The most productive roadside fisheries this week:
WELCOME TO THE 2022 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, October 27
NOTE: This is the last weekly fishing report for the 2022 fishing season. Additional reports may follow periodically.
HOT SPOTS: KENAI SILVERS, RAINBOWS, DOLLIES; ANCHOR & DEEP STEELHEAD, DOLLIES; KASILOF STEELHEAD
Regional Summary: The autumn season is about to close in this part of Alaska and as November arrives so does winter. While the vast majority of roadside anglers have already called it quits until the ice fishing season begins in a few weeks, there remains a few opportunities still, mainly in more isolated or distinct locations. Most flowing waters will soon be covered in ice, except for a very few spots which are discussed further in this report. Fresh silver salmon are available for those who want to brave the chill and steelhead are there as well for those wanting a challenge. Resident species such as rainbows, Dollies, grayling, and whitefish are being caught in rivers and creeks—in reduced numbers—but will soon open up an entirely new venue of great opportunity through ice fishing on the many lakes and ponds throughout the region. Likewise, the marine fisheries have slowed down, yet a few nice fish—including halibut, shark, skate, and cod—are being caught in places.
Anchorage Area-Turnagain Arm
Area Summary: Winter conditions have gripped the city and surrounding areas, complete with snow and temperatures dipping into the teens at night. Local lakes are building ice and generally no longer considered good angling options due to lack of open water or solid and ice safe enough to walk on. It will likely be another two weeks or so—pending persistent cold temperatures—before these waters provide ice fishing opportunities, albeit a few daring anglers are destined to venture out before that. Landlocked salmon, trout, and char will all be very aggressive during November and December.
Stream fishing remains a possibility, especially in spots where there are salmon still. Upper sections of Chester and Campbell creeks as well as Eagle River support late-spawning salmon and rainbows and/or Dollies are present in small numbers. Penguin Creek (tributary of Bird Creek) and deeper holes in other Turnagain Arm drainages may have a few char present too. Expect freeze-up to occur within another couple of weeks.
The salmon season is for all practical purposes done for the year in this area. An occasional bright or semi-bright silver salmon specimen may be encountered in Portage Creek rest of this month and even into November some years; spawning fish will be around for weeks yet.
Kenai Peninsula-Passage Canal
Area Summary: Winter conditions have arrived, a few inches to nearly a foot of snow covering much of the peninsula, with possible exceptions of the coastal port cities, such as Homer, that are seeing somewhat milder weather. The southern peninsula drainages are seeing the last few days of angling opportunities for steelhead and Dollies, with the Kasilof being productive for steelhead. Kenai River is still producing lots of good fishing as bright silvers continue to reign alongside rainbows and Dollies. However, the main areas for salmon action on the Kenai will close come November, yet some opportunities will continue until December, albeit in very isolated spots targeting small numbers of fish. But anywhere there is some salmon spawning activity, there is also bound to be at least a few trout and char around feasting on eggs and flesh.
Lake opportunities have tapered off overall as ice is forming, even in lowland locations, with some being completely iced over already. If looking for ice fishing, wait at least another two weeks for safe ice to appear. A few of the bigger and deeper waters, however, are largely ice free but a bit of shoreline buildup is to be expected with some smaller bays and coves bearing a very thin layer of ice. If open water can be found, landlocked salmon, trout, char, and/or whitefish are present with fair to good success possible.
The marine fisheries are producing limited catches these days, especially for anglers wanting to target larger species such as halibut, shark, skate, and cod. Smaller codfish, flounder, and greenling may be caught in reduced quantities throughout the winter months, yet it takes time and patience from now on and until April to hook something bigger. A very few halibut, Pacific cod, rockfish, and skate along with a number of spiny dogfish have been beached the past week in Cook Inlet, Kachemak Bay, and/or Resurrection Bay. Most years, things come to a crawl by mid-November.
KENAI RIVER: The best silver salmon fishing is virtually along the entire section of the upper river between Kenai and Skilak lakes and from the outlet of Skilak Lake downstream to near Bing’s Landing on the middle river section. Dime bright silvers are available in good numbers, although the presence of blush specimens is increasing exponentially as the season progresses. Large streamers and spinners are responsible for most catches. Fishing is mediocre on the lower river from Sterling and Soldotna to the river mouth but can be sporadically decent in spots; although small groups of fresh silvers will continue to enter the Kenai at least through December, the season closes well before that. Some spawning fish are present in and around the mouths of clearwater tributaries and trickles draining into the Kenai. Note: The silver salmon season wraps up on October 31 on the upper Kenai and in the middle river between Skilak Lake and Bing’s Landing; downstream of Bing’s to Cook Inlet, the season extends through November 30.
Rainbows and Dollies are fairly active yet but the more prominent spots where fish are abundant still shrinks every day as more trout and char leave the river for overwintering areas in the lakes. Expect fair to good success using anything from beads to flesh flies to forage imitations; small spinners work great at times. The entire length of the upper Kenai and the middle river upstream of Bing’s Landing are productive. Whitefish are also being caught.
KASILOF RIVER: Anglers wanting to get in on some action before the freeze arrives in earnest should make plans now. The most productive area of the river is on the upper end, from just below the boat launch near Tustumena Lake to the upper rapids. Steelhead are finding spots to overwinter, usually in deeper, calmer holes as well as up in the lake. If a concentration of trout can be located, the fishing can be good on plugs; generally, fair catches rule the day until the river freezes over sometime in latter November or December. There are also a few resident rainbow trout, Dolly Varden, and whitefish to be had. The lower river, from the highway bridge down into tidewater, is seeing sporadic activity for steelhead but not worth targeting this late in the season.
There are good numbers of silver salmon in the upper river yet most are dark blush to near spawning shape. Some anglers report catching a few semi-bright to an occasional chrome specimen when going after the steelhead now on and into November, but generally, the run is just about done for the year.
ANCHOR RIVER, DEEP CREEK: With the onset of much colder and drier weather, water levels have dropped and temperatures cooled, thus the morning bite may be a little slow to start; however, anglers are reporting good catches in the afternoons as the water warms a bit. Beads and egg and forage imitations do well and small lures work too. Fish are distributed throughout the middle and the lower streams, settling in deep holes and pools in preparation for freeze-up. A thin layer of ice has been accumulating along the shorelines on cold days and slush ice may be an issue some mornings, this being particularly the case on the smaller waters nearby, such as Ninilchik and Stariski. Additionally, fair to good Dolly Varden success can be had. No reports of fresh salmon being caught; most fish are now spawning and dying off. Note: October 31 is the last day of the fishing season on Anchor, Stariski, Deep, and Ninilchik and will not reopen again until mid to late May (Anchor, Deep, Ninilchik), or July 1 (Stariski).
Area Summary: As temperatures are hovering in the single digits to near zero at night in parts of this area, the process of freeze-up has begun on area lakes and streams. While the smaller lakes and ponds are covered in a thin layer of ice, some of the larger and deeper bodies of water, like Big Lake, are not yet there, although ice is building along the shorelines as well as shallow areas, coves, and bays. Expect ice fishing in the valleys to commence in about a week to ten days at the earliest, with mid-November typically being a safe time to venture out. But, as always in early winter, exercise plenty of caution and check ice depth before venturing out. When things have settled, expect good to excellent action for landlocked salmon, trout, char, burbot, and pike.
Stream fishing in open water is quickly coming to an end as resident species have largely left flowing waters and moved into overwintering areas in lakes and large, deep rivers. But there are a few isolated fisheries available still; whitefish are present in upper sections of the Little Susitna River, Dolly Varden may be caught in spots along the middle and lower mainstem Matanuska River (ice flows can be an issue now), rainbows continue to offer a challenge to anglers trying their luck in Cottonwood Creek at the lake outlet, and a few rainbows and whitefish are making themselves known just downstream of the Big Lake outlet at Fish Creek. There are silver salmon spawning in select locations in the upper reaches of the mainstem Knik River and this activity usually lasts through November and even into December; a few Dolly Varden are there too and can be hooked as long as the river remains ice free.
If wanting to catch salmon, most runs have spawned and disappeared for the year but a few populations are still active, although fish are likely to be dark blush to spawned-out. Fresh or semi-bright specimens are very few and far between these days but incidental catches occur time to time by anglers targeting other species.
SUSITNA RIVER: The ongoing cold weather pattern has the river rapidly dropping and clearing, although ice is starting to form in tributaries and along the shoreline of the mainstem, thus hindering some angling opportunities. Thin ice flows may be an issue in the mainstem river as well as on the main tributaries of Chulitna and Talkeetna. However, where open and fishable water can be located, expect there to be a subtle opportunity for rainbows, Dollies, grayling, and whitefish. With the water being so cold, present offerings slow and deep; try flesh or forage pattern flies and lures. The afternoon hours are generally more successful than the mornings and evenings as the sun tends to warm things up, even if only a little bit. As for the tributaries, fish are emptying out pending freeze-up, although the Kashwitna River may have some fish available in spots.
There are isolated pockets of spawning salmon in the system and the activity continues into November most years, mainly in the mainstem. As for finding fresh specimens, chances are very slim but every once in a while someone reports catching bright chums or silvers.
Copper Valley-Valdez Arm
Area Summary: As this area has experienced a prolonged cold spell for the past week (even subzero temperatures in some places) with colder than normal weather even before that, the ice fishing season is not too far off on the smaller lakes and ponds with a trickle of reports already of anglers venturing out. On stocked waters, the fishing is usually good to excellent during the month of November for trout and char. The larger lakes, like Summit, Paxson, and Louise, are in the process of freezing over and larger parts of them may already be completely covered in ice; they should be safe enough to walk on by mid-November, if not sooner if this cold continues. Still, there may be pockets of thinner ice to even open water in spots so caution is advised. Action for lake trout, burbot, and whitefish is often good to excellent with some trophy-class catches made.
As for rivers and streams, the smaller waters are freezing over with some already ice covered, especially those at higher elevations. The stocks of fish in these streams have already vacated for overwintering areas in larger, deeper lakes and rivers. For the more adventurous angler, a trip to the upper section of Klutina River near the lake outlet can yield some decent catches of Dolly Varden along with a few rainbows, grayling, and whitefish. The outlets of Tonsina Lake and Paxson Lake are also ice free and typically yield some action at this time for a mix of species as well, including lake trout. As a note, there are red and silver salmon spawning in these locations so anglers may want to bring offerings resembling byproducts of this activity.
Around the Valdez area, there is some fair opportunities for Dolly Varden in the Lowe River, primarily the upper river to Keystone Canyon and in channels and mouths of clearwater tributaries where salmon may be spawning. A few spots in the drainage support late-spawning populations of silver salmon with fish being present now through November and December—try beads and flesh flies for the char. Robe River has some fish in it, mainly spawning silvers, but an occasional semi-bright specimen could be present yet plus a few Dolly Varden are available too.
As for the port itself, no solid salmon action happening from shore as the main silver run has ended, save for a few stragglers headed to the Lowe River drainage. A handful of dark spawners may be present at or around the hatchery off Dayville Road. While feeder king salmon are available by boat in deeper parts of the port, an occasional fish has been reported caught from shore near the harbor during October and November in years past.
Updated Thursday, October 20
HOT SPOTS: KENAI SILVERS, RAINBOWS, DOLLIES; ANCHOR & DEEP STEELHEAD, DOLLIES; KASILOF STEELHEAD; SUSITNA RAINBOWS, GRAYLING
Regional Summary: The number of really productive angling opportunities in the region seem to drop a bit more as each week goes by and the reality of winter approaches. While some great fishing can still be found in a select few flowing waters, particularly on the larger and more popular drainages on the Kenai Peninsula for silver salmon and rainbow and steelhead trout, a lot of the focus will soon shift to lakes and the impending post freeze-up action that so many anglers cherish. Until then, there are also a handful of minor or more subtle stream fishing locations in all areas of Southcentral to enjoy the last of the autumn season.
Anchorage Area-Turnagain Arm
Area Summary: Stocked lakes remain ice free right now but some of them had patches of thin ice in places prior to the last push of warm air into the area. As the next wave of colder temperatures is not far off, anglers still interested in open-water opportunities for landlocked salmon, trout, char, and grayling should make plans as soon as possible. By the last week of this month or right around the first of November, expect lakes to support a thin layer of ice with very little or no open water present. The ice fishing season usually starts after mid-November most years.
A few fresh silver salmon are yet available in the middle and upper sections of Portage Creek but finding them may take a fair amount of time and scouting around—there are considerably more blush and dark specimens present this time of year. Fishing for Dolly Varden is fair. Nearby 20-Mile and Placer also support a small number of late-arriving silvers. All other Turnagain drainages as well as those within the city are seeing spawning and spent fish.
Kenai Peninsula-Passage Canal
Area Summary: As elsewhere in the region, things are set for winter to arrive sometime next week with snowfall and icing conditions in the forecast. But as far as this weekend goes, late autumn is in effect and anglers are enjoying some really great seasonal action for multiple species, including silver salmon, rainbow and steelhead trout, and Dolly Varden along with some lake trout, grayling, and whitefish in places.
Several key rivers and streams in the area are seeing optimum water conditions and anglers braving the elements are reporting good to excellent catches of silver salmon, rainbow trout, and Dolly Varden in the glacial twins of Kenai and Kasilof, while the coastal drainages to the south—Ninilchik, Deep, Stariski, and Anchor—are producing strong runs of steelhead trout and Dolly Varden this year with some exceptional catches of big fish too.
While a few locations at higher elevations have already experienced ice, the vast majority of lowland lakes are presently ice free and yielding both stocked as well as wild populations of landlocked salmon, trout, char, and grayling. Whether in a canoe or casting from shore, the fish are on the take and anglers seldom leave disappointed. However, water conditions are expected to change sometime late next week with colder temperatures settling in and ice covering all lakes, except for the larger, deeper bodies of water like Tustumena, Skilak, Hidden, and Kenai lakes.
Surf-casting opportunities continue to dwindle but there are a few spots that may still produce certain kinds of saltwater species. While most halibut have left the shallow, inshore waters destined for overwintering areas in deeper, offshore locations, there are always a few, generally smaller fish that will spend the cold months at moderate depths in Kachemak Bay and Resurrection Bay. Try casting off the southeast end of Homer Spit or the deeper sections along Lowell Point Road (Seward). Skate and Pacific cod frequent these places as well. Sharks (spiny dogfish) are still present in varying numbers off Cook Inlet beaches.
UPPER KENAI RIVER: Anglers taking time to scout the multitude of slow or still water holes and eddies for silver salmon are finding anything from small groups of fish to sizable schools. Larger streamer pattern flies and spinners do quick work on these fish that may weigh into the teens. Condition of fish range from chrome to blush with the majority of catches still being nice and bright. The stretch of water between the second bridge and Jim’s Landing is popular these days and responsible for limits of fish the last couple of weeks, yet good success may also be had anywhere from the Princess Rapids down to Skilak Lake inlet. Note: The last day of the silver salmon season is October 31.
The local population of rainbow trout and Dolly Varden is gradually thinning out as more fish enter overwintering areas in the lakes; however, some fish will be available in spots all throughout the winter feeding on byproducts of late-spawning silver salmon. Right now, beads and flesh and forage flies along with small spinners are producing catches throughout the length of the river. Expect good fishing to persist for another weekend before slowing down another notch. Round whitefish are hitting egg imitations.
MIDDLE KENAI RIVER: If wanting to target silver salmon, the stretch of water from the outlet of Skilak Lake to Bing’s Landing is hot with a healthy crop of fish present in most holes and eddies. Spinners and colorful streamers are getting plenty of attention with very good action for dime bright to blush fish. Angler success is fair downstream of Sterling to Cook Inlet; every tide is still pushing in groups of bright fish but the run is definitely tapering off in this river section. Note: the silver salmon season closes on October 31 upstream of Bing’s Landing; the stretch downstream of Bing’s through tidewater stays open through November 30.
Fishing is usually good for rainbow trout and Dolly Varden from the lake outlet downstream to Bing’s Landing with a few salmon-seized specimens being landed. Egg, flesh, and forage imitations work very well with some locations producing more strikes on one of the offerings than the others; try different things until the appetite of the day is found. A few fish have likely started moving from the river into Skilak Lake for the winter as angler success wanes rapidly after the first of next month, yet some elect to remain in the river until next spring taking advantage of byproducts from late-spawning silver salmon.
KASILOF RIVER: Silver salmon fishing is fair with some spots managing to produce good action, principally in calm holes and eddies on the upper river. Most of the fish are turning at this point with light to medium blush silvers being the norm; however, a small number of chromers are still around. Try plugs fished slow and deep. There are relatively few fish left on the lower river downstream of the highway bridge but some limited success is possible still.
Fishing for steelhead trout is good using plugs and large beads or corkies. Try the same areas on the upper and middle river where there are silvers present. The action is expected to continue through the month before subsiding as the trout make the trek into Tustumena Lake to overwinter, although some fish will spend the winter in deeper holes on the upper river. Anglers are also having fair success on resident rainbows and Dolly Varden.
ANCHOR RIVER, DEEP CREEK: It has been a great season for steelhead this year and the hot action continues with fish being found throughout the drainages these days. Water conditions are near perfect and the relatively mild weather as well as water temperatures have helped facilitate the bite. Beads, streamers, forage pattern flies, and small spoons are all successfully hooking fish. Dolly Varden fishing is also good to excellent. As temperatures begin to cool, expect both trout and char to get situated in deeper holes and pools on the middle and lower stream sections in preparation for freeze-up, which can occur in late October or November most years. Note: Anchor, Stariski, Deep, and Ninilchik will all close to fishing soon, the last day being October 31.
No recent reports the past week of fresh silvers being caught and most of the fish are now upstream on the spawning beds.
Area Summary: The mainstem Susitna, as well as major tributaries Chulitna and Talkeetna, have been steadily dropping and in the process of clearing, which will accelerate even faster next week pending cold weather and below freezing temperatures forecast to settle over the area. The same applies to the Matanuska and Knik rivers and most all of the smaller streams throughout the valleys, which is often a good but brief window of time to find some productive yet crowd-free fishing before the snow arrives in earnest.
Lake fishing opportunities are the most predictable ones right now with landlocked salmon, trout, char, grayling, pike, and/or burbot being caught in decent numbers in both stocked and wild waters. However, there has been some ice forming recently along the edges and in protected bays on many of them, with some lakes at higher elevations already mostly covered and thus effectively preventing fishing until the ice is thick enough to walk on, usually sometime in November. Until then, the action is fair to excellent depending on species and location.
If still wanting that small-stream feel, look to the mouths and lower ends of clearwater tributaries flowing into the main glacial systems or one of several lake-based creeks that typically hold fish a little longer in the fall, such as the upper ends of Fish and Cottonwood. Trout, char, grayling, and/or whitefish are available; expect mediocre to sometimes good success.
Opportunities to find any bright, tablefare salmon in rivers and streams is very remote at this time, an occasional specimen remains an elusive possibility. Catches are sometimes reported from the Susitna and Knik drainages, with the latter known to consistently yield a few decent silvers in parts of the middle section mainstem along Knik River Road through the month.
SUSITNA RIVER: Anglers hitting the mouths and deep holes and pools on the lower ends of clearwater tributaries between Willow and Talkeetna, such as Willow, Kashwitna, Sheep, Goose, and Montana creeks, are being successful landing a variety of game species, including rainbow trout and Arctic grayling along with a few Dolly Varden and whitefish. Expect fair to good success. As the mainstem Susitna continues to drop and clear, expect decent opportunities in spots there as well. While most fish being caught are “pan-sized,” a few of the trout are quite large and may weigh several pounds. An extensive list of offerings work, including egg, flesh, and forage imitations, and small spoons and spinners. Soaking bait on the bottom in places with still or calm current in the mainstem is the way to go for burbot; big fish in the 8- to 12-pound range and even larger have been caught in the past.
Copper Valley-Valdez Arm
Area Summary: With most smaller lakes firmly locked in ice at this time, the larger waters such as Louise, Paxson, and Summit will soon follow as a colder weather system will overtake the area starting next week. But at least this weekend will offer open-water opportunities for mainly lake trout, burbot, and whitefish and reports are the action has been very good to sometimes excellent. Although a watercraft is often the way to reach the best fishing (and biggest fish), some shore anglers do quite well in the rights spots.
Fishing in small streams is generally slow this late in the season as resident fish have vacated these waters for overwintering areas in deep and large river and lake systems. But some of the medium-sized glacial rivers are still fishable in the lower ends near Copper River or up high at the outlets of headwater lakes, with fair to very good action possible for those willing to venture around a bit. Scout various sections of the Gulkana, Gakona, Chistochina, Slana, Tazlina, Klutina, and Tonsina. Species include Dolly Varden, grayling, and/or rainbow trout along with whitefish. Steelhead trout are present in a few spots. Since there are late-spawning salmon in some of them, bring a good selection of lures, flies and bait to match conditions at specific location. As for targeting salmon, opportunities are very slim but a rare specimen in reasonably decent shape is possible in the Tonsina River and elsewhere.
To the south, in Valdez, there are some fish being caught, mainly in the Robe River, including a few semi-bright silvers and a fair number of Dolly Varden. Although the salmon run is almost done for the year as most fish are spawning, there usually is a trickle of silvers coming through the mouth at the Lowe River confluence; these are primarily fish headed to locations farther upstream in the mainstem Lowe. A small presence of dark silver salmon is holding at the mouth of the creek by the hatchery off Dayville Road. Although running into the odd bright fish is possible, this run is finished for the year.
Updated Thursday, October 13
HOT SPOTS: KENAI SILVERS, RAINBOWS, DOLLIES; ANCHOR STEELHEAD; KASILOF SILVERS, STEELHEAD
Regional Summary: Late autumn fishing conditions are in effect and in some areas winter has already arrived with significant snowfall and single digit temperatures at night. This is shifting attention away from smaller lakes and streams that may be influenced by ice to large bodies of water that are still ice free and yielding very good action for a range of game species. The coastal areas, such as around the Kenai Peninsula, do harbor great sea-run salmon and steelhead trout opportunities right now and typically stay productive through the month until runs either end or are closed by regulation. The marine fisheries are slowing down with most of the larger species now situated in deeper waters out of range for surf-casters.
Anchorage Area-Turnagain Arm
Area Summary: Recent cold weather prompted a thin layer of ice to begin forming on area lakes and ponds, although there is still enough open water to effectively catch fish from shore. Resident species like landlocked salmon, trout, char, and grayling are relatively active with the better action being from late morning to early evening. Expect anywhere from fair to excellent success.
Smaller area streams are dropping and clearing from recent rain events and should be in good shape this weekend and next week to target rainbow trout and Dolly Varden. Both Chester and Campbell creeks in town are yielding fair to good fishing in the upper reaches or in spots where salmon are spawning. The streams down along Turnagain Arm may have some potential in the middle and lower sections as well, mainly for Dolly Varden.
Salmon fishing opportunities are very slim. While late-comers are possible most anywhere, the more consistent fisheries are located in the glacial drainages at the head of Turnagain Arm, specifically 20-Mile, Portage, and Placer. Bright to light blush to dark silvers are currently being caught in all three systems, although the only spot ideal for roadside anglers is Portage Creek; a few decent color salmon are present in the middle and upper reaches—use eggs or spinners. At this time, it is all hit or miss, so have patience and move around until fish are located.
Kenai Peninsula-Passage Canal
Area Summary: Colder temperatures have impacted this area but not to the degree of more inland areas. Most all lakes, except for those situated in highland or alpine locations, are generally completely ice free but some may have small sections of ice around shorelines. The fishing in these lowland waters has been and continue to be good to excellent for landlocked salmon, trout, char, and grayling.
Smaller streams have reduced densities of resident species as most fish have moved on to overwintering areas, yet where there are spawning salmon there are bound to be at least a few nice trout and char present. Larger river system, such as Kenai and Kasilof, have late runs of silver salmon and steelhead trout in addition to resident rainbows and Dolly Varden going strong with some truly exceptional action to be had. Likewise, the southern peninsula streams of Ninilchik, Stariski, Deep, and Anchor have shown to be quite the gems this year as far as steelhead fishing goes with the latter being responsible for some solid action for big fish this season. Swanson River continues to yield semi-bright silvers in addition to rainbows in the middle section. Over in Seward, the Resurrection River drainage—including Salmon Creek—has fair opportunities for decent color silver salmon in lower reaches along with opportunistic Dolly Varden.
Surf-casters are having an increasingly tough time connecting with game species in the saltwater around the peninsula. Most of the halibut have vacated the shallows for the deep of the gulf but an occasional fish is still possible. For the most part, however, action is fair for codfish, flounder, and/or greenling in Cook Inlet, Kachemak Bay, and Resurrection Bay. Passage Canal out of Whittier typically has limited opportunities in October for both smaller rockfish and lingcod.
UPPER KENAI RIVER: Late-run silvers have hit this section of the river in force and success is reported as being good to sometimes excellent in spots. Best fishing is at dawn but can be productive all day long if cloudy and rainy or snowy. The stretch of water from around the second bridge downstream to the Skilak Lake inlet is best, yet nice catches may be had anywhere on the river. Larger streamer patterns and spinners are taking most fish. Condition of these silvers range from chrome to medium blush with most still being bright; darker spawners from the early run may be around in certain spots. Expect catch rates to continue through the season ending October 31. Limit is 3 silvers per day.
Fishing for rainbow trout and Dolly Varden is good with egg and flesh imitations as well as forage patterns being very popular in securing quick action. Anglers are having luck along entire length of water from outlet of Kenai Lake down to Skilak Lake. Expect the action to gradually slow down over the next couple of weeks as an increasing number of trout and char begin migrating to overwintering areas in the lakes. A few round whitefish are also being encountered.
MIDDLE KENAI RIVER: Silvers are scattered from the mouth of the river up to Skilak Lake with the brunt of the late run concentrated above Bing’s Landing to the lake. Success has been very good and expected to hold through the month. Condition of fish range from ocean bright to medium blush. Catch rates are fair in the stretch of river between Sterling and Soldotna, and intermittent to mediocre on down to tidewater. Colorful streamers, spinners, and roe are the best options to use. Seek out slower or slack water on the seam of main current.
Rainbow trout and Dolly Varden fishing is generally good between the outlet of Skilak Lake and Bing’s Landing with some sizable specimens still being caught. Beads, flesh flies, and forage patterns are all effective, as are smaller spinners and plugs. While the bite should continue at this level for another week to ten days, things will slow down soon as many fish will enter the lake for the winter.
KASILOF RIVER: To reach the prime fishing area on the upper river, a boat or raft is necessary; however, a few dedicated anglers do hike the distance from spots along the Tustumena Lake Road. Late-run silvers persist with fair to good catches reported for a mix of bright to medium blush fish. This run is now on the downside of the peak but some nice fish will be around yet through the month. Plugs worked very slow and deep through calm holes and pools are likely to get strikes.
