The most productive roadside fisheries this week:
Updated Thursday, October 22, 2020
NOTE: This is the last weekly fishing report for the 2020 season; following reports will cover fishing conditions in an extended forecast format. The weekly reports will resume again in mid- to late April.
CURRENT HOT SPOTS: KENAI SILVERS, RAINBOWS, DOLLIES; ANCHOR & DEEP STEELHEAD, DOLLIES; SUSITNA RAINBOWS, GRAYLING
Weekly Summary: Autumn is already yielding to winter in parts of Southcentral, in particular Copper Valley and the northern and highland areas of Matanuska-Susitna valleys, where single digit and teen temperatures at night and barely above freezing during the day is really putting ice on smaller lakes and streams, confirming yet again that the open-water season is quickly coming to an end. However, much of coastal Kenai Peninsula and lowland areas immediately to the north still have mostly ice free conditions and lack of snow, rendering at least some limited opportunity. The main glacial rivers and larger lakes are now the focal point for success until later on in November when the ice fishing season commences. Steelhead trout, rainbow trout, Dolly Varden, Arctic char, lake trout, Arctic grayling, burbot, and whitefish are the main species this time of year but there is some very decent silver salmon action happening on the Kenai River, which will keep anglers willing to brave the chill busy well through October and even into November. As for the roadside marine fisheries, things are very slow right now and typically stays that way until next spring.
ANCHORAGE AREA-TURNAGAIN ARM
Area Summary: Recent cold temperatures accompanied with the first snowfall of the season slowed fishing opportunities on local waters as many of the smaller lakes within the city are in the process of freezing over, thus limiting access until the ice is thick enough to walk on. A few of the larger, deeper lakes may still have a fair amount of open water with landlocked salmon, trout, char, and grayling available. Campbell and Chester creeks do offer some activity, primarily in the upper reaches for rainbows and Dollies; expect fair success using forage flies and spinners. Salmon are spawning and dying in these streams so beads and egg/flesh imitations may work well. The season on Ship Creek is done for the year. Down in Turnagain Arm, a few ponds in the Portage area supports decent angling for stocked rainbows. Portage Creek is very slow at this time but may yield a few Dollies and an occasional fresh or semi-bright silver; however, most salmon are in the process of spawning.
Area Summary: The peninsula is absolutely the best place to go looking for game fish in rivers and creeks as well as the larger lakes as more moderate temperatures have kept ice from forming on most area waters. Landlocked salmon, trout, char, and grayling are present and biting in both stocked and wild lakes, with bait, flies, and lures responsible for some very good catches recently and should continue producing fish as long as the weather stays relatively mild. Rainbows, Dollies, and/or round whitefish are active in various locations, including the tributaries of Kenai and Kasilof rivers, the Moose and Swanson drainages, and the lower peninsula streams of Ninilchik, Deep, Stariski, and Anchor. The Resurrection River over in Seward has a small number of Dollies as well as a few semi-bright and blush silvers in the lower sections. Lake trout are active in Hidden Lake and at the outlets of Kenai and Skilak lakes. Bright silver salmon are still running in the Kenai in decent numbers and a few may be encountered in the Kasilof too. Steelhead trout are striking offerings in quite a few spots, the best being Kasilof, Deep, and Anchor. Saltwater opportunities are slim but a few bottomfish are being caught by surf-casters out of Kachemak and Resurrections bays and Passage Canal. Anglers casting from the end of Homer Spit may hook a rare feeder king salmon this time of year.
KENAI RIVER: The primary sections to focus on these days include the middle portion between Bing’s Landing and the outlet of Skilak Lake, and the upper between Kenai and Skilak lakes. Both are reporting fair to good action for mostly fresh silvers with only a handful of blush or dark specimens present. Presentations such as spinners, plugs, and colorful streamers are popular, the seam of main current and slack water best places to cast as fish congregate there. If one spot does not produce within a short while, move on. As a reminder, the middle and upper sections close to silver salmon fishing on November 1; the lower river around Soldotna and City of Kenai, however, will stay open to silver fishing through November 30. Fishing for rainbow trout and Dolly Varden is slowing down as these fish have started their migrations to overwintering areas in Kenai and Skilak lakes. Anglers are managing fair to good success with the midday hours being best time; use anything from beads to flesh to forage flies and spinners can be effective too. A few whitefish are being caught. Most of the late-run reds have finished spawning but some fish will continue the process through November.
KASILOF RIVER: Steelhead trout is the main game here and success is generally fair with some days or spots producing good action. The upper sections of water is best right now, in the deeper holes or pools. Plugs fished slowly through these slots are getting strikes but beads or corkies do yield a few trout as well. Silver salmon are present in decent numbers in the same stretches of water as the steelies but very few bright or semi-bright specimens are still around as most of the run is blush to dark; plugs are effective. Rainbows, Dollies, and whitefish are relatively scarce. Lake trout are being caught at the outlet of Tustumena Lake.
ANCHOR RIVER, DEEP CREEK: The cold weather the last several days have put a damper on the steelhead bite but some fish are being landed on beads and forage flies and lures; the key is for a slow and deep presentation through holes and runs. Dolly Varden are much more prolific and producing good catches. Both species are spread out through the lower and middle portions. There is some ice along the shorelines with slush at daybreak–hit the water at midday for best results. If the weather warms up a bit with some rain, expect the action to pick up substantially. As a reminder, these waters, including Ninilchik and Stariski, shut down for the season on November 1.
Area Summary: After several days of cold nights and chilly days, ice is locking up area lakes, making it difficult for shore anglers to access open water. Some locations, like the larger and deeper lakes, still have open water available but not for long. If open water is located, landlocked salmon, trout, char, and grayling is available and success often quite good. Smaller streams are also seeing ice and slush, except for those draining larger lakes where temperatures are more moderate, such as Cottonwood and Fish creeks. In these latter two, salmon are still spawning, attracting some nice rainbows along with a few Dollies. Schools of whitefish may be observed in Fish Creek (Big Lake area) and in upper sections of Little Susitna River around Houston and above, as well as in a few of the main Susitna tributaries. The large, glacial rivers are still flowing largely ice free but slush ice may be an issue early on in the day before things warm up a little bit later in the day. The mainstem Susitna, Talkeetna, Matanuska, and Knik are seeing dropping water levels and improved visibility; resident species are available in varying numbers and consist of trout, char, grayling, whitefish, and/or burbot. As for ocean-run salmon, opportunities are very slim but a few decent silvers could be present in the upper Knik River; however, most all area runs have ceased but spawning fish may be encountered in quite a few drainages still.
KASHWITNA RIVER: If weather and temperature conditions allow, there is a small number of rainbows and grayling left in the lower river between the highway crossing and the mouth. Depending on the spot, the bite is typically fair at best–try a mix of offerings such as beads, flesh and forage flies, and lures. This is likely the last weekend for productive catches here, unless a late-season warm-up occurs.
SUSITNA RIVER: Water levels continue to drop and the silt discharge is slowing significantly, meaning anglers have better access to rainbows, Dollies, grayling, whitefish, and burbot. This time of year, focus on deeper, slower water for success, with beads, corkies, flesh and forage flies, and lures all proven effective. Since this is a large river system with a huge number of potential spots that can hold fish, move around until concentrations of fish is located; the stretch of water between Willow and Montana is easily accessible. A few late-spawning silvers may be present.
TALKEETNA RIVER: Water conditions are low and clear and anglers are getting a number of rainbows, Dollies, and grayling in the far lower end of the river around the town of Talkeetna. Expect fair catches at best but a few spots may produce better action at times. Washed-out beads and corkies, flesh and forage flies, and lures are effective. Schools of whitefish may be present. Time on this river is getting very short as most fish will have vacated the drainage in the next week or so as winter sets in.
COPPER VALLEY-VALDEZ ARM
Area Summary: Open water is getting more difficult to come by this weekend onward as frigid air settles over the area with temperatures in the single digits at night and even colder weather taking hold next week as below zero readings will signal a true return to winter. With all smaller lakes frozen shut and even the larger, deeper ones starting to ice up, anglers will have to wait a couple of weeks or so for the ice to be safe for ice fishing. Also smaller streams are becoming unfishable due to ice conditions and the few that are still flowing are seeing slush and ice flows; yet, there are likely not many or even any fish left in these waters as almost all have departed for overwintering areas in larger, deeper lakes and rivers. The few rivers that remain at least partially ice free, such as mainstem Copper and Chitina, may offer some limited opportunities for grayling, whitefish, and burbot as they are now flowing low with fair to good visibility; other sizable waters in the vicinity may hold a few fish as well. Lures and bait are generally most effective under current conditions. Salmon are present and spawning in several locations, such as the Tonsina and Klutina rivers and Long Lake, and include both silvers and reds. To the south, in Valdez, the milder climate is more favorable to fishing and a few anglers are out on the water catching fish, mainly Dolly Varden in the mainstem Lowe River (which is flowing low and clear at this time) along with upper Robe River and Robe Lake. The catching is fair with beads, flesh/forage flies, and small lures drawing strikes. An occasional decent silver may still be caught at the Robe and Lowe confluence but the majority of salmon are either spawning or dying off. A few ripe silvers continue to cruise the shoreline around the fish hatchery.
Updated Wednesday, October 14, 2020
CURRENT HOT SPOTS: KENAI SILVERS, RAINBOWS, DOLLIES; ANCHOR STEELHEAD, DOLLIES; SUSITNA RAINBOWS, GRAYLING; DEEP STEELHEAD
Weekly Summary: With the first snow having fallen on the roadways cutting through areas of higher elevation and below freezing temperatures at night in even many lowland locations, anglers should pay extra attention to current weather reports before heading out for safety reasons as well as water and fishing conditions in order to reap success. Despite the lack of angling pressure, there is still some great fishing to be found, not only in the typical autumn hot spots but sometimes in more obscure places that are generally not visited much–if at all–this time of year. However, with winter being inevitable and most flowing waters bound to freeze solid in not too long, time is short in getting out there to enjoy the last blast of the season. For now, trout, char, and grayling are active in most areas with lakes and a handful of larger rivers generally producing better results than smaller streams. Steelhead–sea-run rainbows–are keeping things going in a few spots for the next few weeks until seasonal closures or ice halts opportunity. Bright salmon are becoming less prevalent throughout the region with only the Kenai River holding on as a stronghold where late-run silvers are peaking. The next couple of weeks, for all practical purposes, will see the culmination of good open-water fishing until next spring. As for saltwater fishing, there is very little going on as most all game species have moved into deeper water offshore; non-sporting fish, however, continue to be a slim possibility in all coastal ports.
ANCHORAGE AREA-TURNAGAIN ARM
Area Summary: Stocked lakes within the city have been yielding some worthwhile action during the day for landlocked salmon, trout, char, and grayling, yet the bite has not always been consistent and anglers are having to hunt for concentrations of fish for success. When fish are located, expect fair to good catches using flies, bait, and lures. The streams of Campbell and Chester harbor some decent fishing for rainbows and Dollies in their upper reaches but always scout the water for spawning salmon to enhance the bite using beads or egg imitation flies. Ship Creek is done for the season, although a few dark silvers are still present in the tidewater area open to salmon fishing. The only spot for roadside anglers to have at least a small chance at connecting with quality salmon is down in Portage Creek but even there most of the silvers will be in or near spawning condition; try near the mouths of clearwater tributaries using eggs, spinners, or streamers.
Area Summary: The middle and upper sections of the Kenai River are tops for both variety of game species present as well as catch rates where late-run, mainstem silvers are producing very decent catches and resident rainbows and Dollies continue keep anglers busy, and the southern peninsula streams of Anchor, Deep, and Ninilchik support a very decent fishery for fall steelhead right now. Additionally, area lakes–both stocked and wild–offer good opportunities for landlocked salmon, trout, char, and grayling, principally along the Swanson River and Swan Lake roads, but there are also some great hike-in fisheries to be found in and around local communities. Seward has some limited fishing for Dolly Varden in Salmon Creek and in places along Resurrection River; look for spawning salmon and char are often nearby. A small number of bottomfish are around in deeper parts of the bay in front of town, such as along Lowell Point Road. Silvers continue to show up in areas open to salmon fishing but success is slow as most are blush to dark in color. Whittier is seeing a few rockfish and small lingcod–in addition to bottomfish–within casting distance from shore yet catch rates are poor; very few silvers are around and the run is over for the year. Homer is slow for bottomfish off the spit but an occasional feeder king is possible. At Ninilchik Beach and Kenai Beach, spiny dogfish and skate are rare these days but a number of fresh silvers are still coming into the mouth of Kenai River. The upper parts of Swanson River has fair to good rainbow fishing and silvers have started spawning. In the vicinity of Cooper Landing and Moose Pass, a few Dollies remain in Russian, Quartz, Ptarmigan, and Daves and whitefish are there too. Look for lake trout at Hidden, Trail, Skilak, and Kenai lakes.
KENAI RIVER: While success for silvers has been variable due to water conditions as well as run size this fall, things appear to have stabilized for now and anglers are catching chrome silvers in the upper and middle river sections on spinners, plugs, and streamers; expect fair to good fishing with some days or spots being better. The lower river, from Soldotna to tidewater, is spotty to fair at best as the main portion of the run has gone upstream. Look for slow or quiet water on the edge of main current. As a reminder, the upper and middle closes to silver fishing on October 31; the lower on November 30 (see regulations for details). Rainbows and Dollies are active yet with good catches from Bing’s Landing to the outlet of Skilak Lake and again from the lake inlet up to the Kenai Lake outlet. Beads and egg imitation flies work reasonably well but flesh and forage flies and spinners are becoming increasingly effective. A small number of whitefish are being caught.
KASILOF RIVER: The upper river section from near the boat launch on Tustumena Lake Road down to the upper rapids continues to supply fair to good action for steelhead trout using primarily plugs but oversized beads or corkies can be hot at times too. Scout for deep holes and pools with slow current. Silver salmon are available but turning color with relatively few bright specimens left, most are blush to dark; use plugs. A few rainbows, Dollies, and whitefish are present. On the lower river, from the highway crossing to tidewater, fishing is slow but a few steelhead and silvers are possible. Lake trout is a possibility at the outlet of Tustumena Lake.
ANCHOR RIVER, DEEP CREEK: Water conditions are near perfect and the steelhead trout are hitting a variety of offerings, including beads, streamers, forage flies, and lures. While only a few fish continue to arrive on the tides, the main focus for anglers now is above tidewater throughout the lower and middle stream sections as recent high water has helped disburse fish. The action has been consistently good the last several weeks with some days much better. Although runs are not large, the low and relatively clear water concentrates fish in a few deep spots where they can be targeted with great success. Fishing for Dolly Varden is reasonably good, in particular spots along the middle sections using beads, flies, and spinners. Very few bright or semi-bright silver salmon remain with most fish spawning.
Area Summary: Cooler temperatures and rain turning to snow at the headwaters of many drainages, water levels and clarity in several of the major river systems are improving, exposing additional angling opportunities before the hard freeze arrives. If the trend continues, anglers should be able to enjoy fishing in the mainstem glacial systems before long, if not already. Resident species are relatively active in many locations, especially near the mouths of tributaries draining into the Susitna, in area lakes, and some of the smaller clearwater streams flowing out of larger lakes. There is a plethora of options to choose from concerning lake fishing with both stocked and wild waters being good or better in and around area communities such as Wasilla, Palmer, Houston, and Willow, with landlocked salmon, trout, char, grayling, and pike being caught on a variety of tackle, flies, and bait. Rainbows, Dollies, and grayling are being successfully targeted at the confluence of Susitna and numerous clearwater streams, such as Willow, Little Willow, Sheep, and Montana and schools of whitefish are present in some spots, like Willow, Little Willow, Kashwitna, Sheep, Little Susitna, and Fish. The outlet of Wasilla Lake at Cottonwood Creek has decent rainbow action as they feed on byproducts of spawning silvers, and the late run of reds spawning at the Big Lake outlet is attracting nice rainbows there as well as in upper Fish Creek. As for fresh salmon, runs have practically ceased for the year but a trickle of bright and semi-bright silvers are available in the Knik River upstream of the Old Glenn Highway bridge and along the Knik River Road; try the mouths of clearwater tributaries or wait for the mainstem river to clear up in another week to ten days.
KASHWITNA RIVER: Conditions are near perfect as water levels have dropped and the river is flowing clear. Anglers have coaxed a fair number of rainbows and grayling out of the deeper holes and runs using beads, forage flies, and spinners; whitefish may be abundant in some spots. On some days the action can be very good on the lower river for the trout but whitefish are more focused on areas upstream of the highway crossing. A few spawning silvers and reds linger in the upper reaches.
SUSITNA RIVER: The wet and unseasonably warm weather across not just the Souhcentral region but the Interior and Alaska Range as well has up until now kept the river flowing higher and siltier than usual for this time of year, yet with the advent of temperatures in the teens and even single digits nighttime lows plus snow around the headwaters, the changing weather patterns will definitely impact water level and clarity. With much of the autumn angling up to now limited to the mouths of clearwater tributaries, side channels, and sloughs, the river is dropping quickly now and should very soon reveal some nice concentrations of rainbows, Dollies, grayling, whitefish, and burbot in the mainstem itself. Forage and flesh flies and lures will likely result in some fair to quite good fishing in the stretch of water from Willow up to the Chulitna confluence near Talkeetna and beyond.
TALKEETNA RIVER: This major tributary of the Susitna is already flowing clear yet has not dropped all the way down to typical October water levels; however, rainbows, Dollies, and grayling are being caught with frequency in some places along the lower river. The key is to move around until concentrations of fish can be located–try forage and flesh flies as well as spinners. Although boaters do have a distinct advantage reaching some of the more productive areas, anglers hiking in from the town of Talkeetna will be able to hit some decent spots too. The salmon runs have just about completed spawning but some activity is still occurring in places.
COPPER VALLEY-VALDEZ ARM
Area Summary: Things are changing rapidly in this part of the region as winter conditions are becoming increasingly prevalent with some places along the road system here receiving several inches of snow and temperatures barely into the 30s during the day and teens at night; Copper Center and the Valdez area are two communities already seeing relatively significant late autumn snowfall. Anglers are advised to be extra cautious traveling across Thompson Pass and along stretches of the Tok Cutoff near Mentasta. As for the fishing, the larger drainages in the area support good action for a variety of game fish, most notably lake trout and grayling in Louise, Paxson, Summit, and Long lakes, and rainbows and/or grayling and whitefish in the upper reaches of Gulkana and the lower sections of Gakona, Chistochina, and Slana rivers–slush ice or ice floes may soon be a problem in these flowing waters. As the season progresses, the Copper and Chitina rivers will see a spur of activity for primarily grayling as water levels drop and clear. Additionally, the smaller stocked lakes in this area yield landlocked salmon, trout, char, and grayling; please note that some of them are seeing ice along the shorelines, which may hinder fishing from shore. A few blush silvers are available in the Tonsina River. Despite a mix of snow and rain falling over Valdez the last several days, a few anglers are managing to get out on the water here. Dolly Varden are being landed in fair numbers in spots along the Lowe River from the Keystone Canyon area on down as well as in the Robe River and Lake. There are silvers present and spawning in both locations so use offerings to reflect this food source such as beads, egg/flesh imitation flies, and lures. The mouth of Robe River still holds a few fresh and semi-bright silvers.
Updated Thursday, October 8, 2020
CURRENT HOT SPOTS: KENAI SILVERS, RAINBOWS, DOLLIES; ANCHOR STEELHEAD, DOLLIES; SUSITNA RAINBOWS, GRAYLING; DEEP STEELHEAD
Weekly Summary: As the month of September serves as a transition between summer and fall, October will bridge fall to winter in much of Southcentral Alaska as temperatures noticeably drop, ice begins to form in many places, and the cold rain ushers in the first snow of the season. While resident species in flowing waters are finalizing their migrations from summer feeding grounds to overwintering areas, salmon runs become increasingly scarce with most waters seeing spawners and only a couple of locations still receiving relatively strong appearances of ocean fresh fish. There is even a turnover of sorts in lakes as fish start seeking out the perfect temperature regimes, which are not always in shallow, shoreline waters like observed a couple of weeks ago. In marine waters, salmon runs have ceased with only a trickle of bright fish coming through and saltwater game species are for the most part already well into deeper, offshore spots not reached by surf-casters. While the prognosis seems bleak for roadside anglers, there is some very worthwhile action taking place still in a few locations and with potentially aggressive fish, gorgeous late autumn scenery, and lack of angling pressure, the fishing can be fantastic at times. In fact, for a dedicated group of anglers, October represents the best fishing memories of the year.
ANCHORAGE AREA-TURNAGAIN ARM
Area Summary: The best fishing in this area at this time is in the various stocked lakes that harbor good populations of landlocked salmon, trout, char, and grayling. Although the early morning and evening hours are generally peak times for catching fish, as temperatures cool anglers can expect midday fishing to be equally and often even better. As for stream fishing opportunities, anglers may still find fair to sometimes good action for rainbows and Dollies in the upper reaches of Campbell and Chester creeks within the city; as a reminder, these waters are now closed to all salmon fishing. Ship Creek continues to see blush to dark red silvers in the area open to salmon fishing with very few keepers available. For a better shot at salmon, scout Portage Creek down in Turnagain Arm where a few bright and semi-bright silvers are present, primarily in the middle and upper reaches near and along Portage Glacier Road. Nearby 20-Mile and Placer rivers have some fresh silvers too but access is an issue there for road-bound anglers.
Area Summary: Arguably offering the best and most varied angling in the region, anglers here still have reasonably good stream fishing as late-run silvers, rainbows, Dollies, and steelhead are being caught in the Kenai and Kasilof drainages and the southern peninsula favorites of Anchor and Deep are seeing decent catches of both steelhead and Dollies. Additionally, area lakes are producing very good catches of landlocked salmon, trout, char, and grayling, primarily in the stocked lakes around local communities as well as in the wild waters along the Swanson River and Swan Lake roads. As small-stream opportunities are fading for the season, most fishers are focused on a few key drainages that consistently yield solid action during the month of October. Surf-casters are finding very slim opportunities in the salt with only occasional catches of silvers at the head of Resurrection Bay and feeder kings off the spit in Homer; as for bottomfish, some fish may still be landed in all ports but expect very slow to fair success at best.
UPPER KENAI RIVER: Recovering from minor flooding several days ago, the river is dropping and slowly clearing and barring any major downpours should produce some decent fishing this coming weekend and next week. The late run of silvers is coming through and large, colorful streamers and spinners will take fish in most any spot featuring slow or calm water on the edge of fast, mainstem current. Fair to very good but brief action may be had with mornings being best. Expect numbers of fresh fish to build to a peak now on through the month. As a reminder, the silver salmon season ends October 31. A small number of reds and even a few kings are still spawning so beads and flesh will be perfect offerings for rainbows and Dollies with good catches possible. If the bite is on the slow side, mix it up by using forage patterns and spinners. Whitefish are also being caught.
MIDDLE KENAI RIVER: Water conditions are still a little high and silty following minor flooding last weekend but things are looking better as the river is dropping and clearing. Late-run silvers are present in decent numbers and the catching expected to be fair to good over the next few weeks. Most of the run is above Bing’s Landing yet the lower river is receiving a small but steady flow of chrome fish; large attractor pattern flies, roe, and spinners are the usual items for success. Hit areas of slow moving water at first light. As for rainbows and Dollies, the stretch of water from the outlet of Skilak Lake downstream to just above Sterling is best, with beads, flesh, and forage flies responsible for the majority of fish being caught. Whitefish are present. Reds and a few kings and pinks are still spawning and dying off.
KASILOF RIVER: The upper section of river from a few miles below the Tustumena Lake outlet to near the upper rapids is producing some fair and steady action for silvers and steelhead. Plugs generally work best but large beads may do well on the sea-run rainbows too. Focus on deep, quiet water where fish are holed up. Condition of the salmon range from chrome to dark red with most being light blush; expect this run to slow down as it nears the end but a few nice fish will be around through the month still. Rainbows, Dollies, and whitefish are also being caught, mainly on smaller beads.
ANCHOR RIVER, DEEP CREEK: Following the high water event last weekend, these streams are dropping and clearing quickly and currently yielding some good catches of steelhead in the lower sections. A few fish are still arriving on the tides but the main component of these runs are now above tidewater. Beads and corkies as well as various forage pattern flies are taking fish. The Dolly Varden bite is fair to good with more fish being landed in the middle stream sections compared to the lower. Fresh silvers are scarce as most fish are upstream near or on the spawning beds. A reminder: The regulatory season ends October 31 on the Anchor, Deep, and Ninilchik.
Area Summary: After a relatively mild autumn this year, weather forecasts are calling for more seasonable temperatures starting next week with the potential for snow, which will greatly affect water levels and clarity throughout the area. While the main glacial systems of Susitna, Chulitna, Talkeetna, Matanuska, and Knik have flowed higher and more silty than typical for this date, the change in weather pattern will definitely help anglers itching to fish the mainstems. Cooler temperatures means a halt to the heavy glacial melt discharge of water and silt, thus revealing completely new opportunities to target resident species using these systems to overwinter. But until the water drops and clears completely, most of the fishing will still be around the mouths of tributary streams where conditions are favorable right now. In the meantime, fishing the dozens of lakes in the area continues to be productive for landlocked salmon, trout, char, and grayling as well as pike. Salmon runs have more or less ended but some bright silvers are still available in the mainstem Knik River.
SUSITNA RIVER: Waters levels here have dropped over a foot since last week and should go down another foot or so by next week and at the same time clear up nicely for some decent catches of rainbows, Dollies, and grayling. The confluence areas of Willow, Sheep, and Montana creeks are good access points to the mainstem and hiking in any direction along the Susitna will produce fish. While the runs of salmon up these smaller tributaries have ended, there is still some spawning going on in spots along the main Susitna so egg and flesh imitation flies and beads will work as well as forage flies and spinners. Schools of whitefish may be encountered. Also, some of the deeper, calmer holes often yield good burbot catches.
KASHWITNA RIVER: This smaller, glacial stream has dropped in volume and flowing quite clear. Deeper holes and runs are easy to find and fish are there, mainly rainbows and grayling but whitefish are common too right now. The stretch of water from the highway crossing to the mouth is yielding fair catches with some good action possible at times at the Susitna confluence. If water is clear, use beads and egg and flesh imitation flies plus spinners; if a bit more silty, also add corkies to the arsenal. Silvers and a few reds are spawning in the middle and upper reaches so there is food supply around.
TALKEETNA RIVER: The water keeps dropping and clearing after recent rains and mild weather. There are a fair number of rainbows, Dollies, grayling, and whitefish available in the lower river and around the Susitna confluence; come prepared with a variety of offerings to match conditions with beads, egg/flesh imitation and forage flies, as well as spinners, being top items. Some spots may produce good success certain days. Chums and silvers are spawning and dying off in the side channel complex just upstream of town.
BYERS CREEK: This clearwater, lake-influenced tributary of Chulitna River offers some decent rainbow trout action late in season. Although most anglers tend to favor fishing spots to the south, those that make the journey here have been scoring some nice fish recently on beads, egg/flesh imitation flies, and spinners. Most fish are being caught in the deeper slots downstream of the highway crossing with spots closer to the mouth on Chulitna doing best, at least for another week or so. Silvers are currently spawning in the upper stretches of the stream; a few lake trout may be landed around the outlet of Byers Lake.
COPPER VALLEY-VALDEZ ARM
Area Summary: Cool and crisp days and colder weather on the way will have many smaller lakes soon bearing ice along the edges, making fishing a bit more challenging if casting from shore. Landlocked salmon, trout, char, and grayling are all present in good numbers and casting spinners, bait, or forage flies will produce a bite. The larger and deeper lakes, such as Louise, Paxson, Summit, Klutina, and Long will be ice free much longer and perfect places to target lake trout and/or Dollies and grayling. There will be late-run reds and some silvers present or spawning in some of these waters. The smaller clearwater streams in the area have slowed in action but may still yield fish in certain spots, primarily grayling or a few rainbows and Dollies, but expect things to come to a complete halt once temperatures drop into the teens and ice forms. Larger rivers are more productive these days, like the Gulkana, Gakona, Chistochina, and Slana, where grayling and whitefish are present in decent numbers. The mainstem Copper as well as Chitina will soon be fishable. To the south, in Valdez, there is not a whole lot of opportunities left this season. A few fresh and semi-bright silvers continue to move up Robe River outside of town but most fish are blush to dark in color; Dolly Varden are available in the upper stream and in Robe Lake. There are also Dollies present in sections of the Lowe River, which is flowing relatively low and starting to clear up. Salmon are spawning in various channels of the drainage and the char are there. A few ripe silvers and chums cruise the briny in front of town, around the fish hatchery and in and around the harbor; there may be an occasional nice specimen left but these runs are for all practical reasons done for the year.
Updated Tuesday, September 29, 2020
CURRENT HOT SPOTS: KENAI SILVERS, RAINBOWS, DOLLIES; ANCHOR STEELHEAD, DOLLIES; SUSITNA RAINBOWS, GRAYLING; DEEP STEELHEAD
Weekly Summary: As late fall beacons in Southcentral Alaska, it is getting quite apparent in the behavior and migration of resident species, in particular the populations of major rivers such as the Susitna and Copper. The trout, char, grayling, and other fish are moving out of their summer feeding areas and into these glacial systems to spend the winter, significantly impacting angling success as waters that held good numbers of fish a mere week or two ago often appear lifeless now. This is the time to employ different strategies and educating oneself in these seasonal migrations of the location and area and applying this knowledge into practical use. As salmon runs cease and the smaller clearwater streams empty out, understanding where resident species may be found and what is their main food source is imperative for success. Of course, some of the larger rivers, such as Kenai and Kasilof, still produce plenty of action but are subject to the same perimeters yet on a delayed timing schedule. Additionally, lakes and ponds are in their prime right now as cool water temperatures have fish very active–but the dynamics will change here soon too as the water begins to freeze. The best fishing this week is likely to be the lower ends and mouths of streams flowing into major drainages in the Susitna and Copper valleys, and in the relatively warmer waters of the Kenai Peninsula that still harbor salmon and steelhead as well as other game species.
ANCHORAGE AREA-TURNAGAIN ARM
Area Summary: If wanting to try the rivers and streams in this area, opportunities are dwindling, yet a few spots will hold decent fishing still for rainbows and Dollies. The upper sections of Campbell and Chester creeks right in town are seeing good numbers of dark and spawning silvers, which naturally attract trout and char–beads, flesh and forage flies, and spinners work well. Portage Creek down in Turnagain Arm has a few fresh and semi-bright silvers along with some Dolly Varden; try the stretch of water between Williwaw Creek and Railroad Creek. As for Ship Creek downtown, the season has for all practical purposes ended but a trickle of blush silvers are still moving through tidewater. The better bet for solid action, however, are the stocked lakes in this area. Landlocked salmon, rainbow trout, Arctic char, and Arctic grayling are all present and the fishing is good.
Area Summary: The late runs of silver salmon are either peaking or on the downhill side, depending on location, but steelhead trout are providing lots of action on the southern peninsula streams of Anchor, Deep, and Ninilchik this year. Swanson continues to see a trickle of fresh silvers coming in on the tides and the rainbow action is quite good on the upper river; all the lakes along Swanson River Road and Swan Lake Road are producing some great fishing for trout along with opportunities for char. In the interior portion, Quartz and Ptarmigan creeks have slowed considerably as the Dollies are either in the headwaters spawning or have backed out into Kenai Lake. Nearby Trail River has some fair chances for both trout and char. Down in Seward, persistent rain has elevated stream levels and thus putting angling on a hold for the time being until waters drop and clear; however, there are still a few decent silvers coming into lower Resurrection River. Whittier is seeing a trickle of silvers arriving at the head of the port, the harbor area, and over in the cove east of town. All that is left in Homer are a few bottomfish but an occasional feeder king is possible by surf-casting off the end of the spit. Kenai beach in the city of Kenai is seeing fair catches of spiny dogfish along with potential of hooking a skate or even a halibut. Anglers fishing the stocked lakes in and around the population centers of Soldotna, Kenai, Nikiski, Kasilof, Cooper Landing, and Seward are experiencing very good catches of landlocked salmon, trout, char, and grayling.
UPPER KENAI RIVER: Fishing for rainbows and Dollies continues to be very good. Although there is a glut of food in the water from the salmon spawn, the usual beads and flesh flies do work but trying other things such as forage flies and spinners can be highly effective at times. The action should start gradually tapering off in about 10 days when resident species begin migrating to overwintering areas in Kenai and Skilak lakes. Whitefish are being caught also. As for salmon, late-run silvers are arriving but not in big numbers yet; try sloughs or anywhere there is some quiet water next to main current using streamers or spinners. The stretch of water downstream of the Russian River to the inlet of Skilak Lake is best–expect fair to good success this weekend and early next week.
LOWER KENAI RIVER: Late-run silvers are still moving in from the salt but the bulk of the run is now located upstream of Bing’s Landing where anglers are seeing good catches at dawn using eggs, streamer flies, spinners, and plugs–focus on slower water, such as sloughs, eddies, and deep holes and pools. The action in this stretch of the river usually stays very productive for bright silvers through October. The fishing can still be decent around Soldotna through the first week of October, generally. It is in the middle river between Bing’s Landing and the Skilak Lake outlet where the rainbow and Dolly fishing is prime, with beads, flesh flies, and spinners being top choices. A few whitefish are being landed too. Surf-casting off the beach at the mouth of the river is yielding catches of primarily spiny dogfish.
KASILOF RIVER: There are still decent numbers of chrome steelhead and bright and semi-bright silvers on the upper river between the rapids and the Tustumena Lake outlet; use plugs for both species, focusing on slower water next to mainstem current–expect fair to good fishing. For the steelhead, also try large beads in the 12mm size or corkies. Some Dolly Varden and a few rainbows and whitefish may be picked up as well. Lake trout are available at the outlet of the lake. Fishing on the lower river, downstream of the highway crossing and around Crooked Creek, is slow but some silvers and steelhead are moving through.
ANCHOR RIVER, DEEP CREEK: Anglers are experiencing some very good action for steelhead trout from near tidewater on up several miles. Runs appear very healthy this year and there are a few large specimens weighing in the mid-teens that have been landed. Although the tides continue to bring in a number of fresh fish, most of the steelhead are now dispersed in deep holes and runs throughout the lower and middle stream sections. Beads, streamers, egg imitation flies, and small spoons and spinners all work. Fishing for Dolly Varden is good in the middle reaches; rainbows are present near headwaters. An occasional fresh or semi-bright silver salmon is possible.
Area Summary: This is the time of the season when rainbow trout, Dolly Varden, and Arctic grayling transition from clearwater tributaries to the mainstem Susitna to overwinter and anglers being in the right place may potentially experience some very good action until ice flows prevent effective fishing, generally at a point between mid-October and mid-November depending on weather conditions. Where there are no large, deep rivers available for spending the winter months, fish will move into lakes, which is the case in drainages like Fish Creek, Cottonwood Creek, and Jim Creek. A few locations, like the Little Susitna River and Wasilla Creek, fish will overwinter in the far lower reaches where water tends to be deeper. Lakes and ponds in the area are tops for both wild and stocked species right now, with landlocked salmon, trout, char, grayling, and pike being the main subjects. Besides resident species, it is still possible to encounter fresh salmon, more specifically in the Knik River which has a small late run of silvers that continues through October; these fish may be caught in any stretch of water but mainly so between the Old Glenn Highway bridge and at points along the Knik River Road.
SUSITNA RIVER: Successful anglers are getting trout, char, and grayling in and around the mouths of clearwater tributaries (Willow, Little Willow, Sheep, Montana) and as the Susitna drops and clears further in October, various holes in the mainstem river will yield fair to good action as well. Forage flies and small lures are the key right now as salmon are almost done for the year, except for a few spots where late-spawning reds, chums, and silvers are present–then try beads and egg/flesh imitations. Some of the deeper areas will hold concentrations of burbot. Large schools of whitefish may be targeted as they move towards spawning streams.
