The most productive roadside fisheries this week:
WELCOME TO THE 2023 FISHING SEASON
This page is primarily catered to open-water fishing opportunities in Southcentral Alaska rivers, streams, and saltwater, but there will be some information on ice fisheries in season. Main reports run weekly from approximately late April to late October reflecting the availability of salmon, trout, and char in regional waters; however, there may be occasional reports between November and April as conditions warrant.
Updated Thursday, June 1
HOT SPOTS: COOK INLET HALIBUT, SHARK, SKATE; RESURRECTION REDS; NINILCHIK KINGS; HOMER & SEWARD DOLLIES
Regional Summary: Despite anglers throughout the region lamenting the perceived late arrival of salmon to local waterways, this is not the first time fish are this tardy coming in, although it is somewhat concerning regarding the low number of kings showing up, which may prove to be another issue entirely. It should be realized that the late, cool spring definitely affected run timing of both kings and reds this year, yet it is possible the runs may also extend later into the summer than normal, or simply contract into a smaller window of availability. Only time will tell. So far, early runs appear to be a week to as much as ten days behind “schedule.” If this trend continues later into the season and include other summer-run species as well remains to be seen but historically there is no effect or evidence of correlation.
Overall, this coming weekend should see a spike of kings and reds infiltrating rivers and streams all around the Southcentral region as waters warm and fish begin their push upstream in earnest. In short, salmon are arriving in the Little Susitna River and Knik River in Matanuska Valley, in Copper River to the East, and in multiple drainages on the Kenai Peninsula. If waiting for the salmon to really kick into high gear, lakes in the region are offering top-notch action for freshwater species, and the marine fisheries are yielding plenty of opportunity for a variety of bottomfish, sea-run char, and salmon too.
Area Summary: As the hooligan dip net fishery has closed in all saltwater areas of Turnagain Arm by regulation, there is still opportunity at the 20-Mile River but reports is that the action has slowed considerably over the past week to ten days as the run is ending.
Lake fishing activity is very high as ADF&G stocking efforts are in full swing and lots of landlocked salmon, trout, char, and grayling are being landed. Cooler conditions have actually helped this fishery and the bite likely to last for at least another week or more.
Stream fishing is largely reserved for the drainages of Turnagain Arm where sea-run Dolly Varden are building in numbers in tidal areas and off the mouths of local creeks. Places that generally see consistent catches include Indian, Glacier, Kern, Portage, and Ingram; try on the incoming and high tides. Within the city, Campbell and Chester creeks are closed to all fishing until June 15 to protect spawning rainbow trout.
SHIP CREEK: Kings are arriving and being caught on each tide as numbers build by the day. As usual, focus on the tides; water conditions are great. Some very respectful catches well into the mid-20s range are being achieved. As a reminder, the Slam’n Salm’n Derby begins on June 9th and continues through the 17th.
Kenai Peninsula-Passage Canal
Area Summary: While the month of May was mixed in terms of fishing opportunities, the good fishing for halibut and other, larger marine species is about to be joined by more consistent catches of king and red salmon. Although king numbers are generally lacking in most every drainage, the early run of reds bound for mainly the Russian River is coming in and will begin to peak in another week or so; early reds are also arriving at the Kasilof and Resurrection rivers.
Lake fishing opportunities are excellent these days, particularly in stocked waters where landlocked salmon, trout, char, and grayling are being planted. However, there is also very decent fishing for wild rainbows and lake trout in some spots. Action should hold up for another ten days. Stream fisheries are not yet a big player as many drainages are closed to fishing this time of year to protect spawning rainbow trout.
Dip netting for hooligan still persists, with Seward area drainages currently experiencing a return of fish.
RESURRECTION BAY/SEWARD: The red salmon run to the Resurrection River has been inconsistent so far this season as fish are late showing in large numbers inriver and a sizable portion of the run is being intercepted by commercial interests out in the bay before reaching the river. While frustrating to anglers accustomed to fast and furious action being the norm in early June, this particular run and the opportunity it presents was actually created by commercial interests with patience being the perfect solution until the fish show up in force and can be enjoyed by all. Expect fair action at best this weekend with good catches likely starting next week—this is a snag fishery. Very few king salmon have been reported off Scheffler Creek in front of town but numbers are likely to improve within ten days.
Sea-run char are prolific in the bay and being caught at the mouth of clearwater streams and over at Lowell Point. Tonsina Creek is a great spot this time of year for Dollies.
Fishing for smaller bottomfish is generally good to excellent off docks, points, and beaches. Surf-casters putting in time and effort are connecting with Pacific cod, a few rockfish, and even some nice-sized halibut. The cod and rockfish are mainly being caught off the deep water along Lowell Point Road; for halibut, try the beach area north of Spring Creek or Lowell Beach.
