The most productive roadside fisheries this week:
Updated Thursday, September 23, 2021
CURRENT HOT SPOTS: KENAI RAINBOWS, DOLLIES; SUSITNA RAINBOWS, GRAYLING; CHULITNA RAINBOWS, GRAYLING; GULKANA RAINBOWS, GRAYLING
Weekly Summary: Anglers in Southcentral are still reeling after what appears to be an early onset of winter weather conditions, not only in form of snow but well below average temperatures. This has impacted waters to some extent, such as ice developing on ponds and smaller lakes and streams in highland and mountainous areas, while more coastal locations have remained relatively warm enough to support open water opportunities for another few weeks at least. Fishing for resident species is holding up quite well in all parts of the region, but the salmon fishing has faltered a bit lately as the expected bonanza of late silver runs to primarily the Kenai Peninsula have not materialized yet with catches being sporadic and conservative. With the last week of September already here and October looming closer, the fishing opportunities will soon again evolve even further from the norms of the summer season and take on a very distinct late autumn feel not only in terms of weather and temperature but species availability and the limited number of productive locations.
ANCHORAGE AREA-TURNAGAIN ARM
Area Summary: The majority of roadside angling efforts these days are centered around the stocked lakes in the area and the good action they provide for landlocked salmon, trout, char, and grayling. Fishing is normally good this time of the year and should stay so until freeze-up. There is some added opportunity in the middle and upper reaches of both Campbell and Chester creeks for rainbows and Dollies as well; look for spawning salmon and there will likely be trout and char right behind them. Although Campbell is open to fishing for silver salmon, very few bright specimens are to be found; as a reminder, the silver season here closes October 1. Ship Creek has a few quality silvers coming in too but targeting them can be a challenge in the expanse of tidewater. For salmon, the best option is Portage Creek, where a small number of fresh and semi-bright silvers are to be found, primarily in the middle section of the stream near and along Portage Glacier Road; the mouth of the creek is slow but a few fish are coming in on the tides still. Eggs fished on the bottom is a great trick on Portage in getting silvers. Other area streams that may see a few silvers on the tides include Bird, Glacier, and Ingram.
Area Summary: For variety of species and locations to consider, the peninsula is probably the best area in the Southcentral region for good, consistent action. There are a great number of lakes on the northern and central portion that contain chiefly trout and char but some also have populations of grayling and landlocked salmon, all of which support excellent fishing at this time and should continue to be productive through the month and October too. The streams of central peninsula do have trout and char available but the main show is quickly shifting to the mainstem Kenai River as the weather cools and salmon finish spawning in the tributaries. While some steelhead have been caught in the southern waters of Ninilchik, Deep, Stariski, and Anchor, the runs have proved less stellar as of this report but could very well improve very shortly; silver salmon are entering these streams in reduced numbers with runs coming to an end in the next week or two. Kenai and Kasilof rivers are still waiting for the autumn silver runs to begin in earnest, although some fish are available right now. Swanson River has silvers available in the middle reaches with some fish continuing to arrive on the tides. The marine salmon fisheries are more or less done for the year with Seward and Whittier both seeing few catches of silvers, but there is some opportunity in Resurrection River for this weekend and next. Surf-casting for bottomfish is slow to fair along the coast as saltwater species move to deeper, offshore waters for the winter.
UPPER KENAI RIVER: As anglers await the bulk of late-run silver salmon, the best option right now is to focus on the great rainbow trout and Dolly Varden action available. There is a plethora of eggs and flesh in the water from the king and red spawn so that usually dictates what is working best; however, if the bite is slow from the glut of food present, mix it up and throw forage patterns to attract attention. Expect the action to continue being good to excellent for another two weeks before subsiding. Concerning salmon fishing, the late run of reds is done for the season (an occasional bright specimen is still possible into October) and the early run of silvers likewise save for a few darker specimens lingering at the mouths of clearwater tributaries. The late run of silvers has yet to hit the lower river in full force so it will likely be a while yet before they start showing in solid numbers around here, but there are small numbers of chrome fish showing in slack water areas with fair action possible. Nearby Russian River has a few remnant early-run silvers left; the season ends September 30.
LOWER/MIDDLE KENAI RIVER: The best fishing on the river right now is for rainbows and Dollies, both of which provide good to excellent opportunities from Bing’s Landing up to the outlet of Skilak Lake. Egg and flesh imitations are popular offerings but other forage patterns show equal results these days. The hot autumn bite will likely persist for another two to three weeks. Although no solid reports confirm the presence of steelhead in the river yet this season, there are likely a few present. Late-run silvers have been slow coming in with anglers reporting sporadic catches from tidewater up to Skilak Lake. Overall, the action can be described as fair with occasional limits at right time and place. Focus effort on slow moving water such as holes and mouths of sloughs and channels at dawn using eggs and spinners. Hopefully the fish will show up in greater numbers soon. As for reds, a trickle of bright or semi-bright fish are typically present through the month but actually targeting these rare specimens is not worth it.
Area Summary: Colder air and intermittent freezing rain and snow showers are dominating the scene here weather wise, yet there are absolutely opportunities on hand for some very good days of fishing, in particular the tributaries of Susitna River for trout and grayling, but the lakes in the area support some intense action for multiple resident species from now on leading up to winter. The seasonal migration to overwintering areas is ongoing for many species having spent the warmer months in the upper reaches of clearwater streams and they are still feeding aggressively during this period. September can be a volatile month for many anglers pursuing trout, char, and grayling in flowing waters as high water events are common, leaving small windows of time here and there when the fishing is great. Concerning salmon, area runs have just about ceased for this year, although a few relatively nice silvers may be caught on occasion in some streams (like Jim Creek) up until next month; most fish, however, are in spawning mode. As has been mentioned in earlier reports, the mainstem glacial drainages of Susitna, Talkeetna, Matanuska, and Knik do support late-spawning populations of red, chum, and silver salmon, of which fresh specimens may still be encountered in certain places.
SUSITNA RIVER: The recent drastic temperature drop has had an effect on the fishing in the tributaries of this system. Fish are on the move and currently situated in the lower reaches of Willow, Little Willow, Sheep, Goose, and Montana creeks and will soon drop out into the mainstem Susitna for the winter. The next two weeks will offer very good angling opportunities for rainbows and grayling with some Dollies in the mix too, as long as the water stays low and clear. If the streams appear to fish slow, try the mouths. Schools of whitefish are present in some spots, such as Willow, Little Willow, Kashwitna, and Sheep. Look for burbot to yield good fishing anywhere there is slow moving or still water around the mouths of Montana, Sheep, and Kashwitna. The mainstem Talkeetna is starting to drop and clear and should be a good producer of trout, grayling, and char from now on into October. A small number of semi-bright to light blush late-run chums and silvers are present from the mouth of Montana upstream to Sunshine, and in the lower Talkeetna River.
CHULITNA RIVER: As long as weather and water conditions cooperate, anglers will find rainbows and grayling along with whitefish in clearwater streams draining into this normally glacial system. Lower East Fork Chulitna and Byers are two productive spots to connect with rainbows right now, while grayling are active in Troublesome, Honolulu, and East Fork. As fish normally school up this time of the season, scout around for concentrations of fish. Schools of whitefish may be encountered in the East Fork as well. Salmon are spawning in this area with very few quality fish to be had.
COPPER VALLEY-VALDEZ ARM
Area Summary: With significant snowfall and overnight temperatures in the low teens ruling this part of the Southcentral region, anglers may find it challenging accessing some of the better waters this weekend going forward. Smaller lakes and streams are in the early stages of freeze-up but the larger bodies of water, such as Louise, Paxson, and Summit, will be ice free for quite some time still. There is still some productive fishing to be had for principally grayling and rainbows in area rivers and that should continue for another few weeks. Catches of steelhead trout is a possibility too as about a half dozen waters are known to have spawning populations of these fish, the northernmost range of the species on the continent. Salmon fishing is a little sketchy as the late red runs are ending and the silver runs not quite up to par as of yet. The Tonsina River typically has a nice run of silvers and there are some of these fish also present in the Klutina as well as in tributaries of the Chitina. Port Valdez, however, is still seeing chrome silvers arriving, albeit in small numbers as the runs there are slowing down and should wrap up completely before long. The late runs of pinks and chums are finishing up the spawn around the head of the port.
GULKANA RIVER: Anglers wanting the last of some terrific open water opportunities for grayling will find it here. The fish are currently migrating towards overwintering areas in drainage lakes and are in a feeding frenzy, especially so from the outlet of Paxson Lake on down several miles. Rainbow trout and a few steelhead are present too, the latter mainly downstream of West Fork. The middle section upstream of the rapids is still yielding a few nice red salmon but overall expect this run to be done shortly; a trickle of fish often continues to arrive well into October, however. An important note here is that access may be a big issue as snow depth increases from winter storms in the area.
TONSINA RIVER: Silver salmon along with a few reds may be found here. Although the run is not particularly large, silvers are moving up the river in decent numbers and anglers can successfully target them in holes on the lower and middle river. Most fish are semi-bright to light blush and will strike eggs. Expect generally fair to sometimes good action. The late-run reds are far more fickle and at the tail end of their appearance. Fishing for Dolly Varden and grayling is fair to good in the lower Little Tonsina River, a clearwater tributary.
PORT VALDEZ: Fishing for silvers from shore in the port has dropped off significantly since last weekend. There is still a small number of fresh salmon coming in but this run will for all practical purposes be over as October rolls around; however, expect a few bright specimens to be present for several weeks still. A few schools of fish persist and—when located—can yield some intense but short-lived action. The harbor and Dock Point area are seeing sporadic decent catches, as is the stretch of water between Allison Point and the fish hatchery along Dayville Road. Limits are possible if persistent and lucky enough to be in the right spot at the right time. Also, many of the silvers are turning color with about half being blush to one degree or another, yet chrome fish remain available. Robe River on the outskirts of town has a good run that is ongoing; most fish are blush but there are enough bright silvers left to make it worthwhile.
Updated Thursday, September 15, 2021
CURRENT HOT SPOTS: VALDEZ SILVERS; KENAI SILVERS, RAINBOWS, DOLLIES; SUSITNA RAINBOWS, GRAYLING; UPPER KENAI RAINBOWS, DOLLIES; CHULITNA RAINBOWS, GRAYLING; RUSSIAN SILVERS, RAINBOWS, DOLLIES; GULKANA REDS, RAINBOWS, GRAYLING
Weekly Summary: While the number of hot spots and accompanying species has dropped off a bit from only a week or two ago, the ones that are still producing fish are really worth the time and effort to explore and enjoy. Cooler weather has settled over the South Central region, particularly so in locations inland and at higher elevations, but this has only promoted the action and making this weekend and next week to be the perfect time to be out on the water. Rainbow and lake trout, Dolly Varden, Arctic char, landlocked salmon, Arctic grayling, whitefish, burbot, and pike are all quarries yielding good or better opportunities right now. Salmon are not done yet as the late runs of silvers are just getting started and a couple of the local marine fisheries still producing nice catches of fish. Even the reasonable chance of catching late-run reds exists for those that did not get enough fish last summer. Another bonus of the fall season is the opening up of more obscure opportunities, such as the mainstem of glacial rivers in the region that flow high and silty in summer but drop and clear up in late September and October, providing some worthwhile action for mainly trout, char, grayling, and/or burbot with the added potential of even hooking reasonably fresh, late-run salmon.
ANCHORAGE AREA-TURNAGAIN ARM
Area Summary: Roadside salmon anglers in this area do not have much time left to catch decent color silvers as readily accessible runs are quickly tapering off, leaving the only opportunity being a virtual handful of stragglers in local waters. Ship and Campbell creeks do have a very few bright and semi-bright specimens available but expect slow activity from now on through the rest of the season. Down along Turnagain Arm, small schools or a few individual silvers continue to show on the tides in Bird, Glacier, and Ingram creeks and are typically present for another week or two most years; although limits are possible, most anglers will go home fishless or with only one catch. Portage Creek has the latest run on the road system and is yielding some nice bright and semi-bright silvers in spots in the middle section of water from the mouth of Railroad Creek up to near Williwaw Creek. Those anglers hiking in or employing a light watercraft will stand the best chances of hooking up with limits common. There are also late runs of silvers on nearby 20-Mile and Placer rivers; however, a boat is necessary to reach choice areas holding fish. The best and most practical option for good to excellent fishing at this time is to try one of the many stocked lakes around the city, in Chugiak, or Portage Valley; landlocked salmon, trout, char, and grayling abound.
Area Summary: As the late runs of kings and reds and the early runs of silvers are wrapping it up for the season through the reproductive cycle, anglers are eagerly anticipating the late runs of silvers to arrive in force on the Kenai and Kasilof rivers. While the Kenai has a long history of being a great producer of silvers in autumn, the Kasilof has less notoriety in this category but certainly not for a lack of fish. Anglers with the means to reach the most prolific stretches of silver salmon water are in for some hot action once the run arrives, with matching potential for some good steelhead action at the same time. The lower peninsula streams of Anchor, Stariski, Deep, and Ninilchik are seeing the last of the silver runs but have yet to realize any greater influence of steelhead trout at this time with fishing reported to be slow; mid- to late September is typically the time for peak in-migration from the salt and anglers are hopeful that the next week to ten days could improve the numbers of fish showing up. Resurrection Bay had a very good run of silvers this year and some nice fish are around still in some spots, enough to be worth giving it a try. Passage Canal is giving up some silvers to shore anglers but there has not been much reported in terms of consistently productive fishing from that location as of yet. The mainstem of the middle and upper Kenai River are continuing to experience phenomenal catches of trout and char while area lakes are seeing a marked uptick in activity from landlocked salmon, trout, char, and grayling as waters cool. The wild trout lakes along Swanson River Road are almost legendary the last two weeks of September. As for saltwater species, surf-casters may encounter some decent action yet for non-sporting fish but halibut and rockfish are becoming far less likely as the season progresses.
RESURRECTION BAY/SEWARD: While the saltwater opportunities for silver salmon has dropped by a considerable margin the last ten days, there exists some very decent action yet in certain spots at times. Chrome and semi-bright fish are still present throughout the bay, particularly at the mouths of streams on an early morning tide. Scheffler, Spruce, and Tonsina creeks are seeing varying numbers of fish arriving or passing through on a daily basis. Spinners work well but some anglers opt for the snagging method. This is likely the last weekend of reasonable success in the salt before area runs really slow down. The lower section of Resurrection River can be highly productive for silvers this time of the season as waters begin to drop and clear up; search stretches of water of the center and west channels downstream of the Seward Highway. Expect most silvers to be semi-bright to light blush. Occasional catches of fresh reds and pinks is possible. As for bottomfish, codfish and a few lingering halibut and rockfish may be present along the boulder strewn shoreline of Lowell Point Road.
UPPER KENAI RIVER: The rainbow trout and Dolly Varden bite is on fire and anglers are seeing excellent catches throughout the length of river from Kenai Lake outlet to Skilak Lake inlet; however, many opt to float the lower section from Sportman’s Landing on down, citing more reliable action. If the bite slows due to egg and flesh glut in the water, mix it up by presenting forage flies or other patterns to spark interest. Late-run kings and reds are actively spawning and dying but should be largely cleared out in the next week to ten days. Silver salmon fishing is fair to good with most catches being semi-bright or very light blush fish but there are a few chromers coming through yet. Sight-fishing for migrating silvers off the gravel bars using streamers is effective. A very few fresh reds continue to be available.
RUSSIAN RIVER: The silver salmon run is yielding some fair to good fishing right now but signs are that the run will soon fade with less bright fish entering the river and more blush specimens showing up. Try the holes and runs downstream of the campground at the river mouth at first light for best chances. With the late-run reds finishing up the spawn, the rainbows and Dollies are beginning to back out into the Kenai River, but there is still some fair to good success to be had, particularly around the Sanctuary area. Beads and flesh flies work.
LOWER/MIDDLE KENAI RIVER: Fishing for rainbow trout and Dolly Varden is considered excellent between Bing’s Landing and the outlet of Skilak Lake, with egg and flesh flies responsible for most catches, yet forage flies can do very well too, especially so on the char. The action will likely continue through the month as late-run kings and reds are still spawning and dying off, providing resident species with loads of nutrition and anglers with clues on what to use. The Soldotna area is seeing far less catches of trout these days. As for salmon, late-run silvers have begun entering the river on the tides in fair numbers with some fish available as far upstream as Sterling and beyond. This weekend and next week could potentially experience a significant push of silvers as runs on the peninsula have been doing well this season—good to excellent success may be in store for anglers very shortly. Although the late run of reds is almost done for the year, a few bright and semi-bright specimens may be hooked on occasion.
KASILOF RIVER: As the early-run, tributary silvers have largely moved out of the river save for the mouths of spawning streams, the late run is starting to be noticed and should only improve as the month progresses. While the lower river does harbor some limited action following the tides, the late run is better targeted in the upper section in slower and deeper water around the rapids on up. A boat or raft comes in very useful in reaching the best spots but anglers hiking in from Tustumena Lake Road may be able to participate in this quiet autumn fishery as well. Work lures slowly and methodically through likely holding water; look for fish breaching the surface. The action is currently fair and expected to be good or better by next week. This is also the time of the month to start finding steelhead, which are arriving on the tides and quickly working their way into the middle and upper river; large corkies or beads and plugs work best. Fishing for Dolly Varden is fair.
Area Summary: With the advent of autumn comes the challenge of finding favorable fishing conditions and locations between the typical downpours and subsequent high and muddy water, a particularly common theme for anglers focusing their activity on one of several tributary streams of the Susitna River. But when conditions are right in the right spot, the action can be very memorable as populations of trout, char, and grayling appear more prolific than most any other time of the year. As area streams cool off and water levels drop, resident species are found migrating toward overwintering grounds and often very enthusiastic in striking anglers’ offerings. The middle and lower sections of these streams are where fish concentrate as they are vacating the headwaters anticipating eventual freeze-up. Also, silver salmon are starting to spawn and thus providing for increased opportunities for hungry resident fish. Area lakes are in the process of turning over, which sparks a feeding frenzy for the aforementioned species—expect excellent fishing into October in many if not most locations. As for targeting ocean-run salmon, opportunities are slim as most runs have ended and fish have either finished spawning or are somewhere in the final stages of the life cycle. However, the glacial systems of Chulitna, Talkeetna, Susitna, Matanuska, and Knik may yield fresh specimens through the month and even into October in some places as the cool weather halts the flow of silt and high volume of water, resulting in relatively low and clear stream conditions that are favorable to anglers.
SUSITNA RIVER: When water and weather conditions cooperate, fishing is often good to excellent for rainbow trout and grayling in tributaries of the glacial Susitna. Willow, Little Willow, Sheep, Goose, and Montana creeks all hold potential for some great catches, as does the Kashwitna River when silt flows halt and stream levels drop. Try a variety of offerings, including the standard egg and flesh patterns if spawning salmon are around, but do not neglect insect or forage patterns if the bite seems off. Look for the middle and soon the lower stretches of these waters to hold the most fish. Schools of whitefish are often encountered at the mouths of these streams as they head upstream to spawning areas. Burbot fishing can be very good in spots near the mouths along the mainstem Susitna River. Most salmon fishing opportunities have ceased as tributary chums have finished spawning and the silvers are mostly blush to near spawning shape; however, a few bright and semi-bright specimens will be around through the month.
CHULITNA RIVER: Resident game fish, with the possible exception of whitefish, are in the process of abandoning the upper reaches of this vast system pending onset of more wintery conditions. Gatherings or even larger schools of trout and grayling are not unusual to come across in deeper holes of the Middle and East forks of the Chulitna and in some tributaries, such as Honolulu and Troublesome. Anglers are encouraged to scout waters thoroughly in their search as many holes will be dead or slow while one or two spots can yield great success. Byers Creek, being a lake-based drainage and thus displaying relatively warmer water temperatures, is normally a top choice if seeking rainbows this time of year and even into October. For salmon, a few semi-bright silvers remain in Byers but most fish are in or near spawning condition. Chums are spawning in parts of the mainstem Chulitna and will attract rainbows, grayling, and whitefish.
COPPER VALLEY-VALDEZ ARM
Area Summary: Substantially cooler weather pattern are enveloping this area starting this weekend with below freezing temperatures in the 20s at night and spots supposedly dipping into the teens by next week should have a significant impact on many of the fisheries, especially smaller streams. Currently, however, grayling are on the move and providing some potential excellent catches in a number of Copper River drainages, such as Mendeltna, Tolsona, and Gunn creeks. This time of year, these resident fish often travel in big schools, thus some holes or stretches may seem void of life while other spots are on fire in activity—look around and do not focus on only one or two places. Lakes are likewise improving for anglers, with the larger waters of Louise, Paxson, Summit and others seeing improved catches of lake trout, grayling, whitefish, and burbot; expect very good opportunities now until freeze-up. Stocked lakes are yielding excellent success to anglers throughout the day as waters have cooled and fish very prolific in striking lures, bait, and flies. As for salmon fishing in the area, the last runs of the season are ascending tributaries of the Upper Copper River. The Gulkana is an obvious spot for late-run reds while the Tonsina is producing more silvers. However, there are about a dozen smaller or less renowned streams in the area that have decent or at least some opportunity as well. Yet for the best salmon fishing, Valdez is doing almost surprisingly great for this late in the season with respectable numbers of fresh silvers still coming in and relatively easy limits.
GULKANA RIVER: As long as the water is low and clear, anglers are finding a decent number of late-run reds scattered throughout the river open to salmon fishing. Thus far, activity seems to be more consistent upstream of the highway bridge with successful catches swinging flies; scout travel corridors for schools of fish. While not entirely necessary, sight-fishing is the way to go to achieve limits. Expect fair to sometimes good action for another week as the run appears extended this year. Condition of fish is semi-bright to light blush yet some specimens are quite bright still. The grayling fishing on the upper river is excellent with some good results for rainbows in the rapids area and above. This is the time of year anglers encounter steelhead; although spotty, most fish seem to be caught in the lower river up to the West Fork.
PORT VALDEZ: The news here is that the silvers keep coming into the port in very decent numbers with many anglers reporting limits of fish after only a few hours on the water. While the hot spot of the day varies, the Allison Point area and waters in or near the harbor seem to produce the most fish on a consistent basis. Hardware such as spinners and spoons are favored but flies work very well in places. Snagging is another option. Many of the fish are still nice and bright but a number of salmon are starting to turn, particularly if near the hatchery off Dayville Road. The action is expected to last through the weekend and perhaps even through next week as well before slowing down. However, anglers are reporting silvers way out at the mouth of Valdez Arm working their way in so there should be some opportunity for a while still; in fact, there have been a couple of years when good numbers of silvers showed up in October. For freshwater action, Robe River is currently seeing a good slug of silvers moving up.
Updated Thursday, September 9, 2021
CURRENT HOT SPOTS: KENAI RAINBOWS, DOLLIES; VALDEZ SILVERS; SUSITNA RAINBOWS, GRAYLING; SEWARD SILVERS; UPPER KENAI SILVERS, RAINBOWS, DOLLIES; SWANSON SILVERS, RAINBOWS; CHULITNA RAINBOWS, GRAYLING; PORTAGE SILVERS; RUSSIAN SILVERS, RAINBOWS, DOLLIES
Weekly Summary: Autumn is progressing and becoming an increasingly dominant season as reflected in species available, adverse weather conditions, and decreasing number of places offering overall productive angling. While coastal South Central is seeing excellent opportunities in many flowing waters in addition to lakes, the more inland locations are currently experiencing a general die-off of salmon runs but great fishing for resident species—as long as the weather holds up without heavy rains. Now is the time for flexibility and planning in accordance to where the fish are currently active matching favorable water conditions. Yet one thing is for certain and that keeps anglers busy; there is some fantastic action to be had right now and for the next several weeks for late-run silver salmon (and even reds too in one spot) and most all resident game species, such as landlocked salmon and rainbow, steelhead, and lake trout, and Dolly Varden, Arctic char, grayling, pike, and burbot.
ANCHORAGE AREA-TURNAGAIN ARM
Area Summary: Local lakes are quickly turning over as evident by dropping water temperatures, which leads to excellent opportunities in all stocked lakes. While the morning bite is still most productive, the action will soon be consistent throughout the day, especially on cloudy and rainy days. The local streams do have limited opportunities as well, with Campbell and Chester creeks offering good fishing for trout and char in the upper reaches where salmon are spawning. Ship Creek is supporting a trickle of chrome silvers coming in on the tides and will continue seeing a few nice fish through the month and perhaps even into October; expect the fishing to be slow. The streams down along Turnagain Arm have the best chances of landing nice salmon, with Bird Creek, Glacier Creek, and Ingram Creek all holding a limited number of fresh and semi-bright silvers. Still, Portage Creek remains the most reliable spot for consistent action.
PORTAGE CREEK: Fishing in tidewater has slowed down considerably since a couple of weeks ago but a small number of chrome silvers continue to arrive on every tide; however, the best silver action right now is taking place in the holes and sloughs of the middle section. The action is generally fair to good using eggs either fished on the bottom or suspended below a bobber. Spinners work very well at the mouths of clearwater tributaries. An occasional fresh red is possible. Fishing for Dolly Varden is spotty to fair in the middle and upper reaches.
Area Summary: The early runs of silver salmon are starting to fade in this area but soon to be replaced by the late runs primarily heading up the Kenai and Kasilof rivers. Yet there exists some very worthwhile opportunities right now for fresh silvers in a few locations, such as Swanson and Russian rivers and Resurrection Bay. There are also hopes that Passage Canal will turn on sometime within the next week to ten days. Steelhead trout action on the lower peninsula streams remains subdued with marginal success for anglers targeting them. Anchor, Deep, and Ninilchik are waters that historically experience decent runs of this species starting the second or third week of this month; a small number of silvers are still coming in on the tides too. Rainbow trout and Dolly Varden remain very active in central peninsula drainages and will continue to attract significant attention for another several weeks lasting through the salmon spawning period. Area lakes offer good to excellent fishing for landlocked salmon, trout, char, and grayling. Surf-casting for halibut and rockfish has slowed down as many fish are transitioning to deeper, offshore waters; however, a limited window of opportunity still exist in relatively shallow water off salmon spawning streams.
RESURRECTION BAY/SEWARD: Although the main run of silvers has subsided, there is still ample opportunity to find decent action for silvers in the area. Visiting the mouths of streams flowing into the bay can be very productive on some tides with schools of fish moving through that respond well to spinners in particular. Scheffler Creek right in town has fair to good fishing with most silvers taken by snagging. Other locations worth checking out include Spring Creek off Nash Road, Spruce Creek at Lowell Point, and Tonsina Creek down the Tonsina Creek Trail from Lowell Point. Generally this time of season success is spotty to fair but can be exceptional at times. Condition of silvers range from chrome to dark blush with most being semi-bright to gray. A few fresh and semi-bright pinks persist at the spots mentioned above. A few nice reds are also being caught at Scheffler. Fishing for bottomfish is slowly tapering off but can be good in deeper parts of the bay, such as along the waterfront between the SeaLife Center and Lowell Point; halibut and rockfish are possible.
UPPER KENAI RIVER: With the late runs of kings and reds spawning and dying off, anglers are seeing excellent catches of rainbow trout and Dolly Varden using egg and flesh imitations. The whole river is performing well but most anglers report the best fishing from Sportman’s Landing down to the Skilak Lake inlet. Whitefish are common these days. The early silver salmon run is holding up but expected to drop off quickly after this weekend as fish move into spawning tributaries; condition of fish range from bright to blush. A trickle of fresh and semi-bright reds continue to show up along beach areas downstream of the Russian River conservation zone to Jim’s Landing.
RUSSIAN RIVER: The silver salmon run here is still peaking with good action available in the holes between the campground and the river mouth; be there at first light. The Sanctuary can be productive all day long but especially so at dawn. As a reminder, the bag limit for silvers on the Russian is 1 fish per day. The red salmon season has ended for this year by regulation; most fish are actively spawning. Anglers targeting rainbows and Dollies are doing well using egg and flesh imitations around the spawning reds.
MIDDLE KENAI RIVER: Fishing for rainbow trout and Dolly Varden is excellent from approximately Bing’s Landing upstream to the Skilak Lake outlet. There are some good-sized fish in the mid-20s to 30-inch range being caught. Expect this high-intensity action to continue for another ten days. Egg and flesh imitations are top offerings. The early run of silver salmon is emptying out in most places but some fish may still be located near the mouths of Killey and Funny rivers, providing fair catches on spinners and eggs. The lower river, around Sterling, Soldotna, and City of Kenai, has been slow lately but expected to pick up very shortly as the late run arrives. There is still a trickle of decent reds coming through but catches are usually incidental this time of the year.
SWANSON RIVER: Anglers are experiencing fair to good fishing for silvers from the tidal area at Kenai Spur Highway on upstream halfway to the Swanson River Road access site. The number of fresh fish coming in from the salt has slowed somewhat this past week; however, nice silvers are typically present through the month and even into October most years. Eggs and spinners are very effective but flies do well in some spots. Fishing for rainbow trout is very good on the upper river.
Area Summary: As salmon runs dwindle, resident sport fish are becoming very engaging with excellent action possible—as long as weather and water conditions cooperate. Both wild and stocked lakes are experiencing an uptick in activity concerning landlocked salmon, trout, char, grayling, pike, and burbot. Flowing waters usually offer great fishing this time of year, especially those of the Susitna and Chulitna river drainages. With salmon spawning and dying, the egg drop and flesh decomposition sparks a feeding frenzy that continues to one degree or another through the fall. If intent on catching a fresh salmon still, the upper Susitna and Talkeetna area plus select waters of the Matanuska and Knik rivers are absolutely worth trying; it is not so much the runs destined for tributaries that are targeted as the late-arriving chums and silvers that utilize the mainstem channels and spring areas for spawning purposes that provide some limited level of excitement through the month and into October. There are very few fresh silvers arriving still at Little Susitna, Fish, Cottonwood, Wasilla, or Eklutna Tailrace these days; Jim Creek, however, will have a small number of fish present for several more weeks.
SUSITNA RIVER: Wet autumn weather conditions continue to impact tributary streams along the Susitna, creating high and murky water and thus slowing down the action for trout and grayling. However, when water levels do drop and clarity returns, anglers can expect some good fishing for rainbows and grayling in the middle reaches of Willow, Little Willow, Sheep, Goose, and Montana creeks. Burbot fishing is good using bait at mouths of upper Susitna in the Talkeetna area. Salmon are spawning and dying off, thus egg and flesh imitations work well. The Kashwitna River should produce some great action shortly as water conditions improve. The silver salmon runs are coming to an end in streams flowing into the Susitna but a few bright and semi-bright fish are to be found yet with fair catches possible—try spinners at the mouths or flies upstream. An occasional decent chum may be hooked at Montana and Sunshine creeks.
CHULITNA RIVER: Fall fishing conditions are in effect in the tributaries of this glacial system. Trout and grayling have commenced the gradual downstream movement towards overwintering areas as whitefish are moving into some of these same streams to spawn. However, anglers will find some of the best fishing of the year in these waters with good to excellent success not unusual. The lower and middle sections of Middle Fork Chulitna and East Fork Chulitna are in their prime as long as the water is low and clear, which is intermittent these days pending the weather cooperates. Byers is an autumn hot spot for rainbows with a good average size. Honolulu and Troublesome are two other tributaries worth checking into. For salmon, fair opportunities exist yet for silvers at Byers Creek with limited success for mostly blush fish higher up in the Chulitna drainage. The reds and chums in this area are spawning and dying off.
COPPER VALLEY-VALDEZ ARM
Area Summary: Autumn fishing conditions are taking full effect in these parts of the South Central region as lake fishing opportunities are ramping up as lake trout and burbot start moving back into the shallows and the grayling are even more prolific as the annual feeding frenzy begins. On top of that, anglers can expect the stocked lakes containing rainbows, grayling, and char to provide similar intense action now on through the month. For salmon, late-run reds are infiltrating several of the drainages of the Upper Copper, most notably the Gulkana River. The Klutina and Tonsina also has smaller numbers of decent reds in addition to silvers present, but the latter location is the leading producer of silvers in the area with fair opportunities possible. The best salmon fishing, however, is still in Valdez. Despite very high angler participation and a cost recovery seine operation scooping up large numbers of fish, the silver action remains solid and expected to be productive for another week to ten days.
GULKANA RIVER: As long as the river flows low and clear, anglers here are catching a number of late run reds on flies in the middle and lower sections of water. Scout the river for concentrations of salmon; expect fair to good success, especially if sight-fishing. Condition of fish range from relatively bright to light blush. Worthwhile action is likely to continue for another week or so but decent reds are known to be available right through the month most years. Grayling fishing is excellent on the upper river, from above the rapids to the Paxson Lake outlet. Rainbow trout provide good sport, particularly on beads.
PORT VALDEZ: After an exceptional Labor Day weekend with lots of limits being taken, the run has slowed as seining and cost recovery operations for the fish hatchery began last Tuesday. However, it is very possible to experience good action yet in places where schools of fish gather, such as the low and incoming tide at Allison Point, around high tide near the fish hatchery, and the harbor area. Dedicated anglers have been taking limits of bright silvers either casting spinners or by snagging. Boaters are still seeing decent numbers of silvers in outer Valdez Arm so there will likely be some very productive days ahead for anglers casting from shore. Most pinks have died off but there are a number of spawners around, especially in the Allison Point area. The run of chums to the harbor is about done for the year as these fish are spawning and dying as well. Nearby Robe River is fair to good for silvers, especially at the mouth.
Updated Thursday, September 2, 2021
CURRENT HOT SPOTS: VALDEZ SILVERS; KENAI SILVERS, RAINBOWS, DOLLIES; SEWARD SILVERS; RUSSIAN SILVERS, RAINBOWS, DOLLIES; SUSITNA RAINBOWS, GRAYLING; UPPER KENAI SILVERS, RAINBOWS, DOLLIES; SWANSON SILVERS, RAINBOWS; CHULITNA RAINBOWS, GRAYLING; PORTAGE SILVERS
Weekly Summary: As September is an autumn month in these parts of the North, this reality is strikingly clear these days with the demise of summer salmon runs and the dominance of silvers in many coastal and inland rivers and streams. Additionally, the more laid-back trout and char fisheries of yesterday are replaced with the high intensity action of the fall feeding frenzy as these fish fatten up in preparation for the long winter ahead. While many anglers across Southcentral lament the longer nights and shorter, cooler days upon us, without a doubt some of the best and most memorable fishing trips of the year can be had now and for the next several weeks. The crowds of summer are largely gone, the colors of autumn paint the surrounding landscape, and the fishing is often nothing short of fantastic.