KASHWITNA RIVER: Anglers are finding a fair number of rainbows and grayling in this semi-glacial stream with some holes on the lower section between the highway crossing and the Susitna confluence producing good catches. Depending on water conditions, beads, corkies, and egg, flesh, and forage imitation flies in addition to spinners are hooking fish. While most are in the teens, there are some big trout present here. Round whitefish can be abundant in spots and encountered all throughout the river. A trickle of blush silvers and reds are moving upstream.
TALKEETNA RIVER: Anglers can expect a good bite in this location for the next week to ten days as concentrations of rainbows, Dollies, and grayling are in the process of backing out of clearwater tributaries into the mainstem Talkeetna and Susitna rivers. Boaters have the advantage of reaching prime spots but anglers walking in from town are able to partake in some decent action. Chum and silver salmon are still actively present in the lower river so beads and egg and flesh imitations do produce strikes; however, most any forage imitation will yield fish this time of year, including small lures. Scout for deeper holes and runs with slower water or where there are salmon spawning and hungry trout and char will be there. Whitefish are numerous in parts of the river.
COPPER VALLEY-VALDEZ ARM
Area Summary: Although there has been some cool nights lately in this area with even a few snow flurries in spots, all waters are ice free and the fishing very good in many places. Most all attention now is focused on resident species in lakes along the Glenn and Richardson highways where rainbow trout, lake trout, Arctic char, Arctic grayling, and whitefish are abundant and often highly aggressive to a myriad of offerings. Louise, Paxson, and Summit lakes are popular. Additionally, grayling are backing out of smaller clearwater streams, destined for the mainstem Copper River or larger lakes to overwinter. This seasonal movement of fish in flowing tributaries will be ending shortly, generally after the first week of October. However, a few of the larger rivers, like the Gulkana, Gakona, Chistochina, and Slana, will produce worthwhile catches of grayling and whitefish until mid- or late October. Mendeltna Creek is excellent for grayling. The Gulkana also has a small run of steelhead that can be targeted successfully through the middle section of water. Late-run reds and silvers are staging and spawning at the outlet of Klutina Lake, which makes it a good spot to target Dolly Varden. Down in Valdez, some fresh and semi-bright silvers are present at the mouth of Robe River and a few blush specimens are still patrolling the briny between Allison Point and the fish hatchery.
Updated Wednesday, September 23, 2020
CURRENT HOT SPOTS: KENAI SILVERS, RAINBOWS, DOLLIES; ANCHOR STEELHEAD, DOLLIES; SUSITNA RAINBOWS, GRAYLING; DEEP STEELHEAD; GULKANA RAINBOWS, GRAYLING; CHULITNA RAINBOWS, GRAYLING.
Weekly Summary: Autumn angling options continue to be rich and varied for those still wanting to get out despite unpredictable weather to enjoy some of the finest and most satisfying fishing of the season. While the variety of salmon species has fallen off, there is certainly not a shortage of other game fish; large, chrome silver salmon and steelhead trout are available in select drainages as waters throughout the Southcentral region are teeming with eager rainbow and lake trout, Dolly Varden, Arctic char, and Arctic grayling in addition to landlocked salmon, northern pike, whitefish, and burbot. Whether the destination is one of the highland lakes of the Susitna or Copper valleys or a coastal stream on the Kenai Peninsula, outstanding action is to be had. But do not hesitate much longer, this great window of opportunity will not last beyond another ten days to two weeks before things really begin to slow down for the year.
ANCHORAGE AREA-TURNAGAIN ARM
Area Summary: The stocked lakes around the city plus at the head of Turnagain Arm are yielding plenty of good fishing these days. Landlocked salmon, trout, char, and grayling are all very active and hitting a variety of bait and lures. The stream fisheries are still moderately productive and anglers may still get some excitement out of trying the upper reaches of Campbell and Chester creeks for rainbows and Dollies. An occasional decent silver salmon is still possible in the former location but the latter is closed to all salmon fishing. The rivers and streams down along Turnagain Arm are producing a few fresh silvers still, with spotty catches occurring in Bird, Glacier, and Ingram creeks on the tides; the better bet for salmon, however, is still Portage Creek where a number of bright and semi-bright fish are available in the middle and upper reaches. Fishing for silvers on Portage generally lasts into the first week of October but some years continue weeks later. Both 20-Mile and Placer rivers have relatively late runs of silvers as well but the most effective way of targeting those runs are by the use of a watercraft in order to reach clear water that happens to be several miles upstream of the road crossings, thus foot access is impractical. If seeking solid roadside salmon action, head south to the Kenai Peninsula.
Area Summary: There are basically four key species of interest right now in this area, these being silver salmon, steelhead and rainbow trout, and Dolly Varden. All are present in peak numbers in various streams and/or lakes and currently yielding good to excellent success for anglers. While the Kenai and Kasilof rivers are the top producers of silvers, there are a few smaller drainages that also see a handful of late fish, such as Swanson and Resurrections rivers. The southern peninsula streams have a trickle of salmon but are basically done for the year; however, steelhead are arriving in good numbers. Additionally, there is a large number of both stocked and wild lakes and ponds on the peninsula that harbor populations of landlocked salmon, trout, char, and grayling and right now these waters are at a peak in action as well. As for the marine fisheries, Homer is not a contender for productive surf-casting for salmon as runs have largely ended for the year and the bottomfish are steadily moving into deeper water out of range. Seward does have potential for silvers from shore still but this opportunity is dwindling fast too; some bottomfish are being caught, however. In Whittier, a small number of hatchery silvers continue to show around the harbor, the head of the canal, and over at the cove south of town but the fishing is typically slow and spotty with an occasional decent day. The city of Kenai, although not thought much of as a surf-casting destination, does provide unique opportunities where the Kenai River flows into Cook Inlet. An occasional halibut, a good number of spiny dogfish, and skate are available right now and into early October on high tides. Late-run silver salmon offer fair catches in this spot. In totality, the peninsula is arguably the best area for fishing on the road system at this time.
UPPER KENAI RIVER: Good to excellent action for rainbows and Dollies may be had using beads and flesh flies as salmon are spawning and dying off; spinners work great too. Anywhere from the outlet of Kenai Lake to the inlet at Skilak Lake is productive. The late runs of king and red salmon are finishing up the spawn so anything mimicking byproducts of that is worth trying. Early-run silvers are largely done as late run fish are starting to trickle through, yet not in numbers producing consistent action–wait another week to ten days. Round whitefish are frequently being taken while fishing for other species. Tributary Russian River has some fair opportunity for trout and char at its mouth; silvers are almost done for the year with most fish being blush. Remember, the silver season on the Russian closes September 30.
LOWER KENAI RIVER: Late-run silvers are yielding good success from upper tidewater to Bing’s Landing in Sterling; expect decent numbers to reach Skilak Lake by middle of next week. The bite is best in early morning using eggs and spinners; fishing during midday can often be quite slow. Some nice catches have been brought in lately, weighing in the mid to upper teens. Reds and pinks are present in the middle river section but in ripe or post-spawn shape–occasional semi-bright specimens are possible still. Rainbow trout and Dolly Varden offer very good fishing upstream of Bing’s Landing to Skilak Lake outlet, hitting beads and flesh flies. Whitefish are available and often take beads and corkies.
KASILOF RIVER: The upper section of river between the rapids and the Tustumena access point is producing fair to good angling for silvers and steelhead. Both species prefer plugs fished in slow, deep holes and pools; large and oversized beads will also get strikes from steelhead. Condition of the salmon range from chrome to dark red with most being fresh or semi-bright. Some Dolly Varden and rainbow trout are available along with whitefish. Lake trout can be caught at the outlet of Tustumena Lake.
ANCHOR RIVER, DEEP CREEK: The past week has seen good numbers of chrome steelies come in on the tides with beads and a variety of flies getting attention; try holes upstream of tidewater at dawn. Spinners, spoons, and plugs can be deadly at times. Streams are in great shape and anglers should manage very nice catches this weekend and next week as runs continue to peak. Few silvers are arriving still. Fishing for Dolly Varden is good on the middle stream sections while rainbows are more common in the upper reaches. Runs are smaller on nearby Ninilchik but there are also a lot fewer anglers.
Area Summary: In between typical autumn rainfall and high water events, anglers scouting streams are finding hungry trout, char, grayling, and whitefish, especially in the tributaries of the Susitna River and to some lesser degree also up around Chulitna. Along with cooling temperatures and less available food sources, the resident fish populations in flowing waters begin a steady downstream migration from their summer spawning and feeding grounds towards overwintering areas; for many that means the large glacial systems that are deep enough to sustain fish through the long winter months. Some seasoned anglers will target these fish in the mainstem of glacial rivers, which flow mostly clear starting in October due to less silt discharge from headwaters. Besides locations already mentioned above, the Kashwitna and Talkeetna are two other examples of this process but on a smaller scale. It is also known that late runs of salmon spawn in the mainstem of these systems until freezeup. As for area lakes, the action is excellent right now for landlocked salmon, rainbow trout, Arctic char, and northern pike. In addition to wild waters, there are a substantial number of lakes and ponds stocked with fish all along the Parks and Glenn highways as well as smaller connecting roads. For anglers dedicated to the autumn chase, now is a very special time as fish are aggressive and the summer crowds gone.
WILLOW, LITTLE WILLOW, SHEEP, MONTANA CREEKS: Fishing has been fair to excellent over the past week depending on water conditions, with the best bite occurring when water is low and clear using beads, flesh and forage flies, and spinners. The lower few miles of water, including stream mouths, are producing nice catches of primarily rainbows and grayling with some Dollies and whitefish also in the mix. It is possible to encounter sizable concentrations of fish right now in spots; if one stretch of water appears empty, move on until fish are found. Silver salmon are spawning and dying off in all of these drainages; opportunistic resident species are usually nearby. Burbot can be taken in and around the confluence areas with the Susitna.
KASHWITNA RIVER: If water runs relatively low and clear, this can be a hot spot for rainbows and grayling. Fish are in the process of moving through the middle and lower reaches of water and are being intercepted by anglers using beads, flesh and forage flies, and spinners. A few Dollies are present. Whitefish can be abundant at times in certain areas. This stream is a good late-season bet and often produce catches later than surrounding locations, in particular on the lower section where fish overwinter in deep holes and remain available until freezeup.
TALKEETNA RIVER: As long as the weather stays cool without too much rain, this river flows relatively low and clear from now on into winter. While primarily a boat fishery due to size of drainage and relatively little roadside access, as trout, char, and grayling are backing out of upper reaches and tributaries to the lower sections and the Susitna, anglers are treated to some good fishing right around the town of Talkeetna. A variety of offerings will work with beads, corkies, flesh and forage flies, and spinners all effective. Whitefish are numerous at times and will hit small beads and flies. There are still chums and silvers moving up the river, albeit many of them are in spawning condition; a few semi-bright specimens are present.
CHULITNA RIVER: The local fish population in this system are for the most part confined to the lower end and mouths of tributaries as winter closes in. Rainbows, grayling, and whitefish are the main species in this area and may be found at East Fork Chulitna, Honolulu, Byers, and Troublesome. Byers is a relatively warm lake-based tributary and usually sees decent numbers of trout well into October; these fish are also attracted to this stream as a run of silvers are spawning. As for targeting salmon, there are very few options left but sporadic catches of semi-bright and lightly blush chums and silvers at stream mouths is possible. Come October and cooler temperatures, the mainstem river will start to clear up, revealing additional angling opportunities.
COPPER VALLEY-VALDEZ ARM
Area Summary: Late autumn conditions are falling on the majority of this area, with temperatures below freezing at night and the chance for snow ruling the weather forecasts. However, resident species such as trout, char, grayling, and whitefish are very active and still aggressively feeding in both lakes and streams. Large lake trout are patrolling the shoreline and the shallows of Louise, Paxson, and Summit lakes, easily within reach. Lakes stocked with landlocked salmon, rainbows, and grayling make for quick and easy action, while clearwater tributaries of the Copper teem with primarily grayling heading downstream to the mainstem river to overwinter. Mendeltna, Tolsona, Gunn, Tulsona, and Indian are all waters that provide good to excellent grayling fishing right now and into early October; fish usually travel in dense schools so if one hole does not yield a bite, move on to the next. Other larger drainages such as Gakona and Slana rivers, while typically flowing high and silty during the summer months, flow low and clear later in fall and offer good opportunities for grayling along with some whitefish. The popular seasonal fisheries of Gulkana, Klutina, and Tonsina rivers are not especially known as prime fall destinations; however, the Gulkana sports some outstanding grayling and good rainbow action in the section of water between the rapids and Paxson Lake, while the latter two locations are home to small runs of silver salmon as well as rainbow trout, Dolly Varden, and grayling. Condition of the salmon range from semi-bright to dark blush. Down in Valdez, the silver salmon runs are slowing down but small numbers of fresh and light blush fish persist between Allison Point and the fish hatchery and in Robe River on the outskirts of town; ripe chums are also present in the harbor area.
Updated Thursday, September 17, 2020
CURRENT HOT SPOTS: KENAI SILVERS, RAINBOWS, DOLLIES; ANCHOR STEELHEAD, DOLLIES; VALDEZ SILVERS; SUSITNA RAINBOWS, GRAYLING; DEEP STEELHEAD; GULKANA RAINBOWS, GRAYLING; CHULITNA RAINBOWS, GRAYLING.
Weekly Summary: Fishing conditions the last couple of weeks has varied considerably depending on weather and water conditions but generally been good with some very nice catches of late-run silvers, steelhead, rainbows, Dollies, and grayling in many waters throughout the Southcentral region. While it is true that the plethora of opportunities subsided with the advent of autumn, there are actually a great sampling of rivers and streams yielding great angling now and for the next week to ten days, a few of them even well into October. The truly late runs of salmon are at a peak and should stay productive for up to another month still as ocean-run trout appear to be on a hot streak in a few locations. This is the month for fast action concerning resident species in both lakes and flowing waters as they engage in a feeding frenzy pending onset of winter. Overall, as long as torrential rain is not in the forecast, anglers will find plenty of fish to catch along the road system.
ANCHORAGE AREA-TURNAGAIN ARM
Area Summary: Local lakes are the hot spots in this area, with landlocked salmon, trout, char, and grayling being very active and responsive to anglers’ offerings as the weather cools. However, there is still some decent opportunities to be had in streams if in pursuit of rainbows and Dollies–even salmon. Within the city of Anchorage, Campbell Creek (and to some extent also Chester Creek) supports a viable fall fishery in the right spots, and out along Turnagain Arm there are numbers of late-run silvers arriving, a few of which may be intercepted on high tides in places such as Bird and Ingram, with final destination in the glacial drainages at the bottom of the arm, in 20-Mile, Portage, and Placer.
CAMPBELL CREEK: Water levels came up a bit with a slight brown tint the last few days after heavy rains but things are already settling down in time for the weekend. Expect rainbows and Dollies to be on the bite in the upper portions of the stream with good catches possible using beads, small spinners, and a variety of flies. Best area to target is between Elmore Road and the beaver ponds within the greenbelt/Campbell Airstrip Road. Additionally, the are decent numbers of silvers in the lower stream, yet most are blush or dark in color with relatively few fresh specimens present. As a reminder, the silver salmon season ends on September 30.
PORTAGE CREEK: Hailed as the most practical location for silvers in this area due to easy roadside access, the run has peaked but chrome and semi-bright fish are being caught regularly at the mouth of clearwater tributaries as well as in quiet water locations in the middle stretch. Use eggs for success but spinners and colorful flies are known to work too. Fresh silvers are typically available well into October most years. Fishing for Dolly Varden is fair.
Area Summary: Without a doubt the most active area for a variety of species this weekend. Late-run silvers as well as trout and char are peaking on the Kenai and steelhead and sea-run Dollies are making a strong showing in the lower peninsula streams of Anchor and Deep. The Kasilof has entered the fray with silvers and steelhead also taken there. Anglers hiking in to and along several of the smaller tributaries of the Kenai are seeing decent catches of mainly char but some trout are in the mix. Streams in and around Seward are possible locations for a few late silvers and Dolly Varden, as long as the weather cooperates. Peninsula lakes are hopping with action, especially the ones accessible from the Swanson River and Swan Lake roads, where rainbow trout and some Arctic char reside, but the stocked waters around the communities of Cooper Landing, Soldotna, Kenai, and Nikiski are definitely worth a try for landlocked salmon, trout, grayling, and char.
UPPER KENAI RIVER: With late-run reds and kings in the process of wrapping up the spawn for the year, anglers are having great success on rainbows and Dollies in the river. Fish are being caught anywhere from the Kenai Lake outlet downstream to the inlet of Skilak Lake with the section between Sportman’s Landing and Jim’s Landing most popular. Beads are the most dominant attraction but flesh and forage flies do well also; spinners can be hot sometimes. A number of whitefish are being caught. As for salmon, the early run of silvers is just about done with only a trickle of mostly light blush fish moving through and the late run has yet to really get started; expect things to pick up in about a week. A sprinkle of semi-bright reds are possible yet.
LOWER KENAI RIVER: Chrome, late-run silvers are entering the river in good numbers and anglers are limiting out (3 fish) at dawn using eggs and spinners. Scout out quiet water at the edge of mainstem current, such as mouths of tributaries, eddies, and holes. The run is currently peaking with most silvers located between tidewater and Soldotna but fishing can be worthwhile up to Bing’s Landing in Sterling and beyond. A few semi-bright reds remain and are present upstream of Sterling; blush pinks are around also. Rainbow trout and Dolly Varden are abundant with the best action occurring on the middle river from Skilak Lake outlet down to Bing’s Landing. Late-run kings, reds, and pinks are spawning and dying with beads and flesh being the hot items to use; however, forage flies and spinners work well too, especially on the char. Small numbers of whitefish are available and caught incidentally while targeting other species.
KASILOF RIVER: Anglers with means of reaching the middle river from the rapids and on upstream are finding decent numbers of fresh and semi-bright silvers in addition to steelhead; expect fair to good action. Focus on slow moving holding water where fish concentrate. Plugs work great for both species but oversized beads and corkies are also effective on steelhead in current, generally along the inside bends of the river. A few Dolly Varden and rainbow trout are present in the middle and upper river, and lake trout are being caught at the outlet of Tustumena Lake.
ANCHOR RIVER, DEEP CREEK: The big news here is the onslaught of steelhead trout, with anglers experiencing good fishing on the tides down low and at first light higher up in the drainages. Although the best action is still in the lower sections of water, there are fish distributed for miles into the middle sections as well. Beads and egg and forage imitation flies do best but some smaller spoons and spinners have been unstoppable. This weekend and next week are typically best for fish arriving on the tides, head upstream later on this month and in October. A few chrome silvers continue to trickle in but these runs are ending soon. Dolly Varden fishing is very good in the middle reaches along with some decent rainbows being caught too in upper areas.
Area Summary: The autumn fishing can be incredible for landlocked salmon, trout, char, grayling, and pike in many lakes and/or streams, with willing and aggressive bites the norm. With a huge number of lakes–both stocked as well as wild–to choose from, anglers from Talkeetna to Wasilla to Palmer and beyond are experiencing good to superb action. In addition, when the weather is stable, the stream opportunities–primarily the tributaries of the Susitna River–are very worthwhile for multiple species mentioned above and whitefish as well. Ocean run salmon, however, have long ago peaked and most silvers are preparing or engaged in spawning. There exists some very limited opportunity still, however, as a few semi bright specimens continue to show up at the mouths of streams draining into the Susitna and Chulitna rivers. Late-arriving chums is a possibility, primarily in or near the Talkeetna River. But in general, the salmon season is coming to a close.
WILLOW, LITTLE WILLOW, SHEEP, MONTANA CREEKS: When the water is low and clear, expect action to be good to excellent for rainbow trout and grayling with some decent catches of Dollies and whitefish too. Recent rains have elevated stream levels and turbidity but things quickly drop down to normal this time of year. For success, try the middle and lower section of water as the fish are slowly backing down from headwaters; use beads, flesh and forage flies, and spinners. Fishing for burbot can be good where these streams flow into the Susitna. Most of the silvers are dark red in color and situated in the middle and upper reaches; an occasional decent one may still be found at the mouths.
KASHWITNA RIVER: Barring heavy rain clouding the water, the action on this river has been quite good for rainbows and grayling in the middle reach near the highway crossing. Whitefish and Dolly Varden are available. Beads, corkies, spinners, and a variety of egg imitation, flesh, and forage flies work; use more color or flash in presentations if water appears silty. Opportunities should hold through the month and into next. A few blush silvers along with an occasional red are present.
CHULITNA RIVER: Autumn has advanced far in this area, with cooler temperatures and dropping water levels helping push resident species downstream. The mouths and lower sections of clearwater tributaries are yielding good action for rainbows and grayling on spinners and forage flies; silvers and a few chums are spawning in some spots with beads proving perfect for the trout. Try East Fork Chulitna, Honolulu, and Troublesome. Byers is a good late-season bet for nice rainbows with success there continuing into October; a few semi-bright to light blush silvers are possible.
COPPER VALLEY-VALDEZ ARM
Area Summary: The downstream migration to overwintering areas has started and large schools of grayling may be encountered in many smaller streams of the Copper River from now on into the first week of October. Some of the top waters this time of year include Gunn, Mendeltna, Tolsona, Tulsona, and Indian. Fishing is often stellar with fish-on-every-cast action not unusual with spinners and forage flies the way to go. A few of these waters may also hold populations of rainbow trout and even a few steelhead may be present in Mendeltna. The larger drainages of the Copper also hold some nice fish, with the outlet of Klutina Lake being good for Dolly Varden and the confluence of the Tonsina and Little Tonsina rivers supporting fair to good success for grayling and Dollies. Gulkana is always a reliable spot for quantity and quality grayling in addition to trout. Silvers are arriving in several locations, including the Tonsina, Klutina, and select tributaries of the Chitina, and range in color from semi-bright to dark red. Still, for salmon, Valdez is the place to focus on where fresh silvers are present in fishable numbers.
GULKANA RIVER: Grayling are very active from the outlet of Paxson Lake downstream to the rapids area, with outstanding fishing possible using flies and spinners. Rainbows are also being caught; a few steelhead may be found on the lower river from the highway bridge up to Sourdough. Late-run red salmon continue to arrive but fishing for them is prohibited by emergency order.
PORT VALDEZ: With the huge salmon crowds long gone, the few remaining anglers here are catching a fair number of silvers on spinners and by snagging. The Allison Point area up to the hatchery is producing some nice fish on the tides and the harbor in front of town as well as the small bay near the new boat harbor all are yielding silvers ranging from chrome to dark blush. It is worth scouting out the various places to see where salmon can be found in concentration. While the incoming, peak, and outgoing tides are traditionally best, low tides may produce some surprisingly decent catches at times. Expect fishing to range from fair to even good depending on tide, day, and location. Late-run chum salmon are available in and around the harbor but most fish are dark with only an occasional semi-bright specimen possible. Smaller sablefish are being hauled in from the ferry dock.
Updated Thursday, September 10, 2020
CURRENT HOT SPOTS: SEWARD SILVERS; VALDEZ SILVERS; KENAI SILVERS, RAINBOWS, DOLLIES; RUSSIAN SILVERS; SUSITNA RAINBOWS, GRAYLING; GULKANA RAINBOWS, GRAYLING; SWANSON SILVERS.
Weekly Summary: As autumn takes hold of the region, anglers are adjusting to seasonal changes in terms of weather and water conditions and angling opportunities. Options for solid action for salmon are still available, albeit not as numerous as only a couple of weeks ago. Late runs of silvers persist in the coastal ports of Seward and Valdez with freshwater fishing generally good in select drainages, mainly on the Kenai Peninsula. The trout, char, and grayling feeding frenzy continues in both lakes and streams in all areas as they prepare for the cold months ahead; steelhead are now present in fishable numbers and certainly to become a species of focus starting this weekend up until freeze-up. Marine species are abundant in some locations with interesting possibilities for those willing to put in some time and explore new territory. With the summer crowds largely gone, now is the perfect window of opportunity to harvest salmon and target other species for sport in settings of solitude.
ANCHORAGE AREA-TURNAGAIN ARM
Area Summary: Local lakes and small streams are great spots to get out and enjoy light tackle fishing for rainbows, Dollies, and grayling. There are several stocked waters that routinely yield good to excellent fishing this time of year and anglers wanting to get away from the busy salmon scene are sure to find a more leasurely pace worthy of effort. However, fresh salmon may still be found with some work and patience in a few locations. While not true hot spots, both Ship and Bird continue to produce a trickle of chrome silvers and Campbell has the chance to score nice fish too. But for more stable and predictable salmon action, head down to the Portage area at the bottom of Turnagain Arm where silvers are still running.
CAMPBELL CREEK: Hike the stream along the stretch between Campbell Airstrip and Lake Otis Boulevard to sample the fine trout and char fishing. Although the fish are generally not the size of those found on the peninsula and in the valley, they nontheless provide very good action when water conditions are low and clear. The lower stream is open to silver salmon fishing (other salmon species are closed) and the catching is fair, with the early morning hours being best using roe and spinners in deep holes. Most fish are blush in color but a few semi-bright or even chrome fish are possible.
PORTAGE CREEK: The number of bright silver salmon entering this fishery is declining but there are still small schools of fish coming in on every tide; for the best action, however, try the reach of the middle stream from the mouth of Railroad Creek up to near Williwaw Creek. Salmon are concentrated in deeper, slower sections of water and most effectively targeted using roe fished on bottom or with a bobber, yet spinners work too. Expect to do a bit of exploring in order to find fish, but when found the fishing is fair to good with limits possible. Condition of fish range from chrome to blush. Chums are spawning and dying off. Dolly Varden are fair.
Area Summary: Weather conditions the last few days have changed to bright sunny skies and cool temperatures so rivers and streams in this area will be dropping and clearing nicely, allowing for good angling opportunities in a wide range of waters for various species. While the silver fishing is slowing down in some places, like the southern peninsula streams and Turnagain Arm drainages, things have picked up in rivers around Seward and Soldotna. But some locations are seeing peak action still, such as the Russian and Swanson rivers and Resurrection Bay, although the runs in these waters will begin tapering off shortly, likely after this weekend. Steelhead trout are now a clear choice as the fall runs are entering their natal streams in decent numbers. Anglers are experiencing good to excellent success for rainbow trout and Dolly Varden, in addition to Arctic char and grayling in a couple of spots. Earlier salmon runs are in the process of spawning and dying off, which provides a tremendous seasonal food source for resident species, something anglers are acutely capitalizing on. Many of the lakes in this area are experiencing great fishing at this time and will stay productive through the month until freeze-up. Saltwater opportunities are continuing to thin out but some salmon are still available along with bottomfish.
SEWARD/RESURRECTION BAY: The hatchery run of silvers destined for Seward Lagoon really hit stride last weekend and catches continue to be good along the beach area around Scheffler Creek. The vast majority of fish are being caught by snagging but a few salmon are also tricked by spinners. Large schools of fish may be observed on the incoming and high tides and visually targeted. Expect the run to stay productive through the weekend and possibly early next week before rapidly falling off; however, a few decent silvers are typically available right through the month and even into early October some years. It may also be worth scouting around the mouths of streams flowing into the bay for silvers, such as Spring, Spruce, and Tonsina. The lower section of Resurrection River (downstream of Seward Highway), including lower Salmon Creek, is open to salmon fishing and may hold fair to good action for silvers in some clearwater spots; there are small numbers of late-run reds present. Pinks are spawning and dying off in all waters around the bay but a few semi-bright or even fresh specimens are possible. Fishing for bottomfish is fair to sometimes good in certain places.
QUARTZ, PTARMIGAN CREEKS: Targeting Dolly Varden is fair to good and some rainbows are being landed as well; beads and forage flies are doing the job. Whitefish are being seen more frequently. Reds are wrapping up the spawn and early-run silvers are present–as a reminder, salmon fishing is prohibited year-round in these streams.
UPPER KENAI RIVER: Early-run silvers are available but numbers of fish are dissipating and condition of salmon generally semi-bright to light blush. This is the last productive weekend for silvers here until the late run arrives in October; try stretch of water from the Russian confluence downstream to the powerlines for best success. A trickle of decent color reds are moving through but most fish are in spawning condition. The action for rainbows and Dollies is good to excellent; use beads and forage flies. A few whitefish are being caught incidentally while targeting other species.
RUSSIAN RIVER: Fishing for early-run silver salmon continues to be good and will stay so until about mid next week. Sight-fishing for them in the clear water can be very exciting, especially at dawn in holes downstream of the campground. Dark streamers are effective. Anglers targeting rainbows and Dollies are doing well on the lower river and the river mouth using beads and forage flies; expect the action to slow after this weekend as the late-run of reds finishes spawning and dies off.
SWANSON RIVER: The tides are bringing in schools of fresh silvers, albeit the run is showing signs of wear but the action is still quite good. Eggs and spinners work best. Also check out deep holes upstream of the tidal area, particularly in early morning. Rainbow trout fishing is good to excellent on the upper river in the vicinity of Swanson River Road access; use flies and spinners.
LOWER KENAI RIVER: With early-run silvers gradually fading out and late-run fish coming in, anglers are now seeing fair to good catches of salmon, especially in the lower reach in tidewater and the first few miles upstream. Drifting roe or leaving it on the bottom is very effective, as is casting spinners. Target slow-moving water in early morning, such as holes, in eddies on the edge of fast current, and mouths of tributaries where fish school and rest. A few decent reds and pinks are present but these runs are for all practical purposes finished with fish spawning and dying off. The fishing for rainbows and Dollies is good on the middle river upstream of Bings’ Landing to the outlet of Skilak Lake. An assortment of beads and forage flies are effective.
ANCHOR, NINILCHIK RIVERS, DEEP CREEK: While a few silvers are still coming into these streams, the runs are coming to a completion shortly. Anglers have been successful taking fish on the tides or at dawn in deep holes upstream using spinners and flies. Steelhead are growing in numbers with fair catches reported on the upper edge of tidewater in addition to a few holes in the lower and middle reaches. Dolly Varden fishing is fair to good in the middle sections; rainbows are quite prolific up in the headwaters. Reminder: Only single hooks, no bait allowed after September 1.
Area Summary: Fishing for silver salmon is slow throughout much of this area as runs are nearing completion with only a few semi-bright specimens available. Most fish will begin spawning in another week to ten days. However, a number of bright late-run silvers continue to arrive in the Knik River on the tides and anglers may intercept these mainstem spawners at the mouth of clearwater tributaries–such as Jim Creek–right now as well as the section of water upstream of the Glenn Highway when the water clears of silt in early October. Fresh late spawning chums are also a possibility in the Knik and along the Susitna River mainstem up to Talkeetna River during the month of September. Yet for the best fishing, targeting landlocked salmon, trout, char, pike, grayling, and burbot is the better option by far. Area lakes are teeming with willing fish right now and many of the salmon spawning streams are producing fast action as well. In fact, for many local anglers, this is a favored time of the year to pursue their quarry as summer crowds are gone and fishing fun and intense.
WILLOW, LITTLE WILLOW, SHEEP, MONTANA CREEKS: With the silver runs just starting their spawn, anglers using beads are receiving plenty of attention from trout, char, and grayling in the middle and upper reaches of these streams. Scout out holding water and areas where salmon are spawning for success. September is a great month for larger fish, with 25-inch plus catches not unusual. These locations yield a fair number of whitefish if targeted. Fishing for burbot at the mouths of Sheep and Montana is good, especially during the low-light hours. A few decent silvers remain, primarily in the lower reaches. Catches of nice chums is also a possibility, at the Susitna confluences.
CHULITNA RIVER: As long as the weather remains clear and crisp, the smaller tributaries such as Troublesome, Byers, Honolulu, and the East and Middle forks of the Chulitna will have good opportunities for mainly rainbows and/or grayling along with whitefish. Byers Creek in particular is a favorite hot spot for autumn rainbows due to good numbers of fish and above average size. Salmon are in the process of spawning, thus beads are working well at the moment but flesh and forage flies are at play also as the season progresses. Look for best fishing to occur in the middle or lower reaches of these waters due to the gradual downstream movement towards overwintering areas having begun.
COPPER VALLEY-VALDEZ ARM
Area Summary: While stream fishing can be fabulous for grayling in several clearwater tributaries of the greater Copper River drainage this month, it is the lakes in the area that hold the most potential in terms of species available and solid, consistent catch rates. A number of waters are stocked with landlocked salmon, trout, and grayling, all of which are yielding good to excellent action right now. Also, the larger lakes support good fishing for native fish such as lake trout, grayling, and burbot. From now on until freeze-up, anglers casting from the bank as well as small watercraft are able to effectively target these fish as they congregate near shore with Summit, Paxson, and Louise all very reliable places to go. For stream fishing, hit Mendeltna, Tolsona, Tulsona, Indian, and Gunn where grayling are starting their fall migrations downstream to overwintering areas and superb opportunities favor anglers using spinners and flies. Silver salmon are moving up the Copper into several tributaries, such as the Tonsina and Klutina, and will peak in density this week and next. But the best salmon action is, again this week, in Valdez where the silvers are still running and being readily caught.
GULKANA RIVER: A top-notch grayling water, supporting legendary numbers and size of fish, where fishing is superb right now in the middle river section between the rapids and Paxson Lake outlet. Flies, beads, and spinners are all effective. Rainbows are being taken within the same general river section with good success enjoyed using beads and flies. Lake trout are available at the outlet of Paxson and may be caught on larger streamers and spoons. For those wanting to experience something out of the ordinary, go scouting for steelhead trout which are currently moving through the lower reaches. As a reminder, the river is closed to red salmon fishing by emergency order.
PORT VALDEZ: The silvers have been somewhat unpredictable in the port the last few weeks, the mass of fish seemingly moving around between the Allison Point area and the new boat harbor. Wherever found, the fishing is good to excellent using spinners, spoons, and snag hooks. Allison Point and the stretch of coastline up to the fish hatchery is likely to produce good catches this weekend for the lure crowd, while snaggers are enjoying better luck east of the main harbor in the small bay next to the new harbor; limit catches are very possible. Condition of fish range from chrome to dark red with many fish still being bright and fresh. Now is the time to go as this run will begin slowing down very soon. The late, intertidal run of chums in the port is still active with anglers catching a number of them incidentally to fishing for silvers; chrome and semi-bright specimens are not unusual. The runs of pink salmon are finishing the last part of the spawning cycle. Anglers casting off the ferry dock are catching a variety of fish species, including a good number of smaller sablefish.
Updated Wednesday, September 2, 2020
LABOR DAY WEEKEND REPORT
CURRENT HOT SPOTS: VALDEZ SILVERS; ANCHOR SILVERS; KENAI SILVERS, RAINBOWS, DOLLIES; RUSSIAN SILVERS; SUSITNA RAINBOWS, GRAYLING; PORTAGE SILVERS; KLUTINA DOLLIES; GULKANA RAINBOWS, GRAYLING; SWANSON SILVERS.
Weekly Summary: It has been a rather wet and windy last several days as the Southcentral region was lashed with the first of surely several autumn storms to come, wreaking havoc on many rivers and streams in terms of high and muddy water conditions. However, not all drainages faced the same ordeal; in fact, most lake-based waterways are thriving with the increased flow and remain clear enough to provide great fishing opportunities. As most seasoned anglers know all too well, while persistent heavy rain and minor flooding is a normal part of fall weather patterns, experience dictates to avoid fast runoff streams and focus on systems that can better absorb adverse water conditions, such as lakes. Lakes are natural buffer zones against turbidity and while the water level may still be high, at least the drainage does not wipe out the fishing as quickly as non-lake locations. Additionally, in any case, it is only a matter of time before water levels settle down and clarity returns, which they quickly do in a cool climate. This in mind, fishing opportunities around the region remain good as late-run silvers invade coastal drainages and trout, grayling, and char continue their feeding frenzy in all areas where found. In all, expect excellent action in many places for the next week.
