but no reports yet of salmon being caught; although angling effort from shore is very low this time of season. However, expect a few pinks to show any day over at Allison Point.

GULKANA RIVER: This year’s king and red salmon runs have begun with fish available from the river mouth upstream to Sourdough and beyond. Action for kings is currently fair as water conditions are improving but may slow again if heavy rain once again fall on the area. Most catches are being made in the lower river on either side of the highway crossing. Numbers of kings is expected to peak starting next week. As for the reds, the run is off to a slow start but there are fish to be had, primarily downstream of Sourdough. Again, if water conditions hold, fair opportunities should be had this weekend and the following two weeks. Targeting grayling is good to excellent on the upper river above the rapids, and lake trout are also good at the outlet of Paxson Lake.

KLUTINA RIVER: Usually a top producer of early-run reds in June, the run this year has been lagging thus far but is steadily improving. Anglers around Copper Center are routinely catching fish with limits possible; fair to good action is the norm but excellent success may be had if a large school happens to move through. Drifting yarn flies near shore is best way to connect. The run is expected to peak shortly, although it  appears weaker than the past several years. The king salmon season opens July 1.

 

 

Updated Thursday, June 11, 2020

CURRENT HOT SPOTS:  SEWARD REDS; KASILOF KINGS, REDS; UPPER KENAI REDS, RAINBOWS; SHIP KINGS; NINILCHIK KINGS; HOMER KINGS

Weekly Summary: Although some of the king salmon fisheries in the region continue to simmer in locations such as Ship, Kasilof, Ninilchik, and Dudiak, reds are now making a much more prominent appearance, mainly in Seward but also in the Kenai, Russian, and Kasilof rivers. Very soon, the drainages of Gulkana and Klutina will follow suit and provide even more options for anglers to enjoy good sport on the water and fill freezers. The early summer season in Southcentral is typically marked by worthwhile salmon action and great stream opportunities for resident species such as rainbows, Dolly Varden, and arctic grayling. Stable weather conditions along with warmer temperatures are trademarks of June, something all anglers can appreciate after a cool and blustery spring and before the late summer and fall rains set in.

ANCHORAGE AREA-TURNAGAIN ARM

Area Summary: Kings are beginning to sizzle in Ship Creek as the run continues to build, and landlocked salmon, rainbows, and grayling are still quite active in area lakes, especially in early morning and evening. Mid-June can be a great time for fishing in and around Anchorage as opportunities are plentiful and the weather generally cooperating. Additionally, starting on the 15th (Monday), anglers will be allowed to go catch-and-release only fishing on Campbell and Chester creeks for trout and char. These two clearwater streams often yield very good action during the opener, in particular the middle and upper stretches. Dip netting for hooligan in 20-Mile River is almost done for the year, this being the last weekend to try before the fishery closes June 15.

SHIP CREEK: This downtown fishery has really started to turn on the last few days with a decent number of kings being landed on the tides. Using attractor lures in combination with roe is best but some fish are also being taken on spinners and other lures. Typical size range is from the teens to low 20s but a few 30-plus-pound kings have been landed. Expect fair to good success as the run is starting to peak; most fish are chrome and now is the time to go if wanting great sport and quality meat.

TURNAGAIN ARM STREAMS: With much of the focus on hectic salmon fisheries around the region, it is easy to forego the easy going pace of sea-run char fishing at the mouths of streams in Turnagain Arm. Although Bird Creek is closed to all fishing until July 14, there are several other spots to try, including Indian, Glacier, Kern, Portage, and Ingram, all of which offer fair to good action at this time using a variety of offerings, such as smolt/fry-imitation lures and flies as well as salmon eggs. The bite is generally best on the incoming and high tides.

KENAI PENINSULA

Area Summary: Although a few more emergency orders were handed down this week, most notably the Kenai (closed to king salmon fishing) and the Kasilof (only hatchery kings allowed to be retained), there is also good news in that all of the flowing waters of the Kenai River drainage are now open to fishing, including the Russian River, which is seeing fishable numbers of red salmon. Anglers may also capture reds on the lower section of the Kenai and all along the Kasilof. The Ninilchik will be open for hatchery kings next week as well. The reds in Seward are attracting a lot of attention with the snagging crowd. In Homer, the lagoon on the spit is continuing to report fresh kings on the tides. Sea-run char may be caught in varying numbers in all marine waters around the peninsula, particularly Kachemak and Resurrection bays, but some fish are also available in Passage Canal in Whittier. The latter also has a few kings, reds, and chums present. Area lakes are experiencing good to excellent fishing for resident species; landlocked salmon, rainbow trout, arctic char, and arctic grayling are all very active. The spring opportunity for beach halibut is dissipating but other species of bottomfish are peaking in numbers. Dip netting for hooligan is still a possibility in Seward but the run has ended on the Kenai.

SEWARD/RESURRECTION BAY: The mouth of Resurrection River at the head of the bay is a steady producer of red salmon but the run has shown to be a bit unpredictable thus far this season, with some tides yielding good to excellent catches while other days and tides being very slow. This run should be reaching a peak shortly and remain a hot spot through the month for snaggers. Anglers wanting to connect on a fly can try their skill in the lower section of Salmon Creek downstream of Nash Road starting Tuesday, June 16; expect fair results. King salmon are making a meager appearance at the head of the bay, mostly around the mouth of Scheffler Creek, but a few fish may be encountered off the mouth of any clearwater stream, such as Lowell, Spruce, Tonsina, and Spring. Now on for the next ten days to two weeks should be the peak time for these fish; most catches are made by snagging but casting spinners can be effective too. Sea-run Dolly Varden provide decent catches off the beaches around the bay, Lowell Point and Tonsina Creek being best. Bottomfish like flounder, codfish, greenling, and sculpins are abundant with good to excellent catches being made surf-casting. A few rockfish and an occasional halibut is possible. This is the last weekend for hooligan in Resurrection River and Salmon Creek; dip netting is slow to fair.

KENAI, RUSSIAN RIVERS: As expected, the early-run king salmon season here was closed down recently. However, fishing for red salmon and rainbow trout is productive with the former showing up in moderate numbers from Soldotna and Sterling up to Cooper Landing; the latter is providing very good action right now on the middle river section upstream of Sterling and throughout much of the upper river. The confluence area of the Kenai and Russian rivers was fair at the opener on the 11th with some limits taken and expected to pick up during the course of next week as more fish arrive. Anglers also experienced fair fishing for rainbows on the Russian. The halibut bite off the river mouth has subsided but a few fish may still be around on high tide.

KASILOF RIVER: By emergency order, only hatchery kings are allowed to be retained here and anglers must release all wild fish. Yet, the fishing has been quite decent still, with anglers scoring nice kings at and right after high tides at the bottom of The People Hole (near Crooked Creek Campground) drifting flies and attractors. The early morning bite in the channel right below the campground is improving. This run is peaking and typically stays productive through the third week of this month. Reds are entering the system in increasing numbers and anglers are now able to target them specifically. Some fish are also taken incidentally to fishing for kings using flies. Resident rainbow trout and a few sea-run char are present.