KENAI RIVER: Despite being closed to king salmon fishing, reds are now entering the river in fishable numbers and some anglers are doing fairly well. Focus on shorelines adjacent to the mainstem channel where fish will be migrating, avoiding smaller or shallow channels. As always this time of year, Swiftwater, Moose Meadows, just upstream and downstream of Moose River, and Bing’s Landing are good spots to intercept early-run reds. Expect fair opportunities this weekend, perhaps better depending on run size. Limits will be possible in the right spot with right technique.
Action is generally slow to fair at best for Dolly Varden on the lower river; portions of the middle river and all of the upper river, including tributaries, are closed to all fishing through June 10.
Dip netting for hooligan is spotty to fair in tidal area of river; season ends mid-month.
KASILOF RIVER: Anglers here are allowed to retain hatchery-produced king salmon and required to release wild fish. Some catches are being reported, mainly from boats on the lower river in the tidal area, but fish are also caught from shore from the mouth of Crooked Creek on down into tidewater. This weekend could see a fair push of kings as tides are very large and will extend as far upstream into the river as just below Crooked Creek. An occasional red salmon possible.
Many of the Dolly Varden have exited the river for Cook Inlet but some fish remain in tidewater yet. The steelhead trout fishing is slow as most fish are now in spawning tributaries; a few specimens remain in main river.
COOK INLET: With the series of very large tides this weekend, surf-casters are likely to see decent opportunities for halibut, skate, shark, and Pacific cod in many areas open to fishing between Nikiski Beach and Whiskey Gulch. Note that fishing is closed in the King Salmon Conservation Zones around spawning streams until mid-July (see regulations). However, Ninilchik Beach and the mouths of Kenai and Kasilof rivers will be open, in addition to other locations along the inlet. This could be the last weekend when good, consistent, limit-catches of halibut is possible before the slight summer lull begins.
NINILCHIK RIVER: This weekend could see a significant change in numbers of king salmon being caught as big tides will assist in bringing fish into the river, and water temperatures have increased as well. Water levels are still up a bit and clarity decent; recent rainfall have had some affect on conditions. Expect fair to possibly better action. Only hatchery kings may be retained. Salmon roe was the most consistent producer of fish last weekend and will probably be this weekend too.
KACHEMAK BAY/HOMER: A conservative number of kings have shown up at the Dudiak Lagoon on the Homer Spit and the run is slowly building. Successful anglers are seeing catches made on the tides using herring or salmon roe but spinners will also work. Although action has been slow up until now, there could be fair opportunities this weekend.
Sea-run Dolly Varden are being caught along beaches all around the spit but perhaps the best area is the ocean side surfline up to Coal Point.
Surf-casters are enjoying quick action for smaller codfish, flounders, and other non-sporting bottomfish; a few halibut have been caught in addition to larger Pacific cod.
Area Summary: Things are slowly taking shape around here in terms of salmon fishing. A few kings have been caught in the Little Susitna River the past few days (this is a catch-and-release fishery by emergency order) and reports are that fish have also started arriving in the Knik River near the Eklutna Tailrace confluence. But as far as any kings being present in the tailrace itself, anglers are not seeing or feeling anything just yet. Anglers are also reminded that all of the Susitna River drainage is closed to king salmon fishing this year by emergency order. Although insignificant at this time, a few red salmon are entering the Little Susitna River and should be present in the main Susitna River as well.
Fishing for landlocked salmon, trout, char, grayling, and pike is good to excellent in lakes throughout the area. Water temperatures are cool and the action expected to continue for another couple of weeks still. While there may be exceptions, all lakes and ponds within this area are now for all practical purposes ice free.
Flowing waters are producing catches of rainbow trout, Dolly Varden, and Arctic grayling up and along the Susitna River drainage. Success varies considerably depending on water conditions of specific location but tends to be better in lake-influenced streams. As area waters begin to drop and clear, the fishing will pick up drastically and fish distributed throughout most stretches of rivers and creeks.
Copper Valley-Valdez Arm
Area Summary: This area has seen considerable challenges so far this season; substantial flooding in rivers and streams from meltwater of snow and warm temperatures a few weeks ago created huge issues for anglers. Now, an unseasonable snow storm has dropped several inches up to nearly half a foot of the white stuff in many areas of Copper Valley, significantly cooling waters and affected fishing success in many places.
For those who do not mind getting out in a wintery setting, there could be decent fishing yet in some grayling spawning streams as long as water conditions are acceptable. Lake fishing success is much better with some of the smaller, stocked waters leading the way. But as for the larger lakes like Louise, Paxson, and Summit, there is still plenty of ice left and the recent dump of snow has not helped the melting process; although some sections along the shoreline may have open water and decent fishing available, expect these popular waters to be ice free in another ten days to two weeks followed by intense lake trout, grayling, and whitefish action.