ANCHORAGE AREA-TURNAGAIN ARM
Area Summary: Although the fishing is good and steady in many area lakes for landlocked salmon, trout, char, and grayling, the salmon opportunities are diminishing, especially within the city itself. Campbell and Ship creeks are yielding some limited salmon action but for fresh runs of mostly chrome fish, anglers need to make the journey down south of town, into Turnagain Arm, to find quarry. While boaters are doing well on silvers in the 20-Mile and Placer river drainages, roadside anglers fare better exploring Portage Creek or even the smaller clearwater streams in that area, such as Bird and Ingram. While these latter two do not produce significant spawning runs of fall silvers, they do harbor very real potential for anglers to intercept schools of fish on the tides that are bound for other locations in the arm. As has been well documented, salmon are very versatile and will enter lower reaches or mouths of non-spawning streams during high tides on their way to their natal waters, thus perfect targets for anglers. Action can be nonexistent to very good depending on the day and tide, with nice catches of salmon through mid-month, possibly even through September some years. For more consistent fishing, perhaps, hit the Portage area systems.
CAMPBELL CREEK: Anglers trying their luck at dawn using eggs and spinners in deep, calm holes have been getting some silvers recently. Best locations are between Dimond Boulevard and Taku-Campbell Lake. Limits are possible for semi-bright to light blush fish but a few chromers are present too. There is good fishing for rainbows and Dolly Varden in the upper reaches of the stream when the water is low and clear, primarily within the Bicentennial Park area, using beads, spinners, and flies–exercise caution hiking along stream due to bear activity.
PORTAGE CREEK: Fresh silvers are still coming in on every tide but numbers vary according to the day. At this time there are schools of fish that can be located throughout the lower and middle reaches of the stream, as high as in the vicinity of Williaw Creek off Portage Glacier Road. Catches of silvers in the upper reach, near the Portage Lake outlet, is typically very minimal. Successful anglers have been soaking eggs on the bottom or casting fluorescent spinners in holes or stretches with minimal current. Condition of fish range from chrome to semi-bright, occasionally blush. Chum salmon are currently spawning in middle mainstem Portage and a few reds are present too; Dolly Varden can be caught on eggs.
Area Summary: Silver salmon are quite plentiful in most area waters this week, as runs are at or near peaking. From Seward and Resurrection Bay through central peninsula to the coastal drainages between Soldotna and Homer, anglers are seeing generally good fishing. Despite some high water and turbidity, especially in the drainages of the southern peninsula, the action should bounce back this weekend. The reds and pinks are spawning and starting to die off but a slim opportunity still exists to catch bright specimens in a few locations. Yet for perhaps the best fishing, anglers could tempt the fine trout and char fisheries of the Kenai system which are known for not just high numbers of fish but good size as well. Steelhead trout are becoming more numerous and will very shortly produce some worthwhile catches, perhaps even by this weekend or early next week. Saltwater opportunities persist, with Seward yielding some nice fish in the form of silvers, and there may be a late-season chance for shallow water halibut in Cook Inlet as well. As for the lakes in the area, landlocked salmon, trout, char, and grayling are active and arguably the most productive time of the year coming up as temperatures cool even further. This is the time of year to be flexible, be prepared to change original plans and move around where water conditions cooperate and fish are biting.
SEWARD/RESURRECTION BAY: Silver salmon are cruising the shoreline of the bay in decent numbers with anglers focusing on the mouths of various streams on the incoming and high tides for action. Spinners appear to be most popular with the fish but anglers also use snag hooks at the outfall of Scheffler Creek right in town. It is yet unclear if the run is somewhat tardy, as is the case with many runs around the region this year, or simply weak; this weekend should provide an answer whatever is the case. Still, some anglers are managing to score limits of fish snagging. It is worth exploring the bay thoroughly, looking where fish are surfacing and focus efforts there. Pink salmon are abundant in several spots as the late runs of intertidal spawning fish continue, but only a few fresh or semi-bright specimens are available; try mouths of Spring, Spruce, and Tonsina. A very few reds and chums are still available, mainly bound for the mainstem Resurrection River, and occasionally caught while casting for silvers. Surf-casting for bottomfish is fair to good, with flounder, codfish, and greenling present; hooking halibut, Pacific cod, and rockfish is possible in the deep waters along Lowell Point Road.
QUARTZ, PTARMIGAN CREEKS: This weekend and next week is expected to be the last really good fishing for Dolly Varden in these streams as the red salmon spawning runs subside and the char begin moving back into Kenai Lake or move into different locations to continue feeding or to spawn. Use beads and flies. A few rainbow trout and occasional grayling and whitefish are present also. Check in on nearby streams as well, such as Daves Creek (Tern Lake area) and Moose Creek (Moose Pass); they sometimes have good fishing.
UPPER KENAI RIVER: Silver salmon are moving through with the most consistent catches being in the vicinity of the Russian River confluence and in the braids. Good success may be had at dawn or by targeting fish migrating in shallow water along the shoreline. Dark streamer patterns as well as beads and spinners are taking fish. Some chrome and semi-bright late-run reds are still up for grabs yet the majority of this run are too far gone. There is currently a lot of spawning red and king salmon present and a glut of eggs and flesh in the water; be precise in matching bead colors or try something entirely different to mix things up if going for rainbows and Dollies. The fishing has been generally good lately with some days excellent. Whitefish are being caught in small numbers.
RUSSIAN RIVER: If sight-fishing to big silvers sounds exciting, this is the spot. The river is experiencing a very decent push of silvers and anglers are scoring good catches of fish (limit is 1 silver per day) in the lower end and in the sanctuary area. Dawn is best time to visually target these salmon but they can be caught throughout the day at the river mouth. Dark streamer patterns work well inriver but spinners and beads get attention also. Late-run reds are present in good numbers as the spawning period is now peaking; as a reminder, the red salmon season ended August 20. Rainbow trout and Dolly Varden are succumbing to beads and an assortment of flies in the lower river and confluence; expect good action.
SWANSON RIVER: The lower river and tides are producing good fishing for silvers as water is nice and clear, with anglers reporting success on drifting roe and casting spinners; dawn is best time to be on the water with limits of silvers commonplace. For rainbows, try the upper river off Swanson River Road where action is good using flies and spinners.
LOWER KENAI RIVER: The last several days has seen fair to good catches of silvers using eggs and spinners, primarily at dawn in slack water areas such as mouth of sloughs and tributraries as well as eddies next to fast current. Limits are possible; as a reminder, after September 1, the bag limit for silvers is 3 fish. Best stretch of water is from Soldotna up to the outlet of Skilak Lake. This weekend should see the last productive fishing before the run moves into spawning tributaries; the late run typically shows up in numbers in the lower end of the river starting in another week. Late-run reds are present but mainly in or near spawning phase, yet a small number of chrome or semi-bright specimens is possible swinging flies. Pink salmon are generally spawning; a few fresh fish are still coming in. The middle river, above Bing’s Landing, is seeing good fishing for rainbows and Dollies along with a few whitefish. Beads and flesh are most popular but use forage patterns if bite is slow.
ANCHOR, NINILCHIK RIVERS, DEEP CREEK: Action for silvers has been good to excellent this past week and expected to remain good for the weekend and possibly into the early part of next week given water conditions are relatively low and clear (at time of writing this report the water was still high and muddy). While fishing has been best on the tides, expect the better action to occur in holes throughout the lower stretches as the runs advance upstream. As of September 1, bait and multiple hooks are no longer legal (per regulation), so anglers should focus on using streamer patterns, spinners, and beads. Pinks are largely spawning and dying off; a few decent specimens are present. Steelhead trout are being caught in small numbers in tidewater and the lower stream reaches; beads, spoons, and streamers produce attention. Dolly Varden fishing is fair on the lower streams, good in upper reaches.
Area Summary: While the heavy rainfall has dampened the salmon and trout fishing in many places, there are still some good spots to try out yet. The Knik River drainage does harbor silver salmon runs later than many other systems, with a run of fresh mainstem spawners that trickles in through September and well into October most years. Additionally, the upper Susitna and Chulitna drainages still offer opportunities for silvers as well as chums up until mid-month or even later, so the only issue then becomes weather and water conditions, both of which are notoriously fickle in autumn. The Little Susitna River, although still seeing bright and semi-bright silvers moving through among larger numbers of blush or dark fish, is currently flowing high and muddy and will likely not be a productive spot for salmon again this season once the water drops and clears. The smaller streams of Fish and Cottonwood are a bit high but still clear with a limited number of silvers arriving on the tides; expect slow to fair fishing at best in both locations until runs end in mid-month. Wasilla Creek and the Eklutna Tailrace also have small numbers of decent silvers left but these runs should wrap up shortly. The mouth of Moose Creek up on the Matanuska River offers fair opportunities for silvers as reds and chums are spawning. Local area lakes are experiencing good to excellent action for landlocked salmon, trout, char, grayling, and pike.
JIM CREEK: Typically a good late season bet for silvers, anglers here have been doing fair to good the last ten days using eggs and spinners at the Knik River confluence. Yet, the Knik is flowing relatively high right now so there could be access issues to the area, but as waters drop and road conditions improve there is likely to be some decent silvers to be had. Other species present include chum salmon and Dolly Varden. Reminder: Jim Creek is closed to all fishing on Mondays and Tuesdays.
WILLOW, SHEEP, MONTANA CREEKS: Recent and ongoing rainfall has elevated these runoff streams in volume and turbidity, thus slowing down fishing considerably for the short term; however, forecast calls for conditions to stabilize by early next week, perhaps even sooner, with action for rainbow trout, grayling, and Dolly Varden improving yet again. Expect good fishing for these species when water levels drop and clears, particularly in the upper reaches. Use more colorful presentations if water is still off color, like corkies and larger beads and spinners, switching to smaller beads and flies later on. Salmon are still available but runs have peaked and are on the wane. The middle sections of Willow and Sheep and the mouth of Montana will have a small number of semi-bright to light blush silvers present along with a few chrome fish; opportunities will be fair at best. A few decent chums persevere, mainly at Montana. As a reminder, fishing with bait is prohibited in these streams as of September 1.
RABIDEUX, SUNSHINE CREEKS: These two streams, being lowland marsh or lake-based drainages, have largely avoided high water events common in other, more popular locations and are currently presenting acceptable fishing conditions for the weekend. Silvers are being picked up on spinners in decent numbers at the mouths with quality of fish ranging from bright to dark red with most catches very slightly blush. For best success, hit the water at dawn. Some nice fish are also available around the road crossing at Rabideux. A few chums are present. Burbot are landed just downstream of the mouths along the Susitna River early morning and late night. As a reminder, fishing with bait is prohibited in these streams as of September 1.
CHULITNA RIVER: As most tributaries of the Chulitna are runoff streams, there may be slim chances going into the weekend but things should improve shortly if rains hold up. However, Byers Creek, although flowing a little high, is mostly clear and definitely one of the best spots the next couple of days for both trout as well as salmon. Rainbows are numerous and fishing good using beads and egg/flesh imitation flies. Silver salmon continue to arrive and semi-bright to lightly blushed specimens are very possible. Reds and chums are spawning. Starting next week, when waters drop and clears up, also scout Honolulu, East and Middle forks of Chulitna for both rainbows and grayling along with a few whitefish. As a reminder, fishing with bait is prohibited in these streams.
COPPER VALLEY-VALDEZ ARM
Area Summary: As fall advances, anglers are seeing an increasing number and activity of resident species in both lakes and streams. The smaller, stocked lakes are excellent for landlocked salmon, rainbows, char, and grayling while the larger lakes, such as Summit, Paxson, and Louise, are seeing a surge of action for lake trout, grayling, and burbot as the water cools. Many area streams are getting busy as primarily grayling begin feeding more aggressively and will hold through the month; Tolsona, Tulsona, Mendeltna, Indian, and Gunn are a few of the more productive spots this time of year. The larger rivers are yielding some nice catches as well, including rainbows, grayling, and char, and even some silvers are being caught. But as for kings and reds, the season has ended or the fishing is closed by emergency order. Yet again, for those wanting fresh silvers, the Port of Valdez is hard to beat as throngs of chrome silvers are moving along the beaches and docks. All in all, the month is shaping up nicely as long as heavy rain showers do not intercede too much in terms of water clarity and volume in area rivers and streams, although the lakes should be fine and may even improve the bite.
GULKANA RIVER: While the lower river is seeing the influence of recent rainfall, anglers should focus more effort on the middle river between the canyon and the Paxson Lake outlet. This section of water offers excellent grayling action with trophy fish possible; a few lake trout may also be caught at the lake outlet. Rainbow trout are more predictable in the canyon area and hitting beads and spinners. Late-run red salmon are present throughout much of the river but currently off limits by emergency order. A few steelhead trout are heading upstream on their way to overwintering areas in the upper drainage; try corkies and beads for a shot at these fish.
KLUTINA RIVER: The outlet of Klutina Lake and the first couple of miles of river is producing good fishing for Dolly Varden; quite large specimens are possible as they target in on salmon eggs from the red spawn–use beads and corkies or spoons. As a reminder, all of the upper section of river is closed to salmon fishing.
TONSINA RIVER: A few silvers are being caught around the mouth of Little Tonsina River and in deeper and more quiet holes and eddies of the main river. Condition of fish range from semi-bright to dark red with most being light blush; spinners and flies are perfect in clearwater areas, use eggs in the silt. Typically, there is a consistent flow of fish through September with catches in October also possible. Dolly Varden and grayling action is fair to good in the Little Tonsina.
PORT VALDEZ: Anglers here have experienced great silver salmon fishing for the past ten days and the run is peaking. However, the near torrential rainfall earlier in the week created more challenging conditions as Lowe River flirted with minor flooding and thus discharged a huge amount of heavy silt into the port, slowing the fishing down considerably for a couple of days. But the constant flow of tides through the port is gradually replacing the silt with clean and clear ocean water, thus once again providing a productive environment for excellent catches of silvers–as long as heavy rains do not become a problem once more. This holiday weekend is likely to see good to excellent action on spinners and spoons over at Allison Point and shoreline to the fish hatchery, as well as the city dock and boat harbor (try herring and snagging, respectively). Pinks are thinning out as they die off but some salmon are still spawning with even occasional landings of fresh fish. A handful of bright and semi-bright chums are being beached around the harbor and the mouth of Allison Creek near the point, yet most fish are turning. Robe River on the outskirt of town is a decent place to catch silvers with limits possible.
Updated Thursday, August 27, 2020
CURRENT HOT SPOTS: VALDEZ SILVERS; ANCHOR SILVERS; KENAI SILVERS, RAINBOWS, DOLLIES; WILLOW SILVERS, RAINBOWS, GRAYLING; PORTAGE SILVERS; KLUTINA DOLLIES; GULKANA RAINBOWS, GRAYLING; LITTLE SUSITNA SILVERS; MONTANA SILVERS, RAINBOWS, GRAYLING; SWANSON SILVERS; COTTONWOOD SILVERS.
Weekly Summary: As the Southcentral summer season yields to fall, virtually all attention is focused on silver salmon and rainbow trout as the last several weeks of abundant opportunities in terms of both numbers of productive fishing spots as well as variety of game fish available approaches. The late runs of red, pink, and chum salmon are dwindling in size and scope, being replaced by the much more prolific runs of silvers along the roadside coastal and inland waterways of the region. Steelhead are making their way into our southernmost rivers and streams as its brethren resident rainbows are peaking in activity throughout not just the road system but the state in general. Dolly Varden, Arctic grayling, whitefish, pike, and burbot are striking lures, flies, or bait with enthusiasm as the autumn glut builds in intensity, driven by salmon byproducts as well as cooler water temperatures as fish fatten up before winter sets in. The only instance of decreased opportunity from now on out is fishing for saltwater species, at least as understood from the view of surf-casters, as bottomfish and other marine fish begin the gradual seasonal movement to deeper, offshore areas; however, there will be times and places where anglers may still experience decent action well into September. Overall, expect outstanding fishing the next several weeks.
ANCHORAGE AREA-TURNAGAIN ARM
Area Summary: The hatchery runs of silver salmon to Ship and Bird have just about wrapped up for the year but the wild runs in the area are at a peak right now in the lower reaches of several streams, most notably down along Turnagain Arm. Although usually taking a bit more effort to target effectively, these late runs has a lot to offer, including more solitude as well as a nice way to transition into autumn. The most prominent runs occur in the glacial drainages of 20-Mile, Portage, and Placer, yet only Portage is readily accessible from the road. However, there are days and certain tides when silvers will also be abundant in a few of the smaller drainages, such as Bird and Ingram. If seeking salmon, make sure to have a bit of time to explore and search out various waters for good opportunities. For many anglers, the local stocked lakes make more sense of use of time. Landlocked salmon, trout, char, and grayling are prolific now and through the fall season as temperatures cool. In addition, the city creeks support populations of rainbows and Dollies, both of which are yielding fair to very good fishing in the upper reaches.
SHIP CREEK: Technically not a true hot spot this time of year, there is still some very respectful fishing for silver salmon taking place on the tides. While the limit is six fish by emergency order, it is much more common to see anglers carrying two or even three fish out of this stream with good effort and timing using eggs and spinners. The hatchery run of salmon is wrapping up shortly but there is a much smaller, natural component in the creek that usually sees silvers return through September most years. So, the opportunity to get chrome fish is possible for a while yet.
CAMPBELL CREEK: With rain forecast for much of the city, it may be worth checking this stream out for silvers. If there is a decent number of fish stacked up in Campbell Lake, the creek may experience a surge of fish upstream prompted by rising water levels and cooler temperatures. Try eggs and spinners in deeper sections from the Dimond Boulevard crossing on up to around the Taku-Campbell Park area. Expect most fish to be semi-bright to light blush with some chrome specimens in the mix. Rainbow trout and Dolly Varden action is fair to good in the upper portions of the stream; use beads and forage flies.
PORTAGE CREEK: This is the spot for silvers within the general Anchorage area. Though not a particularly large run, there are enough fish present to make for a productive outing, targeting the tides and the lower and middle sections of the stream for success. With silver salmon runs in the region trending about a week late this year, anglers here should experience fair to good opportunities for another two weeks still. Roe fished stationary on the bottom or with an attractor is best but fluorescent spinners can be effective too. Condition of fish range from chrome to light blush. Remnants of the red and chum salmon runs are present, with a few semi-bright to light blush fish to be had, mainly in the middle section from Williwaw Creek on down. Dolly Varden are fair; use eggs or beads.
Area Summary: The last several days have seen a quick drop in catches of fresh late-run red and pink salmon as runs are maturing and fish starting to spawn, although a few nice specimens will be around for another couple of weeks yet. However, with the demise of these species the early runs of silver salmon are showing up and becoming more prevalent, with some very productive days reported from the southern and northern peninsula fisheries in particular. This is typically the time when the early silvers peak and are seeing signs of wittering, but it appears the local runs have been somewhat slow in building this year. Tidewaters are seeing good pulses of silvers and fishing looks to be staying worthwhile for at least another week to ten days. Although things have more or less wrapped up in Homer concerning roadside salmon fishing, Seward is just now starting to take shape as the silver runs to that location are noticeably improving. But aside from salmon, there are plentiful opportunities for landlocked salmon, trout, char, and grayling in many waters. Rainbows and Dollies are busy on the salmon spawning beds and a few of the alpine lakes are seeing quick and easy action for grayling too. Steelhead began entering streams already around the first of August this year and have steadily trickled in through the month; expect this species to offer decent fishing soon as runs build.
SEWARD/RESURRECTION BAY: The hatchery run of silver salmon are starting their return to Seward Lagoon with anglers scoring catches at the outfall of Scheffler Creek. The primary method has been snagging but tossing spinners are getting strikes as well. Success has been fair the last several days and expected to be better by this weekend and next week as numbers peak. If up to scouting other locations around the bay for silvers, stop by the mouth of Spring Creek off Nash Road, the Lowell Point area, and hiking in to the mouth of Tonsina Creek; try the incoming tides. In addition, pinks are still present but most are beyond tablefare with relatively few fresh specimens to be had. A few nice late-run reds are entering area waters, such as lower Resurrection River downstream of the road crossings, but may be intercepted most anywhere in the bay. Surf-casting for bottomfish is fair to good, with flounder, codfish, and greenling being the most common quarries; however, Pacific cod, various rockfish species, plus a few halibut remain available to anglers casting into deep waters off the rocks along Lowell Point Road.
QUARTZ, PTARMIGAN CREEKS: Dolly Varden and a few rainbows are hitting beads and flies in these tributaries of Kenai Lake. Although most red salmon have spawned and died in upper Quartz, prompting washed-out color beads and flesh flies to be the ticket, there are fish still spawning in the lower reaches. Over at Ptarmigan, the reds are just now reaching peak spawning activity with anglers doing well on beads. So, “match the hatch” accordingly for good and consistent char action. A few whitefish and an occasional grayling are also present.
UPPER KENAI RIVER: With late-run kings and reds actively spawning and dying, anglers are doing good on the rainbows and Dollies in the river. Standard tool is beads of various colors and sizes but flesh and forage flies as well as spinners work too. Expect the trout and char to be finicky at times with all the food in the water; mix it up and use other offerings besides beads if such. Fishing for silver salmon is picking up as fish bound for Russian River and tributaries of Kenai Lake are currently moving through, yielding fair to potentially good catches using flies and spinners. Focus on deep holes and mouth of sloughs with slower moving water; however, some anglers do great by sight-fishing to migrating fish in fast, shallow water. This coming weekend and the next ten days is typically the peak of the early run. A few fresh and semi-bright reds are being caught but most of the run is now in spawning condition. Some whitefish are being caught on beads. As a reminder, there are strict hook size restrictions in place so make sure hooks on lures and flies conform to regulation.
RUSSIAN RIVER: Anglers are landing some nice rainbows and Dollies along the river, mainly from the campground area downstream to and including the Kenai confluence. Catches are fair to very good depending on weather and water conditions. The late run of red salmon is beginning the spawning process; beads of correct size and color will keep anglers busy. As a reminder, the red salmon season closed on August 20. If targeting silvers, the limit is one fish and opportunities will be good (especially if sight-fishing) this weekend and next week as the run peaks. Use streamer flies in holes from the campground and down into the sanctuary area; hit the river at dawn for best success.
SWANSON RIVER: Anglers are finding decent groups of silver salmon arriving on the tides on the lower end of the river with eggs and spinners being the best option for success. Catches recent days has been generally good; run is peaking. Hiking upstream of the public access point to deep holes and pools will see far less people and fair to good action at dawn for silvers in addition to opportunity to catch rainbows and a few Dollies. The upper river, accessed by Swanson River Road in Sterling, is a better bet for trout but not many silvers in that area as of yet.
LOWER KENAI RIVER: The silver salmon fishing has improved over last week but still not up to par with what some anglers expect for this run at this time. Those targeting these fish at dawn using eggs and spinners are reporting fair success with some days being better with limits possible. Anglers swinging flies are also finding silvers among the sea of pinks with occasional limits landed in and around the Soldotna and Sterling area. Pinks are abundant upstream of tidewater and all the way to the outlet of Skilak Lake; however, much of this late run has matured with only a small number of chrome or semi-bright fish available. Expect fair action at best if wanting fresh pinks. Red salmon are continuing to enter the river on every tide, although most fish being seen now range in condition from crimson red to blush in color. Anglers willing to put in the time and effort flipping flies are achieving limits of bright and semi-bright fish. Rainbow trout and Dolly Varden are active throughout the river but the best bite is upstream of Bing’s Landing where anglers are scoring good to excellent results using beads and flesh and forage flies. Late-run kings and reds are spawning and dying; “match-the-hatch.”
ANCHOR, NINILCHIK RIVERS, DEEP CREEK: Silver salmon are arriving in good numbers on the tides and anglers are catching limits using eggs and spinners on the incoming and outgoing as well as at dawn in holes upstream. Run is peaking and this weekend should see the last really productive action before things start slowing down later next week. Pinks are plentiful throughout the lower river sections and continue to arrive; expect most fish to be blush to dark with a smaller number of fresh ones. Steelhead trout are trickling in on each tide and a few are being hooked on beads and flies in tidewater. Fishing for Dolly Varden is better higher up in the drainages and only poor to fair in lower reaches; use beads.
Area Summary: As the summer season wraps up and along with it the multiple runs of red, pink, and chum salmon, anglers are left with silvers, which are available in decent numbers throughout the area. The Knik Arm drainages are seeing some good action for this time of year and anglers in the Susitna and Chulitna systems are enjoying a prolonged season as well. In a typical year, the silver fishing drops off dramatically the last week of August but the somewhat delayed timing this year presents some very decent opportunities that should last for another week or so before tapering off. The late runs of red and chum salmon are largely completed, yet there are some nice fish continuing to show in waters of Knik Arm and up along the Susitna too. As for pinks, most area runs have finished spawning. If wanting a change of pace apart from salmon, area lakes and streams are very productive right now for landlocked salmon, trout, char, grayling, and pike and are likely to stay that way right through September. This part of the road system is great in late summer and fall as true solitude and fast action can be found.
COTTONWOOD CREEK: There is still small schools of silvers coming in on the tides here, enough to produce some decent opportunities using eggs and spinners in the tidal area and immediately upstream. However, this weekend is highly likely the last reasonable shot at this run before things slow down to a crawl, unless an extended late showing of silvers occur in similarity to other waters in the region. Rainbow trout are fairly abundant in upper reaches of the stream; use flies and spinners.
FISH CREEK: This stream has been one of the highlights of the roadside salmon opportunities in the area this season. After a blockbuster run of reds, silvers continue to show in numbers on the tides and a few anglers are managing limits on the incoming as well as in upstream holes at dawn. Eggs, spinners, and flies are all taking fish. A trickle of reds are moving through still. As a reminder, the lower stream is open to salmon fishing daily by emergency order (weekend-only by regulation). The upper stream is producing some fair to good fishing for rainbows and Dolly Varden.
LITTLE SUSITNA RIVER: The emergency orders banning bait and cutting the silver salmon bag limit in half have been rescinded, with anglers now allowed to use bait and the limit restored to 2 silvers. A good, late push of salmon is currently moving through the lower river and adding to the numbers already in the middle and upper sections. Anglers testing the waters at dawn are likely to connect with fish and limits are very possible at this time. To really explore this meandering river and all its opportunities, floating from the put-in point in Houston down to the take-out location off Knik-Goose Bay Road is worth it and covers a huge swath of great silver holes. Condition of fish range from chrome to near spawning, with the lower river seeing the brighter specimens. Most pinks and chums are in spawning condition or have died off but a few fresh and semi-bright chums are still around. Some trout and grayling are being caught.
WILLOW, SHEEP, MONTANA CREEKS: Silver salmon are well distributed throughout these streams with most fish situated in the middle sections around the road crossings and down to near the mouths. Walking in at dawn to one or more holes is the best way to succeed in getting limits of fish. Most silvers being caught are semi-bright to very light blush, although chrome silvers are common too, especially down low in the drainages at the Susitna confluences. The best spot for silvers on Montana Creek is still at the mouth but decent catches may be had in holes immediately upstream at first light. When water conditions cooperate, the trout and grayling action is good to excellent in the middle and upper reaches of these waters. Fresh and semi-bright chums are reported from the mouth of Montana and are typically available in small numbers into September; most of the fish, however, are spawning and dying off. Pinks are done for the year in these drainages, although some fish are spawning still. Burbot fishing is good at Sheep and Montana using bait in slackwater areas right above and below the mouths.
RABIDEUX, SUNSHINE CREEKS: A variety of species present but silvers are most prominent. Catches are best at dawn on Sunshine, at the mouth, but can be productive all day at Rabideux from the Susitna confluence upstream to the highway crossing. Use eggs and spinners. A few reds and chums still moving through, especially at Sunshine; most are in spawning shape but a few decent specimens are possible. Burbot fishing is generally good at the mouths and just downstream with Rabideux supporting a larger population. For trout and grayling, the middle reaches of Rabideux is worth a try; expect fair success.
CHULITNA RIVER: Silver salmon may be caught at the mouths of several tributaries of the Chulitna but only Byers has a sizable population, where action is fair to good at this time; expect condition of fish to be semi-bright to light blush. The mouth of Troublesome can be productive as well for silvers. The red and chum salmon runs to this area are dwindling but a few decent colored specimens will be around for another week to ten days, particularly at Byers. For rainbows and/or grayling, seek out the Middle and East forks Chulitna, Honolulu, and Byers.
COPPER VALLEY-VALDEZ ARM
Area Summary: Autumn fishing conditions are already taking hold on this area, especially in the highlands around Copper River. Waters are cooling down quickly and anglers are doing well on a variety of game fish, including stocked landlocked salmon, trout, and grayling in smaller lakes and ponds plus wild populations of rainbows, lake trout, and grayling in the larger lakes. All of these species are very active at this time, producing good to excellent action that will likely last well through September and even later in some locations. Salmon anglers are not as fortunate this season as an emergency order closed down all of the upper Copper River drainage to fishing for reds due to weak returns earlier in the season and a projected similar situation for late-run fish that are now showing up in a handful of waters. That leaves the area’s silver salmon runs as the only other option, of which there are relatively very few and generally not of any size. Most notably the Tonsina River and the Chitina River drainage produce small runs of silvers but some fish also spawn in other waters, including the Klutina. However, if seeking fast action and chrome fish, head on down to Valdez where the silver run is booming off area beaches and certainly the hot spot right now and for the next couple of weeks.
GULKANA RIVER: A decent push of late-run red salmon is currently making it up the river and kings are spawning and dying off as well, spurring a good bead bite for rainbows in the canyon area and grayling are very abundant upstream to and including the outlet at Paxson Lake–expect outstanding fishing. A few steelhead should be present in the lower and middle river sections. As a reminder, the river is closed to fishing for reds by emergency order for the rest of the year.
KLUTINA RIVER: The only game in this popular location are Dolly Varden at this time, and the far upper end of the river and the outlet of Klutina Lake being the hot spot. Anglers are landing decent-sized char using a variety of enticements, including beads, corkies, and other attractors. Salmon are currently spawning in this area so anything to resemble eggs would work. As a reminder, the king season closed on August 11 and the reds are closed by emergency order for the rest of the year.
TONSINA RIVER: One of the least recognized salmon waters in the area, this river is currently supporting a small run of silvers which can be targeted in slower holes and pools away from the fast, main current; the mouth of Little Tonsina River is seeing fish arriving and can be enticed on eggs, spinners, and flies. Condition of fish are semi-bright to light blush. A late run of reds is also present but these fish are protected by an emergency order through the remainder of the year. Dolly Varden and grayling are available in Little Tonsina with fair to good success.
PORT VALDEZ: With the main component of the silver run reportedly still outside the port, anglers here may be in for a banner season this year as the fishing off the rocks around Allison Point and along the shoreline to the fish hatchery is already good to excellent with many limits (plus proxy) being taken the last several days. The silvers are striking a variety of hardware such as spinners and spoons with some days one is producing better than the other; incoming and outgoing tides are best but enough fish are present that even low tides are doing well. Condition of the salmon are generally chrome. A good number of fish are also being taken around the harbor, the surrounding beaches, and off the city dock; bait is a perfection option in this area in addition to lures. Pinks are relatively abundant still but starting the mass die-off; a few bright specimens are being caught incidentally. The late run of chums is present, chiefly around the boat harbor and at the mouth of stream immediately west of Allison Point. Most are blush to dark but a number of dime bright chums are available.
Updated Thursday, August 20, 2020
CURRENT HOT SPOTS: ANCHOR SILVERS; KENAI PINKS, RAINBOWS; SUSITNA SILVERS, RAINBOWS, GRAYLING; PORTAGE SILVERS; FISH SILVERS; KLUTINA DOLLIES; WASILLA SILVERS; GULKANA RAINBOWS, GRAYLING; LITTLE SUSITNA SILVERS; SWANSON SILVERS; COTTONWOOD SILVERS; VALDEZ SILVERS
Weekly Summary: With many mid-summer salmon runs winding down for the year, there is some really great action to be had yet, primarily for silvers as well trout, char, and grayling. The weather has generally cooperated with a fair amount of sun and the occasional bout of rain but all in all August has been very decent in terms of water conditions favorable to anglers and fish alike, something that can not be said too often as this month can be notorious for persistent precipitation. And with cooling temperatures, anglers can also expect the lake fisheries to turn on in a big way, adding considerably to the myriad of stream fishing opportunities already available. From now on and into September, all of the Southcentral region will be the ultimate playground for sport fishers.
ANCHORAGE AREA-TURNAGAIN ARM
Area Summary: Without a doubt, the emergency order doubling the bag limit for silvers on Ship Creek has drawn a lot of attention the last couple of days as anglers gather to take part in the feast. Yet there are also a good number of people that would rather focus on the less popular fisheries down along Turnagain Arm where late summer runs of salmon are currently arriving, albeit there may not be as many fish present but fewer anglers make this a very attractive option to the urban stream in downtown Anchorage. Additionally, all of those lakes around the city are beginning to cool, thus promoting landlocked salmon, trout, char, and grayling to hit lures, flies, and bait with more vigor.
SHIP CREEK: As enough silvers have made it past the intense fishery on the lower end of the stream to satisfy egg take and securing future generations of salmon, anglers have been awarded increased opportunity to harvest these fish. With the bag limit being six silvers, angling pressure is now quite high, especially on the tides. Limits are possible for those with enough time, skill, and luck, yet the actual numbers of silvers present may be lower than some expect as the run will begin slowing down, thus the action is only fair. Use eggs and spinners on the incoming and outgoing tides in order to maximize chances. There are still pinks and a few chums cruising the stream, although the vast majority of these fish are in the process of spawning and dying.
PORTAGE CREEK: The tides are bringing in schools of chrome silver salmon with success ranging from fair to good or better using eggs fished stationary on the bottom anywhere from tidewater on up several miles. Spinners may also work. For those seeking an adventure, now is a good time to explore more remote spots of the stream by hiking in from Portage Glacier Road or launching a raft or kayak near Portage Lake and hit the numerous still-water areas for relatively quick action away from the crowds. Chums along with a few reds are also available, primarily in the middle and upper stream sections; condition of fish varies from chrome to spawning with most being blush.
INGRAM CREEK: Fishing for silvers in this small clearwater stream can be spotty but at times quite good. Hit the tidewater section from just upstream of the highway crossing down to the flats at Turnagain Arm. Both eggs and spinners work.
Area Summary: Silver salmon are showing up and peaking in many drainages in this area, with the southern peninsula streams and those waters flowing through the northern areas doing best at this time. Although the Kenai and Kasilof rivers have yet to experience a big push of silvers, it is hopefully only a matter of time before things really get going there. In addition, the late run of pinks into the Kenai River has gathered attention with their huge numbers as well as good size of the fish, and there are still a number of reds entering the lower river too. The summer runs of salmon are starting to spawn and die off, cranking up a productive bite for resident species like rainbows and Dollies. Lowland lakes and ponds are cooling down and will shortly join the waters at higher altitudes in providing fast action for landlocked salmon, trout, char, and grayling. The marine waters around the peninsula are producing some surf-casting opportunities for bottomfish as well as salmon but should start slowing down shortly as autumn approaches.