If targeting steelhead, the locations and offerings used for silvers will do just fine. Also, drifting bright jigs or large beads and corkies with a strike indicator are known to get slammed some days. The action has been good as of late and expected to stay that way through October. Some resident rainbows and Dollies and a few whitefish are also being hooked.
ANCHOR RIVER: As long as fishing conditions are optimal (relatively low and clear water) and not too cold, anglers will see good action on beads, streamers, and small spoons in the middle river section. Catches on the lower and upper river is spotty for steelhead but good for Dolly Varden, in the latter. As a reminder, the season ends on October 31; this applies to the Anchor as well as neighboring Stariski, Deep, and Ninilchik.
The silver salmon runs have ceased for this year, although an occasional straggler is possible yet.
Area Summary: With the onset of colder weather, the mainstem of major systems like Susitna, Matanuska, and Knik are dropping due to lack of glacial meltwater and rain so common during the summer and early fall months and will be fishable soon, but clarity is not up to par yet and should improve drastically as November approaches. Tributaries, however, are not likely to produce any significant opportunities as many of them are void of any concentrations of trout, char, and grayling due to these species now having completed their migrations to overwintering areas. But there are a few spots where consistent action may be enjoyed at this time, usually in drainages with lakes and where salmon may still be spawning; this would include Cottonwood Creek below Wasilla Lake and Fish Creek at the Big Lake outlet. Little Susitna River and Fish Creek also have fall spawning runs of round whitefish in upper and middle reaches.
Many of the smaller lakes and ponds in the area—for several weeks now true hot spots for resident species—are seeing partial freeze-up conditions with thin sheets of ice covering sections of water along shorelines and shallows, thus hindering opportunities. While a thaw-out is likely as milder temperatures and possibly rain returns next week, some of the locations at higher elevations will probably stay locked in ice until spring. But if there is open water to be found, this being the case with larger and deeper lakes, then good fishing for landlocked salmon, trout, char, grayling, pike, and burbot is assured.
While catching bright salmon is rather uncommon in latter October and November, a few specimens are hooked most years by anglers targeting other species. There are a few distinct populations of late-spawning chums, reds, and/or silvers in the mainstem Susitna, Chulitna, Kashwitna, Talkeetna, and Knik rivers this time of year but even these small runs are about to end shortly. For added perspective, a unique run of red salmon that spawns in Big Lake (Fish Creek drainage), although prohibited by regulation to target specifically, is present into December and a few fish are incidentally encountered even as late as February some years by anglers ice fishing for trout and char.
SUSITNA RIVER: Most productive fishing is down at the mouths of clearwater streams right now, such as Montana, Goose, Sheep, Little Willow, and Willow creeks, with rainbow trout, Dolly Varden, and Arctic grayling all present. Some fish may still be available in the lower sections of these waters; scout deeper holes for success. Kashwitna River is usually a good late-season bet as trout and grayling, especially, are to be caught in the middle and lower sections until freeze-up. Burbot action can be solid at times at the mouths of Montana, Sheep, and Kashwitna, or anywhere else along mainstem Susitna there is deeper, clearer water on the seam of main current. Schools of round whitefish are often encountered as well.
Copper Valley-Valdez Arm
Area Summary: This part of Southcentral is currently experiencing early winter conditions, complete with heavy snowfalls measuring to a foot or two covering large swaths of the valley and mountain passes. It has also been cold enough for many of the lakes and ponds to have developed ice and as such eliminated any further open-water opportunities for the year. Additionally, these smaller bodies of water are still not safe for ice fishing activities but should be firming up within the next couple of weeks for this to be possible.
The larger lakes, such as Louise, Paxson, and Summit, have largely or for the most part open water still and the fishing is great for lake trout, burbot, and whitefish. While trophy lakers to 20 pounds or more are being hauled in regularly by boaters in these waters, also shore anglers are catching fish in spots where it is deep enough within reach. If stringent winter conditions continue, expect ice to become a problem even in these locations within the next ten days to two weeks.
Smaller streams are also developing ice and some are close to freezing over, leaving only the larger rivers to supply angling opportunities. The glacial systems of Gakona, Tazlina, Klutina, and Tonsina are generally ice free and there are fish to be had. Grayling, rainbow trout, Dolly Varden, and/or whitefish inhabit these drainages and fair to sometimes good fishing can be had for the duration of October and even into November some years. The upper section of Gulkana River below Paxson Lake is ice free and, if reached, has a nice supply of grayling along with some rainbows available.
The late runs of red and silver salmon are in the final stages of the life cycle in Copper Valley, although fish will be spawning into November or later in a few spots. As for finding fresh, bright salmon, opportunities are very slim but not impossible. The most realistic place for locating table-fare salmon is Valdez where a small number of silvers have staked out a section of water in front of the fish hatchery off Dayville Road and over at the boat harbor on the city side. Majority of silvers are dark blush to spawning condition but there are a few bright or semi-bright specimens left. A few nice color silvers are also present in the Robe River. The Lowe River in Valdez, as with many other glacial system, does have distinct late-spawning populations of salmon in the mainstem and these fish may be intercepted at the mouth of Robe as well.
Updated Thursday, October 6
HOT SPOTS: KENAI SILVERS, RAINBOWS, DOLLIES; KASILOF SILVERS, STEELHEAD; ANCHOR STEELHEAD; SUSITNA RAINBOWS, GRAYLING; COPPER LAKERS, GRAYLING
Regional Summary: Late fall has arrived and although much of the region has enjoyed mostly dry and warmer than normal temperatures the last few days, it is not expected to last as another round of rain is expected to hit Southcentral, which is forecast to elevate water levels in rivers and streams until a significant cooling trend occurs next week. If things go as predicted weather-wise, anglers may want to avoid fast flowing runoff streams and focus on lake-based drainages from mid-weekend on until water conditions stabilize again.
Fishing for salmon is, for all practical purposes, relegated to a couple of select drainages—Kenai and Kasilof rivers—with only very minor opportunities most everywhere else in the region. Trout, char, grayling, whitefish, pike, and burbot are available in lakes and a handful of streams but the productivity is decreasing in flowing waters as the fish wrap up their seasonal migrations to deeper, overwintering locations. The marine fisheries have slowed way down the past week with most sporting species pulling away from nearshore locations destined for deeper, offshore waters.
Anchorage Area-Turnagain Arm
Area Summary: Fishing for landlocked salmon, trout, char, and grayling in local stocked lakes and ponds is the best angling opportunity this weekend. The action is generally good or better and expected to hold until freeze-up late this month or November. Rainbows and Dollies are also to be found in a few streams, such as Chester and Campbell creeks, and Eagle River north of town and Portage Creek south of the city support populations of Dolly Varden as well. As water levels drop and clarity improves, expect fair fishing in these places.
Salmon fishing opportunities are dwindling in this area. Campbell Creek is now closed to silver salmon fishing until next summer and Ship Creek silvers are very likely done for the year as well, although a straggler is still possible. Bird and Glacier may see a few late arrivals filtering through. Eagle River has populations of late-spawning red and silver salmon in the mainstem and there is a slim chance for something decent there too. The glacial drainages at the bottom of Turnagain Arm—20-Mile, Placer, and Portage—all have autumn appearances of ocean fresh silvers in October (even November some years), yet only Portage Creek offers roadside anglers good access. Fishing is generally spotty and fair at best for bright and semi-bright silvers in Portage during October but can be good at times up until mid-month.
Kenai Peninsula-Passage Canal
Area Summary: Late-run silver salmon are abundant in the central peninsula systems of Kenai and Kasilof with very good action to be had now and this weekend; the Kenai will see consistent action through October with limited opportunities during all of November as well. The lower Resurrection River and Salmon Creek in Seward is worth a shot if water conditions cooperate and does have a few good color silvers along with a greater number of darker fish present. While there are very small runs of autumn salmon to be found elsewhere also, for the most part the salmon fishing has ended on the peninsula for this year.
The southern peninsula streams of Ninilchik, Deep, Stariski, and Anchor are experiencing good returns of steelhead trout and the opportunity expected to last through October. Resident species such as rainbow trout, Dolly Varden, and round whitefish are available in some systems, like the Kenai and Swanson, as well as a select few streams that support late-spawning salmon and thus a prime food source. But for the most part, trout and char, especially, have left the smaller clearwater streams and migrated to overwintering locations in larger rivers and lakes.
Both stocked and wild lakes and ponds are great for landlocked salmon, trout, char, and grayling right now and will continue to be productive up until freeze-up, usually sometime in November.
The marine fisheries continue to churn out a number of species, primarily codfish, flounder, and greenling, but with some time and effort there are rockfish, lingcod, halibut, skate, and shark to be had as well. This weekend and early next week features a set of very high tides again, which could bode well for surf-casters looking for last-minute action before winter sets in. Expect slow to quite decent opportunities depending on species targeted. Sharks and the smaller non-sporting species are most probable, halibut the least but a few of these flatfish are still around.
UPPER KENAI RIVER: The late run of silver salmon is steadily infiltrating this section of the Kenai system with good fishing reported from the inlet of Skilak Lake upstream to the Sportsman’s Landing area, but decent action may be had farther up as well, to near the Princess Rapids. The morning hours tend to be best, especially on clear and sunny days but fish may be actively striking all day long if cloudy or raining/snowing. Condition of silvers range from chrome to light blush with most being bright and chunky; there are pockets of dark early-run fish in some places. Larger streamers or spinners work great. Target slack-water locations near main current.
Fishing is good to excellent for rainbow trout and Dolly Varden. Fish are distributed throughout the length of the river with anglers scoring on beads, flesh flies, and small spinners, yet forage imitation flies are effective too. There have been some sizable catches of ‘bows in the canyon area recently, which is typical in autumn. Whitefish are also being hooked.
MIDDLE KENAI RIVER: Anglers trying their luck in the section from near the Skilak Lake outlet to Bing’s Landing are experiencing some good to excellent late-run silver salmon action. As always, salmon roe clusters, colorful streamer flies, spinners, and plugs are responsible for most hookups. Some specimens weighing into the mid-teens have been caught the last couple of weeks. Most silvers being taken are nice and chrome with a few starting to turn a bit. Expect success to decrease down low in the drainage as most of the run is now upstream of Soldotna; anglers targeting the lower river below Soldotna and in tidewater are generally doing fair and things should be worthwhile for another week or so before deteriorating further.
Rainbow trout and Dolly Varden fishing is good from Bing’s Landing on up to the lake with beads, flesh flies, and spinners seeing plenty of strikes. The bite has slowed considerably in stretches of water downstream of Sterling but there are still some fish being caught, especially char. Whitefish are present too.
KASILOF RIVER: Good numbers of late-run silver salmon are available in the middle and upper reaches of the river. Success has been best from a boat, pulling plugs through deep, calm holes and pools upstream of the rapids area. Some fish are also being caught by shore anglers. The run is still peaking and the majority of catches are still bright, yet an increasing percentage of the silvers are starting to blush—expect catch rates to hold for another week to ten days before tapering off. Relatively few silvers are being caught on the lower river near Crooked Creek.
Fishing for steelhead trout is good with generally the same area as where the silvers are being hooked producing the most consistent catches; however, these sea-run trout may be located anywhere from tidewater to near the lake outlet. Plugs work better than most anything else but some anglers opt to swing or drift large beads and corkies instead. A few resident rainbows, Dolly Varden, and whitefish are being encountered.
NINILCHIK, ANCHOR RIVERS, DEEP CREEK: The Anchor has been the most consistent producer of steelhead trout as of late due to hosting a larger run as well as a greater segment of the river being readily accessible from the road. Anglers casting beads, egg and forage imitation flies, and small spoons are experiencing good to excellent success in the middle river section, yet some fish are being found in the upper and lower areas too. Deep and Ninilchik report decent catches in spots upstream of the highway crossings. Fishing for Dolly Varden is good, with most fish seen in the middle and upper reaches of all streams; a few resident rainbows are present.
The silver salmon runs to these waters have ended for the season but a few stragglers are always around through the month.
Area Summary: While much of the smaller streams as well as the larger, glacial drainages will be impacted to one degree or another by rain and possibly high and turbid water this weekend, next week should see much better conditions as the weather cools off and hopefully dries up. If conditions occur as forecasted, anglers must find lake-based drainages and clear water starting late Saturday in order to enjoy late autumn opportunities in this area. The large seasonal movements of resident species like trout, char, and grayling in the tributaries of the glacial systems of Susitna, Chulitna, Talkeetna, Matanuska, and Knik are near completion.
Still, there are specific or distinct spots that do support at least moderate—if not limited—angling success. Trout and char and to some degree grayling will be found where there is a predictable food source, such as late-spawning salmon. The outlet of Big Lake and the upper end of Fish Creek has some nice rainbows, as does the upper section of Cottonwood Creek below Wasilla Lake. Additionally, whitefish are fairly abundant in some waters in October and/or November since they are autumn spawners and may be successfully targeted in the tributaries of the Susitna and Chulitna rivers, and in the Little Susitna River and Fish Creek.
Lake fishing continues to be highly productive yet, although some spots or days can be more challenging than others. Landlocked salmon, trout, char, grayling, pike, and burbot are all very active this time of year and anglers are reporting decent to superb catches in area lakes and ponds.
SUSITNA RIVER: Relatively warm and wet weather conditions have kept river levels higher than usual and the silt load is still too high to effectively fish the mainstem current. However, the lower sections and mouths of clearwater tributaries are yielding fair to good or better action for primarily rainbow trout and grayling but some Dolly Varden and round whitefish are being caught in addition depending on location. Burbot are available in confluence areas. Places to try include Willow, Little Willow, Kashwitna, Sheep, Goose, Montana, and Rabideux. Some late-spawning silver and chum salmon are present in the upper mainstem Susitna, so anglers should try a variety of offerings, from beads and egg and flesh imitation flies to forage patterns, including small lures.
TALKEETNA RIVER: Although water levels and turbidity has been steadily improving over the past couple of weeks, things are likely to change during the course of the weekend but return back to normal later next week. The migration of resident species to overwintering areas in the mainstem Susitna River is ongoing but not for too much longer; if water conditions improve in time, action for rainbow trout, Dolly Varden, and grayling should be fair to good. Late-spawning salmon are present in the drainage—use beads and egg and flesh imitation flies as well as small lures and forage patterns.
CHULITNA RIVER: The mainstem river is still flowing largely high and turbid but is in the process of dropping and clearing, yet more persistent moisture in the area will assuredly force anglers to focus on smaller streams to find their quarry. Rainbow trout, grayling, and round whitefish along with a few Dolly Varden are available at the mouths of clearwater tributaries; expect fair to sometimes good success. Byers Creek still has salmon actively spawning and dying off and considered a relatively productive autumn spot to target rainbows.
Copper Valley-Valdez Arm
Area Summary: The majority of the trout, char, and grayling populations having spent the summer months in smaller clearwater tributaries of area glacial systems have now completed the seasonal movement to overwintering locations. Due to lingering mild weather, there may still be isolated pockets of fish present in a few streams, such as Mendeltna and Tolsona, and especially the mouths and confluences where they flow into larger lakes and rivers. Additionally, the more sizable drainages, like Gulkana, Gakona, and Chistochina, will be productive much of the month barring heavy and prolonged downpours or very cold temperatures and ice buildup.
The better bet for anglers around here is to focus efforts on lakes where trout, char, grayling, and burbot reside. The stocked lakes around parts of Glenn Highway near Glennallen and along the Richardson and Edgerton highways are tops right now for solid and consistent action; however, the pending freeze next week could easily change prospects in these parts. The larger and deeper bodies of water—such as Louise, Paxson, and Summit—all support some of the best lake trout fishing of the year at this time.
Salmon fishing is limited these days. Select drainages of the Copper River do support silver and red salmon runs this time of fall, although most of the populations are very small. The Tonsina River harbors some level of silver salmon action right now but most fish present are blush to dark or spawning; a few semi-bright specimens are still around, however. To the south, Port Valdez has a fair number of silvers present around the fish hatchery but the vast majority of these fish are turning color as well; a small number of semi-bright to even chrome fish continue to cruise along beaches of the port but success is deemed to be hit-and-miss with far more misses than hits. Robe River has a few fresh silvers available but most are turning there as well.
Updated Thursday, September 29
HOT SPOTS: KENAI SILVERS, RAINBOWS, DOLLIES; ANCHOR STEELHEAD; SUSITNA RAINBOWS, DOLLIES, GRAYLING; DEEP STEELHEAD; CHULITNA RAINBOWS, GRAYLING; KASILOF SILVERS, STEELHEAD
Regional Summary: As late autumn is only days away which presents a gradual transformation from relatively mild and wet weather patterns to cooler days and below freezing temperatures at night, area waters will see a fairly drastic change in appearance and fishery dynamics. Rivers and streams are seeing seasonal migrations of resident species such as trout, char, and grayling from summer feeding grounds to overwintering locations with most movement completed by mid-October but will continue into November in some locations. This is a great period for anglers to pursue their favorite quarry and the fishing is often fantastic and at times some of the best of the year. Likewise, the lake fisheries continue to produce very noteworthy catches with superb opportunities right through freeze-up. And as for salmon, the genuine fall runs of chrome silvers—as well as steelhead—are going strong and expected to stay that way now through October. Surf-casting for marine species is seeing a gradual but steady decline in productivity, especially concerning halibut, as fish are moving from shallow, nearshore areas to deeper, offshore waters; certain spots, however, may experience decent fishing for another few weeks yet.
Anchorage Area-Turnagain Arm
Area Summary: High water continues to be an issue for most area streams, which hampers angler success. Ship Creek is flowing high and turbid but may still yield a fresh silver or two as conditions improve; generally, however, the run is done for this year. The same story goes for Campbell Creek with most silvers now located in the upper drainage and engaged in spawning; the silver salmon season ends on October 1. Fair to good rainbow and Dolly fishing may be had in the upper stream as long as the water is clear. Chester Creek is high and murky but fishable and catches of rainbow trout and Dolly Varden is possible as salmon begin spawning—try beads and egg imitation flies. Eagle River will soon be worth a shot for Dolly Varden. Area stocked lakes are most viable, supporting good to excellent opportunities for landlocked salmon, trout, char, and grayling.
The streams down along Turnagain Arm are experiencing huge swings in water levels and clarity, not unusual for this time of year. While rare, creeks like Bird, Glacier, and Ingram may see a few fresh silvers on the tides still; these fish are likely bound for Portage area drainages. The 20-Mile and Placer river systems still have silvers in them with Portage Creek being the best bet for roadside anglers.
PORTAGE CREEK: This weekend is likely to be the last for consistent catches of bright and semi-bright silvers in this drainage, although small groups to even sizable schools of fresh fish do enter the stream up until mid-October some years. It is not unheard of for bright reds to show up in October as well as there are late-spawning populations present up until Christmas in certain spots, including Portage Lake. Upper Portage and the upper sections of Williwaw Creek provide fair opportunities for small Dolly Varden.
Kenai Peninsula-Passage Canal
Area Summary: The late runs of silver salmon in the Kenai and Kasilof rivers are peaking and receiving plenty of attention, just as steelhead trout are working their way up the latter as well as into the lower peninsula waters of Ninilchik, Deep, Stariski, and Anchor. Some late season opportunities for silver salmon persist in Resurrection Bay and drainages flowing into the head of the bay but things continue to slow down as it is the tail end of the season. Also, a few decent silvers may be caught in the Swanson River.
Fishing for rainbow trout and Dolly Varden is highly productive in the mainstem Kenai River but starting to taper off in tributaries as well as other smaller drainages around the peninsula. The month of October represents a time when the fall migrations to overwintering areas are in progress and anglers may have to scout around a bit to find solid action. Quartz Creek, including Daves Creek, has some nice Dollies present still but things are slowing down; the Russian River has potential for both trout and char but with the main salmon spawn having concluded, fish are moving back into the Kenai.
Now is a great time to check out the lakes along the Swanson River and Swan Lake roads yielding excellent catches of rainbow trout and Arctic char. Stocked lakes in and around the communities of Kenai, Soldotna, Cooper Landing, and Seward are seeing high success rates of landlocked salmon, trout, char, and/or grayling.
Marine fisheries are experiencing a seasonal slow-down but some codfish, flounders, and other saltwater species are predictably being caught in Homer and Seward, while Cook Inlet continues to produce respectable numbers of opportunistic spiny dogfish (shark) along with some skate and halibut.
SEWARD/RESURRECTION BAY: Salmon fishing has been highly variable in this location, much of it owing to the weather and water conditions but also inconsistent numbers of silvers moving along beaches and up the rivers, which is quite typical this late in the season. There has been sporadic flurries of activity and good action at times at the Scheffler Creek/Seward Lagoon fishery with a few days producing limits for all involved and other days being almost dead. Most of the hatchery run is done for the year so most salmon being caught now and next month are likely wild fish. Quality of silvers range from chrome to dark red with the majority showing at least some tint of color. Other spots to try for silvers include the mouths of Spring and Spruce creeks. There are also occasional catches of reasonably fresh reds bound for the lagoon as well as the Resurrection River drainage.
As the weather cools and the rain holds back a little, anglers will find some decent opportunities for silvers in the branches of the lower Resurrection River that flows clear and in lower Salmon Creek (check regulations for open areas). There will be a mix of bright and blush fish present. Additionally, Dolly Varden offer fair success in local streams, especially where salmon are spawning.
The marine fishery continues a downward trajectory as saltwater species are pulling away from the shallows and head to deeper water for the winter. Expect fair success for codfish, flounder, and greenling, and anglers utilizing proper long-distance, surf-casting equipment may still be able to connect with Pacific cod and a few rockfish—even the occasional halibut.
UPPER KENAI RIVER: Water levels are dropping and clarity is good, making for a perfect combination if stalking rainbow trout and Dolly Varden. Recent reports range from good to superb with beads and flesh flies producing the vast majority of fish. There are yet a number of red salmon spawning and dying off so focus on imitations of byproducts of the spawn. Forage patterns and small plugs and spinners can be hot certain days. Fish are distributed throughout the length of the river with a good share of anglers preferring the Russian to Skilak Lake inlet corridor. Round whitefish are being encountered too.
Late-run silver salmon are increasing in numbers each and every day with most catches occurring from Sportsman’s Landing to the lake. Limits are possible with time and effort. Quality of these fish is largely excellent and generally bright but there are pockets of dark, early-run fish here and there. Catching a semi-bright red is possible but unlikely this late in the season.
MIDDLE/LOWER KENAI RIVER: Good numbers of chrome late-run silver salmon are arriving on the tides and anglers are reporting very good to excellent action using eggs and spinners from tidewater up to Sterling and beyond. The run is peaking in the middle river section with a few robust specimens weighing into the mid-teens having been landed, while the lower river should see a slight drop in fish numbers shortly as the run progresses upstream. Expect the rush to hold for another week or so on the lower and through October upstream of Bing’s Landing. Focus on slack-water locations bordering main current and the mouths of clearwater tributaries for optimum success. Catching a semi-bright red is possible but unlikely this late in the season as most of that run has already completed spawning.
Rainbow trout and Dolly Varden fishing is good on the middle river above Sterling to the Skilak Lake outlet. Egg and flesh imitations generally work well but forage patterns are being increasingly successful in hooking up. Some true hogs stretching beyond the 30-inch mark are being brought in to shore. The catch rates drop off noticeably from Sterling to Soldotna with relatively few fish caught on the lower end near tidewater.
SWANSON RIVER: The silver salmon fishing here is subsiding as the run advances upstream and begins to mature; however, a few fresh silvers are still coming in on the tides. To best fish this run, consider drifting/canoeing from the Swanson River Access point down to Kenai Spur Highway. Lots of fish in that stretch but be prepared to encounter a good portion of blush or dark specimens while filtering out the bright ones.
Fishing for rainbow trout is good on the upper river and a few Dolly Varden are in the mix as well.
KASILOF RIVER: Although a few late-run silvers are being intercepted by the shore angling crowd on the lower river around Crooked Creek, the best opportunities are to be found on the middle and upper river for those with boats or rafts. Expect good or better success using plugs fished slow in deeper holes or runs upstream of the rapids with the bite generally lasting until mid next month. The late run of reds has ended with most fish having spawned.
The steelhead fishing is steadily improving with a decent number of fish beginning to stack up in the mid to upper sections of river upstream of the rapids; the lower river is seeing a degree of action too but considerably less than elsewhere in the drainage. Like the silvers, these sea-run trout respond best to plugs fished slow and deep in holes and runs, although some fish can be caught on corkies and size 12 beads along river bends. A few resident rainbows and Dolly Varden are present; Crooked Creek is a good bet.
ANCHOR RIVER, DEEP CREEK: From last weekend up until a day or two ago, anglers were having great success for steelhead—until the recent bout of stormy weather and rains fell and clouded up the water. But if or when the water drops and starts to clear again, expect some good to excellent catches of sea-run trout in the lower and middle stream stretches using beads, forage and egg imitation flies, and smaller spoons and plugs. There are also a handful of steelies in the upper stream section of Anchor near North Fork Road. Word is that there are some very big specimens present this season weighing into the teens. Dolly Varden action is good in the middle to upper sections of both waters; many fish are in spawning condition and brilliantly colored.
A trickle of fresh silver salmon continue to push up these drainages as well as nearby Stariski Creek and Ninilchik River, yet the runs are practically done for the year with most fish situated in the upper parts preparing to spawn. The pink salmon runs have ended.
COOK INLET: This weekend will show moderate but favorable high tides and decent opportunities for surf-casting in various locations between the mouth of the Kenai River and Anchor Point. While the number of halibut being caught is dropping off and continuing the seasonal trend, catches of shark remains very good along with a few skates. If targeting halibut, head to Whiskey Gulch or spots around Anchor Point; expect poor to fair success with occasional bursts of good action. Sharks are more common north of Ninilchik along Clam Gulch up to Kenai Beach at this time; the latter location occasionally produces some very hefty late-season halibut.
Area Summary: The zenith of lake fishing is ongoing and anglers are experiencing good to excellent catches of landlocked salmon, trout, char, grayling, and pike in various waters from the Palmer-Wasilla area to Point Mackenzie and north to Talkeetna. There are literally multiple dozens of stocked lakes to choose from and at least an equal number of “wild” lakes too. Most years, the action stays solid through September but may be more variable come October, yet fishing in general is productive right up until freeze-up sometime between late October and mid-November.
The small stream fisheries are ongoing with weather and water conditions usually being the critical factors this time of year. Resident fish migrations are near completion in some drainages, while just getting started in others, usually depending on stream size and variable or distinct characteristics. Some systems have late-spawning salmon populations, which may extend the trout and char season by a few weeks as salmon byproducts are a main food source. Generally, however, the small stream seasons are completed by mid-October.