NINILCHIK RIVER: One of the most productive king salmon locations in the region, this little river is open to hatchery kings only starting Tuesday, June 16, and will stay open for kings through the remainder of the season ending on November 1. Expect action to be very good early morning on opening day in holes around the highway and on the outgoing tide in the harbor. Per new restrictions, only unbaited, single-hook, artificial lures may be used and hatchery kings caught do not have to be recorded towards the 5-fish annual limit for Cook Inlet. Bag and possession limit remains at 1 fish. The beach area around the river mouth is now closed to all fishing until July 15.

HOMER/KACHEMAK BAY: The best spot for salmon is the Dudiak Lagoon on the spit, where anglers are catching a fair number of fish on the incoming and outgoing tides. Drifting eggs and casting spinners are getting most of the fish. Some of the salmon are starting to blush a little bit but many are still in chrome condition. Expect this fishery to hold steady for another week to ten days. Surf-casters are catching good numbers of bottomfish off the end of the spit at Coal Point, including a variety of flounders, codfish, sculpin, and the occasional halibut; use cut herring or octopus as bait, jigs may work. Sea-run char are still present in decent numbers along the ocean side of the spit and relatively easily caught on juvenile salmon imitation flies and lures.

MATANUSKA-SUSITNA VALLEYS

Area Summary: Anglers are seeing improved chances in hooking and landing king salmon in this area. The Eklutna Tailrace is seeing a small number of fish being caught with fair opportunities at best but the run is expected to gain momentum through next week. Water conditions are good with clarity being better than normal for this time of the year, thus lures work just as well as bait. The run of kings into Little Susitna River remains poor and a catch-and-release emergency order is in effect. Lake fishing is good to excellent for landlocked salmon, trout, char, grayling, and pike. The streams of Fish, Cottonwood, and Wasilla will open to fishing on Monday, June 15, with fair to good success possible for rainbows and Dolly Varden. The east-side tributaries of Susitna River are dropping and slowly clearing after an extended period of high and muddy water, yielding fair or better opportunities for trout, char, and grayling, with Willow, Little Willow, Sheep, Goose, and Montana being top picks. Deception and Rabideux are also worth a look, the former opening on June 15. Next week should see some very productive action in these and other nearby waters.

COPPER VALLEY-VALDEZ ARM

Area Summary: The big news in these parts is the arrival of king and red salmon in the Gulkana and the Klutina is seeing catches of reds as well. Angler success is still somewhat on the slow side but the runs are building with fair possibilities by this weekend or early next week. Grayling are available in clearwater streams throughout the area but the spawning season is concluding in most drainages and water levels are dropping; best picks for the next several days would be Tonsina, Tulsona, and Indian. Fishing for lake trout is good to excellent in the larger lake systems, with Louise, Paxson, and Summit all producing good-sized char using spoons and plugs. The smaller, stocked waters are yielding excellent catches of landlocked salmon, trout, char, and grayling, in particular those locations along the Glenn Highway, Richardson Highway, and Edgerton Highway/McCarthy Road. Opportunities in and around Valdez are somewhat limited but sea-run char may be caught at the mouths of streams draining into the bay using juvenile salmon imitation lures as well as salmon eggs. A few reds are headed up the Robe River.

 

Updated Thursday, June 4, 2020

CURRENT HOT SPOTS:  NINILCHIK KINGS; SEWARD REDS, DOLLIES; KASILOF KINGS; KENAI REDS; HOMER KINGS, DOLLIES; SHIP KINGS

Weekly Summary: Anglers in the region are seeing mixed catches these days as some of the more popular king salmon streams are either closed by emergency order or have heavy restrictions in place to conserve weak returns; this includes Little Susitna River and all eastside tributaries of the Susitna River north of Anchorage, and Deep Creek and Anchor River south of town. But despite these perceived hardships, there are still some locations producing fair to very good catches of kings. Additionally, early-run red salmon are becoming more abundant in roadside waters and limits are possible for those putting in time and effort. Fishing in lakes and ponds throughout the region is still highly productive as landlocked salmon, trout, char, grayling, and pike are active in relatively shallow areas near shore. Saltwater species along with sea-run char are approaching peak catches and surf-casters can find decent opportunities from most roadside ports. While dip netting for hooligan has slowed, there is still time and spots yielding success. Thus far, June is shaping up to be a great time to be out on the water.

ANCHORAGE AREA-TURNAGAIN ARM

Area Summary: As the hooligan run into Turnagain Arm and 20-Mile River is nearing the end, salmon are starting to fill the void with kings starting to appear in Ship Creek in fishable numbers and the resident species like landlocked salmon, trout, char, and grayling are still active in area lakes and ponds. Campbell and Chester creeks are closed to all fishing at this time but will open up to catch-and-release angling for rainbows and Dolly Varden starting June 15. To experience stream-type opportunities, head down to the mouths of streams between Anchorage and the Portage where sea-run Dolly Varden are making a decent appearance. As a note, Bird Creek is closed to all fishing through July 13 to protect migrating king salmon.

SHIP CREEK: With a slightly cool start to this popular downtown salmon fishery, things are finally starting to happen as kings appear in numbers and anglers are landing fish consistently around the high tide cycle. Chrome kings tipping the scales up to 32 pounds are being caught with most being in the 10- to 20-pound range. Spin-N-Glo and roe setups are responsible for most hookups but spinners are taking fish also. Though not fast-and-furious action yet, there is reasonable opportunity in this location that is up to par or even better than many spots outside of the city.

20-MILE RIVER: The hooligan run is slowing and success is fair at the road crossing; however, some boaters are reporting good catches still in upstream areas. This fishery will remain open through June 14. Dip netting along Turnagain Arm is closed for the season (as of June 1).

KENAI PENINSULA

Area Summary: If wanting to target salmon, the Kenai Peninsula is a solid option and arguably the best place on the entire road system to do so as runs elsewhere are just starting or off limits due to emergency orders. Although the streams of Anchor and Deep are shut down, there are other places to go that are seeing fairly decent numbers of both early-run kings and reds. If salmon is not the game, there are plenty of lakes to catch landlocked salmon, trout, char, and grayling, many of which are stocked by the state. Apart from the main salmon stream fisheries, most smaller creeks and rivers are closed to fishing at this time to protect spawning populations of rainbow trout; however, all of these flowing waters will open back up again on June 11 by regulation. Saltwater opportunities are also quite good at this time as king and red salmon, sea-run char, and a variety of bottomfish, including halibut, are available to surf-casters. Although not yet “hot spots” for kings, the ports of Seward and Whittier are seeing the first few hatchery fish arriving and soon to follow suit of Homer.