While a trickle of salmon has been reported in the upper Copper River around the Copper Center area, consistent and fishable numbers of kings and reds are not expected to be available for another ten days still.
Fishing opportunities in Valdez are limited. Sea-run char are present in the port, particularly around the mouths of clearwater streams, with fair success possible. Though effort is lacking, bottomfish are typically available off the city dock with a few codfish and flounder available.
Updated Thursday, May 25
MEMORIAL DAY WEEKEND REPORT
HOT SPOTS: COOK INLET HALIBUT, SHARK, SKATE; RESURRECTION REDS; NINILCHIK KINGS; HOMER & SEWARD DOLLIES
Regional Summary: The cool, late spring certainly had a lingering effect on many of the popular fisheries in the region as salmon are slow arriving in decent numbers and lake ice stubborn in places. The Memorial Day weekend is usually a good kick-off for coastal king and red salmon runs but they look to be a little delayed this year so the action may not be quite up to par what anglers are used to experiencing. Some fish have come up rivers and streams already but in small numbers yet as water temperatures are cold and water conditions often high and muddy as meltwater continues to have an effect on runs and angler success. For those seeking kings, fishing is likely to be poor to fair; however, reds are making a decent showing in spots and could actually be the better bet for this weekend.
For those anglers not keyed in on salmon, there is tremendous opportunities at hand right now in a vast number of lakes throughout the region. Both wild and stocked lakes are yielding good to excellent action for one or more species; trout, char, landlocked salmon, grayling, whitefish, and pike are all biting aggressively in places where they may be found.
As for opportunities in rivers and streams, there may be limitations as some waters are closed to all fishing during the rainbow trout spawning season (such as those on the Kenai Peninsula and Matanuska Valley), yet other locations remain open but often regulated to catch-and-release only for trout. Spring snowmelt is slowing the bite down in rapid runoff waters but a few spots that are influenced by a headwater lake are frequently quite decent.
The marine fisheries are humming along very nicely and anglers are reporting respectable catches of larger kinds of saltwater fish such as halibut, shark, and skate, although the action is even more productive for smaller species like flounder, codfish, and greenling. King salmon and sea-run char are hitting anglers’ offerings as well.
Area Summary: The big news around here is the arrival of king salmon to Ship Creek. The first fish was caught a couple of days ago and since then at least one more salmon has been landed. Expect this run to build in strength over the next ten days.
Many area lakes have been stocked and action is very good or better at this time and should hold for another week to two weeks. Landlocked salmon, trout, char, and grayling are available. Campbell and Chester creeks are currently closed to fishing but will open on June 15. Bird Creek is closed through July 13. Streams down along Turnagain Arm offer fair opportunities for sea-run Dolly Varden in tidal areas.
The dip netting for hooligan has slowed in Turnagain Arm and 20-Mile River as the run is tapering off for the season. There are sporadic good catches on certain tides but success is generally poor to fair at best these days. As a reminder, last day for dip netting in Turnagain Arm is May 31; the last day on 20-Mile River is June 14.
Kenai Peninsula-Passage Canal
Area Summary: Salmon fishing is becoming more consistent as runs build, lending a decent shot for anglers to hook into something. Although kings are moving into quite a few spots on the peninsula, only a few of them are actually open to fishing for kings at this time. The Kenai River, Deep Creek, and Anchor River are all closed, yet the Ninilchik River, Kasilof River, and the marine locations of Dudiak Lagoon and Resurrection Bay are open due to receiving runs of hatchery kings. Reds are also finding their way up local drainages, with early-run salmon sighted in the lower Kenai River and a few are likely also present in the Kasilof River; yet the prime location this weekend is Resurrection River in Seward where a steady flow of fish is arriving on the tides.
Lake fishing is great in the area and many of them are currently in the process of being stocked. Wild waters are also producing good catches. Landlocked salmon, trout, char, and grayling are all available, depending on location. Streams in the Kenai River drainage, including the mainstem upper and a portion of the middle Kenai, are closed to all fishing to protect spawning rainbows but scheduled to reopen on June 11. Other area waters also have restrictions in place, yet a few places are open—like the Kasilof River and lower Kenai River—and Dolly Varden and steelhead trout are present and biting.
Anglers trying their luck in Cook Inlet and Resurrection and Kachemak bays are finding some very nice fish. The spring halibut fishery is in full swing but success varies day by day and according to location; expect the action to extend through early June. This weekend present a series of very small tides so surf-casting may be limited in places. Fishing is also decent for shark, skate, and other, smaller bottomfish.