RESURRECTION, SIXMILE CREEKS: This weekend and next week will likely be the peak of the silver salmon runs to these two Turnagain drainages. On Resurrection, try the incoming tides using spinners or eggs, or scout deep holes at dawn in upstream areas. There are vast numbers of pinks and some chums still around but they are in the process of spawning and dying off; a few bright specimens may be caught but for all practical purposes, these runs have ended concerning quality of fish present. On Sixmile, focus on the stretch of water from Canyon Creek confluence down to tidewater for silvers. Eggs and spinners are top enticements. Also here, the pink and chum runs are ending for the year but an occasional fresh specimen may be caught.
SEWARD/RESURRECTION BAY: As the season winds down for most salmon species around here, silvers are just now arriving in sufficient numbers to target them from shore. Expect fair fishing this weekend with possibly good catches mid next week using spinners from the beaches around Lowell Point and off the mouths of Spring and Tonsina creeks. Spinners is the top choice but fish can also be caught on herring. The mouth of Scheffler Creek in downtown near the harbor is seeing a few fish too and can effectively be taken using snag hooks. Pinks are plentiful in spots, with some bright and semi-bright fish present at Spring and Tonsina as well as the west channel of Resurrection River. An occasional fresh or semi-bright red and chum may be encountered in the bay. Surf-casters targeting bottomfish are experiencing good action using herring and small jigs; halibut, rockfish, and Pacific cod are often taken in the deep water along Lowell Point Road.
QUARTZ, PTARMIGAN CREEKS: Nice Dolly Varden and a few rainbows are being taken in these waters as they are keyed in on feeding on salmon eggs; try beads wherever spawning reds are present. Quartz has been productive most of the month but will start slowing shortly; Ptarmigan, however, generally stays good to the second week of September as reds spawn later here. The outlet of Ptarmigan Lake offers good fishing for Dollies.
UPPER KENAI RIVER: As kings and reds are spawning and dying off, the action for rainbow trout and Dolly Varden has been good using beads but flesh and forage flies are also taking fish. If one previously productive bead color and fly pattern stops getting hits, change it up. A number of whitefish are being caught, primarily on beads and small corkies. If targeting salmon, a few fresh and semi-bright late-run reds are available but the majority of these fish are in or entering spawning mode; be aware of areas on the upper river near Russian River that closes to red fishing on August 21. Silvers are arriving in increasing numbers and may now be targeted effectively in sloughs or sight-fishing for them in faster, shallower waters near shore; streamers are popular. A few blush and dark pinks are present.
RUSSIAN RIVER: With the red salmon season closed for the year starting on August 21, anglers here are now focused on going after rainbows, Dollies, and silvers. Fishing for trout and char is relatively good from the campground downstream into the sanctuary area using beads and small flesh and forage flies; reds will commence spawning shortly–match the hatch. As for the silvers, the mouth of the river is the best but a few of the deeper holes on the lower river are likely to hold fish too, especially at dawn. Use streamers or yarn flies.
SWANSON RIVER: Anglers fishing the incoming tides or upstream holes at dawn are catching a decent number of silvers on eggs and spinners. The run is peaking and likely to stay productive through the month and even into the first part of September; expect good or better success. If fishing the middle or upper river, rainbow trout are providing good sport on flies and small spinners.
LOWER KENAI RIVER: The fishing for red salmon has dropped off but anglers are still managing a few nice specimens. Most of the run has gone into the middle section of river but fresh and semi-bright catches are possible around Soldotna with limits taken by those persistent enough. But for truly fast action, hit the lower end of the river between Sterling and tidewater where a large number of late-run pinks are advancing upstream. Excellent catches are the norm; expect to release a lot of blush fish if targeting chrome specimens. As for silver salmon, the run is building with fair to decent opportunities using eggs in slack-water locations at dawn; spinners may be good also but will attract a lot of pinks as well.
ANCHOR, NINILCHIK RIVERS, DEEP CREEK: Silver salmon are entering these streams in fair numbers but the action can be good at dawn using eggs and spinners in deep holes in and near tidewater. This weekend and next week should see these runs peak. Pinks are abundant but many fish are turning color; some bright and semi-bright salmon may be caught on the tides. Fishing for Dolly Varden is good in the upper reaches where kings are spawning and dying off. A small number of steelhead trout are entering on the tides and may be encountered throughout the lower and middle reaches.
HOMER/KACHEMAK BAY: Surf-casters are taking a few silvers and pinks on spinners off the spit but these runs are likely to dissipate for the season after this coming week. The return of early-run silvers to the lagoon is almost done but a few bright and semi-bright fish remain; use eggs on the incoming and outgoing tide. The best action in this area is for bottomfish, with herring and small jigs being effective on flounders, codfish, and sculpins. A few halibut and skate may be landed using proper gear.
Area Summary: This area is seeing peak catches of silver salmon and this weekend and early next week should be the last really productive time to target them before the runs drop off as fish disperse to spawning areas in the upper reaches of various rivers and streams. However, there are still plenty of fresh and semi-bright fish around in addition to a smattering of reds, pinks, and chums. The trout and grayling action continues to be highly active with superb catches in many tributaries of the Susitna River as well as the Chulitna drainage and in area lakes and ponds where landlocked salmon, pike, and char may be taken too. For a change of pace, targeting burbot is good in many still or slow-flowing spots along the Susitna.
WASILLA CREEK: This weekend-only fishery is seeing fair to good opportunities for silvers, especially at dawn on opening day. The lower access point at Rabbit Slough on up a few miles is the prime area right now where the bulk of the run is situated. Scout deep holes and runs using eggs and spinners. A few fish may be found as far upstream as the railroad trestle bright near the Parks Highway crossing. A few blush and spawning reds, pinks, and chums are present.
COTTONWOOD CREEK: Another weekend-only fishery, open to salmon fishing in its lower reaches in and around tidewater. Silvers are being caught in decent numbers with eggs and spinners responsible for most activity. This is likely the peak weekend for this run but can be productive through the month and even into early September some years. Try the incoming and high tide and follow the tide upstream to the legal limits of salmon fishing. The red salmon run has finished but an occasional straggler is possible. Fishing for rainbows is good in upper reaches.
FISH CREEK: Open to fishing daily, anglers here are catching fair to good numbers of silver salmon, primarily in deep holes at dawn and on the incoming tide. This run is continuing its peak and should stay productive this weekend and into next week before slowing down. A few fresh and semi-bright red salmon continue to enter the drainage, although this run is almost done for the year; try flies in faster water upstream of the tidal area. Spawning pinks are present.
LITTLE SUSITNA RIVER: Anglers hitting the water at dawn using spinners are finding good success on silvers. The main component of the run is currently situated around the lower access point and halfway up the river towards Houston. Now is a great time to do a float trip starting at the Parks Highway access point, hitting many miles of prime water. As a reminder, the bag limit for silvers is one fish and the use of bait is prohibited through September 30 by emergency order. Water conditions are very good, relatively low and clear. The chum salmon run is almost over as most fish are on the spawning beds on the middle and upper river; a few chrome to semi-bright specimens are still being caught in the lower river. Pinks are spawning and dying off. Anglers report catching a few rainbows and Dolly Varden along with an occasional whitefish.
WILLOW CREEK: The mouth and lower end of the stream is still the hot spot for silvers and there are still a few bright and semi-bright chums around; expect fair to good action using eggs. Most pinks and chums have moved upstream. Some catches of whitefish reported. The slower water below the main stream mouth holds burbot; use herring on bottom. Upstream around the highway crossing and the middle stream, pinks and chums are spawning and dying off but some nice silvers can be caught on flies and spinners; sight-fishing can be very effective in certain spots. A few large Dolly Varden may be present. For rainbows and grayling, try beads in section of water above the Deception Creek confluence; good to excellent action possible.
LITTLE WILLOW CREEK: Mainly pinks and chums going through last stages of life cycle; anglers targeting silvers are doing fair to good on eggs in deep holes at dawn. Rainbows and grayling are hitting beads and spinners from highway crossing on upstream with very good opportunities at hand; large trout have been taken recently. Whitefish are falling for beads and eggs.
SHEEP CREEK: The slough area at the Susitna confluence is producing fair to good catches of silver salmon on eggs and spinners, especially at dawn. A small number of decent chums are still present; pinks are done. Burbot may be taken on fish bait sitting on the bottom. Higher up in the drainage, around the road crossing, the most productive time for silvers is in the early morning using eggs, but a few fish may be caught throughout the day. An occasional semi-bright chums present, although most fish in addition to pinks are spawning and dying off. Anglers do best targeting rainbows and grayling on beads and spinners with good to excellent success possible.
MONTANA CREEK: The best area to catch salmon in this clearwater stream is at the mouth where fish congregate in large numbers prior to heading upstream. Anglers are catching a decent number of fresh and semi-bright silvers in early morning and evening using eggs, spinners, and spoons; expect fair to good success. There are still a few fresh chums available, but most of these fish and the pinks are dying off. A few Dolly Varden are also being caught. Burbot may be landed in slower water sections just upstream and downstream of the mouth. Sight-fishing for salmon can be great in the stretch of water between the mouth and the highway bridge. For rainbow trout and grayling, good to excellent action is common in the upper stream; use beads and spinners.
RABIDEUX, SUNSHINE, CASWELL CREEKS: The mouths of these streams are producing fair to good silver salmon fishing right now. Use eggs or spinners and be prepared to be on the water at dawn. For burbot, soak fish bait on the bottom. A few fresh and semi-bright reds and chums are present; the pink run is done for the year.
CHULITNA RIVER: The top salmon locales for the weekend are the mouths of Troublesome and Byers creeks, where silvers are stacking up along with the last of the red and chum runs. Expect silvers to be bright to blush in color with most being semi-bright; use eggs, spinners, and flies. For trout and grayling, Byers, Honolulu, East Fork Chulitna, and Middle Fork Chulitna are the top bets. Flies, beads, and spinners are the general rule for these species.
COPPER VALLEY-VALDEZ ARM
Area Summary: With king and red salmon fishing closed in the upper Copper River drainage, salmon anglers are now starting to see a few silvers appearing. Although they may be caught in several streams in the area, including Klutina and tributaries of the Chitina River, only the Tonsina has the most consistent roadside fishery for them. But for fast, solid action, anglers are opt to target resident species instead, with trout and grayling being very active in local waters at this time. Additionally, anglers focused on lakes are seeing good or better fishing for landlocked salmon, rainbows, char, grayling, whitefish, and burbot. To the south, in Valdez, silvers are making a decent early showing and fishing for them should only get better during the course of the next ten days.
GULKANA RIVER: While closed to red salmon fishing by emergency order, late-run fish are making their way upstream in decent numbers and thus providing a focal point for anglers going after egg-hungry rainbows and grayling. Try the canyon area for a good shot at rainbows using beads, while the grayling are more abundant in the upper river to and including the Paxson Lake outlet and succumbing to spinners and flies. The lake outlet is not only an exceptional spot for world-class grayling but a really good place to catch lake trout.
KLUTINA RIVER: With kings and reds spawning in the upper section of the river, anglers making it up that far and the outlet of Klutina Lake are finding good fishing for Dolly Varden. Beads, spinners, and corkies are taking nice char weighing up to several pounds. As a reminder, the king season closed on August 11 and the reds are closed by emergency order for the rest of the year.
TONSINA RIVER: Silver salmon are trickling into this glacial drainage with the best opportunity for the species at this time being the mouth of Little Tonsina River. Expect fair action at best for semi-bright fish; use spinners, eggs, and flies. The Little Tonsina is also a good spot to catch Dolly Varden and grayling. As a reminder, the king season closed on August 11 and the reds are closed by emergency order for the rest of the year.
PORT VALDEZ: The silvers are arriving at various locations around the port with anglers casting off Allison Point and the rocky shoreline between the point and the fish hatchery coming up with good catches of fish. Limits are possible putting time in at the right spot with the incoming and outgoing tides best using spinners. Look for this fishery to peak starting next week and through the Labor Day weekend as the bulk of the run is still situated outside of Valdez Arm in the sound. The late run of chums is present in and around the boat harbor; bright and semi-bright specimens possible, snagging is most efficient harvest method. Very large numbers of pink salmon persist, especially near the fish hatchery and Allison Point, but most are in spawning condition or dying off; however, it is still possible to catch chrome pinks with considerable effort if targeted but most are caught incidentally to fishing for silvers.
Updated Thursday, August 13, 2020
CURRENT HOT SPOTS: KENAI REDS, PINKS, RAINBOWS; SHIP SILVERS; RUSSIAN REDS; FISH SILVERS; SUSITNA SILVERS, RAINBOWS; WASILLA SILVERS; KLUTINA DOLLIES; LITTLE SUSITNA SILVERS; GULKANA GRAYLING; COTTONWOOD SILVERS
Weekly Summary: As the intense summer season in Southcentral draws nearer to completion and along with it most runs of red, pink, and chum salmon, anglers are still able to effectively target silvers and a few later runs of pinks and chums. And, of course, the action for trout, char, and grayling is good to fantastic in many roadside waters as these fish begin their annual rite of binge eating salmon eggs and flesh, much to the enjoyment of those on the Kenai Peninsula and in the Susitna and Copper valleys. While lake fishing has been productive all season, the cooler late summer and early fall days will spark an even more active bite as water temperatures drop and fish pull into the shallows to feed. Overall, the next two weeks leading up to Labor Day weekend and the official end of summer and the arrival of autumn, anglers will see some awesome opportunities, perhaps even the most memorable trip of the entire season.
ANCHORAGE AREA-TURNAGAIN ARM
Area Summary: With mid-August rapidly progressing and eventually waning, so are the early runs of hatchery silvers as well as the demise of a great many runs of pinks and chums in this area. However, there is plenty of productive fishing to be had for late-arriving natural silver runs that are just now entering their peak period of abundance, most notably in drainages of Turnagain Arm. As these late runs migrate through the arm on their way to the final destination, schools of fish may be encountered at high tide in most any stream from now on and through September and even later. Additionally, angling for trout and char in the upper portions of Campbell and Chester creeks within city limits will be very decent using beads and egg-imitation flies as salmon spawn and die off. In fact, Campbell Creek is a sleeper fishery as silvers gather en masse in Campbell Lake, waiting for late season rains to raise water levels to proceed upstream. Anglers in position when this happens may experience great action. Until that time, our city lakes and ponds will continue to provide great sport in early mornings and late evenings for a variety of game species, including landlocked king and silver salmon, rainbow trout, Arctic char, and Arctic grayling.
SHIP CREEK: Anglers tossing clusters of roe and spinners are finding fair to good silver action on the incoming and outgoing tides, something that is likely to hold for another week or so. Some fish are also being picked up in deeper spots on low tide. While many fish being landed are nice and chrome, there is an increasingly larger percentage of the run starting to turn. Pinks are relatively abundant still but very few of them in fresh condition at this stage in the run; expect poor fishing for bright and semi-bright specimens. A few big chums are present.
BIRD CREEK: The hatchery run of silvers here is slowing down but are being replaced by the natural run coming in, which, historically, peaks during the third week of this month. Although these fish may not be as numerous as in the summer run, nonetheless anglers may experience some very good fishing on some tides using eggs and spinners. Fishing on low tides, however, is slow. Some pinks and chums remain yet the majority of these fish are in spawning or post-spawning condition with only a few fresh specimens available. Dolly Varden fishing is fair in Penguin Creek, a tributary of Bird.
PORTAGE CREEK: The silver salmon run here is looking quite good with some anglers walking out with limits of chrome fish. The tidal area and immediately upstream are seeing the best catches. Best way to catch them is soaking eggs on the bottom waiting for a bite but a few silvers are also being enticed by fluorescent spinners. Expect action to hold through the month and well into September, particularly in the middle and upper portion of the creek. There is also a decent number of bright and semi-bright chums moving through with most fish present in the middle reaches of the stream; try fluorescent attractors baited with eggs. Pinks may be encountered. A few nice reds have been caught at the mouths of clearwater tributaries but most fish are blushing or turning dark. Dolly Varden opportunities are fair.
INGRAM CREEK: For the next two weeks, anglers may find fair to good fishing for silvers in the tidewater holes around the highway crossing; any stage of the tide produce catches. Eggs, spinners, and flies all yield fish. There are still fair numbers of spawning and dying pinks present along with a few old chums.
Area Summary: The news in this area is that the silvers are finally making a worthwhile showing in many rivers and streams. From the northern shores abutting Turnagain Arm down through the Kenai River drainage and the southern peninsula streams, anglers are catching fish, albeit not in large numbers yet. But there are definitely enough fish around to make for a productive outing, especially if targeting the tides or the dawn hours using lures and bait. It is also worthwhile to mention here that decent numbers of late-run red salmon are still moving up the lower Kenai River and to a lesser degree the Kasilof as well. The Russian is producing mediocre catches of reds too. Pink salmon are available in most any coastal stream but are most prevalent in the Kenai River at this time of the month. Adding to the excitement of late summer angling is the early appearance of steelhead trout in the Ninilchik, Deep, and Anchor, and several of these fish have been caught this week. Resident species, such as rainbows and Dollies, are becoming increasingly active, in particular in salmon spawning tributaries of the Kenai. Area lakes are seeing good success for both stocked and natural populations of landlocked salmon, trout, char, and grayling.
RESURRECTION, SIXMILE CREEKS: These two streams in or near Hope are experiencing fair to good action for fresh silver salmon, something that should hold fast for another ten days or so. In Resurrection, focus effort on incoming and outgoing tides using eggs and spinners but upstream areas may produce some noteworthy catches too. Pinks are very abundant but currently in the process of spawning and dying with only a few fresh specimens in the mix. A few bright and semi-bright chums have been showing up but most are dark. At glacial Sixmile, eggs and spinners also produce success for anglers targeting silvers with opportunities occurring in deeper holes and pools throughout the day. Pinks and chums are present but fishing for them is poor due to advanced stage of maturity of these fish.
SEWARD/RESURRECTION BAY: There is a variety of opportunities around here but no great fishing to be had for any particular species, except for bottomfish, which are responsible for good catches using bait and small jigs. Flounder, codfish, and greenling are relatively abundant with the chance of hooking a few halibut and rockfish from shore as well. Pink salmon are pervasive throughout the bay and present at the mouths of most drainages flowing into the briny, with anglers catching a fair number of chrome or lightly blushed specimens among throngs of older fish; Spring and Tonsina creeks are known for producing fresh pinks through August. In addition, some nice pinks are available in waters of the Resurrection River drainage downstream of the Seward Highway crossings. A few semi-bright chums are being caught at the mouth of Tonsina. Although most red runs in the area are finished for the year, a few late-run fish may be caught still from now and well into September. The silvers have been rather shy thus far but a few are showing up in front of town and at the mouths of area streams; expect poor fishing.
QUARTZ, PTARMIGAN CREEKS: Casting beads on these tributaries of Kenai Lake can be rewarding right now for Dolly Varden. Red salmon are actively spawning and dying on Quartz and the run is just getting started on Ptarmigan; match the hatch. Expect fair to very good fishing with the best action occurring in stretches of water away from the main road access points. A lesser number of rainbows and an occasional grayling are present. The outlet of Ptarmigan Lake offers good char fishing too.
UPPER KENAI RIVER: Fishing for rainbow trout and Dolly Varden is good and gradually getting even better as salmon begin to spawn and die off; match the hatch of both kings and reds currently present. Shortly and through the rest of the month and next should provide peak opportunities. Salmon anglers are seeing a few silvers appearing now but fishing for them is still slow, though should pick up noticeably into next week. Late-run reds are abundant, yet the action only fair at best as these fish are turning color quickly with relatively few bright and semi-bright specimens left; the stretch of water downstream of the Russian confluence is best. A few blush pinks are present.
RUSSIAN RIVER: Late-run red salmon are steadily arriving, yielding fair to good catches in the lower end and mouth of river. Best fishing is at dawn in-stream, but can be productive all day in the sanctuary. Anglers skilled at sight-fishing will possibly limit out quickly; bright and semi-bright fish are present in fair numbers but majority of run is starting to color up. As a reminder, the red salmon season ends on August 20. A few silvers have been caught and the fishing for this species will continue to improve over the next ten days as the run builds. Action for rainbows and Dollies is quite good, especially in early morning and late evening. Use beads or egg imitation flies in stretch of water from campground down through the sanctuary.
LOWER KENAI RIVER: The late run of red salmon is winding down but there may still be a few days of good fishing left depending on numbers of fish entering the river. Also, an increasingly larger percentage of fish caught are semi-bright or blush with fewer chrome specimens showing up, a good indicator that the run will be ending soon; expect this to be the last weekend for quality catches. Limits are possible in the right spot at the right time. Silvers are becoming a more common sight on stringers as the run builds and with bait being allowed again on August 16, anglers should not have much problems connecting with fish. Drifting eggs at dawn is tops but spinners can be deadly too. The late run of pink salmon is arriving with excellent action in tidewater and right above as the run slowly advances upstream; opportunities around Soldotna and Sterling are still only fair to good at best. Plenty of chrome and semi-bright fish are available and being caught on spinners, spoons, and plugs. Focus on slower-moving water for best catches. Trout and char fishing is good throughout the river from Soldotna upstream to the outlet of Skilak Lake with peak numbers being caught in stretches above Bing’s Landing; use beads and egg imitation flies.
ANCHOR, NINILCHIK RIVERS, DEEP CREEK: Good action for Dolly Varden can be found in the upper sections of these waters where kings are currently spawning and dying off, with opportunities being only slow to fair in the lower parts and near tidewater. Beads are perfect but spinners and forage flies also work. The silvers are arriving and anglers are doing fair to good as the runs continue to build. Floating eggs at dawn or on the incoming tides is best. Pinks are abundant in the lower stream sections with fair catches of bright and semi-bright fish possible. Steelhead trout started showing up around the first of the month and have been slowly building in numbers; still, expect slow fishing for another two weeks at least.
HOMER/KACHEMAK BAY: Surf-casting for bottomfish is productive, with flounder, codfish, and sculpins making out the majority of the catch. Best spot is at the end of the spit by Coal Point; expect this fishery to slowly subside over the next few weeks. Silvers and pinks are being caught in small numbers off the beaches along the spit using spoons and spinners. Some silvers are still available in the lagoon on the spit but this run is winding down for the season; try eggs on the incoming and outgoing tides. Expect a mixed catch of chrome and blush to dark fish.
Area Summary: Silver salmon are showing in all popular streams in this area, from the tidewater of Knik Arm to the upper drainages of the Susitna. While these runs are not particularly strong at this time, there are plenty of opportunities at hand that may yield fair to good or even excellent action. Other salmon species can be much more abundant but are quickly turning dark and starting to spawn and die off as the end of their life cycle approaches; this, however, prompts excellent angling for resident species such as trout, char, and grayling that are actively feeding on salmon eggs and byproducts. Stocked lakes are also producing nice catches of fish, in particular for landlocked salmon, trout, char, and grayling. This weekend and next week should see some great opportunities in most waters for those willing to move around and explore the vastness of this region.
WASILLA, COTTONWOOD CREEKS: Weekend fisheries, this opener starting on Saturday morning should see some good action for silvers and possible limits using eggs and spinners as numbers of fish have been building throughout the week. Focus effort in or near tidewater. There may be a few reds still roaming around (in addition to chums in Wasilla) but these runs are coming to an end. The upper reaches of Cottonwood also has some decent rainbow trout fishing using small flies.
FISH CREEK: Open daily to fishing by emergency order, anglers here are doing fair to good on silvers depending on the tide. Drifting eggs has been best but anglers above tidewater are also connecting using flies. To be successful, try in deep holes at dawn or the incoming tide. The red run has subsided considerably since last week but there are still a number of fish coming, providing some opportunity for anglers casting flies in sections of water near the road crossing.
LITTLE SUSITNA RIVER: With a new emergency order allowing only one silver salmon as a daily bag limit, anglers here are not finding great difficulty hooking up with fish. Although the run is small this year, scouting the lower section of river around the road access point will likely result in success. A fair number of pinks and chums are present but only a few fish are table fare quality with most being blush or in spawning phase. The upper river, around Houston, is seeing mainly chums and pinks along with a few silvers. The better silver action in this location will occur later on in the month and early September.
WILLOW, LITTLE WILLOW, SHEEP, MONTANA CREEKS: The silver salmon fishing here is peaking and should stay productive for the next ten days or so. Best success has been at the mouths of these waters, especially at dawn using eggs and spinners, but decent catches may be enjoyed throughout the day as fish filter in continuously from the glacial Susitna. Expect fair to good catches. The middle reaches, around the highway crossings, are seeing silvers move through as well; target them at first light using egg (wherever legal, check regulations) or spinners. Sight-fishing can be highly effective on the Willow and Montana. The pink and chum salmon runs are still very active in the area but the majority of fish are turning and starting to spawn with relatively few bright or semi-bright specimens left; however, fresh cums typically are present in small numbers into September at the stream mouths. The hottest fishing is not for salmon but rainbows, which are providing good to excellent catches in the middle and upper reaches of these streams. Beads are highly effective around spawning salmon, as are spinners and forage flies. Burbot are hitting bait at the Susitna confluences.
CASWELL, GOOSE, SUNSHINE, RABIDEUX CREEKS: Anglers taking aim here at dawn are finding quite good fishing for silver salmon in the confluence areas of the Susitna. Use eggs and spinners. Schools of pinks and chums in addition to a few reds are still moving through but these runs are slowing down as fish are entering spawning mode, yet a few decent quality fish may still be available. Fishing for burbot can be worthwhile in all of these locations using bait. The upper sections of Goose and Rabideux may also hold fair opportunities for rainbows and grayling.
CHULITNA RIVER: Salmon are making inroads to the clearwater tributaries of this glacial drainage, with the mouth of Troublesome and the lower section of Byers being particularly promising as runs of both red and silver salmon are available and success ranging from fair to good. While most of the reds are starting to turn, there are some semi-bright fish showing up still; use flies. As for the silvers, numbers of fish are increasing daily and should peak in another ten days. Spinners and flies are both good, as is roe. Rainbow trout and grayling yield good action on the Middle and East forks of the Chulitna as well as Byers.
COPPER VALLEY-VALDEZ ARM
Area Summary: Anglers around here are mainly focused on resident species as the king salmon season has ended, the red salmon fisheries closed by emergency order, and the silver runs have yet to start in earnest. Lake and stream fishing opportunities are plentiful with many of the smaller waters providing good to excellent action this time of year for a variety of species, including landlocked salmon, trout, and grayling. The larger lakes of the area, such as Louise, Paxson, and Summit, also produce similar success with lake trout and grayling leading the way. Being highland drainages, these waters cool down faster in late summer and thus yield such quality sport fishing. To the south, Valdez is also seeing a brief interlude as the immense run of pinks is winding down for the season and the silvers are still about ten days away.
GULKANA RIVER: The middle and upper section of water between the rapids and outlet of Paxson Lake is offering some outstanding action for grayling and some rainbows are being caught as well. Expect the potential of landing trophy sailfins in excess of 20 inches. The outlet of the lake also sports an incredible grayling fishery with a few lake trout in the mix. As a reminder, fishing for kings and reds is closed on the Gulkana for the remainder of the season.
KLUTINA, TONSINA RIVERS: These drainages do support some decent fishing for resident species apart from salmon. Fishing for Dolly Varden is good on the upper Klutina by the lake outlet, and the Tonsina supports Dolly Varden in addition to grayling at the mouths of streams draining into the river, such as the Little Tonsina. Expect silvers to begin arriving sometime late next week.
PORT VALDEZ: Angling opportunities around this port is quite low right now, with the exception of clearwater streams flowing into the Lowe River where Dolly Varden fishing is good using beads and bait (where legal, check regulations) with masses of primarily pink salmon spawning; Robe River is a productive spot. While dense concentrations of pinks can be found in many places around Valdez, the majority of fish are in or near spawning condition and not very attractive as food item at this time; however, there are small numbers of chrome and semi-bright salmon available still and they may be caught by filtering through older fish. By emergency order, the limit for pinks has doubled to 12 per day for the remainder of the year. Snaggers are targeting the late run of chums in and around the boat harbor. Very few silvers are being landed from shore but this should change starting late next week as the run advances. Casting for bottomfish is fair from the city dock.
Updated Thursday, August 6, 2020
CURRENT HOT SPOTS: KENAI REDS, PINKS, RAINBOWS; SHIP SILVERS, PINKS; FISH REDS, SILVERS; TONSINA KINGS; SUSITNA SILVERS, CHUMS, RAINBOWS; RUSSIAN REDS; KLUTINA KINGS, DOLLIES; LITTLE SUSITNA SILVERS, CHUMS; GULKANA GRAYLING
Weekly Summary: The late summer streak of great angling opportunities continues as all areas of Southcentral Alaska are reporting quick and easy action for all salmon species, trout, char, grayling, and a myriad of saltwater fish in multiple of locations. On the Kenai Peninsula, late-run reds and pinks along with early-run silvers, rainbows, and Dollies are keeping anglers busy as the Matanuska/Susitna Valleys are smack in the middle of sizable returns of reds, chums, and silvers with pinks holding on still amidst a wonderful trout and grayling bite, and to the east in Copper Valley resident gamefish such as lake trout, rainbows, and grayling are really amping up. Even within the city of Anchorage and along Turnagain Arm, urban anglers are not being disappointed as silvers, chums, pinks, and Dollies are staging a show for those wanting to stay closer to home. For salmon enthusiasts, the zenith of roadside fishing is happening this weekend.
ANCHORAGE AREA-TURNAGAIN ARM
Area Summary: There are at least two places that stand out in terms of catching quality fish right now, with Ship and Bird creeks being the highlights for returns of hatchery silvers along with a number of pinks and chums. While these waters are not tops for resident species, anglers need not go far as Campbell and Chester creeks in the city of Anchorage as well as Portage creek at the head of Turnagain Arm will suffice in action for rainbows and/or Dollies. But even as the aforementioned hot spots do draw plenty of attention and some crowds, there are several other, less-visited locations to fish that may still provide enough action. And as always, area lakes are stocked with landlocked salmon, trout, char, and grayling that provide decent sport at dawn and dusk.
SHIP CREEK: From now on and for the next ten days or so silver salmon will be flooding this downtown stream, providing solid hook-ups on the incoming and outgoing tides using eggs and spinners. The limit is 3 silvers and some anglers are achieving just that in short order. With clouds and rain forecast over the area this weekend, the bite could prove to be excellent. But outnumbering the silvers are the smaller pinks, which are also piling into the creek on the tides; although very numerous, most of the fish are getting dark but a fair count of bright and semi-bright specimens available still. They are hitting spoons and spinners with flies being tops on low tide. A few chums are present and caught incidentally to fishing for other species.
BIRD CREEK: As the pink salmon run matures and slowly winds down, a decent slot of silvers and chums are opening up opportunities here. The incoming and outgoing tides are best, with good catches of silvers on primarily eggs but spinners and flies are also effective. As a hatchery stream, the limit for silvers is 3 fish. The chums are a mix of chrome brights to dark spawners and can be targeted at any tide stage; some of the better fishing usually takes place right after high tide in deeper parts of the stream using roe clusters or flies. For those seeking solitude, Dolly Varden are biting flies and beads on sections of tributary Penguin Creek and upper Bird accessed by trail; exercise caution, brown bears are active in this area.
GLACIER CREEK: The run of pink salmon is rapidly maturing but some chromers and semi-bright fish are still around, providing fair opportunities on fluorescent lures and yarn flies. Adding to the potential excitement are the larger chums that occupy the lower section of Glacier as well as the mouth of tributary California Creek. A few silvers have been caught but the run appears to be small again this year; try using eggs or spinners in deeper holes right after high tide.
PORTAGE CREEK: There are now four species of salmon present in this stream in addition to Dolly Varden. The best opportunities right now are for chums and pinks which occupy the lower section of the stream; fluorescent lures and attractors with roe are taking the main share. Expect fair to good action. A number of reds are moving upstream and may be found in small schools from the mouth of Williwaw Creek downstream to just above tidewater; flies worked in current may spark success but catches range from slow to fair at best. As for the silvers, fishing for them has been poor to fair, although the run is just now picking up a bit and should begin peaking in about a week to ten days. If targeting Dolly Varden, corkies, small fluorescent lures, and eggs fished on the bottom in the middle stream is good.
Area Summary: Late-run reds and pinks are dominating the salmon scene on the peninsula, primarily on the Kenai and Kasilof rivers, as rainbows and Dollies are keeping anglers busy on the salmon spawning beds throughout much of the area drainages. Silvers have yet to make a big debut anywhere but are making a showing in an increasing number of locations and should be considered a main target in another 10 days or so. Chums, while generally not very abundant in most spots on the road system on the peninsula, nevertheless provide decent opportunities in Seward and Hope. If seeking saltwater species, all area ports and points in between are yielding a mixed bag of bottomfish that also includes halibut and rockfish. Early August is a great time to get out and explore as good fishing may be found most anywhere, even in the most obscure places, not only the hot spots mentioned below.
SEWARD/RESURRECTION BAY: The main action here is for pinks and chums; the mouths of Spring and Tonsina creeks are good for bright to semi-bright pinks while the latter is producing nice chums too. However, the bay is teeming with pinks and decent action may be had anywhere along the beaches for this species using spoons, spinners, and flies. Incoming, high, and outgoing tides are best. A few late-run reds may be picked up as they home in on spawning streams at the head of the bay. A few silvers are now available to surf-casters; try spinners or herring off the rocks along Lowell Point Road. The hatchery run of kings destined for Seward Lagoon has ended but an occasional straggler may be around still. Casting bait and jigs into deeper water from shore is a good way of connecting with a variety of bottomfish, including flounder, codfish, and greenling. Halibut and rockfish are available as well.
QUARTZ CREEK: The red salmon run has arrived and started spawning, providing a good bead bite for Dolly Varden and a few rainbows and whitefish. Fish may be found anywhere from the headwaters of the stream on down to the oulet at Kenai Lake. There are also some nice Dollies to be had in tributary Daves Creek.
UPPER KENAI RIVER: Late-run red salmon are streaming through, with best fishing occurring in the stretch of water from the Russian River confluence downstream to the inlet at Skilak Lake. Good catches can be expected using flies; however, a sizable number of salmon are turning color so be prepared to either sight-fish to individual fish or catch-and-release until brighter specimens are found. The run will peak this weekend, then slowly taper off the remainder of the month. A few silvers are showing up but action has been slow thus far. Yet the best action on this river is for rainbows and Dollies; beads are absolutely the top producers but egg-imitation as well as forage flies are taking these species as well. Whitefish are being caught on beads too.
LOWER KENAI RIVER: Anglers can expect this weekend or early next week to be the last really productive days for late-run reds in the Soldotna area as the run will soon start to slow down. Success has been good the last several days with a flurry of even better fishing time to time in some spots, especially at dawn and dusk. The middle river above Sterling will continue to provide decent red fishing well through mid-month. Chrome fish are common but an increasing percentage of the fish are semi-bright to blush or darker. Fishing for silver salmon is still slow but will probably pick up after the 15th when the use of roe becomes legal again and the early run gains traction. The late run of mainstem pinks are swamping the lower end of the river, with anglers experiencing excellent catches of chrome to semi-bright fish using a variety of lures such as spoons, spinners, and plugs. This run is entering its peak and numbers of fish will increase throughout the river from tidewater up to Sterling and beyond during the next ten days to two weeks. If targeting rainbows and Dollies, these fish are well distributed from Soldotna on up to the Skilak Lake outlet, providing good to excellent action on beads, especially in areas where kings are spawning or just downstream of places where anglers are cleaning/gutting salmon.
KASILOF RIVER: Likely the last weekend of good fishing for reds on the lower river as the run will begin to taper off; however, nice catches of fresh salmon may still be had along sections of the upper river above the Sterling Highway, such as in and along the rapids, for another week to ten days still. Yarn flies is the item to use and the greatest success can be realized at around peak high tide near Crooked Creek Campground and some 8-12 hours after high near the highway crossing. Very few silvers have been caught. Pinks are present in fair numbers on the lower river. Fishing for Dolly Varden is fair.