ANCHORAGE AREA-TURNAGAIN ARM
Area Summary: Salmon anglers are having to really focus efforts on a few streams just outside of the city these days, with the drainages down in Turnagain Arm being particularly attractive if seeking numbers of food quality fish. While the 20-Mile and Placer systems are seeing good catches of silvers for boaters, anglers casting off the bank are better off trying nearby Portage Creek or even Bird and Ingram creeks which stay productive through the first half September. If staying in the city is the only option, then scout Ship Creek around the tides for silvers coming in now until mid-month or even later. Campbell Creek has mostly blush or dark hatchery fish present but fresh wild silvers typically trickle in through the month most years. As autumn intensifies, so does the bite for landlocked salmon, trout, char, and grayling in local lakes; expect good to excellent action on small lures, flies, and bait.
PORTAGE CREEK: For road-bound anglers in the area, this remains the last most productive option as silvers continue to flourish throughout the lower and middle reaches of the stream. The tidewater portion has slowed down a bit the last several days but remains fair around the tides with some days and times yielding good catches. For more consistent action, search out slack water of holes and sloughs from along the Portage Glacier Road on down. This is a perfect time to implement a float trip to hit some of the more remote parts of the drainage. Eggs are responsible for the majority of fish being caught but spinners work also. An occasional bright or semi-bright red and chum is possible. Fishing For Dolly Varden is fair.
Area Summary: Silver salmon fishing continues to be great in many parts, with the Kenai River drainage, including the Russian, Swanson River, and Resurrection Bay being the hot zones for this weekend. While a hit-and-miss opportunity the last several years, Passage Canal at Whittier could possibly be a productive spot soon as silvers are arriving there too. Expect the late runs of silvers to hit the lower Kenai and Kasilof rivers within two weeks. As for the almost never-ending late run of red salmon up the Kenai, there is still a small number of bright fish coming in but each day will see less chances as the peak spawning season has arrived. A few fresh pinks are still present in Seward. Trout and char stream fishing is peaking in many places, especially so within the Kenai River drainage, but can be very good in the Swanson system as well. Landlocked salmon, trout, char, and grayling fishing is good to excellent in area lakes as waters are cooling off with the advent of fall. The lakes and ponds along Swanson River Road can be exceptional. Saltwater opportunities by surf-casting is diminishing, but some worthwhile fishing can still be had for another week or so, such as the head of Resurrection Bay for halibut and rockfish and lesser bottomfish species. The marine fisheries in Kachemak Bay, Passage Canal, and Cook Inlet, especially, are fading quickly as many saltwater species have commenced seasonal migrations to deeper waters for the winter.
RESURRECTION BAY/SEWARD: Anglers saw strong activity for silvers late last week and the past weekend and there are still positive reports of many nice fish being taken around the bay. Chrome salmon are plentiful along with some specimens that are starting to blush; expect hit-and-miss in different spots with some tides and days producing good action with the possibility of limiting out. Water conditions are great at the time of this report but this may change pending heavy rain events. Look for the bite to occur on the incoming and high tides using spinners and herring; scout water for signs of fish jumping or surfacing. Scheffler Creek is a fairly reliable spot right now for snaggers but most any stream mouth and nearby beach can yield fish, such as Spring, Spruce, Lowell, and Tonsina creeks. Fresh pinks are being caught around Lowell Point and over at the mouth of Spring Creek but success is spotty; lower Resurrection River is another area that has potential for nice pinks in addition to silvers and even a few reds. Anglers targeting bottomfish are finding fair to good success using bait; flounders, codfish, and greenling are most common but there are fishable numbers of smaller halibut and rockfish present as well.
QUARTZ/PTARMIGAN CREEKS: Good fishing here still for Dolly Varden with some respectable sized specimens being caught. Red salmon are spawning and dying off in these drainages; match the hatch. Expect the action to hold for another ten days before subsiding.
UPPER KENAI RIVER: Fishing for silver salmon is at a peak with anglers intentionally targeting these fish reporting good catches on flies, in particular the section of water from the Russian River confluence downstream to the Skilak Lake inlet. Sight-fishing for silvers is very possible as the river is flowing relatively clear at this time. Fishing for late-run red salmon continues to slow down with catches of bright or semi-bright specimens becoming more difficult to come by; success may be had scouting a stretch of beach where fish are continuously migrating by, with sight-fishers having a distinct advantage right now—expect fair results at best. The prime opportunity on the river, however, may not be for salmon but rainbow trout and Dolly Varden. These resident species are currently yielding excellent action on beads and egg and flesh imitation flies as late-run kings and reds are spawning and dying off. The hot bite should continue in one form or another for a couple more weeks and likely through the month. Whitefish are showing up on regularity.
RUSSIAN RIVER: Reports here indicate that the red salmon run is coming to an end as numbers of fresh fish entering the drainage has slowed considerably during the course of this week. This weekend, expect spotty to fair action at best for semi-bright or light blush specimens at the river mouth and the Sanctuary portion along the Kenai River channel as the vast majority of reds have turned spawning colors. As a reminder, the emergency order permitting targeting of red salmon will expire on September 6. Fishing for silver salmon is good as the run is peaking. Anglers hitting the river at dawn are making easy catches on flies by sighting small schools or even individual salmon holding in the low and clear water. Target stretches of water from the campground downstream to the Kenai confluence. Fishing for rainbow trout and Dolly Varden is good on the lower river and its mouth; use egg and flesh imitations.
LOWER/MIDDLE KENAI RIVER: Silver salmon fishing is good from Soldotna all the way up to the outlet of Skilak Lake, yet this run will start slowing very shortly, if not already by this weekend. However, the late run of silver will be making its way into the mouth of the river shortly so the pause in action will likely be short-lived. Focus on deep holes and runs or anywhere with slack water next to main current casting eggs and spinners at daybreak. On a note, the bag limit for silvers is 3 fish per day after September 1. A few fresh red salmon are being picked up on a daily basis by anglers swinging flies, particularly on the middle river above Sterling to the lake, but the run is near its end at this point with most fish in spawning condition. With late-run kings and reds dropping eggs, anglers are experiencing good to excellent success for rainbows and Dollies from Bing’s Landing on up to Skilak Lake; egg and flesh imitations are doing great. Whitefish are present.
SWANSON RIVER: A consistent producer of silver salmon the last couple of weeks, the run is holding on yet and yielding fair to very good fishing in the tidewater section of the stream. Both eggs and spinners are doing very well. Some anglers may want to venture upstream to search for schools of bright fish in deeper holes and pools. Additionally, now is a perfect time to plan an excursion from the Swanson River Road access point down to the river mouth near Kenai Spur Highway, allowing for great access to a lot of remote water holding large numbers of silvers. Fishing for rainbow trout is good in the middle and upper reaches; small spinners to flies work.
ANCHOR, NINILCHIK RIVERS, DEEP CREEK: With bait restrictions now in effect, there has been a significant drop in both silver salmon catches as well as angler participation. Some tides may still produce small schools of fish but most effort now is at dawn in holes upstream of tidewater. Chrome fish are common but an increasing number of silvers are starting to turn. Spinners and flies are yielding fair to decent success as long as water conditions are favorable. Most pink salmon have spawned but a few bright specimens are left. Steelhead trout are becoming more numerous with spotty to fair action available; try beads and flies. Dolly Varden fishing is good in middle and upper reaches.
Area Summary: After a rather tumultuous series of rainy days recently that pushed runoff rivers and streams in the area to near the flood stage, most drainages are dropping and clearing after a brief period of warm and dry weather conditions. While more rain is in the forecast for this weekend and next week, should things stay relatively calm the fishing for salmon and resident species will pick back up. But if the inclement weather proves to be too much yet again, stream anglers always have the option to hit drainages flowing out of lakes that typically run clear during such times, albeit may still have significant volume of water to them. To many seasoned anglers in this area, they know that September can be unpredictable at times with flood events not uncommon at all through the month and into October. Best advise would be to monitor stream gauges, if available, before setting out and be flexible in terms of finding alternative waters. While the salmon runs are largely coming to an end save for a few distinct populations, the fishing for resident species such as trout, char, grayling, whitefish, and burbot, typically stays very productive through fall—as long as another deluge does not occur. The lake fisheries are much safer bets and will yield great fishing for the aforementioned species in addition to landlocked salmon and pike.
LITTLE SUSITNA RIVER: The river is dropping and clearing, allowing anglers to find good action for silvers in the middle stretch of water between Houston and the Point MacKenzie access site. Eggs have been working best. There are a very few chrome silvers in the lower river still as the vast majority of the run throughout is light blush to dark at this time of the season. This is likely the last weekend for consistent action for quality fish. An occasional decent colored chum is possible but most fish are in spawning condition or have completed the process and dying off.
WILLOW, LITTLE WILLOW, SHEEP, MONTANA CREEKS: Following a bout of very high and turbid water conditions, things are slowly returning back to normal. Fish are being caught again with rainbows and grayling active in the middle and upper sections; expect good success this weekend as these drainages settle down and clear up completely. Beads and flesh flies are effective. Whitefish are numerous in Little Willow and Sheep especially but often present in sizable numbers in the lower Willow too this time of year. Burbot action should pick up any day with the mouths of Kashwitna, Sheep, Caswell, and Montana being prime spots. As for salmon, there are a number of semi-bright to lightly blush silvers present down low in these drainages but the mouth of Montana is generally a better bet right now and will have a few decent chums too; anglers are likely to see fair action at best the next several days—use spoons, spinners, and flies.
RABIDEUX, SUNSHINE CREEKS: This is probably the last weekend anglers can expect to target fresh silvers successfully, although any year will see a few decent fish available through the month. Try casting spinners at the mouths of these waters with fair success. Also, there is a trickle of quite decent reds and chums in Sunshine still. The middle section of Rabideux has fair opportunities for rainbows and grayling and both streams see dependable action for burbot at the mouths.
CHULITNA RIVER: As autumn is quickly taking hold of this area of the greater Susitna drainage, resident species have begun to slowly drop out of the headwaters of clearwater tributaries and into the middle sections. When water conditions cooperate, the action can be very good on the Middle and East forks of the Chulitna for rainbows and grayling; expect to see whitefish in lower portions of the East Fork. Byers Creek has a good population of rainbows; Honolulu can be worthwhile for trout as well as grayling. Small spinners, beads, and egg and flesh imitation flies work in these waters. As for salmon, the best spot for quality fish right now is in lower Byers and its mouth where silvers are available in decent numbers ranging from semi-bright to dark blush. Anglers tossing spinners and flies into deeper areas of the stream will see strikes. Reds and chums are in the process of spawning and dying off.
COPPER VALLEY-VALDEZ ARM
Area Summary: Autumn fishing conditions are taking effect in these parts of the Southcentral region as the few salmon runs left command less of a profile and resident species in flowing waters have slowly started their migrations to overwintering areas. Late-run red salmon will, hopefully, be headlining the Gulkana River fishery very shortly and has become a favorite with many anglers intent on topping off the freezer before winter sets in; however, there are smaller or less prolific runs of late-season reds that occur in other drainages, such as the Tonsina and Chitina. A species not frequently targeted in this area is the silver salmon, yet there exists fishable runs in multiple locations, foremost the Tonsina River and tributaries, but potential is also to be had on the Klutina and the tributaries of the Chitina among others. Additionally, this is the time of year when steelhead trout make appearances in area waters, such as the Gulkana, but distribution is far more widespread with small runs found in the Tazlina and Chitina systems as well. For resident species, now is the time for anglers to seek out smaller clearwater streams for grayling, such as Mendeltna, Tolsona, Tulsona, Indian, and Gunn creeks. Grayling are also very active in area lakes, as are burbot, lake trout, and stocked populations of rainbow trout. Port Valdez is the best bet for chrome salmon this weekend and for the next few weeks as silvers are presenting excellent opportunities to shore anglers.
GULKANA RIVER: The river did not see the high water events of the Matanuska-Susitna valley streams but were at elevated levels still with some color, in particular on the lower river downstream of the West Fork confluence, which has hindered anglers from fully enjoying the late run of red salmon that has started arriving. If a dry, cooling trend occurs in the area weather conditions which will drop and clear the water, expect the salmon action to improve considerably. However, in the clear water of the upper river, fishing for grayling is excellent and there is a good rainbow bite happening now too. A variety of flies, beads, and lures work.
KLUTINA, TONSINA RIVERS: A small but consistent number of late-run reds are returning to these drainages with condition of fish ranging from relatively bright to dark blush. Flip or swing flies near the bank. There are also silvers arriving in both locations with Tonsina, especially, showing good opportunities for anglers; focus on places with slack water and the mouths of clearwater tributaries using eggs or egg/attractor combinations. Most fish are semi-bright to light blush. The upper Klutina offers good-sized Dollies in addition to some resident rainbows and grayling, while the upper Tonsina, including Little Tonsina River, is mainly a Dolly Varden and grayling fishery.
PORT VALDEZ: Silver salmon have arrived in force within the port with anglers casting from the bank at Allison Point and along the beach area between the point and the hatchery scoring good to excellent results on spinners and spoons. While the incoming and high tides have reported the best fishing, some anglers are doing very well on low tide too depending on the prevailing water conditions, especially so during the smaller tides experienced this week. At the other side of the port, anglers fishing off the city dock are taking silvers in good numbers using herring suspended under bobbers, while the harbor area is more of a spinner and snag fishery. In fact, the harbor is often a safe bet if water conditions do not cooperate around Allison Point. The harbor is also experiencing a large return of chums, of which some specimens are still chrome or at least semi-bright; snagging is the most effective harvest method. Although the pink salmon run has just about ended for the year, there are a small number of fresh fish being caught in some spots, such as around Allison Point. If wanting to try catching silvers in freshwater in Valdez, the Robe River on the outskirts of town is currently experiencing a decent showing of fish, particularly at the mouth. Sablefish and smaller numbers of codfish and flounder are being caught off the city dock using pieces of herring fished on the bottom.
Updated Thursday, August 26, 2021
CURRENT HOT SPOTS: KENAI SILVERS, RAINBOWS, DOLLIES; RUSSIAN REDS, SILVERS, RAINBOWS, DOLLIES; ANCHOR SILVERS; KASILOF SILVERS; UPPER KENAI RAINBOWS, DOLLIES; DEEP SILVERS; CHULITNA SILVERS, RAINBOWS, GRAYLING; SWANSON SILVERS, RAINBOWS; SUSITNA SILVERS, RAINBOWS, GRAYLING; PORTAGE SILVERS; SEWARD SILVERS
Weekly Summary: The mid-summer runs of reds, pinks, chums, and silvers are giving way to the late season returns of silvers to several areas of the region, such as those on the Kenai Peninsula, in Valdez, and in select locations in Turnagain Arm and Knik Arm. Expect fishing to be good to excellent in places and hold steady for the next couple of weeks before slowing down and eventually yielding to the true autumn silver salmon runs that are limited in scope insofar as distribution is concerned. Apart from salmon, the peak of rainbow trout and Dolly Varden action in both smaller streams and larger rivers has arrived as salmon are spawning en masse and the byproducts of this seasonal event helps fuel the bite. Additionally, fishing in lakes is getting better by the day as temperatures fall and the cooler water prompts a range of freshwater species to move into the shallows and within easier reach to anglers casting from shore. Conversely, the marine fisheries for bottomfish are about to end as halibut and other species start migrating to deeper waters along the coast. But for now, anglers can enjoy some great and varied fishing opportunities as summer transitions into fall.
ANCHORAGE AREA-TURNAGAIN ARM
Area Summary: For salmon, the best opportunities this weekend and going forward into autumn will be in drainages down along Turnagain Arm where silvers are present in good numbers and runs at or near their peak. The hatchery runs to Ship, Campbell, and Bird are ending soon with limited catches occurring at this time in the season. As for pinks, reds, and chums, chances are slim but not impossible in spots such as Glacier and Portage where late-arriving fish are not unusual. For rainbows and Dollies, Campbell and Chester creeks in the city are producing very decent action, but it is the lakes and ponds in this area that are about to kick into high gear as waters cool and the fish go into a feeding frenzy before winter sets in.
CAMPBELL CREEK: Recent rains have brought relatively high and murky water conditions here; however, this has also helped push a decent number of silvers into the stream. For best success, hit the water at dawn using eggs or spinners, focusing on areas with deep and slow water from the Dimond Boulevard bridge upstream to International Airport Road. Expect a mix of bright and dark specimens. There is a good rainbow trout and Dolly Varden bite on the upper stream near the beaver dams; try beads and flies.
BIRD CREEK: While the hatchery run of silvers has died down with the few leftover fish turning color, there are still dime bright wild silvers showing up on the tides with a few anglers managing to score limits. Success is generally fair but some days or tides the action can be very good. Expect spinners and eggs to produce catches now until mid-September. Most of the pinks and chums have spawned and/or died but an occasional fresh specimen in possible.
PORTAGE CREEK: Usually a reliable late-season bet for silvers, the fishing has been fair to good in the tidewater portion of the stream with the best action happening on the top edge of an incoming or high tide. Eggs set on the bottom is by far the most productive offering but a few fish may also be caught on lures. For the more adventurous, scout upstream sections of water, hitting spots of slow-moving water next to faster current and the mouths of clearwater streams. A few decent reds, pinks, and chums remain but most of these fish are in spawning mode. Fair action can be had for Dolly Varden in middle and upper reaches.
Area Summary: As late-run red salmon numbers are dwindling on the peninsula with only a couple of locations left supporting viable fisheries for the species—the middle Kenai and Russian, silver salmon are flourishing in numbers in most all places with anglers pleased of the good runs so far this season. Limits come easy these days as the early runs are peaking in southern, central, and northern locations, although the Seward area is just now starting to see sizable catches coming in from the shore fishery. The Whittier run of silvers, however, has not materialized yet to any great extent along the surf but things are looking promising there too as boaters are seeing schools of fish just offshore. Pink salmon runs are largely done but some fish are still around in Resurrection Bay. Rainbow trout and Dolly Varden are very active in both lakes and streams as salmon spawn and begin to die off, and grayling and landlocked salmon provide excellent opportunities in some locations. The marine fisheries targeting saltwater game fish are experiencing a decline in numbers of halibut, rockfish, and other bottomfish in shallow, nearshore waters as these species begin the seasonal transitioning to deeper, offshore waters. But anglers will still be able to find some very decent fishing in deepwater ports, such as Seward and to some degree Whittier. Limited opportunities may also be had for halibut at the mouths of salmon spawning stream.
RESURRECTION BAY/SEWARD: The Seward Silver Salmon Derby has ended but it is only now that these fish are making their way to nearshore waters of the bay in appreciable numbers. This should be a good weekend to prospect for schools of silvers off the beaches in or near town. The mouth of Scheffler Creek will have a decent hatchery return and both wild as well as hatchery fish can be intercepted at various points throughout the bay. Additionally, scout for jumpers in areas such as the stretch of water along Lowell Point Road between Lowell Point and the mouth of Lowell Creek. The main city beachfront and the mouths of Spring and Tonsina creeks can be a productive spots too. Look for cloudy and rainy weather to move fish in shallow and within casting range from shore; bright sunlight has a tendency to drive fish deep. Try floating herring or casting spinners. Pink salmon runs are continuing to slow down as fish start spawning but some chrome and semi-bright specimens are being caught at or near the mouths of streams. Lower Resurrection River also has opportunity for late season pinks. There is still a trickle of fresh reds and chums present and a few are occasionally taken by snaggers targeting silvers. A few sea-run Dollies remain but most of these fish have entered area streams to feed and spawn. Surf-casting for bottomfish is good for flounder and codfish and a few halibut and rockfish are being tagged around the northwest corner of the bay.
QUARTZ, PTARMIGAN CREEKS: Fishing for Dolly Varden is still peaking in these waters with the middle section of Quartz and the lower half of Ptarmigan producing plenty of strikes from mainly Dolly Varden. Hot item right now are egg imitations but flesh and some forage imitations work too. There are a smaller number of rainbows being caught in addition to the occasional whitefish and even grayling. As a reminder, salmon fishing is prohibited.
UPPER KENAI RIVER: There is currently a very large presence of dark red salmon in the river that anglers have to navigate around in order to find fresh specimens. If targeting reds specifically, hit the stretch of water from the Russian River confluence area down to the Skilak Lake inlet. Limits of bright and semi-bright fish is possible but be prepared to put in time and effort. Silver salmon are showing up in decent numbers and anglers report fair to good success between Sportsman’s Landing and Jim’s Landing; however, fish are available and being caught throughout length of river between the lakes. A variety of fly patterns work; best action is usually at dawn. Late-run kings and reds have begun spawning, thus prompting a very good rainbow and Dolly bite using beads and egg imitation flies. Expect the action to intensify as September rolls around. A few whitefish are being landed as well.
RUSSIAN RIVER: While the majority of red salmon in this river have turned color, there are still very nice bright and semi-bright specimens to be found down in the Sanctuary area with limits of 6 possible with some effort. The red salmon season extension and increased bag limits were made possible recently through emergency orders. Expect fair to good opportunities for reds this weekend. Anglers are also seeing good fishing for silver salmon with consistent action occurring at daybreak in the holes below the campground, the Sanctuary, and at the Kenai confluence; sight-fishing using streamers work best on these fish. If chasing rainbows and Dollies, anglers are finding their quarry throughout the lower river with the latter being most common down low in the drainage and in the Sanctuary. Egg and flesh imitations are most effective at this time.
LOWER/MIDDLE KENAI RIVER: The arrival of late run of red salmon has dwindled significantly from only a week ago and now superseded by the early run of silvers. However, even though the lower end of the river from Sterling on down are seeing far fewer fresh reds coming in on the tides, it is possible still to manage a limit of 6 bright fish in the right spot higher up in the drainage. The middle river above Bing’s Landing has plenty of reds present, ranging from chrome to spawning; weed through the older fish to find the nice ones. As for the silvers, the action is generally good, especially at dawn, with many anglers targeting these fish with roe and spinners getting their limits, yet fly-fishers swinging streamers are sometimes reporting great results. Look for silvers from tidewater all the way up to Sterling and beyond. A few pinks continue to trickle through. Fishing for rainbow trout and Dolly Varden is very good to even excellent, with fish being most plentiful upstream of Sterling to the outlet of Skilak Lake; use egg imitations but mix it up with other forage patterns time to time. The char bite is also productive around Soldotna but should cease soon as reds empty out; egg and flesh flies are the ticket here.
SWANSON RIVER: The silvers are rolling into this location in decent numbers on the tides and the action is good using primarily roe but spinners and flies also work. At dawn or a few hours after high tide, scout deep holes and pools upstream to find schools of fish. A few silvers have reached the Swanson River Road access site but the main game on the middle and upper river is rainbow trout along with some Dolly Varden; flies and small spinners will do the trick.
KASILOF RIVER: Fishing for silver salmon has been good here the last several days and expected to hold steady at least for another week. Anglers casting from the bank using eggs are reporting good success at daybreak at the mouth of Crooked Creek; however, any slack water such as inside bends will likely produce fish on bait from tidewater up to the rapids on the middle river. There are a few fresh reds coming through but not in enough numbers to target specifically. Dolly Varden fishing is fair to good throughout the river with most consistent catches on eggs set on the bottom. A few resident rainbows are also being caught but no solid reports yet of steelhead showing up.
ANCHOR, NINILCHIK RIVERS, DEEP CREEK: When water conditions cooperate, silver salmon action is good. Although recent rains did elevate water levels and murkied things up a bit, roe is working very well on the lower river and tidewater. As water drops and clears (which is possible by weekend or early next week), expect spinners and flies to also become effective. A few steelhead have been caught on the Anchor and Deep and are likely present in Ninilchik as well. Dolly Varden fishing is fair to good; use beads or spinners. As a reminder, these three drainages plus Stariski Creek goes to no bait and single hook only on September 1 according to regulations.
Area Summary: Silver salmon fishing is starting to slow down across the area as runs subside and condition of fish deteriorate as spawning season approaches. However, there is still some very notable action for silvers taking place, mainly in the smaller drainages of Knik Arm and the upper tributaries of Susitna and Chulitna rivers. Clearwater tributaries of the Matanuska River hold decent fishing opportunities for silvers as well. As for other salmon species, small remnant runs of reds are available in several lake- and spring-based drainages in the Mat-Su valley, and late-run chums are arriving in the Talkeetna area; as for pinks, the runs are done for the year. Fishing for trout, char, and grayling is holding steady with peak catches occurring in clearwater tributaries of the Susitna and Chulitna rivers and in many lakes around Wasilla, Palmer, Eureka, Houston, Willow, and Talkeetna. Many of the lakes also support populations of landlocked salmon and some have pike in them, such as those along Nancy Lake Parkway. Burbot are active in upper parts of the Susitna, at the confluence of tributaries.
JIM CREEK: Good silver salmon opportunities persist at the Knik River confluence, with successful anglers using eggs and spinners. The run continues its peak and should stay productive for another week or so before slowing down. A few reds are left but most of the run has exited the area bound for spawning grounds. Dolly Varden fishing is good in the upper portion of the stream around the lakes.
FISH, COTTONWOOD, WASILLA CREEKS: These weekend-only streams will produce decent catches yet again but the silver runs are expected to diminish shortly. For best success, hit the tidal areas of Fish and Cottonwood at first light Saturday morning using eggs and spinners. There is a bigger portion of stream open to salmon fishing on Wasilla Creek so anglers have considerably more water to cover upstream of the tidal zone; focus on deeper spots where fish concentrate. A trickle of reds is still arriving at Fish Creek. Rainbow fishing is good on upper Fish and Cottonwood; Wasilla has a few Dollies.
LITTLE SUSITNA RIVER: Persistent rain recently resulted in the river running a bit higher and off color, yet drier weather conditions for the weekend and early next week should improve the bite as the water drops and clears. Silver salmon returns have been positive this year but the number of fresh fish entering the system has definitely dropped off. However, the action is still reasonably good, especially in the middle river section where the bulk of the run is currently concentrated, but anglers should expect a mix of dark and brighter fish. If looking for the opportunity to land nice and chrome silvers, try low down in the drainage around the Point MacKenzie access site at dawn using eggs and spinners. Semi-bright and slightly blush silvers are possible around Houston but most fish there do have some color. A very few fresh chums are still present in the lower river but this run has just about ended for the season.
WILLOW, SHEEP, MONTANA CREEKS: As with other area waters, these streams are flowing a little higher and somewhat tinted these days but conditions should improve over the weekend and into next week. The silver runs here are still productive but seeing signs of tapering off as fish are starting to turn color and fewer fresh salmon are entering the streams. For best chance of hooking something bright or semi-bright, head to the mouths at daybreak and go at it using eggs and lures. While silvers are distributed well upstream by now, most fish around the highway crossings are slightly blush along with a fair number of dark ones; check out deeper holes and pools and look for fresher specimens. Bright and semi-bright chums continue to move through the Susitna confluences with the best shot at landing one being Montana Creek; most fish of these runs, however, are in spawning condition or dying off. The pink runs are done for the year. When water is low and clear, the rainbow trout and grayling fishing is very good in upper sections using egg and flesh imitations. Some Dolly Varden and whitefish are present, in particular at Willow and in Little Willow and Sheep creeks, respectively. Burbot provide good opportunities at the mouth of Sheep and Montana.
SUNSHINE, RABIDEUX CREEKS: Good silver salmon action may be found here. Anglers trying the mouth of these small streams at first light using eggs and spinners are seeing limits of fish. Some nice silvers are also present around the highway crossing on Rabideux. As it is getting towards the end of the season, most fish will have some tint of color to them but chrome specimens are still possible. A few chums and even reds are still cruising around, especially at Sunshine, with a chance of hooking a bright or semi-bright specimen. Fair fishing for rainbows and grayling on upper Rabideux.
CHULITNA RIVER: For salmon, the most productive tributary right now is Byers Creek where silver salmon are peaking in numbers and the action generally good. While a portion of this run is showing some degree or another of color, the chance of catching a brighter fish is absolutely possible, especially down low in the drainage. Anglers hiking the distance to the mouth are reporting excellent catches. Some decent reds are still around but this run will soon end. A few pinks and chums are spawning. Rainbow trout action is good; egg and flesh imitations is tops. The mouth of Troublesome Creek offers fair opportunities for silvers. Honolulu, East Fork Chulitna, and Middle Fork Chulitna are great spots to try if seeking rainbows and grayling; a few whitefish are also available.
COPPER VALLEY-VALDEZ ARM
Area Summary: The late runs of red salmon continue to arrive in the area, with the Gulkana soon to be the suspected epicenter of activity during the next week to ten days. There are also small numbers of late fish moving up the Klutina and the Tonsina. Silver salmon are now present in the Upper Copper drainage and smaller numbers of them are being caught in parts of the Tonsina; tributaries of the Chitina along McCarthy Road also has runs of silvers. Before long, anglers will be reporting catches of steelhead from several locales. Small stream fishing opportunities are good right now as mainly grayling and some rainbows are making their presence felt in Tolsona, Indian, and Tulsona creeks and the upper reaches of Mendeltna and Gunn creeks. Lake fishing is picking up as waters cool and lake trout and grayling move into shallow, nearshore waters to feed. Area stocked lakes that support populations of rainbows and grayling are seeing excellent catch rates. Valdez to the south is experiencing the true start of the silver run there and things will only heat up during the next several days as the fish make landfall.
GULKANA RIVER: Water conditions on the lower river has not been ideal recently due to elevated volume and subpar clarity, impacting opportunities for the late run of red salmon making its way upstream from the mouth. There are some reds to be had at this time but success will likely improve next week as the run builds and water clears. In the meantime, head to the upper section of the river, between the rapids and Paxson Lake, where anglers are finding excellent catches of grayling and a good rainbow trout bite. Egg imitation as well as insect and forage flies are doing the job on these fish. Lake trout fishing is good at the lake outlet.
KLUTINA, TONSINA RIVERS: The news here is that some silvers are now available in the Tonsina and suspected to be present in the Klutina as well. Try the mouth of Little Tonsina River using spinners or flies, or soak eggs in calmer spots along the mainstem Tonsina; expect fair action as the run gains steam. A few fresh reds are still moving through both of these drainages and should continue trickling in through the rest of the month and into September. But the better fishing right now is for rainbow trout, Dolly Varden, and grayling. Check out the mouths of clearwater tributaries flowing into the Tonsina for Dollies and grayling, and the upper mainstem Klutina near the lake for rainbows and Dollies. Flashy spinners and beads and other egg imitations are good.
PORT VALDEZ: The vanguard of the silver salmon run is edging closer to town with each passing day and anglers trying their luck from the bank at Allison Point and the harbor area are already catching a decent number of fish casting spinners and herring. Do not expect limits this weekend but it is not impossible with time and effort. However, as the run arrives in force, probably sometime next week, the action will pick up substantially. Boaters are seeing a mass of silvers as close as Gold Creek, so anglers casting from shore could be in the thick of it very shortly. Additionally, a few silvers are arriving at Robe River on the outskirts of town. There are still a lot of pinks moving around within the port with most fish spawning or spawned-out, yet a few chrome specimens are present and caught incidentally to targeting the silvers. The late run of chums has arrived in the harbor with bright and semi-bright fish being snagged there and off the city dock. Codfish, flounders, and sablefish provide good sport on pieces of herring at the dock as well.
Updated Thursday, August 19, 2021
CURRENT HOT SPOTS: KENAI REDS, RAINBOWS, DOLLIES; SHIP SILVERS; LITTLE SUSITNA SILVERS; RUSSIAN REDS, RAINBOWS, DOLLIES; ANCHOR SILVERS; UPPER KENAI REDS, RAINBOWS, DOLLIES; DEEP SILVERS; CHULITNA SILVERS, RAINBOWS, GRAYLING; FISH SILVERS; SUSITNA SILVERS, RAINBOWS, GRAYLING
Weekly Summary: The transitioning from the warm and hectic summer days of salmon fishing to a cooler and more laidback and quiet time is quickly approaching as the seasons are about to change. The Kenai River is providing a last, remarkably strong showing of reds as the Gulkana River is about to receive its late run of salmon before fall sets in. And continuing this transition are runs of silver salmon currently or soon to inundate coastal and inland drainages with nonstop action just as steelhead trout have started moving up southern peninsula streams—a sure sign of autumn coming. If salmon is no longer on the list of quarries, trout, char, grayling, burbot, and pike fishing is turning on yet again as waters cool down, drawing fish back into the shallows. Latter August really is a special time as there are still many options and opportunities for anglers to take advantage of and experience.
ANCHORAGE AREA-TURNAGAIN ARM
Area Summary: As the early runs of silver salmon begin to fade away shortly in area streams, the wild, late runs are taking shape and will soon be the main game in these parts. Especially the drainages of Turnagain Arm will be worthy of attention, such as Bird, Portage, and Ingram. While the action may not always be as intense as that of the hatchery runs, it is nonetheless just as satisfying. While the pink salmon runs are just about done for the year, some rather nice reds and chums continue to persist in places. But with cooling temperatures of late summer come another major benefactor; anglers targeting stocked lakes in this area will see a significant uptick in action for landlocked salmon, trout, char, and grayling.
SHIP CREEK: The hatchery run of silver salmon has probably peaked but anglers are having no problem hooking up with nice, bright fish on the incoming and outgoing tides using eggs and spinners. Also, anglers scouting deeper holes and runs at an early morning low tide will find silvers scattered throughout the stream. Overall, expect fair to good action. As a note, a recent emergency order doubled the daily bag limit for silvers from 3 to 6 fish due to the strong return this year. A number of pinks and a few chums are still present in tidewater, although these fish peaked several weeks ago and there are very few nice specimens left at this point in the season.
CAMPBELL CREEK: Seasonal rains have helped push silvers into the stream and anglers hitting the water at dawn floating eggs and casting spinners are finding fair to good success. While many of the fish are starting to turn slightly rosy, there are still a decent number of bright silvers to be had, especially on the lower stream between Minnesota and Dimond. The run is peaking and likely to hold up for another week before slowing down. By regulation, all other salmon species are closed to fishing. Rainbow trout and Dolly Varden fishing is good on the upper stream.