Larger rivers, such as the mainstem of Susitna, Chulitna, Talkeetna, Matanuska, and Knik, harbor the best fishing opportunities late in the season when glacial silt and meltwater from area glaciers come to a near halt and waters begin to drop significantly and clear up. The window of time from this happening and when they finally freeze up in November or December can be a challenging but very rewarding time to be on the water, scouting for schools of resident game fish like trout, char, grayling, whitefish, and burbot holding in deep holes and pools where they overwinter. There may even be encounters with late arriving silver and chum salmon during these fall and early winter months.
SUSITNA RIVER: While the mainstem Susitna is flowing high and turbid, things should stabilize shortly as the headwaters is seeing cooler temperatures, moisture fall in the form of snow instead of rain, and slowing of glacial melt, prompting water levels to start dropping and visibility improve. Until that happens, anglers will find some potentially good fishing in clearwater tributaries from Willow up to the Talkeetna area; the otherwise glacial Kashwitna has already dropped and cleared. Scout various sections and holes for concentrations of primarily rainbows and grayling but there are also Dolly Varden and round whitefish present; use egg and flesh imitations or forage flies. The mouths of these streams where they flow into the Big Su are perfect locations to hook burbot; find deeper, calmer, or still water near the main current for success.
Anglers hoping to target salmon may find it tough going here on forward as most fish will be in, near, or post spawning phase. However, fresh stragglers are not unheard of this late in the season and there are late-run chums and silvers present in the Susitna that utilize some locations in the mainstem for reproductive purposes in October and November that may yet offer anglers a challenge.
TALKEETNA RIVER: Despite recent rains, the river is beginning to clear up, although water levels are still high. The outmigration of resident species from clearwater tributaries into the mainstem Talkeetna has commenced and will continue until sometime in mid-October. Fair to sometimes good catches of rainbows, Dollies, and grayling may be had in stretches of the river in front of town, focusing on holes or eddies away from the main current; however, the main concentration of fish is still upstream but should be within walking/hiking distance in another week. Beads, corkies, and forage imitation flies work. Both silver and chum salmon are actively spawning in the system—match the hatch.
CHULITNA RIVER: With wet snow falling in the upper parts of the drainage and cold rain elsewhere, rainbow trout and grayling action tends to be better in the lower sections and mouths of streams as fish are migrating to overwintering areas in the mainstem Chulitna River. A few whitefish are also being encountered. Reports from the last several days indicate best success in Byers Creek, yet other clearwater tributaries may produce solid catches as well, such as East Fork Chulitna, when water conditions cooperate. Silver and chum salmon are spawning within the system and anglers generally score with the trout and grayling using egg and flesh imitations along with a selection of forage flies.
Copper Valley-Valdez Arm
Area Summary: This is typically the first area on the road system in Southcentral that receives cold air and snow in October and bits of both have already been the case, particularly around Paxson on north and in Thompson Pass. However, recent mild air from the Pacific has thawed things out for the most part and thus prolonged open-water opportunities, at least concerning smaller lakes and ponds. The larger bodies of water, such as Louise, Paxson, and Summit, tend to freeze late in the fall in most any given year. Yet, to put it bluntly, time is of the essence here and quickly running out as October rolls around.
Some of the smaller drainages in the area are in the final stages of fish migrations to overwintering areas, while larger systems are just now experiencing some great action with the arrival of fish from headwaters and tributaries. Trout, char, and whitefish are all on the move and relatively few anglers are here in this area to capitalize on it. Steelhead are showing up, chiefly in the Gulkana but a few smaller and isolated populations exist in other locations as well.
As the smaller lakes will begin to freeze soon, anglers challenging the bigger Louise, Paxson, and Summit are about to partake in some of the best lake trout fishing of the year and during a time when most trophy lakers are being caught. There is also some good burbot and whitefish action to be had.
While the last of September and October are not known as being especially great or even a good time to target salmon in the Copper Valley, some anglers do reasonably well in a few locations. The Tonsina River has the more prolific silver salmon run of all but fish can also be caught (to a much lesser extent) in the Klutina and in tributaries of the Chitina. The red salmon runs have ended but a few specimens are often present in the Gulkana and Tonsina well into October. Still, Port Valdez is where the silver salmon action is at these days and anglers can expect catches into early October this season, perhaps even later.
COPPER RIVER: The smaller clearwater tributaries draining into the mainstem Copper, as well as the Tazlina and Chitina, are seeing some very nice opportunities for a blend of species these days. Grayling are variably abundant in the Mendeltna, Tolsona, Tulsona, Little Tonsina, and Indian creeks with excellent catch rates some days; forage flies and small spinners do the trick. Rainbows are also being caught in Mendeltna and Tolsona, while Dollies are common in the Little Tonsina.
The larger rivers, such as Gulkana, Klutina, and Tonsina, all support good fishing right now, albeit parts of the drainages where the better action tends to occur may be difficult to reach due to wet and muddy access road conditions. If things stay relatively with prime water conditions, there could be good grayling fishing in the Gulkana along with a few rainbows and whitefish; the red salmon run has ended but a few semi-bright stragglers are typically encountered still. The upper Klutina towards the lake harbors good Dolly Varden fishing and there are a few rainbows and grayling to be had too; some silvers are present in this drainage. The Tonsina has a decent run of silvers and a fair number of fish are being caught, particularly around the Little Tonsina River confluence. Most fish are blush to red but a few light blush specimens are available. Dolly Varden fishing is fair.
PORT VALDEZ: This fishery has shown a good amount of longevity this season and persistent anglers have been getting their limits regularly by snagging around the hatchery off Dayville Road. The number of salmon present is slowly declining day by day thanks in part to anglers but perhaps especially so due to predation from the sizable sea lion population in the immediate area. Quality of the fish is also slipping, with most silvers landed being semi-bright to light blush and displaying pale flesh, although some chrome specimens are still arriving on the tides. The nicer color silvers are being caught off Allison Point, the boulder strewn beach between the point and the hatchery, and across the port in or around the boat harbor. All in all, expect fair success at best this weekend if flinging spinners.
Fishing for silvers is fair in the Robe River with the majority of the salmon starting to get dark and only a small number of bright silvers left. Some Dolly Varden are being caught too.
Updated Thursday, September 22
HOT SPOTS: KENAI SILVERS, RAINBOWS, DOLLIES; ANCHOR STEELHEAD; SUSITNA RAINBOWS, GRAYLING; KASILOF SILVERS; COPPER GRAYLING; VALDEZ SILVERS
Regional Summary: It is the late runs of silver salmon and steelhead trout that are grabbing the most attention of anglers in the region these days, and for a reason. The fishing is often good and can be excellent on some days, a prized opportunity in a place that will soon enough experience snow, cold, and darkness for the next several months. But for those not fixated on flowing waters, there is a plethora of lakes to go for landlocked salmon, trout, char, grayling, and pike during the rest of September and through most of October as well. The marine fisheries are tapering off for the most part but some catches of halibut and other saltwater species are possible yet.
Anchorage Area-Turnagain Arm
Area Summary: The main angling opportunities around here are in the local stocked lakes where landlocked salmon, trout, char, and grayling are plentiful and providing quick action throughout the day. However, there are limited possibilities also in city streams for rainbows and Dollies. As for the salmon fisheries, most locations still have the possibility of hooking a reasonably fresh silver but most runs are done for the year; only the drainages down at the bottom of Turnagain Arm still produce catches of bright fish on a consistent basis.
PORTAGE CREEK: Perhaps the only roadside salmon fishery in the area still offering a decent opportunity to catch silver salmon. While water conditions have been high and turbid lately, some success is being had by anglers targeting silvers holding in deeper holes and around the mouths of clearwater streams on the middle and upper stream, particularly along Portage Glacier Road. Some fish are continuing to show sporadically on the tides. Salmon roe is always effective but spinners can be deadly at times. Expect fair catches of silvers ranging in color from chrome to dark red.
Dolly Varden fishing can be fair to good in spots where there are spawning salmon, such as the upper reaches.
Kenai Peninsula-Passage Canal
Area Summary: Most anglers in this area are focused on the late runs of silver salmon to the Kenai and Kasilof rivers and the steelhead runs to the lower peninsula streams of Ninilchik, Deep, and Anchor, and in part the Kasilof as well. These opportunities are prime from now on through October. But for a number of anglers, it is the lake fisheries that are the focal point; numerous lakes on the peninsula are stocked with landlocked salmon, trout, and grayling and supply excellent opportunities up until freeze in November. Lake trout are also available in the larger, deeper “wild” lakes. The marine fisheries are ongoing still for halibut and other saltwater species, but not for too much longer as the seasonal migrations to deeper, offshore waters have begun.
SEWARD/RESURRECTION BAY: Salmon fishing opportunities have slowed way down in this location but a few opportunities do remain which are almost entirely dependent on favorable water conditions. While a few bright to medium blush silver salmon continue to be caught by primarily snaggers at the mouth of Scheffler Creek and along the beach to the boat harbor, the lower sections of Resurrection River and Salmon Creek (below Seward Highway and Nash Road, respectively) are open to salmon fishing and silvers are present. However, high and muddy water has been the rule here, like elsewhere in the Southcentral region, and these fish are only accessible during autumn cooling periods when conditions clear up and drop. When—or if—this happens in a timely manner within the next couple of weeks, anglers can expect to see some decent catches of silvers. There are also late-spawning reds and pinks in these streams as well as foraging Dolly Varden.
Surf-casting for marine species is continuing to slow down but some fair to sometimes good action is possible yet for codfish, flounder, and greenling. There are no recent reports of halibut being caught but a few sizable Pacific cod and rockfish are available.
UPPER KENAI RIVER: While there typically are a small number of chrome late-run silvers in this section by now, most fish being caught are blush or even dark early-run fish that spawn in various parts of the drainage, including tributaries such as the Russian River and those waters flowing into Kenai Lake. Things will start to pick up again in another week to ten days as the second run arrives in force. Sporadic catches of bright or semi-bright reds is possible still but most of these salmon are presently in the process of spawning and dying off.
Rainbow trout and Dolly Varden opportunities are abundant in all parts of the upper river but perhaps especially so from the Sportsman’s Landing area downstream through the Kenai Canyon to the inlet of Skilak Lake. Success varies by the day and angler skill level but generally good to excellent. Beads are the top item to use but egg imitation flies as well as forage flies and small spinners work.
MIDDLE/LOWER KENAI RIVER: The late run of silver salmon is at a peak in these river sections and there are plenty of chrome fish available to anglers with limits of 3 commonplace (bag limits increased from 2 to 3 silvers after September 1 by regulation). Catches of salmon weighing into the teens is not unusual with roe either fished on the bottom or floated with a bobber and spinners being top producers. Any spot that features slower, deeper water on the edge of faster mainstem current will likely yield fish, as will the confluences of clearwater tributaries. Expect things to slow a little in tidewater after October rolls around but catch rates will remain high for another couple of weeks around Soldotna and through October on the middle river section. Very few decent color late-run pinks and reds are left in the drainage with most of the fish actively spawning and dying off.
As the river continues to drop and clear up, relatively speaking, anglers will see a steady improvement in catch rates of rainbow trout and Dolly Varden. Anglers have been reporting fair to very good success using beads and egg imitation flies from the outlet of Skilak Lake downstream to Bing’s Landing in Sterling. There are small numbers of trout and char also present on the lower river.
SWANSON RIVER: Fishing for silvers has slowed down in the tidal portion of the river as the majority of the run has moved upstream and now situated somewhere between the Swanson River Road access site and the Kenai Spur Highway access points; when schools are located, the action is often good or better. However, some fresh fish are still being caught on the tides and in deeper holes immediately above with fair results reported. Quality of the fish range from chrome to dark red with generally more mature salmon higher up in the drainage.
Good rainbow trout fishing along with some Dolly Varden in stretches of the middle and upper river.
KASILOF RIVER: The late run of silver salmon is arriving with the tides as well as the middle river section producing the most action. A few fish are being intercepted at the Crooked Creek confluence, yet the boaters are responsible for the vast majority of silvers being caught. Success is fair to very good. Water levels have been high but are dropping.
Steelhead trout are present throughout the lower and middle river but the most consistent action is upstream of the Sterling Highway bridge. Large beads (10-12mm) and plugs are effective with fair catches occurring at this time. Some Dolly Varden are being landed too, generally on the upper river where reds and kings are spawning, and in Crooked Creek.
COOK INLET: There were some decent catches of both halibut and shark made last weekend and the larger tides this coming weekend should prove even better. Success can be very sporadic, ranging from dead slow to very good, and varies by the tide and location with most flatfish taken along the coast from Ninilchik south to Whiskey Gulch. Sharks are more abundant from Clam Gulch north up to Kenai Beach. A few skate and cod are being landed in addition. The inlet is seeing a general seasonal movement of marine species to deeper waters but so far this fall anglers have been quite successful targeting fish still prowling the surf.
ANCHOR RIVER: When water conditions cooperate, the steelhead action can be good with some anglers reporting multiple hookups during a few hours on the river. Beads and egg imitation flies are responsible for the majority of catches. Fish are distributed from tidewater up through the middle section with a few trout even showing in the upper reaches; Dolly Varden fishing is good in the middle and upper portions of the river. Nearby Deep Creek is seeing decent catches too while the Ninilchik River appears more spotty but can be equally rewarding due to less angling pressure.
Silver salmon opportunities are near completion in the Anchor, Stariski, Deep, and Ninilchik, although a few stragglers are still arriving and may be around into October. A few blush pinks are present.
Area Summary: This is the peak of the autumn season to fish area lakes for landlocked salmon, trout, char, grayling, and pike. Whether stocked or wild, expect good to excellent opportunities. Also, when rains finally cease a bit allowing rivers and streams to drop and clear, anglers can expect to find some good action for mostly trout and grayling, yet some drainages also yield success for whitefish and burbot. As for salmon, the majority of runs have wrapped up with only a few distinct populations still active, mainly in the Knik and upper Susitna rivers.
SUSITNA RIVER: As much of the late season fisheries in this system were severely impacted by high and murky to near flooding water conditions this year, there are still brief windows of opportunity between the autumn storms where anglers may be able to sample some good fishing for primarily rainbow trout and grayling. These fish are currently feeding on salmon byproducts in the middle and upper reaches of clearwater tributaries but some fish are already commencing downstream migrations to overwintering areas in the mainstem Susitna River. Popular spots this time of the month include Willow, Little Willow, Kashwitna, Sheep, Goose, and Montana, all of which can produce good to excellent catches when water conditions are low and clear. Once in a while there may be a school of round whitefish encountered, resulting in some decent fishing for the prepared angler. Burbot fishing is usually good in the mouths of tributaries from Kashwitna up to Sunshine and Rabideux right now.
A few bright or semi-bright salmon remain in the Susitna drainage and are typically caught at the mouths of tributaries, especially those upstream of Montana Creek around the Talkeetna area. Silvers are the most common catch this late in the season but there are a number of chums and even reds present as well.
CHULITNA RIVER: Rainbow trout and grayling can be plentiful at times in several clearwater tributaries and forks of this system as the autumn migration of fish from the headwaters toward overwintering areas has commenced in earnest. However, recent and persistent wet weather has put a damper on catch rates due to high and turbid water conditions; the best fishing is occurring in the brief windows of time between fall storm systems. Also, the fish are sometimes focused on a few key spots in the various drainages so anglers must scout respective waters thoroughly for success. Try the Middle and East forks of Chulitna River and Honolulu, Byers (a good bet if surrounding waters are unfishable due to heavy rain), and Troublesome creeks.
Byers Creek may yield an occasional semi-bright silver salmon but angling opportunities have likely ended for the year in this system as fish are entering the spawning phase. A few ripe reds and chums are still present at Byers and in the mainstem Chulitna.
Copper Valley-Valdez Arm
Area Summary: The dominant fisheries in this area this weekend are the numerous lakes and smaller streams that support large populations of trout, char, grayling, burbot, and/or whitefish. From now on and up until around freeze-up sometime in October, anglers are likely to experience good to excellent action. For those still interested in salmon, opportunities are limited but certainly not nonexistent as silvers are still arriving in a few locations on the Copper River, while Valdez is still being the obvious candidate this weekend for possible limits of salmon.
COPPER RIVER: The clearwater tributaries of this glacial river are now seeing distinct fall migrations of primarily grayling and to some extent also trout and char to overwintering areas in the mainstem Copper. Near-freezing temperatures along with snowfall at the headwaters of some streams prompted this seasonal movement and anglers can capitalize on it as good to superb action is possible in multiple locations, including—but not limited to—Mendeltna, Tolsona, Little Tonsina, Tulsona, Indian, and Gunn creeks. As is common with these movements, fish may not be evenly distributed throughout the drainages but often concentrated in a handful of deeper spots; successful anglers move around a lot until fish are located.
The lake fisheries are doing great with stocked lakes producing plenty of action for trout, char, and grayling. Also the wild lakes are on fire with some hefty catches of lake trout and burbot being achieved; this is the perfect time to target these fish as well as large grayling along the shorelines—try Louise, Paxson, and Summit.
Salmon fishing opportunities are scant but some reliable late-season opportunities exist in the Tonsina River for silver salmon. Although most of these fish are blush to one degree or another, there is a chance of hooking semi-bright specimens. A few late-run red salmon may be present too. Additionally, there are smaller silver salmon populations along the Chitina River, in a few of the tributaries there. Another aspect to consider are the late red and silver runs that spawn in spots in and along the mainstem Copper River.
PORT VALDEZ: Experiencing a prolonged silver salmon fishery here this year, anglers are finding plenty of action in the stretch of water around the hatchery with a fair number of limits brought out. The fish are concentrated from the mouth of Solomon Gulch Creek and down along the beach to the primitive boat launch. The incoming and outgoing tides should produce fish this weekend but peak high and low tides can be productive too. The silvers are showing signs of color with majority being semi-bright but there are a decent number of chrome fish in the mix. Some fish are also being caught at Allison Point and in and around the boat harbor in town. Most of silvers are caught by snagging but some are taken on spinners too. Nearby Robe River still has some fair to good silver salmon and Dolly Varden opportunities. Area pink runs are done for the year with late-run chums in the process of spawning and dying off.
Updated Thursday, September 15
HOT SPOTS: LOWER KENAI SILVERS; UPPER KENAI RAINBOWS, DOLLIES; RUSSIAN SILVERS, DOLLIES; ANCHOR STEELHEAD; KASILOF SILVERS; MIDDLE KENAI RAINBOWS, DOLLIES; VALDEZ SILVERS; SWANSON SILVERS, RAINBOWS.
Regional Summary: Just as the late season salmon runs are beginning to wane region-wide, anglers are seeing second run silvers entering the Kenai and Kasilof rivers for the last solid salmon opportunities this year. While there is a smattering of late-arriving silvers in other places too, it is only a matter of a few weeks before things really begin to taper off. However, the trout, char, and grayling stream fisheries are doing great in many places throughout Southcentral (barring any torrential rain) and usually produce plenty of action into October. The same goes for lakes where these same species in addition to landlocked salmon, pike, and burbot are keeping the pace going, at least for the time being. The marine fisheries, on the other hand, are almost done for the year concerning salmon as well as bottomfish, including halibut, with some localized spots being productive through the month. Still, this is the favorite time for many anglers as crowds are gone and the fishing often great; it just takes some fortitude to get out there between autumn storm systems.
Anchorage Area-Turnagain Arm
Area Summary: Anglers in this area are finding some of the best fishing of the season in local lakes where landlocked salmon, trout, char, and grayling are enthusiastically hitting lures, flies, and baits. While the mornings and evenings still produce some of the best action, there is plenty of activity throughout the day in most locations as water temperatures keep dropping. Expect this bite to continue through the month and into October. Rainbow trout and Dolly Varden are also available in local streams, with Chester and Campbell creeks providing some good catches in the middle and upper reaches when water conditions are low and clear.
Salmon fishing opportunities are diminishing as the month progresses. Ship Creek is seeing a trickle of fresh silvers on some tides but overall poor success can be expected. Same story goes for Campbell Creek, although there are more fish with most being in dark spawning colors; as a reminder, the silver salmon season ends on September 30. The best suggestion at this time is to hit the various streams draining into Turnagain Arm. This area south of town is known to yield chrome silvers through September and even into October and later in a few locations. Bird, Glacier, and Ingram are seeing a few fish sweeping by on high tide with Portage being the most consistent producer.
PORTAGE CREEK: Although technically not a true hot spot, the stream does have potential for some good action right now as silvers are stacking up in holes and sloughs of the middle and upper reaches. Soaking or floating eggs is most productive and spinners work great wherever there is clear water, such as the mouths of tributary streams. Condition of silvers range from ocean bright to medium blush. There are a few ripe chums and pinks present still, usually attracting some limited opportunities for Dolly Varden using beads, egg imitation flies, or bait.
Kenai Peninsula-Passage Canal
Area Summary: Once again, the peninsula is the focus for roadside anglers seeking good salmon fishing along with world-class trout and char action. The late runs of silver salmon are ascending the Kenai and Kasilof rivers with the former location presenting the most reliable opportunities in the area, although anglers are finding some very nice silvers in other spots as well, such as Swanson and Russian rivers and—when water conditions and where regulations allow—in the streams flowing into Resurrection Bay.
Some of the most epic fishing of the year for trout and char is now happening in the middle and upper stretches of the Kenai River and steelhead are showing up in decent numbers on the lower peninsula streams of Anchor, Deep, and Ninilchik and are starting to be caught on the Kasilof too. Area lakes are producing excellent catches of landlocked salmon, trout, char, and grayling; hit up the stocked waters around Kenai and Soldotna and the wild populations all along the northern section of the peninsula, including the lakes along Swanson River and Swan Lake roads.
Saltwater opportunities for surf-casters is beginning to fade a bit as the various marine species have started their annual trek to deeper, offshore waters. However, there is still some decent catches to be had, especially for shark and some of the smaller fish like cod, flounder, and greenling. A small number of halibut and skate are available yet and there could be days in certain spots when the bite is good.
SEWARD/RESURRECTION BAY: The silver salmon run here has peaked and the action has slowed quite a bit from just a week or two ago; however, some bright and semi-bright fish are being caught at the mouth of Scheffler Creek near the boat harbor. Anglers casting in the mouths of other area streams, such as Spring, Spruce, and Tonsina, are also picking up a fish or two. It is still possible to encounter sizable schools of silvers this late but usually this time of season the numbers of fish still present in the briny are low. The pink salmon runs are just about done and gone but an occasional fresh specimen is possible.
If the lower sections of Resurrection River and Salmon Creek drop and start to clear, anglers may find some fair to good opportunities for silvers along with Dolly Varden. A small, late run of red salmon enters the river starting in late summer and into September so hooking into bright to lightly blush fish is entirely possible.
Surf-casting for bottomfish is fair to good with codfish, flounder, and greenling the main catches right now. Larger Pacific cod, rockfish, and the occasional halibut can be landed in the stretch of deep water along Lowell Point Road.
UPPER KENAI RIVER: Water levels have dropped over the past week and anglers are reporting good to excellent fishing for rainbow trout and Dolly Varden. The bead bite continues but flesh is an important factor as well going forward; some big char have been caught on forage imitations and spinners. The entire length of the river is producing nice catches but perhaps especially so between Sportsman’s Landing and Jims’ Landing.
Silver salmon fishing is quite good in places but the early run is definitely showing signs of slowing down as an increasing number of fish present are turning color. Yet, a respectable portion of silvers caught are bright to semi-bright. Larger streamers and spinners are highly effective. The first few chrome late-run silvers should arrive in the area very soon. An occasional bright or semi-bright red may be caught.
RUSSIAN RIVER: This is the last productive weekend for silver salmon on this stream as the run is slowing down and most fish that are left starting to turn; however, bright salmon are absolutely possible still. Expect fair to good opportunities on the lower end of the river and the Kenai confluence. As a reminder, the access road to the campground is closed for the season (as is the ferry), leaving boat access as the only means of fishing the Russian.
Rainbow trout and Dolly Varden provide some good action on egg and flesh imitations as the late run of reds is finishing up for the year. The lower river and the mouth are the relative hot spots to connect.
MIDDLE/LOWER KENAI RIVER: Late-run silver salmon are hitting the peak in these stretches of the river. Anglers are seeing good to sometimes excellent action at dawn using salmon roe and spinners, usually in slow-water spots. The fish are distributed from tidewater up to the outlet of Skilak Lake with most of the run seemingly situated downstream of Sterling to the city of Kenai. Silvers weighing well into the teens are being caught. Pink salmon are spawning and dying off but a few decent color specimens are present still; try from Moose River to the Slikok Creek area. An occasional bright or semi-bright red may be caught upstream of Sterling.
This is the time of year to explore the stretch of water from the lake outlet to Bing’s Landing for some nice rainbow trout and Dolly Varden. Although perhaps not as numerous as the fish on the upper river, these middle fish make it up in size; trophy trout catches are possible. Beads and egg and flesh imitations is what works right now as water conditions have stabilized.
SWANSON RIVER: Probably the last weekend for consistent silver salmon action. Bright fish are being taken on the tides and small schools or groups of fish can be encountered in most holes or pools throughout the lower and middle river. Generally, the higher up in the drainage, the more blush fish will be encountered. Some fish have reached the Swanson River Road access point and beyond. Roe works best but flies and spinners do well also.
Fishing for rainbow trout is good on the upper river and lesser numbers of Dolly Varden are present in addition. Use forage flies and small spinners.
KASILOF RIVER: While the early run of silvers to Crooked Creek and other tributaries has tapered off, the late run is entering the river and anglers are reporting fair to good fishing from tidewater up to the rapids on the middle river section. However, be mindful that a bait ban and single hook only rule is in effect for parts of the river (check regulations). These late-appearing salmon are primarily mainstem spawners but some are also headed to a couple of tributaries that drain into Tustumena Lake.
Fishing for Dolly Varden is fair on the upper river and good in Crooked Creek and a few rainbows and whitefish are being caught too. Steelhead trout are staring to show up on the lower river and will present solid opportunities on the middle and upper sections shortly as additional fish enters the drainage.
COOK INLET: Smaller-sized tides this weekend are likely to yield some degree of action, mainly from sharks, yet a few halibut and skates are possible as well in spots that present a steeper gradient to deeper water along shore. The fishing is definitely slowing down for the year but moments of good catching is possible yet.
ANCHOR RIVER, DEEP CREEK: Water conditions have been variable according to heavy rainfall but currently fishable and should hold into and perhaps through the weekend. The steelhead trout have been hitting primarily beads with some also caught on flies and small lures. Best fishing has been down low in or immediately above tidewater; expect fair to good success. Fishing for Dolly Varden is fair to good as well with most fish located in the middle and upper stream sections.
A small handful of silver salmon remain in these drainages and in Ninilchik but things have slowed considerably since a couple of weeks ago as the run is nearing an end; nearby Stariski Creek may be a better option as the road access point is higher up in the drainage where silvers are still passing through. A few bright and semi-bright specimens will be present in all of these waters through the month and into the first part of October.