SEWARD/RESURRECTION BAY: Red salmon are arriving at the mouth of Resurrection River accessed from Nash Road and anglers are catching fish. The action is not great just yet as anglers struggle to secure half of their 6-fish limit but at least salmon are being landed with frequency. If the run holds true to form, excellent action will prevail sometime next week, although some skilled anglers tend to do well on Memorial Day weekend too. Only a very few king salmon have been reported but they are starting to show up in or near the mouth of Scheffler Creek.
Hooligan are running in the lower sections of Resurrection River and Salmon Creek; dip netters should do fair or better.
Sea-run Dolly Varden are available at the mouths of most all clearwater streams flowing into the bay. A few halibut are also present along the beach area of Spring Creek and may be caught off Lowell Point Road and the south shore beach. Fishing is good for other bottomfish.
KENAI RIVER: Red salmon have started to arrive in numbers and the run will build rapidly through the first week of June. Depending on run size this year, anglers could see a few fish caught this coming weekend: try Swiftwater, Moose Meadows, or Bing’s Landing. Fishing for king salmon is closed by emergency order.
Fishing for out-migrating Dolly Varden is fair on the lower river and there are a few rainbows in the mix too; do not be surprised to encounter a steelhead.
Dip netting for hooligan is poor to fair and fish may be encountered throughout tidewater and some years upstream to at least Soldotna.
KASILOF RIVER: A few king salmon have been caught, primarily by boaters, but at least a couple of fish reportedly also taken from shore near the mouth of Crooked Creek. Only hatchery fish are allowed to be retained. It is that time when a few reds are making it up the river as well.
Dolly Varden can be numerous at times. Also, steelhead and rainbow trout are being hooked in vicinity of Crooked Creek but the peak of the steelhead run has passed; some fish, however, typically linger into June.
NINILCHIK RIVER: Perhaps the best place to hook a king salmon in all of Southcentral this weekend. This is a weekend-only fishery (Mondays included). Kings are arriving and while only a few have made it through the weir to date, there is a group of fish holding in the harbor area and the tidewater holes of the river. Water conditions are fair, a little bit high and off color from the last rainfall but absolutely fishable and there are kings to be caught. Use bait such as salmon roe or herring; flashy lures also work. Success is likely to be fair but potentially better. Steelhead trout are typically also present.
COOK INLET: It has been a good halibut season so far for surf-casters on the east-side beaches of the inlet. Catches are largely consistent with limits not uncommon and a few flatfish of decent size are being landed. The action, if the trend holds, should continue through the first week of June before subsiding. Additionally, shark, skate (some very large), and Pacific cod are being caught. However, the tides are very small this weekend so anglers need to focus on beaches featuring greater slope angles and deeper water during these cycles; Whiskey Gulch, the mouths of Kasilof and Kenai rivers, and Nikiski Beach, as well as other spots along the coast accessible by proper vehicle for conditions.
HOMER/KACHEMAK BAY: A few kings are starting to appear in the lagoon on Homer Spit but success has been limited and slow to maybe fair fishing at best expected this weekend. Try the incoming and outgoing tides.
Sea-run Dolly Varden are aggressively feeding along the beaches of the spit. Good success can be enjoyed casting lures and flies imitating juvenile salmon along the surf-line.
Bottomfish such as codfish, flounder, and other species are plentiful off Coal Point. An occasional halibut and a small number of Pacific cod are being caught too.
Area Summary: With ice being gone from the vast majority of waters in this area, with the possible exception of a few of the larger lakes at higher elevations, anglers are seeing good to excellent action for landlocked salmon, trout, char, grayling, and pike. Stocked lakes are in the process of receiving fish and wild lakes are producing nice fish as well. The hectic post-spawn pike fishery is just about to start—if not already—and will continue into June.
Take note that a fair number of rivers and streams in this area are closed to all fishing until June 15 to protect spawning rainbows. This includes Fish, Cottonwood, Wasilla and others. Drainages up along Susitna River are open to fishing but restricted to catch-and-release for rainbows.
A few king salmon are believed to be present in both the Little Susitna and Knik rivers; the former is catch-and-release only, while lower Knik and the Eklutna Tailrace are the only waters in this area open to retention due to being a hatchery run. Rumors abound of a few fish having been caught but do not expect much success until later on in June. A few reds should be in the Little Susitna shortly as well.
SUSITNA RIVER: As spring runoff and high and dirty water continues to dampen success on a vast number of tributaries, anglers are directed to focus efforts on spots that have more ideal angling conditions, like those streams influenced by lakes at the headwaters. Rainbow trout, Dolly Varden, and/or Arctic grayling are all being caught to one degree or another with some good fishing reported occasionally. For the most part, however, expect slow to fair results.