SEWARD/RESURRECTION BAY: Red salmon are moving through the Resurrection River marine snag fishery in generally decent numbers with some days anglers being able to limit out on six fish, other days are very slow with only a few salmon caught. The hit-and-miss action can be frustrating at times, especially if only down for a day; spend a few days and the likelihood of returning home with a full cooler greatly increases. Due to the natural day to day fluctuations of fish entering the fishery plus commercial cost recovery efforts at the head of the bay add to angler success rates. This run is expected to peak in another week to ten days. As for other area opportunities, kings are starting to appear along the beaches in front of town and may be encountered around the mouths of clearwater streams most anywhere in the bay. Sea-run Dolly Varden are most active at Lowell Point and the mouth of Tonsina Creek. A few halibut may be present in relatively shallow waters as the hooligan run is passing through on the way to Resurrection River and Salmon Creek. These locations are also decent spots right now for dip netting these smelt; fair to good catches possible. Casting for bottomfish is good from town beaches with a mixed bag of flounder, codfish, greenling, and sculpin available.

KENAI RIVER: While king salmon are returning in below average numbers and additional restrictions may fall on this fishery, red salmon are showing in catchable numbers with some anglers limiting out in the right spots. Bing’s Landing in Sterling and Swiftwater and Moose Meadows in Soldotna are all good places to go for early-run reds. These are mainly Russian River-bound fish and should peak in numbers shortly on until mid-month. Fishing for rainbows and Dolly Varden is fair to good with most effort focused on the middle river section above Naptowne Rapids. Dip netting for hooligan is slow as the run has just about ended. A number of halibut have been taken at the mouth of the river on high tides but expect this unique fishery to slow considerably with the demise of the hooligan run. As a reminder, the upper Kenai around Cooper Landing as well as all tributaries will open to fishing on June 11. Reds are starting to arrive at the mouth of the Russian as well as the lower river near the campground so worthwhile action may be at hand on the opener. (Consult the Fish Alert section on this site early next week for a special pre-season report on the Russian.)

KASILOF RIVER: Varying success has been the norm for kings on this river with boat anglers still seeing the most action, but some fish are being caught from shore too around the Crooked Creek access site, particularly early in the morning or right after high tide. Overall, expect fair to good results. Red salmon are becoming more common as the early component of this run continues to build; the majority of fish are caught incidentally to flipping for kings using flies. Targeting these fish will improve in about 10 days. A very few steelhead remain in the river but this run is practically over for now. Some resident rainbows and sea-run Dollies are present. The halibut fishing off the mouth of the river has slowed way down.

NINILCHIK RIVER: This could be one of the better locations to hook a king salmon this weekend. Although only hatchery fish may be retained (limit is 1), there is definitely enough action to keep things interesting. Expect fair to relatively very good success on the Saturday opener; the midnight to dawn slot is when most kings will be caught. Drift eggs and flies or cast spinners. Also try the incoming and outgoing tides in and around the harbor area. The last few steelhead of the fall run may still be present. A few halibut could be caught by surf-casters along Ninilchik Beach this weekend. Note: Nearby Deep Creek (as well as Anchor River) are closed to all fishing until July 15 by emergency order.

HOMER/KACHEMAK BAY: The hatchery return of kings into Dudiak Lagoon on the Homer Spit is gaining traction with anglers as the run is increasing in strength. Fair to good fishing using roe, herring, and spinners can be expected, with the incoming and outgoing tides best. Morning tides are prime. Sea-run Dolly Varden are actively feeding along the beaches of the spit with the better action taking place from Coal Point (Land’s End) north to Bishop’s Beach. Plenty of bottomfish are being caught from the end of the spit, such as flounder, codfish, and sculpin, with occasional catches of halibut.

MATANUSKA-SUSITNA VALLEYS

Area Summary: Salmon anglers do not have much in the way of options in this area with the classic king salmon streams between Willow and Talkeetna shut down by emergency order this year. However, catch-and-release fishing for kings is still allowed on the Little Susitna River but success has been poor up until this point; red salmon have also started returning here. The only spot still open for retention of king salmon is the Eklutna Tailrace where a hatchery run of these fish is building in strength; soak roe on the bottom with or without an attractor at dawn. Fishing at the tailrace this early in the season is considered best where it flows into the main Knik River channel, not the regular side channel. As for other species, landlocked salmon, trout, char, grayling, and pike are biting willingly in area lakes with good to excellent success possible in many places. As a reminder, all flowing waters within the Palmer-Wasilla zone are closed to fishing until June 15 to protect spawning rainbow trout. Check out the clearwater streams of Willow, Little Willow, Sheep, Goose, and Montana for rainbows, Dollies, and grayling if the water runs low and clear; these locations have been plagued by high and muddy water recently as a result of heavy rain in area and rapid melting of deep snowpack at the headwaters.

COPPER VALLEY-VALDEZ ARM

Area Summary: The first few king and red salmon have reached the mouths of drainages in central Copper Valley around Glennallen and Copper Center. Notably not as early as the runs last year, these fish are more or less “on time” and anglers will likely be able to connect by this weekend. The Gulkana will hold both kings and reds in small numbers and the Klutina is open for reds only (kings closed until July 1); fishing is expected to range from slow to fair as schools of salmon push through the lower reaches of these waters. To experience some good to excellent action, the spring spawning runs of grayling are still available in some of the smaller clearwater tributaries of Gulkana, Tazlina, and Copper rivers. In addition, lakes in the region harbor great fishing for landlocked salmon, trout, char, and grayling. Lake Louise is yielding trophy lake trout with peak opportunity from now on through the month. Paxson and Summit lakes are two other very productive fisheries for lake trout this time of year.

 

 

Updated Thursday, May 28, 2020

CURRENT HOT SPOTS:  ANCHOR KINGS; SEWARD REDS, DOLLIES; NINILCHIK KINGS; HOMER KINGS, DOLLIES; KASILOF KINGS; DEEP KINGS; 20-MILE HOOLIGAN

Weekly Summary: As the month of June edges closer, the salmon runs in the region are starting to ramp up with both king and red salmon showing up in numbers in a handful of locations. The rivers and streams around the Kenai Peninsula are definitely the top producers of salmon action right now but some fish are also being taken out of the Matanuska and Susitna valleys. Also, it is only a matter of days before the first salmon are caught in the drainages of Copper River. Apart from that, there is a myriad of opportunities for other species, including landlocked salmon, trout, char, grayling, and pike, with lake fishing being the attraction these days, particularly in stocked waters. However, when weather and water conditions cooperate, anglers are finding very productive sport for resident fish in clearwater streams, most notably those in the Susitna and Copper valleys. Halibut and other bottomfish are being caught along the coast of Southcentral, well within range of surf-casters targeting them. If wanting more hooligan, dip netters still have solid chances of filling coolers in a couple of spots.