BIRD CREEK: Anglers are finding variable success here, with some tides producing limit catches of chrome silvers, while other tides are much slower and only yield small numbers of semi-bright and blush fish. The hatchery run is slowing way down but wild salmon are taking over and can be targeted with good success through the month and well into September. Try floating eggs or casting spinners on incoming and outgoing tides. While an occasional bright pink and chum salmon is possible yet, these runs are for all practical purposes done for the year as fish are spawning and dying off. Dolly Varden fishing is fair in middle reaches of the stream.
PORTAGE CREEK: Of all the roadside waters in the Anchorage-Turnagain Arm area, this stream has the best potential for fresh silver salmon going forward. The run is peaking and should hold up through the month to about mid-September before slowing down. Right now there are a good number of chrome fish arriving on the tides and anglers are quite successful getting limits on eggs fished on the bottom; however, actual success is not always consistent and often changes from day to day. Very productive action is also to be found in holes and pools in the lower sections of the stream. Bright and semi-bright reds and chums are also possible yet, in particular on the middle and upper stream section near and along Portage Glacier Road.
Area Summary: There is a plethora of opportunities available to anglers in this area of the road system. Late-run reds continue to hang on with their almost unprecedented numbers moving up the Kenai River and its tributaries, closing in on 2.3 million as of the writing of this report. While a lot of the fish entering the system are admittedly already blush, there are enough bright reds to fill a stringer in a relatively short amount of time. Adding to this bonanza is the fact silver salmon are showing up in good numbers too, such as in the southern peninsula drainages, the Kenai River, and waters of the northern peninsula, including Turnagain Arm; before long, Resurrection Bay will add to the list of silver hot spots around here. Anglers targeting trout and char are finding lots of action in the Kenai drainage as well as in smaller streams throughout the peninsula—wherever there is salmon spawning, rainbows and/or Dollies will be present. Now is also a good time to scout the hike-in lakes of the peninsula highlands for grayling. For surf-casters, a big-tide series is starting this week and lasting into next, meaning that halibut will be within reach yet again from several spots along Cook Inlet. Additionally, halibut and rockfish are realistic targets in Seward.
RESURRECTION, SIXMILE CREEKS: Silver salmon are arriving and can be effectively targeted on the tides and in upstream holes using eggs and spinners. Success rates vary from fair to good; runs are peaking and should stay productive for another ten days. There are large contingents of spawning and dying pink salmon present, along with a smaller number of chums, in the middle and lower stream sections. It is still possible to hook up with an occasional fresh pink and chum but the time for that is quickly running out. Dolly Varden fishing is fair in middle and upper reaches.
QUARTZ, PTARMIGAN CREEKS: The middle section of Quartz and the lower half of Ptarmigan are yielding some very decent success for char these days as salmon are present and spawning. The Dollies are hitting mainly beads and egg and flesh imitation flies. Anglers spending some time on these waters can also expect to encounter a smaller number of rainbows and whitefish and the occasional grayling. Lake trout can be taken on lures off the mouth of these streams where they flow into Kenai Lake.
RESURRECTION BAY/SEWARD: With the Seward Silver Salmon Derby ongoing, the silvers are gradually appearing closer to town in greater numbers. Although the action is not always predictable, anglers are reporting encountering small schools of silvers in spots from Tonsina Creek northward along the bay to the SeaLife Center; additionally, some fish are jumping just offshore around Spring Creek and up towards the mouth of Resurrection River. Overcast and rainy days are seeing some fish caught off the rocks along Lowell Point Road. Herring and large spoons and spinners can be effective. Expect fair opportunities. The pink salmon runs around the bay have peaked and most fish are turning color; if wanting to find fresh pinks, try the mouths of Tonsina, Spruce, and Spring creeks and clearwater areas along the lower Resurrection River. There are still some decent reds and chums around but their numbers are limited. Surf-casting for bottomfish is good with catches of halibut and rockfish possible on the northwestern side of the bay.
UPPER KENAI RIVER: There is a huge influx of reds in the river, yet most fish are semi-bright to blush with a smaller number of bright specimens. If wanting to take advantage of the liberalized daily bag limit of 6 reds this season, focus on the stretch of water in the vicinity of the Russian River on downstream a few miles. Anglers are successfully taking home limits with some work catching and releasing darker fish in favor of finding fresh specimens; expect good action in spots. Silver salmon are present in decent numbers and anglers are able to target them specifically as the run will probably start peaking sometime next week and stay productive for the next two weeks. Streamers and attractor patterns work well on these fish. Fishing for rainbow trout and Dolly Varden is good to excellent and should really hit stride shortly. Beads and egg and flesh imitation flies are responsible for most catches. Some whitefish are being caught also.
RUSSIAN RIVER: Although there is a significant number of older, darker reds in the river and within the sanctuary, anglers here are experiencing no problem hooking into bright and semi-bright fish. One of the main things to keep in mind is to fish the holes and runs of the lower river at first light as schools of fresh fish arrive during the night; midday catches are typically much less rewarding as water levels are very low and salmon quickly clear out. However, daytime catches at the mouth and along the sanctuary remains good to excellent for nice quality reds all day long. Sight-fishing is great at this time. Additionally, two recent emergency orders extended the red salmon season through September 6 and doubled the bag and possession limits to 6 and 12, respectively. Silver salmon are arriving in numbers and anglers are successfully able to target them, especially in early morning in holes downstream of the campground (bag limit is 1 silver); this run will peak starting next week. Fishing for rainbow trout and Dolly Varden is good using egg and flesh imitations.
LOWER/MIDDLE KENAI RIVER: The very large and late run of red salmon this season is seeing signs of wear as the majority of fish being caught are light blush to light red in color; however, patient anglers are still able to retrieve bright and even chrome specimens in the area of Soldotna and Sterling. Achieving a limit of 6 fish is very possible still; success varies by the day but should be decent to even excellent for the next several days at least. As the lower river slows down, look for the better red action to take place on the middle river upstream of Bing’s Landing. In years such as this, it is common to encounter fresh reds well into September. Silver salmon are finally busting in and anglers targeting them with eggs and spinners are reporting good action on the lower river from Soldotna on down into tidewater. Even those swinging flies after leftover reds are hooking up with regularity for a mixed bag. A few pinks are being caught. For rainbows and Dollies, the best fishing is from the outlet of Skilak Lake downstream to Bing’s Landing, yet some very nice catches are occurring on the lower river too, around Soldotna. Egg and flesh imitations work best right now. Some whitefish are being hooked as well.
ANCHOR RIVER, DEEP CREEK: The peak season for silvers has arrived here with lots of fish entering on the tides and heading upstream to deeper holes and pools in cover of higher and murkier water conditions following recent rains in the area. Successful anglers are relying on mostly eggs under a bobber to quickly fill their limits. Action has been good or better at dawn. Spinners do also work very well, especially in more quiet water. Dolly Varden fishing is fair to good with most fish spread out through the middle and upper stream sections; use egg patterns and forage flies. Steelhead trout are coming in but not yet in numbers; expect action to pick up in another two weeks. The pink runs are almost done but a few bright and semi-bright specimens are being caught with some frequency. Nearby Ninilchik River is seeing decent silver fishing on the tides and throughout the lower section of water.
Area Summary: Fishing opportunities continue to hold up very well here as the area is experiencing strong returns of silver salmon this season, thanks in part at least to the curtailed commercial fishery of upper Cook Inlet. From the weekend-only fisheries of Knik Arm, to the Little Susitna River, the Knik River tributaries, and clearwater streams of the Susitna and Chulitna systems, anglers are seeing a bounty of silvers that should keep interest high through this month and perhaps even into the next. The summer runs of reds, pinks, and chums have just about ended, leaving distinct but smaller populations of late-run fish for anglers to contend with the rest of the season. Yet as is the case in most of Southcentral Alaska, the resident species of trout, char, grayling, and burbot are picking up the pace in area lakes and streams as the weather cools and autumn looms less than two weeks away. As has been stated before, although salmon fishing may slow a bit as August comes to an end, some of the best fishing of the year is about to happen as waters receive far less attention of other anglers and solitude reigns.
JIM CREEK: Fresh pods of silvers are coming into the mouth of this Knik tributary every day and anglers are scoring limits using eggs and spinners. The good action is expected to persist this weekend and through the month. Red salmon are also in the mix, yet only a relatively few are being caught at this time as the run has already peaked. Some chums are being landed as well. Dolly Varden action is good in the main creek up towards the lakes.
FISH, COTTONWOOD, WASILLA CREEKS: These three weekend-only streams are experiencing nice returns of silver salmon, with anglers handily managing limits of fish using eggs and spinners. Best catches are expected to occur very early Saturday morning as well as on the tides. This may be the last really productive opener for silvers before things begin to slow down, although Fish and Cottonwood are often known to yield good action through the month. In addition, there are still fishable numbers of reds moving through Fish. Scout for silvers in deeper holes of Wasilla upstream as far as the railroad trestle bridge area. Rainbow trout fishing is good in upper sections of Fish and Cottonwood.
LITTLE SUSITNA RIVER: There is a sizable presence of silvers in the lower and middle river sections and fish are starting to show more frequently in spots as far upstream as Houston. This time of the season anglers can expect to see a variety of maturity in catches, ranging from chrome to dark blush; look for the brightest specimens to occur down low in the drainage. Floating or plunking eggs is most effective, yet spinners, plugs, and flies can be effective too. The chum run has slowed considerably but there is a trickle of bright and semi-bright fish being caught still on eggs and spoons around the point MacKenzie access site; the middle and upper stretches are seeing mainly blush to spawning salmon. It was a small pink run this year and fish are spawning and dying off. A few reds are present.
WILLOW, SHEEP, MONTANA CREEKS: Silver salmon action is good in these waters at dawn using eggs and spinners. Choice spots are typically at the mouths but nice catches may be had up to the highway crossings; for optimal success, scout deep holes until pockets of fish are located. A few anglers hiking in from the main access points have reported coming across solid concentrations of silvers with resulting excellent success. Condition of silvers range from chrome to blush with most being bright to semi-bright. While the pinks and some chums are spawning and dying off, a handful of nice color chums persist, especially at the mouth of Montana. Rainbow trout and grayling are yielding good to excellent catches in the upper reaches of these waters; try a variety of beads and egg/flesh imitations as they are focused on the salmon spawn right now. Burbot fishing is good or better at the mouths of Sheep and Montana; try soaking fish bait at night or low light hours.
SUNSHINE, RABIDEUX CREEKS: The mouths of these smaller drainages can be hot spots in their own right this time of year as silvers congregate in numbers overnight and can be hit with very good results at first light using eggs and spinners. While only a relatively few silvers venture more than a few hundred yards upstream of the mouth on Sunshine, fishing can be productive as high up as the highway crossing and beyond on Rabideux. Success is generally quite decent through the month and even into the first week of September some years. Reds and chums are also present but majority of these fish are turning color. Pinks are spawning and dying off. Fishing for rainbows and grayling on upper Rabideux is fair. Burbot fishing is fair to good at the mouths; try soaking fish bait at night or low light hours.
CHULITNA RIVER: With pinks and chums spawning and dying off and reds turning color in most streams in this area, silvers are picking up in numbers. Anglers are seeing respectable catches in early morning at the mouth of Troublesome Creek and along the stretch of water open to salmon fishing on Byers Creek. Some silvers can also be found in East Fork Chulitna right now but the better bite comes from rainbows there and grayling up the road at Middle Fork Chulitna. Remember, the upper drainages of the Chulitna are at a high elevation, meaning that early autumn has arrived and the action for resident species can potentially be great as long as water conditions stay low and clear.
COPPER VALLEY-VALDEZ ARM
Area Summary: As anglers await the late runs of red and silver salmon to show in the streams of the Upper Copper River, there is some very intense action happening in area waters. The cooling weather conditions along with frequent rain showers have proved to be perfect for those seeking quarries such as lake trout, rainbow trout, and grayling in lakes and ponds throughout Copper Valley. More and larger fish are being found in shallower water and thus more easily targeted by anglers casting from shore. Wild as well as stocked lakes have seen an uptick in action with good to excellent catches reported in many locations along the Glenn, Richardson, Denali, and Edgerton highways and Lake Louise Road. Apart from stillwater opportunities, anglers are also finding good fishing in several of the smaller streams for grayling, such as Tolsona, Indian, and Tulsona creeks and upper sections of Mendeltna and Gunn creeks. To the south, Valdez is about to present the best salmon fishing of the year in those parts in anticipation of a strong run of silvers.
GULKANA RIVER: Water conditions have been variable the last couple of weeks as frequent and heavy rainfall has stained and elevated much of the river, thus impeding the salmon fishery. The late run of reds has yet to hit in earnest but fish are reportedly trickling in and a big push of salmon is expected soon. Until that time arrives, anglers wanting to fish clearer and cleaner water do best from the outlet of Paxson Lake down through the rapids area to the West Fork confluence where grayling offer spectacular catches along with some fair sport for rainbows. Insect and forage pattern flies and small spinners are tops for both species but beads are getting attention too, especially concerning trout. Lake trout and whitefish are also being caught at the lake outlet.
KLUTINA, TONSINA RIVERS: Fishing for salmon may be put on hold for a few more days but the action for Dolly Varden, rainbow trout, and grayling is worth taking the time to explore the upper sections of these waters. Kings and reds have started spawning so beads are producing fish in rapid order, yet spinners are also working in select spots or when water is not too silty. The late run of reds on the Tonsina is ongoing and some decent fish are being caught by anglers investing the time and patience to find concentrations of fish. Silvers have yet to hit in any numbers but are expected to appear very shortly.
PORT VALDEZ: As pink salmon continue to clog the port with their sheer mass of fish, the silver salmon run is building near the roadside access points. Some fish are being caught off Allison Point and even within the boat harbor, yet the greater portion of the run is still a ways offshore. However, by all accounts of boat anglers in the area, the run is quite sizable this year and likely to hit waterways in front of the city in fishable numbers in another week or so. Until then, anglers are finding some fresh pinks by avoiding the mouths of spawning streams and focusing on more open water locations where newly arriving fish may be more readily caught. Casting spinners may result in a mixed bag of pinks and silvers this weekend. Casting bait off the city dock is producing good catches of codfish and sablefish along with a few flounders.
Updated Thursday, August 12, 2021
CURRENT HOT SPOTS: KENAI REDS, RAINBOWS, DOLLIES; SHIP SILVERS; LITTLE SUSITNA SILVERS, CHUMS; RUSSIAN REDS, RAINBOWS; ANCHOR SILVERS, DOLLIES; BIRD SILVERS; UPPER KENAI RAINBOWS, DOLLIES; CHULITNA RAINBOWS, GRAYLING; SUSITNA SILVERS, CHUMS, RAINBOWS, GRAYLING; VALDEZ PINKS; DEEP SILVERS
Weekly Summary: The late summer season is upon Southcentral, clearly illustrated by the demise of king runs and soon the majority of other salmon runs as well, with the exception of silvers that are now moving into position to dominate most all of the salmon fisheries in the region. Mid-August is very much a time of transition not only in weather patterns for this part of Alaska but in the availability of various salmon species. While red, pink, and chum salmon runs are in their typical seasonal decline, there will still be specific single locations on the North Pacific Coast as well as along inland glacial systems that continue to yield bright fish far into autumn. Although some anglers may see this inevitable change as a negative, there are tremendous positives that come with this shift; the trout, char, and grayling action will reach a fervor that has turned many an ordinary angler into a late-season fanatic. But for now, anglers are enjoying the best of both worlds, so to speak.
ANCHORAGE AREA-TURNAGAIN ARM
Area Summary: The red, pink, and chum salmon runs are slowly disappearing from area drainages just as silver salmon begin their late-summer onslaught. From city streams to the larger systems of Turnagain Arm, silver salmon are arriving in force and the fishing being good or better in many locations. While the hatchery runs of silvers to Ship, Bird, and Campbell creeks are already at peak levels, the natural runs are building in strength and will be entering the height of fish abundance very shortly and continuing through the month and well into September and even October. Spots to look for wild silvers include Glacier, Portage, and Ingram, all of which have the capacity to yield great action, yet there are also wild components of silvers heading into Ship, Bird and Campbell creeks as well. Sea-run Dolly Varde, which have been feeding at the mouth of streams flowing into Knik and Turnagain arms all summer long, are now situated in various rivers and creeks in the area, subsisting on salmon byproducts such as eggs and flesh. Landlocked salmon, trout, char, and grayling are increasingly active in local lakes as the weather starts to cool and will peak in intensity sometime during September.
SHIP CREEK: The tides are continuing to kick out some very respectful catches of silver salmon with eggs and spinners being top choices for fish and anglers alike. The run is still peaking and landing a limit of three is very possible with right timing and location. Condition of fish are mainly bright but some blush specimens are starting to show with more frequency; the run will likely hold up for another week before slowing down. Pinks are still fairly numerous but very few fresh ones are left. A few chums are also present.
CAMPBELL CREEK: Recent rains sparked a decent push of silver salmon to exit Campbell Lake and enter the main portion of the stream open to fishing. Anglers have been scoring fair to good success at dawn using eggs and spinners in deeper holes and pools. The largest concentration of fish may be located between Old Seward Highway and the Dimond Boulevard. Condition of fish range from chrome to blush. As a reminder, only silver salmon may be targeted; all other salmon species are closed. Fishing for rainbows and Dollies is good in the upper segment of the creek; use beads and flesh flies.
BIRD CREEK: With a slight increase in water levels due to area rain, anglers experienced improved conditions for catching silvers. Good action can be had on the incoming and outgoing tides using eggs and spinners. Some silvers are also caught during low tide by sight-fishing. There is a combination of hatchery and wild silvers now entering the stream. A few fresh to semi-bright chums and pinks remain but these runs have peaked and are quickly fading away.
PORTAGE CREEK: Despite some access issues in the tidewater section of the stream due to a Seward Highway road construction project, anglers managing their way through are finding fair to good action for silvers. Plunking eggs in select spots are yielding bright fish right around the tides. A number of fish are also being caught in holes above tidewater. Fresh and semi-bright chums along with lesser numbers of pinks continue to enter the drainage and are primarily being caught in the lower and middle stream sections; use egg/attractor combinations or flashy lures. A few fresh reds are still present. Dolly Varden fishing is fair.
Area Summary: It appears that the seemingly never-ending late runs of red salmon to the Kenai and Kasilof rivers are starting to show signs of slowing down as numbers of fish being recorded entering these systems are falling substantially from only a week ago. While the fishing is still productive on the Kenai for reds, the Kasilof may be close to done for the year unless another, last push of reds comes in, which is not too unusual. But looking at historical records, this past weekend was likely the last of the big numbers for the year for both drainages. Going forward, it is the silver salmon runs that will take the center of attention and there are concrete signs that this temporal shift in species abundance to match the new season is taking place right now; the lower peninsula streams are seeing silvers (as well as steelhead trout) arriving, Seward is reporting that silvers are rapidly advancing towards the head of the bay in time for the Seward Silver Salmon Derby, the early runs of silvers are ascending the Kenai and Kasilof rivers, and drainages of the northern section of the peninsula, including waters flowing into Turnagain Arm, are experiencing solid returns of silvers. And along with this annual shift is the observation of pinks and chums reaching the spawning stage and eventually dying off, leaving the waters of the peninsula to the last salmon of the season and the start of the great trout and char feeding frenzy before the weather turns cold. Area lakes are yet again turning on the bite as August rains fall and temperatures cool, with landlocked salmon, trout, char, and grayling readily striking anglers’ offerings. Marine species are still abundant in nearshore areas but anglers will soon notice a drop in success as halibut and other bottomfish begin a gradual migration to deeper waters.
RESURRECTION, SIXMILE CREEKS: The silver salmon action is hitting a peak with fair to good catches possible in the tidal areas and lower reaches using eggs and spinners; expect success to persist through the month. Large swaths of pink salmon are present in the lower sections of these waters but most of the fish are in or near spawning condition with few chrome or semi-bright specimens left; expect marginal results if looking for table quality fish. A trickle of fresh chums are still arriving.
QUARTZ, PTARMIGAN CREEKS: Dolly Varden fishing is being reported as good using beads and flesh flies. The reds have nearly finished spawning in upper Quartz but are just starting in the lower reaches and in Ptarmigan; match the hatch. A few rainbows are also being caught in addition to the occasional grayling and whitefish.
RESURRECTION BAY/SEWARD: Catches of silver salmon are beginning to pick up as more fish are edging closer to city beaches. Success is fair overall with small schools of silvers moving along the shorelines from Tonsina Creek and Spring Creek north towards the harbor area and the head of the bay. Try fishing the incoming, high, and outgoing tide using herring as bait or by casting spinners; prepare to make long casts to reach fish cruising in deeper water as few specimens are ready to commit to the shallows of stream mouths. Pink salmon action has slowed as more of the runs have matured, leaving fewer fresh fish; expect fair success. Only a relatively few nice chums and reds remain in the bay. The majority of sea-run Dolly Varden are seeking out freshwater locations to spawn and overwinter, yet some are still to be found in the briny. Surf-casting for bottomfish (flounder, codfish, etc.) is good with fair opportunities at best for halibut and rockfish—try along Lowell Point Road.
UPPER KENAI RIVER: Despite the recent emergency order permitting a doubling of red salmon bag and possession limits, the vast majority of fish are quickly turning color, leaving anglers with fair to good action at best for bright and semi-bright specimens. It is possible to achieve limits of six reds with time and patience; best area to fish is in the vicinity of the Russian River. Silver salmon are becoming more frequent and action reported to be poor to fair; try swinging flies to fish traveling near shore alongside the reds. The best opportunities right now, however, are for rainbows and Dollies, which are providing very good action on egg imitations; late-run kings and reds will start dropping eggs very shortly. Whitefish also possible.
RUSSIAN RIVER: Anglers sight-fishing are easily picking up their limits of red salmon at dawn in the Russian proper and throughout the day at the mouth on down. While many fish are dark blush or have attained spawning colors, fresh and semi-bright reds are in good supply still. Additionally, a recent emergency order doubled the daily bag and possession limits for reds due to a strong run and escapement goals that have been reached. As a reminder, the last day of the red salmon season is August 20. Silvers are being caught but the action is still poor to fair but improving as the run builds; expect the peak to start in about ten days. Anglers targeting rainbows and Dollies are finding good results early and late in the day, with the trout coming from entire stretch of river from the falls to the mouth while the char are more plentiful down low; try egg and flesh imitations, also forage pattern flies.
LOWER/MIDDLE KENAI RIVER: While it appears that the red salmon run is tapering off for the year with less fish entering the system every day, it is still possible to see brief spikes in numbers of fresh fish available. As of Thursday (8/12), success is still good to excellent in the Soldotna and Sterling area but this could change drastically come the weekend and especially next week. If the reds are slow on the lower river, hit the middle between Skilak Lake outlet and Bing’s Landing for substantially increased chances and possible limits of six bright and semi-bright fish. The ratio of blush fish to fresh fish varies by day and location but approximately 3:1 at this time. Silver salmon offer fair to sometimes good action on the river downstream of Soldotna, with some anglers achieving limits (2) when targeting them with spinners in slackwater areas. Some silvers are also taken by anglers flipping for reds. The peak of this early run is still another week away. A trickle of pink salmon is coming through. Fishing for rainbow trout and Dolly Varden is good from Soldotna up to Skilak Lake; egg and flesh imitations work perfectly.
ANCHOR RIVER, DEEP CREEK: Recent rainfall and subsequent rise in water levels have helped silvers move from tidewater up into the lower and middle sections. Still, anglers are having the most success on the tides and in holes and pools just upstream at first light using eggs and spinners. These runs should start to peak this weekend. Pink salmon are reasonably abundant but generally not in prime shape anymore; however, a fair number are still bright or semi-bright, especially in the tidal areas. A few steelhead are beginning to show up.
DUDIAK LAGOON: The hatchery run of silvers was slow in building up this year but the last week and a half has seen a slight improvement with fair to good action possible using eggs and spinners on the incoming and outgoing tides. Judging by the condition of the fish present, the run will likely not be productive for very much longer, perhaps another week to ten days.
Area Summary: As the pink and chum salmon runs begin to ebb in earnest in these parts, silver salmon catches are nicely picking up as fish distribute throughout the Susitna drainage as well as into the Chulitna system. The latter is also a good area to scout for late-arriving reds, such as Byers Creek. The weekend fisheries of Fish, Cottonwood, and Wasilla are gaining momentum as silvers replace the action where the reds left off. Little Susitna is experiencing a modest push of silvers and chums that could prove to be very productive. The Ekluna Tailrace is seeing its hatchery run of silvers arriving and Jim Creek is yielding numbers of reds and silvers both. The mouth of Moose Creek is another spot to go looking for silvers; the channel complex around the mouth of Eska Creek can be worthwhile at times too. But this is the time of the year when seasonal rains frequently interfere with stream conditions around here, which often means anglers must come up with alternatives or other options. If rivers and creeks are flowing high and muddy from a persistent downpour, search out lake-based streams that will typically run clear, thus yielding potentially excellent fishing; Byers, Sunshine, Caswell, Fish, Cottonwood, Jim, and the Eklutna are such drainages. Additionally, lakes are yet again beginning to see good fishing as waters cool down; landlocked salmon, trout, char, and grayling are becoming active in the shallows. Rainbows and grayling are continuing to be common catches in the tributaries of the Susitna and Chulitna rivers as the late summer food glut kicks into high gear. All considered, this is a great weekend for anglers in this area.
FISH CREEK: This weekend marks the opening of this weekend-only sport fishery for salmon (except kings) and other species in the lower section of water and its mouth on Knik Arm. Both reds and silvers in addition to a few pinks are currently present and should, collectively, provide good opportunities come Saturday morning throughout the area open to fishing and on the tides at the stream mouth all weekend. Silvers are likely to be the most numerous species but a decent presence of reds is still to be found as well. Try flies for the reds, while the silvers will hit eggs and spinners in addition to flies.
LITTLE SUSITNA RIVER: Anglers are seeing good catches of both silvers and chums on the lower and middle river, with the former being the brighter of the two as most of the chums are in the process of changing color, yet some relatively bright or even chrome fish are still present. Try eggs and spinners at dawn for the silvers; the chums are more fond of spoons and attractor/roe combinations but will respond enthusiastically to flies at times. The majority of pinks present are in or near spawning condition. A few reds are still coming in but negligible as far as angling interest is concerned.
COTTONWOOD, WASILLA CREEKS: These weekend-only streams are still producing fair red salmon catches, especially in the middle sections of Wasilla as the area open to salmon fishing on Cottonwood is very limited and centered on mainly the tidewater portion where most fish have passed through already. However, silver salmon are arriving in decent numbers and anglers are scoring fair to good catches using eggs and spinners; expect runs to peak this weekend and for the next ten days. Wasilla also has a fair presence of spawning pinks along with a few chums. Conversely, Cottonwood is the better option for targeting rainbow trout, mainly in the middle and upper reaches; use flies and small spinners for good action.
WILLOW, SHEEP, MONTANA CREEKS: With the pink and chum salmon runs waning for the season, silvers are rapidly taking over and anglers are seeing good catches around the mouths and lower reaches of these waters. The action is typically best at dawn, especially upstream of the mouths, but can be productive all day long in the confluence areas. Drifting eggs and casting spinners and flies is the best way to connect with silvers. As for pinks, runs are now spawning with occasional catches of brighter specimens. Chums are numerous still but mainly in or near spawning condition, yet a handful of bright and semi-bright fish are left and may be encountered primarily at the mouths; expect fair success using spoons, flies, and roe. Rainbow trout and grayling are active in middle and upper stream sections; good success is the norm on egg and flesh imitations, forage flies. Schools of whitefish are moving into Sheep and nearby Little Willow. Look for burbot at the mouths of all of these streams.
CHULITNA RIVER: For salmon, Byers Creek is the place to be. Despite heavy rainfall, this stream is lake-based and absorbs high and turbid water events much better than surrounding drainages. Red salmon are available and providing fair to good opportunities on flies; condition of fish range from dark blush to reasonably bright. Pinks and chums are present too but they are generally not in good shape for consumption. Silvers are starting to show but success is slow thus far in the season. The mouth of Troublesome Creek as another good bet for salmon, with main species right now being pinks and chums along with a small number of silvers. Do not neglect to scout Sunny (Railroad) Creek for reds. East Fork and Middle Fork of Chulitna, as well as Byers, are producing good rainbow trout fishing; kings are completing spawning—use egg and flesh imitations. Grayling are fair to good on Middle and East forks of the Chulitna and Honolulu Creeks.
COPPER VALLEY-VALDEZ ARM
Area Summary: Salmon runs in most of the Copper River basin remain rather elusive at this time, yet many hopefuls expect the late runs of red salmon and silver salmon to provide some relief after a somewhat disappointing summer. While the Gulkana is most known for its great late-summer/early fall red salmon run, the Tonsina also sees a more subdued run of these fish. But for now, anglers in this area are keyed in on resident species such as grayling in smaller clearwater tributaries as well as lakes. The action can often be excellent. Rainbow trout are available in many places, foremost the Gulkana and Klutina rivers, but there are a multitude of stocked lakes that are superb spots now that waters are starting to cool off. Other species, like lake trout, burbot, and whitefish, will become more active in the shallows soon as autumn rolls around. If salmon is the target for this weekend, then Valdez is the best place to be. Pinks are continuing to be caught in the port and chums and silvers are making a noticeable appearance too.
GULKANA RIVER: After a strong pulse of reds two weeks ago that kept action alive in a big way, things have simmered down lately pending another good hit by late-run fish. While the river was flowing a little high and murky at the time of this report, a drier weather forecast should quickly return the river to a more fishable situation. But until that happens, anglers can enjoy the continued excellent fishing for grayling on the upper river between the forks and the Paxson Lake outlet. Look for rainbows to be present as well.
KLUTINA, TONSINA RIVERS: Anglers on the Klutina are mainly targeting the good rainbow trout and Dolly Varden fishing in the upper reaches and are also reporting scattered catches of grayling and even whitefish. Tonsina is more of a grayling and Dolly Varden drainage and holds some promising opportunities in and around the mouths of clearwater tributaries, such as the Little Tonsina. For salmon, a late run of reds is moving through the Tonsina but catches have been rather sporadic recently; expect pockets of fish to be available through the rest of the month and even into September. No sightings or reports of silvers being caught yet but a few are likely to show up soon.
PORT VALDEZ: Relatively large numbers of pink salmon continue to occupy the port, albeit many fish are in or near spawning condition at this stage of the run. However, there is still a sizable component of bright and semi-bright pinks to be had, of which anglers can filter out from the masses of older fish through the practice of catch and release. For these fresh specimens, target the incoming and outgoing tides around Allison Point and the waters adjacent to the boat harbor; expect fair to good success. Some nice fish are also taken from the city dock. Avoid the mouths of clearwater streams as they are clogged with spawning pinks. Late-run chum salmon are arriving at the boat harbor and a few fish are being caught by snagging or incidentally while targeting pinks. Silver salmon are infiltrating the area and an increasing number of anglers casting from shore are reporting catching some of them on spinners; look for small schools of fish off Allison Point and the beach near the harbor. Bottomfish such as codfish, flounders, and sablefish are yielding good results off the city dock using pieces of bait.
Updated Thursday, August 5, 2021
CURRENT HOT SPOTS: KENAI REDS, RAINBOWS, DOLLIES; SHIP SILVERS; KASILOF REDS; LITTLE SUSITNA SILVERS, CHUMS; RUSSIAN REDS, RAINBOWS; UPPER KENAI REDS, RAINBOWS, DOLLIES; CHULITNA RAINBOWS, GRAYLING; HOPE PINKS; SUSITNA PINKS, CHUMS, RAINBOWS, GRAYLING; VALDEZ PINKS; ANCHOR SILVERS, PINKS, DOLLIES
Weekly Summary: With pink and chum salmon runs holding on and producing some very decent action around the region, silvers are making an early grand entrance in a few locations already and before long will be the dominant salmon species in the vast majority of roadside waters. However, it is the large return of late-run red salmon, primarily to the Kenai River, that have anglers most excited, matched with an emergency order doubling bag and possession limits, ensuring that this season will go down in history as a very successful one for fishing. Adding to this is the action brewing for trout and char and grayling, with promises to contribute significant action through the remainder of the summer and into fall. This weekend very well could see the zenith of angling opportunities for Southcentral Alaska.
ANCHORAGE AREA-TURNAGAIN ARM
Area Summary: With the local pink salmon runs starting to mature and fade, anglers can be safe knowing that the silvers are showing up in a big way and are readily being caught in several streams, most notably in Ship Creek. While this area has historically produced mainly late summer and early fall runs, there are earlier runs that are available, such as those in Bird and Campbell creeks and in parts also Glacier Creek in Girdwood. These locations yield worthwhile action starting in late July and continuing through mid-August. In contrast, the later runs peak sometime between mid-August and early September. In addition to pinks and silvers, anglers are catching a fair number of chums in various waterways, with Bird, Glacier, and Portage being the larger producers. The king salmon season has ended for the year in these parts. Rainbow trout fishing is good in both upper Campbell and Chester creeks as well as in area stocked lakes. Dolly Varden are widely distributed this time of year, appearing in most all flowing waters of Anchorage city and Turnagain Arm.
SHIP CREEK: Hitting the stream in force just several days ago, silver salmon are producing good and steady action on the tides using primarily roe fished with a bobber or by casting spinners. Limits are common at this time. Anglers focused on sight-fishing can do well on low tide also with roe and flies. The mainly hatchery run should stay strong for another two weeks before subsiding, replaced by a much smaller natural run lasting into September. Pink salmon are abundant but many of the fish are turning color with catches of bright or semi-bright specimens being fair. A few chums and Dolly Varden have been joining the fray.
BIRD CREEK: Catches of silver salmon has increased from last week, anglers experiencing fair to good fishing on the incoming and outgoing tides. Relatively few silvers are being caught when the tide is out but sight-fishers are managing to scratch together some on flies. Bright and semi-bright chums are offering fair success on the tides as well; spoons, flies, and roe are good bets. The pink salmon run has peaked and most fish are turning dark; scout holes on the outgoing tide for fresh specimens—expect fair to good results. Fishing for Dolly Varden is best in upper areas of the stream and in the main tributary, Penguin Creek.
TURNAGAIN ARM STREAMS: The pink salmon runs are declining in quality and will end soon; however, Glacier and Portage creeks are known to produce bright fish through the month. These two streams also hold the best chances of catching nice chums, with roe and attractor combinations being most effective, yet spoons work too. Indian and Ingram creeks have fair opportunities for pinks. For silvers, Portage will soon be a hot spot in tidewater as fish arrive and will hit eggs fished stationary on the bottom; a few have been caught already and the run will only improve from here on out. The red salmon run up Portage has peaked but some fair catches may be had in upper areas near the Portage Glacier Road. Fishing for Dolly Varden is fair to good in all of the aforementioned waters, the mouth of Kern Creek included.