Copper Valley-Valdez Arm
Area Summary: Plagued by high and muddy water conditions and even flooding in some drainages, anglers have more or less stuck to lakes in the area to be able to connect with fish. Most all of the smaller lakes are seeing open water and some are ice free but winter persists to one degree or another; the larger lakes like Louise, Paxson, and Summit are covered with ice still. While some anglers have ventured out on the ice and successfully caught lake trout, whitefish, and burbot, melting is occurring along the shorelines and there is open water at or near inlets and outlets—use extreme caution and consult with a local source for advise.
But if insisting on fishing in moving water, focus attention on smaller streams with lakes at the headwaters. These drainages are typically flowing more or less clear and not as high, thus greater probability of fish being caught. Arctic grayling are prevalent in most all streams this time of year.
In Valdez, there is not a whole lot of activity happening at this time but sea-run Dolly Varden are present at the mouths of clearwater streams flowing into the port. Casting off the city dock may connect anglers with a variety of bottomfish.
Updated Friday, May 19
HOT SPOTS: COOK INLET HALIBUT, SHARK, SKATE; KASILOF STEELHEAD; HOMER & SEWARD DOLLIES; 20-MILE & TURNAGAIN HOOLIGAN
Regional Summary: Word is getting out that king salmon are entering rivers and streams on the Kenai Peninsula with the Kenai, Kasilof, and Anchor all documenting a presence of fish. This in mind, anglers are bound to find a few fish in the Kasilof River and locations in other areas that are open to kings as well. Also, a few reds are beginning to show up at Resurrection in Seward. Next week should see a number of reports coming in of salmon being caught in various places throughout the region.
Action for trout, char, grayling, and whitefish is productive in lakes and generally keeps pace well into June; spots that are stocked with one or more of these fish in addition to landlocked salmon will yield excellent success the next few weeks. The stream fisheries are a bit more reserved due to a rough spring break-up consisting of high and turbid water conditions, particularly in the Copper and Susitna drainages, but should settle down in another week to ten days as the snow melt dissipate and stream levels and water clarity improve. Steelhead are being caught in the Kasilof. Now is the time to target sea-run Dolly Varden along the beaches in Homer and Seward.
The marine fisheries—especially in Cook Inlet and Kachemak and Resurrection bays—are currently supporting really good catches of many fish species, including halibut and other bottomfish.
Area Summary: All of the lakes around the city are ice free or nearly so with action being fair to excellent for resident species such as landlocked salmon, trout, char, and grayling. Many of them are slated to be stocked within the next week or two, boosting catch rates even further. In area flowing waters, there may be a few sea-run Dolly Varden present in streams down along Turnagain Arm; try the mouths on the tides. Reminder: Chester and Campbell creeks are closed to all fishing through June 14 to protect spawning rainbow trout.
There have been no king salmon reported caught in Ship Creek yet at the time of this writing but the first fish could be caught any day now. Stream conditions are near perfect; somewhat high and clear with a medium tint of silt. The big tides this weekend are bound to push a few kings up the stream.
Hooligan dip netting is fair to good in Turnagain Arm and 20-Mile River, yet it appears the run is only mediocre this year; catches should remain consistent for at least another week still. Reminder: The hooligan dip netting season runs through May 31 in salt water and through June 15 in fresh water.
Kenai Peninsula-Passage Canal
Area Summary: With both early-run kings and reds now documented present in several locations, anglers will likely be hitting a few of them this weekend and next week. Promising spots include Kasilof River and Dudiak Lagoon, with the waters at the head of Resurrection Bay also a possibility. Steelhead are being landed in the Kasilof and occasionally encountered on the lower Kenai too.
Lowland lakes have shed the remaining ice and are wide open and fishing well for resident species. Landlocked salmon, trout, char, and grayling in stocked lakes are doing fair to excellent, as the wild lakes are reporting good catches. Lakes at higher elevations may still have some degree of ice cover, albeit the ice will be very rotten and unsafe for venturing out on.
The marine fisheries are hitting stride as halibut, shark, skate, cod, and a number of other lesser bottomfish are being beached in good numbers in multiple places. Cook Inlet is still the hot spot but fish are available in Seward as well.
SEWARD/RESURRECTION BAY: Sea-run Dolly Varden have entered the bay in decent numbers and fishing is fair to good at the mouths of clearwater streams, especially the ones that support salmon spawning runs; try lures and flies resembling juvenile salmon. Surf-casters are doing well on various smaller species of bottomfish, such as cod, flounder, greenling, etc. As hooligan and herring are present at the head of the bay, targeting halibut is a possibility—the beach area around Spring Creek off Nash Road is worth an attempt but fish may be caught most anywhere that food sources are present. No word yet of king salmon being encountered by the surf crowd but a few specimens are typically cruising around by now. A few reds have entered the Resurrection River and may be targeted at the mouth on incoming tides; expect slow action for now. Hooligan are also moving up Resurrection River and Salmon Creek in small numbers and success is destined to improve over the next ten days.