Area Summary: The main focus of anglers here is on landlocked salmon, trout, char, pike, and grayling opportunities in tributaries of the Susitna River and/or in the dozens of lakes scattered around the area. Due to recent and ongoing rainfall that caused many streams to run high and muddy to almost flood level, most attention is on the lakes where success rates have been consistently good to excellent. But in the short periods of time when streams flow low and clear, there is some amazing action to be had for rainbows and grayling. As the last salmon runs prepare to spawn and subsequently die off, opportunistic predators like trout, char, grayling, and whitefish will be there. However, also realize that there may be some really decent results to be had exploring some of the smaller and less popular streams in the area for rainbows, such as the upper or middle reaches of Fish and Cottonwood creeks.
The silver salmon runs are for the most part ending in this area as most fish have turned color and will be preparing to spawn shortly. Yet, there are still a handful of bright and semi-bright fish scattered about with some success reported around Talkeetna and in the Knik and Matanuska rivers. There are also small numbers of red and chum salmon present in a few locations, some of which may be surprisingly fresh this late in the season.
SUSITNA RIVER: Currently, the best fishing in this system is for trout, grayling, and burbot. As long as the tributaries flow low and clear (which may not happen this weekend), the action is likely to be fair to excellent. Most rainbows and grayling are still situated in the middle to upper sections of Willow, Little Willow, Sheep, Goose, and Montana creeks, but may be caught in numbers down low too. Egg, flesh, and forage imitation flies are best but will also slam small spinners. The burbot are found at the Susitna confluences, primarily between Kashwitna River and Rabideux Creek. It is not unusual to encounter schools of whitefish.
Salmon fishing has slowed to a crawl throughout most of the Susitna drainage. Most silver salmon are blush to dark with merely a trickle of bright and semi-bright fish left; try the mouths of clearwater tributaries, preferably higher up in the system near Talkeetna, such as Sunshine Creek. There are also some relatively nice late-run chums moving through on their way to spawning grounds in the mainstem Susitna and Talkeetna rivers.
CHULITNA RIVER: Barring any autumn floodwaters, this drainage can be great this time of year for rainbow trout and grayling. Fish are just starting to move out of the upper tributaries, such as Middle Fork Chulitna and Honolulu creeks, as they are heading to overwintering areas. The East Fork Chulitna produces good catches of both species when the water is low and clear. Byers Creek, a lake-based drainage and more forgiving to heavy downpours, can be top notch for rainbows now and through the month as salmon will be spawning.
There are opportunities for some halfway decent silver salmon fishing, mainly at Byers Creek, but most fish present are blush to dark with only a few semi-bright specimens left; try the lower end of the stream and the Chulitna confluence for best chance to hook into nice color salmon.
KNIK, MATANUSKA RIVERS: While it is getting to be late in the season to find good numbers of bright silvers in these drainages, opportunities remain. Semi-bright to blush fish are fairly numerous in the channel complex of the middle section of Matanuska, primarily around the mouth of Eska Creek, and strike salmon roe and spinners when water conditions are not too high and turbid. There are dark reds and chums present too. Knik River is a decent system to target late silvers; try the mouth of Jim Creek or where clearwater streams and enter the main river along Knik River Road off the Old Glenn Highway. Chrome fish are present in the Knik through the month and even well into October.
Copper Valley-Valdez Arm
Area Summary: While it is very much true that silvers are still plying the waters down in Valdez in fishable numbers, most of the solid salmon action is done for the year in this area. A small run of silver salmon typically yields fair opportunities in the Tonsina River and these fish are being targeted right now. The Gulkana River, when low and clear, may supply an occasional red salmon but this late run is nearly done for the year as well. Other, smaller late runs do exist on the upper Copper River but for all practical purposes, the season has finished.
Most anglers in this area are now keyed in on the small tributaries of the Copper and all of the area lakes that contain good populations of grayling, lake trout, and burbot. Also rainbow trout are being caught in stocked lakes and in a few creeks. At this time and as long as the weather holds, Mendeltna, Tolsona, Gunn, Indian, and Tulsona are all great spots to try for grayling headed to overwintering areas. For big lakers and burbot, Louise, Paxson, and Summit are the spots to visit.
PORT VALDEZ: Although the action has slowed noticeably from just a week ago, the few anglers attempting to catch silvers are managing to find them with limits possible given time and effort or pure luck in the right places. While the “hot spot” of the day may change from tide to tide, most salmon are being caught right around the fish hatchery off Dayville Road and within or near the boat harbor in front of town. Some fish are also being taken off Allison Point on the low and incoming tide. Some days will be hit or miss. Condition of silvers range from chrome to quite dark. There are also nice silvers present in the Robe River on the outskirts of town; Dolly Varden fishing is good.
Updated Thursday, September 8
HOT SPOTS: VALDEZ SILVERS; UPPER KENAI SILVERS, RAINBOWS, DOLLIES; SEWARD SILVERS; RUSSIAN SILVERS, RAINBOWS, DOLLIES; SUSITNA RAINBOWS, GRAYLING; SWANSON SILVERS, RAINBOWS
Regional Summary: The ordinarily great late summer and fall fishing has been somewhat marred by one high water event after another this season, but anglers with proper know-how and perseverance are finding excellent opportunities still. Silver salmon are relatively abundant in several key locations and the stream rainbow trout, Dolly Varden, and grayling fisheries continue one way or another despite flood warnings and even glacial dam releases. The fish are obviously there and it is up to the angler to find suitable spots to go and experience potential success. While the criteria for true Hot Spots has lessened for this report, there are still a few places that yield as great a fishing experience as anything seen in the summer months.
Anchorage Area-Turnagain Arm
Area Summary: Recent nice weather left a slight reprieve on high and muddy water conditions in the area with many local streams dropping and mostly clearing, yielding improved angling opportunities. Although a few bright silver salmon are still moving up Ship and Campbell creeks, success will be largely hit and miss for the remainder of the season. However, the drainages down along Turnagain Arm are still producing worthwhile catches of fresh silvers, this being especially the case down in the Portage area. Placer and 20-Mile rivers and Portage Creek are receiving a number of chrome salmon daily, yet only the latter location is a practical place to go for those without a boat. A trickle of silvers are present on the tides in lower Bird and Glacier creeks and a few may be found in Ingram as well. Although the local runs are near completion in these three streams, silvers bound for systems at the head of the arm often swing by there on high tide and can be targeted successfully through the month and some years even into October.
Fishing for landlocked salmon, trout, char, and grayling is good in stocked lakes around the city and in the Portage area. Historically, the action in these waters continues to be highly productive through September.
PORTAGE CREEK: While reports have been very scant this past week due to lack of angling effort, indications are that dime bright to light blush silvers are present in the middle and lower stream. Fishing in the tidewater section can be spotty this time of season but schools of fresh silvers are known to enter Portage through the month and in October too. Try the quiet water portions next to main current for success; salmon roe fished on the bottom or by bobber is good. Spinners work great in spots where there is an influence of clear water. A few ripe reds and chums are present but do not be surprised to hook a fresh red since these fish are known to enter this drainage through the autumn months.
Kenai Peninsula-Passage Canal
Area Summary: Salmon fishing remains productive in many locations around the peninsula, mainly in the Kenai River drainage, in the Kasilof and Swanson rivers, and at the head of Resurrection Bay. While early runs of silver salmon will hold on for another week to ten days before subsiding, the much less numerous late runs into the Kenai and Kasilof will soon take over and become the predominant angling destinations. As for other salmon species, a few fresh reds continue to trickle into select systems, such as, again, the Kenai and Kasilof but also the Resurrection River; typically, these runs wrap up late this month. And pink salmon are managing to hold on still in the lower section of Kenai River and in the marine waters around Seward, yet will likely be done for the year within another couple of weeks. The chum salmon runs are completed.
Although the inclement weather and subsequent water conditions is preventing anglers from truly enjoying what September is really capable of producing in terms of great trout and char fishing, for the more stubborn and entrepreneurial individual, really good sport may still be had, even in locations with flood waters. However, non-lake-based streams are more difficult as not only are water levels high but clarity next to nonexistent. If possible, search out streams connected to lakes, that is where opportunities may be found. Salmon are spawning and the bite is on. As for lake fishing for landlocked salmon, trout, char, and grayling, it is excellent right now and expected to continue through the month.
Marine species have started moving offshore in their seasonal migrations to deeper waters. Yet, anglers are finding some very decent action in certain spots, such as Cook Inlet and Resurrection Bay where larger fish such as shark, skate, and/or halibut are being caught. Usually, these quarries tend to provide solid opportunity for another week or two before slowing down; sharks tend to be more resilient and may be caught in quantities well into October.
SEWARD/RESURRECTION BAY: Anglers targeting silver salmon are walking away with 6-fish limits at the head of the bay around the mouth of Scheffler Creek and along the beach area leading up to the harbor. Snagging is the most effective harvest method but some fish are being caught on lures and bait a ways off to the side of the main snag fishery. Condition of salmon range from chrome to dark with most being semi-bright to light blush. Typically, the surf-casting for silvers will stay decent into mid-month. A few bright and semi-bright pinks are still around, mainly at Spring and Tonsina creeks and around Lowell Point.
Fishing for bottomfish around the bay is good with catches of codfish, flounder, and greenling predominating. While it is getting late in the season, a few halibut, rockfish, and Pacific cod may be available in the deep waters along Lowell Point Road.
UPPER KENAI RIVER: This weekend is likely to see very high water levels due to a glacial dam releasing excessive water into Kenai Lake; however, there will still be fair to good or even better fishing to be had for rainbow trout and Dolly Varden in several spots along the river. Egg and flesh imitations work well right now.
Silver salmon fishing has been good and expected to hold despite less than ideal water conditions. Seek out calmer areas such as the mouths of sloughs where silvers tend to stack up; spinners and colorful streamers are the ticket for action.
RUSSIAN RIVER: Despite no direct road or ferry access these days, anglers arriving here by drift boat or raft are treated to some excellent silver salmon fishing. The mouth of the river is producing nice catches all day long and the lower section from the campground on downstream is great at dawn with fish moving through in schools. There should be another week or so left in this run before things begin to slow down. Red salmon are still spawning in large numbers; the fishing season ended August 20.
Rainbow trout and Dolly Varden are being caught on egg and flesh imitations and success is very good; expect catch rates to remain high as long as the reds are spawning, which is for another week to ten days.
LOWER/MIDDLE KENAI RIVER: Water levels are expected to rapidly increase over the weekend and into next week due to glacial dam outflow release related to the Upper Kenai. Anglers targeting silver salmon can find good fishing in tidewater as the late run is arriving. The fishing is productive on the middle river too for mainly early-run silvers. Try eggs fished on bottom or drifted with a bobber in slack water spots; spinners work great also. The pink salmon run is near an end but some bright and semi-bright specimens remain; mouth of Moose River can be worthwhile. An occasional fresh red may be encountered.
Rainbow trout and Dolly Varden fishing will probably take somewhat of a hit as waters rise and become a degree more turbid. Use high-visibility lures and flies to attract attention; fair to good catch rates are the norm under these conditions.
SWANSON RIVER: Despite higher than normal water levels, the river flows clear and is yielding fair to good silver salmon action, particularly on the tides in the lower river off Kenai Spur Highway. Some silvers are also arriving at the middle river access point off Swanson River Road but the fish there are generally a degree or two blush. Use eggs, spinners, and flies.
Rainbow trout fishing is good on the middle and upper river and a few Dolly Varden are being caught too.
KASILOF RIVER: As elsewhere in the area, water levels are elevated but not near flood stage. Silver salmon success may be had using eggs fished low and slow, on the bottom in quiet water spots near main current if possible. There has been a good group of fish holding at the mouth of Crooked Creek but this time of the month the silvers may be found throughout the length of the river. Expect fair to good success.
Crooked Creek supports good or better fishing for Dolly Varden as long as water levels are low and clarity optimal. Egg and flesh imitations work.
ANCHOR, NINILCHIK RIVERS, DEEP CREEK: Expect this weekend to be beyond repair as far as water conditions go, but things are looking up for early next week. As soon as the water begins to drop and clear, there will be a decent number of steelhead trout to be had. these fish began arriving early this year, around the first week of August, and have only been building in numbers since. Although the fishing is not red hot by any stretch of the imagination, the action is fair to good in tidewater. Beads and egg and forage imitation flies work great.
Silver salmon are present in variable numbers but not believed to be worth targeting once the water gets back into shape; still, opportunities persist.
COOK INLET: This could be the last weekend or big high tide period where anglers may experience good chances of hooking a halibut off the beaches between Anchor Point and Kenai Beach. Fish are being caught in all roadside access points in between one day or another. If marine conditions hold, there may even be some decent opportunities beyond mid-month. However, anglers wanting a halibut should make final plans now. Skate are common still too and the spiny dogfish (shark) are plentiful as well and should be numerous into mid-October in some spots.
Area Summary: The long-term trend of wet weather systems pounding the area for weeks on end appears to continue, at least for the time being. There will be windows of opportunity every once in a while so anglers need to be watchful and mindful of surroundings concerning this issue as well as how local species relate to high-water events. Salmon fishing in general is coming to a halt in the majority of places, not so much because of weather but the runs are at their last stage in the life cycle; however, as described in parts below for the various systems, salmon may be caught in specific locations for a few weeks still by those willing to put in the time and effort. It is primarily late-run silver salmon that are showing up, with a few red and chum salmon also present. The glacial drainages of Chulitna, Susitna, Talkeetna, Matanuska, and Knik all support later-arriving populations of salmon, albeit their numbers are typically low compared to summer runs.
September is historically a good month to pursue rainbow trout, Dolly Varden, Arctic grayling, round whitefish, burbot, and northern pike around the Mat-Su valleys. When weather and water conditions cooperate, good or better action prevails as the late-season feeding binge on salmon and by-products is at a height in preparation for the winter ahead. This weekend, due to excessive high or flood waters in many locations, focus effort on lake-based drainages. Fishing in lakes, however, is a solid and dependable option and all of the above species as well as landlocked salmon are very active, resulting in excellent action.
SUSITNA RIVER: If wanting silver salmon, opportunities are dwindling but some nice fish are still around in some locations. Semi-bright to blush silvers are showing up at the mouth of Sunshine Creek and in upstream sections of Rabideux Creek. Silvers of good color are passing through the mouths of other area waters as well, like Willow, Sheep, and Montana creeks. Catch rates for salmon anywhere in the Susitna system is generally fair at best but can be good at times, especially up around the Talkeetna area. An occasional chrome or semi-bright chum salmon may be present. These tributaries can be very susceptible to high and muddy water after prolonged periods of heavy rain; expect elevated chance for flood waters this weekend but better conditions starting early next week.
When tributaries flow low and clear, fishing for rainbow trout and grayling can be very good. Aim to hit various sections of water using egg and flesh imitations; forage and insect pattern flies and lures work great at times. Do not be surprised to encounter large schools of whitefish in spots as these fish are fall spawners. Fishing for burbot is good at the mouths of streams between Kashwitna River and Rabideux Creek.
CHULITNA RIVER: The salmon season is quickly coming to a close in this system but some semi-bright to light blush fish are still available in Byers Creek and the mouth of Troublesome Creek. As angling pressure is typically light in September, expect fair to good success. The red and chum runs are wrapping up the spawn.
Targeting rainbow trout and grayling is far more productive than anything with the few anglers venturing out reporting fair to excellent catch rates in the Middle and East forks of Chulitna, Honolulu, and Byers. All except Byers are highly susceptible to high and muddy water after heavy and enduring rainfall so choose a visit here after several days of dry conditions. Egg and flesh imitations yield results as salmon are spawning, but forage flies and small lures can be effective as well.
KNIK RIVER: While a few bright silvers bound for primarily Jim Creek may be caught there at the confluence with fair results, most of the minted fish from now on and into October will be salmon that are headed to spawning locations in the channel complex of the mainstem upper river. Hit and miss action is to be expected anywhere there is clear water flowing into the silt. An occasional fresh red or chum is possible too.
MATANUSKA RIVER: Like the neighbor drainage Knik, a good portion of silvers arriving this time of the season are fish that spawn in locations in the mainstem river, mostly on the middle section. However, there are still semi-bright to light blush silvers that can be caught at the mouth of clearwater streams in the system, such as Moose and Eska creeks. An occasional decent color red or chum salmon may be encountered.
Fishing for Dolly Varden can be fair to good in places where there are salmon present and spawning; use egg and flesh imitations.
Copper Valley-Valdez Arm
Area Summary: Autumn fishing conditions have arrived, signaling a switch from river and stream fishing to a main focus on lakes instead. However, some flowing waters will absolutely yield great action at this time if water conditions permit. Good fall spots for grayling include the Gulkana, Mendeltna, Tolsona, Little Tonsina, and Gunn creeks among others; the fishing in these locations will only intensify as the season progresses as the fish begin moving downstream from headwaters to overwintering areas. Rainbow trout and Dolly Varden are active in some places, such as Gulkana and Klutina rivers, and the Tonsina drainage. Lake fishing for lake trout, grayling, rainbow trout, and burbot is good and getting better by the day as weather and water cools; Louise, Paxson, and Summit are prime spots to try.
As for salmon, late runs of reds are present in the Gulkana and Tonsina rivers among a handful of other, smaller drainages, but angling effort and success has been low and slow due to high and muddy/silty water conditions. There are also silver salmon showing up, most notably in the Tonsina River in the Copper drainage, yet it is the huge run of mainly chrome hatchery silvers to Valdez that really has anglers amped up around here with good to excellent success recently and probable this weekend as well.
GULKANA RIVER: Late-run red salmon are available in small numbers with most fish congregated in the middle river section upstream of Sourdough. Water conditions continue to fluctuate greatly depending on periodic autumn rain storms passing through the area but when low and clear sight-fishing to migrating salmon can be productive. For this weekend, however, the river is expected to reach near flood stage.
The fishing for Arctic grayling is excellent between the rapids and the outlet of Paxson Lake. Rainbow trout are also present with some good action in spots, such as around the rapids. This is the time of year when schools of whitefish begin moving into the river for the fall spawn.
PORT VALDEZ: Last Saturday saw mixed results for shore anglers targeting silver salmon, ranging from very slow to good depending on location. However, as the weekend progressed the fishing improved drastically with excellent catch rates later Sunday and through Monday and Tuesday in stretch of water between Allison Point and the fish hatchery. Despite commercial netting in the arm, there are still good numbers of silvers coming in and anglers are reporting great success casting spinners and snag hooks. This weekend will likely see the trend continue as long as there is no major mud outwash from the Lowe River due to torrential rain. Be prepared to move around the perimeters of the port to find schools of fish in clean or mostly so water. Silvers are chrome to slight blush with most still nice and bright. An occasional fresh chum possible.
ROBE RIVER: Usually overlooked by visiting anglers, there is fair to good action to be found here for mostly bright silver salmon. Hike from road crossing downstream, hitting deeper sections where present. Dark streamers to roe imitation flies are effective but the silvers can be finicky at times. Plan on being on the water at dawn. Water is rising due to heavy rain but expected to stay mostly clear as the stream is lake-based.
Updated Thursday, September 1
HOT SPOTS: VALDEZ SILVERS; UPPER KENAI SILVERS, RAINBOWS, DOLLIES; RUSSIAN SILVERS; SUSITNA SILVERS, RAINBOWS, GRAYLING; KNIK SILVERS; SWANSON SILVERS, RAINBOWS
Regional Summary: As the last summer weekend in Southcentral looms, anglers still have plenty of opportunities in terms of number of species available as well as true quality of action. As always this time of year, it is the silver salmon that dominates almost every single salmon fishery from the coast to inland waterways. What may be aiding the widespread abundance this season is the somewhat later timing of the early runs in some places, such as those drainages north of Anchorage. While there are decent catches to be had still for late-run reds, pinks, and even chums, these populations are all on the downhill side and should end in demise very shortly save for a few stragglers.
If targeting other species, there are lots of spots to choose from concerning trout, char, and grayling, all of which are engaged in the feeding binge leading up to the inevitable winter season. As many if not most streams are loaded with spawning and dying salmon, this is usually the time of year to encounter large, heavy specimens and which the possibility of hooking trophy-class is entirely within realms. Be it a river, creek, or lake, the action in September is bound to be fantastic.
In the marine fisheries, this weekend is generally the last of the summer season to find large numbers of bottomfish in close to the surf and chances of hooking larger quarries such as halibut, shark, and skate very much realistic before the fall migrations to deeper, offshore waters commence.
Anchorage Area-Turnagain Arm
Area Summary: If wanting some decent silver salmon fishing, the streams down along Turnagain Arm is where to head for this weekend, namely around Portage Creek or even the smaller Ingram Creek. However, there will be fresh silvers still on the tides at Bird Creek and other area waters as well for the next several weeks. Within the city, expect fishing to be slow or spotty for silvers at Ship and Campbell creeks but these drainages typically produce a few bright silvers through September most years.
Landlocked salmon, trout, char, and grayling are active in stocked lakes around town with good to excellent catch rates happening. Chester and Campbell creeks, when flowing low and clear, can be very good for rainbows and Dollies in the middle to upper stretches this time of year.
PORTAGE CREEK: Late-run silvers have been moving up this glacial system in decent numbers for the last couple of weeks and are continuing to do so as of this week too. For roadside anglers in the Anchorage area, this is the last really productive salmon spot of the season and usually yields chrome silvers into October. But for now, successful fishers are finding groups or pockets of fish spread throughout the lower and middle stream with most catches made in spots right above tidewater. As for other species, there is still the potential for a good color red or even chum but most of these fish are in spawning condition now.
Kenai Peninsula-Passage Canal
Area Summary: Despite some days of high and turbid water conditions in certain drainages that may negatively hamper the otherwise great silver salmon fishing, anglers are still managing some very decent catches, this being especially the case on parts of the Kenai, Kasilof, Russian, and Swanson rivers that may be less susceptible to heavy rainfall. And as windows of calm weather persist, other drainages, such as those on the lower peninsula, yet again become productive for silvers. Seward is holding its own as the mixed stocks of hatchery and wild silvers infiltrate the bay area there, and Homer has some productive silver action off the spit on some tides. Whittier has been very inconsistent but a few silvers are being caught off the beaches there as well. Red salmon runs are down to a mere trickle these days, as is usual for this late in the season, and pinks are following suit. Most every chum salmon run has ceased for the year.
Like elsewhere in Southcentral, the stream fisheries targeting trout and char are doing well right now, although some drainages with early spawning salmon runs are already seeing a slowdown in action, yet the majority of waters continue to experience great fishing as late salmon runs are just now entering the reproductive phase. And with the advent of cooler weather and water conditions, anglers are seeing a healthy spike in success in area lakes for landlocked salmon, trout, char, and grayling.
The saltwater fisheries targeting bottomfish and other various marine species are staying on top still in productivity; however, expect a marked decline in action the next couple of weeks as seasonal fish movements offshore begin in earnest.
SEWARD/RESURRECTION BAY: This is a good weekend to surf-cast for silver salmon along the beaches at the head of the bay. The mouth of Scheffler Creek and adjoining waters are prime but fish can be found scattered from Tonsina Creek and Lowell Point to Spring Creek and all point in-between. Try the incoming and high tide periods using spinners or flashy streamers; snagging is effective at the hatchery release site at Scheffler. Depending on time and place, anglers are catching a few singles up to limits of 6 fish. A few bright and semi-bright pink salmon continue to show up in places.
Codfish, flounder, sablefish, and greenling are plentiful in nearshore locations around the bay with the opportunity for Pacific cod, larger rockfish, and halibut being fair in the deep waters off Lowell Point Road.
UPPER KENAI RIVER: Fishing for rainbow trout and Dolly Varden is good to excellent throughout the river between the lakes with the best catches occurring in the stretch of water from Sportsman’s Landing to Jims’ Landing. Beads and egg imitation flies are top producers but flesh will soon become a factor as well as salmon begin to die off.
Targeting silver salmon is really good right now as the early run is peaking in the area and success may be had in all parts of the river, although the lower half downstream of the Russian confluence is probably better due to more and brighter fish. Look for silvers in slack-water locations or as they travel between holes among the reds.
RUSSIAN RIVER: With the Russian River Ferry halting operations after this weekend, access will be limited to anglers with boats as the road leading into the campground area is closed for the remainder of the season due to construction. However, there are good numbers of silver salmon arriving and targeting them has been relatively easy in the low and clear water. Look for small groups or schools of bright silvers sitting in deeper holes and runs at first light. There are large quantities of spawning red salmon present in the clear Russian; the red season ended on August 20.
Fishing for rainbow trout and Dolly Varden is good using beads and other egg imitations, especially on the lower river and the confluence area.
LOWER/MIDDLE KENAI RIVER: Water conditions are high and clarity fair at best on the lower river but improves drastically upstream of Killey River. Most of the silver salmon fishing is now occurring on the middle river upstream of Sterling and success is reported as fair to good. There is a combination of early- and late-run fish in the intertidal area providing some fair catches as well but things should improve over the next week to ten days as the larger fall silvers arrive in force. Pinks are relatively abundant, although the number of chrome fish is subsiding rapidly; expect fair success for the next week or so from top of the tidal zone to the Moose River confluence and Bing’s Landing. A few fresh reds are being hooked by anglers fishing for other species.
The best rainbow trout and Dolly Varden action is on the stretch of river from Bing’s Landing to the outlet of Skilak Lake. Beads and egg imitation flies are the hot items with flesh flies becoming increasingly effective as the month progresses.
SWANSON RIVER: Anglers trying their luck on the lower river and tidewater are scoring nice catches of silver salmon using salmon roe, spinners, and flies. Schools of fish can be tracked as they move in on high tide and proceed upstream. This is a reliable spot, even when other nearby drainages are flooded due to heavy rains. Expect good results.
Good rainbow trout fishing and a few Dolly Varden is the norm on the upper river, generally upstream of the Swanson River Road access site.
KASILOF RIVER: For easily accessible silver salmon fishing, this is likely the last productive weekend here. Schools of fish have been gathering at the mouth of Crooked Creek and in the channel immediately below and are responding to clusters of salmon roe fished on the bottom in slackwater spots. Some fish are also being caught on flies and spinners.
Fishing for Dolly Varden is very good in upstream reaches of Crooked Creek. No solid reports of steelhead caught yet in mainstem Kasilof but without a doubt some fish should be present by now.
ANCHOR, NINILCHIK RIVERS, DEEP CREEK: While the Labor Day weekend is typically right on the backside of really good silver salmon fishing in these drainages, there are enough bright fish coming in on the tides for some decent and worthwhile opportunities as long as water conditions cooperate. Spinners and an assortment of flies are taking a fair number of silvers with limits possible; remember, the use of bait is prohibited as of September 1.
Steelhead trout are entering these streams in fishable numbers and anglers are catching-and-releasing quite a few, especially if focusing on the tides—Anchor and Deep are the better bets right now. Dolly Varden provide good action in the middle and upper reaches.