Area Summary: Red salmon have hit the Kenai River with a vengeance and anglers are reporting excellent catches there as well as in neighboring Kasilof River. Both drainages are now under increased bag limit emergency orders, allowing for 6 reds per day and 12 in possession. The Russian is also producing large catches of late-run reds. Silver salmon are now appearing in fishable numbers in a few locations, mainly the southern and northern peninsula streams, but some are also being caught in the Kenai, Kasilof, and Swanson. Pinks may be found in most coastal drainages, including the marine waters of Passage Canal and Resurrection Bay; the southern streams of Anchor and Deep only recently began seeing larger numbers of fish. The waters draining into Turnagain Arm, such as Resurrection and Sixmile, are experiencing a decline in fresh pinks as runs will be ending soon. For chums, the latter two drainages mentioned are decent bets for nice chums, in addition to the Tonsina run in Seward. With the early runs of kings and reds spawning, anglers are experiencing an uptick in action for trout and char as these species key in on eggs produced. Quartz Creek is yielding good catches of Dollies right now and Ptarmigan Creek will soon follow; Anchor River and Deep and Stariski creeks are great bets too. For a rainbow trout and Dolly Varden combination, the middle and upper Kenai River are hard to beat as these waters are about to peak in action very shortly.
RESURRECTION CREEK/HOPE: The run of pinks showed up in a big way this past week; however, most of the fish arriving on the tides are mature with only a fair number of chrome specimens. But with some persistence and being in the right spot, anglers could easily land a limit of nice pinks this weekend after catching and releasing many more older fish. Spoons and flies are getting strikes. Chum salmon are entering the fishery in small numbers and range from ocean bright to fairly dark; flies, spoons, and roe are effective enticements. To connect with silver salmon, try fishing the tides casting spinners or drifting eggs under a bobber. A few limits were taken last weekend and the action should only be getting better as the month progresses. Some anglers are successful catching silvers by sight-fishing. A few reds are present.
RESURRECTION BAY/SEWARD: The best salmon fishing in the bay right now is centered around the mouths of spawning streams, such as Spring and Tonsina creeks, and along Lowell Point. Pink salmon are relatively abundant and and readily caught on lures and flies; expect fair to good action for bright and semi-bright fish. Salmon Creek on Nash Road and spots along lower Resurrection River yield decent catches of fresh pinks as well. For chums, the mouth of Tonsina is the best bet; fish will strike lures and flies but many are taken by snagging—action is fair to good. Late-run reds are appearing at the mouth of Scheffler Creek and may be encountered at the mouths of clearwater streams draining into the bay from now on through the month. Reports of silver salmon caught from shore are still few and far between but should increase by mid-month. Surf-casters targeting bottomfish are finding flounders, codfish, and greenling throughout much of the bay; the deeper water from the SeaLife Center and along Lowell Point Road also holds opportunity for halibut and rockfish.
UPPER KENAI RIVER: The late-run of reds is peaking and the action is excellent. Best stretch of water is from the Russian River confluence down to the Skilak Lake inlet, yet good catches may be had most anywhere along the river from approximately Princess Rapids on downstream. The run generally matures rapidly in these parts so this weekend should hold the best opportunity before most fish turn color. A few silver salmon are now confirmed present. Fishing for rainbow trout and Dolly Varden is good and getting better as salmon begin to spawn; use a variety of forage and egg imitations. Whitefish are a common catch these days.
RUSSIAN RIVER: Fishing for red salmon is also excellent here as the late run is peaking. Water conditions are very low and successful anglers are getting their quarry at dawn or down in the Sanctuary during the day. Sight-fishing is outstanding. Look for the run to last for another ten days before slowing down. No solid reports of silvers being caught but a few should be present by now. Fishing for rainbow trout is fair to good throughout the length of river from the falls down to the mouth; most Dolly Varden are being caught at the mouth. Try a variety of offerings for both species, such as forage, egg imitations, and flesh.
LOWER KENAI RIVER: After several days of very strong pulses of red salmon, exceeding 100,000 fish per day by a good margin, anglers are finding excellent action from near tidewater upstream to the outlet of Skilak Lake. This great presence of salmon could last another week before numbers of fresh fish entering the river begins to dwindle; however, it has occurred a few times over the years (last year included) where the run continued strong into the third week of the month. Condition of fish right now range from chrome to near spawning with most being bright or very slightly blush. Silver salmon are appearing more often and the run is building. There is a relatively small presence of pink salmon in the river and fish are ocean bright to spawning shape; targeting these fish is generally best at the mouth of tributary spawning streams. Fishing for rainbow trout and Dolly Varden is good from the outlet of Skilak Lake down to around Soldotna. Most effective offerings include beads/egg and forage/flesh patterns.
KASILOF RIVER: The late run of reds has had longevity to it this season and anglers are still experiencing good to excellent fishing from tidewater on up to the rapids and beyond. This coming weekend should be the last really productive time for reds before the run begins to slow down. Pink salmon are quite abundant and anglers are catching some incidentally to fishing for reds. A small number of silver salmon are being caught but few anglers have been targeting them given the large presence of reds in the river. Fishing for Dolly Varden is fair to good on the middle and upper river.
ANCHOR RIVER, DEEP CREEK: Silver salmon are starting into these streams and the fishing has been good on the tides the last few days using eggs, spinners, and flies. Due to low water conditions, few fish have ventured much above tidewater, although this will change shortly with the advent of rain and rising stream volume helping push fish upstream. A good return of pink salmon is also in progress with decent success for bright and semi-bright specimens using lures and flies in deep holes in and right above tidewater. Dolly Varden action has been good to excellent on the lower and middle sections of water; small spinners and forage and egg imitation flies are productive. Nearby Ninilchik River is still open to king salmon fishing but very few nice fish are left.
Area Summary: Things are picking up rather nicely in this area as pink and chum runs peak and the silvers are starting to show in decent numbers in several locations; even the reds are hanging on in a few spots. After a somewhat slow start earlier in July, there appears to be salmon entering rivers and streams everywhere, from the coastal drainages of Knik Arm to the inland systems along the Susitna and Chulitna rivers. The weekend-only waters of Cottonwood and Wasilla are seeing the latter part of a quite productive red run, silvers are now moving through there as well as in nearby Eklutna Tailrace and Jim Creek. Fish Creek opens back up to fishing on August 14. The Little Susitna is finally seeing a good push of silvers down low along with chums. Up around Willow to Rabideux and all points in between, anglers are connecting with lots of pinks and chums and experiencing fishable numbers of silvers. A bit farther to the north, the Chulitna tributaries are producing reds, pinks, and chums along with the first few silver salmon, albeit the latter will not be turning on completely until another ten days or so. As for resident species such as rainbows, Dollies, grayling, whitefish, and burbot, the action is really heating up as anglers are reporting great success in flowing waters just about everywhere. In fact, this area of Southcentral right now can readily compete with some of the best action on the Kenai Peninsula in scope of species available and success rates.
LITTLE SUSITNA RIVER: Without a doubt, chum salmon rule the lower river and are now infiltrating the middle and even upper sections as high up as Houston. If looking for brighter specimens, try fishing in the vicinity of the MacKenzie access site using spoons, plugs, and flies; expect fair to good results. For those wanting to chase silvers, the last few days have seen a surge of fish coming through, with some anglers scoring limits on spinners and flies; again, the Point MacKenzie road access is the place to go. The use of bait will be allowed starting Friday, August 6; look for catch rates to increase significantly at that time with fair to good success and limits possible—hit the river at dawn. Pink salmon numbers are doing better but fish quality is dropping off. A few trout and char are being caught.
WILLOW CREEK: Silver salmon are finally showing up at the mouth in decent numbers and anglers are taking limits on roe and spinners at first light; success is currently fair to good and improving. Some fish are found as high up as the highway crossing but expect low catch rates in that area for another week or so. Pinks and chums are abundant and responding well to lures and flies, yet fresh chums are also very fond of attractor and egg combinations. The action has been good the last several days and expected to hold through the weekend before fish start maturing. For rainbows and grayling, the middle and upper sections are yielding good results on small lures and flies; beads can be deadly around spawning kings. Dolly Varden and whitefish are becoming more common, particularly in lower section.
SHEEP CREEK: The silvers are moving into the mouth of the stream but not yet in the numbers as seen at Willow. However, pinks and chums are running relatively strong and easily caught on lures and flies; action is good. Some silvers are being taken on eggs and spinners in early morning. The middle reach up to the highway crossing does have fair potential for nice color chums with spoons, flies, and eggs effective. For rainbows and grayling, hike upstream of the crossing into parts not visited by salmon anglers and the action will be good. Whitefish are responding to bait and beads throughout the lower and middle sections. For burbot, soak herring stationary on the bottom at the Susitna confluence; evening and nighttime hours are best.
MONTANA CREEK: Silvers are arriving but not in solid numbers quite yet; hit the stream mouth at first light using salmon roe and spinners for mediocre chances—limits are possible with persistence. The mouth is also the best place for pinks and chums and the action is good for bright and semi-bright specimens. Spoons, flies, and roe all work, the latter being more popular with chums. Fishing is slower around the highway crossing but some pinks and chums are present. Rainbow trout and grayling action is good in the middle and upper stream sections, especially around spawning kings; use beads or egg imitation flies, yet insect and other forage patterns are effective too. A few Dolly Varden may be taken at the mouth. For burbot, soak herring stationary on the bottom at the Susitna confluence, on the downstream side of Montana; evening and nighttime hours are best.
CHULITNA RIVER: There is fair to good fishing for red, pink, and chum salmon in tributaries flowing into this vast system, with the mouth of Troublesome and the lower sections of Byers and Sunny (Railroad) being relative hot spots at this time. These runs are peaking now or will be shortly with this weekend being prime time to scout these waters. A very few silvers are arriving but do not expect much in terms of success until next week at the earliest. Rainbow trout provide good catches at Byers and East Fork Chulitna; grayling are best at Middle Fork Chulitna.
COPPER VALLEY-VALDEZ ARM
Area Summary: While the salmon runs in this area are on a definite decline, a few drainages—including Gulkana River—will continue to receive fresh reds from now on and through the month and well into September. Dip netters in Chitina are confirming decent numbers of reds still coming through so that should reflect positively on angling opportunities in the near future. Although there are reports of king salmon being present in decent numbers in the Klutina and Tonsina river, fishing for them is still closed by emergency order. Silver salmon have yet to appear but likely a few specimens will be available by mid-month in such locations as Tonsina River. If not up to chasing salmon, the smaller clearwater streams in the area support very good grayling action at this time, with early mornings and evenings producing nice catches on the upper Mendelta, Tolsona, Tulsona, Indian, and upper Gunn creeks. Rainbow trout are also hitting in Mendeltna and Tolsona, as well as in several of the stocked lakes in the area. Lake trout are being caught, in particular from waters off the Denali Highway as well as Paxson Lake. In Valdez, pink salmon are numerous and hitting lures and flies willingly out in the port as well as in the Robe River.
GULKANA RIVER: A large contingent of red salmon arrived some days ago and are spread throughout the middle river with more fish arriving daily. While the late run typically peaks around mid-August most years, some years do see strong surges already in late July. Often, however, the late fish are more spread out timing wise and not as condensed as the early run. Anglers are reporting fair to very good fishing, with those able to sight-fish to schools of salmon being most successful. Grayling catches are most consistent above the forks around the rapids and on to the outlet of Paxson Lake; expect excellent fishing. Some rainbows are also being taken.
KLUTINA, TONSINA RIVERS: Some red salmon continue to enter these drainages with the Tonsina providing better fishing right now. Although finding schools of salmon can be tricky at times, anglers are encouraged to scout various parts for holding or migrating groups of reds. Drifting yarn flies is standard practice in these waters. Success ranges from generally fair to sometimes good or even excellent. No reports of silver salmon being caught yet. Fishing for Dolly Varden is decent using beads or egg imitation flies in upper sections of both rivers with sporadic catches of grayling; rainbows are present in the Klutina as well.
PORT VALDEZ: Pink salmon are peaking in numbers within the port with anglers experiencing good catches of bright and semi-bright fish at Allison Point and the mouth of Solomon Gulch Creek. Similar reports also come from the harbor area. Many of the fish are turning so filtering through older pinks in order to find fresh ones is required. The run does not appear to be as large this year as in a normal year; however, part of it could be contributed to a segment of the run arriving later than usual and may continue yielding bright fish through the month. A few chum salmon are being landed on the harbor side. Silver salmon are arriving in the port and at least a couple are rumored to have been caught by anglers casting from shore. Fishing for bottomfish off the city dock is fair to good with main species being smaller flounder, codfish, and sablefish.
ROBE RIVER: This small drainage at the edge of Valdez is seeing a decent run of pink salmon with fair to good action in the lower section and at the Lowe River confluence. Most fish are turning color but there are some shiny and semi-bright specimens left. Dolly Varden are availavble and easily caught on egg imitations flies and beads; fishing is good. A few chums and even an early silver salmon may be present.
Updated Thursday, July 29, 2021
CURRENT HOT SPOTS: KENAI REDS, RAINBOWS, DOLLIES; VALDEZ PINKS; KASILOF REDS; LITTLE SUSITNA CHUMS; RUSSIAN REDS, RAINBOWS; HOPE PINKS; UPPER KENAI REDS, RAINBOWS, DOLLIES; CHULITNA RAINBOWS, GRAYLING; SUSITNA PINKS, CHUMS, RAINBOWS, GRAYLING; SHIP SILVERS, PINKS; ANCHOR DOLLIES
Weekly Summary: As the mid-summer fishing season rolls into late summer mode, anglers will soon see a shift from the hectic red salmon days on the peninsula to the more subdued but still highly productive fisheries for pinks, chums, and silvers. It is not just this variety of species and more laidback atmosphere that draw many anglers to prefer this time of year but also the number of productive waters easily accessible. Whereas kings and reds are usually abundant in only a handful of key locations, the other salmon species tend to fill the void by proliferating in most any coastal and inland river and stream. This not only means a greater scope for salmon fishing opportunities but that of resident species such as trout, char, grayling, and whitefish in addition. But at this very time, Southcentral anglers have the luxury to engage in the widest range of action available; no matter which direction headed out, there will be hot spots and great fishing to be found.
ANCHORAGE AREA-TURNAGAIN ARM
Area Summary: The peak season for salmon in this area is ongoing as pink and chum salmon are present in most streams draining into Turnagain Arm and even reds may be located by those putting in the effort. While silver salmon are not in abundance quite yet, anglers are hoping for a good showing in streams such as Ship, Campbell, Bird and others in the not too distant future. Resident species such as rainbow trout and Dolly Varden are providing plenty of action in clearwater streams within the city, especially now as the king and early run of red salmon are spawning. Lake fishing opportunities are plentiful but the action is mediocre as warm waters either drive fish deep or making them sluggish to hit anglers’ offerings; the very early morning hours seeing the best fishing.
SHIP CREEK: Anglers are still awaiting the first serious push of silvers, which could occur at any time now, yet those skilled and persistent enough are bringing limits of fish out of the stream. Floating eggs and casting spinners on the tides is producing fair success, yet a few silvers are also taken out of the deeper slots at low tide using flies. Pinks, on the other hand, are relatively abundant and eagerly striking lures and flies; condition of fish range from chrome to quite dark with most being bright or semi-bright. If targeting these small salmon, expect good or better catches. A few chums are showing up and being caught incidentally to fishing for other species. Fishing for king salmon is still allowed by emergency order but the seasonal extension ends this Sunday, July 31; the run is for all practical purposes done, yet a trickle of mostly dark red fish is present along with a very rare fresher specimen. Update (7/31): The silvers have begun arriving in good numbers; expect the action to be likewise over the weekend with limits of 3 fish not unrealistic.
BIRD CREEK: The most prolific species here continues to be pink salmon. Good numbers of fish are entering on the tides with a decent portion still being nice and bright. However, anglers are seeing a steady increase of older, darker fish, which is a sign that the run is maturing and not likely to yield quality fish for too much longer. Still, for this weekend, a limit of chrome pinks is very much possible. Silvers are arriving in small numbers on each tide and quickly being picked off by anglers drifting eggs or casting spinners. While some are walking home with limits of three fish, catching maybe one fish is more realistic as of now. Hopefully the situation will change next week as the peak of the run is generally present. Fresh and semi-bright chum salmon are available and can be successfully targeted by sight-fishing with fair catches reported.
TURNAGAIN ARM STREAMS: There is a variety of species of fish to chase in drainages flowing into the arm, including four kinds of salmon in addition to sea-run char. Glacier Creek in Girdwood supports decent numbers of pinks along with some chums and Dollies and a few silvers. Portage Creek at the head of the arm is seeing a good abundance of reds, pinks, and Dollies in the lower portion, yet the former may be difficult to catch sometimes. Chums and silvers are also present in smaller numbers. Ingram and Indian creeks are seeing mainly catches of pinks but a few chums and silvers along with Dolly Varden is a possibility.
Area Summary: With king salmon fishing shut down in all freshwater locations on the peninsula, except for the Ninilchik River, anglers are turning their complete attention to the prolific runs of red salmon that have been steadily ascending the Kenai and Kasilof rivers in large numbers. The last ten days to two weeks have seen very respectable densities of fish arriving, making up at least a little bit for the lackluster king salmon season this year. Pink salmon are not particularly abundant this year but enough of them are showing up in places like Passage Canal, Resurrection Bay, and the north coast drainages of Resurrection and Sixmile creeks to make for some interesting times on the water. Chum salmon appear to be a bit off in typical numbers statewide according to official reports, yet the modest size of area runs are enough to satisfy the anglers seeking these fish. Lastly, silver salmon are looking to be coming in either about a week late or not in the numbers expected or hoped for; the early runs of the southern shore of Turnagain Arm and the hatchery fish at Dudiak Lagoon in Homer are thus far lagging in their presence. However, with the rich variety of waters and types of silver runs on the peninsula, anglers should have no problem finding their quarry from August on into November. Resident species are getting active as the early runs of king and red salmon start spawning, providing a very intense period of fishing for trout and char aficionados. The highland or alpine lakes of the peninsula are supporting some great trout and grayling action right now. Bottomfish are very active in nearshore waters, including halibut and rockfish.
RESURRECTION CREEK/HOPE: Water levels continue to drop and fish are starting to advance upstream, becoming available in more spots. Pink salmon still dominate the stream and are yielding good to excellent success for anglers casting hardware or drifting jigs on the tides or flies when the water is out. Many bright specimens are coming in but there is a distinct shift of more pinks coloring up, signaling that the time to land quality fish is limited; go this weekend if intending to bring limits home. Chum salmon are more common now and a handful are being landed every day, usually incidentally to casting for pinks; however, they can be targeted successfully if sight-fishing. A few silvers are being caught but fishing for them is still slow. Fishing for Dolly Varden is fair throughout the stream.
SIXMILE CREEK: Cooler weather patterns the last several days have brought more favorable conditions for catching salmon. Successful anglers are seeing fair to good action for mainly chums along with pinks and the occasional silver. Spoons, spinners, and attractor/egg combinations are responsible for most fish being landed. Fishing for Dolly Varden is fair. Hit the access points along the lower stream along the Hope Highway; the upper portion of the stream above the canyon area and along Seward Highway holds far less opportunities.
RESURRECTION BAY/SEWARD: Fishing for pink salmon is for the most part good throughout the bay with most catches occurring in or near the mouths of spawning streams using spoons and flies. Spring Creek off Nash Road, Scheffler Creek in front of town near the boat harbor, Spruce Creek at Lowell Point, and Tonsina Creek accessed by trail from Lowell Point are all decent locations right now. However, the boulder shoreline along Lowell Point Road is also an attractive option casting spoons or small herring. A number of chums is also present, mainly at Tonsina Creek. Both of these species will be peaking for the next week to ten days, with pinks generally holding on longer into the season than the chums. Catches of silvers from the bank is still very sporadic. The main run of reds has ended but there are smaller, later runs available now through the summer. As for bottomfish, flounder, codfish, greenling, and sculpin are present and provide good action on pieces of bait. Look for halibut and rockfish chances from the SeaLife Center and down along the coastline to Lowell Point.
UPPER KENAI RIVER: Fishing opportunities are picking up here as the late run of red salmon is arriving with fish numbers building daily. Although the best action tends to be from the Russian confluence down to the inlet at Skilak Lake, productive fishing can be held from approximately Princess Rapids down to Sportsman’s Landing. Reds range in condition from dime bright to near spawning shape, with most being bright to semi-bright. Expect good success for the weekend and into next week. Rainbow trout and Dolly Varden fishing is also good, with a wide range of flies being effective; forage and insect imitations are doing best at this time. Whitefish are being picked up as well. It is still early for silvers but not too early as the first few specimens usually hit the river the last few days of the month.
RUSSIAN RIVER: The late run of red salmon is rapidly building in numbers at the mouth and sanctuary area, with schools of fish headed upstream at night and early morning. Some anglers are scoring limits of three fish by sight-fishing; best action is at dawn. Current success rates stand at fair to good and should improve over the weekend and into next week. No reports yet of silvers being caught but a few are typically present by the first of August. Fishing for rainbow trout is good in the mornings and evenings around the campground area, and generally productive all day up to the falls and beyond. Forage and insect patterns work well right now but egg and flesh are tops just downstream of fish cleaning tables. Dolly Varden are showing up at the river mouth, providing fair catches.
LOWER KENAI RIVER: The action for late-run reds continues to be relatively hot as good numbers of fish arrive daily. Very productive fishing may be had from tidewater up to near the Skilak Lake outlet, with the early morning and evening being best in terms of catch rate; expect good to excellent success. The run typically holds well through the month and into the first week of August, perhaps a bit later this year due to the fact that the bulk of the run hit about a week late. The access points around Soldotna and Sterling are favored by anglers. Some silvers are now being caught, for the most part by anglers casting for reds or other species. Targeting them is possible in the tidewater area, in quiet sloughs or mouths of channels using spinners; fishing for them will improve considerably in about ten days as the red run dies down. Catches of pink salmon remains low and there is now a presence of both tributary as well as mainstem fish in the river. Odd-numbered years yield fair fishing at best for pinks on the Kenai. As a reminder, fishing is closed for king salmon by emergency order. Rainbow trout and Dolly Varden are providing very good opportunities from the Soldotna area upstream to the Skilak Lake outlet; use forage and insect imitation flies but flesh and egg patterns may work well at times too.
KASILOF RIVER: Fishing for red salmon has been good to excellent the last several days and expected to hold at least through the weekend; historically, the peak of this run happens sometime during the month of July with only sporadic good showings of fish in August. The action has been hot from the edge of tidewater on upstream to the highway bridge crossing and on into the rapids area. Some pinks and a few silvers are also present but not contributing to the fishery to any great extent just yet. King salmon fishing is closed for the season by emergency order. Fishing for Dolly Varden is fair to good along most of the river from its mouth up to Tustumena Lake; a few rainbows and whitefish are available.
ANCHOR RIVER: For anglers not too absorbed by the salmon action, this is the perfect spot to get plenty of action on light gear. Sea-run Dolly Varden are entering the river in good numbers and the action has been good to excellent the last couple of days. Small spinners amd forage imitation flies are getting the attention. There is also a decent showing of pink salmon on the lower river and tidewater; some fish are turning but there are enough bright and semi-bright specimens present to be worth the effort. No reports of silvers yet but could be any day now.
Area Summary: With the king salmon season over and done with for the year and the mid-summer runs of red salmon soon to follow the same path, anglers are looking at the trio of pink, chum, and silver salmon to carry them through the rest of the season. The silvers are slow in coming in thus far but at least the pinks and chums are making a sizable presence, especially in the tributaries of the Susitna River. The Little Susitna is experiencing a nice push of chums right now and before long the tributaries of Chulitna River will see a load of late-run reds, pinks, and chums arrive as well. The Knik Arm drainages, such as Eklutna, Cottonwood, and Jim, has thus far seen little activity from silvers; however, some reds are being taken. Fishing for rainbows, Dollies, and grayling is productive in many waters, particularly the cooler runoff streams of the Susitna and Chulitna systems, but alpine lakes are producing their fair share of trout and grayling at a fast and steady clip. The lowland lakes, however, have slowed considerably due to warm water temperatures.
COTTONWOOD CREEK: The upcoming weekend promises to hold some varied catches of salmon as reds are still available in fishable numbers and the silvers are just starting. Anglers floating or plunking roe in the tidewater portion of the stream are being successful, yet some fish are also falling for flies and spinners. This fishery is typically not as intense for reds compared to when the silvers hit, so patience and timing is the key; try the incoming out outgoing tides. For rainbow trout, some fair to good action is to be found in the middle and upper stretches of water.
LITTLE SUSITNA RIVER: While the silver salmon run has yet to materialize to any great extent, anglers at the lower access point near Point MacKenzie are seeing a surge of chums coming through. The catching has been good the last couple of days with condition of fish ranging from chrome bright to quite dark, with most being relatively bright or semi-bright. Spoons, plugs, and flies are all effective. Some silvers are being caught but it takes time and due diligence in hooking up. Pinks and reds are few in numbers as well. Fishing for salmon around the highway crossing in Houston is still slow. Some reports of rainbows, Dollies, and whitefish taken.
WILLOW, SHEEP, MONTANA CREEKS: Good numbers of pink salmon and fair numbers of chums are showing at the mouths of these Susitna tributaries. Many of the fish are still bright or semi-bright, with a smaller presence of blush or dark fish. Both lures and flies are getting the job done. There are also fish showing at the highway crossings, although most of those are showing some color. Silvers have been slow in arriving but some are being caught; Willow is seeing the bigger jump in catches with number of fish present gradually decreasing the higher up in the Susitna drainage on travels. Limit of two fish is possible this weekend, especially for the pre-dawn crowd. Nearby Little Willow, Kashwitna, Caswell, Goose, Sunshine, and Rabideux are experiencing catches of salmon as well. Fishing for rainbow trout and grayling is generally good in all area streams with most fish being caught in the middle and upper reaches where king salmon are now spawning; try egg and flesh imitations but do not ignore forage or insect patterns.
CHULITNA RIVER: The trout and grayling action is heating up now that king salmon are actively spawning in clearwater tributaries and anglers are casting beads and flesh flies in hopes of connecting. If that does not work, go back and use forge and insect patterns. Top waters right now would be Byers, East Fork Chulitna, and Middle Fork Chulitna, yet some of the less renowned drainages offer quite decent catches too. Besides kings, other salmon species are just starting to arrive in the area, such as reds and pinks. Check the mouths of streams or the lower reaches for small schools of salmon traveling upstream. Although numbers of fish may not be great yet, the quality of these early fish is excellent. Byers Creek and the mouth of Troublesome Creek are a top bet for salmon.
COPPER VALLEY-VALDEZ ARM
Area Summary: With recent warm summer temperatures, most of the lakes in this area are seeing a drop in action as resident fish species move to deep, cooler waters. Some of the runoff mountain streams still provide good grayling fishing. As for salmon, the king fishing season remains closed and the early and mid-summer runs of reds are in a decline. However, there is hope yet as the late runs of red salmon bound for the Gulkana and other locations are gaining strength and should keep anglers busy well into September. Additionally, silver salmon will be arriving in the area in a few weeks. As for the marine fishery in Valdez, pink salmon are finally abundant and the action should stick around for another week or more before subsiding. The silvers are a few weeks away here too. Casting for bottomfish is certainly a viable option and a myriad of species are available.
GULKANA RIVER: Anglers in the hunt for late-season reds will find them here. Recent tallies have shown a good number of fish in the lower and middle river and water conditions are relatively low and clear. Best catches may be had by those skilled at tracking down schools of fish moving upstream and sight-fishing to them using an assortment of flies. Scouts sections of water in and around the road access points, or go on a float trip. Success rate is currently fair to good. King salmon fishing is closed for the season. Grayling are abundant as always on the middle and upper river, in particular around the rapids and up to the outlet of Paxson Lake, and provide superb action; expect to encounter a handful of rainbows as well.
PORT VALDEZ: Good to excellent angling can be had in the port for pink salmon. Allison Point, the mouth of Solomon Gulch Creek, the harbor area, and the city dock are all reporting nice catches of fresh pinks on spoons and spinners and flies. While the abundance may not be as great as in some years, there are enough fish to fill a 6-fish limit if so desired. However, with August looming just a few days away, anglers here are encountering more blushed or dark fish as the run is maturing. Those looking for table fare pinks are encouraged to practice catch-and-release in sorting out chrome specimens from the mass of older fish. A few chums are being caught also, recent catches made along the breakwater in front of town and the harbor. No reports yet of silvers but the first fish is likely to be caught within a week or so. Fishing for bottomfish is fair to good using bait at the ferry dock.
Updated Thursday, July 22, 2021
CURRENT HOT SPOTS: KENAI REDS, RAINBOWS; HOPE PINKS; KASILOF REDS; VALDEZ PINKS; UPPER KENAI RAINBOWS, DOLLIES; GULKANA REDS, GRAYLING; CHULITNA RAINBOWS, GRAYLING; SUSITNA RAINBOWS, GRAYLING; COOK INLET HALIBUT
Weekly Summary: There is a definite positive movement of fish into the rivers and streams throughout the Southcentral region as reds, pinks, chums, and silvers are steadily increasing in numbers and frequency being encountered by anglers. The Kenai and Kasilof rivers are leading the pack at the moment with late-run reds charging upstream in strong pulses, and Fish Creek near Wasilla is experiencing a solid showing of these fish too as dip netting there opens up. Pinks, which generally inundate coastal and inland drainages by this time, appear to be late in the bulk of runs arriving; however, there are also indications that runs are also small this year compared to historical averages, even for systems dominated by odd-numbered year returns. While a bit early to tell for certain, the chum stocks seem to take a track similar to pinks. Silvers are so far spot on in general timing and even a little early in some areas or locations. As for late-run king salmon, all major drainages supporting these stocks are now closed to fishing by emergency order due to very low returns or expectations of such. Resident species, such as landlocked salmon, trout, char, and grayling, are producing great fishing overall in both lakes and streams, especially in cooler highland drainages or places that see populations of spawning salmon. Halibut and other saltwater fish are relatively abundant in near- and inshore waterways, with peak catches for surf-casters occurring from now on through most of August.
ANCHORAGE AREA-TURNAGAIN ARM
Area Summary: Pink salmon are showing up in decent numbers in most all waters of this area, along with a smaller component of silvers and chums. There is even opportunity to keep a king salmon in Ship Creek, thanks to a recent emergency order. Sea-run Dolly Varden are plentiful in streams draining into Turnagain Arm, with Campbell and Chester creeks right in town also producing nice catches of trout and char. Local stocked lakes are still yielding some decent action for landlocked salmon, rainbows, and grayling, particularly in very early morning or late evening.
SHIP CREEK: Word is out here that the silvers are arriving and a few anglers have even managed to scratch up a limit of three fish tossing spinners and drifting eggs on the tides. While the run is still a couple of weeks away from peaking, there is already enough fish present to make a trip here worthwhile. Additionally, pinks are coming in and, if targeted, makes for good action. Now is the perfect time to get after these smallish salmon as they are mostly fresh and bright. If happen to come across a straggling king salmon or two, they are allowed to be retained through July 31 this season. Limits are also double due to a strong return. While the chances of hooking a king is actually small this late in the run, there are a few fish still trickling in.
BIRD CREEK: After a somewhat somber opening day last week, salmon runs here are slowly building. Ocean bright pinks are present in fair to good numbers with action to match. Sight-fishing for them on low tide can be excellent using flies. A small number of chums are coming in and in peak condition for fight and tablefare. Silvers are best targeted on the incoming and outgoing tides using salmon roe and spinners; expect fair action this weekend, better next week. The run should start peaking in about 10 days. Dolly Varden are available on the tides as well with good fishing the norm using eggs or forage flies and lures.
TURNAGAIN ARM STREAMS: As long as the weather holds without too much rain, several of the drainages flowing into the arm will continue to produce decent catches of primarily pink salmon with other species available too; anglers are reporting fair to excellent action depending on day and place. Relative hot spots include Glacier for mainly pinks and a few chums and silvers, Portage for pinks as well as reds and chums, and Indian and Ingram for pinks. All of these waters also hold good populations of sea-run char.
Area Summary: A hotbed of action this weekend as the much-awaited late runs of red salmon are marching up the Kenai and Kasilof rivers. While each tide or day will see variable numbers of fish coming in, anglers are on average seeing good to excellent success. Conversely, the late-run king salmon fisheries on these rivers are shut down for the season by emergency order due to a shortage of fish entering these systems at present time. Silver salmon have yet to make significant inroads anywhere but early catches have been reported from Dudiak Lagoon, the head of Resurrection Bay, and the northern peninsula coastal streams of Resurrection and Sixmile creeks. Pinks are not in any great abundance anywhere, which is quite unusual, yet anglers are doing well enough in a few locations, mainly in waters draining into Turnagain Arm and around Passage Canal; the latter two areas in addition to Seward are where chums are being caught. Anglers wanting to experience really fun and consistent success are exploring the middle and upper stretches of the Kenai River and the tributaries within this vast system, where rainbow trout and Dolly Varden are ramping it up. Trout, char, and grayling are providing excellent fishing in highland lakes. Very large tides this weekend will help bring halibut within reach for surf-casters along the beaches of Cook Inlet and Resurrection Bay.
RESURRECTION CREEK/HOPE: While pink salmon have been entering this highly popular fishery since the first of July, it has yet to receive the masses of fish typically associated with this time of the month. The bulk of the run has kept mostly to the lower reaches in and around the tidewater zone, where anglers are having good success casting lures and flies. Those skilled at sight-fishing and able to find concentrations of pinks are reporting excellent action. However, the run is thus far lagging in size and scope. A handful of fresh chums are showing up. The first couple of silvers have been caught but expect slow fishing for another few weeks still. Fishing for Dolly Varden is best on high tide using eggs, small lures, and flies but this opportunity is beginning to wane as fish disperse to other drainages. Stream levels are still fairly high but clarity is very good.
SIXMILE CREEK: This is a hit and miss fishery depending largely on water conditions. If water levels are moderate to low and clarity at least fair, anglers can expect fair to good opportunities for both chum and pink salmon in the lower reaches of the stream below the canyon area along Hope Highway. Focus on slow moving water using lures as well as attractors with eggs. A few silvers are reportedly starting to show up but will be more numerous later on in August. Fishing for Dolly Varden is fair.