ANCHORAGE AREA-TURNAGAIN ARM

Area Summary: The smaller stocked lakes in the city are yielding some very decent angling these days for resident species, especially so in early morning and evening using flies and small spoons and spinners as well as bait. This action is expected to continue at least for another week to ten days before the heat of the summer mellows the bite. The big news in the city, however, is that king salmon numbers are steadily increasing in Ship Creek with each tide producing two or three fish for the few anglers giving an honest effort. Attractor lures with bait and spinners are getting the fish. Expect this stream to be a true hot spot in another week or so as the brunt of the run arrives.

20-MILE RIVER: Good dip netting for hooligan can be had in this drainage at the head of Turnagain Arm, with best catches on the incoming and outgoing tides. Both dippers around the road crossing as well as boaters trying their luck a few miles upstream report coolers full. This fishery is open through June 14; now is the time to go as the run is already showing signs of wear in the saltwater fishery along the arm with generally fair success the norm there. As a note, dip netting for hooligan in the arm closes on June 1.

KENAI PENINSULA

Area Summary: For roadside salmon opportunities, the drainages of the southern peninsula between Kasilof and Anchor rivers are the best for this weekend and next week. Kings are returning in fair numbers to these fisheries and anglers experienced mediocre success last weekend; things should be even better this coming weekend as the inmigration of fish starts to peak. Reds are also beginning to show up in the Kenai and Kasilof rivers around Soldotna and the Resurrection River in Seward. Steelhead action is abating as fish are starting to spawn and drop out of area waters. Other resident species, such as landlocked salmon, trout, char, and grayling, are offering fast hookups in lakes and ponds. As a note, all tributaries of the Kenai River as well as a few streams on the northern peninsula are closed to fishing through June 10 to protect spawning rainbows. Sea-run Dolly Varden have largely exited overwintering locations and can now be found in numbers in nearshore waters along the gulf coast, primarily Kachemak and Resurrection bays. Some decent opportunities still exist for shallow water halibut. Dip netting for hooligan is productive in Seward but slowing on the Kenai River.

KENAI RIVER: Relatively few big kings are present here but the fishing may still be worthwhile in the tidal area as water conditions are low and relatively clear. However, if a group of kings is encountered stacked up tight in a hole, expect some very decent fishing to be had. Early-run red salmon bound for primarily Russian River are moving up in small schools and may be intercepted in several spots from near tidewater up to Bing’s Landing in Sterling; success varies from poor to fair at this time but should improve considerably by next week with limits possible. Anglers targeting rainbows and Dollies on the middle river are experiencing decent action. Dip netting for hooligan is poor to fair with most fish situated between Soldotna and the river mouth. This run is coming to an end.

KASILOF RIVER: The run of king salmon headed to Crooked Creek is starting to produce some decent catches now. Try the area just downstream of the public campground, focusing on peak high tide as fish arrive. The early morning is also a prime time to hook up. Kings are being taken both from shore and boat with fair to good success reported. A few reds are in the river but fishing for them is still very slow. Steelhead fishing is poor as the majority of fish have moved onto spawning beds. Some Dolly Varden and resident rainbows are present. Surf-casters are fairly successful catching halibut at the mouth of the river on high tide.

NINILCHIK & ANCHOR RIVERS, DEEP CREEK: Probably the most productive freshwater king salmon fisheries in the state at this time, with fair to good prospects for the weekend. Although the runs are still somewhat below normal in terms of numbers of fish coming in, prime water conditions are favoring anglers. Early morning and the tides support the best chances for success. Most fish caught thus far have been between 8 and 20 pounds but expect a few 30-pounders to show soon. On the Ninilchik, bait is legal but anglers are limited to retaining only hatchery fish; the Anchor and Deep are regulated to single-hook, unbaited, artificial lures only by emergency order. A few steelhead continue to be available. A few small halibut may be caught surf-casting at the mouth of these rivers on high tide.

HOMER/KACHEMAK BAY: The best action going here is the highly productive fishery targeting bottom fish at the end of Homer Spit at Coal Point. Various species of codfish as well as flounders and sculpins are being caught on bait and small jigs. An occasional king salmon is also possible. Sea-run Dolly Varden are reasonably abundant along the beaches of the spit with small flies and spoons resembling juvenile salmon most effective. For the best shot at salmon, however, the Dudiak Lagoon on the spit is the place to be on incoming and outgoing tides. While catch rates have been poor this spring, the current trend is more kings are coming in and anglers should see fair success by this weekend or next week. Salmon roe, herring, and spinners are all effective for these fish.

SEWARD/RESURRECTION BAY: The long-awaited run of red salmon to the Resurrection River has started. Catch rates have been slow to spotty for the past ten days but are now picking up; try the river mouth and surrounding beach area on incoming and high tide. This is predominantly a snag fishery but a few anglers may also catch them on flies in current. Expect fair to good success this weekend and early next week. A few reds will also be available by snagging at Spring Creek on Nash Road as well as the mouths of other clearwater streams draining into the bay. Anglers have caught a few hatchery king salmon bound for Seward Lagoon the last several days so the run is building. Sea-run Dolly Varden are providing good action off beaches around town, such as the mouths of Spruce Creek and Tonsina Creek and Lowell Point; use small flies and lures resembling juvenile salmon. Bottomfish can be caught using bait and jigs in deep water locations near the docks and Lowell Point Road; occasional catches of halibut possible. Hooligan are running in the lower Resurrection River and Salmon Creek, dip netters doing fair to good.

MATANUSKA-SUSITNA VALLEYS

Area Summary: While king salmon (and a few reds) are now returning to area rivers and streams, fishing for them is generally poor. Both the Little Susitna River and the mouth of Eklutna Tailrace on mainstem Knik River are reporting catches of kings, but the east-side Susitna River drainages remain closed to king fishing by emergency order. Also, the Little Susitna is a catch-and-release fishery this season, yet the tailrace receives a hatchery run of kings and will thus stay open to retention of king salmon, including the use of bait. Expect these fisheries to improve over the next ten days. For faster and more reliable success, resident species like landlocked salmon, trout, char, grayling, and pike are very active in lakes around the area. Especially the stocked waters are producing excellent catches right now. The streams between Willow and Talkeetna have been flowing high and muddy after heavy rains several days ago but are now dropping and clearing. This weekend could prove good in these locations for rainbows, Dollies, and grayling if low and clear conditions take hold.