HOMER/KACHEMAK BAY: Good to excellent fishing for bottomfish off the end of the spit; mainly flounders, codfish, and sculpins but this is the time to try and catch halibut and even skate using long-distance surf-casting gear. Limits of smaller halibut in 10- to 20-pound range possible on high tide using herring. A number of pinks and some silvers are patrolling the surfline of the spit; cast spinners. However, the better bet is fishing the Dudiak Lagoon on the incoming and outgoing tides as small schools of silvers are present. This early run has been lackluster this season with success only being fair at best; use eggs and spinners. Some nice pinks are also making it into the lagoon so a mixed catch is possible.
Area Summary: This area is seeing some intense angling opportunities these days as a variety of salmon species along with resident fish are showing up in a multitude of drainages from the Knik Arm drainages to the tributaries of the Susitna and on up to the headwaters of the Chulitna. While kings are done for the season, all the other kinds of salmon are available in varying numbers, providing good to excellent action, with Fish Creek and Little Susitna River near Wasilla and the typical strongholds of Willow, Little Willow, Sheep, and Montana offering anglers a much-needed supply of fish after a rather dismal king salmon season. Additionally, the higland lakes offer great fishing for landlocked salmon, trout, char, grayling, and pike in early mornings and late evenings. In other words, the peak fishing of the year is upon this area right now.
FISH CREEK: While typically a weekend-only fishery targeting silvers later on in August by regulation, this small clearwater stream is seeing a strong return of red salmon this year, thus the emergency order allowing anglers an early opening in addition increased fishing time. As of the 4th, the stream is open to salmon fishing daily through the rest of the year and the bag limit for reds is doubled to 6 fish. The fishing was excellent on opening day and has stayed good until the time of this report. Expect fair to good success this weekend and into early next week before the run starts to drop off; try around the high tides. Flies are catching the most fish. Silvers are also being landed with fair to good prognosis as this run should peak in another week to ten days. A smaller number of pinks and a few chums are also present.
LITTLE SUSITNA RIVER: The silver salmon action is picking up at the lower access point and anglers should do well here this weekend and for the next 10 days or so. Although the use of bait is prohibited now on through September by emergency order, anglers are taking a good slug of fish on spinners, primarily in deeper holes at dawn. In addition, chums are showing up in good numbers and fish range in quality from dime bright to blush; use spoons and flies. Fishing for pinks is fair as most of the run has matured with relatively few chrome or semi-bright specimens left. Anglers are also catching a few rainbows and an occasional Dolly or grayling. At the Houston access point on the middle/upper river, pinks and chums are present in decent numbers but the condition of the fish is subpar as most are blush to near spawning phase; a few silvers should be around too.
WILLOW, LITTLE WILLOW, SHEEP, MONTANA CREEKS: The best salmon fishing is at the mouths and in deep holes of the far lower reaches. Large numbers of pinks and chums are present, many of which are blush but there are enough bright and semi-bright fish available to provide good action for quality fish, especially chums. Spoons and flies are most effective with nice catches throughout the day. Those targeting silvers are finding fair to good success at dawn with eggs and spinners top offerings. If searching for fish in the middle reaches, near the highway crossings, concentrations of pinks and chums can be high with mostly blush to pre-spawning fish available but brighter specimens are also present; sight-fishing can be very effective, especially at Willow and Montana. Expect a smaller number of silvers in these upstream areas. Apart from salmon, anglers are finding excellent rainbow trout and grayling fishing in the middle and upper stretches with beads and egg- and flesh-imitation flies yielding the most fish; kings are spawning and dying so there is enough food source in the water to fuel the bite. Some Dolly Varden and whitefish may be caught, the latter being common on Little Willow and Sheep right now.
CASWELL, SUNSHINE, RABIDEUX CREEKS: Anglers hitting these small drainages at dawn are sure to find some good fishing, especially at their mouths on the Susitna River. Salmon of all species are congregating there with pinks and chums being especially abundant right now, spoons and flies being top enticements. This weekend should be the last decent action for these game fish in these locations; however, silvers are becoming more common with good catches possible using eggs and spinners. Reds may be encountered, particularly at Sunshine. Typically, the silvers will make a decent showing from now on and for the next two weeks. Burbot may be caught soaking herring or pieces of salmon parts just downstream of the mouths along the Susitna River.
CHULITNA RIVER: The clearwater tributaries of Troublesome and Byers creeks are currently experiencing returns of pink and chum salmon at their mouths and lower reaches with reds being a common catch on the latter as well. Most fish will be blush with a smaller number of bright or semi-bright specimens present, except for reds that may be in very decent shape and range from bright to very light blush. A few silvers are starting to show also. This can be a good time to sight-fish for schools of trout on Byers with fish frequently stretching into the high teens and low 20s. Exercise caution, brown bears are very active along these two streams. Higher up in the drainage, Honolulu, East Fork Chulitna, and Middle Fork Chulitna are seeing good opportunities as well, in particular for rainbow trout and Arctic grayling. Note that king salmon are spawning and dying in all of the aforementioned waters; match the “hatch” (beads and flesh).
COPPER VALLEY-VALDEZ ARM
Area Summary: With red salmon fishing shut down in all of the waters of the upper Copper River drainage by emergency order, anglers in this area have just a few more days to go after kings before the lull in salmon action hits until later in the month when silvers begin arriving. The Klutina and Tonsina rivers are the last really productive freshwater fisheries for king salmon of the season on the road system in Southcentral Alaska and the runs are doing well, yet the reds presented numbers far below average and thus a closure was warranted. But even so, the cooler days of August are bringing other opportunities at hand, such as the magnificent lake trout fisheries of the deeper lakes in the area, such as Louise, Paxson, and Summit. Additionally, the marine fishery for salmon in Valdez is continuous from mid-summer and well into fall, and as the huge pink salmon run winds down, the chums and silvers are filling the void.
GULKANA RIVER: Fishing for grayling is superb on the middle section of water from the rapids up to the outlet of Paxson Lake, with trophy-sized specimens to 20-plus inches possible. The rapids area is also the spot to catch resident rainbows. Try beads, flies, and small spinners. As a note, fishing for kings and reds is closed on the Gulkana.
KLUTINA, TONSINA RIVERS: Fair to good fishing for king salmon possible in these glacial systems, with most catches being made in the middle reaches. The majority of salmon are blush with only a few semi-bright specimens left. Large specimens to 50 and 60 pounds have been landed recently; use attractors with roe. The season ends by regulation on the 10th of this month. Fishing for Dolly Varden is good on the upper Klutina by the lake outlet. Dolly Varden and grayling are also being caught at the mouths of streams draining into the Tonsina, such as the Little Tonsina River. Expect silvers to begin arriving in another couple of weeks.
PORT VALDEZ: Pink salmon are very abundant throughout the port with the largest concentrations of fish at and around Allison Point and the Solomon Gulch fish hatchery. The majority of pinks are turning dark but there is a fair number of fresh pinks still arriving and spoons and spinners are catching them. Most anglers catch and release the older fish, keeping the bright and semi-bright specimens. By emergency order, the limit for pinks has doubled to 12 per day for the remainder of the year. Late-run chums are showing up at the city breakwater and in the harbor area; now is the time to target bright chums. A very few silvers have reportedly been caught from shore but it is still early for consistent catches. Casting for bottomfish is fair from the city dock. In nearby Robe River, blush and dark pinks are abundant, attracting a number of Dolly Varden; use beads or egg-imitation flies for some good action.
Updated Thursday, July 30, 2020
CURRENT HOT SPOTS: KENAI REDS, RAINBOWS; TONSINA KINGS; SUSITNA CHUMS, PINKS, RAINBOWS; RUSSIAN REDS; HOPE PINKS; KLUTINA KINGS, DOLLIES; KASILOF REDS; VALDEZ PINKS; LITTLE SUSITNA CHUMS; GULKANA GRAYLING
Weekly Summary: Excellent fishing is the only way to describe opportunities for this weekend and next week. Salmon of all species are moving up rivers and streams as trout, char, and grayling provide plenty of sport as well. Saltwater game fish are found inshore and in the shallows too, increasing choices even further. This is one of those times of the hectic summer season when there is great action somewhere no matter which direction heading out. Enjoy the best of Alaska fishing right now before various runs will begin their inevitable decline.
ANCHORAGE AREA-TURNAGAIN ARM
Area Summary: In terms of plain numbers of fish and fast action, it is hard to beat the pink salmon. Although the runs in this area may not be enormous this year, the fishing is still very good and fish on every cast possible in some spots at the right time. However, many pinks are starting to turn, so anglers are releasing lots of fish in order to find chrome or semi-bright specimens. Chums are pushing in harder now with this being a great time to find really nice quality catches. Finally, silvers are showing in decent numbers and Ship Creek leads the way as the hot spot for this species this week; however, there are some opportunities in other area waters also. If salmon is not the game, Campbell and Chester creeks and most all drainages of Turnagain Arm provide fair to good angling for either rainbows or Dollies, sometimes even both as is the case with city streams. Stocked lakes yield fair to good catches of landlocked salmon, trout, and grayling in early morning and late evening.
SHIP CREEK: After a lukewarm start, the silvers are starting to arrive in force with some tides producing good to even excellent action. Floating or drifting eggs and casting spinners is the way to go here. One- or two-fish stringers are common with limits possible. Remember, as this is primarily a hatchery fish location, the daily bag limit for silvers is 3 fish. However, there is an even larger number of pinks flooding the creek with excellent fishing on the outgoing tides drifting yarn flies in areas with at least some current. The quality of these fish range from chrome to blush so effort in releasing older fish in favor of fresh ones is the way to go to find food quality pinks. A few chums are also showing up.
BIRD CREEK: While pinks are the most abundant species also here, the main attraction these days is the silver run which is steadily building. Most successful anglers get their fish using roe or spinners on the incoming and outgoing tides; the limit is 3 fish. This run is about a week away from its peak. Anglers are also reporting fair to good catches of chum salmon with a mix of chrome and blushed specimens present; sight-fishing for them can be great fun in holes and runs immediately following a high tide. Back to the pinks, the run is waning and the majority of fish turning color but bright specimens are there with limits doable. For Dolly Varden, head upstream to tributary Penguin Creek where kings are spawning; use beads.
GLACIER CREEK: Pink salmon are packing into the mouth of California Creek but may be caught in numbers anywhere from the bridge in the townsite of Girdwood to tidewater. Many of the fish are turning but bright and semi-bright salmon are still around and providing good fishing, especially in the lower end of the stream near the Seward Highway bridge. Chums are also available and present fair opportunities. Both species are being caught on fluorescent spoons and spinners as well as yarn flies. Only a very few silvers have been showing up.
PORTAGE CREEK: A mixed bag of opportunities here, including reds, pinks, chums, and a few early silvers. Reds are more hit and miss with a few spots producing fish but the pinks are distributed throughout the lower stream in decent numbers. Chums are starting to enter the stream in increasing numbers and should peak in about ten days. For reds, drift yarn flies; pinks and chums strike fluorescent spoons, spinners, and attractors with roe. For silvers, fish eggs on the bottom in the tidal area. Dolly Varden are striking eggs fished on the bottom too. Overall, with all species counted, the fishing is fair to good.
Area Summary: With the Kenai River shut down to kings and Kasilof catch-and-release only for the species, most angling activity in this area has been directed at the quite decent late runs of red salmon to these drainages as well as the Russian. Runs are at a peak and parts of these waters should produce plenty of nice reds for the next week or two. Pink salmon fishing is more inconsistent this year, with the lower peninsula streams seeing relatively scant runs compared to those of Resurrection Bay, Passage Canal, and Turnagain Arm; however, late-run pinks are entering the lower Kenai River and typically yield some of the most intense action for the species on the peninsula. Some places are also seeing a respectable influx of chums right now, primarily around Seward and Hope. Silvers have been noticeably slower to arrive this season, with the lagoon in Homer being the better place to go so far due to the early timing of that particular run. Rainbows and Dollies are very prolific these days throughout much of the vast Kenai River drainage and anglers will have no issue at all connecting with nice-sized fish. If wanting saltwater action, all of the coastal ports in the area support both salmon and bottomfish with surf-casting being a great way to hook up.
HOPE/RESURRECTION CREEK: Fishing for pink salmon is still highly productive but the run overall is showing signs of slowing down as more fish are turning color and anglers connecting with fewer chrome specimens. The total action, including catch-and-release, is superb with fish on every cast possible on low tide and in spots upstream. However, for bright and semi-bright pinks, the outlook is fair to good. A smaller number of chums are arriving daily with anglers hitting them using yarn flies from tidewater on up. A few silvers have been caught on the tides.
SEWARD/RESURRECTION BAY: Pinks and chums are the most abundant salmon species in the bay at this time as the late runs of red salmon are fairly small and the hatchery kings almost done for the season. Silvers, although relatively plentiful in the outer bay, remains a rare catch for surf-casters still. The mouth of Tonsina Creek is a hot spot for fresh pinks and chums with good to excellent action happening now; casting a variety of lures and flies does the trick as does snagging. But schools of pinks may be encountered most anywhere around the bay this time of year; look for fish breaching the surface. Flounder, codfish, and greenling are being taken from the rocky beaches in front of town with anglers reporting good catches, especially on the tidal changes. Larger cod, rockfish, and an occasional halibut may be caught from spots on the western side of the bay, such as along Point Lowell Road. Targeting Dolly Varden is fair in saltwater and starting to pick up in clearwater streams flowing into the bay.
UPPER KENAI RIVER: The late run of red salmon has arrived and anglers are finding very good action, especially in the section of water from the Skilak Lake inlet upstream to the mouth of Russian River. Many of the salmon are still bright with some specimens starting to turn; expect this weekend and next week to be the peak of this run for quality fish. Drift a variety of flies and even beads for success. A few blush early-run pinks are present but no firm accounts yet of any silvers being caught. Rainbow trout and Dolly Varden are providing good to excellent catches on forage flies and even beads with some larger specimens starting to show up. Whitefish are fairly common.
RUSSIAN RIVER: Although low and very clear water conditions prevail here, anglers still manage to find good fishing for late-run red salmon at dawn with limits common. Down in the sanctuary, the fishing is also very good but anglers are having success throughout the day. The run is peaking and should stay productive for the next two weeks. The first few silvers are due any day. Casting flies and beads for rainbows is fair to good, with early morning and evening and rainy days being best. Dolly Varden are not abundant yet in the mainstem river but August should see a good increase in numbers of fish present.
LOWER KENAI RIVER: Late-run reds have shown in relatively large numbers the last several days around Soldotna and the fishing should stay good to excellent for another week, possibly a little longer. Anglers have commented that the fish do not appear to be very large this year compared to most other years. Fishing on the “middle” river above Sterling typically sees the run linger around until mid-August. Late-run, mainstem pinks are now entering the lower river on the tides with fair to good success in spots near the city of Kenai. Only a very few silvers have been caught as of yet but that should change as the new month progresses. Rainbow trout and Dolly Varden are abundant and yielding good to excellent catches from the outlet of Skilak Lake downstream to top of tidewater; forage/flesh flies and beads are working. As soon as the dip netters clear out at the mouth of the river, surf-casters will be able to sample the opportunity of landing a few spiny dogfish and skates.
KASILOF RIVER: Also here the late-run reds are booming with anglers enjoying an increased limit of of fish; expect good to excellent success the next several days before the run starts to wane. If fishing the lower river around Crooked Creek, the salmon arrive on the tides; the upper river from the rapids on up generally produce catches all day long. A number of pinks are being landed too but the silvers remain scarce. Fishing for Dolly Varden is fair. As a reminder, the king salmon season ends August 1.
HOMER/KACHEMAK BAY: Surf-casting for bottomfish is good to excellent off Coal Point (Land’s End), with flounder, codfish, and sculpin being the mainstay species, but a few halibut and skate may be hooked using larger bait and long-distance casting gear. Silvers and pinks patrol the shoreline of the spit with schools of fish often producing fair or better opportunities. The Dudiak Lagoon is seeing a small but steady arrival of silvers and anglers are catching them drifting eggs and casting spinners and herring on the incoming and outgoing tide; expect fair success. A few blush king salmon linger in the lagoon as well.
Area Summary: This area, although largely dormant for roadside salmon fishing opportunities earlier in the season, is finally seeing solid numbers of reds, pinks, chums, and silvers arriving with the action expected to last through the rest of the summer. The Little Susitna River along with the tributaries of the larger Susitna River are all reporting strong movements of salmon coming in, accompanied by what can be described as the best trout and grayling action of the season thus far. Additionally, the weekend-only streams of Cottonwood and Wasilla are experiencing a push of fish that should keep rods bent for the next several weeks. Jim Creek is starting up too, as some reds and an occasional silver are being caught at the Knik confluence. The Eklutna Tailrace, however, is not yet up to par in action but typically sees its hatchery silvers arrive in force by the second week of August. Fishing in local lakes has slowed down somewhat with higher water temperatures but may still produce worthwhile catches of landlocked salmon, trout, grayling, and pike in very early morning and late evening.
LITTLE SUSITNA RIVER: The best salmon fishing is on the lower river around the road access point there with pinks and chums piling in, providing a very good bite using a variety of lures such as spoons, spinners, and flies. Though some of these fish are starting to turn, there are plenty of fresh and semi-bright specimens available as these runs are now starting to peak. Silvers are harder to come by but anglers are having some success in the deeper holes at dawn. A few rainbow trout are being caught too. On the upper river in Houston, a fair number of salmon are seen coming through, although the quality of these fish is generally not as good as those landed on the lower river. As a reminder, the use of bait is prohibited until August 6.
WILLOW CREEK: The morning action at the mouth of the stream has been good to excellent for pinks and chums with a fair number of silvers showing up as well. Chrome fish are available and now is the time to target these species in their prime. Spoons and flies are getting results; try eggs if going for silvers. There is also an upstream movement of fish and anglers hiking in to various spots from the highway bridge are finding schools of mainly pink and chum salmon and relatively easy catching by sight-fishing; silvers are spotty. Flies have been tops in this area. Besides salmon, good to excellent rainbow trout and grayling fishing may be had in the middle and upper reaches of this stream, from the highway crossing on up along the Hatcher Pass Road. Kings are spawning in this section and the bite has been solid on beads. Some Dolly Varden and whitefish are also present.
LITTLE WILLOW CREEK: The main quarry at the road crossing on the middle stream are rainbows and grayling, with very good opportunities hiking up- and downstream. Find kings spawning and there will be fish to be had using beads. Pinks and chums are making an appearance here as well but not in large numbers yet as they are still working their way up from the mouth; expect fair fishing this weekend, good later on next week. Whitefish can be quite prolific in some spots. A float trip on this stream is a great way to access more remote water and no crowds.
KASHWITNA RIVER: Normally flowing heavy with silt during warmer summer days, cooler periods sees the water clear a bit and thus producing some very worthwhile angling using fluorescent spoons, attractors, and bait. Pinks and chums are relatively abundant, especially at the mouth. Seek out slower water and salmon will be there, including silvers. Fishing for trout and grayling is fair to good when water conditions allow, the best stretch of water being upstream of the highway crossing.
CASWELL CREEK: Anglers need to be here early in the morning to sample the best fishing with pinks and chums schooling at the mouth along with a smaller number of silvers. Catches of burbot are common during the lowlight hours using herring sitting on the bottom. Not much salmon action happening at the road crossing but a few trout and grayling are available.
SHEEP CREEK: The slough area at the Susitna confluence has very good opportunities for chums and pinks throughout the day using spoons and spinners; a smaller number of silvers are being caught on eggs and spinners primarily at dawn. A few Dolly Varden are available too. Burbot may be taken on herring fished on the bottom. Upstream, around the road crossing, the action is fair to good for salmon with chums being the main catch with silvers being spotty. If targeting trout and grayling, this area and on upstream can be good to excellent using beads and flies. Whitefish are common on beads and small corkies.
MONTANA CREEK: Very productive right now at the mouth for fresh pinks and chums and a few silvers are being landed as well. This will be the peak weekend for quality fish as these species turn quickly as August progresses. Sight-fishing to schools of salmon can be exceptional in the lower stream right above the Susitna confluence. Use spoons and flies for the pinks and chums, eggs for the silvers. Burbot can be taken in the calm water around the stream mouth using bait sitting on the bottom. A few Dolly Varden are present. On the upper stream, off access points along the Talkeetna Spur Highway, fishing for rainbows and grayling is good to excellent. As kings are spawning, beads are a hot item.
CHULITNA RIVER: The clearwater tributaries of this glacial drainage supports good fishing for rainbows and grayling right now, with the middle and upper reaches of Troublesome, Byers, Honolulu, East Fork Chulitna, and Middle Fork Chulitna all being locations of interest for either or both species. Kings are spawning so beads work best. Salmon are moving into these tributaries in moderate numbers as well, with pinks and chums being the most common catches; try the mouths of Troublesome and Byers. There are also reds to be caught, mainly at Byers, and this run should yield some decent opportunities shortly.
COPPER VALLEY-VALDEZ ARM
Area Summary: Although the recent emergency order closing the Copper River drainage to red salmon fishing for the remainder of the year due to low returns, there are two other species picking up the slack in this area in a big way. Decent numbers of late-run king salmon are moving up the Klutina and Tonsina rivers and pinks are present in huge swaths in Valdez. Topping that off, grayling are on the bite in most of the highland lakes and streams with trout and landlocked salmon also being taken in stocked waters. While lake trout action has slowed a bit with the advent of warmer water temperatures, there is still some good opportunities for the species in the larger, deeper lakes, such as Louise, Paxson, and Summit. Silver salmon have yet to make an appearance in Copper Valley or along the shoreline of Port Valdez, but this will change soon as August comes around.
GULKANA RIVER: With fishing for kings and reds closed for the year, anglers here may still find great action targeting grayling and rainbows. The prime area for these species is the mid or upper section of water upstream of the rapids to and including the outlet of Paxson Lake. Beads, flies, and spinners are all very effective.
KLUTINA RIVER: Late-run king salmon is the main target here, with the lower river being open to king fishing through August 10. The run is at a peak with anglers experiencing fair to good action using attractors with bait. Most fish are slightly blush but there are also bright specimens being caught. Boaters have a distinct advantage of accessing prime holes on the river but anglers willing to hike in can do very well also. Fishing for Dolly Varden is very good on the upper river around the Klutina Lake outlet. As a reminder, the upper river is now closed to all salmon fishing.
TONSINA RIVER: This fast-flowing, glacial river is producing good to excellent catches of king salmon in its lower reaches as late-run fish are arriving and stacking holes and eddies or anywhere with a slower current. Attractors with roe is very effective in getting these kings that often top 40 pounds. Those with experience floating this river or similar waters will find the best spots; anglers hiking in generally experience less success. Dolly Varden and grayling may be caught at the mouths of clearwater tributaries.
PORT VALDEZ: A recent emergency order doubled the bag and possession limit here for pink salmon, with anglers now allowed 12 per day and 24 in possession. Pinks are very abundant throughout the port with the better fishing occurring along Dayville Road and Allison Point; try fishing around high tide. The mouth of Solomon Creek can be hot on the outgoing tide. Spoons and spinners work best but flies are effective too. Although this run has already peaked in quality, anglers are getting their fish relatively easily by catching and releasing older fish in order to find brighter specimens. The harbor area and out towards Gold Creek is also productive for pinks. A moderate number of chums is available. No confirmed reports of silvers being caught from shore yet.
Updated Thursday, July 23, 2020
CURRENT HOT SPOTS: KENAI REDS, RAINBOWS; TONSINA KINGS; HOPE PINKS; KASILOF REDS; VALDEZ PINKS; LITTLE SUSITNA CHUMS; GULKANA GRAYLING; SUSITNA RAINBOWS, GRAYLING; KLUTINA DOLLIES
Weekly Summary: The fishing season in Southcentral is hitting stride again as all five salmon species plus several resident species in both salt- and freshwater are providing good to outstanding opportunities in the main areas of Kenai Peninsula, Matanuska-Susitna Valleys, and Copper Valley-Valdez Arm. Even the Anchorage area is picking up and should get better leading up to next week. Even though there are new emergency orders in effect shuitting down fishing for late-run kings in Cook Inlet and the Kenai River, the late run of king salmon in Tonsina in Copper River country is doing very well. Overall, reds have been normal to a bit below average this season in most rivers, yet a few drainages have experienced very decent returns of late-run fish. For kids and adults alike, pinks are keeping rods bent all over the place but few spots can compare in intensity to the stream in Hope and the briny of Valdez and Allison Point. Chums are ascending several drainages in decent numbers, mainly the streams of Susitna Valley. Silvers, while present in many locations throughout the region, have not shown in any great numbers as of right now but this could change come next week when early runs begin peaking. Rainbows, Dollies, and grayling are active in most waters as the feeding frenzy on salmon spawn has started with really successful fishing reported. Anglers plying the salt around the coast are finding nice catches of not just migrating salmon but various species of bottomfish, including a few halibut. For variety, this weekend and for the next ten days could very possibly see the best of roadside fishing in Alaska this year.
ANCHORAGE AREA-TURNAGAIN ARM
Area Summary: With pinks, chums, and silvers rolling into a handful of waters in and around the city, anglers do not need to travel far in order to enjoy good action. Although Ship Creek has yet to produce some solid silver salmon action, there are some pinks coming in alongside them but not enough yet for a quick bite to occur. In the streams down along Turnagain Arm such as Bird, Glacier, Portage, and Ingram, the story is similar, with a smaller showing of silvers and better numbers of pinks in addition to chums. Fishing for sea-run Dolly Varden is also productive. Resident species like trout, char, and grayling are active in stocked lakes within the city, and the smaller drainages of Campbell and Chester creeks support decent opportunities for both rainbows as well as Dollies. As a note, Campbell is currently open to fishing for silver salmon but very few fish have been caught as of this point; this fishery typically picks up in mid-August.
BIRD CREEK: The silver salmon fishing here is slowly improving, with anglers focusing on the incoming and outgoing tides using roe doing best. One or two fish is typical right now but a few limits have been achieved in the right spot. Spinners and streamer flies also yield fish. Pinks are abundant but not in huge numbers; a fair number are already turning but there is still good action to be had for bright and semi-bright specimens, especially in holes on low tide. Chums are present too, presenting fair opportunities using spoons and flies. Dolly Varden fishing is slowing down as fish are moving upstream away from the roadside access point.
GLACIER CREEK: Fluorescent lures and flies are landing a decent number of pinks here with some very good catches the last several days. A few chums and occasional silver have also been hooked. Focus on deeper, slower sections of water, in particular after several days of cool, cloudy weather. Warm temperatures will spark snowmelt in the mountains, making stream high and turbid. Some Dolly Varden are available.
PORTAGE CREEK: Runs of reds, pinks, and chums are arriving and the first silver or two should be caught this weekend or early next week. There are no very large numbers of salmon present but enough pinks to keep things interesting; best place is in or near tidal area. Use fluorescent spoons and spinners fished deep and slow for success. The other species may take lures too but salmon roe fished on the bottom is more effective.
INGRAM CREEK: Pinks are the main game in this small, clearwater stream. Sight-fishing is possible from around the highway crossing on upstream with good catches possible. Check out spots with deeper, slower moving water. Lures and flies are equally effective. A few chums and even occasional silver present. Fishing for Dolly Varden is slowing down as fish move upstream.
Area Summary: The Kenai and Kasilof rivers are still the top destinations for salmon anglers as the late runs of reds are arriving, providing great opportunities. Silvers are showing up more frequently as well, with the lagoon in Homer providing the earliest return for the area; a few silvers are starting to appear in the lower Kenai according to sources and should be present in small numbers in waters draining into Turnagain Arm as well. The northern peninsula streams of Resurrection and Sixmile are focal points for chums right now, with the saltwater around Tonsina in Seward also being good. Pinks are scattered around in most locations throughout the area but are abundant in only a few spots for now. The latter, however, will change as soon as the late run of pinks move into the Kenai, probably starting in about a week or so. Otherwise, the waters of the central peninsula are yielding good fishing for trout and char and will only get better from now on into August. Surf-casting is tops for bottomfish and the larger tides this month and next and will provide decent opportunities to land halibut from Cook Inlet and Resurrection Bay beaches.
HOPE/RESURRECTION CREEK: The annual run of pink salmon is peaking and anglers are experiencing excellent action on the tide cycles, although a lot of fish are also moving into the middle parts of the stream and can be targeted at any time. Sight-fishing is great as the water is fairly low and very clear. Flies and spoons work very well. Many pinks are beginning to mature so for quality fish it is important to focus on the tidal area. In addition to pinks, angler have started catching a number of fresh chums and a few silvers; try the incoming tide for the latter. Fishing for Dolly Varden in the lower stream has slowed down but more char are now found in upper reaches behind spawning king salmon.
SIXMILE CREEK: Following cloudy and cooler days, this glacial stream has seen some very respectful action for chum salmon in its far lower stretches along the Hope Highway. This opportunity will not last long as fish are turning rapidly with chrome specimens getting fewer with each passing day. Attractor lures and roe are receiving plenty of strikes. A decent number of pinks are also present. A few silvers are showing up but will not be a reliable species in this stream for another couple of weeks yet.
SEWARD/RESURRECTION BAY: The bay provides a variety of salmon species as well as locations to go. Presently, anglers are snagging early-run chums off the mouth of Spring Creek but this run has peaked in quality as more fish are entering spawning condition with lesser bright or semi-bright fish to be had. Pink salmon are being hooked in fair numbers; these fish will hit stride later on in August. A few blush reds are lingering in this spot too. The mouth of Tonsina Creek is doing fair to good for fresh chums as this run is reaching its peak from now on for the next ten days; expect a decent showing of pinks very shortly. Try the incoming tides in both of these locations. Over at Scheffler Creek in downtown Seward, the action has slowed down for kings at the mouth as only a few nice specimens are still around with most fish having ascended the stream up to the lagoon. If fishing off the rocks along the gravel road to Lowell Point, anglers can experience a variety of opportunities. Pinks are available in enough numbers to make it worthwhile as chromers are hitting spoons and herring at moderate depth. Do not be surprised if a king or chum would strike too. With proper surf-casting gear, Pacific cod, rockfish, and even halibut are very much possible. In areas closer to town, the waterfront provides good fishing for flounder, smaller codfish, and greenling. Fishing for Dolly Varden is fair around the bay.
UPPER KENAI RIVER: Late-run reds are appearing in this section of the river, with anglers experiencing fair to good catches. The best area includes spots between the second highway bridge downstream to the Skilak Lake inlet. Although numbers of fish historically peak early next month, this is the best time to pursue bright specimens. A variety of flies and beads will draw a strike. Good fishing is also happening here for rainbow trout and anglers are seeing an uptick in the action as well as size of fish as salmon are now entering the drainage; forage flies are best but beads are becoming increasingly effective. Dolly Varden offer fair success in addition to round whitefish.
LOWER KENAI RIVER: Strong pulses of red salmon are moving through the river from Cook Inlet, providing anglers good to excellent fishing using yarn flies. Fish are well distributed throughout the river from the Skilak Lake outlet down to tidewater. No huge spike of reds have been noted thus far this year but there have been several days with fish numbers ranging between 30,000 and nearly 50,000. So far this season, the run is trending similarly in timing to the run last year, albeit not the large tally of fish. Pink salmon are in the system as well with early-run fish present at the mouths of clearwater spawning tributaries and the late run beginning to show in the lower mainstem downstream of Soldotna; expect action to pick up very shortly. First few silvers are due any day. Rainbow trout fishing is good on the middle river upstream of Sterling, while Dolly Varden are doing better farther downstream between Soldotna and tidewater. On another note, an emergency order has been issued closing the river to king salmon fishing due to low returns.
KASILOF RIVER: The last two weeks have seen a huge surge of red salmon, prompting the daily bag limit to double from 3 to 6 fish. Good to excellent action is possible in spots, such as around the highway bridge and the Crooked Creek Campground on the lower river (best at peak high tide to several hours after), and up in the rapids of the middle and upper river (productive all day long). Fishing typically stays productive through the month before slowing down. There are a smaller number of king salmon present in the river with anglers doing fair at best; on a note, by emergency order, this is a catch-and-release fishery for the remainder of the season ending July 31. Dolly Varden fishing in the river is described as fair to good. Smaller number of pinks are available.
HOMER/KACHEMAK BAY: Anglers targeting bottomfish are doing best at the tip of the spit (Coal Point), where flounders, codfish, and sculpin are in abundance. It is also feasible for anglers using long-distance casting gear to hook both halibut and skate this time of the season. Silvers and pinks are cruising along the beaches of the spit as well and some fish are being caught using spinners and spoons. However, the better bet for salmon would be the Dudiak Lagoon which is currently experiencing a return of early-run silvers. Although success is being noted on the incoming and outgoing tides, this fishery has yet to see a large surge of silvers typical of late July. Expect action to be fair. A few dark kings are still present.
Area Summary: Things are really starting to improve as late-run reds, pinks, chums, and silvers begin their assault of area rivers and streams. The Little Susitna is seeing a good spike of chums moving through, and the tributaries of the main Susitna (Willow, Sheep, Montana, etc.) are seeing chums in addition to increasing numbers of pinks and silvers, especially at the confluences, although some waters are noting fish movement upstream near the road crossings as well. These spots are also experiencing really good trout and grayling action right now. Down around the Knik Arm, the weekend fisheries of Cottonwood and Wasilla are producing a fair number of reds and some silvers, with the latter also yielding pinks. A few silvers along with chums are being taken at the Eklutna Tailrace; this fishery will turn on soon, probably the first week of August. Fish Creek, although closed to sport fishing until the second weekend in August, is open to dip netting through the month, targeting mainly reds but silvers and pinks are harvested too. Jim Creek is starting to see some reds and possibly early silvers at its mouth.
LITTLE SUSITNA RIVER: A decent push of chums is occurring here and now is the perfect time to go to experience these fish in their prime. While not as numerous as in some previous years, anglers are reporting good success using spoons and plugs as well as flies. The run appears to just now gain steam so should stay productive for anther ten days to two weeks. Silvers and pinks are somewhat slow in showing at the road access point but will improve shortly. A few rainbows and grayling are being caught. As a reminder, the river is closed to the use of bait until August 6.
WILLOW, LITTLE WILLOW, SHEEP, GOOSE, MONTANA CREEKS: With king salmon spawning in the middle and upper reaches of these waters, anglers are scoring big on rainbows and grayling using beads of appropriate size (“match the hatch”) in the same areas; expect fishing to be good but some days may be even better. Dolly Varden and round whitefish are being hooked also. As for salmon, chums along with pinks are found at the mouths of these locations and a few silvers are being caught as well, especially at dawn. Salmon roe (if legal) and spinners are taking most of the silvers, with the other species hitting a variety of spoons, spinners, plugs, and flies. Expect salmon to take the spotlight here starting next week as runs build to a peak.
CHULITNA RIVER: The clearwater tributaries of Troublesome, Byers, Honolulu creeks and the Middle and East forks of the Chulitna are experiencing some decent fishing for rainbows and grayling, with some anglers reporting very good catches using both forage flies and beads. King salmon have started spawning in these locations so the bead bite is on. The first few reds should appear in Byers Creek any day now, with pinks and chums soon thereafter.
COPPER VALLEY-VALDEZ ARM
Area Summary: While the early summer period was somewhat tumultuous in respect to the early runs of kings and reds to area waters, anglers are now looking forward to the late season and hopefully more stable salmon runs. Some reds are still moving through the Gulkana and Klutina rivers but the late runs have yet to appear, which is typical. However, the late runs of king salmon are now arriving into the Klutina and Tonsina rivers with the latter providing some noteworthy action in a year that has seen depressed or below average returns in most drainages throughout Southcentral (and Alaska in general). Resident species are still active with the absence of hot, dry weather periods this summer. The cooler, cloudier conditions have meant good to excellent catches of lake trout and grayling in the larger lakes, while stocked waters are seeing fairly productive success for rainbows, landlocked salmon, and grayling. To the south, Valdez is hopping with a sizable run of pink hitting the port.