RESURRECTION BAY/SEWARD: Pink salmon offer fair to good action throughout the bay with the better spots being in or near spawning streams, such as Tonsina Creek, but casting lures from the rocks along Lowell Point Road and the South Shore beach is productive too. Chums linger in small numbers along with a few reds at Spring Creek off Nash Road; this run has probably peaked as most of the fish present are turning color. A few silvers have been caught from shore but the main run is still weeks away. Surf-casters using bait are hooking a good number of flounders, codfish, and greenling in spots along the shoreline bordering deep water, such as the northwestern part of the bay near the SeaLife Center and Lowell Point road; these spots are also seeing catches of smaller halibut and rockfish.
UPPER KENAI RIVER: Floaters are reporting good action for rainbow trout and Dolly Varden using forage flies and similar presentations. As more salmon arrive and begin to spawn, egg and flesh imitations will become increasingly effective. Reds bound for the Russian River and tributaries of Kenai Lake are now passing through and success is currently fair to good; the late run headed to the former should begin peaking in about a week. A few pink salmon and whitefish are also present. No reports yet of silvers.
LOWER KENAI RIVER: Probably the best fishing spot for salmon on the road system this weekend, the late run of reds are in mid assault as wave after wave of fish enter the river on the tides, bringing good to excellent success for anglers. The stretch of water from the mouth up to Sterling is best but decent fishing can be had all the way up to the outlet of Skilak Lake. With segments of both the sport and commercial fisheries shut down in order to allow more king salmon for escapement, anglers should see a mass of reds surging upstream this weekend and through next week, if not even longer. Pink salmon are making themselves known as well as anglers are managing to land some here and there; if wanting to target these early fish, best locations would be in or near mouths of clearwater tributaries. No solid report of silvers as of yet but some specimens are typically present at this time of the month. Fishing for rainbow trout and Dolly Varden is good from Skilak Lake downstream to Soldotna, with the sea-run char being available in numbers into tidewater; use forage flies as well as flesh and egg imitations.
KASILOF RIVER: Along with its glacial twin to the north, Kasilof is seeing its fair share of red salmon flooding the lower and middle sections, producing good to excellent success for anglers. The action should continue to prevail through the month at least. Best spots to try include the upper edge of tidewater near the Crooked Creek Campground, the river bends above the Sterling Highway bridge, and up along the rapids. A few pink salmon are being caught. No report yet of silver salmon but should be any day now. Fishing for Dolly Varden is fair. Fishing for king salmon is closed for the remainder of the season.
COOK INLET: Surf-casters targeting halibut will find opportunity right now and through the weekend on into early next week prime time to connect with these flatfish as tides are very large, helping push sizable flatfish into the shallows near shore. For best opportunity, select early morning tides, but midday tides can be productive too if weather conditions are cloudy and rainy. Both herring and salmon parts work well on halibut this time of year. Expect action to be fair with limits possible some days and tides. Spiny dogfish and skate are common catches through the summer. The most prominent road-accessible access points include Whiskey Gulch and Ninilchik Beach but equally productive or even better spots can be located by using four-wheel drive or ATV vehicles up or down a few miles from where roads end.
ANCHOR RIVER: If wanting an escape from the crazed salmon crowds, this location offers relative solitude right now along with some good action for incoming sea-run Dolly Varden. Fish are being caught anywhere from tidewater up through the lower river and into the middle. Flies and small spinners are very effective. Pink salmon are arriving in small numbers and should pick up around the end of the month. No reports yet of silver salmon. Water is low and clear. Nearby Deep Creek and Ninilchik River are seeing similar fishing conditions; hatchery kings are still allowed for harvest on the latter but few fresh or semi-bright specimens persist.
Area Summary: The big news in this area is the strong return of red salmon to Fish Creek, the outlet stream of Big Lake. While sport fishing is still closed by regulation, the dip net fishery is scheduled to open this Saturday, July 24, and continue daily through July 31. It is possible that, if the run holds up, sport fishing could also be allowed. Reds are also entering other drainages in decent numbers, such as Cottonwood Creek, and fish have been sighted in Wasilla and Jim creeks. The pink and chum salmon runs have yet to materialize to any great extent but are slowly edging that way while silver salmon are starting to show in fishable numbers on the lower Little Susitna River as well as at the mouth of Willow Creek. The Eklutna Tailrace is seeing the first few hatchery silvers being caught and this run should only improve for the next couple of weeks; fishing for king salmon is still allowed by regulation although the run is just about done for the year as the few remaining fish are in or near spawning condition. For a different experience, head on up along the Susitna and Chulitna rivers and hit one of the many clearwater tributaries for a shot at rainbow trout and grayling. The highland or alpine lakes in the area provide continued good fishing for stocked trout.
COTTONWOOD CREEK: A weekend-only fishery, red salmon are now being observed moving through this stream in decent numbers. Come opening day this Saturday, anglers should see fair to good catches in the tidal area using yarn flies drifted with the current and roe fished on the bottom. Focus on tidal movements, the outgoing often being most productive. There could be a few early silvers present. Nearby Wasilla Creek is another weekend-only fishery that experiences a small run of red salmon right now in addition to a few pinks, chums, and silvers. The upper reaches of Cottonwood offers some good rainbow fishing.
LITTLE SUSITNA RIVER: This fishery is expected to improve significantly over the course of this coming week as salmon runs head up from tidewater to the lower river access point. Prognosis for the weekend is mainly centered on chum salmon that are present in fair numbers and anglers are scoring some decent luck using spoons, plugs, and flies. Quality of fish is very good at this time. A few pinks and reds are present. Fishing for silver salmon is still slow. Fishing for king salmon is closed for the season. Anglers are reporting occasional catches of rainbow trout.
WILLOW, SHEEP, MONTANA CREEKS: If targeting salmon, head on down to the Susitna confluence areas where fish are starting to congregate in numbers. The mouth of Willow is the best bet right now but anglers may find some decent action as high up as Montana and beyond. Pinks and chums are the main quarries and although the runs have yet to peak, the quality of the fish is generally high for both sport and consumption. Some fish have begun moving upstream towards the highway crossings. As for silvers, success is slow but expected to improve shortly as runs build; Willow is yielding a few fish. Better bet for fast action is to target trout and grayling, both of which are very prolific right now in these drainages and surrounding streams, including Deception and Goose creeks; expect very good success using forage flies and spinners. Whitefish are fairly numerous on Little Willow and Sheep.
CHULITNA RIVER: The clearwater tributaries of Troublesome, Byers, Honolulu, East Fork Chulitna, and Middle Fork Chulitna are all spots currently producing catches of rainbows and grayling along with a few whitefish; try egg and flesh imitation flies and beads as king salmon are present and have started spawning in these waters. Byers and East Fork are among the better locations for trout and can be very good for sizable fish. Very few other salmon have yet to show in this system but reds and a few pinks are expected soon at the mouths of Troublesome and Byers creeks, as well as in Sunny (Railroad) Creek.
COPPER VALLEY-VALDEZ ARM
Area Summary: A late push of reds into the area the last ten days put anglers onto some relatively good action on the Klutina and Tonsina rivers. Some anglers were limiting out, yet fishing was often slow or spotty with bursts of salmon coming through time and again. As is generally the case on these waters, the Tonsina hangs on a little later into the season, followed by the last large red run of the year on the Gulkana. Fishing for kings is still closed in all drainages of the Upper Copper River but anglers keep hoping that enough salmon eventually show up to provide a small window of opportunity later this month or early August; by regulation, the season ends August 10. Dip netters at Chitina are still doing very well on reds, meaning that a sizable number of fish are still headed into tributaries at least through this weekend and next week. Fishing for grayling is good to excellent in area streams and some rainbows are being caught too. Lake fishing opportunities has slowed down a bit since a few weeks ago as lake trout and other species are seeking cooler, deeper waters farther out from shore; however, some of the larger lakes are still producing excellent success for grayling in early mornings and late evenings. Valdez area fishing is picking up for pink salmon.
GULKANA RIVER: The first run of reds has wrapped it up but is quickly being replaced by a relatively strong, early showing of second-run fish. Anglers are reporting a solid presence of salmon from the Sourdough area down to the river mouth with action being fair to good and limits being taken for those targeting these fish. Sight-fishing is possible when river flows low and clear. Fishing for king salmon is closed for the season. Anglers seeking grayling are finding outstanding success on the middle and upper sections of water, from the forks upstream to the rapids and on to the outlet of Paxson Lake. A fair number of rainbows are also being caught.
KLUTINA, TONSINA RIVERS: Dedicated anglers are reporting limits of red salmon on these glacial drainages. While late July is typically not a good time for this species on the Klutina, it is within the peak on the Tonsina. Condition of fish range from bright to light red with most being grey or semi-bright. This opportunity will probably not last much longer. Fishing for king salmon is closed by emergency order. Targeting Dolly Varden is possible on both rivers using colorful beads; try the upper river sections. Little Tonsina River is a good spot for char and grayling.
PORT VALDEZ: Pink salmon are finally moving into the port in good numbers and anglers report good to excellent action using spoons and spinners. Allison Point and the rocky shoreline up to the hatchery is responsible for most catches but some fish are also being taken off the city dock in front of town and in and around the boat harbor. The mouth of Solomon Gulch Creek on an outgoing tide can be exceptional for pinks. Anglers are reminded that cost recovery operations for the fish hatchery are in progress, which may impact the fishing some days. The Kid’s Pink Salmon Derby is scheduled to be held this Saturday, July 24. A few chums are present throughout the port. Bottomfish are being taken from the city dock and include flounders, codfish, and sablefish.
Updated Thursday, July 15, 2021
CURRENT HOT SPOTS: UPPER KENAI RAINBOWS; KASILOF REDS; HOPE PINKS; CHULITNA RAINBOWS, GRAYLING; KENAI REDS, RAINBOWS; TURNAGAIN PINKS; SUSITNA RAINBOWS, GRAYLING; COPPER LAKERS, GRAYLING; VALDEZ PINKS; COOK INLET HALIBUT.
Weekly Summary: The mid-summer lull is continuing to some degree with the late-run reds not available in big numbers yet and the pinks and chums still gaining momentum in most waters. Same can be said for the late runs of king salmon; the fish density is simply not there but hopefully good news could be coming soon, despite the emergency orders banning retention of kings in a couple of locations or even downright closures of some drainages. While some silvers are now present and being caught in roadside rivers and streams, anglers for the most part are zeroed in on the bounty of trout, char, and grayling action presented throughout the region. The marine fisheries remain consistent as both salmon and bottomfish are congregating in nearshore locations. There are not a lot of true hot spots this weekend, at least not for salmon, although good opportunities still prevail.
ANCHORAGE AREA-TURNAGAIN ARM
Area Summary: There is actually quite a bit happening in this area, despite pink and chum numbers lagging a bit. A recent emergency order opened up Ship Creek to continued fishing for king salmon through July 31, with double limits as well. Generally the king season closes on July 13 but enough fish have escaped upstream for broodstock needs at the hatchery that anglers are offered additional opportunity to take home a king or two. While the run is just about done for the year, there is still a trickle of nice kings coming in. Also, silvers are coming in and anglers are getting a few already along with larger numbers of pinks. Bird Creek opened to fishing on July 14 with anglers taking a mixed bag of pinks, chums, and silvers as expected but the action was far from great as runs are still not at a peak. Some anglers, however, did manage limits. Salmon are also infiltrating other streams throughout Turnagain Arm and although the abundance is still somewhat low, the action can still be very worthwhile, especially concerning pinks. Campbell and Chester creeks are yielding both rainbows and Dollies. Local lakes have slowed in productivity, yet some decent catches can be had at dawn for landlocked salmon, trout, and grayling.
TURNAGAIN ARM STREAMS: If targeting silvers, Bird Creek is the place to go; however, the run is just starting and tagging one will take some effort. Casting spinners or drifting roe is best. Pinks are fair to good in most streams draining into the arm, with Indian, Bird, Glacier, Portage, and Ingram being quite productive, although excellent fishing can be had in certain spots. If looking for fish to take home, hit these locations around high tide or work the deep tidewater holes if the water is out. Spoons, spinners, and flies are all good bets for pinks and will take chums also if present; Bird, Glacier, and Portage are choice spots to chase the latter. Sea-run Dolly Varden are present in all these locations too and hit eggs or small lures and flies willingly.
Area Summary: As the Kasilof River has been steadily producing reds for the past ten days already, its glacial twin, the Kenai River, is yielding fish too, albeit in more reserved numbers. While there is some concern regarding words of low red salmon numbers in the inlet, anglers remain hopeful that a slug will hit the river shortly, which is entirely possible. The Kenai has in recent years seen a number of times when the late run started meagerly, only to end with record returns going strong well into the middle of August. The late runs of king salmon to both the Kenai and Kasilof are off to a slow start too, prompting the state to initiate a catch-and-release policy lasting through the season. Pink salmon are arriving in fair numbers to peninsula streams with the stronger returns currently happening on the north coast along Turnagain Arm, in Resurrection and Sixmile creeks. Passage Canal and Resurrection Bay are additional areas to look for pinks; the latter is also the best spot to hook into early-run chums. Silvers are showing up in a couple of places, most notably the lagoon down in Homer, and a few have even been landed off the beach in Seward already, which is relatively early. Anglers seeking rainbow trout and Dolly Varden are faced with a plethora of spots to go, especially within the Kenai River drainage. The marine fisheries are reporting smaller halibut available to surf-casters in Cook Inlet and Resurrection Bay. Bottomfish, like flounder and codfish, are seemingly abundant as well.
RESURRECTION CREEK/HOPE: Perhaps the best spot for pinks in the entire Southcentral region, with a decent number of fish coming and the run building towards a peak sometime in the next week or so. Success ranges from good to excellent, with most catches occurring in the tidal area. Although the run itself is stronger later on this month, now is the time to go to find fresh, chrome salmon. Try the incoming and outgoing tides using spoons, spinners, and small jigs. Flies are very effective on low tide. If looking to bring fish home, limits are relatively easy. A few chums are starting to arrive and the first silver is due any day now. The stream still has some volume to it but is dropping; sight-fishing is good as the water is clear.
SIXMILE CREEK: The water conditions of the day is the deciding factor here in success. If temperatures are very warm, glacial melt at headwaters turns water high and turbid; same thing is true if heavy rain prevails. Ideal for fishing is cloudy, cool weather that promotes low and relatively clear water conditions. Pinks and chums are arriving in decent numbers down low in the drainage with the best fishing in or within a few miles of tidewater. Action is fair to good for both species using lures; fresh chums are also fond of attractors and egg combinations. Limits are possible. The first few silvers are expected this weekend or sometime next week.
RESURRECTION BAY/SEWARD: For salmon, one of the best spots off the beach is at Spring Creek (Nash Road), which has a decent return of early-run chums right now. Anglers are taking most fish by snagging but some are also being coaxed by lures or flies. Condition of chums range from chrome to blush with a few dark spawners in between; the run is peaking. There are a number of bright and semi-bright reds still hanging out in this location as well and pinks are starting to become more common. Additionally, fresh pinks are hitting lures cast off the rocks along Lowell Point Road with fair success reported. The first couple of silvers have been caught around Lowell Point and a few more are likely to be landed around the bay this weekend, perhaps even at the mouth of Scheffler Creek in town. The hatchery king salmon run is done for the season, although a straggler or two is possible yet. Halibut and rockfish may be caught from shore in section of water from the SeaLife Center down to near Lowell Point; expect slow to fair action at best. Flounder and codfish are abundant around the bay.
UPPER KENAI RIVER: Good action here for rainbow trout and Dolly Varden with fish distributed throughout all sections of water; try forage flies but do not neglect insect imitations either. Expect consistent success the rest of the month and into August, when late runs of salmon will bring the action to a boil. The early run of red salmon is just about done for the season and now being replaced by late-run fish bound for the Russian and tributaries of Kenai Lake.
LOWER KENAI RIVER: With king salmon fishing catch-and-release only by emergency order due to a small return thus far, participation has dropped considerably. The late run of red salmon is simmering still but the action could, literally, turn very hectic any day now as a slug of fish moves in. The fish do appear to be a few days off historically speaking but this is not at all unusual and no need for great concern just yet. At the time of writing this report, the fishing is fair with some limits being taken. A smattering of early-run pinks are also being caught. No reports yet of silvers. The most productive fishing is in the “middle” river section above Sterling, where rainbow trout and Dolly Varden are yielding good results for anglers using forage flies.
KASILOF RIVER: The red salmon action is fair to excellent depending on the day, depending on what the commercial fleet is doing and the success of dip netters. Some days it takes a lot of effort to scratch up a few fish, other days limits come fast and easy. Choice spots to try include the Crooked Creek Campground area and up above the Sterling Highway bridge. There are a few king salmon in the river, mostly in the channel where fish are waiting to enter Crooked Creek to spawn; these fish are blush to dark red. Ocean bright, late-run kings are entering the river in small numbers with success being sporadic. Remember, a catch-and-release emergency order for kings is in place here. A few pinks are showing, and anglers are seeing more Dolly Varden being caught too.
COOK INLET: Surf casters are finding fair catches of halibut off the beaches of the inlet. Depending on the location, the best fishing is generally two hours before to two hours after high tide. While herring is tried and true for bringing in nice-sized flatfish, salmon parts or scraps are sometimes equally or even more productive at this point in the season. While the early-season halibut were focused on the hooligan runs to area rivers, these fish are more spread out along the beaches and may be caught anywhere the water is deep enough. The most prominent road-accessible access points include Whiskey Gulch and Ninilchik Beach but equally productive or even better spots can be located by using four-wheel drive or ATV vehicles up or down a few miles from where roads end. Expect fair success; best tides are 18 feet or larger.
Area Summary: The king salmon season ended last Tuesday, July 13, with the only spot still open for kings being the Eklutna Tailrace due to this being a strictly hatchery fish site. While kings are being caught, the action has slowed considerably from a couple of weeks ago as far less fish are coming in now and the fish present being dark blush to red in color. There are opportunities for a brighter fish still, although chances are very slim. But things are looking up as other species arrive around the area, most notably pinks and chums, and a few silvers are due in roadside waters any day, such as the Little Susitna River. Reds are entering Fish Creek in increasing numbers but the stream remains closed to fishing for now. For the most consistent action, hit the clearwater tributaries of the Susitna and Chulitna rivers where rainbows and grayling are abundant. Local lakes do have some variable opportunity for landlocked salmon, trout, and grayling at very early morning; for more predictable results, aim for lakes at higher elevations, preferably those requiring a hike to reach. Fishing for rainbows and grayling, especially, can be excellent in those locations right now. Pike fishing continues to slow down but some fish are still being caught in waters off Nancy Lake Parkway and in lakes around the Willow area.
SUSITNA RIVER: The clearwater tributaries of Willow, Little Willow, Caswell, Sheep, Goose, and Montana creeks are seeing returns of pink and chum salmon at the mouths. While success is slow right now, more fish are arriving every day and should be quite decent later on next week. Although early, an occasional silver salmon is possible. For rainbow trout, the middle and upper sections of Willow, Little Willow, Kashwitna, Sheep, and Montana are the best, with grayling being more prolific in Little Willow and Sheep. All of the waters mentioned also yield a smaller number of Dolly Varden and whitefish. Now is the time to start targeting burbot in slower, deeper areas around the mouths of these streams; the night bite can be very active. Fishing for king salmon is closed for the season in all waters.
CHULITNA RIVER: Generally overshadowed by the more popular waters to the south, the clearwater tributaries of this glacial drainage offers decent opportunities for rainbows and grayling right now. Troublesome, Byers, Honolulu, East Fork Chulitna, and Middle Fork Chulitna are all producing fair to good catches. While forage/insect imitation flies are getting attention, king salmon have arrived to these waters and will be spawning shortly, opening up the opportunity for egg and flesh presentations as well. Whitefish should be available too in a couple of the larger streams, such as Honolulu and East Fork Chulitna, but will be more common later on in the season.
COPPER VALLEY-VALDEZ ARM
Area Summary: Salmon runs in this area continue to be variable with emergency orders prohibiting fishing for kings still in effect. Some anglers have reported quite an influx of kings to the Klutina and Tonsina rivers with fish even being hooked while flipping for reds. Sometimes these hookups have even exceeded those of reds, lending some credibility to the idea that the late runs have arrived and in very decent numbers. Late-run reds are starting to enter some locations and will continue to be present for the next several weeks and on into autumn. The Klutina River, while not an especially good place for reds this year, still produces reds for bank anglers with limits possible for those putting in enough time and effort in the right spot. The Tonsina River has reds in it as well. For other species, grayling are actively striking lures and flies in many waters around the area, such as the upper sections of Tolsona, Mendeltna, Tulsona, Indian, and Gunn creeks. Some rainbows are being caught in streams too but more commonly encountered in stocked lakes. In Valdez, the pink salmon run is slowly gaining steam but definitely not up to par where it usually is this time of the season.
GULKANA RIVER: With king salmon fishing shut down by emergency order, anglers are steering their attention to the last of the early red salmon run and resident species like grayling and rainbows. Small schools of reds continue to move through the Sourdough area up to the rapids, with spotty to relatively decent catches made when the water flows low and clear. This run will soon end until replaced by late-run fish. Grayling are responding to flies and small spinners in the middle and upper sections of the river; expect superb catches. Rainbows provide some relief in between the masses of grayling.
LOUISE, PAXSON, SUMMIT LAKES: With more seasonably warm temperatures in the area, anglers can expect the continued slow progression of movement of fish from the shallows to deeper waters. Success has been fair to very good recently but action is likely to subside somewhat if targeting larger lake trout and burbot; smaller lakers continue to hit lures and flies at the outlet of Paxson. Grayling and whitefish are very active still, especially in early morning and late evening.
PORT VALDEZ: The much-anticipated run of pink salmon has yet to materialize in the huge numbers many anglers have become accustomed to by this time of the month. Fresh pinks are being caught, mainly around Allison Point, but limits are difficult to reach without time and effort. The most consistent action has been at the mouth of Solomon Gulch Creek as the tide goes out using lures and flies. Across the bay, anglers casting in or near the harbor and off the city dock are getting some pinks as well. A few chum salmon are present, mainly bound for the Lowe River drainage. If targeting bottomfish, the best spot is the city dock using pieces of herring to entice a variety of species, including flounders, codfish, and sablefish.
Updated Thursday, July 8, 2021
CURRENT HOT SPOTS: UPPER KENAI RAINBOWS; KASILOF REDS; CHULITNA KINGS, RAINBOWS; KENAI REDS, RAINBOWS; SUSITNA RAINBOWS, GRAYLING; LITTLE SUSITNA KINGS; COPPER LAKERS, GRAYLING; VALDEZ PINKS
Weekly Summary: With the usual week-long break in the intense early-run salmon fisheries before the mid-summer onslaught of all five salmon species begins, anglers can still get out and find some very decent opportunities in all areas of the Southcentral region. As clockwork, pink and late-run red salmon are ascending rivers and streams, primarily around the Kenai Peninsula right now but soon most all other waters will turn on as well. While chums and late-run kings have not made much fanfare thus far in the season, it is likely to change in another week as fish arrive in numbers. Also, a trickle of silver salmon is likely to appear this weekend in select spots, in particular those fisheries in the Matanuska-Susitna valleys, and in hatchery stocks around the region. Anglers targeting trout, char, and grayling among other freshwater species will find at least fair to possibly superb action in both lakes and streams. Marine fisheries on the peninsula and in the sound are seeing an uptick in activity as salmon runs build and bottomfish move into the shallows to feed. It is almost that time of year again when no matter the direction headed out, a plethora of species and opportunity awaits.
ANCHORAGE AREA-TURNAGAIN ARM
Area Summary: As the king salmon run to Ship Creek dwindles and eventually comes to a season closure on July 13, anglers are still landing some larger semi-bright and smaller jack kings with even a few chrome fish in the mix. Pink salmon and Dolly Varden are showing up in Ship too as well as in most every stream of any size all along Turnagain Arm. The first silvers and chums will very likely be caught in this area sometime this weekend, if not sooner. Bird Creek will open to all fishing (except kings) this coming Wednesday, July 14; expect a number of pinks, chums and silvers in addition to sea-run char to be present. Other area opportunities include the city creeks of Chester and Campbell, both of which hold some decent action for trout and char, and the local stocked lakes that typically yield the best fishing for landlocked salmon, trout, char, and grayling at dawn or on rainy days.
TURNAGAIN ARM STREAMS: With the main fishery along the arm—Bird Creek—not slated to open until next week, anglers do have several other options for the weekend. Indian, Glacier, Portage, and Ingram are all producing pink salmon and Dolly Varden in varying numbers at this time. Quality of action depends on the day, place, and tide but generally fair to good right now, especially for the pinks as runs are still arriving and building in strength. Glacier and Portage may also see reds or chums show up. Still a bit early for silvers but not unheard of this time of the month.
Area Summary: Although the reds did not waste any time moving up the Kasilof, the late-run Kenai fish have held back a little bit and are not expected to show in larger numbers until sometime after this weekend. The early runs of red salmon have ended or will be ending very shortly, yet some fish (or even limits) are still being caught on the Upper Kenai, Russian, and Resurrection rivers. King salmon continue to be available with the Ninilchik and Kasilof rivers, Dudiak Lagoon, and Scheffler Creek in Seward yielding a small number of nice quality fish; the late runs of the Kenai and Kasilof have yet to materialize to any greater extent but expected to pick up in a week to ten days. Chum salmon are returning to Resurrection Bay in fishable numbers and a few are also present in Passage Canal and Sixmile and Resurrection creeks; pink salmon are being caught in all of the aforementioned locations as well as other coastal peninsula streams. First roadside silvers due any day, probably from Dudiak Lagoon. Catches of trout and char in streams of the central peninsula is good and getting better as the season progresses. Grayling action is hot in the hike-in lakes. Larger tides on the west coast of the peninsula will see decent catches of halibut around peak high using herring or salmon parts. Bottomfish are reasonably abundant in all ports.
UPPER KENAI RIVER: Rainbow trout are definitely the number one attraction on the upper with anglers scoring good success using forage and insect imitation flies. Dolly Varden are becoming more numerous by the day and a few whitefish are being landed too. The early run of red salmon has subsided considerably from only a week ago with most fish being caught coming from the Russian River vicinity; however, there is an increasing presence of reds destined for other parts of the system being seen throughout the length of the river. Expect slow to fair action this weekend.
LOWER KENAI RIVER: With king salmon counts still low and water conditions high and slightly silty, anglers fare better pursuing the much more prolific reds that are currently making their way into the river in fishable numbers. Ever since the last week of June, reds have slowly been building in strength with fair action the norm for the time being; yet, there should be a decent push of late-run fish coming through very shortly, perhaps even the latter part of this weekend but more likely by early next week. These fish historically hit in force sometime between the 12th and the 15th of this month; expect excellent fishing. A few early-run pinks will be in the mix as well. The middle river section, from Bing’s Landing up to Skilak Lake, is doing very well for rainbows with anglers scoring good success and nice-sized fish. Dolly Varden fishing throughout the river is fair to good also.
RESURRECTION BAY/SEWARD: The early runs of king and red salmon are dying off but small schools or individual fish are still moving through and may be caught; the mouth of Scheffler Creek is yielding a few semi-bright to blush kings, try the mouth of Spring Creek for reds. The latter location probably has the best opportunity for salmon right now in the bay as early-run chums are arriving, producing some fair catches on the tides by snagging. For sea-run Dolly Varden, head on out on the trail to Tonsina Creek; do not be surprised to find a number of pinks and an occasional red or chum as well. For bottomfish, give the head of the bay a shot for flounders, codfish, and other species using cut pieces of herring or even small jigs. There should be halibut and rockfish present in small numbers in various locations but more so in the deeper water along Lowell Point Road.
KASILOF RIVER: The action for red salmon has ranged from excellent to fair depending on the day and tide, with days that commercial fisheries are out in force noticeably slower. Take note of commercial openings and work around them; have patience and put in time and stringer will be full. The Crooked Creek area is best right around peak high tide but the middle river from the highway crossing up will generally produce the best red catches about 12 hours after the tide or when a load of fish has entered the river mouth. The river is open to king salmon fishing but success is slow right now as late-run fish have not appeared in any numbers yet and the early run is almost done for the year; try the channel right below the campground for semi-bright to dark blush kings. Dolly Varden fishing is fair and improving and a few rainbows are being caught also.
NINILCHIK RIVER: This is one of those sleeper fisheries this time of the season. Most anglers are found to the north or south, leaving this stream to some relaxed opportunities for the tail end of the hatchery run of king salmon still present. Anglers are experiencing fair success for kings at dawn throughout the river; try floating roe or casting spinners or flies. Condition of fish are generally light blush but a few semi-bright or even chrome kings are available. All wild kings must be released. Pink salmon are showing up along with some Dolly Varden.
RESURRECTION CREEK/HOPE: Pink salmon began heading up this out-of-the-way stream about a week ago with limits even landed on the 4th of July by persistent anglers. The run is building in strength every day and should offer some generally fair to decent opportunities starting this weekend. An occasional chum salmon will be present. Fishing for sea-run Dolly Varden is good. Water levels are high right now from mountain snowmelt and rain so the better fishing is down low in tidewater; clarity is good with sight-fishing possible. Nearby Sixmile Creek is seeing pinks in addition to more chums arriving; water is high and turbid, success slow to fair at best.
Area Summary: With the king salmon season about to wrap up early next week, anglers have little time left to sample a mediocre run before the lull begins awaiting the summer runs of pinks, chums, and silvers to the area. Retention of kings is still allowed on the lower Little Susitna as well as in the Eklutna Tailrace, yet the popular east-side Susitna fisheries are closed for the season. The East Fork Chulitna is a viable option to tangle with kings right now, albeit catch-and-release restrictions are in effect there. As the other salmon runs are just beginning to make inroads to waters of Knik Arm and the mainstream Susitna River, the best bet right now is to target resident sport fish. Landlocked salmon, trout, char, and grayling are fairly active at dawn in stocked lakes, but the clearwater tributaries of the Susitna and Chulitna rivers hold some great opportunities for wild rainbows and grayling, even whitefish. Fishing for pike is also quite productive in the Willow and Nancy Lake Parkway lakes but the big early summer bite is slowly ebbing as waters warm and fish seek deeper spots away from the shorelines.
LITTLE SUSITNA RIVER: Fishing for king salmon is fair with most fish advancing out of the lower river and into middle sections up towards Houston and the Parks Highway crossing. For a quality experience with lots of great holes and pools containing kings, float from the crossing down to the lower river takeout point near Point MacKenzie. Although most fish are blush to some degree or another, some semi-bright and a few chrome kings are still available on the lower river. By recent order, retention of king salmon is allowed in the lower section of water; catch-and-release is still the case on the middle river. The early run of reds is down to a trickle but a few pinks and chums (and probably silvers) are arriving on the tides and should be available in small numbers at the lower access site starting this weekend. Some rainbows also being caught.
SUSITNA RIVER: The east-side tributaries of Willow, Little Willow, Sheep, and Montana creeks are yielding a good supply of rainbow trout and fair catches of grayling along with a few Dolly Varden and whitefish. Fish are distributed throughout these smaller drainages and more or less following the king salmon currently migrating to spawning areas; try egg imitations as well as forage flies. By regulation, these waters (and others) are currently closed to king salmon fishing for the season.
EAST FORK CHULITNA RIVER: Perhaps one of the better bets right now for late-season king salmon, although the majority of the run is turning color with few semi-bright or light blush specimens left, mainly near its mouth on the Chulitna. Kings are spread from the confluence area upstream to the Parks Highway crossing in fair numbers and more fish are arriving daily. A catch-and-release restriction is in effect by emergency order. While water conditions are variable depending on the weather, the river generally flows relatively low and clear with sight-fishing to salmon possible. Success ranges from spotty to very good. The king salmon season here ends Tuesday, July 13. Fishing for rainbow trout is generally good, fair for grayling.
COPPER VALLEY-VALDEZ ARM
Area Summary: With king salmon fishing still closed by emergency order and the early runs of red salmon wrapping it up for the season, anglers have few reliable options left for now. But with a modest increase of fish passage at the lower end of Copper River, this could be a good sign that late-run reds and kings are on their way and the fishing in area rivers about ten days away from receiving a much-needed boost of salmon, perhaps even to the point of lifting the king restrictions currently in place one degree or another. The beneficiaries of a potential good showing of late-run fish are primarily the Gulkana for reds, the Klutina for kings, and Tonsina for both kings and reds. Until that time, the larger lakes of the area, such as Louise, Paxson, and Summit, will be focal points for anglers, with smaller lakes and streams also being productive for a variety of species like rainbow trout and grayling, particularly in early morning and late evening. To the south, pink salmon are arriving in Valdez but not in huge numbers yet; expect another week for this run to hit full stride.
GULKANA RIVER: Fishing for grayling is excellent on the middle and upper river, from the forks up through the rapids and on to the outlet of Paxson Lake. There is also a smaller number of rainbow trout present, especially in the rapids area. The early-run of reds is thinning out with spotty catches in the stretch of water from Sourdough up to Paxson; expect the late run to hit the lower river around the highway crossing sometime in mid to late month. King salmon fishing is closed by emergency order.
LOUISE, PAXSON, SUMMIT LAKES: These deepwater lakes have been steadily churning out nice catches of lake trout for the past month and are still worth a try before the warming water drives the larger fish deep and slows the bite, at least for anglers casting near or from shore. However, smaller lake trout can be successfully targeted all summer at the outlet of Paxson Lake. Grayling action remains active and anglers using the right stuff are doing well on whitefish too.
PORT VALDEZ: The pinks have been a little slow coming into the port and are still not present in large numbers as is generally the case this time of the month; however, anglers are reporting fair to decent success casting spoons and spinners from the shoreline along Allison Point with six-fish limit catches on certain tides. This location may not be worth driving halfway across the state for this weekend but certainly a place to go if in the area. If the run holds true to form, good to excellent action should prevail next week. Sea-run Dolly Varden are also present within the port and can be targeted at the mouth of clearwater streams. Bottomfish are being taken from the city dock; codfishes, sablefish, and flounders are available and hitting primarily bait such as pieces of herring.