COOK INLET: While there is a small series of tides this weekend, the bigger afternoon tides next week have a better chance for halibut, shark, and skate, all of which are reasonably abundant in nearshore waters still. Aim to be on beaches or spots that have the steepest gradient possible bordering deeper water; locations with a very shallow gradient will not produce too well. Long-distance casts will be necessary for the best possible outcomes.
Area Summary: As the salmon season, in general, is soon coming to a close in this area, anglers still wanting to get in on some decent opportunities for fresh silvers have a shrinking handful of spots yet to do so. Most of the silver runs, like those up along the Susitna River, will be wrapping up more or less after this weekend as fish are quickly turning color in preparation for the spawn later this month. However, the shorter coastal streams in Knik Arm are known to harbor nice and bright silvers well into the fall months, albeit not in the abundance of salmon during the height of the summer season. In particular, the clearwater drainages and mainstem channel complexes of the Knik and Matanuska rivers will be worth scouting, such as the mouths of Jim, Moose, and Eska creeks. A few of these even have the potential of hooking reasonably bright reds and chums in September.
The obvious silver lining to the last of the salmon runs beginning to spawn is the great trout, char, and grayling fishing that will proliferate throughout the area. But not only will the streams produce exceptional catches, the lakes are turning on as well as the weather cools. Many of the stocked waters are about to yield some of the best angling of the year for landlocked salmon, rainbows, Arctic char, and grayling, and locations supporting populations of pike will certainly be hot too.
LITTLE SUSITNA RIVER: While the angling for silver salmon can still be categorized as being good, things are definitely starting to take a different turn here as the majority of fish being caught are semi-bright to medium blush with many even being dark red in color. Chrome silvers are becoming few and far between. The bulk of the run is situated between Houston and the lower river access site. Although an occasional semi-bright chum is possible, the run has for all practical purposes ended for the year, along with the pink and red runs.
A small number of rainbow trout, Dolly Varden, and round whitefish are being caught by anglers targeting salmon.
FISH, COTTONWOOD, JIM CREEKS, EKLUTNA TAILRACE: Silver salmon are still running in these Knik Arm drainages but are expected to have slowed just a bit from last weekend. Still, fair to good action is predicted based on number of fish observed in tidewater the last few days. Many fish in the Eklutna are turning color. There is likely to be a small number of decent reds in Fish as well.
SUSITNA RIVER: Silver salmon continue to arrive at tributaries of the glacial Susitna with anglers managing a decent number of bright and semi-bright fish from a range of waters between Willow and Talkeetna. Sunshine and Rabideux, in particular, are responsible for limit catches but there are nice silvers being caught from the mouths and lower reaches of Montana, Sheep, and Willow creeks as well. This is likely the last really productive weekend for fresh silvers in the system for this season. As a reminder, bait is prohibited as of September 1 in streams flowing into the Susitna.
With pink and chum salmon having spawned and mostly died off and silvers soon to follow the same plight, the fishing for rainbow trout and grayling is good in many locations, such as Willow, Little Willow, Sheep, Goose, and Montana creeks. Beads and egg and flesh imitation flies are top items right now but forage patterns will work too; try the middle and upper reaches of aforementioned waters. Burbot action is good at mouths of Susitna tributaries from Kashwitna northward.
CHULITNA RIVER: Fishing for silver salmon remains productive in this system with the majority of catches coming from Byers Creek, but anglers are also doing well at the mouth of Troublesome Creek and lower end of East Fork Chulitna when water conditions are low and clear. A lot of the fish are starting to blush but a few bright and more semi-bright silvers are still available; action should hold for another week before slowing down considerably.
Solid opportunities for rainbows and grayling in the Middle and East forks of Chulitna using spinners and a variety of egg, flesh, and forage imitation flies.
Copper Valley-Valdez Arm
Area Summary: As early autumn has arrived to this area of Southcentral, anglers are increasingly targeting resident game species in lakes and streams for their outdoor enjoyment. Grayling are feeding voraciously and rainbow trout and Dolly Varden are active in some spots too; things will only get better as the cooler weather takes hold. Larger lake trout will once again come within range by those casting from shore, such as Paxson and Summit lakes.
As for salmon, the Gulkana River and to some degree the Tonsina River continue to experience small numbers of decent color reds but this opportunity is dwindling as the season progresses. For prime action for chrome salmon, however, Port Valdez is the place to be this weekend where the silver run is starting to peak. There is also a run of silvers moving up the Tonsina River at this time.
GULKANA RIVER: Great fishing these days for grayling with good catches of rainbow trout also in the middle river section between the rapids and the outlet of Paxson Lake. When water levels are low and clarity good, small schools of red salmon may be spotted and targeted downstream of the Middle Fork confluence; the late run of reds appears highly variable this year but typically produces bright and semi-bright fish well into September.
PORT VALDEZ: Arguably the hottest location for silvers on the road system this weekend, anglers here are often landing their 6-fish limits plus proxies in short order. The incoming and outgoing tide has produced anywhere from fair to excellent fishing on spinners as well as spoons around Allison Point and the stretch of water up to the hatchery. There are also some very nice catches being reported from the new harbor area in front of town. Most pinks and chums are in or post-spawning condition but some fresh specimens persist yet.
Anglers casting bait from the city ferry dock are catching silvers and a few chums in addition to a variety of bottomfish, such as codfish, flounders, and sablefish.
Updated Friday, August 26
HOT SPOTS: LITTLE SUSITNA SILVERS; PORTAGE SILVERS; SWANSON SILVERS, RAINBOWS; ANCHOR SILVERS; COOK INLET HALIBUT; KASILOF SILVERS; UPPER KENAI RAINBOWS, DOLLIES; SUSITNA SILVERS, RAINBOWS; KNIK SILVERS; LOWER KENAI SILVERS, PINKS; RUSSIAN SILVERS, DOLLIES
Regional Summary: As summer is coming to an end very shortly, the productive autumn fisheries are about to begin. Although there are still opportunities for some limited catches of red, pink, and chum salmon, most salmon anglers will be targeting silvers from now on going forward. Additionally, the fall action for trout, char, and grayling is what makes much of the state legendary, providing even more reasons not to put away the rod. As stated before, for many anglers this is the prime time of the year to be on the water as crowds are gone and the fishing great.
Anchorage Area-Turnagain Arm
Area Summary: The salmon fishing has been highly variable in this area, with the streams within the city limits performing fair at best, partially due to high and turbid water conditions and partially to runs slowing down for the season. Ship Creek continues to produce a few nice silvers along with a number of blush to dark pinks and chums; the wild-fish component oftentimes see chrome silvers arriving well into September but in much reduced numbers compared to the hatchery-run. It is the same for Campbell Creek, the hatchery run is winding down with most silvers starting to turn but there are a few bright fish available through September most years. For truly productive angling for fresh late-run silvers, the streams down along Turnagain Arm is where the action is at. Although Bird and Glacier creeks are both flowing high and off-color due to rain, Ingram Creek is mostly clear and kicking a number of bright silvers in the tidewater holes. Portage Creek is relatively high and silty but may be the best bet for silvers.
The stream fishing opportunities for trout and char is limited right now pending improved water levels and clarity, the lake fisheries are going quite strong with good or better action for landlocked salmon, trout, char, and grayling.
PORTAGE CREEK: Success has varied considerably the last week up until now but generally fair to good. The big tides this weekend will help bring in schools of silvers and push them miles upstream; try the holes at the upper limits of the tidal range. Soak eggs on the bottom or float with a bobber where fish can be seen surfacing. A few decent reds, pinks, and chums are still around near the Five Finger and Williwaw areas of the creek.
Kenai Peninsula-Passage Canal
Area Summary: A slight reprieve of the heavy downpour from a week ago has meant increased opportunities for salmon in various drainages on the peninsula. The early runs of silver salmon are right around or at a peak in most streams with the lower Peninsula waters of Anchor, Deep, and Ninilchik doing well as are the Kenai, Kasilof, Swanson, and Russian. Smaller numbers of silvers are also being caught in Hope, such as Resurrection and Sixmile creeks. The head of Resurrection Bay in Seward is starting to see consistent catches of silvers from area beaches. Although the red salmon runs continue to wane, there is still potential for fresh fish in the Kenai and Kasilof as well as over in Seward. The chum salmon runs are wrapping it up for the year but a few nice specimens are present in Whittier and Seward. As for pinks, the lower Kenai has an ongoing late run that keeps yielding bright to semi-bright fish on a regular basis; there are also a few fresh pinks cruising around in Seward.
Stream fishing for trout and char is generally good these days with some spots being excellent at times, this being especially the case in locations that have spawning populations of salmon. Likewise, lake fishing opportunities are great for landlocked salmon, trout, char, and grayling and expected to hold through most if not all of next month.
Surf-casting for saltwater species will be good to excellent this weekend and next week. While the smaller species of codfish, greenling, flounder, and others produce quick and easy action right now, anglers can also find some really productive action for the bigger species such as shark, skate, and halibut. There is a very large series of tides happening now and into early next week that are perfect for bringing big fish in close to the surf.
HOPE/RESURRECTION, SIXMILE CREEKS: Fair to good success in these streams for silver salmon. Try the tides and holes just upstream of tidewater on Resurrection using eggs, flies, and spinners; the lower stretch of Sixmile up to Canyon Creek is producing fish in most holes on eggs and spinners.
SEWARD/RESURRECTION BAY: Anglers testing the waters for silvers at the mouth of Scheffler Creek are finding fish on the tides using snagging or casting spinners. Success is typically fair to good with a few anglers starting to catch limits of 6 fish; the action should only improve during the course of the next week. A few silvers are also being caught around Spring Creek and Lowell Point, as well as the mouth of Tonsina Creek. A few decent reds and pinks continue to make their presence felt in various spots.
Fishing for bottomfish is good, mainly for codfish, flounder, smaller sablefish, and greenling. A few larger Pacific cod, rockfish, and halibut are available along Lowell Point Road.
UPPER KENAI, RUSSIAN RIVERS: Anglers are doing well hooking up with fresh silvers in sloughs on the upper river and the sanctuary area on the Russian. Success is good using darker streamer patterns; the run is starting to peak. Fishing for reds is closed on the Russian and in a section of the Kenai where most fish are spawning, but a few bright specimens are still being caught downstream of the Powerlines.
Rainbow trout and Dolly Varden fishing is good to excellent with beads now being the key to success, yet some forage patterns work too, especially on the char.
LOWER/MIDDLE KENAI RIVER: Silver salmon fishing is good with limits common from tidewater all the way up to the outlet of Skilak Lake. Salmon roe is most effective but a lot of fish are also being caught on spinners and even flies. Pink salmon are abundant throughout the river with quality fish most prevalent in the lower section; dime-bright catches are still common. The red salmon run has almost concluded but some semi-bright or even chrome specimens are being picked up here and there, particularly on the middle river.
Fishing for rainbow trout and Dolly Varden is most productive on the middle river, mostly upstream of the Killey River confluence. Expect good to excellent success on beads.
SWANSON RIVER: The tides keep bringing in schools of silver salmon and the action has been good in and right above tidewater. Floating salmon roe is most productive but spinners and streamers are taking fish too.
Rainbow trout fishing is good or better on the upper river near the Swanson River Road access site.
KASILOF RIVER: The lower river is producing good catches of silver salmon and the vast majority of fish are being taken on salmon roe fished on the bottom. The mouth of Crooked Creek is a relative hot spot but fish may be taken anywhere up to the outlet of Tustumena Lake. A few fresh reds and pinks are present still. Remember, the use of bait becomes prohibited upstream of the highway bridge starting September 16.
Some spotty opportunities for trout and char; Crooked Creek is a good spot to try this time of season.
COOK INLET: Big tides for the next several days means good chances for catching late-season halibut. Try the very early morning tides or the afternoon and evening tides if heavy clouds and rain are in the forecast. Most halibut will be located between Ninilchik and Anchor Point but respectful catches may also be had north up to Kenai Beach. Shark and skate are most abundant north of Ninilchik.
ANCHOR, NINILCHIK RIVERS, DEEP CREEK: The silver salmon runs here are peaking and anglers are finding limits of fish soaking eggs in holes at first light; also tempt the incoming tides for fish. Spinners and flies work well if water is clear. A few fresh pinks are still around. Remember, the use of bait becomes prohibited starting September 1.
An increasing number of steelhead trout are showing up and should be worth targeting shortly. Fishing for Dolly Varden is good in the middle and upper stream sections.
Area Summary: Despite frequent rain showers, the streams have stabilized for the most part, opening up opportunity for good fishing in several key locations. While the mainstem Susitna River silver salmon populations will be showing signs of slowing down after this weekend (if not already), the Knik River runs are still holding on and producing some very nice catches of fresh fish. The Little Susitna River is doing well, as are the drainages of Fish, Cottonwood, and Eklutna. The upper Susitna tributaries of Sunshine and Rabideux, in addition to Byers Creek of the Chulitna system, are seeing good success. While most other salmon species are disappearing rather quickly from the angling scene, there are still a few spots yielding fresh or semi-bright specimens of both red and chum salmon.
As long as streams remain low and clear, anglers targeting trout and grayling are finding good luck in areas where salmon are spawning. This is also the time of year when large schools of whitefish may be encountered, and burbot are becoming increasingly aggressive at the mouths of tributaries flowing into the main Susitna River. Lake fishing for landlocked salmon, trout, char, and grayling is good to excellent.
LITTLE SUSITNA RIVER: Silver salmon fishing is good to sometimes excellent with most fish being caught either bright or with a slight pink sheen. Roe is the main fish-getter but some anglers report success using spinners as well. The section of water around the lower river access point is still best but there are a lot of holes higher up in the drainage that produce nice silvers too. A few fish have made it up to the Houston area. A few decent chums remain.
FISH CREEK: Good fishing for silver salmon here, especially on the tides using eggs, but sight-fishing to small schools is possible upstream of tidewater using flies. A small number of decent reds continue to arrive. This is a weekend-only fishery.
Fishing for rainbows is fair to good in the upper stream near Big Lake.
COTTONWOOD CREEK: A weekend-only fishery, this is likely the last period of really good silver salmon action here before the run begins to slow down. The tides have been responsible for limit catches on eggs either fished on the bottom or used with a bobber. A few blush reds are present.
Fishing for rainbow trout is good in the upper stream.
EKLUTNA TAILRACE: The hatchery run of silver salmon is peaking in numbers but a lot of the fish are showing signs of color; chrome and very light blush specimens are still very common and being caught on salmon roe fished on the bottom or by casting spinners at the Knik River confluence. A few blush or even bright reds and chums are present.
WILLOW, LITTLE WILLOW, KASHWITNA, SHEEP, MONTANA CREEKS: Silver salmon fishing is fair to good with most catches done using eggs. Willow is seeing quite a few fish all the way up to the Deception Creek area, while Little Willow is best at the highway crossing for roadside anglers. The mouths of Kashwitna, Sheep, and Montana are producing nice silvers. This is the last week for consistent catches of bright fish; a lot of the silvers will be turning color soon.
Fishing for rainbow trout and grayling is fair to excellent with the middle and upper reaches best using beads and egg and flesh imitation flies. Try the mouths of Kashwitna, Sheep, and Montana for fair to good catches of burbot.
SUNSHINE, RABIDEUX CREEKS: A visit here at dawn will likely yield some quick silver salmon action. Limits and good or better fishing using roe or spinners at or near the Susitna River confluences. Schools of fish can be observed in the clear water of Sunshine; there are also decent numbers of silvers that head up Rabideux to near the highway crossing. A few bright and semi-bright reds and chums are present.
Burbot fishing is fair to good at the Susitna confluences.
BYERS CREEK: Good numbers of silver salmon are showing up in the lower stream. Sight-fishing is very possible to schools of fish and action is great; look for fresher or better-color fish to be found in holes on the lower end at the Chulitna River confluence. An occasional nice red salmon may be caught but most are in spawning mode, including the chums.
Targeting rainbow trout is good using beads and flesh flies. The middle to upper section of water is producing the best catches.
Copper Valley-Valdez Arm
Area Summary: The late runs of red salmon continue to slow down in the area, leaving only the Gulkana strain as the last truly viable fishery for the species. However, silver salmon are starting to show up more frequently now with some decent opportunities available, especially on the Tonsina River. To the south, Port Valdez will soon be a hot spot for silvers, although success there is not yet up to par.
For resident species, fishing is excellent for stocked rainbows and grayling in the smaller lakes and ponds along area roads and highways. In the larger “wild” lakes, lake trout, grayling, and burbot are responsible for good catches as summer is about to wrap up and autumn begins. Small stream opportunities for grayling, trout, and char is good, with Mendeltna, Tolsona, Tulsona, Indian, Little Tonsina, and Gunn creeks worthy of a shot.
GULKANA RIVER: As long as water levels remains low and clarity good, anglers can count on some decent fishing for late-run reds in the section of river from approximately the highway bridge upstream to Sourdough and beyond. Scout for schools of fish and targeting them by sight-casting can be good. Condition of fish range from bright to light blush.
Grayling and rainbow fishing is best on the upper river from the rapids to the Paxson Lake outlet.
TONSINA RIVER: Silver salmon are arriving with fish being caught in decent numbers in spots from the Little Tonsina River confluence on downstream to near the Edgerton Highway bridge. Focus on still or slow-moving water next to main current; use salmon roe. Condition of fish range from fairly bright to light blush.
Fishing for Dolly Varden and grayling is fair to good in the Little tonsina River.
PORT VALDEZ: The silver salmon run has yet to hit the port in earnest but a fair number of fish are being caught off Allison Point by shore anglers casting spinners. As silvers continue to build in strength, anglers can expect good or better fishing to occur by Labor Day weekend. A few fresh pinks remain but most are spawning and dying off. There is a mass of chum salmon in the harbor area and anglers are finding bright and semi-bright specimens among the darker fish.
Casting from the city dock is yielding a variety of codfish, flounder, and sablefish.
Updated Thursday, August 18
HOT SPOTS: PORTAGE SILVERS; SWANSON SILVERS, RAINBOWS; UPPER KENAI RAINBOWS, DOLLIES; SHIP SILVERS; SUSITNA SILVERS, RAINBOWS; KNIK SILVERS; LOWER KENAI SILVERS, PINKS; RUSSIAN REDS, DOLLIES
Regional Summary: After several days of and ongoing moderate to heavy rain showers, much of Southcentral is experiencing difficult angling conditions due to high and muddy water and even flooding in some locations. The key to finding some productive fishing is either focus on lake-based drainages that absorb much of the murky runoff and often flow clear, or try one of the several saltwater ports. With proper perspective of stream dynamics in addition to fish movements according to water conditions, really good angling may be found in quite a few places, just not in the traditional spots.
That said, most every red salmon run throughout the region is on the downhill side and will end within the next week to ten days. The majority of the pink and chum runs have ended already as fish are spawning and dying off. Even a few of the early-run silver salmon locations are showing signs of slowing down, yet the later timing runs are building up to a peak or already at that point now; the true late runs have yet to begin, however.
The trout, char, and grayling stream fishing opportunities are sort of on hold until water conditions improve but the lake fisheries are looking great as the cooler, wetter weather has really kicked up the action in most areas. Steelhead trout are showing up in their usual autumn haunts and a few are being caught.
For saltwater species, the cloudy and rainy weather has helped and anglers are reporting good success as of late for a variety of species; expect the action to continue through the month and into the early part of September.
Anchorage Area-Turnagain Arm
Area Summary: Although there are silver salmon in the rivers and creeks throughout this area, things are expected to be slow until water levels drop and visibility improves. Still, fish are being caught with some luck as well as ingenuity in spots such as Ship, Campbell, Bird, Portage, and Ingram creeks. Pinks, chums, and reds are done for the most part but a few bright specimens are always present through the month in Glacier and Portage creeks.
Fishing for landlocked salmon, trout, char, and grayling is good to excellent in stocked lakes and ponds.
SHIP CREEK: This is likely the last weekend for good silver fishing here as the run will be slowing down. There are still chromers coming in on every tide but anglers are seeing an increasing number of semi-bright and blush fish appearing. The water is expected to get somewhat high and muddy but salmon roe will take fish in the murk on high tides; fish slow and methodically in slack water areas.
PORTAGE CREEK: Being a lake-based drainage and a little slower to react to heavy rain, this spot has been yielding fair to good catches of silver salmon in tidewater and the first few miles above. Key to success is fishing roe anchored to the bottom in slack-water areas of the stream. A few bright and semi-bright reds, pinks, and chums are still present in the middle and upper stream.
Kenai Peninsula-Passage Canal
Area Summary: With high water and flood warnings in effect throughout the peninsula, anglers need to watch the weather closely here. The Kenai, Kasilof, Swanson, and Russian rivers are seeing increases in water level, yet are very fishable despite this due to being lake-based systems. Most other locations, especially runoff streams, may see very challenging angling until conditions improve. The lower peninsula drainages of Anchor, Deep, and Ninilchik are seeing a decent push of silvers along with smaller numbers of steelhead yet could be slow as high water warnings are in effect; try the tidewater sections using bait for the salmon. The late summer favorites for char, such as Quartz and Ptarmigan, are running high and turbid; try Daves Creek instead.
Lake fishing is good to excellent right now for landlocked salmon, trout, char, and grayling and expected to continue producing a lot of action the rest of the month and on into fall.
SEWARD/RESURRECTION BAY: The rain is affecting the fishing here to some degree with area rivers and streams dumping muddy water into the bay, this being especially obvious at the head of the bay around low tide. Wait for the cleaner water of high tide to push the silt at least somewhat out of the way. Silvers are being caught in small numbers around the mouth of Scheffler Creek and may be encountered in other spots as well, such as Spring, Spruce, and Tonsina. A few bright and semi-bright pink, chum, and red salmon are present in the same spots. The beach area around Lowell Point is worth a try too, especially for pinks and silvers.
Surf-casting for bottomfish is good using bait in many parts of the bay. The stretch of water near the SeaLife Center and along Lowell Point Road is generally better for larger specimens in addition to chances of landing Pacific cod, halibut, and rockfish.
UPPER KENAI RIVER: Water levels are high and approaching minor flooding, yet water clarity is good and the fishing likewise for rainbow trout and Dolly Varden. Silver salmon are becoming more common as the early runs bound for the Russian and the tributaries of Kenai Lake are passing through and should be peaking shortly; expect decent opportunities for the next couple of weeks at least. Fresh and semi-bright reds are available in small numbers with the better area being just downstream of the Russian River confluence; most fish are starting to turn in preparation for the spawn.
RUSSIAN RIVER: While the road to the Russian River Campground is closed for the remainder of the season due to a construction project, anglers may access the river by the way of the Russian River Ferry, at least through the Labor Day weekend. A fair number of bright to light blush reds are available with some anglers still getting limits; there are a lot of older, darker fish in the river now with some beginning to spawn. Remember, the last day of red salmon season is August 20. Also, silver salmon are being caught with fair success as the run builds. Fishing for rainbow trout and Dolly Varden is good.
LOWER KENAI RIVER: Silver salmon are arriving at a steady clip and anglers floating eggs and flipping flies are being successful getting fish from tidewater up to Soldotna and beyond. Limits are common yet could be more of a challenge to achieve with the higher water; find slack-water locations for best chances. Late-run pink salmon are continuing to ascend the river in good numbers, albeit not the huge masses some anglers have become accustomed to during even years. Still, the fishing is good in slow-moving water in and around tidewater using flashy spoons and spinners. The red salmon run continues to some degree, although the numbers of fish are greatly reduced from just a week ago. Some bright specimens are being picked up flipping and swinging flies; expect poor to fair results at best.
SWANSON RIVER: Flowing somewhat high but clear, silver salmon are being caught in decent numbers down low in tidewater and the holes immediately above. Floating eggs and casting spinners are producing fair to good results. Rainbow trout fishing on the upper river is good.
COOK INLET: There is a small series of tides the next several days, which may have a negative effect on spots with shallow/low grade beaches, yet the steeper grade locations will continue to see good opportunities for shark, skate, and halibut. The tides starting mid next week will present better all-around fishing. Some larger halibut have been showing up lately in spots between Ninilchik and Anchor Point with a 66-pounder landed at Ninilchik Beach last weekend. The mouth of the Kenai should produce some nice-size flatfish now on into September as well.
HOMER/KACHEMAK BAY: Surf-casting off Coal Point at the tip of the spit remains the most productive fishery here. The usual brigade of bottomfish are being caught and those equipped with proper gear and distance-casting skills are often rewarded with larger Pacific cod as well as a few skate, halibut, and rockfish.
The Dudiak Lagoon still has silver salmon present but most are turning color with relatively small numbers of bright or semi-bright fish left. Try the incoming and outgoing tide using eggs; expect generally poor fishing.
Area Summary: As anglers are waiting for the runoff streams to drop and clear enough for good fishing to be had, some are turning to the lake-based drainages in the area in order to be successful, especially if targeting salmon. The silver runs are peaking in most of the Susitna River and Knik Arm drainages, with some key locations being productive despite the rain and perceived lower success than usual. The Chulitna tributaries are just now seeing a solid presence of silvers and there are some decent reds around still. As for pinks and chums, these runs are near conclusion, although late-run chums will be around into September in a few places.
The best fishing for trout, char, and grayling is occurring in lakes and ponds in the area, with stocked waters also supporting landlocked salmon. As of late, anglers have seen good to excellent catches.
WASILLA, COTTONWOOD, FISH CREEKS: These weekend-only fisheries are seeing good numbers of silver salmon showing up in tidewater and lower stretches. Come Saturday morning, the action could be fast with limits being taken; also try the tides. Try eggs, spinners, and flies. Some bright and semi-bright reds are still present at Fish Creek as a late-run component is moving through there. Hit the upper sections of these drainages for rainbow trout and Dolly Varden opportunities.
JIM CREEK: The silver run here is nearing a peak and as long as the Knik River does not rise too high, the action at the mouth of Jim should be good. Most successful anglers are using eggs and spinners. A few reds are still present but starting to turn. Fishing for Dolly Varden is good near the lakes. Remember, the stream is closed to all fishing on Mondays and Tuesdays by regulation.
CASWELL, SUNSHINE, RABIDEUX CREEKS: Anglers here are scoring some good catches of silver salmon, primarily at dawn, but fish are being caught throughout the day as well. There are a smaller number of fresh reds and chums present, especially at Sunshine.
BYERS CREEK: Water level is elevated but clear. The red salmon run is nearing an end but a small number of semi-bright fish are still moving through along with a larger presence of darker specimens. Silver salmon are beginning to arrive in fishable numbers with fair to good opportunities to be had in the lower stream and the mouth. Pinks and chums are spawning and dying off. Rainbow trout are striking egg and flesh imitations with good success possible.