COPPER VALLEY-VALDEZ ARM

Area Summary: Ice is off most all lakes in the Copper Valley, with the exception of the larger and deeper bodies of water such as Paxson and Summit. Expect these latter locations to be ice free within a week. Lake Louise has open water now and fishing for lake trout is very good. Many other, smaller, lakes are yielding good to excellent success as well, primarily for stocked rainbows and grayling. Clearwater streams in the area are experiencing spring spawning runs of grayling and fishing can be anywhere from mediocre to superb depending on water and weather conditions. Startup, Gunsight, Cache, Tolsona, Poplar Grove, Sourdough, Haggard, and Tulsona are all worthwhile this time of year. Down in Valdez, sea-run Dolly Varden are present in fair numbers in the port. Target them at the mouth of clearwater salmon spawning streams using small flies and lures. No reports yet of salmon being caught on the Klutina or Gulkana but a few early reds and kings should be available any day now.

 

Updated Friday, May 22, 2020

Weekly Summary: With the onset of Memorial Day weekend, anglers can anticipate opportunities to flourish for a range of species, including king and red salmon, rainbow trout, Dolly Varden, arctic grayling, and northern pike, all of which are currently available in roadside fisheries. Some of them will yield excellent catch rates the next several days, while others are just picking up steam. But one thing is for certain; the fishing season has arrived in earnest. The action has been fast-paced in most lowland lakes and ponds for resident species throughout the Southcentral region this past week and will hold steady yet for a few more before the summer heat starts to slow things down a bit. However, salmon migrations into area rivers and streams are underway in many places, foremost choice waters on the Kenai Peninsula. Additionally, sea-run char and a variety of saltwater species are to be found in numbers as well. Even hooligan are being caught in large quantities in a few locations. This weekend and next week will prove to be rewarding for those venturing out. Here is the latest information on current Hot Spots:

ANCHORAGE AREA-TURNAGAIN ARM:

Area Summary: As the first king salmon has already been landed in Ship Creek in downtown Anchorage and more fish soon to follow, anglers in this area has some solid options for the holiday weekend. Stocked lakes are teeming with landlocked salmon, trout, char, and grayling and the action has been good to excellent, especially in morning and evenings and during cloudy/drizzly days. For those wanting a bit more solitude away from city crowds may want to check out the small ponds in and around Portage. A few pike may also be located in certain spots, such as Lower Fire Lake out in Birchwood. Dip netters are still doing very well on hooligan along Turnagain Arm and 20-Mile River.

TURNAGAIN ARM/20-MILE RIVER: Netting smelt continues to be good in these waters as the run is peaking; however, the numbers of fish migrating through saltwater areas are beginning to slow somewhat, likely signaling that the run will come to an end in the near future. As a reminder, dip netting in Turnagain Arm closes by regulation on June 1. Still, the outgoing and low tides are producing plenty of fish, enough to fill buckets on some tides. The 20-Mile is seeing very productive dip netting with some locations along the river seeing excellent results with coolers full of fish. Expect this action to continue through the weekend and possibly next week before subsiding. By regulation, the 20-Mile (as well as nearby Placer River) will be open for dip netting through June 14. But other species are available along Turnagain Arm, such as Dolly Varden. These fish are building in numbers at the mouths of clearwater streams and may be worth a try on incoming and high tides using salmon eggs or small lures and flies imitating juvenile salmon.

KENAI PENINSULA:

Area Summary: This weekend represents the official opener for the king salmon season in this area as these fish are available in reasonable numbers and the lower peninsula streams of Ninilchik, Deep, and Anchor are anticipated to produce fair to good catches. Kasilof River and Dudiak Lagoon both are reporting kings being caught but in lesser numbers. Reds are starting to show in the lower Kenai as well as the Resurrection River in Seward. If not up for challenging salmon, the fishing for landlocked salmon, trout, char, and grayling is good to excellent in many spots, including the stocked lakes around Soldotna and Kenai, and in the “wild” lakes along Swanson River Road and Swan Lake Road. In addition, sea-run char are relatively abundant in peninsula saltwaters and bottomfish are increasingly active in Homer and Seward. Halibut are still a good possibility along Cook Inlet beaches. Dip netters are seeing fair catches of hooligan in lower sections of Kenai and Resurrection rivers.

KENAI RIVER: The king salmon run is slowly materializing but thus far more or less confined to the tidewater area with few fish venturing upstream at this time. While targeting kings is allowed, strict regulations are in place, including open areas and legal size retention. Reds are trickling in, presenting anglers with an opportunity, and should increase in numbers exponentially this weekend and coming week around Soldotna; expect slow to fair catch rates. Rainbow trout and Dolly Varden are presenting fair success in the middle river section. Hooligan are available in fair numbers in tidewater and right above; try outgoing and low tide.

KASILOF RIVER: The steelheading has slowed but some fish are still being caught around the Crooked Creek confluence. King salmon are present in small numbers and the run is building. Focus on the area downstream of Crooked Creek, in the “People Hole” and below, at dawn or around high tide. A few early-run reds should also be coming up. Dolly Varden heading out to sea are currently migrating through the lower river and can provide good action.

NINILCHIK AND ANCHOR RIVERS, DEEP CREEK: King salmon are here and waiting. This weekend will be the first decent shot at these fish not only on the peninsula but around the Southcentral region. Barring any heavy rains, conditions should be ideal with moderate water levels and good visibility. The ADF&G operated sonar/weir units on these streams are operating and reporting kings passing through in small numbers, but there are likely to be more fish in the lower reaches of these waters downstream of the weirs. Saturday morning will be prime time as well as around high tide. Remember, per emergency order, only single-hook, unbaited, artificial lures are allowed on the Anchor and Deep. Bait is still allowed on Ninilchik but only hatchery kings may be retained. There are also a fair number of outgoing steelhead present.

COOK INLET: The tides this weekend and into next week are ideal for targeting halibut from shore. About one hour before to two hours after high tide is the time to be out, using herring as bait. Whiskey Gulch, Ninilchik Beach, and the mouths of Kasilof and Kenai rivers are best bets. If the water is clear enough, casting small lures and flies for sea-run Dolly Varden is a good option.

HOMER/KACHEMAK BAY: While a few kings have been taken out of the Dudiak Lagoon, the fishing is still poor but expected to get better this coming week; incoming and outgoing tides are best times to try. The best opportunity in this area is for sea-run Dolly Varden, primarily along the ocean-side beaches of Homer Spit; good action is to be had using lures and flies resembling juvenile salmon. Bottomfish are getting more plentiful at the tip of the spit and the fishing can be good at times, especially around low tide.

SEWARD/RESURRECTION BAY: Sea-run Dolly Varden are providing decent sport for anglers in the bay, primarily at the mouths of clearwater streams. Spring Creek on the east side and Spruce and Tonsina on the west are all producing fair to good catches on incoming and high tides. Red salmon have started their return to Resurrection River and some fish have been snagged at the mouth of the river the last several days. The action is poor right now but could quickly improve on any tide this time of the season. No reports yet of mature kings returning to the release site in town but a few fish should be available any day. Fishing for bottomfish is fair to good in deeper locations around the bay.