GULKANA RIVER: The best thing going here is for grayling in the middle river section from the forks upstream to the outlet of Paxson Lake. Fish-on-every-cast action is being reported with some fish measuring more than 20 inches. Rainbows are being caught around the rapids area. The lake itself is also outstanding for grayling and has some good lake trout fishing also. The king salmon season ended here on the 19th of this month but there are still some reds to be targeted if the water is low and clear; expect fair success at best as this run is winding down and the late run is still about two weeks away.
KLUTINA RIVER: Dolly Varden are making a strong performance on the upper river at the outlet of Klutina Lake, with very good action reported; there are some noteworthy fish being caught, with some specimens weighing up to 5 or 6 pounds. The early run of red salmon is for all practical purposes finished, although a few fish still linger around on the lower river near Copper Center. The typically smaller, late run will appear in another ten days or so. Fishing is fair for late-run king salmon but should improve during the course of next week.
TONSINA RIVER: One of the better locations for king salmon on the road system this year, the few anglers that go to this spot are greeted with good to excellent catches of big fish. Attractor lures tipped with salmon roe is the way to go in the deeper holes and eddies where fish concentrate to avoid the otherwise strong current. The section of water between the Richardson Highway bridge and the Edgerton Highway bridge is best but for those able to access the river mouth, the fishing there can be equally rewarding. Red salmon are available and can be caught on yarn flies. Target Dolly Varden and grayling at the mouths of clearwater tributaries.
PORT VALDEZ: Arguably one of the best places on the road system to go for saltwater pinks at this time, with excellent success enjoyed around the Allison Point area using spoons and spinners. The incoming and outgoing tides are best; the outgoing is also a great time to fish the mouth of Solomon Gulch Creek using spoons and flies. Pinks are also making a decent showing in and near the city waterfront, such as off the ferry dock and the harbor breakwater, as well as near the mouth of Gold Creek. Fresh chums are in these latter locations too; no reports of silvers yet. Robe River on the outskirts of town is worth a visit to catch pinks; fair to good catches are being made at the mouth where it flows into Lowe River.
Updated Thursday, July 16, 2020
CURRENT HOT SPOTS: LOWER KENAI REDS; UPPER KENAI RAINBOWS; KASILOF REDS; GULKANA KINGS, GRAYLING; VALDEZ PINKS; COPPER LAKERS; HOPE PINKS
Weekly Summary: As mid-July has arrived, so are the summer runs of all salmon species in Southcentral Alaska. The late runs of reds are showing in good numbers in the Kasilof and Kenai rivers and are starting into other waters throughout the region as well. Late runs of king salmon are present in the Kenai and to a lesser degree the Kasilof, but the Klutina and Tonsina have yet to hit stride and generally peak later this month and into August. After a slow start to their season, pinks are now appearing in many locations with Valdez and the clearwater drainages of Turnagain Arm, such as Resurrection Creek in Hope, leading the way. Chum salmon are available in Seward and Turnagain area waters too and becoming more abundant in streams in the Susitna Valley each passing day. Even early-run silver salmon are now being caught, albeit not in great numbers yet, although there is a decent shot for them in the lagoon in Homer, Ship Creek in downtown Anchorage, and in Bird Creek. Sea-run char are entering freshwater after a summer feeding in the salt and are being taken in many places, including the lower peninsula and Turnagain Arm streams. Resident species like rainbows, grayling, and Dollies are presenting great opportunities in both lakes and streams in all main areas of the region. We are just now entering the busiest fishing period of the entire Alaska fishing season.
ANCHORAGE AREA-TURNAGAIN ARM
Area Summary: This area will have a lot to offer from now and for the next several weeks as salmon of all kinds are moving into streams within the city and all along Turnagain Arm. Bird Creek just opened to fishing with mixed fanfare with anglers catching pinks, chums, and even a few silvers. The king salmon season is now closed in Ship Creek but pinks and silvers are arriving on every tide and anglers are picking up a few of them; expect this to be a hot spot in another week to ten days. The streams down in Turnagain Arm are producing nice catches of sea-run char in addition to decent numbers of pinks along with a few chums and early-run silvers. Beginning next week and on into the early part of August, this area will be dense with opportunities.
BIRD CREEK: With the season having started on the 14th, anglers here are seeing fair to good pink salmon action along with a few nice chums and hatchery silvers. Although worthwhile fishing may be had at any stage of the tide cycle, better success is usually had on the incoming and outgoing tides. Most silvers are falling to salmon roe and bobber setups but spinners hook fish as well; expect the bite to really pick up in another week to ten days. Sight-fishing is possible on low tide with mainly pinks being caught. Dolly Varden are also present. As a reminder, Bird is closed to king salmon fishing, including catch-and-release, and there are a few of these fish still cruising the stream.
GLACIER CREEK: When water conditions permit, anglers here are connecting with a number of pinks. From the mouth of California Creek downstream into tidewater using high-visibility lures and flies is best. Success is fair to good right now and the fish are in prime condition, chrome bright; this run will peak next week. A few chums and silvers may be present. Dolly Varden action can be good using bait in tidewater.
INDIAN, KERN, PORTAGE, INGRAM CREEKS: These locations are seeing good Dolly Varden fishing in their lower reaches in and near tidewater. Bait is most effective but small lures and flies work great too. Pinks are arriving in increasing numbers with fair reports recently but bound to get better the next several days. Reds are moving into Portage on the tides. Expect a few chums to show.
Area Summary: The big news in this area is the arrival of late-run red salmon to the Kenai and Kasilof with the latter even deserving an emergency order upping the daily bag limit due to the unexpected early abundance of fish. King salmon are present in these waters as well as the waterfront in Seward, and pinks are becoming increasingly common in many drainages with some of the better spots being in Hope and Whittier. The famous fishery of big, late-run pinks in the Kenai will begin later this month. While silvers are present in very decent numbers in outer parts of Resurrection and Kachemak bays, the most promising roadside location right now is the Dudiak Lagoon in Homer; however, a few silvers may start into other waters as well, primarily the lower end of the Kenai River and in northern peninsula streams draining into Turnagain Arm. Chums are locally abundant in this area with Seward, Whittier, and Turnagain harboring the best opportunities during July. As for other species, rainbow trout, Arctic grayling, and Dolly Varden are available in good numbers in many parts of the peninsula and will give excellent account in the fisheries from now on and into fall. Halibut are moving into shallower water again but the tides this weekend are not conducive for successful catches by surf-casting in Cook Inlet; next weekend should be much better. Other bottomfish are abundant in nearshore waters right now.
HOPE/RESURRECTION CREEK: Pinks are arriving in good numbers on the tides and anglers targeting them are doing well on small spoons, spinners, and flies as well as jigs fished below a bobber. Water has dropped and is flowing clear, presenting excellent opportunities sight-fishing for salmon. Expect nice, chrome fish. A smattering of chums are also moving up. It is still early for silvers but a few of them are typically present starting about now. Dolly Varden action is good on the incoming and high tides. Nearby Sixmile Creek is seeing salmon too, with chums being the main catch.
SEWARD/RESURRECTION BAY: Anglers here are finding a mix of species to focus on, including early-run chums peaking at the mouth of Spring Creek (in addition to a few reds) and hatchery kings making a late appearance at the mouth of Scheffler Creek in front of the city. Both locations are producing a fair to good number of fish with snagging being the primary harvest method; incoming and high tide is best. Casting spoons off the rocks along Lowell Point Road is a decent way of connecting with chrome pinks just arriving to the area; try the entire high tide cycle. Surf-casting along this road is also productive, with Pacific cod, halibut, and rockfish providing fair opportunities. Dolly Varden fishing is fair to good at Lowell Point and the mouth of Tonsina Creek.
UPPER KENAI RIVER: Although red salmon are moving through the river in fair numbers with limits possible in the right spot at the right time, anglers here are primarily focused on rainbow trout. Forage flies are providing good success and a few more adventurous anglers are also scoring using dry flies. Dolly Varden are becoming more numerous and whitefish are taken on occasion. Look for the first good push of reds next week. Nearby Quartz Creek has a few smaller Dolly Varden and whitefish present but success is only fair at this time. Russian River is slow for reds but picking up at mouth and should produce fair catches by early next week.
LOWER KENAI RIVER: Late-run red salmon are arriving in good numbers at a clip of 30,000 or more per day and should see a major spike very shortly, perhaps this weekend given weather conditions and neap tides. Anglers report good to excellent success using yarn flies and beads. Boaters on the lower end of the river, downstream of Slikok Creek, are enjoying fair to good fishing for late-run king salmon; this is a catch-and-release fishery right now by emergency order. A few early-run pinks are present and the first silvers should appear within the next week. Rainbow trout are becoming more distributed through the drainage but the best action is still in the middle river section. Sea-run Dolly Varden are moving into the river on the tides with good catches reported by those targeting them.
KASILOF RIVER: Red salmon are making a very strong showing since the end of June with an escapement well over 220,000 to date, thus prompting the ADF&G to issue an emergency order allowing anglers to harvest six reds per day, up from the regulatory three. Fishing has been consistently good for the last three weeks with the peak of the run expected this weekend and next week. Anglers are likely to experience some excellent catches; best access is from the Crooked Creek Campground and the Sterling Highway bridge area. Yarn flies and corkies/beads are taking fish. Late-run kings are catch-and-release by emergency order and fishing has been slow to fair the last few days. Dolly Varden are becoming numerous in the river.
ANCHOR & NINILCHIK RIVER, DEEP CREEK: Fishing for sea-run Dolly Varden is fair to good in the lower river and more fish are arriving on the tides daily. Beads as well as forage flies are working. The bite will improve as the king salmon begin spawning shortly. Some pinks are coming in also with fair opportunities in the tidal area of these drainages. The Ninilchik is still open for hatchery king salmon (wild fish must be released) but the run is well beyond its peak with most salmon in or near spawning condition; however, a few chrome or semi-bright fish are available.
HOMER/KACHEMAK BAY: Surf-casting off Coal Point at the end of the spit is good to excellent for bottomfish; flounder, codfish, and sculpin are the most frequent catches. Halibut and skate are available to those with long-range casting equipment and abilities. Pinks are providing fair opportunities off area beaches along with an occasional silver. The better spot for silvers is the Dudiak Lagoon, which is experiencing a decent early showing of these fish with catches up to two or three fish or more possible; use spinners or herring.
Area Summary: With the king salmon season closed for the year in this area of Southcentral (except for the Eklutna Tailrace, where a few blush fish are still lingering), and the narrow window of opportunity on Fish Creek for reds has closed as well and this stream will not reopen to salmon fishing by regulation until the second weekend in August. So, anglers are now focused on the other salmon runs coming into local rivers and streams. Pinks and chums are both confirmed from the Little Susitna River and the first silvers should be caught this weekend. Cottonwood and Wasilla creeks will be open to salmon fishing (other than kings) this weekend and the following weekends through the season, prompting an opportunity for anglers to target the runs of reds and silvers that are just now starting up these streams; expect fair catches of reds, slow fishing for silvers until next week. When water conditions cooperate, the action on the east-side Susitna River tributaries is good and the rainbows and grayling are well distributed throughout these waters in anticipation of the king salmon spawn. A few pinks and chums are present in this area too. Lake fishing for both wild and hatchery trout, grayling, char, pike, and landlocked salmon is good.
WILLOW, LITTLE WILLOW, SHEEP, GOOSE, MONTANA CREEKS: King salmon are starting to spawn in these locations and should be dropping eggs for the next few weeks, providing good fishing for trout and grayling in the middle and upper stream reaches. Try beads; forage flies may work at times also. Pinks and chums are arriving in small numbers at the mouths and fish are being caught; expect first few silvers to be taken by this weekend. Generally, the best salmon fishing this early in the season is lower down in the Susitna drainage, around Willow and Little Willow, with upstream locations turning on as the month progresses. Hit these waters at dawn for best results.
CHULITNA RIVER: The tributary streams of Troublesome, Byers, and Honolulu creeks are seeing fair to good success for rainbows and grayling, with the mainstem East and Middle forks producing decent catches as well. Beads and forage flies are effective. The king salmon season ended on July 13; these fish will begin spawning very shortly and trout, grayling, and whitefish will be there for the feast.
COPPER VALLEY-VALDEZ ARM
Area Summary: This summer has seen a pattern of wet weather in this area and subsequently periods of high and swift or muddy water in many rivers and streams. But this has also kept the water temperatures down, which has helped the fishing for resident species, mainly lake trout, grayling, and stocked rainbow trout and landlocked salmon. Although the smaller waters are seeing more of a warm-up recently, the larger locations, such as Louise, Paxson, and Summit, have seen continued good catches of lakers and grayling. But the main salmon rivers have been less fortunate as the early runs of king and red salmon are below average in strength, yet enough fish have come in to provide some decent opportunity at least. The Klutina performed well below expectations this year regarding reds and the late run of kings is just getting started; Tonsina is just now starting to see a few late-run kings arriving along with a number of reds. Gulkana River is the top salmon producer this week and where anglers need to focus their efforts. Farther to the south, Valdez is seeing a surge of pink salmon into the port and certainly worth a “hot spot” mention.
GULKANA RIVER: With only a few days left of the king salmon season (Sunday is the last day), anglers here are finding relatively good fishing in holes or stretches around the Sourdough area as long as the water remains clear. Expect a mix of semi-bright to dark red fish to be present. Attractors and plugs are taking the majority of fish but some are also caught on flies. Red salmon are not abundant but anglers can have decent success targeting fish moving through in small schools. Grayling fishing is outstanding on the middle river up to and including Paxson Lake.
PORT VALDEZ: The long-expected run of pink salmon is entering the port and fishing off Allison Point is good to excellent using spoons and spinners. The incoming and outgoing tides are best and some anglers are limiting out easily. The mouth of Solomon Gulch Creek can be a relative hot spot on outgoing tide. Some fish are also present around the city dock and mouth of Gold Creek. This run is expected to start peaking next week; however, now is the time to go targeting big, chrome specimens. A few fresh chums are cruising in front of city breakwater. No reports yet of silvers.
Updated Thursday, July 9, 2020
CURRENT HOT SPOTS: KASILOF REDS; GULKANA KINGS, GRAYLING; UPPER KENAI RAINBOWS; LOWER KENAI REDS; KLUTINA KINGS; COPPER LAKERS
Weekly Summary: The month of July is progressing quickly and so are the salmon runs around the Southcentral region. Late runs of red salmon are making a very decent showing in places like the Kasilof and lower end of the Kenai with some fish even pushing into Fish Creek near Wasilla. Additionally, pinks, chums, and silvers are now confirmed in a handful of locations in the region, from Homer to Seward and Valdez as well as Anchorage area streams. While the traditional late runs of king salmon have yet to hit the rivers in any appreciable numbers, a few of the early runs are still hanging on and producing some very nice angling opportunities, primarily in the Copper Valley, yet some catches are also reported in a couple of spots on the peninsula. As for resident species, both rainbows and Dollies are becoming increasingly dominant in salmon spawning streams and the cooler highland lakes are producing plenty of lake trout and Arctic grayling. Surf-casting for smaller bottomfish is at a peak in and around the coastal ports and before long there will be a greater presence of halibut, skate, and shark too.
ANCHORAGE AREA-TURNAGAIN ARM
Area Summary: If targeting salmon, there is a mixed bag of species to be had, but not in any good numbers just yet. A few fresh and semi-bright kings continue to roll into Ship Creek and some silvers and a few pinks are arriving along with them. Pinks and chums are also heading into streams down along Turnagain Arm, although runs are a bit reserved and will probably remain so until after this weekend. Sea-run char, however, are peaking in Turnagain. Landlocked salmon, trout, char, and grayling are fairly active in area lakes and ponds in early morning and evenings or during rainy days.
TURNAGAIN ARM STREAMS: Due to recent heavy rainfall, water conditions are high and turbid in spots but hopefully things will drop and clear soon. A few pinks and the occasional chum are available in Glacier, Portage, and Ingram and runs are building; try the incoming and high tides. Reds are also starting into Portage in small numbers. But the most action has been for sea-run Dolly Varden in the locations mentioned above as well as the mouth of Kern Creek. Given more favorable conditions the next several days, the bite should be good using small smolt and fry imitation lures and flies; salmon eggs produce excellent results.
Area Summary: While there are very few places producing excellent fishing on the peninsula at this time, there is a plethora of decent opportunities to be had throughout the area. The late runs of red salmon are building, most notably in Kasilof, but are also doing quite well already in the Kenai. The upper Kenai and Russian are seeing some reds yet anglers there are more focused on rainbows. Ninilchik, which has been a relative shining star for kings this season, still has some fresh and light blush hatchery fish arriving in addition to sea-run char. Homer has the earliest opportunity for roadside silvers, while Seward is seeing surf-casters taking kings, reds, pinks, and chums. Whittier has so far produced little action but a few kings, pinks, and chums are present in and around the harbor and the breakwater outside of town. Landlocked salmon, trout, and grayling are yielding fair to good fishing in area lakes and ponds.
HOPE/RESURRECTION CREEK: The main activity here is still for sea-run Dolly Varden with fishing best at the mouth on the incoming and high tide cycle. The stream is flowing fairly high and fast but clear. A small number of pinks are present with opportunities, again, best on the incoming tide but the outgoing can produce fish as well; few fish have ventured upstream to any extent. Fishing should improve mid next week. An occasional chum or even an early silver is possible.
SEWARD/RESURRECTION BAY: One of the better spots right now is the mouth of Spring Creek off Nash Road for early-run chums and some leftover reds. Expect fair to good catches. This is mainly a snag fishery targeting these species but there are a few pinks and occasional king to be had also; incoming tide is best. The snag fishery at the mouth of Resurrection River is slow but a few reds are being caught. Hatchery kings continue to show off the mouth of Scheffler Creek in front of town and a few reds are present here too. For sea-run Dolly Varden, try along the beaches of Lowell Point or hike in to the mouth of Tonsina Creek. Surf-casting for flounder, codfish, greenling, and other bottomfish is good around the bay; the area around the SeaLife Center and along Lowell Point Road can be productive for larger specimens in addition to the opportunity of hooking smaller halibut and rockfish.
UPPER KENAI RIVER: Rainbow trout rule this stretch of the river with anglers reporting good catches on forage imitation flies. Lesser numbers of Dolly Varden and a few whitefish are present. Red salmon bound for Russian and various drainages of Kenai Lake are moving through with success ranging from slow to decent depending on the location on the river with some limits possible; late run should start peaking in about ten days.
LOWER KENAI RIVER: Late-run red salmon are building in numbers with each passing day and some anglers are limiting out in and around Soldotna. While the action is currently fair, things can quickly escalate this time of the month with good to excellent success not unusual starting around the 12th. Drifting yarn flies is best. Late-run kings are slow in showing but a few are being caught from boats downstream of Slikok Creek. A small number of early-run pinks are present. Dolly Varden are now moving into the river from Cook Inlet; try the tidewater portion, with fair to excellent catches possible. If wanting to target rainbows, head to area upstream of Bing’s Landing.
KASILOF RIVER: Recent days has seen great fluctuations of red salmon moving upstream, with some days producing fair catches, others excellent. Successful anglers are getting their fish using small yarn flies or beads. Best time on the lower river around Crooked Creek is at high tide to two hours after, the highway bridge area being best around eight hours after high tide. Late-run kings are slow entering the drainage but a number of blush early-run fish are still available in the channel right below the Crooked Creek Campground; try fishing at dawn using yarn flies or corkies. Dolly Varden and resident rainbows are present.
HOMER/KACHEMAK BAY: Surf-casting for bottomfish continues to be good to excellent off the end of the spit with flounder, codfish, and sculpin making up for the majority of species being caught. Anglers can expect an occasional halibut or skate if distance casting. Salmon anglers are seeing a few silvers arriving at Dudiak Lagoon, with herring and spinners fished on the incoming and outgoing tide the best options at this time. A few nice hatchery kings are also still coming in, providing some variety to the experience. Reds and pinks can be seen jumping along the beaches of the spit; cast spinners for potential hook-ups. Fishing for sea-run Dolly Varden is slow to fair at best.
Area Summary: Things are slowly improving concerning salmon in these parts as reds are beginning to arrive at Fish Creek and this weekend should provide some fair opportunities. A few early pinks could be present as well. And the Eklutna Tailrace has a decent number of kings lingering, albeit most are quite dark at this point but a few light blush or even semi-bright specimens are possible. The Little Susitna River, while struggling all season concerning low numbers of king salmon, a catch-and-release emergency order for kings, and less than ideal water conditions, is now only a few hundred fish from meeting the low end of the biological escapement goal after a relatively strong push of fish this week. UPDATE: As of Friday, July 10, the Little Susitna River reached and surpassed the sustainable escapement goal for king salmon and will reopen to the harvest of fish starting this Saturday, July 11, and through the remainder of the season ending on Monday, July 13. Fishing for kings is expected to be fair with some holes yielding good success. The most action, however, is for resident species in the tributaries of the Susitna River with some respectable catches being made up along the Chulitna too. Landlocked salmon, trout, pike, and grayling are yielding fair to good fishing in area lakes and ponds, with stocked waters being especially popular.
WILLOW, LITTLE WILLOW, SHEEP, GOOSE, MONTANA CREEKS: With king salmon present and soon to spawn in these streams, the fishing for rainbow trout and grayling is good and should stay very productive barring any heavy rains and subsequent turbid water conditions. If water flows clear, try forage imitation lures and flies as well as beads; if high and off-color, use beads and small corkies. There are no reports yet of any other salmon species showing up but typically a few pinks, chums, or even silvers are present by the 15th on the Willow and Little Willow, possibly Sheep too. As a reminder, fishing for king salmon is closed this year by emergency order.
CHULITNA RIVER: The clearwater streams flowing into the Chulitna River are yielding some nice fish, primarily trout and grayling. Troublesome, Byers, Honolulu, and the Middle and East forks of Chulitna are suggested spots to find success. The East Fork Chulitna is open to king salmon fishing and some are being caught as the run is peaking; no retention of fish allowed, catch-and-release only by emergency order. Last day of king season is Monday, the 13th.
COPPER VALLEY-VALDEZ ARM
Area Summary: Cooler weather conditions has kept the fishing for resident species very productive so far this season with the larger bodies of water such as Louise, Paxson, and Summit being good for lake trout. Also the smaller lakes in the area are offering very decent opportunities for landlocked salmon, rainbows, and grayling. King salmon runs are staying quite prolific in a couple of locations still but the reds are lagging this year compared to other seasons. Hopefully the late-run kings and reds later this month will provide plenty of opportunity. Down in Valdez, pink salmon are arriving but not in any solid numbers yet as the bulk of the run is still outside of Valdez Arm.
GULKANA RIVER: Flowing somewhat high but clear at the time of this report, anglers are experiencing good catches of king salmon in deeper holes and runs from the highway bridge upstream to Sourdough and beyond. The run is peaking and should stay worthwhile for another week or more still. Most fish are light blush but semi-bright and even bright specimens are being caught. During the last several days, the run of reds has picked up too, with anglers managing fair success drifting yarn flies in areas with proper current. Grayling are providing excellent catches on the middle river upstream of the forks to and including Paxson Lake; look for rainbows to be present additionally.
KLUTINA RIVER: It appears that the usually highly productive early run of reds to this river is not materializing as expected with anglers reporting slow to fair fishing with occasional flurry of better catches. The fishing for early-run king salmon, however, is fair to good on the middle/upper river, although most of these fish are blush to quite red; expect the late run to build over the next few weeks. Dolly Varden fishing is quite decent on the upper end of the river and the outlet of Klutina Lake.
Updated Thursday, July 2, 2020
CURRENT HOT SPOTS: KASILOF KINGS, REDS; UPPER KENAI RAINBOWS; NINILCHIK KINGS; LOUISE LAKERS; PAXSON GRAYLING
Weekly Summary: The mid-summer season has arrived in Southcentral, with warmer temperatures and the start of late-run king and red salmon runs as well as the appearance of pink, chum, and silver salmon. It will only get better from here on out for the next two to three weeks as numbers of fish grow substantially in rivers and streams throughout the region. As the early runs of kings and reds are fading as summer progresses, the later salmon runs described above are filling in the void and should provide good to excellent opportunities after a very short lull in action. Although the fishing for resident species has slowed in lowland lakes and ponds, it will stay very productive in cooler upland waters for the next week to ten days.
ANCHORAGE AREA-TURNAGAIN ARM
Area Summary: As the king salmon run to Ship Creek is dwindling, anglers in this area are experiencing a lull in salmon action. However, the wait for other salmon species to appear is likely to be brief as a smattering of early-arriving pinks, chums, and reds are infiltrating a few streams in the area already. And it will not be long before silvers show up too, very likely the first few catches will be made sometime during this coming weekend. If wanting quick action, look to the streams down along Turnagain for sea-run char or one of the many stocked lakes around town for trout, grayling, and landlocked salmon.
TURNAGAIN ARM STREAMS: The most productive action in these parts are still for sea-run char and success is good to excellent off the mouths of streams on incoming and high tides. Smolt or fry pattern lures and flies work; salmon eggs are great. Area pink salmon runs are starting with a trickle of fish being present in Indian, Glacier, and Portage creeks and Ingram likely as well. Note that road construction around Indian may make access difficult at this time. Also, Bird Creek is closed to fishing until July 14.
Area Summary: With the early runs of kings and reds almost completed in this area, a few rivers are already seeing late-run fish arriving. The Kenai and Kasilof are seeing promising numbers of reds coming in on the tides with enough fish to specifically target them; kings, however, are a little slower showing up but a few fish are present. Look for these fisheries to really ramp up in another week to ten days. Additionally, the hatchery return of silvers to Dudiak Lagoon in Homer should roll in at any time. Pink salmon are trickling into quite a few streams right now and chums are making a presence in places too. Until the mid-summer salmon runs become prolific, anglers can always focus their efforts on resident species as rainbow trout and Dolly Varden are available in many locations and grayling are a solid option as well in a couple of waters.
HOPE/RESURRECTION CREEK: Sea-run Dolly Varden rule the action at present time, with small smolt and fry imitation lures and flies fished on an incoming and high tide producing good catches. A few pink salmon are present in the lower stream reaches but success is still poor; expect fair action by next week as the run builds. An occasional chum may show up.
SEWARD/RESURRECTION BAY: With the early run of reds to Bear Lake slowed to a trickle, salmon anglers here are focusing on the small number of fish left around the mouth of Spring Creek where chrome chums are also making a showing. Hatchery kings bound for Seward Lagoon are producing fair catches at the mouth of Scheffler Creek; snagging is yielding most fish but a few are being taken on spinners or bait. Fishing for pinks is still slow. No reports of silvers yet along beaches in front of town but they have been caught from boats inside of the bay. Sea-run char are best around Lowell Point and the mouth of Tonsina Creek. Casting for bottomfish is good to excellent using bait and small jigs near the SeaLife Center and along Lowell Point Road.
UPPER KENAI RIVER: Anglers are tagging a lot of rainbows, primarily from Sportman’s Landing to the Skilak Lake inlet. While forage pattern sub-surface flies are producing most trout, dry flies can be effective this time of the season also. Fishing is good and expected to hold until the egg bite begins in August. Success for Dolly Varden is fair. The early-run of red salmon to the Russian River has slowed considerably with action only picking up as late-run fish arrive in numbers.
LOWER KENAI RIVER: Late-run red salmon are entering the river and building in numbers; expect fair opportunities over the weekend with some anglers being able to take limits with patience in the right spot. Areas downstream of Soldotna to tidewater is best at this time; try yarn flies. Late-run king salmon are available with restrictions in place; only fish smaller than 34 inches may be retained, area open is downstream of Slikok Creek confluence (check recent emergency order). Expect fishing for kings to be slow for at least another week. Fishing for rainbow trout is good to excellent on the middle river upstream of Bing’s Landing in Sterling; some Dolly Varden are also available throughout the lower river to the mouth in addition to a few early-run pinks.
KASILOF RIVER: As water levels and temperatures have been rising, red salmon are entering the river in increasing numbers and the action fair to excellent the last several days. Streamer flies, small beads, and yarn flies are all yielding nice fish. Try the stretch of river around or near the Crooked Creek confluence from peak high tide to two hours after. Early-run king salmon continue to be available, primarily in the channel right below the Crooked Creek Campground, and a few late-run salmon are now present too; both hatchery and wild fish may be retained. The kings have been hitting corkies and yarn setups and yarn flies. Check recent emergency order concerning bait and lure restrictions. The majority of the kings are blush to light red in color but some chrome and semi-bright salmon are being caught. Dolly Varden are becoming more common. Pinks may start showing shortly.
NINILCHIK RIVER: There are still a good number of king salmon situated in this small, clearwater stream, from the harbor area near the river mouth upstream to the 2-mile boundary marker. While chrome fish are becoming more scarce with each passing day, small groups of fresh kings continue to enter the river on the tides. Most fish are blushed to light red in color. With very large tides dominating the scene for the next several days and some of them occurring during the nighttime hours, expect a push of fish heading up from the tidal area into the lower river; be there at dawn. Also look for steady rain to prompt upstream migration. Water conditions are very low and warm; sight-fishing to kings is possible in stretches upstream of the highway. Only hatchery kings may be retained. Dolly Varden are present in small numbers along with a few pinks.
HOMER/KACHEMAK BAY: The best action these days is for bottomfish off the end of the spit, with anglers experiencing good success using bait and small jigs. Flounder, codfish, and sculpin are most common but a few halibut and skate may be caught too. After snagging was permitted in the Dudiak Lagoon, the number of king salmon in the area has dropped substantially; however, a few fresh and semi-bright fish will continue to arrive for another two weeks still. Silver salmon are due any day and a few specimens are expected to be present in the lagoon by this weekend. A few pinks and reds are jumping along the beaches of the spit. Success for sea-run Dolly Varden has generally dropped off as fish are entering salmon streams to feed; a few fish are still around.
Area Summary: The early part of the summer proved to be somewhat of a dry spell for roadside salmon-seeking anglers due to low abundance of kings and heavy restrictions, but that is about to change soon with the arrival of reds, pinks, chums, and silvers. New regulations on commercial activity favoring a greater escapement of salmon to the drainages of Matanuska and Susitna valleys should boost opportunities by magnitude, with effects being felt very shortly as the mid-summer runs advance. Another positive change in regulations this year is the opening of the lower section of Fish Creek near Wasilla to sport fishing on the weekends from June 15 through July 14, giving anglers a great opportunity to intercept the early portion of the red salmon run there. Look for this location to produce catches in another week or so. But until that point, anglers are finding great fishing for rainbows and grayling in area streams and early mornings and late evenings yield good success on lakes and ponds for landlocked salmon, trout, grayling, and pike.
WILLOW, LITTLE WILLOW, SHEEP, GOOSE, MONTANA CREEKS: Conditions are ideal for achieving rewarding catches of rainbow trout and arctic grayling, with low and clear water in most smaller streams; however, with hot weather moving over the area, expect some rising water and turbidity in tributaries that are affected by mountain snowmelt, such as Sheep. Success is good to excellent, with the middle and upper reaches of these waters best. Subsurface forage flies are effective, as are dry flies and small spinners. King salmon are present in varying numbers in all of these streams but fishing for them is closed this year. Pinks and chums are expected to show in a week to ten days.
CHULITNA RIVER: Clearwater tributaries of the glacial Chulitna River are producing fair to good catches of rainbows and grayling with a few Dolly Varden and whitefish also available. Top locations include the East and Middle forks of Chulitna, Byers, Honolulu, and Troublesome. King salmon fishing is open in the East Fork Chulitna, but only catch-and-release; retention of kings is prohibited. A few kings are present and the run is building.
COPPER VALLEY-VALDEZ ARM
Area Summary: The best fishing in this area of the road system is in the lakes for resident species, with lake trout, grayling, and rainbow trout doing very well for anglers, yet there are some smaller streams that are also producing plenty of activity. The early runs of kings and reds did not show in any great strength and it appears they are weak this season; however, good opportunities are possible in spots given the right water conditions and a little luck. Klutina River, in particular, has been a bit disappointing so far this season with typical limits of bright reds hard to come by, but a few anglers willing to put in time and effort are getting their quotas. But for some good news, as of July 1 anglers are allowed to target late-run kings on the Klutina and Tonsina and these runs will continue to build as the month progresses; these drainages and the Gulkana will see late runs of reds too. As for Valdez, pinks are arriving in the port and a few fish are being taken at Allison Point and other locations around town. This is a fishery that should grab headlines in another week or so.
GULKANA RIVER: After a period of very high and muddy water from heavy rains, the river is finally dropping and clearing and should reveal some decent opportunities over the weekend and into next week. King salmon, although not present in any great numbers, will provide fair success with some spots where fish are concentrated even good catches. The bulk of the run appears to be situated between the highway crossing and Sourdough. Reds are also lagging behind in numbers but once water conditions stabilize, should produce some worthwhile action. Grayling are active in the middle and upper river sections and anglers are reporting excellent sport there as well as in Paxson Lake.
Updated Thursday, June 25, 2020
CURRENT HOT SPOTS: RUSSIAN REDS; KASILOF KINGS, REDS; UPPER KENAI REDS, RAINBOWS; SEWARD REDS; NINILCHIK KINGS
Weekly Summary: As the early-season runs of king salmon begin to show sign of slowing down, at least there are a fair number of really productive spots to go pick up some limits of red salmon. On the Kenai Peninsula, reds are streaming into the Upper Kenai, Russian, and Kasilof rivers and there is even an emergency order four doubling the limits of fish on the Resurrection River in Seward. And, hopefully, the typically lucrative red runs to the Gulkana and Klutina rivers in Copper Valley should soon hit stride after a very modest start. But if kings are still the game, there are quite a few alternatives still, albeit the action may not be stellar right now. The above areas, plus the Matanuska-Susitna valleys, are yielding some good to excellent opportunities for resident freshwater fish, such as landlocked salmon, rainbow trout, Dolly Varden, lake trout, Arctic grayling, and northern pike; both lakes and streams are producing some great catches as of late. But to add a little bit more variety to the fishing scene the next several days, pinks and chums are now trickling into area waters in a few select locations, the harbinger of things to come in July. Undoubtedly, the silvers are not far behind.
ANCHORAGE AREA-TURNAGAIN ARM
Area Summary: It appears that anglers are destined for a slight lull in the action concerning salmon in this area as the kings in Ship Creek are tapering off a bit and the other species, such as pinks, chums, and silvers, have not made much of an appearance yet. This is quite typical most years for late June and early July, although some years have more of an overlap between fish runs. For now, enjoy the backside of the local king run before the hectic mid-summer salmon arrive in waters in the city and along Turnagain Arm. Perhaps a better idea would be to target the good populations of rainbow trout and Dolly Varden in Campbell and Chester creeks, as well as the stocked fisheries in the area where landlocked salmon, trout, char, and grayling are providing fair to good sport, particularly in the early mornings and evenings.
SHIP CREEK: Every tide is still bringing in fresh king salmon and some of the fish are being caught but the action is slowing from the previous two weeks. Recent catches have been in the mid-teens to mid-20s, yet no very large kings to date. If wanting a decent shot at these salmon, this is the weekend to go and next week should be fair too. An increasing number of kings are now being taken on spinners, while the popular attractor/roe combination is holding true to form. Expect the first few pinks and silvers any day now.