KENAI RIVER: King salmon are entering the river but remains closed to fishing at this time. The first few early-run reds are likely entering the lower river at this time and should become more numerous and approachable as the water levels rise with snow runoff. The best action this weekend will be dip netting for hooligan in tidewater and targeting halibut off the river mouth. Dolly Varden bound for the inlet are available; fishing for rainbow trout is fair with rare occurrences of steelhead. As a reminder, the upper section of the middle Kenai as well as the entire stretch of water between Kenai and Skilak lakes are closed to all fishing to protect spawning trout.
KASILOF RIVER: A few king salmon have been hooked here, mainly by boaters, and this coming weekend could be the time to target these fish from shore as numbers increase and tides are very large, helping push salmon up into the vicinity of Crooked Creek. Steelhead are striking offerings and success has been fair; expect catch rates to drop off after this weekend as the trout enter tributary spawning sites. Fishing for Dolly Varden is also fair as more fish are exiting Tustumena Lake headed to Cook Inlet.
COOK INLET: Anglers targeting halibut this season have had some overall great success but actual catch rates can vary quite a bit according to location and angler skill level. Most beach areas that are open to fishing are producing fair to excellent action for flatfish averaging 10 to 20 pounds with a few 30-pounders reported; note that the king salmon conservation zones around the lower peninsula streams are closed to all fishing until mid-July. Anchor Point, Whiskey Gulch, Clam Gulch, the mouth of Kenai and Kasilof rivers, and Nikiski Beach are all producing halibut as well as shark, skate, cod, and smaller bottomfish.
HOMER/KACHEMAK BAY: Sea-run Dolly Varden are fairly abundant around the Homer Spit and may be encountered most anywhere along the surf. Surf-casters are finding good numbers of flounder, sole, codfish, and sculpins along with the occasional halibut off Coal Point. Although there are no solid report yet of kings being caught at Dudiak Lagoon, a few specimens are very likely showing up on the tides and could be landed this weekend.
Area Summary: For solid action around here, look to the lakes for landlocked salmon, trout, char, and grayling. Both stocked and wild lakes are seeing fair to excellent catches as the ice is gone from most waters. The lakes at higher elevations do have ice cover but are considered very unsafe to walk out on.
Many streams, especially those draining into Susitna River, are high and a bit silty as spring runoff is in effect but should start to clear soon. In the meantime, focus efforts on lowland or lake-based rivers and creeks where clarity and stream levels are much more conducive to fishing. A small number of rainbows, Dolly Varden, and grayling are being taken at the mouths and lower reaches.
No reports yet of salmon being caught in roadside waters. A few kings are undoubtedly entering the Knik River bound for the Eklutna Tailrace and the first fish or two likely to be hooked any day. The Little Susitna River is flowing high and muddy, although it is open to catch-and-release king action.
Copper Valley-Valdez Arm
Area Summary: There is a lot of meltwater being reported in streams throughout the area with flooding even the case in a few of them. The cool spring along with a deep snowpack plus a sudden and warm temperature shift created the problem, which is impacting fisheries in flowing waters. Focus efforts on lake-based drainages for possible success on spawn-bound grayling.
The lake fisheries are progressing in ice loss with some being open enough along the edges to allow for catching trout, grayling, and whitefish. Keep an eye on the stocked lakes as they will produce plenty of action very shortly, if not already. The larger, deeper lakes, however, are still ice covered but may be dangerous to venture out on; check with a reputable source for latest conditions.
In and around Valdez, there is very limited opportunities for fishing right now. The Lowe River is flowing high and muddy with meltwater after a rapid warm-up and Dolly Varden have entered the marine waters of the port to feed for the summer; try the mouths of clearwater streams flowing into the bay for success.
Updated Thursday, May 11
HOT SPOTS: COOK INLET HALIBUT, SHARKS; KASILOF STEELHEAD; KACHEMAK BAY DOLLY VARDEN; TURNAGAIN HOOLIGAN
Regional Summary: Things in respect to fishing in flowing waters has been a bit delayed this spring in many places, much of it due to an unseasonably heavy snowpack and cool weather prompting cold water temperatures that has been holding back otherwise productive early fisheries. However, fish are now being caught and the action should pick up quickly this week as conditions stabilize at more seasonable levels and temperatures rise. Foremost, larger bottomfish—such as halibut along with good numbers of shark—are being caught in certain locations and steelhead are responding with enthusiasm in the Kasilof River. Sporadic to sometimes good catches of rainbows, grayling, and Dollies are being made in open water at the outlets or shoreline margins of lowland lakes, mouths of clearwater streams flowing into glacial systems, and sea-run char are now reported off the Homer Spit in Kachemak Bay. In interest of dip netters, hooligan are appearing in Turnagain Arm and 20-Mile River and are moving up Kenai River as well.