MATANUSKA-SUSITNA VALLEYS:

Area Summary: Anglers in this area are experiencing the best fishing in lakes and ponds for landlocked salmon, trout, char, grayling, and pike. There are literally dozens of locations to choose from, including both stocked and “wild” waters. Action is currently rated as good to outstanding. As for salmon, there are very few options at this time for roadside anglers as the Little Susitna (catch-and-release only) and Eklutna Tailrace are open for kings; all tributaries on the east side of the Susitna River (Willow, Sheep, Montana, etc.) are closed to king fishing this year by emergency order. There have been no confirmed catches of kings but some fish are likely present in parts of these drainages. Meltwater is still coming down from the Talkeetna Mountains, driving the water levels up, temperatures down, and general turbidity in the streams between Willow and Talkeetna. Rainbow trout, Dolly Varden, and grayling are all available and will provide good action once water conditions improve, possibly later in the weekend or early next week pending no heavy rain or high air temperatures.

COPPER VALLEY-VALDEZ ARM:

Area Summary: The annual spawning runs of grayling into area waters is in full swing and the clearwater tributaries of the Tazlina, Gulkana, and Copper rivers are producing fair to excellent catches. Reliable spots include Startup, Gunsight, Cache, Tolsona, Poplar Grove, Sourdough, Haggard, and Tulsona. Some rainbows/steelhead may be present too. Additionally, area lakes are mostly to completely ice free, prompting good opportunities for a range of species, including landlocked salmon, trout, char, and grayling. The larger lakes of Louise, Paxson, and Summit are still covered with ice; do not venture out on the ice as it is rotten at this time. Expect breakup on these locations to occur in another week to two weeks.

 

Updated Thursday, May 14, 2020

Weekly Summary: The warm spring sunshine for the past 10 days has really thawed things out around the region with most lowland lakes and stream completely ice free and thus spurring plenty of fishing opportunities for trout, char, grayling, and pike, as well as landlocked salmon. While ADF&G weirs on a few select rivers are already operational, very few kings or any other salmon species have yet to show up, which is not unusual for this early in the season. However, that will change very quickly in about a week when runs start in earnest. But until that happens, anglers are doing well on resident species. Lake fishing is definitely on top of the list as far as solid action goes, yet for those wanting to sample flowing waters and saltwater opportunities, a fair number of options are available there too. Additionally, dip netting for hooligan is productive in a couple of locations.

ANCHORAGE AREA-TURNAGAIN ARM:

Area Summary: All lakes in this area are free of ice and producing good catches of landlocked salmon, rainbow trout, arctic char, and grayling. Due to the bright sunshine recently, most successful anglers go in early morning and evening. Small lures, flies, and bait are all working depending on species, location, and time of day. The only place for salmon is Ship Creek, which has yet to officially document the first king of the year but it is only a matter of days before that changes, perhaps even hours. < UPDATE: The first king salmon of the 2020 season was caught on the tide, Sunday, May 17. > The streams down along Turnagain Arm are generally flowing high with meltwater but sea-run Dolly Varden are available in small numbers off the mouths of these drainages. Dip netting for hooligan between Kern Creek and 20-Mile River along the arm is good with some tides and locations being fair and others excellent; the run is probably peaking and should stay productive for another ten days. Catches of hooligan on the 20-Mile River is picking up.

KENAI PENINSULA:

Area Summary: Also here the lake fishing is top notch with landlocked salmon, rainbows, Dollies, arctic char, and grayling biting on a range of lures and bait. Mornings and evenings are generally better times to go. Stocked waters around the towns of Soldotna, Kenai, and Sterling are yielding good catches at this time as are the lakes and ponds on the northern peninsula, such as those along Swanson River Road and Kenai Spur Highway. The highland and alpine lakes around Cooper Landing and Seward are mostly to partially ice free depending on location. While the middle and upper stretches of the Kenai River and all drainage tributary streams are closed to fishing at this time, the lower Kenai, all of Kasilof, and streams around Seward are open to fishing. A small number of kings are present in the Kenai and Kasilof rivers and runs are building. A few kings are also present in the lower peninsula streams of Ninilchik, Deep, and Anchor; however, only the Anchor will open to fishing starting this Saturday, May 16; expect king salmon action to be slow as water is high, murky, and cold and the run just starting. Also, only single-hook, unbaited, artificial lures are allowed, no bait. Ninilchik and Deep will open to kings and other species on Memorial Day weekend. Going for steelhead, sea-run Dollies, and halibut are great options too this weekend. Hooligan are running in the Kenai River as well.

KENAI RIVER: King salmon are slowly increasing in numbers, mainly in the tidal area, but both action as well as angler effort has been scant thus far. A few red salmon should be present any day now if not already. Be informed of new regulations and restrictions for the drainage concerning kings. Rainbow trout, Dolly Varden, and occasional catches of steelhead are being made in spots, mainly from Slikok Creek confluence upstream to Bing’s Landing; expect fair success. Dip netting for hooligan is productive at the river mouth and a few miles up, with the outgoing and low tide being best.

KASILOF RIVER: A small number of king salmon are available here but catching is poor. A few have been taken by drift boats yet no solid reports of any fish caught by anglers casting off the bank. At this time, targeting steelhead is the best idea, mainly around the Crooked Creek confluence. Although the action for these sea-run rainbows is starting to drop off a bit, it is still worth the effort. Dolly Varden and resident rainbows are becoming more prevalent.

COOK INLET: Surf-casting for shallow water halibut is at its peak around the beaches of the inlet now through the next 10 days and anglers are tagging fish weighing anywhere from 5 to 20 pounds with occasional bigger catches. Herring bait is performing best right now. Tides are not very large this weekend so could prove better in some spots, less so in others. Whiskey Gulch, the mouths of Kasilof and Kenai rivers, and Nikiski Beach are all worthwhile locations this time of season. Gearing down and going for sea-run char is also an option; look for schools of fish feeding near the surf.

KACHEMAK BAY: Casting off Coal Point at the end of the spit for bottomfish has been fair to good recently. Low tide is generally best but high tides can produce nice fish too, including true cod as well as an occasional halibut. Sea-run Dolly Varden are present and anglers are experiencing good success casting smolt imitation flies and lures, best stretch being from the point and up the ocean side of the beach towards town. King salmon are starting to show up in small numbers, headed for Dudiak Lagoon. Best bet for kings is on an incoming and outgoing tide at the lagoon using herring or lures.

RESURRECTION BAY: Targeting sea-run Dolly Varden along the beaches around town is fair to good and improving. Check out the mouths of clearwater streams emptying into the bay, such as Lowell, Spruce, Tonsina, Scheffler, Alice, and Spring creeks. Use flies and lures resembling juvenile salmon. No word yet on hatchery king salmon showing up at the head of the bay but there are feeder kings present, mainly in deeper waters. The first few red salmon of the season are likely heading up the Resurrection River right now; catching them, however, can be problematic until numbers increase in about ten days. The hatchery site at Bear Lake generally sees the first of these early arrivals the third or fourth week of this month. Surf-casting for bottomfish is fair to good in deeper spots; use herring.