TURNAGAIN ARM STREAMS: Sea-run Dolly Varden are plentiful at the mouths of many streams in the arm. Fishing can be good at most any tide stage depending on the individual water but generally the incoming and high tides appear to be best overall. Try Indian (if road construction allows), Glacier, Kern, Portage, and Ingram. There should be a few early pinks and chums nosing into these spots right now but no confirmed reports yet. Bird Creek is currently closed to all fishing but will reopen on July 14.
Area Summary: The best salmon fishing in this area is around Cooper Landing, specifically the upper section of Kenai River, the Russian, and down in Seward at the head of the bay. Additionally, both kings and reds are being caught at the Kasilof River; the Ninilchik River keeps yielding fresh hatchery kings, as does the lagoon on the Homer Spit. For wild rainbows, the Kenai, again, is hard to beat, but many of the lakes around the peninsula still provides for quick action not only for trout but landlocked salmon, char, and grayling as well. Although not a very consistent fishery these days, Whittier has a few kings and reds showing and rumors of pinks and chums too; herring are being caught in front of town. While boaters are now starting to catch a few silvers in Seward marine waters, the better bet for roadside anglers would be Homer for this species. Bottomfish are very abundant around the area, with Homer, Seward, and Whittier all being solid locations to find a variety of species, including flounder, codfish, greenling, and sculpin; do not be surprised to tie into an occasional halibut or skate.
HOPE/RESURRECTION CREEK: Casting for sea-run Dolly Varden is good on incoming and high tides with salmon fry imitation flies and lures as well as top surface flies getting attention. It is not too early to encounter pinks in this stream and a few fish should be available this weekend. Last year, pinks began showing around the 23rd of June with good fishing by the first of July; normally, however, expect fishable numbers by the second week of July.
SEWARD/RESURRECTION BAY: The red salmon run into Resurrection River at the head of the bay is still reasonably productive but fish numbers are waning. Per emergency order, anglers are now allowed to retain 12 reds per day. Some tides and days are more productive than others and some determined anglers will be able to catch their limits. Expect this weekend and next week to be the last really good shot at getting some nice, chrome reds. Anglers snagging off Spring Creek beach are taking a fair number of reds also, in addition to a few early chums. The first few pinks are due along beaches at the head of the bay any day. The hatchery run of king salmon is spotty to fair, with most fish being caught off the mouth of Scheffler Creek near the boat harbor; snagging is the preferred method. This run is at a peak and will start to slow down shortly. Lowell Point and the mouths of Spruce and Tonsina creeks are yielding fair catches of sea-run char. For bottomfish, head to the northwest side of the bay near the Sea Life Center and in the deep waters along the Lowell Point Road; a few rockfish and halibut are also present.
RUSSIAN RIVER: Anglers here are finding good action for red salmon in the shallow and clear river first thing in the morning, with easy limits possible, and hiking upstream later on can be rewarding. The mouth of the river and confluence section with the Kenai River is a good spot all throughout the day with a steady stream of fish moving through. This run is peaking and should stay relatively strong through the weekend and next week until around the 4th of July. If taking a break from the salmon fishing, gear up for rainbows, which are supporting decent action in the mornings and evenings throughout much of the lower river downstream of the falls. A few Dolly Varden are present also.
UPPER KENAI RIVER: Along with the Russian, anglers trying their fortune along the stretch of water between Sportsman’s Landing and Jim’s Landing are experiencing some good red salmon catches along with quick action for rainbow trout. Water conditions are very good and ideal for both floating as well as wading. With the red run peaking, this is likely the last productive weekend until the late run arrives in mid-July. A fair number of Dolly Varden are being taken now as these fish are moving into the area from Kenai Lake.
LOWER KENAI RIVER: As the early run of reds is starting to dissipate, more anglers are focused on the trout action of the “middle” river between the Skilak Lake outlet and Sterling; good to excellent sport is being reported. Dolly Varden fishing is fair in this section too. But if still intent on reds, try the Bing’s Landing area. Fishing for king salmon will open back up again on Wednesday, July 1. Surf-casting off the mouth of the river is slow but an occasional halibut or a few sand or mud sharks (spiny dogfish) may be encountered.
KASILOF RIVER: This is a great spot to target both kings and reds from shore. Recent catches have been fair to good with the tides being best; however, the morning bite in the channel right below the campground can be decent for kings too. A few quite sizable fish have been landed lately, in the 25- to 35-pound range. Quite a few of the kings are starting to turn color but chrome or silver fish are still available. As a reminder, only hatchery kings may be retained. This will likely be the last really productive weekend for kings here before the late run arrives in July. The red run will fluctuate depending on commercial activity in the inlet with some tides and days being good, others very slow.
NINILCHIK RIVER: With kings closed or slowing down in most locations, this little river is holding up well as decent numbers of fish continue to be present. Small schools of chrome salmon continue to arrive on the tides and fish are stacking up in deeper holes and runs throughout the lower reaches. With water conditions being very low and clear recently, anglers have been able to sight-fish to these kings with quite good results. Also, fishing at the end of the harbor near the river mouth has been productive on outgoing tides. As a reminder, only hatchery fish may be retained; most of them are in the 8- to 12-pound range. However, a few wild kings this past week have topped 30 pounds with a 40-pounder reported. Expect a few pinks any day.
HOMER/KACHEMAK BAY: King salmon are still available in the Dudiak Lagoon on the spit and anglers are connecting with them on the incoming and outgoing tides. While most fish are blushing, there are still a fair number of chrome or reasonably bright salmon to be had. The morning tides are generally producing the better catches. Expect fair success with sporadic good moments. Drifting eggs and casting spinners is best but fish can be caught in the channel between the lagoon and the bay as tide goes out using flies. No reports of silvers yet in the lagoon but a few should be present any day now. UPDATE: By emergency order, the Dudiak Lagoon will open to snagging on Tuesday, June 30, through Thursday, July 2, to allow for more efficient harvest of kings schooling within the lagoon. Expect good to excellent success the first day snagging will be permitted. Elsewhere in this area, casting for bottomfish is good at the end of the spit for flounder, codfish, and sculpin. Occasional catches of halibut and skate may be had. Sea-run Dolly Varden are leaving the bay destined for salmon spawning streams but a few fish may still be picked up along the beach.
Area Summary: The king salmon season here is regulated to only the Little Susitna River and the Eklutna Tailrace, with catch-and-release only allowed on the former and smaller numbers of hatchery fish present in the latter location. Fishing has been fair at best when water conditions and weather cooperates, with the Eklutna providing some mediocre catches in the very early mornings using attractor lures in combination with bait. This run is peaking but expect slow to fair success. The better bet in terms of action are the trout and grayling streams draining into the Susitna River, which are flowing at good levels and clarity right now barring heavy rain showers. The lakes and ponds in this area are producing great sport for landlocked salmon, trout, char, grayling, and pike. No word yet on reds or any other salmon species showing up but historically these fish will start arriving sometime in the first or second week of July.
WILLOW, LITTLE WILLOW, SHEEP, GOOSE, MONTANA CREEKS: The middle and upper reaches of these waters are yielding good to excellent catches of rainbow trout and fair to good success for grayling. Try around the road crossings and above using forage pattern flies and lures. As long as water conditions stay low and clear, the fishing will be hot and should only improve as salmon show up. As a reminder, king salmon fishing in all of these waters is prohibited this season by emergency order. Although pinks began arriving by the final days of June last year, this year should see a more normal timing pattern.
CHULITNA RIVER: The clearwater tributaries of this glacial drainage typically hold some fair to good or better opportunities for rainbows and grayling and anglers are locating fish in places such as Honolulu, Byers, and the East and Middle forks of the Chulitna River. Although the East Fork Chulitna is open for kings this year, it is by catch-and-release only; no reports yet of fish being caught.
COPPER VALLEY-VALDEZ ARM
Area Summary: It is becoming more apparent that the king and red salmon runs to this area are down this year compared to historical averages. While both species are present in the Gulkana, Klutina, and Tonsina rivers, fishing success has generally been slow to fair. Anglers should keep close attention to these waters as emergency orders could be pending within the next several days. However, fishing for resident species such as rainbow and lake trout, landlocked salmon, Dolly Varden, grayling is good in various lakes and clearwater streams. Lake Louise, Paxson, and Summit are good spots to go for big lake trout, while the smaller stocked lakes are steadily producing rainbows, salmon, and grayling. The Tolsona, Tulsona, Indian, and Little Tonsina are fishing well for a combination of species, mainly char and/or grayling. Down in Valdez, angling opportunities are currently a bit limited but a few reds are present in Robe River and the first few pinks have arrived at Allison Point.
GULKANA RIVER: Flowed somewhat high and muddy the last several days, the river is dropping and clearing and should be producing a mix of kings and reds by the weekend and through next week. Angler success is fair at best as runs appear to be small so far this year. From the highway bridge upstream to Sourdough is the best stretch of water right now for salmon. Grayling are producing fast action on the middle river between Paxson Lake and the falls, with a few rainbows being caught as well.
KLUTINA RIVER: This has surprisingly enough been an off year thus far in the season for reds with slow to fair fishing, although short flurries of activity has produced some good catches for a few anglers in the right spot at the right time. It is anticipated that numbers of fish will improve over the course of the next week to ten days. Dolly Varden, rainbows, and a few grayling are being caught on the upper river and the outlet of Klutina Lake, providing much-needed action. The king salmon season opens July 1.
Updated Thursday, June 18, 2020
CURRENT HOT SPOTS: SEWARD REDS; SHIP KINGS; UPPER KENAI REDS, RAINBOWS; KASILOF KINGS, REDS; NINILCHIK KINGS; RUSSIAN REDS
Weekly Summary: There is quite a spread of fishing options available for this weekend and the following days. Kings are still running relatively strong in several locations along with early-run red salmon, primarily in drainages on the Kenai Peninsula, such as Kenai, Kasilof, Russian, Ninilchik, Dudiak, and Resurrection, and in the Gulkana and Klutina in Copper Valley. Even the city of Anchorage’s favorite–Ship–is yielding consistent results. Although traditionally harboring solid hot spots for kings in latter June, the Matanuska-Susitna valleys remain closed to king salmon fishing this season, the only exceptions being the Little Susitna (catch-and-release only) and Eklutna (mediocre success). However, what these regions all have in common is the great action for resident species in lakes and streams, with rainbow trout and Arctic grayling being plentiful and willing. Lake trout, northern pike, and sea-run Dolly Varden are also strong contenders this month. No matter which direction headed out, Southcentral has it covered.
ANCHORAGE AREA-TURNAGAIN ARM
Area Summary: Without a doubt, the presence of king salmon in Ship Creek in downtown Anchorage has this area preoccupied, and for good reason; it is currently one of the better locations on the road system for this species. But it is not the only game in town as anglers desiring a little bit more of a wilderness touch will come to appreciate the population of sea-run char that the streams around Turnagain Arm has offer. In addition, Campbell and Chester creeks are now open to fishing and freshly stocked with rainbows along with decent populations of Dolly Varden. The lakes and ponds around the city as well as at the head of Turnagain Arm (Portage area) are producing fair to good catches of a variety of game fish, including landlocked salmon, trout, char, and grayling. Anglers should take note that as we advance into late June, additional salmon species will be showing up in area waters, including a few pinks, chums, and even silvers.
SHIP CREEK: Challenging even some of the most notorious roadside king salmon destinations in productivity these days, Ship is at a peak right now with anglers scoring big on the tides. Attractor and roe setups anchored on the bottom on incoming and high tide and drifted with the current on the outgoing is responsible for the majority of salmon being brought in, yet spinners are also effective. Most fish weigh in the teens into low 20s with a few 30s having been landed too. Do not be surprised to find lunkers into the 40s range cruising the creek the next ten days. Expect fair to good success, the morning tides being best. As a note, the first silver salmon could be caught by the end of next week.
TURNAGAIN ARM STREAMS: Sea-run Dolly Varden are prolific at the mouths of streams all around the arm, with Indian, Glacier, Kern, Portage, and Ingram being prime spots to find them. Small lures and flies resembling juvenile salmon are tops for drawing strikes, as is salmon eggs fished stationary on the bottom. Incoming and high tides are generally best for potential fast-paced action but sometimes low tide may be hot as well. A few early pinks and chums may start showing in these places within a week. The hooligan season has ended in all areas of the arm.
Area Summary: There is no lack of good fishing locations this weekend and next week. Salmon are showing up in variable numbers just about everywhere, from the more popular waters on the west shores to the fisheries of the gulf coast and even in western Prince William Sound. Yet, it is the arrival of red salmon that has most anglers’ attention, with the Kenai and Russian rivers picking up speed over last week along with the Kasilof south of Soldotna and Resurrection in Seward. All of these runs may have been a tad bit slow getting started but are expected to peak starting this weekend and for the next ten days to two weeks. But not to be outdone, the king salmon continue to make waves in the local communities of the peninsula, in particular the hatchery fish locations of Dudiak Lagoon, Ninilchik and Kasilof rivers, and Resurrection Bay. Rainbow trout are providing good catch rates in the middle and upper sections of the Kenai River, and sea-run Dolly Varden are still prevalent along the beaches of Homer Spit and in Seward. Both stocked and wild lakes are producing nice catches of landlocked salmon, trout, char, and grayling. The marine fisheries are recording good to excellent success for bottomfish, although surf-casting for halibut is on the wane for now but will improve again later on in July.
SEWARD/RESURRECTION BAY: Snagging reds at the mouth of Resurrection River off Nash Road has been variable, with some days and tides better than others; expect fair to excellent catch rates. Limits of six fish is very possible as this run is peaking and should stay productive for another ten days to two weeks. The beach areas at Spring and Scheffler creeks are providing opportunity to snag reds too. The hatchery run of kings into Scheffler Creek and Seward Lagoon is improving with shore-based anglers managing to successfully target fish by snagging on incoming and high tides in and around the release site. Additionally, a few kings are available at the mouths of most any clearwater stream draining into the bay, such as Spring, Lowell, Spruce, and Tonsina creeks, on the incoming tide. Sea-run char are being caught in decent numbers, primarily in waters around Lowell Point and Tonsina Creek. Surf-casting for bottomfish such as flounder, codfish, and greenling is good to excellent from the breakwater in front of town and in deeper sections along the Lowell Point Road, with a few rockfish and occasional halibut also present in the latter locations.
RUSSIAN RIVER: While the season opener was generally slow to fair for reds, things are starting to change as more fish continue to enter the area every day with good success now possible at the confluence with the Kenai. The confluence is a steady fishery with catches being made throughout the day, in contrast to the low and clear Russian proper where schools of fish enter the river during the night and can be targeted by sight-fishing at dawn with limits typical; midday action, however, is poor. This run is expected to peak starting next week. Rainbow trout are yielding fair game using flies along the section of water from the falls downstream to the river mouth; only a few Dolly Varden are present at this time.
UPPER KENAI RIVER: This is a nice time to float the river or hike in from one of several roadside access points, casting to schools of reds and hungry rainbows. The most productive section of water overall is from the Russian confluence at Sportsman’s Landing downstream to the Skilak Lake inlet. While the trout action peaked right after the season opener on the 11th, there is still some good fishing to be had. Catch rates for reds has been fair to good with best catches occurring along the south shoreline between the Russian and Jim’s Landing.
LOWER KENAI RIVER: With kings closed until July 1, anglers here are targeting reds bound for the Russian River and other early-run populations with fair success. Some limits of fish are being taken in the right place at the right time with proper technique; try Swiftwater, the Moose Meadows area, and Bing’s Landing. Drifting streamers or small yarn flies is the key. For rainbows, the middle river upstream of Bing’s to the Skilak Lake outlet is best. Action is good and there is a smaller number of Dolly Varden available as well. The hooligan season has ended.
KASILOF RIVER: A mixed bag of kings and reds is possible here. Anglers report fair to good results for kings at dawn just below the Crooked Creek Campground and again around high tide at the bottom of The People Hole. Small corkies and other attractors as well as yarn flies are working for the kings. As a note, only hatchery kings may be retained; all wild fish must be released. For reds, use a variety of fly patterns and yarn flies in faster current, preferably at peak high tide and the following hour or two if near tidewater. At the highway crossing or above, time schools of reds to pass approximately 6 to 8 hours after peak high.
NINILCHIK RIVER: One of the better king salmon locations in Southcentral. While only hatchery kings may be retained (all wild fish must be released), there is a good crop of them this year with most averaging 10-12 pounds. Try casting spinners on the outgoing tide in the harbor area at the mouth of the river, or use flies and lures at dawn in the deep holes around the highway crossing. Many fish are still chrome in the lower river, while upriver fish are starting to turn. Expect fair to very good fishing this weekend and next week.
HOMER/KACHEMAK BAY: For king salmon, the Dudiak Lagoon on the spit is the place to go. Fresh fish are still entering on the tides with eggs and spinners producing most catches; try the incoming tide inside the lagoon and the outgoing tide on the bay side. Sometimes schools of fish can be visually spotted and targeted in the channel following high tide using flies. The success rate is described as fair with some days and tides being better. This run has peaked and many fish are turning but should produce some bright kings for another couple of weeks still. Another point to consider is that a few silvers may start showing very soon at the lagoon as well. Coal Point at the end of the spit is a fast-action hot spot right now for a variety of bottomfish, including flounders, codfish, and sculpin; an occasional halibut or king salmon is possible. As for sea-run Dolly Varden, numbers of fish are declining along the beaches of the bay as the movement towards salmon spawning streams has started; still, fair success may be enjoyed.
Area Summary: With king salmon fishing closed in the majority of waters within this area, anglers are keenly focused on the trout and grayling streams where good catches are being reported. But if a king is still a personal pursuit, the Eklutna Tailrace is the only option if wanting to retain a fish to eat; the Little Susitna is still under a catch-and-release emergency order. A few early-run reds are showing up in local waters but expect slow fishing at best at this time. And then there are the myriad of lakes and ponds of the broader valley areas, all of which are yielding good to excellent opportunities for landlocked salmon, trout, char, grayling, and pike. However, for migratory/ocean-run salmon in most rivers and streams, wait until mid-July for the pinks, chums, and silvers to arrive.
WILLOW, LITTLE WILLOW, SHEEP, GOOSE, MONTANA CREEKS: As water conditions here are finally improving to more seasonal levels, anglers are finding good action for rainbows and grayling, mainly in the middle and upper sections of these Susitna River tributaries. Forage flies and lures are responsible for the brunt of fish being caught, most of which are in the single digits and teens but some trout may go over 25 inches on occasion. Deception Creek, in the Willow Creek drainage, also has good opportunities for rainbows and grayling upstream of the Hatcher Pass Road crossing.
COPPER VALLEY-VALDEZ ARM
Area Summary: Being somewhat slow to arrive in force this year, the salmon runs in this area are finally gaining momentum as anglers on the Gulkana and Klutina are doing well and expected to do better in the coming days. Stream fishing for grayling is good in several locations, in particular the waters of the upper Copper drainage, and lake fishing is highly productive right now, in particular for lake trout and stocked landlocked salmon, rainbows, and grayling. Lake Louise, Paxson Lake, and Summit Lake are seeing anglers catching some large specimens of lake char, often weighing into the teens with 20-pound-plus fish always a possibility; use plugs or spoons. Port Valdez has a population of sea-run char available but no reports yet of salmon being caught; although angling effort from shore is very low this time of season. However, expect a few pinks to show any day over at Allison Point.
GULKANA RIVER: This year’s king and red salmon runs have begun with fish available from the river mouth upstream to Sourdough and beyond. Action for kings is currently fair as water conditions are improving but may slow again if heavy rain once again fall on the area. Most catches are being made in the lower river on either side of the highway crossing. Numbers of kings is expected to peak starting next week. As for the reds, the run is off to a slow start but there are fish to be had, primarily downstream of Sourdough. Again, if water conditions hold, fair opportunities should be had this weekend and the following two weeks. Targeting grayling is good to excellent on the upper river above the rapids, and lake trout are also good at the outlet of Paxson Lake.
KLUTINA RIVER: Usually a top producer of early-run reds in June, the run this year has been lagging thus far but is steadily improving. Anglers around Copper Center are routinely catching fish with limits possible; fair to good action is the norm but excellent success may be had if a large school happens to move through. Drifting yarn flies near shore is best way to connect. The run is expected to peak shortly, although it appears weaker than the past several years. The king salmon season opens July 1.
Updated Thursday, June 11, 2020
CURRENT HOT SPOTS: SEWARD REDS; KASILOF KINGS, REDS; UPPER KENAI REDS, RAINBOWS; SHIP KINGS; NINILCHIK KINGS; HOMER KINGS
Weekly Summary: Although some of the king salmon fisheries in the region continue to simmer in locations such as Ship, Kasilof, Ninilchik, and Dudiak, reds are now making a much more prominent appearance, mainly in Seward but also in the Kenai, Russian, and Kasilof rivers. Very soon, the drainages of Gulkana and Klutina will follow suit and provide even more options for anglers to enjoy good sport on the water and fill freezers. The early summer season in Southcentral is typically marked by worthwhile salmon action and great stream opportunities for resident species such as rainbows, Dolly Varden, and arctic grayling. Stable weather conditions along with warmer temperatures are trademarks of June, something all anglers can appreciate after a cool and blustery spring and before the late summer and fall rains set in.
ANCHORAGE AREA-TURNAGAIN ARM
Area Summary: Kings are beginning to sizzle in Ship Creek as the run continues to build, and landlocked salmon, rainbows, and grayling are still quite active in area lakes, especially in early morning and evening. Mid-June can be a great time for fishing in and around Anchorage as opportunities are plentiful and the weather generally cooperating. Additionally, starting on the 15th (Monday), anglers will be allowed to go catch-and-release only fishing on Campbell and Chester creeks for trout and char. These two clearwater streams often yield very good action during the opener, in particular the middle and upper stretches. Dip netting for hooligan in 20-Mile River is almost done for the year, this being the last weekend to try before the fishery closes June 15.
SHIP CREEK: This downtown fishery has really started to turn on the last few days with a decent number of kings being landed on the tides. Using attractor lures in combination with roe is best but some fish are also being taken on spinners and other lures. Typical size range is from the teens to low 20s but a few 30-plus-pound kings have been landed. Expect fair to good success as the run is starting to peak; most fish are chrome and now is the time to go if wanting great sport and quality meat.
TURNAGAIN ARM STREAMS: With much of the focus on hectic salmon fisheries around the region, it is easy to forego the easy going pace of sea-run char fishing at the mouths of streams in Turnagain Arm. Although Bird Creek is closed to all fishing until July 14, there are several other spots to try, including Indian, Glacier, Kern, Portage, and Ingram, all of which offer fair to good action at this time using a variety of offerings, such as smolt/fry-imitation lures and flies as well as salmon eggs. The bite is generally best on the incoming and high tides.
Area Summary: Although a few more emergency orders were handed down this week, most notably the Kenai (closed to king salmon fishing) and the Kasilof (only hatchery kings allowed to be retained), there is also good news in that all of the flowing waters of the Kenai River drainage are now open to fishing, including the Russian River, which is seeing fishable numbers of red salmon. Anglers may also capture reds on the lower section of the Kenai and all along the Kasilof. The Ninilchik will be open for hatchery kings next week as well. The reds in Seward are attracting a lot of attention with the snagging crowd. In Homer, the lagoon on the spit is continuing to report fresh kings on the tides. Sea-run char may be caught in varying numbers in all marine waters around the peninsula, particularly Kachemak and Resurrection bays, but some fish are also available in Passage Canal in Whittier. The latter also has a few kings, reds, and chums present. Area lakes are experiencing good to excellent fishing for resident species; landlocked salmon, rainbow trout, arctic char, and arctic grayling are all very active. The spring opportunity for beach halibut is dissipating but other species of bottomfish are peaking in numbers. Dip netting for hooligan is still a possibility in Seward but the run has ended on the Kenai.
SEWARD/RESURRECTION BAY: The mouth of Resurrection River at the head of the bay is a steady producer of red salmon but the run has shown to be a bit unpredictable thus far this season, with some tides yielding good to excellent catches while other days and tides being very slow. This run should be reaching a peak shortly and remain a hot spot through the month for snaggers. Anglers wanting to connect on a fly can try their skill in the lower section of Salmon Creek downstream of Nash Road starting Tuesday, June 16; expect fair results. King salmon are making a meager appearance at the head of the bay, mostly around the mouth of Scheffler Creek, but a few fish may be encountered off the mouth of any clearwater stream, such as Lowell, Spruce, Tonsina, and Spring. Now on for the next ten days to two weeks should be the peak time for these fish; most catches are made by snagging but casting spinners can be effective too. Sea-run Dolly Varden provide decent catches off the beaches around the bay, Lowell Point and Tonsina Creek being best. Bottomfish like flounder, codfish, greenling, and sculpins are abundant with good to excellent catches being made surf-casting. A few rockfish and an occasional halibut is possible. This is the last weekend for hooligan in Resurrection River and Salmon Creek; dip netting is slow to fair.
KENAI, RUSSIAN RIVERS: As expected, the early-run king salmon season here was closed down recently. However, fishing for red salmon and rainbow trout is productive with the former showing up in moderate numbers from Soldotna and Sterling up to Cooper Landing; the latter is providing very good action right now on the middle river section upstream of Sterling and throughout much of the upper river. The confluence area of the Kenai and Russian rivers was fair at the opener on the 11th with some limits taken and expected to pick up during the course of next week as more fish arrive. Anglers also experienced fair fishing for rainbows on the Russian. The halibut bite off the river mouth has subsided but a few fish may still be around on high tide.
KASILOF RIVER: By emergency order, only hatchery kings are allowed to be retained here and anglers must release all wild fish. Yet, the fishing has been quite decent still, with anglers scoring nice kings at and right after high tides at the bottom of The People Hole (near Crooked Creek Campground) drifting flies and attractors. The early morning bite in the channel right below the campground is improving. This run is peaking and typically stays productive through the third week of this month. Reds are entering the system in increasing numbers and anglers are now able to target them specifically. Some fish are also taken incidentally to fishing for kings using flies. Resident rainbow trout and a few sea-run char are present.
NINILCHIK RIVER: One of the most productive king salmon locations in the region, this little river is open to hatchery kings only starting Tuesday, June 16, and will stay open for kings through the remainder of the season ending on November 1. Expect action to be very good early morning on opening day in holes around the highway and on the outgoing tide in the harbor. Per new restrictions, only unbaited, single-hook, artificial lures may be used and hatchery kings caught do not have to be recorded towards the 5-fish annual limit for Cook Inlet. Bag and possession limit remains at 1 fish. The beach area around the river mouth is now closed to all fishing until July 15.
HOMER/KACHEMAK BAY: The best spot for salmon is the Dudiak Lagoon on the spit, where anglers are catching a fair number of fish on the incoming and outgoing tides. Drifting eggs and casting spinners are getting most of the fish. Some of the salmon are starting to blush a little bit but many are still in chrome condition. Expect this fishery to hold steady for another week to ten days. Surf-casters are catching good numbers of bottomfish off the end of the spit at Coal Point, including a variety of flounders, codfish, sculpin, and the occasional halibut; use cut herring or octopus as bait, jigs may work. Sea-run char are still present in decent numbers along the ocean side of the spit and relatively easily caught on juvenile salmon imitation flies and lures.
Area Summary: Anglers are seeing improved chances in hooking and landing king salmon in this area. The Eklutna Tailrace is seeing a small number of fish being caught with fair opportunities at best but the run is expected to gain momentum through next week. Water conditions are good with clarity being better than normal for this time of the year, thus lures work just as well as bait. The run of kings into Little Susitna River remains poor and a catch-and-release emergency order is in effect. Lake fishing is good to excellent for landlocked salmon, trout, char, grayling, and pike. The streams of Fish, Cottonwood, and Wasilla will open to fishing on Monday, June 15, with fair to good success possible for rainbows and Dolly Varden. The east-side tributaries of Susitna River are dropping and slowly clearing after an extended period of high and muddy water, yielding fair or better opportunities for trout, char, and grayling, with Willow, Little Willow, Sheep, Goose, and Montana being top picks. Deception and Rabideux are also worth a look, the former opening on June 15. Next week should see some very productive action in these and other nearby waters.
COPPER VALLEY-VALDEZ ARM
Area Summary: The big news in these parts is the arrival of king and red salmon in the Gulkana and the Klutina is seeing catches of reds as well. Angler success is still somewhat on the slow side but the runs are building with fair possibilities by this weekend or early next week. Grayling are available in clearwater streams throughout the area but the spawning season is concluding in most drainages and water levels are dropping; best picks for the next several days would be Tonsina, Tulsona, and Indian. Fishing for lake trout is good to excellent in the larger lake systems, with Louise, Paxson, and Summit all producing good-sized char using spoons and plugs. The smaller, stocked waters are yielding excellent catches of landlocked salmon, trout, char, and grayling, in particular those locations along the Glenn Highway, Richardson Highway, and Edgerton Highway/McCarthy Road. Opportunities in and around Valdez are somewhat limited but sea-run char may be caught at the mouths of streams draining into the bay using juvenile salmon imitation lures as well as salmon eggs. A few reds are headed up the Robe River.
Updated Thursday, June 4, 2020
CURRENT HOT SPOTS: NINILCHIK KINGS; SEWARD REDS, DOLLIES; KASILOF KINGS; KENAI REDS; HOMER KINGS, DOLLIES; SHIP KINGS
Weekly Summary: Anglers in the region are seeing mixed catches these days as some of the more popular king salmon streams are either closed by emergency order or have heavy restrictions in place to conserve weak returns; this includes Little Susitna River and all eastside tributaries of the Susitna River north of Anchorage, and Deep Creek and Anchor River south of town. But despite these perceived hardships, there are still some locations producing fair to very good catches of kings. Additionally, early-run red salmon are becoming more abundant in roadside waters and limits are possible for those putting in time and effort. Fishing in lakes and ponds throughout the region is still highly productive as landlocked salmon, trout, char, grayling, and pike are active in relatively shallow areas near shore. Saltwater species along with sea-run char are approaching peak catches and surf-casters can find decent opportunities from most roadside ports. While dip netting for hooligan has slowed, there is still time and spots yielding success. Thus far, June is shaping up to be a great time to be out on the water.
ANCHORAGE AREA-TURNAGAIN ARM
Area Summary: As the hooligan run into Turnagain Arm and 20-Mile River is nearing the end, salmon are starting to fill the void with kings starting to appear in Ship Creek in fishable numbers and the resident species like landlocked salmon, trout, char, and grayling are still active in area lakes and ponds. Campbell and Chester creeks are closed to all fishing at this time but will open up to catch-and-release angling for rainbows and Dolly Varden starting June 15. To experience stream-type opportunities, head down to the mouths of streams between Anchorage and the Portage where sea-run Dolly Varden are making a decent appearance. As a note, Bird Creek is closed to all fishing through July 13 to protect migrating king salmon.
SHIP CREEK: With a slightly cool start to this popular downtown salmon fishery, things are finally starting to happen as kings appear in numbers and anglers are landing fish consistently around the high tide cycle. Chrome kings tipping the scales up to 32 pounds are being caught with most being in the 10- to 20-pound range. Spin-N-Glo and roe setups are responsible for most hookups but spinners are taking fish also. Though not fast-and-furious action yet, there is reasonable opportunity in this location that is up to par or even better than many spots outside of the city.
20-MILE RIVER: The hooligan run is slowing and success is fair at the road crossing; however, some boaters are reporting good catches still in upstream areas. This fishery will remain open through June 14. Dip netting along Turnagain Arm is closed for the season (as of June 1).
Area Summary: If wanting to target salmon, the Kenai Peninsula is a solid option and arguably the best place on the entire road system to do so as runs elsewhere are just starting or off limits due to emergency orders. Although the streams of Anchor and Deep are shut down, there are other places to go that are seeing fairly decent numbers of both early-run kings and reds. If salmon is not the game, there are plenty of lakes to catch landlocked salmon, trout, char, and grayling, many of which are stocked by the state. Apart from the main salmon stream fisheries, most smaller creeks and rivers are closed to fishing at this time to protect spawning populations of rainbow trout; however, all of these flowing waters will open back up again on June 11 by regulation. Saltwater opportunities are also quite good at this time as king and red salmon, sea-run char, and a variety of bottomfish, including halibut, are available to surf-casters. Although not yet “hot spots” for kings, the ports of Seward and Whittier are seeing the first few hatchery fish arriving and soon to follow suit of Homer.
SEWARD/RESURRECTION BAY: Red salmon are moving through the Resurrection River marine snag fishery in generally decent numbers with some days anglers being able to limit out on six fish, other days are very slow with only a few salmon caught. The hit-and-miss action can be frustrating at times, especially if only down for a day; spend a few days and the likelihood of returning home with a full cooler greatly increases. Due to the natural day to day fluctuations of fish entering the fishery plus commercial cost recovery efforts at the head of the bay add to angler success rates. This run is expected to peak in another week to ten days. As for other area opportunities, kings are starting to appear along the beaches in front of town and may be encountered around the mouths of clearwater streams most anywhere in the bay. Sea-run Dolly Varden are most active at Lowell Point and the mouth of Tonsina Creek. A few halibut may be present in relatively shallow waters as the hooligan run is passing through on the way to Resurrection River and Salmon Creek. These locations are also decent spots right now for dip netting these smelt; fair to good catches possible. Casting for bottomfish is good from town beaches with a mixed bag of flounder, codfish, greenling, and sculpin available.
KENAI RIVER: While king salmon are returning in below average numbers and additional restrictions may fall on this fishery, red salmon are showing in catchable numbers with some anglers limiting out in the right spots. Bing’s Landing in Sterling and Swiftwater and Moose Meadows in Soldotna are all good places to go for early-run reds. These are mainly Russian River-bound fish and should peak in numbers shortly on until mid-month. Fishing for rainbows and Dolly Varden is fair to good with most effort focused on the middle river section above Naptowne Rapids. Dip netting for hooligan is slow as the run has just about ended. A number of halibut have been taken at the mouth of the river on high tides but expect this unique fishery to slow considerably with the demise of the hooligan run. As a reminder, the upper Kenai around Cooper Landing as well as all tributaries will open to fishing on June 11. Reds are starting to arrive at the mouth of the Russian as well as the lower river near the campground so worthwhile action may be at hand on the opener. (Consult the Fish Alert section on this site early next week for a special pre-season report on the Russian.)
KASILOF RIVER: Varying success has been the norm for kings on this river with boat anglers still seeing the most action, but some fish are being caught from shore too around the Crooked Creek access site, particularly early in the morning or right after high tide. Overall, expect fair to good results. Red salmon are becoming more common as the early component of this run continues to build; the majority of fish are caught incidentally to flipping for kings using flies. Targeting these fish will improve in about 10 days. A very few steelhead remain in the river but this run is practically over for now. Some resident rainbows and sea-run Dollies are present. The halibut fishing off the mouth of the river has slowed way down.
NINILCHIK RIVER: This could be one of the better locations to hook a king salmon this weekend. Although only hatchery fish may be retained (limit is 1), there is definitely enough action to keep things interesting. Expect fair to relatively very good success on the Saturday opener; the midnight to dawn slot is when most kings will be caught. Drift eggs and flies or cast spinners. Also try the incoming and outgoing tides in and around the harbor area. The last few steelhead of the fall run may still be present. A few halibut could be caught by surf-casters along Ninilchik Beach this weekend. Note: Nearby Deep Creek (as well as Anchor River) are closed to all fishing until July 15 by emergency order.
HOMER/KACHEMAK BAY: The hatchery return of kings into Dudiak Lagoon on the Homer Spit is gaining traction with anglers as the run is increasing in strength. Fair to good fishing using roe, herring, and spinners can be expected, with the incoming and outgoing tides best. Morning tides are prime. Sea-run Dolly Varden are actively feeding along the beaches of the spit with the better action taking place from Coal Point (Land’s End) north to Bishop’s Beach. Plenty of bottomfish are being caught from the end of the spit, such as flounder, codfish, and sculpin, with occasional catches of halibut.