As for ice fishing opportunities, most lakes in the region are now considered unsafe to walk on but a few of the larger bodies of water at more inland or higher elevations may still be relatively safe but stay clear of inlets and outlets. In any case, opportunities for very decent lake trout, burbot, and whitefish can be had yet. Check with a reputable local source before venturing out.
Area Summary: The most promising news in this area is the arrival of hooligan to Turnagain Arm and 20-Mile River. Dipping is reported to range from fair to very good depending on the day and tide and the run should start peaking in another week or so as the water warms up a bit as there is currently still a bit of snow and ice in the area surrounding the arm and river.
Fishing in local lakes is picking up as ice covers melt away, revealing plenty of open water in many locations. Fair success may be had and will only improve as water temperatures rise and stocking efforts begin.
King salmon have yet to be spotted or caught in Ship Creek, which is not too unusual by this date, but a fish or two could be nosing into this downtown stream on the tide any day now, if not already. However, the water is very low and cold still so do not be surprised if the run is a bit late this year.
Kenai Peninsula-Passage Canal
Area Summary: As far as open-water opportunities go, the peninsula is the place be this weekend. Bottomfish and other marine species—such as halibut and cod—are moving into the shallows around the coast and effectively targeted. The beaches around Cook Inlet, Kachemak Bay, and Resurrection Bay are where to find consistent action. In addition, sea-run char are present as well.
While many streams in this area have seasonal closures in effect at this time, all of the lakes are fair game and the little ice that is left is rotting away, leaving an increasing amount of open water in which to target resident species such as landlocked salmon, trout, char, and grayling. Also, many of these waters will be receiving fresh plants of various game fish shortly.
King salmon have been reported seen in the lower reaches of the Kasilof River and a few specimens are probably headed into the lagoon on Homer Spit before long, although no firm catches have come forward as of now. Only the hatchery locations are open to king salmon fishing so far this season, with the Anchor, Deep, and Kenai experiencing total closures; openings may occur if runs appear stronger than anticipated. The Kasilof and Ninilchik, which have both wild and hatchery fish, are only open to retention of the latter—check emergency orders for details.
KENAI RIVER: While closed to king salmon fishing, it will not be long before a few early-run reds begin entering the river. Until then, dip netters are doing fairly well for hooligan on the tides and the run is expected to peak sometime next week. Anglers surf-casting off the beaches around the river mouth are seeing some activity for halibut and this opportunity should continue through the month and into early June. A few sharks are also available. A small number of Dolly Varden and an occasional steelhead and rainbow trout is possible on the lower river.
KASILOF RIVER: A few kings have been sighted rolling in tidewater below Crooked Creek. Keep in mind that only hatchery fish may be retained; wild kings must be released. Most years, fishable number of kings are present starting about the 15th but with runs suspected to be depressed and likely late due to cold water conditions, anglers may have to wait a little this year before targeting kings make sense. As for now, steelhead trout are hitting offerings at or near the mouth of Crooked Creek and success is reported to be fair. Numbers of out-migrating Dolly Varden should be coming through very shortly.
COOK INLET: Halibut are becoming increasingly abundant along the beaches, something surf-casters have been capitalizing on the last couple of weeks. Expect the action to start peaking this weekend and lasting into the first part of June with fair to excellent catch rates possible. Stretches of water from Whiskey Gulch up to Nikiski Beach, including the mouths of Kenai and Kasilof rivers, are reputed spots this time of year with a few anglers taking 2-fish limits. Sharks are appearing in large numbers, and early too. Sizable skates and a few Pacific cod are being landed in addition.
KACHEMAK BAY: Anglers casting off the end of the Homer Spit (Coal Point) are experiencing great success for a variety of smaller marine species, such as flounder and codfish. A few smaller halibut have also been caught recently. Sea-run Dolly Varden are building in numbers along the beaches of the spit and should provide good catches just about now and for the next several weeks. Do not be surprised to hook into a king salmon headed to the Dudiak Lagoon.
Area Summary: The main rivers and most all lakes in the area are in the process of shedding ice and should be completely free-flowing or open by next week, except for some waters at higher elevations—lakes up and around the Glenn Highway north of Palmer or Parks Highway in the Chulitna area are expected to be ice-free in ten days or so.
Rainbow trout, grayling, and Dolly Varden can be targeted at the mouths of streams draining into the Susitna River but actual success is highly dependent on location and water conditions. If water is reasonably clear and not too high or muddy, chances are quite good of finding at least a few fish. Willow, Sheep, and Montana are always good spots to try but do not neglect the smaller streams either.