Updated Friday, July 2, 2021
CURRENT HOT SPOTS: RUSSIAN REDS; UPPER KENAI REDS, RAINBOWS; KASILOF REDS; WILLOW KINGS, RAINBOWS; LOWER KENAI RAINBOWS; SHEEP KINGS, RAINBOWS; GULKANA REDS, GRAYLING; MONTANA KINGS, RAINBOWS; LITTLE SUSITNA KINGS; COPPER LAKERS, GRAYLING; EKLUTNA KINGS
Weekly Summary: Anglers are continuing to find great opportunities for salmon, trout, char, and grayling throughout the region. While there are still restrictions in place on some fisheries, especially concerning a few king salmon stocks of concern, the fishing is generally good to excellent with some locations even seeing liberalizations of current regulations to conform with stronger than expected showings of both king as well as red salmon. For instance, some of the better action for king salmon in Southcentral this year is taking place right now, in places north of Anchorage up in the Matanuska-Susitna valleys. While catch-and-release restrictions may be in effect in some waters, a couple of them do allow for retention. Red salmon are seeing burgeoning numbers in the Kenai drainage and on the Kasilof, with bag and possession limits doubling. Pink salmon are beginning to make their presence known along with chums and, soon, also silvers. While the typical mid-summer lull is happening to some degree or another—usually the second week of July—it is already obvious that a few fisheries may elect to skip the break as “late” salmon runs are already ramping up, signaling what could await for the month. Resident freshwater species are very active in lakes and streams, as expected, with marine species becoming more prolific in nearshore areas. The holiday weekend is proving to be a bonanza.
ANCHORAGE AREA-TURNAGAIN ARM
Area Summary: With the king salmon run ending shortly on Ship Creek, anglers in this area will not have to wait long before other salmon species fill the void. A few pink salmon are starting to enter streams along Turnagain Arm and there should be chums and even the possibility of a silver or two joining them very shortly. The mouth of Indian, Glacier, Portage, and Ingram creeks will see these fish move in on the tides alongside the sea-run Dolly Varden that are already present. Expect these fisheries to place more prominently in the weekly fishing report in another ten days to two weeks. In the meantime, anglers are continuing to land a number of fresh and semi-bright king salmon on the incoming and outgoing tides at Ship using attractor and egg combinations fished stationary on the bottom, yet tossing spinners is effective too right now. Lake fishing opportunities are available but the bite has been off recently due to warmer weather and increasing water temperatures; if still wanting to give it a try, go in very early morning as landlocked salmon, trout, and grayling are more active. Bird Creek will open to fishing on July 14; expect pinks, chums, and silvers to be present.
Area Summary: As the early component of king salmon runs to the peninsula are rapidly waning and becoming a fond memory, the late runs at the Kenai and Kasilof rivers have not yet proven themselves but should pick up in another ten days to two weeks, hopefully. Dudiak Lagoon and Ninilchik River are two of the last holdouts where to get kings before runs end. Until that time, red salmon are making inroads and taking up the slack, most notably at the Russian and Kasilof rivers, where bag and possession limits were doubled this week by emergency orders, giving anglers a much-needed boost in action after a slightly disappointing early summer due to depressed king populations. In fact, this weekend should see some of the better fishing so far this season. And with late-run reds starting into the Kenai, anglers have solid opportunities over the Fourth of July holiday. Pink salmon are also entering the scene on the peninsula, with a few fish reported in the Ninilchik River and Resurrection Creek, as well as the marine waters at the head of Resurrection Bay and Passage Canal. Early-run chums are being caught at the mouth of Spring Creek in Seward and will soon be in the northern peninsula waters of Sixmile and Resurrection too. The first few silvers will likely head into the lagoon on the Homer Spit any day now. Sea-run Dolly Varden are beginning to exit saltwater areas and swimming up rivers and streams to feed and spawn; resident char are becoming more prolific as salmon get close to spawning. Rainbow trout are drawing a lot of attention is some waters, especially those locations within the Kenai drainage, but are available in many lakes as well. Surf-casting out of the ports of Homer, Seward, and Whittier is fair to excellent for bottomfish. In short, things are about to become very hectic around here.
RUSSIAN RIVER: With a daily bag limit of 6 red salmon, anglers are flocking here for an opportunity to fill the freezer. Although the run itself is probably on the backside of the peak, full stringers can be expected this weekend for those putting in the time and effort (and skill). The mouth of the river at the Kenai confluence is producing a steady supply of nice reds with good catches reported. Anglers hitting the river at dawn are finding schools of fish moving upstream from the sanctuary area. Sight-fishing can be excellent. Expect this early run to slow down noticeably soon, perhaps already after this weekend. Trout chasers are finding fair to good rainbow fishing throughout the lower river between the falls and the Kenai; Dolly Varden are becoming more common.
UPPER KENAI RIVER: As with the Russian, the limit here is 6 red salmon. Anglers are finding fair to good action in the stretch of water from the Russian confluence downstream several miles. Although the run has likely peaked, there should be some productive days ahead, at least through this weekend and into the early part of next week. There are also some reds moving through the “upper” upper river section between the lake and Russian. Fishing for rainbow trout is generally good and Dolly Varden are getting active too; flesh and forage/insect pattern flies get attention. Try from the outlet of Kenai Lake downstream to the canyon.
LOWER KENAI RIVER: With early-run Russian reds having finished passing through and fish bound for Quartz and other tributaries being present, anglers should begin to see an uptick in action (and size of fish) very shortly as the mainstem Kenai reds take command of the river with their formidable numbers. Sonar counts are seeing a few thousand reds a day moving upstream, offering fair catches to determined anglers, but should spike sometime next week as the main run arrives in force. King salmon are currently under catch-and-release restrictions; fishing is poor at this time. For rainbows and Dolly Varden, try stretch of water from Bing’s Landing to the Skilak Lake outlet. Forage patterns bring good success.
KASILOF RIVER: The last couple of days there has been a large surge of red salmon into the river, the strongest so far this season, and anglers are reaping the rewards by landing limits of fish on the tides. Most are seeing action on top of the tidal area just below The People Hole, about an hour before to two hours after peak high. Yarn flies and beads are doing well hooking the reds. Expect the fishery to continue improving into July as the large, late run arrives. Tip: Watch the commercial fishery openings and plan accordingly. There are still kings to be had, with a fair number being landed in the channel right below the Crooked Creek Campground; most of these fish are blush or light red with only a few semi-bright or chrome specimens left of the early run—Karen flies and cookies or beads work. Dolly Varden are picking up along with rainbows. Update: The ADF&G has doubled the bag and possession limits for reds salmon to six (6) and twelve (12), respectively.
NINILCHIK RIVER: Although not a sure hot spot for the weekend, it should produce some potential exciting action for kings sometime the next several days and into next week as forecast rain showers will bring up the river by a few inches and add some color, helping push a group of king salmon holding in the harbor and into the river itself. If or when this happens, expect good fishing. Many or even most of the kings will be showing some color but there is definitely a decent number of brighter or even chrome fish to be found still. As a reminder, only hatchery kings may be retained (limit is 2); all wild fish must be released. A few pink salmon and Dolly Varden are showing up.
Area Summary: The big news for this area and on that many anglers have been hoping for is the emergency order opening up a section of the lower Little Susitna River to retention of king salmon. But as for the Eastside Susitna River fisheries along the Parks Highway, they remain catch-and-releaser only for the final two-day opener on Sunday, July 4, and Monday, July 5. Kings are moving in decent numbers through all of these fisheries and this holiday weekend should provide the best opportunity yet to tangle with kings before the runs begin tapering off and the fish quality declines. The Eklutna Tailrace is another spot to harvest kings in the valley. Reports of chums showing up will become more numerous the coming several days and before long, pinks and silvers will join the fray. For sustained action, however, anglers can focus on the various clearwater tributaries of the Susitna and Chulitna rivers for rainbow trout and grayling. Those hiking in a ways from the road crossings are finding easy catches. As for lake fishing opportunities, things have slowed as water temperatures are warm and fish are going deep. Try fishing at first light or go to locations in the uplands, such as the stocked lakes at higher elevations along the Glenn Highway.
LITTLE SUSITNA RIVER: Starting this weekend, anglers will be allowed to harvest king salmon from the ADF&G weir on downstream to the river mouth; from the weir on up to the Parks Highway crossing, the rule is still catch-and-release. The relatively large group of kings that had been holding down low is now making a move upstream and in sufficient enough numbers for harvest. Action is expected to be fair to good and those casting from shore at the lower river access point near Point MacKenzie have a decent shot at landing fish. Condition of these salmon range from maroon red to chrome with most being semi-bright to blush. If releasing fish is not a problem, floating the river from Houston to the lower river access site is a great option for this coming week. As for other species, red salmon continue to flow through but not in numbers worth targeting; a few chum salmon are reportedly entering the lower end of the river but no word about silvers yet. Fishing for rainbows is spotty.
WILLOW CREEK: For those after king salmon, the mouth and the lower end of the stream is prime for catching as water conditions are perfect and the run peaking. Some fish are also found as far upstream as the Parks Highway crossing and can be targeted by sight-fishing with success at the final king opener this coming Sunday and Monday. Expect a lot of the kings to be blush to dark red to some degree or another but there are light or even bright fish in the mix; for best chance of hooking a chromer, go to the mouth. This would be the perfect time to float from the highway to the mouth. Rainbow trout action is good in the middle and upper stream sections, and grayling are being landed in numbers as well.
SHEEP CREEK: Kings are numerous at the Susitna confluence and present in decent numbers halfway up to the Parks Highway bridge. This is the final opener for kings and the action should be good or better, especially at the mouth, but anglers will have a reasonably chance of landing one or more fish hiking in from the road access points. The rule is much the same as on Willow, most fish present starting to turn with a few brighter specimens available here and there. Fishing for rainbow trout is good in middle and upper reaches with grayling also giving a fair account of themselves. Whitefish are numerous in a few of the deeper holes.
MONTANA CREEK: Low and clear water conditions have the kings holed up at the mouth and immediately above, with a handful of fish spread on up to the highway crossing and above. For relatively quick action, the area around the mouth at the Susitna confluence should hold the most promise with fishing expected to be good at the opener Sunday morning but staying productive through Monday and the last day of the season. Additionally, casting to individual fish is an exciting challenge in spots upstream of the mouth. The upper and middle stream portions has yielded good success for rainbows and there are grayling scattered around too.
EKLUTNA TAILRACE: One of only two “keeper” fisheries for kings in the Mat-Su area, the tailrace is producing fish on a regular basis with the very early mornings seen as best using attractors and/or roe combinations fished on the bottom or slowly retrieved. Spinners are getting some strikes as well. Expect fair to relatively good results. The salmon range from dark red to dime bright with most being blush. Dolly Varden are also active in the short stream and hitting eggs fished stationary at the the Knik confluence. No silvers reported yet.
COPPER VALLEY-VALDEZ ARM
Area Summary: With the early runs of red salmon anticipated to slowly drop off during the coming week, the late runs have yet to hit the area. Additionally, king salmon fishing remains closed in all waters of the Upper Copper; wether it will open up again for the late runs may become more apparent in another couple of weeks as runs begin to arrive at the Klutina and Tonsina rivers. The best action around here is for freshwater species, primarily lake trout and grayling in the larger and deeper lakes, but stocked trout and grayling are great in a lot of the smaller lakes along the Glenn, Edgerton, and Richardson highways as well as Lake Louise and McCarthy roads. To the south, Valdez is seeing pink salmon arriving in small numbers at Allison Point and anglers are having some luck on the tides using spoons and spinners; expect this fishery to become central to the area starting next week.
GULKANA RIVER: Water conditions are improving as levels are dropping and clarity returning, yielding fair to good action for red salmon on the middle river around Sourdough on up towards the rapids. This is likely the last weekend of productive fishing for early-run reds before the late run materializes at the end of this month. The river is still closed to king salmon fishing. Grayling provide superb action on the middle river between the forks and the Paxson Lake outlet; there are also lake trout being landed at the outlet. Rainbows are appearing more regularly, especially higher in the drainage, such as above the rapids.
KLUTINA RIVER: Anglers are managing catches of red salmon but the run is starting to fade as evident of numbers of fish entering the fishery and limits on stringers not as common anymore. Those with time and energy are finding salmon but effort is required. Condition of fish range from grayish-bright to very light pink. Dolly Varden and a few rainbow trout are being caught on the upper river near the outlet of Klutina Lake. King salmon fishing is still prohibited by emergency order.
LOUISE, PAXSON, SUMMIT LAKES: Lake trout and grayling are very active still with some larger catches being reported as of late. As water temperatures keep slowly rising, expect this early summer fishery to begin dropping off in another week or two; until then, good action awaits for these giant char in relative shallows and outlets. The grayling are putting on some superb opportunities in early mornings and late evenings. Whitefish are aggressively feeding.
Updated Thursday, June 24, 2021
CURRENT HOT SPOTS: RUSSIAN REDS; UPPER KENAI REDS, RAINBOWS; KLUTINA REDS; SHIP KINGS; GULKANA REDS, GRAYLING; LITTLE SUSITNA KINGS; EKLUTNA KINGS; KASILOF REDS; SUSITNA KINGS, RAINBOWS
Weekly Summary: With early run king salmon beginning to wane throughout most of the Southcentral region, anglers’ attention is turning to red salmon and other species in order to fill coolers and make memories. Although the wild king runs were a bit disappointing and the string of matching emergency orders likewise so, the hatchery runs seem to be doing alright and provided a much-needed reprieve from all the restrictions as fish were allowed to be retained and bag limits double that of wild salmon. Being late June, Southcentral Alaska is entering a slight lull in the salmon action before the mid-summer runs of kings, reds, pinks, chums, and silvers start heading up spawning streams seemingly everywhere. As May and June were a great way to initiate the season, the next few months are truly the zenith of fishing on the road system.
ANCHORAGE AREA-TURNAGAIN ARM
Area Summary: With the much-promoted king salmon run winding down shortly, anglers will soon have to look for other opportunities in this area. Sea-run Dolly Varden are present in the tidal portions of most streams emptying into Turnagain and give good accounts of themselves using small lures and flies imitating salmon smelt and fry; bait is a great option if wanting to take home a few fish. Also keep in mind that the first few pink salmon more than likely will be hitting Indian, Glacier, and Ingram creeks this weekend or next week. Bird Creek is still closed to fishing but will open July 14. Chester and Campbell creeks are decent spots to hit for rainbows and Dollies; try the higher portions of these waters for increased success—catch-and-release is the rule here. Stocked lakes are yielding fair to sometimes good action at dawn and again at dusk for landlocked salmon, trout, char, and grayling.
SHIP CREEK: With the Slam’n Salm’n Derby all wrapped up for the year, this location is seeing somewhat less angling pressure these days; however, this is certainly not because of a lack of kings present in the stream. In fact, a steady flow of nice fish continue to enter on each and every tide, making for fair to good action using attractor/roe setups and spinners. Even low tides are seeing salmon being caught in deeper holes and runs throughout the area open to fishing; use flies. Still a fair number of chrome kings being landed with an equal representation of semi-bright and lightly blushed specimens. If wanting a decent chance to catch a city kings this year, now is the time to go as the run will soon begin to taper off. Expect the first few pinks—and even silvers—to appear perhaps as early as this weekend.
Area Summary: The early red salmon season on the Russian, Upper Kenai, Kasilof, and Resurrection rivers has been a little subdued this year as fish were somewhat tardy coming in and not in the large numbers as perhaps expected or at least hoped for, but the positive perspective is that fish are still being caught in reasonably good numbers the last week of June and will likely remain a decent opportunity even into next month. The early king salmon runs continues to be a mixed bag as the wild runs faltered on the Kenai, Kasilof, and the southern peninsula streams, but the hatchery fish picked up the slack, in particular on the Ninilchik and Kasilof rivers and to a lesser degree also the Dudiak Lagoon. Other salmon species will soon ply streams and saltwater hangouts very soon, with first pinks returning any day to Resurrection Creek in Hope and silvers to, again, the lagoon in Homer. While lakes may be a little slow to produce resident species, except perhaps the ones at higher elevations, the tributaries of the Kenai River drainage certainly provide anglers with a good sample of rainbow trout and Dolly Varden in addition to whitefish.
RUSSIAN RIVER: Following the emergency order to open the sanctuary of the Russian River, anglers experienced good to excellent success with easy limits the first day of fishing. The intensity is expected to slow a bit the next several days but productive action will prevail for another ten days or so as more fish arrive from the Kenai. The run appears to be of average size this year. For those preferring to fish the main Russian upstream of the sanctuary, go at dawn when groups of reds can be spotted and targeted; expect fishing to be slow midday unless cloudy and rainy weather tempts a lot of salmon to head on up. Rainbow trout are striking flies and beads; forage patterns always work but egg and flesh patterns can be effective, especially in the lower reaches of water. Only a few Dolly Varden available.
UPPER KENAI RIVER: The bulk of early run of reds has finally hit this section of the Kenai and anglers are reporting good fishing and 3-fish limits. Look for most fish to be caught from the Russian River confluence down to the Jim’s Landing area; there are still relatively few reds present between the Russian and Kenai Lake. Rainbow trout are yielding fair to good success from the lake outlet down to Skilak Lake; forage flies are best but some flesh and beads work too, especially downstream of the Russian mouth. Dolly Varden and whitefish are being caught in smaller numbers by those targeting trout but these species will improve into July. A few smaller lake trout are present at the Kenai Lake outlet.
LOWER KENAI RIVER: Anglers are scoring good catches of rainbow trout in the section of water upstream of Killey River to the Skilak Lake outlet but an increasing number of fish are starting to move into stretches farther downstream as well. Forage flies are taking most fish. There is now a mix of the tail end of early-run Russian reds and fish bound for Quartz Creek and other tributaries present in the lower (and “middle”) river sections, although the catching is only fair at this time since it is more or less between runs. Look for success rates to improve the next couple of weeks as the late run arrives. As for kings, the river is currently under emergency order to release all king salmon caught until further notice; however, fishing for them is still allowed. Only a small number of kings are being hooked these days as the early run is winding down and the late run has yet to materialize to any extent, plus water clarity is poor.
KASILOF RIVER: The big tides this weekend are helping to push a good number of red salmon into the river and anglers in the Crooked Creek Campground area are reporting limits of fish within the window of time between an hour before peak high to two hours after. The channel right below the campground and the stretch of water just downstream of The People Hole are the best spots. However, some anglers hiking in to locations upstream of the highway crossing are also getting into reds with fish usually arriving here 9 to 12 hours after peak high tide. Use beads or yarn flies. Wild king salmon are off limits on this river by emergency order; hatchery fish are still allowed on a daily basis but this run is winding down for the season. One of the better spots for early-run kings this time of year is the channel by the campground. Expect most salmon to be blush to light red but a decent number will be fresh and bright still.
NINILCHIK RIVER: Open daily for hatchery kings (limit is 2/day) through the end of the season on October 31, anglers here are seeing fair catches of fish on the lower river, in particular the harbor area near the mouth. With the recent small tide cycle and low and clear water in the river proper, the fish have been schooling in the safe depths of the harbor waiting for conditions to improve. Once a good soak comes through bringing the river up a few inches, these fish will move out of the lower reaches and storm upstream to the highway bridge crossing and beyond. At that time, anglers report good to excellent success using bait, spinners, and flies. While some of the fish are starting to turn dark, there are still many semi-bright and lightly blushed kings available and a fair number of dime bright ones too. All wild kings must be released.
COOK INLET: With the advent of very large tides this week into next, surf-casters targeting halibut will have a decent shot hooking one; try Whiskey Gulch. Remember, the mouths of Anchor River, Deep Creek, and Ninilchik River (including Ninilchik Beach) are closed to fishing from shore as they are within the king salmon Conservation Zone and will not open back up until July 16. The mouths of Kasilof and Kenai rivers, as well as Clam Gulch, may produce a few fish but the season there is for all practical purposes over until the brief late summer/fall window of opportunity. Pacific cod, skate, and spiny dogfish (shark) are present in fair numbers in the inlet right now too. Focus on early morning tides.
KACHEMAK BAY/HOMER: Surf-casting off the beaches of the Homer Spit is good to excellent these days as flounders, codfish, and sculpin are abundant in nearshore areas, especially at the tip of the spit at Coal Point (Land’s End). A few small halibut will soon make a reserved appearance as well. Success for sea-run Dolly Varden is dropping off as fish begin heading back to salmon spawning streams to feed; expect fair catches. King and silver salmon bound for the lagoon may be present.
DUDIAK LAGOON: Although not producing especially noteworthy catches the last week, the lagoon will be open too snagging by emergency order on Friday, June 25, and continuing through Sunday, June 27. There is a good supply of salmon present within the lagoon, many of which have developed lockjaw and are starting to blush, but there are certainly a decent number of chromers too. This spot possibly could be the best place in Southcentral to harvest a 2-fish limit of kings in short order. Be mindful of that once the snag fishery is opened, there will be crowds of people and the number of available fish will quickly decrease as the snagfest progresses. Generally, the first several hours after opening is the most productive time to be on the water, especially on a low tide when salmon are concentrated and trapped inside the lagoon; sight-fishing is possible as kings travel in schools along the shoreline. Expect first few silvers to show soon.
RESURRECTION BAY/SEWARD: The early runs of king and red salmon are slowing down in this area but there is still some mediocre action to be found, such as the mouths of Spring Creek and Resurrection River for reds and Scheffler Creek for kings. Snagging is the most common method of harvest in these locations with anglers doing fair on incoming and high tides. The limit is still 12 for reds at Resurrection, yet few anglers manage this feat so late in the season. A few chum salmon will be showing at Spring Creek any day now. For Dolly Varden, hike on down the coast to the mouth of Tonsina Creek; try small lures and flies imitating salmon fry and smolt or baitfish for fair to good hook-ups. Pink salmon are just beginning to show in the bay and boaters farther out are reporting the first few silvers. Surf-casters are having fair to excellent success using pieces of herring or squid near the SeaLife Center and the gravel flats near the head of the bay—incoming and high tides are most productive. Halibut fishing is slow from the beaches but will pick up later on in July.
Area Summary: Despite catch-and-release orders for king salmon being in effect, this area will have some potentially hot opportunities now and for the next couple of weeks as kings begin entering the eastside tributaries of Susitna River in sizable numbers, and the run into Little Susitna River is holding up very well. Even the Eklutna Tailrace has turned on, attracting quite the crowd, but perhaps not so strange as it is the only roadside fishery in the valley where retention of kings is legal. For those not quite so focused on salmon, the clearwater streams between Willow and Chulitna along the Parks Highway are seeing some really solid action for rainbow trout and grayling. Area lakes also provide plenty of activity as wild as well as stocked populations of landlocked salmon, trout, char, grayling, and pike keep anglers busy. For quick results for rainbows and grayling on warm summer days, try the lakes in higher elevations, especially at first light. The lowland lakes are great right now for pike; go to the Willow area and the waters along or near the Nancy Lake Parkway.
EKLUTNA TAILRACE: King salmon are finally showing up in decent numbers and anglers are having fair to good success capturing them. Attractors with or without roe fished on the bottom is responsible for most catches but spinners are doing well also. Larger flies stripped back very slowly can be surprisingly effective at times. Most fish are semi-bright to light blush but some dime bright specimens are being taken. This fishery should be productive for another ten days as more kings arrive.
LITTLE SUSITNA RIVER: The bulk of the king salmon run is still holding in the lower end of the river with a relatively small number of fish as high up as the weir near the Point MacKenzie access site. Boaters are still doing best with good catches reported but shore anglers are landing a fair number of salmon as well. Condition of the kings range from chrome to quite red with most being semi-bright. Attractors, plugs, and spinners are best. Expect this fishery to really boom for those casting from the bank once the run decides to advance upstream. As a reminder, the emergency order dictating for catch-and-release only for kings is still in effect.
SUSITNA RIVER: King salmon are moving into the mouths of Willow, Sheep, Caswell, Montana, and Rabideux creeks in decent numbers and anglers should have few problems connecting with fish on the opener this coming Sunday and Monday. As stated above, kings are catch-and-release only but that means less crowds and faster-paced action. Salmon weighing from the mid-teens to 30-pound range should be common with some catches well into the 40-pound category. Use attractors, spinners, and flies. Some fish are venturing above the Susitna confluence but most kings will hold right at the stream mouths until next week. Rainbow trout are dispersed from the lower reaches of Susitna tributaries into the headwaters with Willow, Little Willow, Sheep, Goose, and Montana creeks being especially productive. Expect good or better fishing; hike up- or downstream casting small spoons and spinners or streamer/forage flies in likely lies. All of these waters also contain grayling with Little Willow being a favorite for this species. Little Willow and Sheep are also good spots to hook up with whitefish.
COPPER VALLEY-VALDEZ ARM
Area Summary: Red salmon are infiltrating area streams in decent numbers but the runs do not appear to be very large this year. However, there is absolutely some very worthwhile fishing to be had for reds still, as well as for several resident species. Both stocked and wild lakes are producing good catches, with early morning and late evenings being best for rainbows and grayling. Yet it is the larger and deeper bodies of water that are really cranking out the activity and attention right now, with some very respectable lake char, grayling, and burbot being caught. As for king salmon, however, there is rather somber news to report as runs are proving weak so far this season, prompting the emergency order to shut down all of the upper Copper River to king salmon fishing. Yet, there is a glimmer of hope that the late runs of kings in July and August may prove more bountiful. To the south, down in Valdez, it is on the cusp of salmon runs arriving in force as the first few pinks are now starting to move into the port and will likely be caught off Allison Point any day now; expect the bulk of the run to hit beaches in two weeks.
GULKANA RIVER: The early run of red salmon is managing to hold on with fish being landed in small numbers throughout the lower and middle stretches; however, expect this run to subside in productivity over the next week to ten days as fish disappear into the upper river section to spawn. But as long as the water remains low and clear, opportunity remains and anglers targeting these fish will do fair and sometimes better; sight-fishing to schools of salmon is possible. As a reminder, king salmon fishing is now closed by emergency order. Grayling are very active in parts of the middle and upper river with good to excellent action not only possible but the norm. A smaller number of rainbow trout are mixed in with the grayling. Lake trout provide good sport at the outlet of Paxson Lake where the river begins.
KLUTINA RIVER: Red salmon are moving through in large pulses, the fishing ranging from poor to very good depending on stretch of river and timing of fish movement. Some anglers limit out in quick order, others have to work hours for their fish. Colorful yarn flies fished close to shore bring success. Expect the run to continue for another ten days. The river is currently closed to king salmon fishing both by regulation as well as emergency order. For those with a sense of adventure, drive up to the upper river and Klutina Lake outlet where Dolly Varden are present.
LOUISE, PAXSON, SUMMIT LAKES: Fishing for lake trout continues to be good in the shallows of these lakes with nice catches being made especially at the lake outlets, shoreline structure, and islands. Casting spoons and plugs is effective, particularly so in morning and evening. Grayling are very active and provide excellent opportunities right now on spinners and flies; again, try outlets and shoreline structure early and late in the day. Burbot can be caught on spoons and jigs with anglers often able to spot and cast to individual fish with often good results. Whitefish are sometimes present in large numbers yet a bit more unpredictable to catch; match the hatch of insect activity and the fishing can be surprisingly worthwhile.
Updated Thursday, June 17, 2021
CURRENT HOT SPOTS: SHIP KINGS; RESURRECTION REDS; NINILCHIK KINGS; KLUTINA REDS; GULKANA KINGS; RUSSIAN REDS; LITTLE SUSITNA KINGS; SUSITNA RAINBOWS; KASILOF KINGS, REDS; COPPER LAKERS, GRAYLING
Weekly Summary: The early summer streak of productive king and red salmon fishing, in addition to trout, char, and grayling, holds true for the most part these days and anglers are finding a vast number of places to go to get in on the action. Whether north, south, or east from Anchorage, there are good or better opportunities to be had. But please be aware of recent emergency orders, mainly concerning wild stocks of king salmon, and follow the links in the Fishing News section on this site to get all the details.
ANCHORAGE AREA-TURNAGAIN ARM
Anglers in this area do not have to look very far to find some good salmon fishing; a good slug of king salmon have hit Ship Creek right in downtown Anchorage and some very nice fish are being landed. Campbell and Chester creeks are now open to fishing and producing a decent supply of rainbows and Dollies. Stocked lakes in the city offer good action in the early morning and evenings. For those wanting a little bit more of a “natural” feel to their angling surroundings may want to check out one or more of the clearwater streams draining into Turnagain Arm. While the hooligan season has ended for the year, sea-run Dolly Varden are giving a good account of themselves in such places as Indian, Glacier, Kern, Portage, and Ingram creeks; try incoming and high tides at the lower ends or mouths of these waters using small lures, flies, or salmon eggs.
SHIP CREEK: As the Slam’n Salm’n Derby is well underway and the king salmon run is hitting stride, new leaders keep popping up every few days—sometimes even on the same day. With a few specimens now pushing 30 pounds, it is only a matter of time before the big bruisers show up: just remember to purchase a derby ticket. The most successful anglers target early morning tides using attractor and egg combos fished on the bottom but large spinners are becoming a huge hook-up tool also. The run is peaking now and for the next week, maybe 10 days.
Despite emergency orders delivered this week striking a blow to a couple of the king salmon fisheries (Kenai and Kasilof), there is really so much more happening in this area right now that anglers will not notice too much. While the wild runs of kings are definitely down this year, the good news is that the hatchery returns are doing very well, providing anglers with lots of opportunity in several locations, such as Homer, Ninilchik, Kasilof, and Seward. Admittedly, the early red salmon runs were off to a slow start, yet now things are seemingly picking up on the Kenai and Kasilof rivers in addition to the Russian. The Resurrection River in Seward is really having a good season, which brought on an emergency order doubling the daily bag limit for reds. There is a small tide cycle this weekend, which is good for boaters but not ideal for surf-casters that depend on the few extra feet of depth in effectively targeting halibut. Trout fishing is great in most places, from smaller streams to large rivers, and in both stocked and wild lakes. And although technically still in mid-June, it is not too early to find a few pink and chum salmon in Resurrection Bay and Passage Canal.
RUSSIAN RIVER: After a slow start to the season last Friday, the run is building and an increasing number of anglers are reporting limits of reds. Best time is at dawn after the nighttime hours bring large schools of fish into the clear and relatively shallow Russian from the glacial Kenai River. Come midday, hike upstream and scout holes and runs for holding and migrating reds. Expect good to excellent fishing this weekend and early next week. Trout action is fair to good with the rainbows hitting flesh and egg imitation flies; forage patterns can be productive too. Only a few Dolly Varden available as of yet.
UPPER KENAI RIVER: Whether in a watercraft or hiking in, anglers are seeing a fairly decent push of reds coming through, the best stretch being from the Russian River area downstream to Skilak Lake. Success has ranged from slow to quite good, depending on if a sizable group of fish happens to be present. The better bet is trying for rainbow trout; the action has been very good since the season opener last Friday but should slow just a little bit as the bite stabilizes. A smaller number of Dolly Varden are being caught as well. Still, this will be a favorite spot this weekend.
RESURRECTION BAY/SEWARD: For anglers targeting king salmon, from now on and the next ten days will be the best time to find fish. The mouth of Scheffler Creek near the boat harbor in front of town is the obvious choice but a few kings may be found most anywhere clear water enters the bay, such as the mouth of Spring, Spruce, and Tonsina creeks. Try the incoming and high tides using spinners; snagging is an effective harvest method at Scheffler. A few reds are also being taken in these locations, perhaps especially so over at Spring Creek. Surf-casters are scoring fair to excellent results tossing pieces of herring or small jigs into deeper water near the SeaLife Center or along Lowell Point Road. A variety of fish are being landed, mostly flounders and codfish along with a few rockfish and even the occasional halibut.
RESURRECTION RIVER: With an emergency order in effect doubling the limit of red salmon from 6 to 12 per day, anglers trying their fortune at the mouth of this river on an incoming tide are finding mixed results. Some days or tides bring in masses of fish and relatively easy limits, other times the action is on the slower side. Snagging is the superior harvest method here. Additionally, it is worth mentioning that the whole river is open to salmon fishing up to the Seward Highway crossing and Salmon Creek up to Nash Road; however, snagging in these areas is prohibited as it is freshwater. Expect fair action on flies and beads, better if a big school moves through.
KASILOF RIVER: A recent emergency order barred anglers from retaining wild king salmon in this location, only allowing hatchery fish to be kept. Still, the fishing is good as this run is at a peak. Anglers doing best focus their effort at dawn just downstream of the Crooked Creek confluence and stretch of water along The People Hole; the small tides this weekend will be productive but best fished a few hours after high tide for kings. The red salmon run is shaping up with some anglers catching their limits, usually soon after peak high tide. Some reds are also being caught up above the highway bridge. Yarn flies and beads do the trick on these fish in addition to kings. The steelhead run has ended.
NINILCHIK RIVER: Starting yesterday, June 16, anglers are allowed to fish this river daily through the end of the season on October 31. Only hatchery king salmon may be retained, all wild fish must be released. But the run is doing well and the daily bag limit is 2 hatchery kings per day by emergency order in a bid for anglers to mop up the surplus while letting wild fish escape upstream to spawn. Expect the most productive fishing to occur on the tides, the outgoing being especially noteworthy casting spinners or floating roe under a bobber. The upstream portion, above the highway, typically is better right after rain elevates water level, pushing kings up from the tidewater area. A few steelhead are present. Halibut fishing off the beach is not an option until mid-July by regulation.
KACHEMAK BAY/HOMER: Surf-casting for bottomfish is good off the end of the spit and pieces of herring and squid are bringing in plenty of flounders, codfishes, and sculpins; fish the low tide. There is also a chance of hooking a halibut with the right gear; high tide is generally better. Sea-run Dolly Varden continue to prowl the shoreline along the spit, providing a fair bite on small lures and flies. An occasional king salmon bound for the lagoon may hit herring and spinners.
DUDIAK LAGOON: The king salmon run here is at a peak but will soon see a downswing as fish mature and turn color. While there are good numbers of fish inside the lagoon, they are starting to lockjaw to anglers’ offerings. Also, a pack of seals have been hanging around the lagoon for the last few weeks, hunting the fish and interfering with catch rates. Success is generally fair casting spinners and drifting eggs, although some tides can be good as decent numbers of fresh kings enter the fishery; try the incoming and outgoing.