Area Summary: Salmon anglers do not have much in the way of options in this area with the classic king salmon streams between Willow and Talkeetna shut down by emergency order this year. However, catch-and-release fishing for kings is still allowed on the Little Susitna River but success has been poor up until this point; red salmon have also started returning here. The only spot still open for retention of king salmon is the Eklutna Tailrace where a hatchery run of these fish is building in strength; soak roe on the bottom with or without an attractor at dawn. Fishing at the tailrace this early in the season is considered best where it flows into the main Knik River channel, not the regular side channel. As for other species, landlocked salmon, trout, char, grayling, and pike are biting willingly in area lakes with good to excellent success possible in many places. As a reminder, all flowing waters within the Palmer-Wasilla zone are closed to fishing until June 15 to protect spawning rainbow trout. Check out the clearwater streams of Willow, Little Willow, Sheep, Goose, and Montana for rainbows, Dollies, and grayling if the water runs low and clear; these locations have been plagued by high and muddy water recently as a result of heavy rain in area and rapid melting of deep snowpack at the headwaters.
COPPER VALLEY-VALDEZ ARM
Area Summary: The first few king and red salmon have reached the mouths of drainages in central Copper Valley around Glennallen and Copper Center. Notably not as early as the runs last year, these fish are more or less “on time” and anglers will likely be able to connect by this weekend. The Gulkana will hold both kings and reds in small numbers and the Klutina is open for reds only (kings closed until July 1); fishing is expected to range from slow to fair as schools of salmon push through the lower reaches of these waters. To experience some good to excellent action, the spring spawning runs of grayling are still available in some of the smaller clearwater tributaries of Gulkana, Tazlina, and Copper rivers. In addition, lakes in the region harbor great fishing for landlocked salmon, trout, char, and grayling. Lake Louise is yielding trophy lake trout with peak opportunity from now on through the month. Paxson and Summit lakes are two other very productive fisheries for lake trout this time of year.
Updated Thursday, May 28, 2020
CURRENT HOT SPOTS: ANCHOR KINGS; SEWARD REDS, DOLLIES; NINILCHIK KINGS; HOMER KINGS, DOLLIES; KASILOF KINGS; DEEP KINGS; 20-MILE HOOLIGAN
Weekly Summary: As the month of June edges closer, the salmon runs in the region are starting to ramp up with both king and red salmon showing up in numbers in a handful of locations. The rivers and streams around the Kenai Peninsula are definitely the top producers of salmon action right now but some fish are also being taken out of the Matanuska and Susitna valleys. Also, it is only a matter of days before the first salmon are caught in the drainages of Copper River. Apart from that, there is a myriad of opportunities for other species, including landlocked salmon, trout, char, grayling, and pike, with lake fishing being the attraction these days, particularly in stocked waters. However, when weather and water conditions cooperate, anglers are finding very productive sport for resident fish in clearwater streams, most notably those in the Susitna and Copper valleys. Halibut and other bottomfish are being caught along the coast of Southcentral, well within range of surf-casters targeting them. If wanting more hooligan, dip netters still have solid chances of filling coolers in a couple of spots.
ANCHORAGE AREA-TURNAGAIN ARM
Area Summary: The smaller stocked lakes in the city are yielding some very decent angling these days for resident species, especially so in early morning and evening using flies and small spoons and spinners as well as bait. This action is expected to continue at least for another week to ten days before the heat of the summer mellows the bite. The big news in the city, however, is that king salmon numbers are steadily increasing in Ship Creek with each tide producing two or three fish for the few anglers giving an honest effort. Attractor lures with bait and spinners are getting the fish. Expect this stream to be a true hot spot in another week or so as the brunt of the run arrives.
20-MILE RIVER: Good dip netting for hooligan can be had in this drainage at the head of Turnagain Arm, with best catches on the incoming and outgoing tides. Both dippers around the road crossing as well as boaters trying their luck a few miles upstream report coolers full. This fishery is open through June 14; now is the time to go as the run is already showing signs of wear in the saltwater fishery along the arm with generally fair success the norm there. As a note, dip netting for hooligan in the arm closes on June 1.
Area Summary: For roadside salmon opportunities, the drainages of the southern peninsula between Kasilof and Anchor rivers are the best for this weekend and next week. Kings are returning in fair numbers to these fisheries and anglers experienced mediocre success last weekend; things should be even better this coming weekend as the inmigration of fish starts to peak. Reds are also beginning to show up in the Kenai and Kasilof rivers around Soldotna and the Resurrection River in Seward. Steelhead action is abating as fish are starting to spawn and drop out of area waters. Other resident species, such as landlocked salmon, trout, char, and grayling, are offering fast hookups in lakes and ponds. As a note, all tributaries of the Kenai River as well as a few streams on the northern peninsula are closed to fishing through June 10 to protect spawning rainbows. Sea-run Dolly Varden have largely exited overwintering locations and can now be found in numbers in nearshore waters along the gulf coast, primarily Kachemak and Resurrection bays. Some decent opportunities still exist for shallow water halibut. Dip netting for hooligan is productive in Seward but slowing on the Kenai River.
KENAI RIVER: Relatively few big kings are present here but the fishing may still be worthwhile in the tidal area as water conditions are low and relatively clear. However, if a group of kings is encountered stacked up tight in a hole, expect some very decent fishing to be had. Early-run red salmon bound for primarily Russian River are moving up in small schools and may be intercepted in several spots from near tidewater up to Bing’s Landing in Sterling; success varies from poor to fair at this time but should improve considerably by next week with limits possible. Anglers targeting rainbows and Dollies on the middle river are experiencing decent action. Dip netting for hooligan is poor to fair with most fish situated between Soldotna and the river mouth. This run is coming to an end.
KASILOF RIVER: The run of king salmon headed to Crooked Creek is starting to produce some decent catches now. Try the area just downstream of the public campground, focusing on peak high tide as fish arrive. The early morning is also a prime time to hook up. Kings are being taken both from shore and boat with fair to good success reported. A few reds are in the river but fishing for them is still very slow. Steelhead fishing is poor as the majority of fish have moved onto spawning beds. Some Dolly Varden and resident rainbows are present. Surf-casters are fairly successful catching halibut at the mouth of the river on high tide.
NINILCHIK & ANCHOR RIVERS, DEEP CREEK: Probably the most productive freshwater king salmon fisheries in the state at this time, with fair to good prospects for the weekend. Although the runs are still somewhat below normal in terms of numbers of fish coming in, prime water conditions are favoring anglers. Early morning and the tides support the best chances for success. Most fish caught thus far have been between 8 and 20 pounds but expect a few 30-pounders to show soon. On the Ninilchik, bait is legal but anglers are limited to retaining only hatchery fish; the Anchor and Deep are regulated to single-hook, unbaited, artificial lures only by emergency order. A few steelhead continue to be available. A few small halibut may be caught surf-casting at the mouth of these rivers on high tide.
HOMER/KACHEMAK BAY: The best action going here is the highly productive fishery targeting bottom fish at the end of Homer Spit at Coal Point. Various species of codfish as well as flounders and sculpins are being caught on bait and small jigs. An occasional king salmon is also possible. Sea-run Dolly Varden are reasonably abundant along the beaches of the spit with small flies and spoons resembling juvenile salmon most effective. For the best shot at salmon, however, the Dudiak Lagoon on the spit is the place to be on incoming and outgoing tides. While catch rates have been poor this spring, the current trend is more kings are coming in and anglers should see fair success by this weekend or next week. Salmon roe, herring, and spinners are all effective for these fish.
SEWARD/RESURRECTION BAY: The long-awaited run of red salmon to the Resurrection River has started. Catch rates have been slow to spotty for the past ten days but are now picking up; try the river mouth and surrounding beach area on incoming and high tide. This is predominantly a snag fishery but a few anglers may also catch them on flies in current. Expect fair to good success this weekend and early next week. A few reds will also be available by snagging at Spring Creek on Nash Road as well as the mouths of other clearwater streams draining into the bay. Anglers have caught a few hatchery king salmon bound for Seward Lagoon the last several days so the run is building. Sea-run Dolly Varden are providing good action off beaches around town, such as the mouths of Spruce Creek and Tonsina Creek and Lowell Point; use small flies and lures resembling juvenile salmon. Bottomfish can be caught using bait and jigs in deep water locations near the docks and Lowell Point Road; occasional catches of halibut possible. Hooligan are running in the lower Resurrection River and Salmon Creek, dip netters doing fair to good.
Area Summary: While king salmon (and a few reds) are now returning to area rivers and streams, fishing for them is generally poor. Both the Little Susitna River and the mouth of Eklutna Tailrace on mainstem Knik River are reporting catches of kings, but the east-side Susitna River drainages remain closed to king fishing by emergency order. Also, the Little Susitna is a catch-and-release fishery this season, yet the tailrace receives a hatchery run of kings and will thus stay open to retention of king salmon, including the use of bait. Expect these fisheries to improve over the next ten days. For faster and more reliable success, resident species like landlocked salmon, trout, char, grayling, and pike are very active in lakes around the area. Especially the stocked waters are producing excellent catches right now. The streams between Willow and Talkeetna have been flowing high and muddy after heavy rains several days ago but are now dropping and clearing. This weekend could prove good in these locations for rainbows, Dollies, and grayling if low and clear conditions take hold.
COPPER VALLEY-VALDEZ ARM
Area Summary: Ice is off most all lakes in the Copper Valley, with the exception of the larger and deeper bodies of water such as Paxson and Summit. Expect these latter locations to be ice free within a week. Lake Louise has open water now and fishing for lake trout is very good. Many other, smaller, lakes are yielding good to excellent success as well, primarily for stocked rainbows and grayling. Clearwater streams in the area are experiencing spring spawning runs of grayling and fishing can be anywhere from mediocre to superb depending on water and weather conditions. Startup, Gunsight, Cache, Tolsona, Poplar Grove, Sourdough, Haggard, and Tulsona are all worthwhile this time of year. Down in Valdez, sea-run Dolly Varden are present in fair numbers in the port. Target them at the mouth of clearwater salmon spawning streams using small flies and lures. No reports yet of salmon being caught on the Klutina or Gulkana but a few early reds and kings should be available any day now.
Updated Friday, May 22, 2020
Weekly Summary: With the onset of Memorial Day weekend, anglers can anticipate opportunities to flourish for a range of species, including king and red salmon, rainbow trout, Dolly Varden, arctic grayling, and northern pike, all of which are currently available in roadside fisheries. Some of them will yield excellent catch rates the next several days, while others are just picking up steam. But one thing is for certain; the fishing season has arrived in earnest. The action has been fast-paced in most lowland lakes and ponds for resident species throughout the Southcentral region this past week and will hold steady yet for a few more before the summer heat starts to slow things down a bit. However, salmon migrations into area rivers and streams are underway in many places, foremost choice waters on the Kenai Peninsula. Additionally, sea-run char and a variety of saltwater species are to be found in numbers as well. Even hooligan are being caught in large quantities in a few locations. This weekend and next week will prove to be rewarding for those venturing out. Here is the latest information on current Hot Spots:
ANCHORAGE AREA-TURNAGAIN ARM:
Area Summary: As the first king salmon has already been landed in Ship Creek in downtown Anchorage and more fish soon to follow, anglers in this area has some solid options for the holiday weekend. Stocked lakes are teeming with landlocked salmon, trout, char, and grayling and the action has been good to excellent, especially in morning and evenings and during cloudy/drizzly days. For those wanting a bit more solitude away from city crowds may want to check out the small ponds in and around Portage. A few pike may also be located in certain spots, such as Lower Fire Lake out in Birchwood. Dip netters are still doing very well on hooligan along Turnagain Arm and 20-Mile River.
TURNAGAIN ARM/20-MILE RIVER: Netting smelt continues to be good in these waters as the run is peaking; however, the numbers of fish migrating through saltwater areas are beginning to slow somewhat, likely signaling that the run will come to an end in the near future. As a reminder, dip netting in Turnagain Arm closes by regulation on June 1. Still, the outgoing and low tides are producing plenty of fish, enough to fill buckets on some tides. The 20-Mile is seeing very productive dip netting with some locations along the river seeing excellent results with coolers full of fish. Expect this action to continue through the weekend and possibly next week before subsiding. By regulation, the 20-Mile (as well as nearby Placer River) will be open for dip netting through June 14. But other species are available along Turnagain Arm, such as Dolly Varden. These fish are building in numbers at the mouths of clearwater streams and may be worth a try on incoming and high tides using salmon eggs or small lures and flies imitating juvenile salmon.
Area Summary: This weekend represents the official opener for the king salmon season in this area as these fish are available in reasonable numbers and the lower peninsula streams of Ninilchik, Deep, and Anchor are anticipated to produce fair to good catches. Kasilof River and Dudiak Lagoon both are reporting kings being caught but in lesser numbers. Reds are starting to show in the lower Kenai as well as the Resurrection River in Seward. If not up for challenging salmon, the fishing for landlocked salmon, trout, char, and grayling is good to excellent in many spots, including the stocked lakes around Soldotna and Kenai, and in the “wild” lakes along Swanson River Road and Swan Lake Road. In addition, sea-run char are relatively abundant in peninsula saltwaters and bottomfish are increasingly active in Homer and Seward. Halibut are still a good possibility along Cook Inlet beaches. Dip netters are seeing fair catches of hooligan in lower sections of Kenai and Resurrection rivers.
KENAI RIVER: The king salmon run is slowly materializing but thus far more or less confined to the tidewater area with few fish venturing upstream at this time. While targeting kings is allowed, strict regulations are in place, including open areas and legal size retention. Reds are trickling in, presenting anglers with an opportunity, and should increase in numbers exponentially this weekend and coming week around Soldotna; expect slow to fair catch rates. Rainbow trout and Dolly Varden are presenting fair success in the middle river section. Hooligan are available in fair numbers in tidewater and right above; try outgoing and low tide.
KASILOF RIVER: The steelheading has slowed but some fish are still being caught around the Crooked Creek confluence. King salmon are present in small numbers and the run is building. Focus on the area downstream of Crooked Creek, in the “People Hole” and below, at dawn or around high tide. A few early-run reds should also be coming up. Dolly Varden heading out to sea are currently migrating through the lower river and can provide good action.
NINILCHIK AND ANCHOR RIVERS, DEEP CREEK: King salmon are here and waiting. This weekend will be the first decent shot at these fish not only on the peninsula but around the Southcentral region. Barring any heavy rains, conditions should be ideal with moderate water levels and good visibility. The ADF&G operated sonar/weir units on these streams are operating and reporting kings passing through in small numbers, but there are likely to be more fish in the lower reaches of these waters downstream of the weirs. Saturday morning will be prime time as well as around high tide. Remember, per emergency order, only single-hook, unbaited, artificial lures are allowed on the Anchor and Deep. Bait is still allowed on Ninilchik but only hatchery kings may be retained. There are also a fair number of outgoing steelhead present.
COOK INLET: The tides this weekend and into next week are ideal for targeting halibut from shore. About one hour before to two hours after high tide is the time to be out, using herring as bait. Whiskey Gulch, Ninilchik Beach, and the mouths of Kasilof and Kenai rivers are best bets. If the water is clear enough, casting small lures and flies for sea-run Dolly Varden is a good option.
HOMER/KACHEMAK BAY: While a few kings have been taken out of the Dudiak Lagoon, the fishing is still poor but expected to get better this coming week; incoming and outgoing tides are best times to try. The best opportunity in this area is for sea-run Dolly Varden, primarily along the ocean-side beaches of Homer Spit; good action is to be had using lures and flies resembling juvenile salmon. Bottomfish are getting more plentiful at the tip of the spit and the fishing can be good at times, especially around low tide.
SEWARD/RESURRECTION BAY: Sea-run Dolly Varden are providing decent sport for anglers in the bay, primarily at the mouths of clearwater streams. Spring Creek on the east side and Spruce and Tonsina on the west are all producing fair to good catches on incoming and high tides. Red salmon have started their return to Resurrection River and some fish have been snagged at the mouth of the river the last several days. The action is poor right now but could quickly improve on any tide this time of the season. No reports yet of mature kings returning to the release site in town but a few fish should be available any day. Fishing for bottomfish is fair to good in deeper locations around the bay.
Area Summary: Anglers in this area are experiencing the best fishing in lakes and ponds for landlocked salmon, trout, char, grayling, and pike. There are literally dozens of locations to choose from, including both stocked and “wild” waters. Action is currently rated as good to outstanding. As for salmon, there are very few options at this time for roadside anglers as the Little Susitna (catch-and-release only) and Eklutna Tailrace are open for kings; all tributaries on the east side of the Susitna River (Willow, Sheep, Montana, etc.) are closed to king fishing this year by emergency order. There have been no confirmed catches of kings but some fish are likely present in parts of these drainages. Meltwater is still coming down from the Talkeetna Mountains, driving the water levels up, temperatures down, and general turbidity in the streams between Willow and Talkeetna. Rainbow trout, Dolly Varden, and grayling are all available and will provide good action once water conditions improve, possibly later in the weekend or early next week pending no heavy rain or high air temperatures.
COPPER VALLEY-VALDEZ ARM:
Area Summary: The annual spawning runs of grayling into area waters is in full swing and the clearwater tributaries of the Tazlina, Gulkana, and Copper rivers are producing fair to excellent catches. Reliable spots include Startup, Gunsight, Cache, Tolsona, Poplar Grove, Sourdough, Haggard, and Tulsona. Some rainbows/steelhead may be present too. Additionally, area lakes are mostly to completely ice free, prompting good opportunities for a range of species, including landlocked salmon, trout, char, and grayling. The larger lakes of Louise, Paxson, and Summit are still covered with ice; do not venture out on the ice as it is rotten at this time. Expect breakup on these locations to occur in another week to two weeks.
Updated Thursday, May 14, 2020
Weekly Summary: The warm spring sunshine for the past 10 days has really thawed things out around the region with most lowland lakes and stream completely ice free and thus spurring plenty of fishing opportunities for trout, char, grayling, and pike, as well as landlocked salmon. While ADF&G weirs on a few select rivers are already operational, very few kings or any other salmon species have yet to show up, which is not unusual for this early in the season. However, that will change very quickly in about a week when runs start in earnest. But until that happens, anglers are doing well on resident species. Lake fishing is definitely on top of the list as far as solid action goes, yet for those wanting to sample flowing waters and saltwater opportunities, a fair number of options are available there too. Additionally, dip netting for hooligan is productive in a couple of locations.
ANCHORAGE AREA-TURNAGAIN ARM:
Area Summary: All lakes in this area are free of ice and producing good catches of landlocked salmon, rainbow trout, arctic char, and grayling. Due to the bright sunshine recently, most successful anglers go in early morning and evening. Small lures, flies, and bait are all working depending on species, location, and time of day. The only place for salmon is Ship Creek, which has yet to officially document the first king of the year but it is only a matter of days before that changes, perhaps even hours. < UPDATE: The first king salmon of the 2020 season was caught on the tide, Sunday, May 17. > The streams down along Turnagain Arm are generally flowing high with meltwater but sea-run Dolly Varden are available in small numbers off the mouths of these drainages. Dip netting for hooligan between Kern Creek and 20-Mile River along the arm is good with some tides and locations being fair and others excellent; the run is probably peaking and should stay productive for another ten days. Catches of hooligan on the 20-Mile River is picking up.
Area Summary: Also here the lake fishing is top notch with landlocked salmon, rainbows, Dollies, arctic char, and grayling biting on a range of lures and bait. Mornings and evenings are generally better times to go. Stocked waters around the towns of Soldotna, Kenai, and Sterling are yielding good catches at this time as are the lakes and ponds on the northern peninsula, such as those along Swanson River Road and Kenai Spur Highway. The highland and alpine lakes around Cooper Landing and Seward are mostly to partially ice free depending on location. While the middle and upper stretches of the Kenai River and all drainage tributary streams are closed to fishing at this time, the lower Kenai, all of Kasilof, and streams around Seward are open to fishing. A small number of kings are present in the Kenai and Kasilof rivers and runs are building. A few kings are also present in the lower peninsula streams of Ninilchik, Deep, and Anchor; however, only the Anchor will open to fishing starting this Saturday, May 16; expect king salmon action to be slow as water is high, murky, and cold and the run just starting. Also, only single-hook, unbaited, artificial lures are allowed, no bait. Ninilchik and Deep will open to kings and other species on Memorial Day weekend. Going for steelhead, sea-run Dollies, and halibut are great options too this weekend. Hooligan are running in the Kenai River as well.
KENAI RIVER: King salmon are slowly increasing in numbers, mainly in the tidal area, but both action as well as angler effort has been scant thus far. A few red salmon should be present any day now if not already. Be informed of new regulations and restrictions for the drainage concerning kings. Rainbow trout, Dolly Varden, and occasional catches of steelhead are being made in spots, mainly from Slikok Creek confluence upstream to Bing’s Landing; expect fair success. Dip netting for hooligan is productive at the river mouth and a few miles up, with the outgoing and low tide being best.
KASILOF RIVER: A small number of king salmon are available here but catching is poor. A few have been taken by drift boats yet no solid reports of any fish caught by anglers casting off the bank. At this time, targeting steelhead is the best idea, mainly around the Crooked Creek confluence. Although the action for these sea-run rainbows is starting to drop off a bit, it is still worth the effort. Dolly Varden and resident rainbows are becoming more prevalent.
COOK INLET: Surf-casting for shallow water halibut is at its peak around the beaches of the inlet now through the next 10 days and anglers are tagging fish weighing anywhere from 5 to 20 pounds with occasional bigger catches. Herring bait is performing best right now. Tides are not very large this weekend so could prove better in some spots, less so in others. Whiskey Gulch, the mouths of Kasilof and Kenai rivers, and Nikiski Beach are all worthwhile locations this time of season. Gearing down and going for sea-run char is also an option; look for schools of fish feeding near the surf.
KACHEMAK BAY: Casting off Coal Point at the end of the spit for bottomfish has been fair to good recently. Low tide is generally best but high tides can produce nice fish too, including true cod as well as an occasional halibut. Sea-run Dolly Varden are present and anglers are experiencing good success casting smolt imitation flies and lures, best stretch being from the point and up the ocean side of the beach towards town. King salmon are starting to show up in small numbers, headed for Dudiak Lagoon. Best bet for kings is on an incoming and outgoing tide at the lagoon using herring or lures.
RESURRECTION BAY: Targeting sea-run Dolly Varden along the beaches around town is fair to good and improving. Check out the mouths of clearwater streams emptying into the bay, such as Lowell, Spruce, Tonsina, Scheffler, Alice, and Spring creeks. Use flies and lures resembling juvenile salmon. No word yet on hatchery king salmon showing up at the head of the bay but there are feeder kings present, mainly in deeper waters. The first few red salmon of the season are likely heading up the Resurrection River right now; catching them, however, can be problematic until numbers increase in about ten days. The hatchery site at Bear Lake generally sees the first of these early arrivals the third or fourth week of this month. Surf-casting for bottomfish is fair to good in deeper spots; use herring.
Area Summary: All lakes in the lowland areas around Palmer, Wasilla, and Willow are ice free and producing good catches of resident species such as landlocked salmon, rainbow trout, Dolly Varden, grayling, and pike. Check the ADF&G website for scheduled stockings in select waters. Warm weather has slowed the bite for trout, char, and grayling on the eastside Susitna tributaries as these streams are currently running high and muddy from mountain snowmelt. As the melt finishes or cooler weather prevails, the water will clear and drop and action heat up. For now, targeting drainages associated with lakes and marshlands is a good idea for the Susitna area, in particular Caswell, Sunshine, and Rabideux. No reports of kings having been caught yet on the Little Susitna River and the Eklutna Tailrace but a few early fish should be present by this weekend. Hooligan are entering the Susitna River but have not made it as far upstream as the roadside access points; give it another week, maybe ten days.
COPPER VALLEY-VALDEZ ARM:
Area Summary: Some of the smaller lakes and ponds in this area have enough open water to allow opportunities to catch trout and grayling, but the larger, deeper lakes are still firmly locked in ice; wait until the first week of June. In the meantime, anglers should scout the smaller clearwater tributaries of the Copper, Gulkana, and Tazlina drainages for schools of spawn-bound grayling. If the water is clear and not too high, the action can be very good this time of year. Spots to sample include Startup, Cache, Tolsona, Poplar Grove, Sourdough, Haggard, and Tulsona. A few rainbows/steelhead may be caught also. Sea-run Dolly Varden are being hooked on the Robe River near Valdez with some fish now present in Port Valdez saltwater; search out mouths of clearwater streams.
Updated Friday, May 8, 2020
Weekly Summary: Several days of temperatures in the upper 50s and 60s throughout the Southcentral region has helped speed the snowmelt in higher elevations and put a very light sheen of green on trees and brush in the lowlands. Water temperatures are also increasing, which means the landlocked salmon, trout, char, and grayling bite will improve drastically in lakes and streams. While there have been no reports yet of salmon being caught in freshwater, it is only a matter of a few days before that changes. Also, mature spawn-bound kings are now present in marine waters along southern Kenai Peninsula and a few of these fish will likely head up area rivers over the weekend. However, the main attraction at this time are the lake fishing opportunities and anglers can expect good to excellent action. For those wanting to target hooligan, Turnagain Arm and the mouths of Kenai and 20-Mile rivers are producing decent catches.
ANCHORAGE AREA-TURNAGAIN ARM:
Area Summary: Fishing in stocked lakes is good at this time for resident species and should stay productive well into June; as a note, check the ADF&G website for scheduled stockings in select waters. Campbell and Chester creeks are closed to fishing until June 15 to protect spawning trout but a few sea-run Dolly Varden are present at the mouths of clearwater streams in Turnagain Arm. No reports of king salmon having been caught in Ship Creek at the time of this writing but that is expected to change this weekend or next week. As a reminder, the “First Ship King” contest is being held and the lucky angler to record that first catch in this downtown stream will win a prize courtesy of The Bait Shack. One of the best opportunities right now is dip netting hooligan at the east end of Turnagain Arm between Girdwood and Portage. Anywhere from Peterson Creek to the 20-Mile River should produce fair to good catches of these silvery smelt. This run will likely peak starting next week with excellent dipping possible. The hooligan run up the 20-Mile is taking shape and getting better by the day.
Area Summary: Lake fishing is fair to excellent for rainbow trout and Dolly Varden as waters are largely ice free and warming. The lowland lakes around the Kenai-Soldotna area as well Cooper Landing and along Kenai Spur Highway and Swanson River Road are recommended. Additionally, the smaller lakes and ponds in the Seward area harbors fair to good action for sea-run Dolly Varden. But there are also limited opportunities in rivers and streams and saltwater areas, as described in more detail below. Please note that all tributary streams in the Kenai River drainage and elsewhere are closed to fishing at this time to protect spawning trout; they will reopen on June 15. The lower Kenai Peninsula streams of Ninilchik, Deep, and Anchor will open to king salmon and other species in another week to two weeks, depending on location. Dudiak Lagoon in Homer should see the first king caught any day now and the Kenai and Kasilof rivers are sure to follow. Surf-casting for halibut along Cook Inlet beaches is worth the time and effort.
KENAI RIVER: Anglers are connecting with a fair number of rainbows and Dollies on the lower and middle sections of the river and even a few steelhead are being caught in the vicinity of Slikok Creek and Funny River. Although no confirmed catches of king salmon, a few of these fish have reportedly entered the river. Be informed of new regulations and restrictions for the drainage concerning kings. Hooligan are entering the mouth and lower sections of the Kenai in fair numbers with the run building daily. Dip netting can be productive in the tidal area with good catches possible by the weekend or next week.
KASILOF RIVER: For spring steelhead, this is the spot to be. Action is not directly hot but can be relatively decent to mediocre in the stretch of water around Crooked Creek. A few resident rainbows and sea-run Dollies are also present. No confirmed catches of king salmon yet but a few “rollers” have been sighted in the section of water from the People Hole down through tidewater. Anglers feeling up to the challenge of hooking a king should hit an hour before to two hours after high tide, preferably in early morning.
COOK INLET: As hooligan runs are progressing up along the beaches of the inlet, halibut are present in the shallows too to feed on these oil-rich smelt. There are some very large tides this weekend so anglers should be aware of this fact if driving their vehicles out on the beaches ahead of the tide coming in. Whiskey Gulch and the mouth of Kasilof River are relative hot spots but fish may be found at Clam Gulch, the Kenai River mouth, and Nikiski Beach as well.
KACHEMAK BAY: Sea-run Dolly Varden are now available along the Homer Spit with fair to good catches being made, especially at the end of the spit and the southern shoreline. The fish are feeding in the surf so particularly long casts are not necessary. Bottomfish are starting to show and being caught on pieces of herring and squid; flounders, codfish, and pollock are there in fair numbers. A few king salmon bound for Dudiak Lagoon cruise through the area on the tides.
Area Summary: Recent warm weather has created somewhat high and turbid water conditions in some streams along the Parks Highway as snow melts in higher elevations, but as water drops and clears expect good catches to be made for rainbows, Dollies, and grayling. Willow, Little Willow, Sheep, Goose, and Montana are all solid prospects this time of year with the mouths and lower reaches usually being best. However, if muddy water persists, try one of the lake-based or lowland drainages, such as Caswell and Rabideux, which will have clear water. For the most reliable bite right now, however, the lakes throughout the area are difficult to beat as the ice is gone and fish are getting aggressive as waters warm up. Landlocked salmon, trout, char, grayling, and pike are all available and offer good to excellent success. Check the ADF&G website for scheduled stockings in select waters. There are no reports yet of king salmon in the Little Susitna River or Eklutna Tailrace but more than likely there are a few scouts around; note that the Susitna River drainage within Unit 2 is closed to all king salmon fishing this season by emergency order, including catch-and-release.
COPPER VALLEY-VALDEZ ARM:
Area Summary: Rivers and streams in the valley are flowing and grayling are just starting their spawning runs into some of them. Look for the bite to improve next week as water warms and numbers of fish increase. Startup, Cache, Tolsona, Poplar Grove, Sourdough, and Haggard are all worth a try. Lake fishing opportunities are still an option in this area, mainly larger waters at higher elevations where ice is present. Although lakes in the lowland may still have ice cover, it is not safe to venture out on. As soon as enough open water is present, the bite is on for trout and char. The smaller lakes along Glenn Highway and Lake Louise Road will produce catches very shortly. However, the larger bodies of water, such as Louise, Paxson, and Summit, will not be fishable in open water until last week of May or early June. Robe and Lowe rivers in Valdez are seeing fair success for sea-run Dolly Varden.
Updated Friday, May 1, 2020
Weekly Summary: With a long, cold winter finally behind us, spring has taken hold and things are starting to happen in a few open water locales around the region. Many lowland and coastal lakes and ponds are shedding ice with limited opportunities for trout, char, and grayling, yet remain frozen at higher altitudes in mountainous areas. Rivers and streams are flowing both north and south of Anchorage yielding a sparse selection of activity for resident species providing water conditions are right. Also to consider are the annual spring closures in many flowing waters to protect spawning rainbows, particularly on the Kenai Peninsula and in and around urban areas such as Anchorage, Palmer, and Wasilla. In angling terms, there are few true “Hot Spots” this time of the year but still enough places to fish to keep it interesting and the next couple of weeks will see a rapid development angling wise as things warm up and additional species become available.
ANCHORAGE AREA-TURNAGAIN ARM:
It is still a little early for productive stream fishing in this area as some waters are closed to fishing until June 15 and Ship Creek is probably another ten days away from seeing the first king salmon of the season landed. A few Dolly Varden may be present at the mouths of streams draining into Turnagain Arm and hooligan are starting to show between Peterson Creek and 20-Mile River; however, good dip netting is still about a week to ten days off, this in stark contrast to last year when smelt began arriving on April 7 with excellent dipping already by the last week of the month. As for lakes, there is enough open water along the edges to provide some potential for stocked species; give it another week or two for the bite to improve.
Many rivers and streams on the peninsula are already closed to fishing during the rainbow/steelhead trout spawning season and not due to open back up until Memorial Day weekend (southern peninsula) or June 11 (central peninsula). The two rivers that are open right now include lower Kenai and Kasilof where mainly rainbows, pre-spawning steelhead, and out-migrating sea-run Dolly Varden are available (see below). Lakes in the area are open to fishing and some action is taking place for rainbows, landlocked salmon, and Dollies; many of them still have some degree or another of ice cover with open water along the edges, yet a few are largely ice free. Preacher Pond in Seward is a decent spot for sea-run char from now on until mid-month and these fish are also available off the spit in Homer. If wanting to target saltwater species, halibut can be caught from shore in small numbers along Cook Inlet.
KENAI RIVER: With the upper and parts of the middle reaches of the river closed during the trout spawn, anglers are effectively rendered to the lower section of water downstream of Killey River to Cook Inlet. Action is currently spotty to fair for rainbows and Dollies with most catches being made higher up in the drainage from Bing’s Landing to the lower mouth of Killey. Another hit-and-miss opportunity would be for steelhead, such as near or around the mouths of Funny River and Slikok Creek; some days and times it can be quite rewarding. Historically, king salmon start entering the tidewater area about the first of May but do not expect much catching to be going on until around the 15th as numbers build. Hooligan are arriving at the mouth of the river and dipping is fair.
KASILOF RIVER: This is the premier spot for steelhead every spring with anglers doing fair at present time. The area around the mouth of Crooked Creek harbors the most activity but fish can be caught anywhere from the outlet of Tustumena Lake to Cook Inlet. These fish are still in relatively good shape and heading to spawning grounds in Crooked Creek and other tributary streams in late May and early June. Some sea-run char and a few resident rainbows are also present. No reports yet of king salmon having been caught but should be any day now.
COOK INLET: For a change of pace, halibut are moving into shallow water chasing hooligan and herring and other baitfish and now is a prime time to target them by surfcasting. The month of May and into June can yield relatively good action from Nikiski Beach down along the coast to Anchor Point. Fresh frozen whole or chunks of herring fished on the bottom on a high tide is the way to connect with flatfish typically weighing 5 to 20 pounds with an occasional larger specimen to 40 pounds or more. Whiskey Gulch and the mouth of Kasilof River are productive at this time.
With flowing waters in the Wasilla/Palmer zone being closed to fishing until June 15, the better bet is to focus on area lakes that are in the process of shedding ice. Many of them still have a good ice cover but some are starting to see enough open water along the edges to be able to fish effectively. Trout, char, grayling, pike, and landlocked salmon are available. If wanting to sample stream action, the tributaries of the Susitna River from Willow to Talkeetna may be worth a shot. Ice is slowly eroding and washing out on the mainstem Susitna but the mouths of Willow, Little Willow, Sheep, Goose, and Montana all have the potential of producing some decent action this time of the season. While success is largely pending on water clarity, temperature, and location, anglers typically do fair to good on rainbows, Dollies, and grayling. It all depends on degree of meltwater and turbidity; prime spot would be relatively low and clear, which changes by the day right now but at least the fish are there.
COPPER VALLEY-VALDEZ ARM:
The majority of lakes as well as streams in this area still support winter conditions with ice being prevalent but often rotting. However, some of the larger lakes still support decent ice fishing opportunities for lake trout and burbot; Lake Louise, Paxson, and Summit lakes are all worthwhile (remember that single hook, no bait restrictions are in effect). A few of the warmer tributaries of the Copper and Gulkana are seeing open water and it will not be long before grayling and a few rainbows can be had. For a better open-water option, head on to Valdez and the Lowe River, which is currently flowing low and somewhat clear but ice free. Dolly Varden are present and being caught in small numbers with fair success typical; try from Keystone Canyon down several miles. Sea-run char will soon also be available in Robe River as fish migrate from Robe Lake to Port Valdez for the summer.
To access fishing reports from past seasons, please click on link below.