Copper Valley-Valdez Arm
Area Summary: The red salmon fishing in the area continues to deteriorate as runs slow down. Some fish are still available in the Klutina and Tonsina with the latter seeing slightly more and brighter specimens. There will also be a few silvers in these waters soon, especially at the Tonsina where Dolly Varden and grayling are being caught as well. The late run of red salmon continues on the Gulkana but high and muddy water conditions are hindering any greater success at this time; yet, fishing for trout and grayling is good in upper reaches. Down in Valdez, a few silver salmon are showing up along with some late-run chums.
Lake fishing is good to excellent. Rainbow trout and grayling are active in stocked lakes, while lake trout, grayling, and burbot are presenting good opportunities in Louise, Paxson, and Summit lakes.
PORT VALDEZ: There are lots of pink salmon in these parts but relatively few bright specimens are left and targeting these fresh pinks is mainly an exercise in futility at this point. A small number of silver salmon are being caught, mainly on the tide around Allison Point, but the run should steadily improve over the next couple of weeks. If fishing in or around the boat harbor, chums may be caught with a fair number of brighter salmon present.
Casting off the ferry dock may yield good action for a variety of saltwater species, such as codfish, flounder, and smaller sablefish.
Updated Thursday, August 11
HOT SPOTS: RUSSIAN REDS; UPPER KENAI RAINBOWS, DOLLIES; SHIP SILVERS; LOWER KENAI REDS, PINKS, SILVERS; SUSITNA SILVERS, RAINBOWS, GRAYLING; CHULITNA REDS, RAINBOWS; KNIK SILVERS
Regional Summary: It appears the common theme the past month or so has been rain and lots of it that is impacting most of the late summer fisheries around Southcentral. While many otherwise highly productive locations this time of August are subject to high and murky water conditions or even flooding, there are some spots that are just as good and even better for fishing with the additional volume of water.
The majority of red, pink, and chum salmon runs in the region are subsiding and yielding to the early runs of silver salmon know ascending rivers and streams in the Matanuska and Susitna valleys, the Anchorage area, and portions of the Kenai Peninsula. However, there are still opportunities for fresh pink and chum salmon in a few places, such as the relatively late runs occurring in Kenai River and Port Valdez.
Also of interest is the arrival of steelhead trout in southern peninsula waters, such as Anchor, Deep, and Ninilchik. And as many salmon populations are now starting mass spawning, the fishing for rainbow trout, Dolly Varden, and even grayling is really intensifying and should stay hot rest of the month and through the fall. Lake fishing for trout, char, grayling, and other resident species is picking up as well as temperatures have cooled after all that rain and general lack of warm sunshine, sparking a very healthy bite that is expected to last.
Fishing the briny for saltwater species continues to be very good and this is a good time of summer to encounter larger specimens of halibut, cod, and rockfish when casting from the beaches of Cook Inlet, Kachemak Bay, and Resurrection Bay. Water temperatures inshore are cool, which helps bring larger fish in close, especially on the larger tides.
Anchorage Area-Turnagain Arm
Area Summary: Recent heavy and prolonged rain over the city and especially down along Turnagain Arm created a range of problems for anglers, mainly very high stream levels and murky to muddy water conditions in many if not most favorite fishing locations. But things are slowly returning back to normal and this weekend should present good opportunities for silver salmon in several key drainages. As waters drop and clear further in other places, even more productive fishing could be revealed. Besides silvers, there are also other species available, such as reds, pinks, and chums, all of which have peaked in numbers already and are on the downside of their respective runs.
Lake fishing is good for landlocked salmon, trout, and grayling these days with the cooler weather trend. Mornings and evenings are still the best bet for consistent action. As Chester and Campbell creeks drop and clear up, fishing for rainbows and Dollies will be fair to very good in the upper parts as early-run king and red salmon are finishing up the spawn and dying off. There are also several streams down along Turnagain Arm that produce decent fishing for char this time of year, mainly in Penguin, Glacier, Kern, and Portage creeks.
SHIP CREEK: Despite high and muddy water last several days, anglers are picking up silvers on every tide using eggs. As stream conditions improve, expect the bite to get better with good to excellent action. Spinners will work great as well. But do not hold off on this fishery much longer as the run is peaking; things will start to slow down in another week to ten days. An occasional fresh pink or chum possible but most of these fish are getting dark and ready to spawn.
BIRD CREEK: Stream conditions have been rough for a few days with high and muddy water but things are settling down and clearing up now. This weekend should see the peak of the silver run to this stream and some anglers are taking home limits of fish using eggs or spinners. Try the high tide cycle where the current hits the slack water of the tide; expect fair to very good results. There are a number of pinks and chums present but most of these fish are in or near spawning condition—a few chrome or semi-bright specimens possible.
PORTAGE CREEK: A number of fresh silvers have been picked up on the lower stream in the tidal area and right above the past week; eggs fished on the bottom is the way to go here but a few fish are also caught on spinners. Expect action to spike this weekend and next week as the bulk of the run arrives. Good success likely around the Seward Highway bridge crossing. Red, pink, and chum salmon are abundant in the middle and upper stream along Portage Glacier Road with condition of fish ranging from chrome to spawning. Nearby Ingram Creek holds some worthwhile silver fishing too, in tidewater holes.
Kenai Peninsula-Passage Canal
Area Summary: As the red salmon runs slowly diminish in strength as fish mature in preparation for the spawn, anglers are increasingly looking to the area silver salmon runs to begin in earnest. Just in the last several days, there has been a sizable influx of silvers hitting rivers and streams all around the peninsula with a few of the stronger early returns happening in waters of Turnagain Arm, the lower Kenai River, and the Dudiak Lagoon on the Homer Spit. Additionally, silvers are arriving in the southern peninsula streams of Anchor, Deep, and Ninilchik as well as the northwestern location of Swanson River. But for those anglers still wanting to tangle with red salmon, great success may be had in sections of the Kenai River and on the Russian River. Late-run pinks are plentiful on the lower Kenai and more moderately so in waters of Resurrection Bay.
Stream fishing for rainbow trout and Dolly Varden is starting to catch fire as salmon are beginning to stage for mass spawning, prompting an increased appetite for egg imitations and flesh. Virtually all flowing waters that host one or both of these species along with a presence of salmon will have at least decent to exceptional sport opportunities this month and next. Round whitefish, an overlooked species usually in this area, will also demonstrate an annual prowess at this time. Lake fishing, although quite productive recently in lowland waters due to cooler weather, is great in highland and alpine areas, with trout, char, and grayling being highly active.
RESURRECTION-SIXMILE CREEKS: The drainages in the Hope and Sunrise area support productive fishing for silver salmon and anglers are likely to encounter fair to perhaps good action this weekend and for the next ten days or so. Success is best on the tides and/or lower portions of these waters floating salmon roe under a bobber or casting spinners. There are still a few fresh pinks and chums coming in but the vast majority of fish are either dark or spawning and starting to die off.
SEWARD/RESURRECTION BAY: Surf-casting for various species of bottomfish remains one of the best fishing options at the head of the bay still pending the arrival of larger numbers of silver salmon. While codfish, flounders, and the alike are always present and providing quick and easy catches on lighter gear, anglers equipped with long-distance casting gear are managing a decent bag of Pacific cod along with a few larger rockfish and halibut. The deep water along Lowell Point Road is recommended.
Anglers targeting salmon are finding fair action for primarily pinks off the mouths of clearwater streams. Most fish are starting to blush a bit but there are enough bright specimens around to make it worthwhile. The beach areas around Spring Creek, Spruce Creek, Tonsina Creek, and all along Lowell Point are productive areas for late season pinks. A few fresh reds are being intercepted in these places but more so at the mouth of Scheffler Creek (Seward Lagoon outlet stream). A few decent chums remain available at Tonsina Creek. As for silvers, a few more fish are showing up every day along the surf but will probably not be abundant until another week to ten days; expect poor to fair success at best.
UPPER KENAI RIVER: The late run of red salmon is continuing to move up the river from Skilak Lake in large numbers, albeit many if not most of the fish are showing signs of color. However, there are still a decent number of reds that are bright to semi-bright, especially in the stretch between the lake and the Russian River confluence. Water levels are quite high but clarity is very good, lending to sight-fishing opportunities for salmon traveling near shore. Expect fair to good success. Silver salmon are cruising upstream as well and may be found throughout the river in smaller numbers; targeting them may yield some results, although things are likely to be slow to maybe fair at best.
Rainbow trout and Dolly Varden fishing is good and steadily improving. Late-run kings and a few reds have begun spawning in the main river, fueling a bead bite. Give it another week to ten days and action could be phenomenal. Besides egg imitations, forage item flies and lures will work in addition. Round whitefish are being hooked with frequency.
RUSSIAN RIVER: Anglers hitting the holes and runs on the lower end of the river at first light are typically greeted with schools of reds moving upstream and subsequent good to excellent action. The river is very low and clear and recent rains have had minimal impact on water level and clarity; sight-fishing is top notch. Expect a good split between dark, colored fish and brighter specimens. Due to low water and heavy angling pressure, the river appears to empty out of salmon during the day. The mouth of the river and its confluence with the Upper Kenai is a great place to catch potential limits of silver-gray reds all day long. Silver salmon have now started to show up and a few have been caught already this week,.
Fishing for rainbow trout and Dolly Varden is quite good, particularly down near the confluence in the sanctuary area. Action is fair to sometimes good farther upstream but will get better as salmon begin spawning, which should be in another ten days to two weeks.
LOWER/MIDDLE KENAI RIVER: Late-run red salmon continue to enter the lower river in decent numbers on the tides with daily counts around Soldotna still around 20,000, give or take a few thousand. Most of the fish are chrome to semi-bright with only a few darker fish present. Anglers are seeing fair to good success with some 6-fish limits taken at first light and again in the evening. The middle river, from Bing’s Landing to Skilak Lake outlet, has a greater number of reds present but there is a larger mix of darker, more mature fish. Silver salmon are arriving in moderate numbers and the run is rapidly picking up pace; expect good action on the lower river around tidewater this weekend and next week with fair opportunities higher up towards Soldotna and Sterling. Limits are possible; use spinners and large streamers in slow-moving water next to main current. Remember, the use of bait is prohibited through August 15 by emergency order. Fishing for late-run pink salmon is good in tidewater as well with the run starting to peak in about another week; fish are largely chrome bright with some starting to turn color. Early-run pinks are spawning at the mouths of and upstream in tributaries right now.
With the mass arrival of salmon and some starting to spawn just downstream of Skilak Lake, the action for rainbow trout and Dolly Varden is picking up with good catches reported in that general area. There is also good fishing for Dolly Varden, especially, down around Soldotna. Catch rates will get even better later on this month and into September.
KASILOF RIVER: It is still possible to get some fairly decent action in for red salmon here. Anglers trying the stretch of water just upstream of tidewater, around Crooked Creek, are reporting fair catches; however, the better and more consistent fishing for reds appears to be around the rapids and above where good success may be had. There are also silver and pink salmon being caught in these locations, with the former very soon to be the dominant species on the river.
Rainbow trout and Dolly Varden are more abundant on the upper river and in tributaries now; expect fair to excellent action with the char being most numerous. The first few steelhead trout should show up in the lower river any day now.
COOK INLET: With the advent of exceptionally large tides this weekend and lasting into early next week, surf-casters are being presented with the opportunity to get into some good fishing from area beaches between Anchor Point and the mouth of Kenai River. Although the rip current from the incoming and outgoing tide will create some logistics issues, the increase in depth near shore is worth it as it brings larger fish closer in. Halibut, particularly, will be a good contender in inlet waters south of Ninilchik, while skates and sharks are likely to dominate locations to the north. Pacific cod is another species likely to be encountered.
NINILCHIK, ANCHOR RIVERS, DEEP CREEK: Water conditions are highly variable in these drainages depending on rainfall amounts. When stream flows drop and clarity improves, fishing for silver salmon is expected to be good using salmon eggs, spinners, and flies. The tidal portions and the holes immediately above are best. There is a small to moderate abundance of pink salmon present along with a few reds. Although king salmon fishing is still allowed on the Ninilchik, there are few fish left of any quality as most kings are in or near spawning shape.
Fishing for Dolly Varden is fair to good with the middle and upper reaches of these waters being best. A small number of steelhead trout are now present but no word yet regarding angling success for them.
HOMER/KACHEMAK BAY: Fishing for silver salmon in the lagoon on the spit is generally fair with spurts of more activity at times. Successful anglers are seeing decent catches on the incoming and outgoing tides with limits possible. There is a mix of chrome and blush fish present. Salmon roe appears to be the top choice for silvers right now. A few silvers and pinks are also being caught along the beaches of the spit.
Surf-casting is good too excellent for codfish, flounders, and other bottomfish at end of spit (Coal Point). Low tide is best; use bait. Apply long-distance casting techniques for better chances targeting halibut, Pacific cod, skate, and rockfish.
Area Summary: As the red, pink, and chum salmon runs are slowing down in most drainages in this area, there will be more effort targeting the various silver salmon runs now building in strength. Being a highly versatile species in the Matanuska and Susitna valleys, silvers are found in most drainages to one degree or another with a good number of locations known to produce excellent catches during the peak of the runs in mid-August. The tributaries along the Susitna River as well as the smaller drainages flowing into Knik Arm are responsible for brunt of activity directed towards silvers. But for those wishing to hook up with the other salmon species a bit longer, there are definitely opportunities for that too. The only obstacle for this weekend, most notably, are the high and turbid water conditions after heavy rains earlier in the week. As waters drop and clear sometime this weekend or next week, action will resume.
Lake fishing for landlocked salmon, trout, char, grayling, pike, and burbot is generally good, especially recently with cooler weather patterns settling over the area. Stream fishing for trout, char, grayling, burbot, and whitefish, however, has been more inconsistent lately as many locations were flowing high and muddy, leaving only a handful of lake-based waters being productive. However, barred any more downpours, good fishing will resume in a matter of days.
JIM CREEK: As long as the waters of Knik River does not flood the access road leading to the mouth of Jim, anglers will have a good chance of catching a mix of red and silver salmon. While the red run is on the backside, the silvers are building to a peak and limits of fish is possible this weekend. Expect good catches now on for the next two weeks or more.
Dolly Varden fishing is good on the upper stream towards the lakes.
COTTONWOOD CREEK: This weekend-only fishery is expected to provide solid opportunities for multiple species, foremost silver and red salmon. Although water volume is up, clarity is good. Hit the high tide cycle using eggs for the silvers; this weekend and the next two openers should see the peak of the run arrive and good success. Reds are still coming in, albeit the run peaked weeks ago, with some fish present starting to turn; use flies on the outgoing down to low tide.
Rainbow trout are striking flies and small spinners in upper stream.
FISH CREEK: Has been open daily to fishing for red salmon along with an increased bag limit by emergency order (which expires Friday, 8/12) but will revert to weened-only openings and general bag limits starting this weekend. A fair number of reds remain and are still coming in on the tides. Silver salmon are becoming more numerous and should provide some fair to good fishing starting this Saturday; float eggs at mouth of creek.
Anglers tempting the upper stream near Big Lake are finding decent opportunities for trout and char.
WILLOW, LITTLE WILLOW, SHEEP, MONTANA CREEKS: All of these streams were significantly impacted by high water events very recently but are in the process of dropping and clearing up. Although there may be opportunities in slower water sections right now—such as the mouths—anglers looking for good, solid action in low, clear water should probably wait until early next week (barring any more torrential rainfall). Silvers are arriving in greater numbers every day and runs will start peaking shortly. Also, rainbow trout and grayling will be active in these streams as conditions improve.
CASWELL, SUNSHINE, RABIDEUX CREEKS: While water levels are high, especially at the Susitna confluences, there is mostly clear water and anglers here are scoring good catches of silver salmon. Salmon roe under a bobber works great but casting spinners and flies can be great too. The lower portions of the streams are best for silvers but some decent action may be had farther upstream as the season progresses, such as in Rabideux. If fishing the mouths, move high enough out of the silt to find the edge of clear water.
BYERS CREEK: Red salmon are on the move here and schools of fish have been busting upstream with the rising water levels. But at least the water is clear and the fish are there—expect fair to good success using flies for mostly semi-bright to light blush salmon. A few silvers are showing up. Pink and chum salmon are also present but most fish are in or near spawning condition; some bright or very light blush specimens are available.
Rainbow trout are staging in deeper areas of the stream as salmon are spawning; egg and flesh imitation flies are top enticements.
Nearby Sunny (Railroad) Creek also has a run of reds right now in addition to decent opportunities for trout and char. The mouth of Troublesome Creek is often fair to good for reds and silvers as well.
Copper Valley-Valdez Arm
Area Summary: With the king salmon season wrapped up for the year along with most of the area red salmon runs, anglers are having to focus a bit more if still wanting salmon action. The Gulkana supports the last larger run of red salmon, which is starting to peak now and will stay productive for the next few weeks. There are also smaller late-run populations in tributaries of the Copper and Chitina rivers but they are not nearly on the same scale in size as the Gulkana. Tonsina River does have late-arriving fish as well. And silver salmon will become more predominant as the month progresses and covered in subsequent fishing reports, particularly concerning Valdez.
The lake fisheries are starting to shine as anglers are reporting good to excellent catches of lake trout, Arctic grayling, and rainbow trout. The stocked lakes are seeing lots of action from smaller fish, while the larger, deeper lakes such as Louise, Paxson, and Summit offer less hectic but often more rewarding catches in terms of greater fish size. Stream fishing is good or better for grayling with Gulkana, upper Mendeltna, Tolsona, Indian, upper Gunn, Little Tonsina, and Tulsona creeks best bets. Dolly Varden are striking in Little Tonsina and Klutina rivers. For rainbows, try the Gulkana River, or even Tolsona Creek.
GULKANA RIVER: Although flowing high and muddy at the time of this report, the water level is dropping and clarity will soon be restored as well. Late-run red salmon are moving through the lower and middle river sections in decent numbers and anglers likely will experience fair to good success once the river is low and clear. Condition of fish range from bright to very light blush/rosy. Scout main current for schools of reds; try from the highway bridge up to Sourdough and beyond to the forks. This run usually stays consistent into early September.
Arctic grayling and rainbow trout offer excellent opportunities on the upper river, from the outlet of Paxson Lake to the rapids.
PORT VALDEZ: The port is still thick with pink salmon, yet anglers are having to do a lot more of catch-and-releasing these days in order to find chrome or brighter specimens. Success is fair for the most part but can be good if a fresh school of pinks moves in; try Allison Point. Late-run chum salmon are showing up around the port but most abundant in and around the boat harbor. Silver salmon are few and far between in the surf but some have been caught by anglers casting for pinks or other species.
Anglers dropping bait into the water off the ferry dock are finding a mix of bottomfish, including smaller sablefish, flounders, and codfish. Success ranges from fair to excellent depending on the day.
Updated Thursday, August 4
HOT SPOTS: RUSSIAN REDS; SUSITNA CHUMS, PINKS, RAINBOWS; KENAI REDS, RAINBOWS, & DOLLIES; SHIP SILVERS; KLUTINA KINGS; HOPE PINKS; FISH REDS; VALDEZ PINKS; TONSINA KINGS & REDS; LITTLE SUSITNA SILVERS & CHUMS; GULKANA REDS & GRAYLING
Regional Summary: As the last few really productive freshwater king salmon fisheries will close by regulation next week, it signals a switch from the spring and mid-summer runs of salmon to the late summer and fall runs that presently consists of silver salmon and late-run pinks and chums. There are even solid opportunities for the last good red runs of the year occurring right now. And as the early salmon runs are now feeding the resident species of trout, char, grayling, and whitefish, anglers will soon find themselves awash with action that typically lasts well into September or even later. Saltwater fishing is excellent and key species being caught right now are halibut, rockfish, codfish, flounders, sharks, and skates.
Anchorage Area-Turnagain Arm
Area Summary: With somewhat subdued runs of pinks and chums in the area this year, anglers here are looking forward to a possible banner year for silver salmon. This species is showing in several key locations this week, such as Ship, Campbell, and Bird, all of which have early-run populations. The other drainages of Glacier, Portage, and Ingram will soon follow suit with stocks that follow a slightly later run timing pattern. However, there exists a small opportunity for red salmon and late-run chums down in the Portage area that only a handful of anglers take advantage.
Stocked lakes are offering a more reserved pace still by most standards due to warm water, although some of them will receive a fresh jolt of fish from the hatchery soon to keep anglers busy through the fall months. Landlocked salmon, trout, char, and grayling are all subject of these stockings. Campbell and Chester creeks are the places in town that has quite decent fishing for trout and char in their upper reaches, especially now that salmon are spawning.
SHIP CREEK: This downtown hot spot is where anglers go for often quick and easy limits of silver salmon using eggs or spinners. The run appears strong this year and the success rate should continue for another 10 days before slowing down. As a reminder, the Coho Rodeo—or Ship Creek Silver Salmon Derby—gets underway August 6 from 7am to 7pm. As for other species, there are good numbers of pinks present but not many of them are bright with most starting to turn; if specifically targeted, a limit is within range. A few chums are in the mix.
BIRD CREEK: This spot has been a bit of a sleeper this season. While there are silvers being taken here on every tide, the action is generally fair to sporadic good catches possible; roe, spinners, and flies all work. The run of pinks is not as large as usual with most fish being blush to dark in color with only a small number of bright ones being caught. Same story goes for chums, a few are nice and chrome but most are turning with a some being in or near spawning shape.
Kenai Peninsula-Passage Canal
Area Summary: With the mid-summer runs of red, pink, and chum salmon beginning to taper off on the Kasilof and Kenai rivers and drainages around Resurrection Bay and the south shore of Turnagain Arm, the early runs of silver salmon are starting to arrive in a multitude of waters in this area. But this transition is not too abrupt as there are still opportunities for all species mentioned above in certain locations with one degree or another of overlap. The Kenai also supports a late run of pink salmon, adding even more of a dimension to an already diverse fishery. Yet, with the undeniable presence of silvers means that the season will change, as it does every year around this time. But until that actually happens, there are an amazing menu of salmon fishing opportunities available still for those who seek it.
Rainbow trout, along with Dolly Varden, are becoming more abundant and lively in coastal and inland streams as the key food source—salmon and byproducts—inundate area waters, thus sparking a very hectic time that will last from now and on through the fall. Lake fishing varies more, with spots at higher elevations in the Kenai Mountains supporting the best opportunities as lowland waters are still too warm.
Saltwater fisheries targeting bottomfish and other species continue to be very productive. While halibut are somewhat less abundant in shallow, nearshore waters compared to the spring months, fish are still being caught in decent numbers. Pacific cod, other codfishes, flounders, spiny dogfish, skate, rockfish, sablefish, and even lingcod can be successfully landed in and around the ports of Seward, Whittier, Ninilchik, and/or Homer.
HOPE/RESURRECTION CREEK: Although the lower stream is practically loaded with pinks, most are blush to somewhat dark and perhaps not the best for consumption nor sport. However, there are absolutely enough semi-bright and bright specimens around to make a trip here worthwhile; sight-fishing will yield limits of fresh pinks. Additionally, there are small numbers of nice chums present and the first few silvers have been caught—try around the high tide cycle.
SEWARD/RESURRECTION BAY: Targeting pink salmon in various locations is fair to excellent, with some of the better catches coming from in or near the mouths of spawning streams. The mouth of Tonsina Creek has great potential right now and is a good spot for chums as well. Chrome fish are common but a lot of the runs around the bay are starting to mature as salmon are turning color. There are several populations of late-run red salmon at the head of the bay, albeit these runs are small and the fishing targeting them often inconsistent; some reds are being caught at the mouth of Scheffler Creek and will be present throughout much of this month. A few silver salmon have made landfall at beaches from the boat harbor to Lowell Point and beyond but action is still poor pending more fish arriving.
Surf-casting for bottomfish is good to excellent in the bay, the deeper areas from near the SeaLife Center south along Lowell Point Road being best; codfish, flounder, sablefish, small rockfish, and greenling are the main species present. Using proper gear and long-distance casting will bring larger rockfish, Pacific cod, and halibut within range.
RUSSIAN RIVER: The big news here is an increase in daily bag limit for red salmon from 3 to 6 fish. As the water is very low and clear at this time, in order to be successful, anglers should focus on the lower end of the river at dawn when holes are often stacked with fish migrating upstream during the night and the catching quick and easy, especially if sight-fishing. In addition, the mouth of the river and immediately below can be excellent with groups of fresh reds moving through all day long. Fishing the mainstem river around the campground during a sunny afternoon is generally dead slow. Most fish are grayish silver to very light blush with some specimens already in spawning condition; be prepared to release older fish. The red salmon season ends on August 20, unless an emergency order extends it. A few silvers should make an appearance any day now.
Fishing for rainbow trout and Dolly Varden is fair to good and will get better as salmon begin to spawn. Egg and flesh patterns work well. The fish are distributed throughout the length of the river from the falls downstream to the mouth on the Kenai.
UPPER KENAI RIVER: Same as the Russian River, this section of the Kenai has an emergency order upping the daily bag limit from 3 to 6, welcoming news to anglers still wanting to experience some potentially good fishing along with increased harvest opportunity. It is confirmed that a lot of late-run reds are moving through, especially in the section of water from the Russian confluence downstream to Skilak Lake inlet; however, there are decent numbers of fish all the way up to Kenai Lake, although salmon in that area tend to be more blush than down below. Be prepared to catch and release older fish in search of fresher ones. There should be a few silvers in the crowd too.
Rainbow trout and Dolly Varden are beginning to stir with the arrival of mature salmon, prompting more interest in egg and flesh imitation flies and beads. Forage items will still work, especially on the char. Expect this fishery to accelerate further later on this month. Whitefish are being caught regularly.
LOWER/MIDDLE KENAI RIVER: While it seems like the truly big waves of red salmon has waned for this year, there are still enough chrome to semi-bright fish coming in on every tide to keep things interesting. Yet, the potential for another huge pulse of reds to come in is very much a possibility; keep track of the ADF&G sonar site data and daily updates. But for this weekend, it is looking to be fair to good action on the lower river (Soldotna-tidewater) and good or better on the middle river section upstream of Bings’ Landing. There are definitely more blush or even dark reds showing up these days. Silver salmon are moving up the river and some fish are being caught by anglers casting spinners in slack-water locations downstream of Soldotna or by those flipping flies intended for reds. It is still only slow to fair at best, the closer to tidewater, the better. Late-run, mainstem pink salmon are beginning to stack up in tidewater holes, providing fair to sometimes good fishing.
Fishing for rainbow trout and Dolly Varden is improving by the day, it seems, with fair to often good action on egg imitations as well as forage flies. The arrival of mature salmon is about to set off a solid bead-bite in the near future.
HOMER/KACHEMAK BAY: The best salmon fishing in this location can be had at the Dudiak Lagoon on the spit where silver salmon are arriving on the tides and schooled up within the lagoon itself. Although the bite can be a bit sluggish at times, successful anglers are finding limits of bright silvers inside the lagoon as the tide comes in, and at the mouth of the outlet stream on the bay side as the tide goes out. Floating eggs and tossing spinners is effective. There are a few pink salmon to be caught also. The king salmon run has ended but an occasional straggler is possible.