With the tributaries of the Susitna River flowing low and clear, the rainbow trout and grayling fisheries are in full swing and anglers are picking up more king salmon by the day. Although still under a catch-and-release emergency order for kings, anglers still participate for sport and are finding fair opportunities at the mouths of Willow, Little Willow, Caswell, Sheep, Montana, and Rabideux creeks. An increasing number of kings, along with a larger presence of early-run reds, is also showing at the Little Susitna River. A new emergency order allowing for retention of king salmon at the remote Deshka River has sparked some sliver of hope that perhaps one or more of the roadside fisheries may open up as well. Time will tell, but for now only the Eklutna Tailrace is open to retaining a king as all fish returning there are of hatchery origin. As for other opportunities, anglers are reporting very good pike fishing in select lakes and ponds along or near Nancy Lake Parkway and in the Willow area. Some of the stocked lakes at higher elevations are producing some outstanding trout action, most notably waters north of Palmer on the Glenn Highway.
LITTLE SUSITNA RIVER: There is a good number of king salmon holding in the lower end of the river and anglers scouting sections of water downstream of the Point McKenzie access site are having no problem hooking up with fish. Boaters definitely have a distinct advantage at this time but shore-bound fishers are getting strikes as well. The early morning bite has been very good using spinners, plugs, and attractors. As a reminder, the river is still under emergency order prohibiting the retention of king salmon; all fish caught must be released. Only a few kings have migrated up above the weir site as of this date. A lot of the fish landed have been reasonably bright with a smaller percentage of blush specimens, indicating that the run is at a peak with some productive days still coming up. Early-run red salmon are also moving through the river but only a few fish are being caught; anglers trying the mid section of river should have an easier time connecting. Some rainbow trout and Dolly Varden are present.
SUSITNA RIVER: The dominant species in this drainage continue to be rainbow trout; however, this will likely change by next weekend as area king runs arrive in earnest to tributary streams. But for now, anglers are enjoying a good stretch of very intense trout fishing as both spring spawners and summer feeders occupy many of the waters in this area. Excellent success may be had at Willow, Little Willow, Sheep, and Montana creeks using forage pattern flies mimicking juvenile salmon as well as insect hatches and growth/adult stages. Anglers are finding the trout to be distributed from near stream mouths up into headwaters. Grayling are frequent catches too, with good action at times in some locations; Little Willow has long been a favorite for this species. A few Dolly Varden and whitefish have been landed at the confluences of Susitna and tributaries.
COPPER VALLEY-VALDEZ ARM
Summary: With salmon infiltrating streams, anglers are taking notice and the fisheries of Gulkana and Klutina are really starting to perk up. While perhaps off to a slow start this season, the early runs of kings and reds are coming in at a steady clip and success rates are likely to increase exponentially as the bulk of fish arrive to the area over the next several days. Dip netters are already enjoying good success down in Chitina, lending promise to what is soon to come. But one note of caution is to keep an eye out on the strength of king runs this year; an emergency order just activated calls for the annual limit of king salmon to go from 5 fish down to 1 starting Monday next week. Other opportunities include the larger lakes in the area that are teeming with lake trout and grayling, and stocked waters are teeming with rainbows, Arctic char, and grayling. In Valdez, things are still very quiet on the shore-bound front. A few reds are present in the Robe River and sea-run Dolly Varden are available in the port, mainly near salmon spawning streams. Casting bait off the city dock may bring attention of flounders, codfishes, and sculpins–even a few sablefish. The first pink salmon typically arrive at Allison Point just about now.
GULKANA RIVER: Appearing just over ten days ago, king and early-run red salmon are working their way upstream and anglers are connecting with fish from the river mouth up through the Sourdough area and beyond. If the water is high and muddy from heavy rainfall, try the section of river above the West Fork confluence; if the river flows low and clear, expect the best action to take place from the highway crossing up to Sourdough. Condition of fish are nice and mostly bright. These runs should peak starting this weekend and for the next two to three weeks, the kings holding on a little longer than the reds. Grayling fishing is excellent and rainbows fair on the upper river from the rapids to the Paxson Lake outlet; lake trout are very active at the outlet too.
KLUTINA RIVER: The news is out that the reds are arriving and limits are being achieved. While not hot and heavy just yet, there is a sizable group of fish headed up the Copper and should reach this location within a few days. Expect fair to good action this weekend, good to excellent next week. Drifting yarn flies and beads work well. As a reminder, the king salmon season does not open until July 1. Dolly Varden fishing is decent on the upper river towards the lake.
SUMMIT, PAXSON, LOUISE LAKES: While the ice-out bite has been productive so far, the next couple of weeks will prove to be even better as lake trout and grayling go into a feeding frenzy. The outlets of Summit and Paxson, in particular, can be hot for both species as they congregate in numbers chasing out-migrating salmon smolts. In fact, this is one of the best times of the year to chase lake trout with a fly rod as the fish are found in a relatively small area aggressively feeding in the shallows. Trophy-sized grayling are not uncommon either right now. It is also possible to hit a few rainbows. Louise does not have the influx of salmon smolt but still yields some great fishing in relatively shallow waters near shore and around islands and reefs.
Updated Thursday, June 10, 2021
CURRENT HOT SPOTS: RESURRECTION REDS; NINILCHIK KINGS; KENAI REDS; SHIP KINGS; KASILOF KINGS, REDS; SUSITNA RAINBOWS; COPPER LAKERS, GRAYLING
Weekly Summary: Things are shaping up very nicely around the Southcentral region as water temperatures warm and fish getting increasingly active in most waters along the road system. The big news, of course, is that the Upper Kenai and Russian rivers will open for reds and rainbows this Friday and the king runs to Ship, Ninilchik, and the Kasilof are really gaining momentum as peak fishing hits. Not to be outdone, the Susitna River drainage is yielding great trout and grayling action with the additional opportunity to catch and release a few kings that are arriving there. The larger Copper River highland lakes are seeing big lakers and grayling taken regularly with the fishing only getting better by the day; the first kings and reds are now entering the Gulkana and Klutina rivers as well. The marine fisheries of Resurrection Bay are experiencing returns of both kings and reds while Kachemak Bay is offering chances for kings and sea-run char. We are quickly approaching that point where no matter which direction an angler chooses to go, excellent fishing awaits.
ANCHORAGE AREA-TURNAGAIN ARM
Without a doubt, Ship Creek is the place to be as the king run there is arriving at peak levels and anglers are hauling in very decent-sized fish just in time for the start of the king salmon derby. While the hooligan run has slowed considerably down at 20-Mile River, anglers can still enjoy the opportunity to tangle with sea-run Dolly Varden that are showing in increasing numbers off the mouths of streams flowing into Turnagain Arm, such as Indian, Glacier, Kern, Portage, and Ingram—fish the incoming and high tides. For a more laidback atmosphere, the stocked lakes in the area are yielding plenty of landlocked salmon, rainbows, and grayling; try in early morning and late evening. Chester and Campbell creeks will open to fishing on Tuesday, June 15, and rainbows and Dollies will be there. Bird Creek is closed to all fishing until July 14. Eagle River will be open to kings again this weekend but the water is very turbid and the fishing expected to be slow.
SHIP CREEK: The annual Slam’n Salm’n Derby begins this Friday, June 11, and runs through June 19, providing extra incentive to make this stream a prime destination for many city dwellers. Anglers are currently reporting relatively good action on the tides with eggs and attractors fished on or along the bottom but spinners are becoming more effective as water temperatures rise and the run arrives in force. Expect good or better action to last from now on for the next two weeks; choose early morning tides for best opportunity, especially on cloudy and rainy days. Most fish being caught are chrome with just a few starting to see a light sheen of pink.
This is a difficult area to compete with as opportunities are vast in both locations to go as well as species available. The early runs of king salmon are now peaking on the west side of the peninsula from Kasilof to Homer and the east side fish will soon follow in Seward and perhaps even Whittier. Early runs of red salmon are also coming in with good to excellent catches soon to be a reality on the upper Kenai, Kasilof, Resurrection, and Russian rivers, perhaps starting already by this weekend. The much anticipated fisheries of Kenai and Russian will attract big crowds of anglers this Friday and the following weekend, especially so if the action proves to be fast and furious. But the Ninilchik will likely be a hot spot for anglers as well due to the recent emergency order allowing anglers to keep two kings a day with no annual limit. Dudiak Lagoon in Homer has a good number of kings present. For those targeting rainbow trout, June 11 is also the date when things really get lively as all of the Kenai drainage opens up to fishing.
UPPER KENAI RIVER: Water conditions are absolutely perfect, with good flows and clarity, and expected to yield some quick rainbow and, hopefully, red action starting Friday. Anglers can expect the trout to be aggressive with success lasting into next week before mellowing out a little bit due to pressure. The reds, however, are arriving in good numbers right now at the lower end of the river near Skilak Lake and the fishing will only improve for the next week to ten days as the bulk of the run settles in. Dolly Varden will give a fair account of themselves alongside less willing whitefish. The nearby Russian River has yet to see large numbers of red salmon arrive.
LOWER KENAI RIVER: For all of the past week, anglers have been successful in targeting early-run red salmon bound for the Russian River in the Soldotna and Sterling area, albeit the action is not equal to that experienced during the late run in July. It takes a bit more patience and scouting in order to find spots where fish stream through near shore; nonetheless, fair to good action is possible. The king salmon run has improved the last several days, resulting in a slight increase in catch rates; expect run to hit a peak shortly with boaters doing fair at best. For rainbow trout, head to the middle portion of the Kenai upstream of Killey River to the Skilak Lake outlet starting Friday; expect very good fishing. The hooligan run has just about ended for the year; the last day of the season is June 14.
KASILOF RIVER: King salmon continue to move into the river on each tide, with fair to good catches being made at dawn as well as about one hour before high tide to two hours after. Attractors and plugs with bait are popular with anglers and fish alike, yet some fish are also being taken on flies and lures. Water levels and flows are increasing, creating more spots of opportunity for shore-bound anglers, with the stretch from the Crooked Creek influence downstream to below The People Hole being best; expect decent success. Red salmon are also becoming more numerous and some anglers are managing limits of fish right around the tides; flies and beads are working.
NINILCHIK RIVER: With the daily bag limit for hatchery king salmon doubled by emergency order due to a solid return of fish, anglers here should see some good action come early Saturday morning and then later on around the tides. Floating eggs, flipping flies, and casting spinners are all effective. Most of the hatchery kings weigh 8 to 15 pounds with occasionally larger fish. Some of the wild kings landed and released the last two weekends were in the mid-20s range. Water conditions are low and clear. A few steelhead are also present.
COOK INLET: Surf-casters will find a moderate series of tides this weekend. Halibut fishing is expected to be slow to mediocre with occasionally better days. Check out the mouth of Kenai River, Ninilchik Beach, and Whiskey Gulch for possible success using herring as bait. Best action will generally be on very early morning tides. Spiny dogfish and skate are present in addition to a few Pacific cod.
DUDIAK LAGOON: Each tide pushes another fresh shot of kings into the lagoon with success being fair to good on the incoming and outgoing tides, especially those coinciding with very early morning hours. Afternoon and evening tides have not produced as much activity. Floating eggs and casting spinners are responsible for most fish landed these days. Quality of kings range from chrome to light blush. A few Dolly Varden are being caught too, in particular on the bay side at the mouth of the stream draining the lagoon.
KACHEMAK BAY/HOMER: Casting for bottomfish is good to excellent, the most active spot being at the tip of the spit by Land’s End. Cut herring and squid are tricking a steady supply of flounders, codfish, and sculpin; try low tide. Sea-run Dolly Varden are being taken on small lures and flies on tidal changes. An occasional king salmon and halibut is possible.
RESURRECTION BAY/SEWARD: For those just wanting some action at the end of the rod, the shallows around the bay provide surf-casters with fair to excellent action for flounders, codfish, and other bottomfish. Pieces of herring or squid is perfect bait. If headed out to Tonsina Creek, fishing for sea-run Dolly Varden is quite good at the mouth of the stream and adjacent beach area. There may be a few kings and schools of reds passing through here as well as the mouths of other streams, such as Spruce and Spring creeks. Anglers have been landing a number of kings and reds off the mouth of Scheffler Creek right in front of town near the boat harbor; snagging has been most effective but spinners work too.
RESURRECTION RIVER: While every tide may be a little different in terms of angler success, there is generally some good to excellent action to be had for reds at the mouth of this river accessed by trail from Nash Road. Snagging is the best harvest method but a few anglers are taking fish by flossing yarn flies or beads in the current of an outgoing tide. Limit of six fish is possible. There are hooligan present in smaller numbers.
Salmon numbers are steadily building in streams across this area but there is yet to be a true hot spot for kings or any other related species. Additionally, most every single water open to king salmon fishing are under emergency order this year requiring anglers to release all kings caught. The notable exception is the Eklutna Tailrace, which is currently receiving a small but increasing number of hatchery kings that may be retained. Action there, however, is still slow and not expected to really pick up for another week to ten days. The Little Susitna River is experiencing a trickle of kings through the weir but anglers are reporting more fish holding downstream of the lower river access point. As of today, there is actually about an equal number of early-run reds in the river compared to kings. Again, wait another week or so for the kings to move in. By far the best stream fishing is up the Susitna River for rainbow trout, in the clearwater tributaries between Willow and Montana. Lake fishing for landlocked salmon, trout, char, and grayling is decent these days with the better bite happening at dawn and dusk. Some good sport for rainbows is reported from the stocked lakes at higher elevations up along the Glenn Highway north of Palmer. Pike fishing is excellent in select waters along the Nancy Lake Parkway.
SUSITNA RIVER: Although flowing a bit moody after a hard rain or prolonged period of warm summer sun, the streams of Willow, Little Willow, Sheep, Goose, and Montana are yielding some great success for rainbow trout using a variety of forage pattern flies and lures. Approach these waters from the road crossings and hike up- or downstream scouting for holding water, which are plenty abundant. While most fish caught are in the teens, there have been several nice ‘bows landed in the low to mid-20s inch range. Grayling are common, especially on the Little Willow, but present in all aforementioned waters. A few Dolly Varden and whitefish are showing up. Anglers targeting king salmon are finding some at the mouths of these streams and the runs are building; use spoons, spinners, and attractors. Expect kings to start spiking in about 10 days.
COPPER VALLEY-VALDEZ ARM
The larger lakes in this area, such as Louise, Paxson, and Summit, are ice free and warming up, offering some of the best angling of the year for lakers, and grayling as well as burbot typically perform exceptionally too. Grayling are also available in many smaller streams but the spawning period has for the most part ended, leaving anglers to scout waters for feeding fish that are more scattered than a few weeks ago. Smaller stocked lakes are productive in the early mornings and late evenings. Yet the big news around these parts is the arrival of king and red salmon in a couple of the more popular stream fisheries, the Gulkana and Klutina. While runs are just starting to build, some reds are being taken on the lower Klutina and this should be a hot spot in another week to ten days. Likewise, the Gulkana is seeing both kings and early-run reds coming into the lower end; water conditions are not yet ideal, with somewhat low visibility downstream of the West Fork confluence. Look for both of these drainages to appear as hot spots shortly. Down in Valdez, bottomfish are being caught off the city dock on pieces of herring, and sea-run Dolly Varden may be caught off the mouth of clearwater streams.
SUMMIT, PAXSON, LOUISE LAKES: Only recently free of ice, these expansive systems are seeing a steady increase in productivity for anglers as water temperatures rise into the 40s and 50s and thus sparking a feeding frenzy for especially lake trout, although grayling and burbot tend to yield plenty of action a lot of times as well. Cast spoons and plugs for the char, grayling will take flies and spinners. The freshwater cod are often lured to bite using spoons and jigs, yet will respond to herring and smelt also. If possible, check out the outlets of Paxson and Summit where lakers stage to pounce on salmon smolt headed out to sea; use smaller spoons and streamers resembling these juvenile fish.
Updated Thursday, June 3, 2021
CURRENT HOT SPOTS: SHIP KINGS; SUSITNA RAINBOWS; NINILCHIK KINGS; RESURRECTION REDS; LOUISE LAKERS, BURBOT; KENAI REDS; DUDIAK KINGS; 20-MILE HOOLIGAN
Weekly Summary: There is a mixed bag of opportunities for the weekend and into next week as king and red salmon runs arrive in coastal drainages, lakes and streams turn on for lake trout, grayling, rainbow trout, burbot, and pike, and saltwater action begins to peak for salmon, sea-run Dolly Varden, and a variety of bottomfish. Even dip netters are finding plenty of hooligan around still, enough to fill buckets. This, coupled with warmer weather in the forecast, will no doubt bring anglers out in force now on through the summer. However, there is also a note of caution to be had as two emergency orders were issued today (Thursday, 6/3) concerning the low number of kings entering the southern peninsula streams of Anchor and Deep, resulting in full closures until mid-July.
ANCHORAGE AREA-TURNAGAIN ARM
The word is out that king salmon are arriving in decent numbers at Ship Creek in downtown Anchorage and people are ascending on the tides with high expectations of finding the first chrome of the season. Additionally, if not yet satisfied with the numbers of hooligan harvested for the year, dippers are scooping up plenty of fish yet at the 20-Mile River at the bottom of Turnagain Arm. For a more laidback pace, the lakes around the area are yielding fair to excellent catches of stocked landlocked salmon, trout, char, and grayling. Eagle River is open to king salmon fishing for two more weekends, although the prospects there have been poor given high and turbid water conditions and low numbers of fish present. Chester and Campbell creeks will open to fishing on June 15, while Bird Creek is not slated to open until July 14. Dolly Varden are beginning to actively feed at the mouth of streams draining into Turnagain Arm; try Indian, Glacier, Portage, and Ingram on incoming and high tides.
SHIP CREEK: Anglers here are, on average, hauling in fair to good catches of kings weighing in the teens and 20s and the run will likely hit a peak starting next week and lasting through the Slam’n Salm’n Derby slated for June 11 through the 20th. Salmon roe fished with an attractor on the bottom on an incoming or outgoing tide is the best way to connect, but artificial lures and flies will soon become viable options as well as water levels and temperatures rise. Expect big kings to show shortly, between 30 and 40 pounds.
Despite the recent closure of the king salmon season for the year on the Anchor River and Deep Creek, anglers have a good shot at landing salmon in several other fisheries. The glacial twins of Kenai and Kasilof rivers, the reliable Ninilchik River, Dudiak Lagoon down in Homer, and the beachfront at the mouth of Scheffler Creek over in Seward are all viable options for securing one or more kings. Adding to the excitement of the area is the news that red salmon are being caught in good to decent numbers in the lower Kenai River and at the mouth of Resurrection River. Stocked and wild lakes are supporting very good opportunities for a range of species, including landlocked salmon, trout, char, and grayling. The saltwater fisheries targeting bottomfish are improving and becoming more consistent as the summer progresses, with the ports of Homer and Seward being especially productive. Russian River and upper Kenai River will open to fishing in about one week, on June 11 to be exact, and reports are that red salmon are already starting to appear in those locations.
KENAI RIVER: While the king salmon fishing remains sub-par with success rates generally low to fair at best, there is now an increasing presence of early-run red salmon on the lower river. These fish are primarily bound for the Russian River and currently being intercepted in the section between Sterling and the upper limits of tidewater. Anglers flipping flies and beads in channels of the main current are bringing home chrome reds with limits possible. This run should peak starting mid next week and continue to produce fish into the third week of this month. Good spots to try for early reds include Moose Meadows and Swiftwater. Rainbow trout and Dolly Varden are available in fair numbers, mostly from Sterling upstream to the Killey River confluence closed area. Hooligan are being netted in the upper reaches of tidewater as well as in varying stretches up to Soldotna; this run will end shortly.
KASILOF RIVER: The king salmon run here continues to build in strength as each tide brings in a fresh load of fish. Recommended stretch of water is from the mouth of Crooked Creek on down into tidewater. Bank anglers do best just before dawn around The People Hole, especially on morning tides, using attractors and roe as well as flies; success is fair to good. During the day, try from about an hour before to three hours after peak high tide. Boaters also see success on roe and attractor combinations in addition to plug/sardine wraps. A few early-run red salmon are showing up and should yield consistent catches shortly using flies; again, hit the high tide window. The spring steelhead fishery has for all practical purposes ended as fish are spawning up in clearwater tributaries. Dolly Varden can be plentiful in tidewater holes and easily caught using salmon eggs fished on the bottom.
COOK INLET: The surf-casting fishery targeting halibut along the beaches of the inlet is limited for the next several days due to a small high tide series. Some fish were being caught from Ninilchik Beach last Memorial Day weekend and a few fish are likely to be present this weekend and next as well; use herring. Whiskey Gulch is another summer fishery with moderate flatfish success. The mouth of Kenai River can be a relative hot spot in early June as halibut come in close feeding on spawned-out hooligan; expect action to range anywhere from slow to very good depending on day and tide. In all of these locations, anglers are also catching a fair number of skate, Pacific cod, and spiny dogfish (shark).
NINILCHIK RIVER: Last weekend presented fair to good fishing for king salmon and the next opener this coming weekend should see the peak of the run and similar if not even better action. Even though emergency order restrictions are in place requiring wild fish to be released, there is a very decent number of hatchery kings available so anglers have a good opportunity to bring home a fish. However, with the nearby king fisheries of Anchor and Deep closed down by an emergency order, there is likely to be more people participating now on through the season. Most fish are running in the 8- to 20-pound category with occasional catches of salmon into the mid-20s range or larger. For increased success, try the upper stream on Saturday morning, moving to the tides on the lower river any other day and time. Spawned-out steelhead (kelts) are likely to appear more frequently the next ten days as they return to sea.
KACHEMAK BAY/HOMER: Casting off the end of the spit using pieces of herring or squid is bringing plenty of bites from bottomfish such as flounders, codfish, and sculpins. Low tides produce the fastest action. Although a little early, a few small halibut should make a modest appearance soon. Sea-run Dolly Varden are more spread out in the bay these days but anglers can still find fair to good fishing along the northwest shoreline on the tidal swings using small lures and flies imitating juvenile salmon. An occasional king salmon may be intercepted bound for the lagoon.
DUDIAK LAGOON: Anglers here are seeing the king salmon run improving as each tide pushes a handful of new fish into the lagoon, yielding fair to good action using roe or herring under a bobber. Spinners are increasingly more effective as the run builds. Try the incoming tide inside the lagoon, the outgoing tide on the ocean side of the lagoon. Most kings are in the 6- to 15-pound range with only a few topping 20 pounds thus far. A few Dolly Varden are also being caught in this spot.
RESURRECTION BAY/SEWARD: A small number of kings are showing up around the bay, mainly at the outfall of Scheffler Creek near the boat harbor, but fish may be encountered at the mouth of any clearwater stream as they home in. Incoming tide seems to be the best time with some catches also at peak high and outgoing. Snagging is a popular harvest method right at the hatchery release site, yet anglers up for the challenge are finding spinners and herring work as well. A few reds are showing at Scheffler too but are more prevalent on the other side of the bay at Spring Creek. Surf-casters are seeing fair to excellent catches of bottomfish, primarily on the north and west sides of the bay. Halibut may be encountered as they chase hooligan returning to local rivers.
RESURRECTION RIVER: Early-run red salmon bound for Bear Lake are currently streaming into the river in fishable numbers and anglers are harvesting their fair share in the tidal area and off the mouth by snagging. This weekend should see more reliable success with limits possible on the incoming and peak high tide. Hooligan are also present and dip netting can be good at times; Salmon Creek and the West Resurrection channel (Japanese Creek) are two additional spots that typically yield fish at this time.
As summer takes hold in this area, fishing opportunities will flourish. Salmon are becoming more frequent in a greater number of drainages and most streams now flow at or near ideal levels and clarity for productive trout and grayling action. In addition, lake fishing is considered tops right now as the ice is gone, water temperatures are on the rise, and many spots have just recently been stocked with aggressive landlocked salmon, trout, char, and grayling. The Willow area and select lakes along the Nancy Lake Parkway are yielding good to excellent fishing for pike. For anglers wanting to harvest a king salmon this year, the Eklutna Tailrace is finally seeing some results as several fish have been landed this week. While the action will be slow to fair this weekend, things should pick up rapidly during the course of the next ten days as fish move out of the Knik River mainstem and head up into the tailrace. Roe fished on the bottom, either alone or with an attractor, is a proven technique here, but spinners and even flies may draw strikes as well. Little Susitna River is closed to retention of kings by emergency order but a few fish have been taken at the lower access site; attractors and spinners are what works there.
SUSITNA RIVER: Anglers are finally seeing favorable water conditions after a rather tumultuous month of May where high and silty streams dominated, the victims of a cool spring and a large snowpack up in the mountains as well as in the lowlands. But as things settled down, the stream fisheries of Willow, Little Willow, Sheep, Goose, and Montana creeks in addition to Kashwitna and Talkeetna rivers are now experiencing some very good action for rainbow trout and decent success for grayling. The most action is in the middle and upper reaches but things can be busy in spots in lower stretches also. A few Dolly Varden and even whitefish are appearing, generally in or around the stream mouths. Forage flies and small spoons, spinners, and plugs imitating juvenile salmon are getting strikes. As for king salmon, a few have been caught at the mouths of Willow, Sheep, and Montana and fish are likely to be found in Rabideux too. Per emergency order, kings may not be retained this year in the Susitna drainage. Hooligan dip netting is fair to good at Susitna Landing, around the mouth of Willow Creek, and at the Kashwitna Landing but the run will not last much beyond this coming weekend.
COPPER VALLEY-VALDEZ ARM
With ice long gone from smaller lakes and almost entirely melted off the larger bodies of water, anglers are seeing great success on a variety of species. Louise is wide open and Paxson Lake is almost completely free of ice, while Summit Lake is about a week from claiming such status. Tangle Lakes off Denali Highway are also about a week from being ice free. All of these lakes mentioned above will offer great lake trout fishing in addition to unique opportunities for other species such as burbot, grayling, and whitefish. Rainbow trout and grayling provide good to excellent catch rates in stocked waters along the Glenn and Richardson highways, McCarthy Road, and Lake Louise Road. Fishing is also fair in area streams, especially those tributary to Tazlina Lake and the Gulkana and Copper rivers. No solid confirmations of salmon having been caught in area rivers but this is the time when the first several fish are usually taken. The lower Gulkana and Klutina rivers are good spots to check if the kings and reds are moving through, especially now as water conditions have stabilized. Opportunities in and around Valdez are rather slim right now for roadside anglers but some sea-run char patrol the briny of the port, usually being present at the mouths of clearwater salmon spawning streams. A few red salmon should be showing in Robe River soon, if not already.
LAKE LOUISE: With open water season begun, the lake is now yielding good to excellent action for big lake trout and burbot. Although the better fishing is from boats, shore anglers are managing some fish too in addition to grayling and whitefish. Now and for the next couple of weeks, this location will arguably have some of the best action for lakers in the Southcentral region with some trophy fish possible, poundage from the upper teens to mid-20s range. All of these species are focused more or less on the warmer and oxygenated shallows and some anglers report great sight fishing opportunities, even for burbot.
Updated Thursday, May 27, 2021
CURRENT HOT SPOTS: 20-MILE RIVER HOOLIGAN; NINILCHIK KINGS; HOMER & SEWARD DOLLIES; AREA STOCKED LAKES; COPPER VALLEY GRAYLING STREAMS; COOK INLET HALIBUT
Weekly Summary: The Southcentral region is on the cusp of the hectic onslaught of salmon runs as kings and reds are showing in fishable numbers in rivers and streams and saltwater areas on the road system. Although not hot and heavy right now, anglers should be treated to some fair to good opportunities in various locations this coming weekend and the following week. The waters on the Kenai Peninsula are expected to produce the most consistent success for salmon but the Matanuska and Susitna valleys are not far behind as runs advance and build in strength region wide. For those seeking other game species, the multitude of lakes in Southcentral present great fishing for landlocked salmon, trout, char, grayling, and pike, and flowing waters are beginning to yield decent catches of primarily trout, char, and grayling. Additionally, the briny of Southcentral is seeing quite productive action for a series of bottomfish and other species, including halibut, salmon, and sea-run char. From now on out for the next few months, the myriad of places to go and types of fish to catch will keep the most fickle angler busy.
ANCHORAGE AREA-TURNAGAIN ARM
The big news on this front is that king salmon are arriving in increasing numbers at Ship Creek right in downtown and several fish are being taken on the tides each day. While not yet a true hot spot determined by how many participating anglers are actually hooking up, things are picking up nicely and this fishery should be near the top of the list for salmon in another week or so. Eagle River will open to king salmon fishing for three consecutive weekends starting this weekend. While the river has come up in volume and flowing silty due to recent warm temperatures, cooler weather ahead may see more favorable conditions for fishing as the river drops and visibility improves; expect few kings to be present. The most consistent spot to harvest fish, however, is by dip net down along Turnagain Arm and 20-Mile River targeting hooligan. Also, local stocked lakes are producing fair to excellent catches of landlocked salmon, rainbow trout, Arctic char, and Arctic grayling; hit these waters early or late in the day or on rainy days.
TURNAGAIN ARM/20-MILE RIVER: Dip netters are reporting good to excellent catches of hooligan on the tides with the 20-Mile River now becoming the hot spot as these fish zero in on freshwater. However, the run is nearing an end as female fish are now dominating catches with most males already up on the spawning beds. While Turnagain Arm will close down to dip netting on June 1, the 20-Mile River remains open through June 14. Expect dipping to be productive in the river for another week before things begin to slow down in earnest. Anglers looking for rod and reel action, sea-run Dolly Varden are showing up in fishable numbers at the mouth of several streams in the area, including Indian, Glacier, Portage, and Ingram creeks. Bird Creek is closed to fishing through July 13.
This Memorial Day weekend marks the official start to the salmon season as the lower peninsula streams of Ninilchik, Deep, and Anchor will open to fishing for kings and are currently seeing a consistent flow of fish arriving. In addition, the Kenai and Kasilof rivers are reporting a small but decent number of kings being caught by anglers on a daily basis and the Resurrection River in Seward is yielding the first reds of the year. The Dudiak Lagoon down in Homer has been very slow turning on so far this spring but a few kings are present there as well as over at the beach fishery near the boat harbor in Seward. So, if targeting salmon for the barbecue this holiday, opportunities abound. If only interested in some sport, landlocked salmon, trout, char, and grayling are putting on a great show in the dozens of lakes throughout the peninsula. Hooligan are still infiltrating the lower Kenai River and are just getting started in Resurrection River. As for the saltwater scene, sea-run Dolly Varden are prevalent along the beaches in both Homer and Seward and surf-casters are connecting with halibut and a variety of bottomfish species.
KENAI RIVER: Not really a very consistent producer of king salmon yet this season, some fish are being caught every day and the run is steadily building. If focusing on kings, try the tidewater part of the river. Early-run red salmon bound primarily for the Russian River are now arriving on the tides with a few fish being caught in spots from Sterling down to top of tidewater; while not thick in numbers, it should be only a matter of days before these fish really start coming in. Dip netters are seeing fair to good catches of hooligan from River Mile 12 on downstream and there may be a smaller presence of these fish as high up as Soldotna. Fishing for rainbow trout and Dolly Varden remains fair. As a reminder, the upper portion of the middle river (upstream of Killey confluence), all of the upper Kenai between the lakes, and the Russian are closed to fishing through June 10.
KASILOF RIVER: In conjunction with the large tide series this week, anglers are seeing fair numbers of king salmon arriving. A mix of hatchery and wild fish are present, with the latter being available for harvest on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays only; hatchery kings can be harvested every day, all week long. Best area is from The People Hole near the Crooked Creek confluence down into tidewater. Plugs and attractors with bait as well as flies are bringing fair success. Reports of a few red salmon observed rolling in tidewater holes are coming in so a mixed bag is possible. Fishing for steelhead trout is very slow as most fish have vacated main river heading to tributary spawning grounds. Some Dolly Varden are being caught.
COOK INLET: Surf-casting for halibut is highly variable depending on location. Look to the mouth of the Kenai River to pick up as the hooligan run dies off and washes out; the action is generally slow to fair but can be very good some days—use herring. The Kasilof and Nikiski fisheries have died down a bit but a few fish are still being reeled in. Whiskey Gulch and Clam Gulch are seeing some action and Ninilchik Beach will be a fair option too this weekend and the following two weekends; these locations do best during large, early morning tides. Again, herring is the way to go. As for other species, spiny dogfish and some skate are showing up. Sea-run Dolly Varden can be taken on light gear in spots between Ninilchik and Anchor Point.
NINILCHIK RIVER: The premier weekend for kings here, anglers can expect moderate river volume along with decent clarity to summon fair to decent action. Kings have been coming in for about the past two weeks with a surprisingly strong early showing of hatchery fish through the weir thus far, outnumbering wild fish by a wide margin. That is good news to anglers as the river is open to retention of hatchery fish only; wild kings must be released by emergency order. Given the current water conditions, salmon roe will be most effective followed by flashy lures and flies. Saturday morning will see the best opportunity to find fish along the entire length of the river open to fishing; fish the tides during the day and evening the following days. A number of steelhead will likely be present too. Nearby Deep Creek and Anchor River are not expected to perform as well due to high and muddy water conditions; slow to mediocre action at best.
KACHEMAK BAY/HOMER: Sea-run Dolly Varden are yielding fair to good catches around the spit on small lures and flies. Casting pieces of herring or squid off Coal Point (Land’s End) is a good way to connect with flounder, codfish, and sculpins; try low tide. The Dudiak Lagoon has yet to see noteworthy numbers of king salmon arriving but some fish are there and being caught. Spinners and herring fished on the incoming and outgoing tides is the way to go. While off to a slow start this season, the lagoon will hopefully pick up significantly this coming week.
RESURRECTION BAY/SEWARD: This week and past weekend saw the first catches of both king and red salmon, at the mouths of Scheffler Creek and Resurrection River, respectively. However, both species may be encountered at the mouth of most any clearwater stream in the area and anglers are encouraged to put in some work by prospecting various places in order to find success. Reds are present in fishable numbers off Spring and Allison creeks in addition to the main fishery at Resurrection. Snagging is favored by most anglers, especially those targeting the reds, but spinners and herring works well on the kings. Expect the Resurrection red run to pick up significantly in the next week to ten days. Action is fair to good for sea-run Dolly Varden, with Tonsina Creek being the current hot spot. Fishing for bottomfish is fair to excellent. A few halibut and rockfish are present. Hooligan are present in moderate numbers in the lower end of Resurrection River and Salmon Creek but should make a stronger presence around the roadside access points this coming week as water levels rise.