No reports of king salmon being caught or seen in roadside waters, although a few fish are typically present starting the third week of this month in the channel of Knik River just below the mouth of Eklutna Tailrace. Like elsewhere, total king salmon closures are in effect on all rivers and streams in this area (except Little Susitna, which is catch-and-release) with only the tailrace being open to retention at this time due to it receiving hatchery fish.
Copper Valley-Valdez Arm
Area Summary: Break-up is in progress here with the smaller streams and lakes soon expected to yield grayling as well as trout. The larger lakes, such as Louise, Paxson, and Summit, are still firmly locked in ice and not likely to offer much open water until the last week of this month and early June. Even with some ice cover, as long as there is enough open areas around the shorelines, anglers will find some very productive catches of lake trout, grayling, and whitefish. But as for now, anglers will have to contend with catching fish through the ice on these larger bodies of water; extreme caution is advised still as the winter opportunity will likely come to an end in another week.
To the south, in Valdez, Dolly Varden are being caught in moderate numbers in the Lowe River. This is a limited time fishery and will last until the silt load increases with rising temperatures and fish move downstream into the marine waters of the port.
Updated Tuesday, April 18
NOTE: This is the first fishing report for the 2023 fishing season. Additional reports will follow on a weekly basis starting in late April.
Regional Summary: With an abnormally cool spring that has left a larger than average snowpack in places for this time of the year, anglers can expect to see remnants of winter well into May and even up until June in some locations at higher elevations. This means that some waters are likely to run higher, muddier, and swifter than usual for the early salmon, trout, and grayling fisheries, such as those up along the Susitna River. However, a lot can still happen between now and into the month of May weather-wise, which could drastically alter expectations and fishing success. And for those that live in Anchorage grumbling over the huge snow load still present there, for example, take heart that not all of the Southcentral region has that appearance and in many parts are at or right around where things should be for mid-April.
Apart from the obvious ice fisheries that are still in full swing at the moment, angling opportunities in the stream and marine environments are showing promising signs of soon coming to life. Although many of the locations typically open to king salmon fishing were closed down to sport fishing a few months ago based on a precautionary approach as runs have been very weak region-wide the last several years, the waters that are stocked with kings—like Ship, Ninilchik, Kasilof, Dudiak, Seward, and Eklutna—remain open and should be producing fish in not too long. In fact, historically speaking, the first few mature kings (and soon reds) are likely beginning to appear in the inshore marine waters of Cook Inlet, Resurrection Bay, and Kachemak Bay right about now and will only build in numbers as the season progresses; expect scouts to show in the locations noted above in approximately 3-4 weeks, if not before.
As for other game species, the first few reports of steelhead being caught in Kasilof should come to light any day now—if not already—as the river is in progress of breaking up, yet there is an abundance of thick ice still present along the shorelines and large swaths of water. The lower and middle sections of the Kenai has a few steelhead present as well and there is open water to be found. However, anglers have been landing a fair number of rainbows all winter long in sections of the Kenai that were ice free, the area from Copper Landing at the outlet of Kenai Lake downstream to Jims’ Landing being most popular, and a few fish are currently being caught. Most of the winter silver salmon have spawned and died off but there are a some fish holding on yet, providing much-needed protein for the trout and char. As a reminder, all of the upper Kenai and a section of the middle will be closing to all fishing on May 1 by regulation.
Areas to the north and east, around Susitna and Copper valleys, are firmly locked in ice with some rivers now seeing open leads but not enough to present worthwhile fishing. Wait another ten days to two weeks before tempting the spring trout, char, and grayling fisheries at the mouth and lower reaches of tributaries of the Susitna and Copper. The lakes, however, are producing some nice catches of landlocked salmon, rainbow trout, Arctic char, lake trout, whitefish, and burbot with some good-sized lakers iced recently; safe ice should persist for another week in lowland locations and through the month and into May in spots at higher elevations. Check with local sources before venturing out on any of the lakes to make sure.
The marine fisheries are soon to crank up as the herring and hooligan begin moving into the shallows with halibut in close pursuit. The beaches along Cook Inlet will be the first really productive places to go for surf-casters in Southcentral. Although an occasional flatfish may be caught as early as March some years, there usually are not enough fishable numbers around until the last week of April, coinciding with hooligan running along the coast heading to Turnagain Arm and the mouth of Kenai River. Any location from Whiskey Gulch up to Nikiski Beach is bound to be fair good shortly. While access may be difficult in spots due to ice and snow, the beaches themselves are generally ice free, except for sporadic chunks being flushed out of Turnagain and Knik and area rivers. The Homer Spit and the deeper parts of Resurrection Bay at Seward will be productive for codfish and flounders very soon.
Dip netting for hooligan in Kenai River and Turnagain Arm is still at least another week or two off as cold water temperatures due to ice and snow runoff are keeping the smelt out in the salt for now.