Anglers sometimes encounter pinks and silvers at the end of the spit at Coal Point as well as along the beaches. It is there that surf-casting for bottomfish is excellent with a lot of codfish, flounder, and other species being caught on bait fished on the bottom. Long-range casting with proper gear will get anglers in touch with halibut, Pacific cod, and rockfish.
Area Summary: This is the time of year when the most prized fish of the area begin infiltrating waters in large numbers: the silver salmon. As the red salmon runs are in the process of tapering off after a most successful season, silvers are rapidly taking their place as runs ascend the streams of Knik Arm and the Susitna River, providing great opportunities from now on and through the month. And, at least for this week, pink and chum salmon will effectively provide a buffer in many places where the silvers have not yet arrived in force. Opportunities abound for salmon and now is the time to explore this area if not already done so.
Resident species are very active right now as spawning salmon are showing up in most drainages. Rainbow trout, Dolly Varden, and Arctic grayling, along with whitefish and burbot, are abundant and fishing for them outstanding and some of the best of the year, as long as water conditions hold and no long periods of heavy rain occur. Lake fishing is best in highland or alpine locations where water temperatures and cooler but can be worthwhile at dawn and dusk in some places, especially where fish are stocked.
LITTLE SUSITNA RIVER: Despite being plagued by high and turbid water most of the summer, conditions have improved as decent numbers of chum and silver salmon are arriving and likely to produce some productive action this weekend and next. This Saturday, August 6, is the opener for the use of bait and things are about to explode for anglers targeting silvers; if the weather cooperates with not too much rain, expect good fishing to be had. There is also a sizable run of pink salmon in progress. The pinks and chums vary in condition from chrome to dark.
A few rainbow trout and Dolly Varden are being caught.
SUSITNA RIVER: Barring any heavy downpour, anglers should have a satisfying experience fishing the clearwater tributaries in this system. There are good numbers of pink and chum salmon present in most all drainages from Willow on north to the Talkeetna River and mouth of Rabideux Creek. Look for chrome fish being found in greatest numbers at mouths of Willow, Sheep, and Montana, yet semi-bright and blush specimens are common throughout the lower and middle sections of these waters as well. Silvers are also present to one degree or another with most success being had at the Willow Creek and Susitna confluence; locations higher up in the Susitna will turn on as fish advance upstream during this coming week. If streams turn cloudy because of rain, move efforts to lake-based and lowland drainages such as Caswell, Sunshine, and Rabideux.
Fishing for rainbow trout and Arctic grayling is good to excellent depending on specific drainage and waters conditions. Most fish these days are in the middle and upper portions where king salmon are currently spawning; try egg imitations/beads, although flesh and forage patterns work also. Willow, Deception, Little Willow, Sheep, Goose, and Montana are the hot spots. Whitefish are common catches in some streams, such as Little Willow and Sheep. Try the Susitna confluences, wherever there is slack water, for burbot.
FISH CREEK: Open daily to fishing by recent emergency order. Very decent numbers of red salmon continue to arrive here on the tides with anglers intercepting them in faster flowing waters upstream of the tidal zone. Success is expected to be fair to good this weekend; use flies. Silver salmon may not be targeted nor retained until August 13, when the stream goes back to being a weekend-only fishery as per general regulation.
The middle and upper portions of this stream support good opportunities for rainbow trout.
COTTONWOOD CREEK: Being a weekend-only fishery, it is expected anglers will be treated to a mix of red and silver salmon for the opener this weekend. Floating roe or letting the bait rest on the bottom is very effective on silvers but reds will hit it too; use spinners and flies in the upper area of water that is open to salmon fishing. In all, good action may prevail in the tidewater section of the stream.
Rainbow trout fishing in the middle and upper stream portions is good at this time using flies.
WASILLA CREEK: A good bet for early silvers in this weekend-only fishery. Best action will likely be in the area around the Rabbit Slough access point; scout for schools of fish in deeper parts of the stream. There are also smaller numbers of red, pink, and chum salmon present.
Dolly Varden are available in middle and upper reaches where king salmon are currently spawning.
JIM CREEK: Red salmon fishing here is fair to good and silver salmon are also arriving with a few anglers even managing limits of the latter with some effort. Try the mouth of the stream at Knik River. A range of lures, flies, and bait work. A few pinks and chums are present.
Dolly Varden are fairly abundant on the upper stream towards the lakes with good to excellent success had by anglers taking the time and effort to get in there.
Copper Valley-Valdez Arm
Area Summary: As late summer has arrived, the salmon runs in this area will soon begin tapering off, with notable exceptions on the Gulkana and a few other streams that still support runs of late-run red salmon. And August 11 marks the date when king salmon fishing shuts down for the season on the fabled Klutina and Tonsina rivers. Even the legendary run of pink salmon to Port Valdez is showing signs of waning. To access any or all of them, this weekend and up to mid next week is the time to go before things begin to change drastically. However, at least silver salmon will be present in Valdez for the annual Labor Day weekend bash.
Before long, the resident species of trout, char, grayling, and burbot become very active again as water temperatures fall and the seasonal feeding frenzy begins. But for now, anglers are finding good fishing in both lakes and streams around the area.
GULKANA RIVER: As long as the weather holds and the water stays at least relatively low and clear, anglers are now able to find sizable schools of late-run red salmon in the section of river from Sourdough downstream to the Copper confluence. Success is fair to good with the most effective way of targeting these salmon being by sight-fishing. Condition of reds range from grayish bright to very light blush. The peak of this run occurs between mid-August and early September, depending on section of river. King salmon fishing is closed.
Fishing for rainbow trout and Arctic grayling is good to superb, respectively, with most action taking place in the area from the Paxson Lake outlet to the rapids.
KLUTINA RIVER: Late-run king salmon fishing is very good and anglers hedging their bets on the middle river section are having great success with a few fish landed weighing between 40 and 50 pounds, although the average is in the 20- to 30-pound range. Condition of kings range from grayish bright to bright red. Attractors and roe combinations are responsible for most all catches. This is the last weekend to target these huge fish; the king salmon season closes on August 10. Late-run red salmon continue to head upstream in reserved numbers and will be available for the next week or two; expect fair to very good results for bright to blush salmon.
For a change of pace, fishing for Dolly Varden is getting good on the upper river near the outlet of Klutina Lake. A few rainbows and grayling are to be caught as well.
TONSINA RIVER: Good to excellent success rate for late-run king salmon to be had here. While most fish being caught are light blush in color, there are some that are mostly bright to semi-bright still. Like the nearby Klutina, attractors with roe is the way to go for quick action. The bulk of the run is found in the lower and middle river sections. The king salmon season here ends on August 10, the last day. Late-run red salmon are entering the drainage alongside the kings and anglers targeting them are finding good action using flies.
The most dependable spot for Dolly Varden and grayling is the Little Tonsina River, a clearwater tributary.
PORT VALDEZ: Large numbers of pink salmon are present, keeping anglers very busy on the incoming and outgoing tides. A couple of the better locations include Allison Point and the stretch of water up to the hatchery but good to excellent success may be had most anywhere in the port. Although a lot of the fish are turning color and near spawning, there are still plenty of fresh ones available; catch and release until chrome specimens are landed. The run peaked a couple of weeks ago in terms of quality fish; expect this to be the last week of finding reliable quantities of bright pinks. Fresh and semi-bright chums are being landed in and around the boat harbor as well as other waters adjacent to the harbor area. A few silver salmon have reportedly arrived but finding them in the masses of pinks may prove futile.
Anglers trying their luck off the ferry dock are managing to catch an array of different kinds of bottomfish, from codfish and flounders to sablefish and the occasional lingcod.
Robe River on the outskirts of town, supports good fishing for fresh pink salmon at its confluence with Lowe River; bright chums also possible. Dolly Varden fishing is good on the middle and upper river where pinks are spawning.
Updated Thursday, July 28
HOT SPOTS: KENAI REDS & RAINBOWS; SHIP SILVERS; FISH REDS; VALDEZ PINKS; COTTONWOOD REDS; SUSITNA PINKS, CHUMS, & RAINBOWS; KASILOF REDS; KLUTINA KINGS & REDS; HOPE PINKS; TONSINA KINGS & REDS
Regional Summary: The zenith of fishing the road system in Southcentral Alaska is here as a plethora of opportunities are available in all areas of the region. All five salmon species may be targeted with great success this weekend and next week and the action is ramping up in earnest for anglers chasing trout, char, and grayling in lakes, rivers, and streams. Saltwaters are producing fast action for non-sporting species from shore but the opportunity for landing a few halibut and rockfish remain a real possibility in places.
Anchorage Area-Turnagain Arm
Area Summary: Big news is the arrival of silver salmon, with Ship Creek in particular seeing a solid run right now and other streams, such as Bird and Campbell, are reporting decent numbers of fish being caught as well. It took a little longer than most years but the pinks are finally entering area waters in large numbers, albeit many of them are showing up already starting to turn color; however, there are still enough chrome fish available to satisfy. Additionally, chums are present in high enough density to target with success; anglers trying their luck in Bird, Glacier, and even Ship are landing a fair number.
Rainbow trout and Dolly Varden offer good sport in sections of Campbell Creek as the early runs of kings and reds begin to spawn; decent catches are also possible in Chester Creek. Lake fishing enthusiasts are experiencing fair to good action for landlocked salmon, trout, and grayling, especially in very early morning and late evening.
SHIP CREEK: The last several days have seen good to excellent fishing for silver salmon with anglers floating eggs on the incoming and outgoing tides doing best, yet casting spinners throughout the high tide cycle is effective too. Many limits of 3 silvers are being brought to shore with most fish being between 4 and 6 pounds with some specimens up to 10 pounds or more. Fishing for pinks is good and bright fish are common; be prepared to catch-and-release blush salmon. A few fresh and semi-bright chums are present as well.
BIRD CREEK: After a relatively slow start to the season, pinks are building in numbers and fishing for them is good or better if targeted. Bright salmon are very possible but many of the pinks seen are turning. Some anglers are limiting out on silvers with the incoming and outgoing tides best; salmon roe with bobbers is a winning combination but spinners and colorful streamers do the job too. Look for this location to become a potential hot spot for silvers in another week or so.
TURNAGAIN STREAMS: As these drainages are in the process of clearing up completely after recent rains, fishing has improved substantially. Indian Creek has a small but productive run of pinks, as does Ingram Creek; the former is best on the tides. Glacier has good number of pinks and some nice chums and a few silvers are now present; the California Creek confluence is a local hot spot. Portage is fishing well for primarily pinks but is currently also experiencing a respectable return of reds. Chums are present with the run getting better. Expect fishable numbers of silvers to hit Portage in another ten days or so.
Kenai Peninsula-Passage Canal
Area Summary: A great area for fishing this weekend and for the next several weeks as the strong red salmon runs continue in the central drainages of the peninsula, while pink salmon are making their presence felt as runs arrive in practically all coastal drainages and waterways, including Passage Canal and the southern shore of Turnagain Arm. Silver salmon are showing up in a handful of locations with the hatchery run down at Homer Spit really kicking off the season in a healthy way for the species on the peninsula. Chums are present in the streams or saltwater around Seward, Whittier, and Hope. Ninilchik River is still open to fishing for hatchery king salmon but this run is practically over; an occasional nice specimen is possible.
Fishing for trout and char is picking up in smaller streams as well as larger rivers as the various salmon populations begin to spawn, yet the lake fishing opportunities are more reserved right now, which is typical this time of year due to relatively warmer waters. Still, a few of the stocked lakes do support good fishing for landlocked salmon and smaller trout and grayling.
HOPE/RESURRECTION CREEK: A relatively late start here as elsewhere for the pink run but fish are now being caught in good numbers. Target bright fish on the tides and in holes of the lower stream; there are many blush pinks in the system. Expect the action to continue for another week before things begin tapering off as more of the fish mature. Some decent color chums and even a few silvers have been showing up the last few days. Nearby Sixmile Creek also has decent runs of pinks and chums in its lower section and tidewater around Sunrise.
SEWARD/RESURRECTION BAY: Aside from anglers pulling in plenty of codfish, flounders, greenling, and smaller sablefish around the bay area, there is some good fishing to be had for pinks and chums at the mouth of streams flowing into the briny. While fresh pinks may be encountered anywhere along the shorelines in and near town, chums are most prolific at Tonsina Creek. Late-run reds are arriving and can be targeted successfully, particularly at the mouth of Scheffler Creek. Snagging is allowed in saltwater of Resurrection Bay.
Those wishing to catch halibut may have some success from approximately the mouth of Lowell Creek down along Lowell Point Road where the water is deep near shore. Sizable rockfish and Pacific cod are caught there too.
UPPER KENAI RIVER: The late run of red salmon is cruising upstream and anglers are catching fish throughout the length of river from the Kenai Lake outlet to the inlet at Skilak Lake. However, most of the bright fish are being caught from Sportsman’s Landing at the Russian River confluence on downstream. A good number of these fish arrived in freshwater a couple of weeks ago and are starting to turn color; catch-and-release for fresh reds. Limit on reds remain at 3 per day. The mouth of Russian River is a great spot right now to catch nice reds and this run should peak in another week or so. A few silvers should be present any day now if not already. Dolly Varden are being caught in nearby Quartz Creek.
Targeting rainbow trout and Dolly Varden is becoming more productive by the day. Fish are striking a variety of offerings, from dry flies and forage patterns to beads and even flesh flies. Expect fair to good success. A number of whitefish are being caught additionally.
LOWER/MIDDLE KENAI RIVER: Anglers are experiencing excellent and consistent fishing for red salmon on the middle river from Skilak Lake outlet downstream to near Bing’s Landing and, when big pulses of fish move through, also on the lower river between tidewater and Soldotna. The run is peaking and should yield great results for the next week to ten days at least. Take advantage of the ADF&G sonar monitor near Soldotna to peg when big numbers of fish are headed upstream. The early run of tributary pinks is still trickling in but will be replaced with larger fish of the late run shortly; anglers are catching a fair number of them in tidewater. King salmon fishing is closed by emergency order.
Rainbow trout and Dolly Varden fishing is fair to good from the upper edge of tidewater to the outlet of Skilak Lake. A spike in action will occur soon as mainstem kings, reds, and pinks begin spawning.
KASILOF RIVER: The huge waves of red salmon entering the river has settled down a bit the last several days but excellent fishing may still be had, especially in the upper and middle sections of the river. Anglers are getting fair to sometimes good catches of reds in the lower river too, around Crooked Creek, and the action could spike as additional waves of fish come in. Some pinks are being encountered and there are a small number of silvers present. King salmon fishing is closed by emergency order.
Fishing for rainbow trout is fair, primarily in the upper sections of river, while Dolly Varden are quite plentiful in all areas upstream of tidewater.
COOK INLET: For those wanting to challenge some of the larger saltwater species from shore, there is good to excellent opportunities to be had for shark (spiny dogfish) and skate with decent chances for halibut and Pacific cod. The tides this weekend and into early next week are conducive to productive surf-casting in such locations as Ninilchik, Whiskey Gulch, and Anchor Point.
HOMER/KACHEMAK BAY: Most attention around here is now on the silver salmon run arriving at the Dudiak Lagoon on the Homer Spit. Anglers casting spinners or floating eggs on the incoming and outgoing tides are doing well and limits of 6 fish is possible. Expect good fishing to last well into next month as the run peaks. Some silvers in addition to fresh pinks are also being taken by surf-casters along the ocean side and tip of the spit and off the rocks around the boat harbor. The numbers of red salmon along the spit has subsided as these fish are now zeroing in on their spawning stream and hatchery-release sites on the south side and head of bay.
Excellent fishing can be had for codfish, flounders, and other bottomfish off Coal Point at Land’s End; try bait and small jigs at low tide. Those with right equipment for long-distance casting are finding decent opportunities for halibut and larger Pacific cod.
Area Summary: After some ten days of heavy rain and very high water to near flooding conditions in many rivers and streams in the area, things are looking better with drier and cooler weather ahead that promote waters to drop and clear, providing a much better environment for angling. Once typical seasonal conditions return, fishing for pink, chum, and silver salmon will increase in quality and provide good to excellent opportunities. However, some streams, such as those that are lake-based, are seeing strong returns of red salmon. Fish, Cottonwood, and Jim are the obvious favorites for reds with some fish also being available at Wasilla Creek. Before long, Byers Creek up on the Chulitna will be a strong contender for great red action—if the pattern of strong runs throughout the Cook Inlet region holds true.
Lake fishing has ticked up recently with cloudy and rainy conditions sparking good to excellent opportunities for trout, char, grayling, and landlocked salmon. Especially the cooler highland and alpine lakes north on the Glenn Highway are hot spots right now; the lowland lakes around Willow, Houston, Wasilla, and Palmer are more susceptible to warmer conditions that slows the bite.
FISH CREEK: Come Monday, August 1, this small stream will become ground zero for anglers targeting a big run of red salmon. By emergency order, anglers will be able to harvest reds (silvers must be released) every day of the week from then on through August 12. The bag limit has also been increased from 3 to 6. Expect huge crowds but good to excellent action, especially the first few days the fishery is open. Generally, the best opportunity happens at peak high tide and the next few hours after when schools of fish head upstream. There are also a smaller number of pinks and a few chums present. The weekend-only fishery resumes on August 13, when all salmon species may be retained (except kings).
COTTONWOOD CREEK: Good numbers of red salmon are also present here and anglers could be scoring limits of fish on the outgoing tide when there is current; try drifting flies or small clusters of salmon roe. Catching reds here is often more of a challenge than at Fish Creek, but there should be far less people. Expect a few silvers to be present as well. This is a weekend-only fishery.
Fishing for rainbow trout is good in the middle and upper reaches.
SUSITNA RIVER: The tributaries of Willow, Little Willow, Caswell, Sheep, Goose, Montana, Sunshine, and Rabideux creeks are seeing a strong push of pinks and chums arriving with numbers of fish building daily. Silver salmon are also becoming more numerous and limits of 2 fish possible. Try the mouths of these waters for best opportunities, with Willow, Sheep, and Montana being the hot spots for the roadside crowd, but good action may be found elsewhere too, especially at dawn. Some streams are still flowing at somewhat elevated levels with a slight tint from recent flood conditions, hence the mouths are producing the best catches as the water is calmer. Expect a lot of salmon to head up into the lower and middle sections of these streams any day now as conditions for migration improve.
While the floodwaters hampered the trout and grayling fishing significantly, things are about to turn around as the streams drop and clear up again. Barring any heavy rain the next several days, success should be good to excellent perhaps as soon as this weekend but certainly by mid next week. Whitefish and burbot are also available, the latter primarily at the Susitna confluences.
Copper Valley-Valdez Arm
Area Summary: Supporting the last really productive freshwater fisheries for kings in Southcentral, the Klutina and Tonsina are experiencing the peak of the runs and will remain a solid bet through the remainder of the season that ends on August 10. Late-run red salmon are now moving through and into area rivers like the drainages mentioned above in addition to the Gulkana River and a range of smaller streams along the Copper and Chitina rivers. Gulkana has one of the latest runs of red salmon and these fish are present in increasing numbers from the mouth on up to the Sourdough area; expect the peak of this run to occur later on in August with solid opportunities into September most years. It is still too early for silver salmon to be present in the upper Copper River drainage, but a few should be coming into waters around Valdez very shortly. Pink salmon continue to occupy Port Valdez in large numbers.
As long as the streams in this area stays low and clear, anglers can expect to find good fishing for primarily grayling but in some instances also rainbows and Dollies. Lake fishing has improved with the onset of cooler weather; lake trout, grayling, and whitefish are active in the larger lakes, while rainbows and grayling in the smaller stocked waters provide quick and easy action for those casting from shore.
KLUTINA RIVER: The late runs of king and red salmon have arrived and anglers are reporting good to excellent catches of both species. Most of the kings are being caught in the middle section of the river where there are eddies and calmer spots of water next to the main current; the lower river is predominantly fast water and anglers may have difficulty landing fish. However, the lower river is ideal for catching reds and limits are being taken in short order. Condition of these fish range from silvery gray to blush. A few kings weighing in excess of 40-45 pounds have been caught recently with the opportunity to hook a much larger specimen possible.
Fishing on the upper river is fair to good for Dolly Varden with some rainbows and grayling also available.
TONSINA RIVER: Similarly to the Klutina, late-run kings and reds are also arriving here in good numbers. Being a more difficult and technical river to fish, there are less anglers present but the fishing is excellent right now, especially for big kings. The stretch of water between the Richardson Highway bridge and the Edgerton Highway bridge is most popular and contains many great spots to fish. Boaters are doing best accessing the best locations but anglers hiking in do very well too.
Fishing for Dolly Varden and grayling is fair to good on the Little Tonsina River and red salmon may be caught at the mouth.
PORT VALDEZ: Anglers wanting to get into some hardcore pink salmon fishing will enjoy this spot. Bag limits have doubled by emergency order and there are still a lot of chrome pinks to be had, although sorting through blush or older fish may be required to find the fresh ones. Expect good to excellent success. While fish may be found anywhere within the port and around the townsite, anglers are seeing the best results from Allison Point and the stretch of water up to the mouth of Solomon Gulch Creek by the fish hatchery. If trying luck at the city dock and the harbor area, there are chrome late-run chum salmon starting to arrive alongside the throng of pinks. Nearby Robe River is seeing an influx of pink salmon as well with good catches possible.
Updated Thursday, July 21
HOT SPOTS: KENAI REDS, KLUTINA KINGS, KASILOF REDS, VALDEZ PINKS, TONSINA KINGS, HOPE PINKS, UPPER KENAI RAINBOWS & DOLLIES, COTTONWOOD REDS
Regional Summary: As Southcentral Alaska flipped completely weather-wise from June and its sunny, dry, and very warm conditions to heavy rain, at or near flooding stream conditions, and unseasonably cool temperatures now in July, there has been an obvious negative impact on fishing and fish runs; however, there are great angling opportunities that exist still and some of the best of the entire season at that. Drainages on the Kenai Peninsula and up in Knik Arm are reporting exceptionally high abundances of red salmon and pink, chum, and silver salmon are arriving in increasing numbers by the day there as well as in Susitna Valley and Valdez Arm. Not to be outdone, the late king salmon runs are at a peak in Copper Valley, yielding great fishing success.
Fishing for trout, char, grayling, and other resident species is good and getting better as the month ebbs out and August approaches. While streams are not always the best locations to go due to high and murky conditions, there are some spots, including lakes, where the action is superb due to the cooler, wetter, and more temperate weather.
Saltwater fishing opportunities are still aplenty with anglers seeing lots of catches of bottomfish and other species. Generally not as affected by adverse weather conditions as freshwater drainages, the briny is almost always a place to go if rivers and streams fail to produce.
Anchorage Area-Turnagain Arm
Area Summary: Pink salmon continue to make inroads and a few chums and silvers are being caught down along Turnagain Arm. Bird Creek is the favorite due to its stocked run of silvers yet streams such as Indian, Glacier, Portage, and Ingram all hold fish at this time, albeit success has varied considerably recently due to heavy rain and high and murky water conditions and this weekend may not be the best as these drainages are still struggling to drop and clear up. As things settle down, probably by early to mid next week, expect these locations to turn on, especially for anglers fishing the tides. Ship Creek is starting to produce consistent catches of silver salmon and likely to become a hot spot in another week or so; limits may be achieved with time in right place.
While local city streams like Campbell and Chester creeks are flowing high and muddy for the time being, anglers looking for trout, char, grayling, and landlocked salmon are finding fair action in the stocked lakes around town; try in early morning or late evening.
Kenai Peninsula-Passage Canal
Area Summary: The Kenai and Kasilof rivers are seeing huge numbers of red salmon ascend with daily counts between 75,000 and almost 190,000 the last few days, which only spells absolutely fantastic action. Not only that, but bag and possession limits have doubled by emergency orders to help stem the deluge of fish coming in that are expected to exceed escapement goals by wide margins. If wanting to harvest a large quantity of salmon for the freezer for the winter, either by rod and reel or dip net, now is the time to go and get that done. But it is not only about reds, other species of salmon are showing up in drainages all over the peninsula with silvers finally arriving down in the lagoon on Homer Spit, pinks are moving up Resurrection Creek in Hope and can be consistently caught from shore in Passage Canal out of Whittier and Resurrection Bay in Seward, and chums are entering Sixmile Creek in numbers yet the action there is being curtailed by high and muddy water conditions. The possibilities for success are near endless, although wait a few days for things to get even better.
The best trout and/or char opportunities can be found on the Upper Kenai River, in the Swanson River drainage, and in the multitude of lakes—both stocked and wild—throughout the area. Some of the more traditional locations, such as Quartz Creek and the lower peninsula streams of Ninilchik, Deep, and Anchor, are struggling to shed loads of water and silt due to heavy rain recently; give them several days to recover.
There are small tide cycles this week and over the weekend, which means surf-casting is limited in some areas, such as along Cook Inlet; for success on halibut and other larger quarries, stick to the deeper waters around Kachemak Bay and Resurrection Bay until the next big tide cycle kicks in.
HOPE/RESURRECTION CREEK: Water flows are swift but pinks are arriving in decent numbers and being caught in spots. The tidewater section is especially popular right now as the water slows down significantly at and around high tide, affording lures and flies to be presented properly. Success is generally good but can be slow to superb depending on section of water fished and skill level applied for current water conditions. A few chums are also showing up and there should be a silver or two in the mix as well, particularly on the tides.
SEWARD/RESURRECTION BAY: Salmon fishing in the surf has yet to pick up significantly but there are fresh pink salmon being caught in decent numbers in several locations, from the more common places like the mouths of spawning streams to beach areas and small coves; the stretch along Lowell Point Road can be productive on the tides. Nice chums are available at the mouth of Tonsina Creek where the run is building to a peak; the early chum run at Spring Creek has peaked with most fish attaining spawning colors. Late-run reds are appearing in small numbers thus far but can be encountered at stream mouths. There should be a few silvers along the beaches at the head of the bay. The king salmon run to Seward Lagoon is just about over with an occasional light blush fish still around.
Surf-casting for bottomfish is very productive. Anglers are catching various species of codfish and flounders with greenling present in more rocky bottom areas. Larger Pacific cod, rockfish, and halibut may be taken off the deeper waters between the SeaLife Center and Lowell Point using long-distance casting.
UPPER KENAI RIVER: Water conditions are high but relatively clear compared to the lower river. Fishing for rainbow trout and Dolly Varden is fair to good and steadily improving as more salmon arrive to the area. A wide range of forage flies and lures will work at this time but egg and flesh patterns are increasingly effective and will dominate as August rolls around.
The late-run of red salmon is arriving and building in strength exponentially day by day; expect fair to good or even better action this weekend with most action happening in the stretch of water from Sportsman’s Landing to the Skilak Lake inlet. The run should begin peaking sometime next week. Nearby Russian River is seeing a spike in action as reds are pulling into the confluence area and likely become a Hot Spot in another week or so.