Reports of king salmon being caught are increasing, with the Little Susitna River leading the way; other valley roadside drainages, however, are still lagging far behind but a few fish should now be present at the mouths of Parks Highway streams and soon the Eklutna Tailrace on the Knik as well. For best opportunity, hit the lower access point on the Little Susitna using plugs, spoons, and spinners. As the run is just getting started, expect slow but not impossible fishing. Water conditions are moderate with fair visibility. The drainages to the north are flowing moderate to high with some turbidity; try the mouths for kings using fluorescent or chrome lures. A small number of rainbows and grayling are also being taken. But until the salmon runs improve over the next week or two, anglers looking for steady action should check out one of the many stocked and wild lakes in the area for landlocked salmon, rainbow trout, Arctic char, and Arctic grayling. Northern pike are aggressive right now coming off the spawn and readily caught in the lakes accessible from the Nancy Lake Parkway and in certain locations near Willow. The last of the hooligan run may be dipped around Deshka Landing. As a reminder, all waters of the Susitna River drainage and Little Susitna River are closed to retention of king salmon; all fish landed must be released.
COPPER VALLEY-VALDEZ ARM
The best angling opportunities in this area of Southcentral is taking place in smaller, clearwater streams for grayling and in lakes along the Glenn, Edgerton, and Richardson highways and Lake Louise Road for rainbow trout, Arctic char, and Arctic grayling. Drainages of the Tazlina, Copper, and Gulkana rivers are producing fair to good catches of grayling along with some rainbows and should stay worthwhile for another several days to a week yet before tapering off. The larger, deeper lakes of Louise, Paxson, and Summit are mostly ice covered still but open water is becoming more prevalent with each passing day. These locations will be totally ice free in the next week to ten days. Lake trout and whitefish are actively feeding in the open leads along the shorelines and anglers are reporting good success. Gulkana River is flowing relatively high and muddy but should be fishable in another week or so; the Klutina and Tonsina are of moderate flow. Salmon have yet to appear in this area, with the first few kings and reds expected to arrive by mid next week. To the south, in Valdez, the Lowe River is rising and becoming very silty with most Dolly Varden being caught at the mouth of clearwater tributaries. The port is seeing some action for these sea-run char at Solomon Gulch Creek as well as off the mouths of other salmon spawning streams. Surf-casting for bottomfish is fair.
Updated Thursday, May 20, 2021
CURRENT HOT SPOTS: 20-MILE RIVER HOOLIGAN; HOMER & SEWARD DOLLY VARDEN, BOTTOMFISH; AREA STOCKED LAKES; COPPER VALLEY GRAYLING STREAMS; COOK INLET HALIBUT
Weekly Summary: Anglers targeting salmon are seeing results in several locations throughout the Southcentral region as runs begin to arrive and build in strength. From Ship Creek in downtown Anchorage and the Little Susitna River in the valley north of town to the glacial twins of Kenai and Kasilof rivers on the peninsula, reports of kings being caught are exponentially increasing with each passing day. While the action is still far from hot, it is still a respectable start to the season and a reminder that things will only get better as runs progress. And if fresh, ocean-run salmon are not on the hit list for now, there is plenty of opportunity for good fishing in lakes as both hatchery and/or wild populations of landlocked salmon, trout, char, grayling, pike, and burbot are becoming active as water temperatures and oxygen levels rise. Stream angling is still a bit subdued as many waters are currently closed to fishing until mid-June to protect spawning rainbows, yet quite a few are open and producing very decent catches of mainly trout and grayling. Likewise, the saltwater options are growing as well, as salmon, char, and bottomfish infiltrate popular fisheries such as Homer and Seward.
ANCHORAGE AREA-TURNAGAIN ARM
After the initial report of the first king salmon caught in Ship Creek on May 16, several more fish have followed a similar demise, with anglers managing hook-ups on the tides using attractors and bait. Expect this fishery to really kick off in another couple of weeks as the brunt of the run hits. In the meantime, ADF&G is busy stocking lakes around town for urban anglers to enjoy and the action is often good to excellent, especially in the morning and evening or during cloudy and rainy days. Dip netters are scoring some decent hooligan action down along Turnagain Arm and 20-Mile River but stream fishers are not yet seeing any quality catches of rainbows or Dolly Varden as Campbell and Chester creeks remain closed to fishing until later on in June. However, the drainages of Indian, Glacier, Portage, and Ingram are seeing a slight uptick in opportunity for sea-run char. Bird Creek is closed to fishing until July 14.
TURNAGAIN ARM/20-MILE RIVER: The hooligan run is peaking and dippers are reporting slow to great success depending on the spot and tidal action. Best dipping along the rocks of the arm has come on the outgoing tide east of Peterson Creek while the 20-Mile has seen some productive times on the incoming and outgoing. Low tide has also been very productive in the middle reaches of 20-Mile away from the highway crossing. Although a few coolers have been filled, the more realistic expectation is managing one or perhaps two 5-gallon buckets during an outing of several hours. The run does not appear to be very large this year but definitely worth the effort still.
Things are about to bust wide open on the peninsula as salmon runs begin infiltrating area waters with more consistency. The Kenai and Kasilof rivers have been seeing kings arriving for the past two weeks and the southern peninsula streams of Anchor, Deep, and Ninilchik are scheduled to open shortly, with the former on May 22 and the latter two on May 29. Although Anchor and Deep are still experiencing large loads of meltwater and turbid conditions from mountain headwaters, the Ninilchik is dropping and clearing and should be in good shape for the Memorial Day weekend opener barring any heavy rains. Expect slow fishing at the Anchor this weekend. A few kings are reportedly hitting the lagoon in Homer. A handful of red salmon should be present in the lower Kenai and Resurrection rivers right now. Hooligan are still coming into the Kenai and are now beginning to show in Seward too. Surf-casting for halibut in Cook Inlet has slowed in some spots but should improve in others. Sea-run Dolly Varden are prevalent in both Homer and Seward. As for lake fishing, stocked waters are producing good to excellent catches of landlocked salmon, trout, and grayling, and wild lakes are good for rainbows and fair for Arctic char. On a note, a few of the lakes at higher elevations in the Kenai Mountains still carry ice, but all of the lowland locations are now ice free.
KENAI RIVER: Water conditions are still low and relatively clear but volume is steadily rising each day, which will assist salmon in entering the river in larger numbers. A small component of kings have been counted past the sonar at River Mile 14 with more fish undoubtedly hanging low in tidewater waiting for water levels to come up. Red salmon should be trickling into the river now yet targeting these early fish will be more of an exercise in futility until the run improves, usually by late next week. As with the kings, these fish really start heading upstream as the river begins to rise. Rainbows and Dollies are being caught in the middle as well as the lower river sections; expect fair action. Hooligan are providing fair to good catches for dip netters and drifters from the river mouth on upstream throughout tidewater; the run does not appear to be very large this year. Surf-casting for halibut off the mouth of the river is spotty at this time with more flounders and spiny dogfish being taken than anything else.
KASILOF RIVER: King salmon are arriving in increasing numbers on each tide with several fish being caught each day; still, shore anglers are having a tougher time hooking up but a few have been landed from the mouth of Crooked Creek down to the bottom of The People Hole. Flies and attractors are favored with those casting off the bank while boaters do better on plugs. Successful anglers in the campground area are hitting their kings at high tide and for a couple of hours after. Fish have also been caught at dawn. No signs yet of red salmon but a few should be in the river any day now. Those targeting steelhead are reporting mixed results but poor action is the norm at this stage of the run. Dolly Varden are becoming quite plentiful as they migrate from Tustumena Lake to Cook Inlet. Surf-casting for halibut off the river mouth is slow to fair, depending on the day and time; anglers are seeing this spring opportunity steadily declining as fish move on to other areas.
COOK INLET: With the annual spring spawning runs of herring and hooligan in the process of wrapping up for the year, surf-casters targeting halibut are seeing less predictable results. Nikiski Beach, Kasilof River, and Clam Gulch are all trending down; however, there will be worthwhile opportunity yet at Kenai Beach and Whiskey Gulch, and, starting Memorial Day weekend and for the following two weekends, Ninilchik Beach will open up to surf fishing. These latter three locations generally yield fair catches of smaller halibut up to 15-20 pounds the last week of May and first half of June. Early morning tides larger than 16 feet produce fish with 18 to 20 feet best.
KACHEMAK BAY/HOMER: Sea-run Dolly Varden are quite abundant around the spit, especially along sand and gravel beaches with some breakwater. Lures and flies imitating juvenile salmon work very well right now; the tidal changes are best as the moving water sparks the bite. Likewise, fishing for bottomfish is good to sometimes excellent off the end of the spit with a mixed bag of flounders, codfish, and sculpins present. Small jigs and cut herring and squid is the way to connect, preferably at low tide. King salmon are starting to appear in the Dudiak Lagoon on the spit, albeit not in sizable numbers yet. A few specimens have been caught on herring and spinners; try the incoming and outgoing tides. Expect more consistent catches after this weekend.
RESURRECTION BAY/SEWARD: Although no confirmed reports yet of kings or reds being caught by anglers from shore, now is about the time when these fish start showing up in fisheries around the bay. The mouth of Scheffler Creek near the boat harbor will likely see a few kings shortly; this is a snag fishery but quite a few are also caught on spinners. It may be time well spent to scout the mouths of clearwater streams throughout the bay on the incoming tide for signs of kings. The snag fishery as the mouth of Resurrection River has not started as of writing this report but there will almost certainly be a number of reds present by next week. However, scouts have been known to appear as early as the 15th of this month, in some years even earlier, so there is a slim opportunity that exists. Sea-run Dolly Varden may be found at the mouth of most any clearwater stream entering the bay; generally, the best action is located in spots that experience large salmon runs as the number of juvenile salmon present is greater, hence better fishing–the mouth of Tonsina Creek is typically very productive. Small, silvery white spoons and flies are top producers. Casting for bottomfish is fair to excellent depending on location, with flounders, codfish, greenling, and sculpins being responsive to cut pieces of herring and small jigs. A few smaller rockfish may also be encountered, especially along Lowell Road. Hooligan are entering Resurrection River and Salmon Creek but dip netting effort has been low; this run should peak in about a week.
With several confirmed catches of king salmon on the Little Susitna River and fish being tallied at the ADF&G weir, anglers here are hopeful that the season will shape up during the course of the next couple of weeks to even allow for retention; but for now, catch-and-release restrictions apply not only here but throughout the Susitna River drainage. While only the Little Susitna has reported kings being caught, it will not be too long before other drainages begin seeing results, such as Eklutna Tailrace and the Eastside Susitna drainages along the Parks Highway. By the Memorial Day weekend, anglers can expect all of these waters to have at least some influx of kings. At this time, however, the popular fisheries of Willow, Little Willow, Kashwitna, Sheep, Goose, and Montana remain somewhat in limbo as snowmelt from headwaters keep stream flows high and murky and thus limiting angler success. There are rainbows, Dolly Varden, and grayling being caught but in small numbers, which should change drastically once water levels drop and clarity improves along with a rise in water temperature. Lake fishing is good to excellent as ADF&G is in the midst of stocking dozens of spots with landlocked salmon, trout, char, and grayling. Pike action is improving as well in lakes along Nancy Lake Parkway. The streams of Wasilla, Cottonwood, Fish, and Deception are currently closed to all fishing until June 15. Catches of hooligan using dip nets may be productive at Deshka Landing up to the mouth of Willow Creek for the next week.
COPPER VALLEY-VALDEZ ARM
The best and most consistent action in this part of Southcentral comes from the handful of clearwater grayling spawning streams flowing into larger lakes and rivers, most notably those of the Tazlina, Copper, and Gulkana drainages such as Tolsona, Moose, Poplar Grove, Sourdough, Haggard, Gunn, and Tulsona creeks as well as Startup and Cache creeks in the Eureka area. Flies and spinners are resulting in fair to excellent catches. Tolsona typically also sees fair hookups on rainbows. Expect success for another week to ten days before things start to settle down in these waters and the action to shift to summer feeding areas. Many of the smaller lakes are producing very good fishing for landlocked salmon, trout, and grayling as ADF&G is in the process of stocking waters along the Glenn and Richardson highways and Lake Louise Road. The larger lakes of Louise, Paxson, and Summit are still ice covered but should start seeing open water near the shoreline soon; ice free conditions should prevail late this month or first week of June. Salmon are not expected to reach this far up the Copper River until early June, with the Klutina and Gulkana being the harbingers of early reds. Down in Valdez, some Dolly Varden are still being caught in the Lowe and Robe rivers but things are slowing down as fish are entering Port Valdez to feed for the summer.
Updated Thursday, May 13, 2021
CURRENT HOT SPOTS: TURNAGAIN, 20-MILE RIVER HOOLIGAN; HOMER AND SEWARD DOLLIES; COOK INLET HALIBUT; AREA TROUT LAKES.
Weekly Summary: Open-water fishing opportunities are finally starting to flourish around the region. Although there are still some rivers and streams experiencing seasonal snow melt accompanied by high and turbid water conditions, an increasing number of places are seeing acceptable stream flows and clarity. Most lakes are now ice free, at least at lower elevations, and the marine fisheries are shaping up nicely as well. But perhaps the most exciting news is that the long-awaited king salmon runs have started with several really nice river fish caught already. While these runs are far from peaking yet, at least there is hope for good catches in the very near future.
ANCHORAGE AREA-TURNAGAIN ARM
All of the lakes around the city are ice free and anglers are catching a decent number of stocked landlocked salmon, trout, char, and grayling. ADF&G will soon be making their rounds stocking fresh supplies of fish for the summer; consult the department website for exact stocking dates of specific waters and plan accordingly. As for stream fishing, both Campbell and Chester creeks are closed until June 15 but Ship Creek is open. No king salmon reported caught in Ship as of this writing but it is very likely that at least one or two fish have already arrived and just waiting for someone to hook into them. Water temperature is a bit cold but at least clarity is good. Remember, The Bait Shack is offering prizes for first king brought to scale so there is added incentive to get out early and give it a try. If wanting an opportunity to collect a mess of fish, go down to Turnagain Arm and 20-Mile River where hooligan are running.
TURNAGAIN ARM/20-MILE RIVER: Dip netters are doing much better these days as the hooligan run is nearing its peak. This weekend and next week should see good to excellent dipping on the tides; the outgoing tide on the lower 20-Mile River as well as along the shoreline of Turnagain Arm between Peterson Creek and mouth of 20-Mile are the best places to go. Also, low tide can be good in the arm and in pools above tidewater on 20-Mile.
As often is the case this time of year, the peninsula leads in angling opportunities for the Southcentral region as most lakes are ice free and producing catches of both stocked and wild landlocked salmon, trout, char, and grayling, saltwater species and other game fish are becoming more abundant by the day in Cook Inlet and Kachemak and Resurrection bays, and stream fishing is holding steady as steelhead finish up and kings are just getting started. But it is equally noteworthy to mention that many waters are closed to fishing until June 11 to protect spawning trout, and the lower peninsula streams of Ninilchik, Deep, and Anchor are also closed until the king salmon season begins. Anchor kicks off the king opener on May 22 followed by Ninilchik and Deep on May 29.
KENAI RIVER: No solid reports yet of any king salmon being caught but a few have been sighted in the tidewater section of the river. The ADF&G sonar at River Mile 14 should mark the passage of the first king shortly. Make note that conservative restrictions are in effect regarding kings; consult regulations. A few early reds bound for Russian River and elsewhere will begin moving through at any time after this weekend. Out-migrating Dolly Varden are present in the lower river. A few steelhead trout may still be caught in the vicinity of Funny River and Slikok Creek but these runs are just about over as most fish are in spawning waters. Dip netting for hooligan is fair and could improve significantly during the course of next week if the run is strong. Target them from the river mouth on up through tidewater. The middle river above the Killey confluence and all of the upper between Kenai and Skilak lakes, as well as the Russian, are closed to fishing through June 10.
KASILOF RIVER: Word is out that king salmon are now entering the river in small numbers and some fish are being hooked. The first few kings were caught last weekend by anglers in drift boats fishing the tidewater area from The People Hole downstream to near the river mouth and a few more catches have followed during the week since then. As the water is still low and very cold, success has been mainly on plugs fished deep and slow. Although fishing has been spotty thus far, it is expected to improve significantly starting this weekend as more fish arrive to the area and big tides help push salmon upstream and within range of anglers casting from shore. As a reminder, “wild” kings may only be retained on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays, while fin-clipped hatchery kings are allowed daily. Additional restrictions apply, check regulations. As for steelhead trout, the action has been slow to fair at best; plugs, flies, and beads/corkies work. Dolly Varden are showing up.
COOK INLET: Big tides occurring now and on through this weekend will assist surf-casters in reaching halibut along the beaches of the inlet from Nikiski to around Anchor Point. These flatfish are currently chasing hooligan bound for the Kenai River and Turnagain Arm through the shallows and now is the time to target them before they head back to deeper water for the summer. Herring is a great bait due to strong scent distribution, hooligan less so. Pieces of salmon can be very effective at times but not so much in spring. Recent catches are reported to be fair for 5- to 20-pound specimens with occasionally larger fish to 40 pounds or more. Nikiski Beach, Kenai Beach, Kasilof Beach, Clam Gulch, and Whiskey Gulch are among top locations. As a note, please check regulations for closed areas around the mouths of Ninilchik, Deep, Stariski, and Anchor. Sea-run Dolly Varden and a few kings are present as well.
KACHEMAK BAY/HOMER: While a few hatchery kings are undoubtedly cruising the shoreline of the Homer Spit zeroing in on the Dudiak Lagoon, no reports yet of any angler actually landing one; however, this will change at any moment, very likely by this weekend. Try the incoming and outgoing tides at the lagoon using herring or spinners. Yet the best action right now is for sea-run Dolly Varden that are currently feeding along the beaches of the spit and bay area. The bite is often good or better at the tidal changes using lures and flies imitating juvenile salmon; the fish usually travel near shore so very long casts are not necessary. For a change of pace, cast pieces of herring or squid off the end of the spit at Coal Point for quick results on codfish, flounders, and sculpins.
RESURRECTION BAY/SEWARD: It is only a matter of days before the first few red salmon show up at the Bear Lake hatchery, which means anglers could, theoretically at least, pick up a fish or two at the mouth of Resurrection River starting this weekend going forward. Until these fish hit in force sometime around the first of June, it is probably a much better bet for now to focus on the sea-run Dolly Varden that are gathering at the mouths of salmon streams feeding on out-migrating salmon smolts and fry. Cast lures and flies imitating this food source at these locations and a char will likely strike. Scheffler, Lowell, Spruce, Alice, Spring, and Tonsina creeks are all good spots to try with the latter typically being the hot spot. With herring situated at the head of the bay, a few halibut and feeder kings will be around and may be caught from shore with patience and dedication. Codfish, flounders, and other bottomfish are providing good to excellent catches in some spots using pieces of herring and small jigs.
Like elsewhere around Southcentral, lakes in lowland areas are mostly ice free and producing fair to good catches of landlocked salmon, trout, char, grayling, and pike. Stocked lakes will receive a fresh supply of fish shortly, which will boost catch rates significantly. Big Lake still has ice cover but should be fishable in another week or so. The pike action in lakes around Nancy Lake Parkway is variable but usually good and can be great at times as fish come off the spawn later this month and early June. The lakes at higher elevations may still be covered in ice and, if so, should not be ventured out on at this time. The first roadside king salmon has yet to be reported caught but a few early specimens should be present on the lower Little Susitna River as well as in the mainstem Knik River just downstream of the Eklutna Tailrace confluence. As a note, only the tailrace has the opportunity to retain a king, at least for now, while all other waters are catch-and-release only by emergency order. As for the streams up along the Parks Highway, they are currently flowing quite high and off-color as the snow melt continues at headwaters; a few rainbows, Dolly Varden, and grayling may be caught at the mouths of these locations. As water flows subside and clarity improves, look for bigger trout in upper reaches of Montana, Kashwitna, and Willow.
COPPER VALLEY-VALDEZ ARM
With spring progressing quite nicely in this area, smaller lakes are shedding ice and starting to yield a mix of species, including landlocked salmon, trout, char, and grayling. Expect very productive catches shortly in stocked lakes as the state commence its rounds with a fresh supply of fish. However, many of the larger and deeper lakes, such as Louise, Paxson, and Summit, are still firmly locked in ice and are not likely to show much open water until late May or even early June. There has been very decent opportunities for lake trout and some epic days for burbot on Louise recently but the ice is rotting quickly and safe travel may not be possible by this weekend. Spawn-bound grayling are starting their annual runs up clearwater tributaries of larger rivers and lakes and will likely support good to excellent action soon. Hot spots to come include the smaller drainages around Eureka Pass and Cache, Tolsona, Moose, Tulsona, Sourdough, Gillespie, Haggard, and Gunn creeks. The larger rivers, such as Gulkana, Klutina, and Tonsina, are flowing relatively high and turbid at this time with limited angling opportunities. To the south, around Valdez, the Lowe and Robe rivers are continuing to yield ocean-bound Dolly Varden; however, the Lowe is rising and becoming increasingly silty, which will slow the action considerably as the month progresses. Also, these fish will be entering Port Valdez, creating new opportunities at the mouths of clearwater salmon streams. Lures and flies imitating juvenile salmon are especially productive.
Updated Thursday, May 6, 2021
Weekly Summary: Spring fishing conditions are quickly evolving as the last remnants of ice and snow disappear from waters around the region, yielding better angling opportunities from all areas as fish respond more aggressively to artificial lures and flies and baits. Although the action is still progressing at the time of writing this report, the next week or two will really make a big difference as temperatures increase and the annual salmon runs signal their start into spawning streams. But until that time, anglers are content with lakes filled with a myriad of game species and flowing waters seeing numbers of steelhead, rainbows, Dollies, and grayling showing up. For those targeting hooligan, these fish are now being caught in a few locations. Even the marine fisheries appear promising. Read on.
ANCHORAGE AREA-TURNAGAIN ARM:
As local lakes continue to thaw out and present some degree of angling opportunities for stocked landlocked salmon, trout, char, and grayling, arguably one of the most popular spring activities in this area is beginning to take shape: dip netting for hooligan is now underway. As for ocean-run salmon, it is generally too early for kings in Ship Creek, although a few have been sighted—and even hooked—this early in years past. However, given the chilly conditions so far this season and snowmelt still occurring, the general consensus is the first king will be caught somewhere between the 15th and 22nd. Campbell, Chester, and Bird creeks remain closed to all fishing until later in the season.
TURNAGAIN ARM: Smelt—or hooligan—were a few days late this year after an unseasonably cool start to spring and cold, ice-filled waters, but are now on track to fill buckets and even coolers before long. While the run is still a week or two from its peak, dippers are finding fair catches of fish in Turnagain Arm along the stretch of Seward Highway between Girdwood and Portage. Outgoing and low tides are favored as it provides dippers the ideal current direction vs. net sweep for effectively snaring fish heading to the 20-Mile River. Some fish are entering 20-Mile but action is for the most part slow; wait another week or so in this location.
Open-water opportunities in this area is quickly coming to fruition as halibut are in the shallows chasing herring and smelt, well within range of surf-casters, and sea-run Dolly Varden and other bottomfish are prowling off beaches, points, and around docks providing decent action. Steelhead are appearing at the Kasilof River. Even lowland lakes are now seeing steady catches of trout, char, and landlocked salmon as ice covers are melting away. Some of the mountain lakes, however, are two weeks or more from being fishable. Dip netters are seeing hooligan moving into the Kenai River but the Resurrection River in Seward has yet to produce much results as the run there is typically ten days later than the Kenai and Turnagain fisheries.
KENAI RIVER: Salmon anglers will have to wait until the end of the month before seeing any consistent action, although a few kings are reputedly already present in tidewater and holes immediately above. Until then, out-migrating Dolly Varden are yielding bites on smelt and fry-imitation lures and flies from the Sterling area on down to Cook Inlet. If the river is turbid, focus on mouths of clearwater streams for these sea-run char. A few halibut have been caught off the river mouth by surf-casters soaking herring bait on high tides; these fish are following the hooligan run now entering the river. Dip netters are scoring fair results on these silvery smelt, mostly the lower several miles of the river. For the more entrepreneurial angler, a few steelhead trout may be hooked on the lower Kenai in the vicinity of Funny River and Slikok Creek.
KASILOF RIVER: Conditions here are improving as most of the shelf ice has melted away, resulting in rising water temperatures and increasingly aggressive steelhead. Best location at this time is the area around the mouth of Crooked Creek but fish are being caught in spots anywhere between the Sterling Highway bridge and tidewater. Additionally, a couple of king salmon have been observed surfacing in The People Hole near the Crooked Creek Campground; no fish reported hooked yet but should be any day now. Fishing for Dolly Varden will pick up shortly as these sea-run char move out of Tustumena Lake bound for Cook Inlet. Surf-casters are doing better as halibut are gathering in fishable numbers off the beach near the river mouth—expect fair opportunities. Herring makes great bait in these waters.
KACHEMAK BAY/HOMER: Sea-run Dolly Varden are arriving off the beaches of Homer Spit and along the shoreline of the bay, providing fair to good action using lures and flies imitating juvenile salmon that are now emigrating out of area rivers and streams. Most char measure in the high single digits and teens with some larger specimens weighing up to several pounds. For bottomfish enthusiasts, several species of flounders and codfish are available in decent numbers off the end of the spit at Coal Point. Herring and squid makes for perfect bait but smaller jigs work too. No reports yet of any king salmon at the Dudiak Lagoon but typically a few will be present by the 15th of the month; however, scouts can appear any day, if not already.
RESURRECTION BAY/SEWARD: Surf-casting for flounder and codfish is fair to very good at the head of the bay with anglers doing best with cut herring. A few halibut are possible on larger baits near shore as these fish are pursuing the herring and hooligan runs. Feeder kings may also be found. A better target are the sea-run Dolly Varden now beginning to appear off stream mouths and beaches around town. The action is currently fair but will improve through the next week or two as more fish arrive from freshwater overwintering areas. Try lures and flies imitating juvenile salmon, preferably off the mouths of salmon spawning streams. No reports yet of any spawner kings or reds showing up at hatchery release sites or the mouth of Resurrection River. However, anglers should expect these fish to be present in small numbers in another week to ten days.
Lakes and streams in this area have shed most ice but locations at higher elevations are still ice covered, although travel on them is not recommended at this time. Landlocked salmon, trout, char, and grayling are beginning to be caught in stocked as well as wild lakes and the action can be productive in some spots. Pike fishing is rapidly improving and should yield excellent results shortly in waters off Nancy Lake Parkway. The tributaries of Susitna River along the Parks Highway are flowing at moderate levels and clarity and anglers are hitting some fish at the mouths and lower reaches. Rainbows, Dolly Varden, and grayling are striking forage lures and flies with some fish starting upstream movement to spawning and summer feeding areas in the upper reaches of streams. Willow, Little Willow, Kashwitna, Goose, and Montana are good places to try, albeit action is sporadic right now but will get better as soon as spring runoff clears and water temperatures increase. No signs of king salmon yet; a few specimens are usually present in lower Little Susitna River and Knik River near the Eklutna Tailrace confluence by mid-month.
COPPER VALLEY-VALDEZ ARM:
Many of the tributaries of the Copper River are still in the midst of spring breakup with shelf ice and high, turbid water conditions the norm right now. Additionally, most lakes are largely ice covered, including the larger and more popular locations such as Summit, Paxson, and Louise. Anglers should begin focusing on grayling spawning streams soon with runs anticipated to begin in a week or so. Stay tuned. For those wanting solid open-water opportunities, head south to the Valdez area where sea-run Dolly Varden are providing fair catches along the Lowe River from Keystone Canyon on downstream. Water conditions are favorable right now but not for long before warmer temperatures will start the glacial silt process. Robe River is also producing out-migrating Dolly Varden. Some flounders and codfish may be caught off the city dock in Valdez.
Updated Wednesday, April 21, 2021
Weekly Summary: After a very cold start to spring, things are finally beginning to thaw out after a few days of unseasonably warm temperatures. Although snow loads and ice measuring in feet still persist in some areas, most of the coastal region and some inland places are seeing break-up in progress with bare ground present as rivers and streams are shedding ice and resuming flow. While it is too early to expect sea-run salmon action in freshwater locales, some action is building for trout, char, and grayling as these fish are preparing for their annual trek to spring and summer spawning and feeding grounds in rivers and creeks. For anglers still interested in hard-water opportunities, highland lakes are producing decent ice fishing for landlocked salmon, rainbows, Arctic char, pike, lakers, and burbot; however, stay clear of lowland drainages where the ice is now rotten and considered hazardous to walk on. Action is also beginning to perk up in the saltwater fisheries as bottomfish, including halibut, are edging into the shallows within range of bait-casters. Additionally, hooligan are reportedly on the move in Cook Inlet and should make an appearance soon for dip netters. But it must be mentioned that anglers exercise cautious optimism regarding any “Hot Spots” this time of the year as things are just getting started.
ANCHORAGE AREA-TURNAGAIN ARM:
The first solid spring open water opportunity in this area is generally dip netting for hooligan in Turnagain Arm and lower 20-Mile River. In contrast to a couple of years ago when these silvery smelt appeared the end of the first week of April, the run is definitely delayed this season as 20-mile is still largely ice-covered around tidewater as of last weekend and an abundance of big ice chunks present in the arm keeping water temperatures very cold for the time being. Expect the first catches of hoolies by the first of May with the peak occurring approximately two weeks later. Until then, anglers should focus on open patches of water in local, stocked lakes. As for Ship Creek, the stream is open to fishing and king salmon may be targeted–all that is needed is for the first few fish to actually show up, probably by the second or third week of May. Anglers are reminded that Campbell and Chester creeks are closed to all fishing through June 14. Lake ice is not to be trusted right now but open water should prevail in another two weeks or so.
For open water opportunities, the peninsula has it. Although many streams are closed to fishing until June 11 during the trout spawning period, there are a few rivers and all of the saltwater that are currently producing catches of fish. The upper Kenai River and the Kasilof River are both solid bets in late April with anglers mainly targeting pre-spawning or feeding rainbows and steelhead. The eastern shoreline of Cook Inlet is seeing a number of halibut being landed by bait-casters as the herring have started spawning and hooligan runs bound for Kenai River and the Turnagain Arm area are steadily moving through; this fishery should stay consistent from now on through mid-May with flatfish typically weighing 5 to 20 pounds being landed. Like most anywhere else on the road system, area lakes is a no-go zone due to rotten ice; however, a few of the mountain lakes around Cooper Landing and Moose Pass are still considered safe for travel and ice fishing for another week, perhaps two. Dolly Varden will become available in Seward waters shortly, mainly at Preachers Pond, but do not expect marine opportunities for this species to be viable until mid-May. The Homer Spit in Kachemak Bay is seeing the first few Dolly Varden hitting the beaches there and a small number of flounder and codfish are also available; expect this fishery to pick up significantly the next couple of weeks.
KENAI RIVER: Without a doubt the most productive stream fishery on the peninsula right now with anglers scoring a fair number of rainbow trout in the 15- to 24-inch range with occasional reports of large spawn-bound specimens up to 30 inches or more. The stretch of water from Kenai Lake down to Jim’s Landing is wide open and floatable (as it has been all winter) with quite a bit of shelf ice. For smaller, feeder ‘bows, the lake outlet and first several miles of river has been very consistent using nymph patterns as well as salmon smolt and fry imitations. The main river around the Russian confluence and below is the area where anglers are hitting sizable fish casting larger forage patterns; the Russian itself is slow right now due to delayed spring conditions and cold water. The middle river, from Bing’s Landing on up, is producing rainbows as well. On another note, there are still a few winter-run silver salmon completing their life cycle present in the river, with byproducts adding variety to what anglers could be using. Down around tidewater, it is a bit early for king salmon to show up but a few are usually in the area by the first of May. No reports of hooligan or halibut off the beach yet.
KASILOF RIVER: Anglers are having to work the water for success these days but a few steelhead are being caught despite a lot of shelf ice and very low and cold water conditions. In fact, it was not more than 10 days ago that parts of the river were still locked up tight in ice. Yet recent unseasonably warm weather has helped speed things along and anglers are able to connect with fish in deeper slots throughout the length of the river. Expect the Crooked Creek confluence to turn on in another week or so as more trout arrive from overwintering areas. Larger and more colorful attractor flies, beads, and corkies in addition to small plugs work well this time of year. The mouth of the river will see some fair but steady action for halibut now on through mid-May; try high tide using herring.
There is not a lot of open water opportunities in this area, at least not ones that are producing steady catches. As of Monday (4/19), Montana, Goose, and Willow creeks were flowing low and clear but with significant shelf ice, while Little Willow, Kashwitna, and Sheep were for the most part still locked solid in ice except for a few open leads. Talkeetna River is showing a few small, open spots near town and at the Susitna confluence but otherwise winter conditions persist. The mainstem Susitna is largely ice covered except for a few leads and at or near the mouths of tributaries. Though a few early trout, char, and grayling may be coaxed through the open water present, anglers are likely not to see any productive action until around the first of May. Recent warm temperatures will help move things along a bit but it will just take time. The warm weather has also effectively put a halt to ice fishing in the area, save for lakes at higher altitudes, such as those on the Glenn Highway north of Sutton up to Eureka where anglers are hauling in a fair number of trout and char as well as a few burbot. The Knik River is ice free from the Eklutna Tailrace confluence down to Knik Arm but it is still way too early to see any king salmon yet.
COPPER VALLEY-VALDEZ ARM:
This area still has very good options for ice fishing and opportunities should hold for the next week to ten days in many locations, foremost the more expansive waters such as Louise, Paxson, and Summit lakes. Although these places support populations of larger fish, anglers often prefer the smaller stocked lakes and ponds along the road system for faster action, albeit smaller fish. Landlocked salmon, rainbows, and char are the main quarry at this time with good catches being made. Finding open water and fish too is a challenging proposition as most rivers and streams in this area are either firmly locked in ice or only have limited channels or leads available; expect to see the grayling migrations into spawning streams to begin in about two weeks. To the south, the Valdez area has the best opportunity to catch fish in streams as spring has arrived and the Lowe River drainage is flowing, yielding a fair number of Dolly Varden. Fish are being caught in deeper pools and holes from the Keystone Canyon on down. If the river is a bit cloudy or silty, as is often the case this time of year, search out the mouths of clearwater tributaries for success. Saltwater action has yet to materialize to any extent but some bottomfish may be taken off the city dock.
To access fishing reports from past seasons, please click on link below.