MATANUSKA-SUSITNA VALLEYS:

Area Summary: All lakes in the lowland areas around Palmer, Wasilla, and Willow are ice free and producing good catches of resident species such as landlocked salmon, rainbow trout, Dolly Varden, grayling, and pike. Check the ADF&G website for scheduled stockings in select waters. Warm weather has slowed the bite for trout, char, and grayling on the eastside Susitna tributaries as these streams are currently running high and muddy from mountain snowmelt. As the melt finishes or cooler weather prevails, the water will clear and drop and action heat up. For now, targeting drainages associated with lakes and marshlands is a good idea for the Susitna area, in particular Caswell, Sunshine, and Rabideux. No reports of kings having been caught yet on the Little Susitna River and the Eklutna Tailrace but a few early fish should be present by this weekend. Hooligan are entering the Susitna River but have not made it as far upstream as the roadside access points; give it another week, maybe ten days.

COPPER VALLEY-VALDEZ ARM:

Area Summary: Some of the smaller lakes and ponds in this area have enough open water to allow opportunities to catch trout and grayling, but the larger, deeper lakes are still firmly locked in ice; wait until the first week of June. In the meantime, anglers should scout the smaller clearwater tributaries of the Copper, Gulkana, and Tazlina drainages for schools of spawn-bound grayling. If the water is clear and not too high, the action can be very good this time of year. Spots to sample include Startup, Cache, Tolsona, Poplar Grove, Sourdough, Haggard, and Tulsona. A few rainbows/steelhead may be caught also. Sea-run Dolly Varden are being hooked on the Robe River near Valdez with some fish now present in Port Valdez saltwater; search out mouths of clearwater streams.

 

Updated Friday, May 8, 2020

Weekly Summary: Several days of temperatures in the upper 50s and 60s throughout the Southcentral region has helped speed the snowmelt in higher elevations and put a very light sheen of green on trees and brush in the lowlands. Water temperatures are also increasing, which means the landlocked salmon, trout, char, and grayling bite will improve drastically in lakes and streams. While there have been no reports yet of salmon being caught in freshwater, it is only a matter of a few days before that changes. Also, mature spawn-bound kings are now present in marine waters along southern Kenai Peninsula and a few of these fish will likely head up area rivers over the weekend. However, the main attraction at this time are the lake fishing opportunities and anglers can expect good to excellent action. For those wanting to target hooligan, Turnagain Arm and the mouths of Kenai and 20-Mile rivers are producing decent catches.

ANCHORAGE AREA-TURNAGAIN ARM:

Area Summary: Fishing in stocked lakes is good at this time for resident species and should stay productive well into June; as a note, check the ADF&G website for scheduled stockings in select waters. Campbell and Chester creeks are closed to fishing until June 15 to protect spawning trout but a few sea-run Dolly Varden are present at the mouths of clearwater streams in Turnagain Arm. No reports of king salmon having been caught in Ship Creek at the time of this writing but that is expected to change this weekend or next week. As a reminder, the “First Ship King” contest is being held and the lucky angler to record that first catch in this downtown stream will win a prize courtesy of The Bait Shack. One of the best opportunities right now is dip netting hooligan at the east end of Turnagain Arm between Girdwood and Portage. Anywhere from Peterson Creek to the 20-Mile River should produce fair to good catches of these silvery smelt. This run will likely peak starting next week with excellent dipping possible. The hooligan run up the 20-Mile is taking shape and getting better by the day.

KENAI PENINSULA:

Area Summary: Lake fishing is fair to excellent for rainbow trout and Dolly Varden as waters are largely ice free and warming. The lowland lakes around the Kenai-Soldotna area as well Cooper Landing and along Kenai Spur Highway and Swanson River Road are recommended. Additionally, the smaller lakes and ponds in the Seward area harbors fair to good action for sea-run Dolly Varden. But there are also limited opportunities in rivers and streams and saltwater areas, as described in more detail below. Please note that all tributary streams in the Kenai River drainage and elsewhere are closed to fishing at this time to protect spawning trout; they will reopen on June 15. The lower Kenai Peninsula streams of Ninilchik, Deep, and Anchor will open to king salmon and other species in another week to two weeks, depending on location. Dudiak Lagoon in Homer should see the first king caught any day now and the Kenai and Kasilof rivers are sure to follow. Surf-casting for halibut along Cook Inlet beaches is worth the time and effort.

KENAI RIVER: Anglers are connecting with a fair number of rainbows and Dollies on the lower and middle sections of the river and even a few steelhead are being caught in the vicinity of Slikok Creek and Funny River. Although no confirmed catches of king salmon, a few of these fish have reportedly entered the river. Be informed of new regulations and restrictions for the drainage concerning kings. Hooligan are entering the mouth and lower sections of the Kenai in fair numbers with the run building daily. Dip netting can be productive in the tidal area with good catches possible by the weekend or next week.

KASILOF RIVER: For spring steelhead, this is the spot to be. Action is not directly hot but can be relatively decent to mediocre in the stretch of water around Crooked Creek. A few resident rainbows and sea-run Dollies are also present. No confirmed catches of king salmon yet but a few “rollers” have been sighted in the section of water from the People Hole down through tidewater. Anglers feeling up to the challenge of hooking a king should hit an hour before to two hours after high tide, preferably in early morning.

COOK INLET: As hooligan runs are progressing up along the beaches of the inlet, halibut are present in the shallows too to feed on these oil-rich smelt. There are some very large tides this weekend so anglers should be aware of this fact if driving their vehicles out on the beaches ahead of the tide coming in. Whiskey Gulch and the mouth of Kasilof River are relative hot spots but fish may be found at Clam Gulch, the Kenai River mouth, and Nikiski Beach as well.

KACHEMAK BAY: Sea-run Dolly Varden are now available along the Homer Spit with fair to good catches being made, especially at the end of the spit and the southern shoreline. The fish are feeding in the surf so particularly long casts are not necessary. Bottomfish are starting to show and being caught on pieces of herring and squid; flounders, codfish, and pollock are there in fair numbers. A few king salmon bound for Dudiak Lagoon cruise through the area on the tides.

MATANUSKA-SUSITNA VALLEYS:

Area Summary: Recent warm weather has created somewhat high and turbid water conditions in some streams along the Parks Highway as snow melts in higher elevations, but as water drops and clears expect good catches to be made for rainbows, Dollies, and grayling. Willow, Little Willow, Sheep, Goose, and Montana are all solid prospects this time of year with the mouths and lower reaches usually being best. However, if muddy water persists, try one of the lake-based or lowland drainages, such as Caswell and Rabideux, which will have clear water. For the most reliable bite right now, however, the lakes throughout the area are difficult to beat as the ice is gone and fish are getting aggressive as waters warm up. Landlocked salmon, trout, char, grayling, and pike are all available and offer good to excellent success. Check the ADF&G website for scheduled stockings in select waters. There are no reports yet of king salmon in the Little Susitna River or Eklutna Tailrace but more than likely there are a few scouts around; note that the Susitna River drainage within Unit 2 is closed to all king salmon fishing this season by emergency order, including catch-and-release.

COPPER VALLEY-VALDEZ ARM:

Area Summary: Rivers and streams in the valley are flowing and grayling are just starting their spawning runs into some of them. Look for the bite to improve next week as water warms and numbers of fish increase. Startup, Cache, Tolsona, Poplar Grove, Sourdough, and Haggard are all worth a try. Lake fishing opportunities are still an option in this area, mainly larger waters at higher elevations where ice is present. Although lakes in the lowland may still have ice cover, it is not safe to venture out on. As soon as enough open water is present, the bite is on for trout and char. The smaller lakes along Glenn Highway and Lake Louise Road will produce catches very shortly. However, the larger bodies of water, such as Louise, Paxson, and Summit, will not be fishable in open water until last week of May or early June. Robe and Lowe rivers in Valdez are seeing fair success for sea-run Dolly Varden.

 

 

Updated Friday, May 1, 2020

Weekly Summary: With a long, cold winter finally behind us, spring has taken hold and things are starting to happen in a few open water locales around the region. Many lowland and coastal lakes and ponds are shedding ice with limited opportunities for trout, char, and grayling, yet remain frozen at higher altitudes in mountainous areas. Rivers and streams are flowing both north and south of Anchorage yielding a sparse selection of activity for resident species providing water conditions are right. Also to consider are the annual spring closures in many flowing waters to protect spawning rainbows, particularly on the Kenai Peninsula and in and around urban areas such as Anchorage, Palmer, and Wasilla. In angling terms, there are few true “Hot Spots” this time of the year but still enough places to fish to keep it interesting and the next couple of weeks will see a rapid development angling wise as things warm up and additional species become available.

ANCHORAGE AREA-TURNAGAIN ARM:

It is still a little early for productive stream fishing in this area as some waters are closed to fishing until June 15 and Ship Creek is probably another ten days away from seeing the first king salmon of the season landed. A few Dolly Varden may be present at the mouths of streams draining into Turnagain Arm and hooligan are starting to show between Peterson Creek and 20-Mile River; however, good dip netting is still about a week to ten days off, this in stark contrast to last year when smelt began arriving on April 7 with excellent dipping already by the last week of the month. As for lakes, there is enough open water along the edges to provide some potential for stocked species; give it another week or two for the bite to improve.

KENAI PENINSULA:

Many rivers and streams on the peninsula are already closed to fishing during the rainbow/steelhead trout spawning season and not due to open back up until Memorial Day weekend (southern peninsula) or June 11 (central peninsula). The two rivers that are open right now include lower Kenai and Kasilof where mainly rainbows, pre-spawning steelhead, and out-migrating sea-run Dolly Varden are available (see below). Lakes in the area are open to fishing and some action is taking place for rainbows, landlocked salmon, and Dollies; many of them still have some degree or another of ice cover with open water along the edges, yet a few are largely ice free. Preacher Pond in Seward is a decent spot for sea-run char from now on until mid-month and these fish are also available off the spit in Homer. If wanting to target saltwater species, halibut can be caught from shore in small numbers along Cook Inlet.

KENAI RIVER: With the upper and parts of the middle reaches of the river closed during the trout spawn, anglers are effectively rendered to the lower section of water downstream of Killey River to Cook Inlet. Action is currently spotty to fair for rainbows and Dollies with most catches being made higher up in the drainage from Bing’s Landing to the lower mouth of Killey. Another hit-and-miss opportunity would be for steelhead, such as near or around the mouths of Funny River and Slikok Creek; some days and times it can be quite rewarding. Historically, king salmon start entering the tidewater area about the first of May but do not expect much catching to be going on until around the 15th as numbers build. Hooligan are arriving at the mouth of the river and dipping is fair.

KASILOF RIVER: This is the premier spot for steelhead every spring with anglers doing fair at present time. The area around the mouth of Crooked Creek harbors the most activity but fish can be caught anywhere from the outlet of Tustumena Lake to Cook Inlet. These fish are still in relatively good shape and heading to spawning grounds in Crooked Creek and other tributary streams in late May and early June. Some sea-run char and a few resident rainbows are also present. No reports yet of king salmon having been caught but should be any day now.

COOK INLET: For a change of pace, halibut are moving into shallow water chasing hooligan and herring and other baitfish and now is a prime time to target them by surfcasting. The month of May and into June can yield relatively good action from Nikiski Beach down along the coast to Anchor Point. Fresh frozen whole or chunks of herring fished on the bottom on a high tide is the way to connect with flatfish typically weighing 5 to 20 pounds with an occasional larger specimen to 40 pounds or more. Whiskey Gulch and the mouth of Kasilof River are productive at this time.

MATANUSKA-SUSITNA VALLEYS:

With flowing waters in the Wasilla/Palmer zone being closed to fishing until June 15, the better bet is to focus on area lakes that are in the process of shedding ice. Many of them still have a good ice cover but some are starting to see enough open water along the edges to be able to fish effectively. Trout, char, grayling, pike, and landlocked salmon are available. If wanting to sample stream action, the tributaries of the Susitna River from Willow to Talkeetna may be worth a shot. Ice is slowly eroding and washing out on the mainstem Susitna but the mouths of Willow, Little Willow, Sheep, Goose, and Montana all have the potential of producing some decent action this time of the season. While success is largely pending on water clarity, temperature, and location, anglers typically do fair to good on rainbows, Dollies, and grayling. It all depends on degree of meltwater and turbidity; prime spot would be relatively low and clear, which changes by the day right now but at least the fish are there.

COPPER VALLEY-VALDEZ ARM:

The majority of lakes as well as streams in this area still support winter conditions with ice being prevalent but often rotting. However, some of the larger lakes still support decent ice fishing opportunities for lake trout and burbot; Lake Louise, Paxson, and Summit lakes are all worthwhile (remember that single hook, no bait restrictions are in effect). A few of the warmer tributaries of the Copper and Gulkana are seeing open water and it will not be long before grayling and a few rainbows can be had. For a better open-water option, head on to Valdez and the Lowe River, which is currently flowing low and somewhat clear but ice free. Dolly Varden are present and being caught in small numbers with fair success typical; try from Keystone Canyon down several miles. Sea-run char will soon also be available in Robe River as fish migrate from Robe Lake to Port Valdez for the summer.

 

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