LOWER/MIDDLE KENAI RIVER: Anglers are seeing very large waves of red salmon coming through and superb fishing. Although the river is high and murky, success has been exceptional the last few days around Soldotna as this run is now at a peak and will continue to produce limits through the month. Remember, the lower river typically experiences large swings in numbers of fish coming in on the tides; if one or more days are slow, a new large pulse of reds will arrive shortly—have patience. The number of fish passing through Soldotna one day will reach Sterling and the middle river the next; time trips accordingly. Pink salmon are building in numbers and could be the dominant salmon species in another couple of weeks; the early runs are now staging at the mouths of tributaries while late-run fish are moving up through tidewater. A few silvers are rumored to have been caught. Fishing for king salmon is closed by emergency order.
Rainbow trout and Dolly Varden are being caught in good numbers both on the lower as well as middle river and fishing should only get better as the season progresses and salmon begin spawning.
KASILOF RIVER: Like the Kenai, exceptionally large numbers of red salmon are arriving here, with anglers doing best around Crooked Creek and in spots upstream of the Sterling Highway bridge; the rapids can be great this time of season. If fishing just upstream of tidewater, like Crooked Creek, focus on being on the water around high tide. Success has been excellent last couple of days as the run peaks. Pink and silver salmon are also in the river and provide additional opportunity.
Dolly Varden are fairly abundant in the lower river but are actively spreading into other parts of the drainage, including tributaries. If targeted, expect fair to very good success. Some rainbows and even a few whitefish are being caught in addition.
NINILCHIK RIVER: The opener last weekend was a resounding success in terms of hatchery kings being landed with some anglers managing 15 to 20 fish the first day before rains turned the river high and muddy; however, there were relatively few kings of good color with most having turned dark blush to red, so vast majority of fish caught were released. A few lucky anglers did manage to find chrome or semi-bright specimens and some nice kings are still present and coming in on the tides. Pink salmon and Dolly Varden are available. Do not be surprised to find small groups of red salmon in the lower river and around tidewater.
HOMER/KACHEMAK BAY: Surf-casting from the end of the spit at Coal Point is excellent for a variety of codfish, flounder, and other bottomfish on low tides. Those with the right gear and long-distance casting skills also have a decent shot at landing Pacific cod, skate, and halibut. Catches of shark is not as common here as up along the coast of Cook Inlet.
DUDIAK LAGOON: The good news here is that silver salmon are arriving in respectable numbers on the tides and a few anglers are managing to almost catch limits of 6 fish; most, however, only get one or two. Drift salmon roe, cast small herring or spinners tipped with a piece of herring. If things continue to progress as expected, action may be hot here in another week or so. A few pinks are present along with an occasional king salmon.
Area Summary: Recent heavy rains prompted flood watches and warnings for much of this area with tributaries of the Susitna River especially hard hit. This storm event effectively shut down most of the prominent fisheries for salmon and resident species but waters are dropping and starting to clear up a bit for the weekend, although the fishing will not likely bounce back again until early or mid next week. But everything is not lost as experienced anglers know that lake-based systems flow clear even after torrential rain and produce good catches of available game fish even when other nearby runoff rivers and streams are flooding and practically unfishable. Up until the high water, pink and chum salmon were arriving at the mouths of Susitna tributaries with fair catches reported. As water conditions improve, expect good or better action to become available for salmon as well as trout and grayling and other species. Fish Creek—a lake-based system—is experiencing a large return of red salmon right now and has been opened to dip netting daily through July 31. Other lake systems include Cottonwood Creek and Jim Creek, both of which presently have returns of red salmon; the former is peaking now while the latter is expected to produce better catches in another week to ten days. The Little Susitna River is high and turbid but supports smaller numbers of pink, chum, and silver salmon on the lower end; wait until next week.
The best fishing for resident fish will be in lakes this weekend. The cooler weather has prompted more activity with good success seen in early mornings and late evenings for landlocked salmon, rainbows, and grayling.
SUSITNA RIVER: With Willow, Little Willow, Kashwitna, Sheep, Goose, and Montana all very high and murky or muddy, anglers are advised to focus efforts on the lake-based or lowland streams such as Caswell, Sunshine, and Rabideux creeks, to name a few. All of them are seeing variable numbers of pink and chum salmon being caught and fair success, with Caswell also yielding a few early silvers. Although stream levels may be high, the water is clear at or near the Susitna confluences. These spots may produce a few rainbows, Dolly Varden, and grayling too. Burbot opportunities are good using bait soaking on the bottom, especially at nighttime.
COTTONWOOD CREEK: Stream conditions are presently good, albeit the water volume is higher than average, yet this weekend should see good opportunities for red salmon at the mouth and in tidewater. Use small flies or clusters of salmon roe. While these fish are often tricky to catch, casting to groups of fish on the outgoing tide can be rewarding. Catches of silver salmon is typically spotty this early and will be better by next weekend. This is a weekend-only fishery for salmon.
Fishing for rainbow trout is fair to good on the middle stream using flies and small spinners.
Copper Valley-Valdez Arm
Area Summary: As the mid-summer runs of red salmon are subsiding in most area waters, the late runs of king salmon are keeping the action intense in these parts as the Klutina and Tonsina rivers see the peak of action that is expected to last through the month and into early August. The late run of red salmon to the Gulkana River is just starting and will be more noticeable as that drainage drops and clears to seasonal conditions, probably by mid next week; the king salmon season here ended July 19. There are smaller late runs of red salmon in other drainages as well. In Valdez, the run of pink salmon is at a peak.
Area lakes are seeing fair to excellent opportunities for a variety of species, including rainbow trout, Arctic grayling, whitefish, and lake trout. The recent cooler weather has sparked the activity for the better, at least for the time being. Louise, Paxson, and Summit lakes are good and steady producers of lake trout, grayling, whitefish, and/or burbot.
KLUTINA RIVER: Anglers are experiencing peak king salmon catches with many fish landed weighing 20 to 40 pounds. Condition of fish ranges from grayish bright to dark red with most being semi-bright to medium blush. The majority of angling effort occurs on the middle river section where there is good holding water and landing a fish easier to do; the lower river around Copper Center generally flows too fast for successful king fishing off the bank. The early red salmon run has almost ended but there are a few fish being caught still; expect reds present to be turning with only a few bright specimens left.
Fishing is fair to good for Dolly Varden in the upper reaches near Klutina Lake; some rainbow trout and grayling are also being taken.
TONSINA RIVER: Like the Klutina to the north, this river is producing good to excellent catches of late-run king salmon right now with anglers wrestling fish as big as 50 pounds or more out of the lower river between the highway bridges. However, most fish are in the 25- to 35-pound range and semi-bright to blush in color. Run is peaking and will continue to produce great action for at least another couple of weeks. A late run of red salmon is working its way up the river and anglers targeting them are seeing good chances now on and into next month.
Tributary Little Tonsina River is a good spot to connect with Dolly Varden and grayling.
PORT VALDEZ: For quick and easy action for ocean fresh pinks, this is the place to be right now. The bag and possession limits have been doubled by emergency order and the action is excellent. Best spots include Allison Point, the stretch of water leading up to the hatchery, and the mouth of Solomon Gulch Creek on an outgoing tide. There are also productive locations near town, such as the ferry dock and waters around the new boat harbor. This fishery should continue to yield great success for another ten days before most pinks begin to turn color. A few red and chum salmon are among the pinks as well, particularly around the head of the port in front of town. Expect first few silvers to show in another couple of weeks.
Casting from the ferry dock is rewarding for bottomfish such as cod, flounder, small sablefish, and other species. Occasional catches of lingcod possible.
Updated Friday, July 15
HOT SPOTS: KASILOF REDS; KLUTINA KINGS & REDS; VALDEZ PINKS; GULKANA KINGS & REDS; TURNAGAIN PINKS; TONSINA KINGS; KENAI REDS, RAINBOWS, DOLLIES
Regional Summary: Southcentral is now seeing the arrival of the typical mid-summer salmon species and runs, with kings and reds inundating Copper Valley rivers as chrome pinks fill waters to the south in Valdez, and key drainages on the Kenai Peninsula are experiencing a significant push of reds along with pinks in some streams. To the north, the streams in Matanuska and Susitna Valleys are now on the cusp of pink, chum, and silver returns; in Anchorage and down along Turnagain Arm, these same species are making a decent showing just as the king season wrapped up for the year. In addition, resident fish like trout, char, grayling, and whitefish are becoming very active with the appearance of spawning salmon and a much-needed supply of protein. In the surf around the Kenai Peninsula and Prince William Sound, salmon are arriving in earnest and the saltwater species have established a strong presence. In short, the peak of the Alaska fishing season has started.
Anchorage Area-Turnagain Arm
Area Summary: As the king season on Ship Creek ended on the 13th, there are now numerous reports there—as in drainages in Turnagain Arm—of pink, chum, and silver salmon being caught on a consistent basis. Ship and Bird creeks, especially, are the spots to go hit the early runs of silver salmon, while the other species are prevalent there and most everywhere else and only building in numbers with each passing day. While the pinks were about a week or more “late” in their appearance in most waters, they are nonetheless arriving along with their larger brethren; try Indian, Glacier, Portage, and Ingram creeks.
Fishing for rainbow trout and Dolly Varden is productive in middle and upper reaches of Chester and Campbell creeks, while sea-run Dollies are abundant in tidewater sections of streams down along Turnagain Arm. Lake fishing activity is highly varied dependent on location and species present; big trout and char are found in deeper, cooler parts, while smaller trout, char, grayling, and landlocked salmon may be caught in shallow, near-shore areas—try very early morning for success.
BIRD CREEK: The seasonal opener was on July 14 and catches ranged from poor to good with successful anglers fishing the incoming and outgoing tides and scouting deep holes for fish at low tide. A fair number of pinks were landed in addition to a few chums and silvers. Overall, opportunities for catching something was good and the action will only improve in the days ahead. Dolly Varden fishing is good. Water conditions are good; sight-fishing is possible.
Kenai Peninsula-Passage Canal
Area Summary: As a lackluster king salmon season is soon coming to an end, anglers have already turned their attention to the much more numerous red salmon hitting the rivers of the central peninsula. Additionally, pink salmon are showing in strength in several key locations for the species and should—along with the reds—start peaking shortly and stay solid well into August. Chums are also being taken in some spots, primarily in Seward and around Hope and Whittier as well. While silvers are mainly a late summer and fall species in this area, the Homer Spit and the streams flowing into Turnagain Arm will see consistent catches in another week to ten days.
Fishing for trout, char, and grayling is good or better in drainages of the central peninsula but picking up in coastal streams as sea-run fish pile into streams to forage and eventually spawn. As the early runs of kings and reds begin spawning, fishing for rainbows and Dollies should really get going.
The marine fisheries around Homer, Seward, Ninilchik, and Whittier are seeing action for bottomfish and other saltwater species. Cod, flounder, greenling, and sculpin are plentiful in their respective locations, and surf-casters targeting rockfish, shark, skate, and halibut are finding success to one degree or another in the ports mentioned above.
HOPE/RESURRECTION CREEK: While a very few pink salmon have been present in tidewater of the stream since the 4th of July weekend, the action is picking up steadily now as more fish are finally arriving. Water levels are dropping and the stream is flowing clear, which should help the run head upstream and spark angler success. Try two hours before to a few hours after peak high tide. Sight fishing is very productive as water clarity is optimum. Expect fair to excellent results based on experience and timing. A few chums and silvers are likely present in the stream at this time as well. Nearby Sixmile Creek is seeing a decent push of fresh chum salmon coming in.
UPPER KENAI RIVER: As early-run red salmon bound for the Russian River and other drainage tributaries comes to an end, chrome late-run fish are now starting to appear. Success for this weekend will be fair with most bright fish taken downstream of the Russian River confluence.
Action for rainbow trout and Dolly Varden is fair to good. Focus on forage-type pattern flies and lures; dry flies work surprisingly well at times.
LOWER/MIDDLE KENAI RIVER: Late-run red salmon are arriving in waves of 8,000 to near 30,000 per day and it is only a matter of time before huge masses of fish greater than 50,000 come in, creating excellent fishing throughout the lower river between the river mouth and Soldotna. The fishing around Sterling and in the middle river peaks approximately one to two days after numbers of reds are counted at the ADF&G sonar site in Soldotna. Historically, these big masses are more prevalent after July 15 and continue through the month and into early August most years, although it is not unusual for great action to last until mid-month when runs are large. Early-run pinks are present in more reserved numbers and anglers are catching some of them while targeting other species; the mouths of tributaries are decent spots to try. No silvers have been reported caught yet but a few are normally present this time of the month. King salmon fishing is closed through July 31 by emergency order.
Fishing for rainbow trout is fair to good with catches being made from the outlet of Skilak Lake downstream to the Soldotna area; try flesh and egg imitation flies. More Dolly Varden action can be found on the lower river from Cook Inlet upstream to Sterling; expect good to sometimes great success.
KASILOF RIVER: Large waves of red salmon keep hitting the river every few days, presenting excellent opportunities for anglers pursuing 6-fish limits. Pay attention to the tides in lower portions, such as around Crooked Creek, and give it a go from one hour before to two hours after peak high tide. The middle and upper section between the highway bridge and Tustumena Lake generally fish well throughout the day; the rapids are relative hot spots. Pink salmon are being caught in small numbers; no reports yet of silvers. King salmon fishing is closed through July 31 by emergency order.
Fishing for Dolly Varden is picking up with good to excellent opportunities on the lower river in and just upstream of tidewater. Rainbow trout are available in middle and upper river sections.
NINILCHIK RIVER: This may undoubtedly be the best spot for king salmon on the peninsula this weekend. The emergency order closing the river to all fishing expires after July 15 and once again anglers will be able to target hatchery kings returning to this stream starting Saturday, July 16, and continuing through the season; all wild fish must be released, only hatchery salmon may be retained. Indications are plenty of kings present in the section open to fishing (lower 2 miles), albeit most are turning color so be prepared to catch and release more mature specimens. Some bright to light blush fish will be available. There are likely to be a smaller number of pink salmon and Dolly Varden in the river as well.
COOK INLET: There will be a series of very large tides this weekend lasting into early next week, giving surf-casters a few extra feet of depth in order to target larger fish such as shark, skate, and halibut. While all may be caught to some extent from Nikiski to Anchor Point, halibut are more common south of Ninilchik this time of season. Sharks, especially, may be very abundant with excellent catch rates; halibut is typically fair. The fishing closures within the King Salmon Conservation Zones expire on July 15; starting July 16 all fishing will be allowed again within these zones (except snagging).
Schools of salmon may be intercepted as they migrate up along the coast to spawning streams. If fish can be seen jumping or surfacing near shore, chances may be good depending on species. Pinks and silvers are often aggressive towards lures and flies or bait, reds much less so. King salmon fishing is closed through July 31 by emergency order.
HOMER/KACHEMAK BAY: The end of the Homer Spit at Coal Point is producing non-stop action for a variety of bottomfish on low tide. Codfish, flounders, and sculpins are very abundant and are hitting pieces of herring or other scented baits. Those with proper surf-casting gear and capable of making long-distance casts are also finding a number of Pacific cod, halibut, and skate.
A few silver salmon are moving into the lagoon on the spit but fishing for them is still quite slow; try spinners and pieces of herring on the tides. A few nice king salmon are still present and being caught. Red and pink salmon can be spotted jumping and surfacing near shore all around the spit; pinks may respond to offerings, reds likely less so. Snagging is prohibited in the bay.
Area Summary: The scant king salmon season has wrapped up for the year, with the exception of Eklutna Tailrace that still remains open to retention of fish, yet most kings being caught are dark blush to red in color with very few fresh specimens left. Attention has now shifted to the drainages of Knik Arm and the mouths of clearwater tributaries flowing into the Susitna River where several species of salmon have started arriving. Pinks are coming in at a steady clip, followed by a number of chums, but the action for these is not expected to become very productive until sometime after the 20th. The first several silvers have been reported, primarily from the Little Susitna River, and this species will become even more prominent as the month progresses.
Landlocked salmon, trout, char, grayling, whitefish, pike, and burbot are distributed throughout the area, offering great stream and/or lake fishing opportunities. Stocked lakes produce best results at dawn and dusk, while the flowing waters, especially around the Susitna Valley, are tops for rainbows and grayling as the salmon spawn has begun.
SUSITNA RIVER: Salmon are arriving at the mouths of tributaries, with Willow and Little Willow being the better options for this weekend but a few fish will be as high up as Montana Creek and Talkeetna River. Anglers have been catching pinks and a few chums over the past week and numbers are building daily. Focus on confluence areas; fishing will be slow upstream. Expect fair success. First silvers will likely be landed over this weekend. Early morning bite is best.
Anglers seeking trout, char, grayling, and whitefish are doing well with good to sometimes excellent action using beads/egg imitations and forage patterns. Willow, Deception, Little Willow, Sheep, Goose, and Montana are solid bets; try the middle and upper reaches. King salmon have started the spawn. Targeting burbot can be great at the mouths of Caswell, Sheep, Montana, and Rabideux, best catches being made at night.
CHULITNA RIVER: As more king salmon arrive to the area and begin spawning, the fishing for rainbow trout and grayling will accelerate with beads and egg imitation flies becoming hot items in clearwater tributaries. Starting about this weekend and continuing through the season, anglers can expect good or better success in the waters of Troublesome, Byers, Honolulu, East Fork Chulitna, and Middle Fork Chulitna.
As for salmon other than kings (which are closed), opportunities are very slim at this time but there is always the chance of a few red, pink, and chum scouts entering the stream mouths this weekend and next week with Troublesome and Byers usually seeing the first arrivals.
COTTONWOOD CREEK: This weekend should see the first decent push of red salmon into the stream seeing how the timing pattern is of stocks in surrounding drainages right now. Opportunities are likely to be fair, maybe better, although a number of salmon have been observed surfacing in the stream on high tides and stretches of water immediately above. Drift flies or small clusters of roe. Although early, a few silvers could be present as well.
Fishing for rainbow trout is good along with a few Dolly Varden on the middle and upper stream.
Copper Valley-Valdez Arm
Area Summary: The strong mid-summer runs of king and red salmon continue in these parts, with the Klutina and Tonsina headlining the activity as the Gulkana is slated to close for kings on July 20. Late-run kings are coming into the drainages with opportunity to hook into trophy-class specimens, more of a rarity these days in many areas of the state. To the south, Valdez is now a true hot spot for pink salmon with plenty of nice, bright fish to be had; if wanting to tangle with these salmon before they turn color and develop the classic “humps,” now is the time to go.
Resident species like trout, char, whitefish, and burbot are presenting a wide range of opportunities throughout the area. The stocked lakes are yielding fish at dawn and dusk, while the larger, deeper lakes such as Louise, Paxson, and Summit continue to see good catches, particularly now as the weather has cooled a bit from the relative heat wave the past several weeks. Stream fishing for grayling is very good, such as in upper sections of Mendeltna and Gunn creeks, and in Tolsona, Indian, and Tulsona.
GULKANA RIVER: Anglers fishing the stretch of water upstream of Sourdough are finding good action still for king salmon, although the season is scheduled to be closed on July 19. Most of the fish being caught are blush to light red in color with relatively few grayish bright or semi-bright specimens left. Early-run red salmon are starting to disappear into the upper river and the lakes (which are closed to salmon fishing) but there are still some fair opportunities from Sourdough on up; expect late-run reds to trickle in beginning next week on the lower river with the bulk of the run arriving late this month or August.
Grayling fishing on the middle and upper river is excellent. Dry flies as well as forage patterns and beads/egg imitations work. For rainbows trout, check out the middle river around the rapids and just upstream; success is generally fair to good, at times excellent. Lake trout are being caught at the outlet of Paxson Lake.
KLUTINA RIVER: The news here is that large, late-run king salmon are entering the river is good numbers and anglers on the middle section are getting their fish in rapid order. Condition of fish range from silver-gray to light blush with some darker specimens in the mix as well. If wanting to test skills with kings in the 20- to 50-pound range, now and for the next couple of weeks is the time to go. The lower end of the river, due to its fast current, is less ideal to target kings, especially from shore, but smaller specimens are routinely caught by anglers targeting reds. If going after red salmon, the run is slowing down a bit but limits of fish are still very possible. Expect good success with more light blush fish as part of the catch but lighter and near bright specimens are common yet.
Fishing for Dolly Varden is good on the upper river near the outlet of Klutina Lake. Some rainbow trout and grayling are also being caught. Use fluorescent colors or lures with flash.
TONSINA RIVER: One of the more obscure fisheries on the road system, it is a hot spot for king salmon and the few anglers trying their luck here are seeing good or better catches of fish ranging from 20 to 50 pounds or more. The lower river is yielding the most action at this time, the stretch of water from the Richardson Highway bridge to the Edgerton Highway bridge and the confluence area of Copper River. There are also red salmon to be had with fair opportunities at this time but should improve through the month and into August.
Dolly Varden and grayling are being caught at the Little Tonsina River; fair to good fishing.
PORT VALDEZ: The pink salmon have arrived and fishing is excellent throughout the port with the better spots being Allison Point and the stretch of water up to and including the mouth of Solomon Gulch Creek. Fishing is also very productive around the harbor area and off the ferry dock. As a reminder, the daily bag and possession limits here have doubled by emergency order and now stand at 12 and 24, respectively. Spoons and spinners as well as larger and more colorful streamer flies are very effective. A few chums are showing up; reds are also present. Snagging is legal.
Anglers targeting bottomfish are finding some action off the city docks and by the ferry terminal. Bait and small jigs are scoring fair to good results on codfish, flounders, sablefish, and other species.
Updated Thursday, July 7
HOT SPOTS: KLUTINA REDS & KINGS; KASILOF REDS; GULKANA KINGS, REDS, & GRAYLING; COOK INLET BOTTOMFISH; SUSITNA RAINBOWS & GRAYLING; EKLUTNA KINGS; UPPER KENAI RAINBOWS & DOLLIES
Regional Summary: The mid-summer runs of all five salmon species are now beginning to ascend rivers and streams all around Southcentral. While success is generally sporadic, there are a few spots that are really seeing a lot of activity and more that will follow suit during the course of next week. Red salmon, in particular, are showing in large numbers in at least a few locations, such as the Kasilof River, on the Kenai Peninsula, and Copper Valley’s Klutina and Gulkana rivers, and pinks are appearing in fishable quantities in coastal drainages as well as saltwater ports. As for kings, there are limited opportunities still, such as the hatchery fish locations but wild salmon are possible in the Kenai (catch-and-release only), but especially, again, in the Klutina and Gulkana rivers in Copper Valley that are seeing peak returns right now and great action. Chums are still variable this early in the season and the first few freshwater silvers have been documented and/or reported. But one thing is for sure; it will only get better from here on out.
Other active species are trout, grayling, and char, all of which provide good to excellent sport right now in many locations in the region. More obscure or typically less abundant fish, such as whitefish, pike, and burbot, are available and can be caught regularly with right timing, methods, and techniques.
Surf-casting coastal waters is generally excellent, with Homer and Seward, in particular, seeing a lot of fast-paced action for codfish, flounders, greenling, and sculpin. Some spots also provide great opportunities for larger species, such as shark, skate, and a decent shot at halibut.
Anchorage Area-Turnagain Arm
Area Summary: The first silver salmon was caught in Ship Creek a few days ago and more just like it are sure to follow this weekend going forward. Small numbers of pink salmon and even a few reds are available in streams in the area, perhaps especially down along Turnagain Arm; next week should see a significant increase of pinks and fishable numbers of chums as well. Bird Creek will have its season opener on July 14 and according to observations there are at least a number of pinks present right now which should only build leading up to that date; expect a few chums and silvers to be there too. For a last attempt at catching a king salmon, Ship is the only option and there is a trickle of nice fish still in the creek; the season closes on July 13.
Fishing in local lakes is variable and ranges from slow to fantastic depending on location, species available, and timing of day. Many game fish, such as larger specimens of trout and char, often hang out in deeper parts of the lakes this time of the season but the smaller fish, including grayling and landlocked salmon, are active near shore. For best results, try very early morning or late evening.
Kenai Peninsula-Passage Canal
Area Summary: Anglers are finding plenty to do around the peninsula these days, even if late-run king salmon restrictions are in place for the Kenai and Kasilof rivers. Red salmon are making a very healthy showing in the Kasilof and the Kenai will see its first big push of fish soon; bag limits have doubled on the former and if all bodes well, the latter should have a banner season too. Reds are also quite abundant down in Homer. Pink salmon are arriving in coastal waters and entering streams all around the peninsula, from Kachemak Bay up along Cook Inlet into northern shores on Turnagain Arm and in Passage Canal and Resurrection Bay; these runs will begin peaking in another ten days or so depending on location. The early pink run at Resurrection Creek in Hope has a slow start this season due to very high volume of meltwater from area mountains but is flowing clear; the cooler weather should help this run kick off as water levels drop. Look for chums to arrive at nearby Sixmile Creek soon. No reports yet of silvers being picked up in any streams or hatchery-release sites but it could be any day now, probably at the lagoon on Homer Spit.
Fishing for rainbow trout, Dolly Varden, and Arctic grayling is picking up in lakes and streams around the peninsula and will only improve as more salmon arrive and begin spawning. The Kenai drainage is an obvious trout destination but char are just as abundant in other peninsula drainages right now. The Quartz Creek char fishery will begin shortly. For grayling, hit the higher elevation lakes near Cooper Landing and Seward, such as Crescent lake that offers excellent success rates. Lake trout may be caught in the colder glacial lakes, such as Upper and Lower Trail Lakes.
Targeting saltwater species from the surf is great these days. Main catches, as usual, include codfish, flounders, and other varieties of bottomfish, but larger species such as shark and skate are readily available too. Halibut are possible in a number of places, most notably Cook Inlet, Kachemak Bay, and Resurrection Bay.
SEWARD/RESURRECTION BAY: The fastest action around here at this time is surf-casting for bottomfish while awaiting the runs of pink, chum, and silver salmon to arrive at the head of the bay. Anglers casting pieces of herring most anywhere around the bay can expect attention from a variety of codfish, flounders, greenling, and sculpin, yet the deeper waters from approximately the SeaLife Center over to the mouth of Lowell Creek and south along the Lowell Point Road is known for good to excellent action. The latter stretch of water also provides the best opportunities for rockfish and halibut, especially if using proper surf gear and distance casting.
A few hatchery king salmon continue to trickle back to Scheffler Creek and the Seward Lagoon but this run will be ending soon as fish mature and enter fresh water. Early-run red salmon are still being caught in Resurrection River and over at the mouth of Spring Creek off Nash Road, yet these runs will cease in another week to ten days as well; however, there are wild late runs of this species that occur starting just about now and will provide opportunity through the summer and even into fall. Early-run chum salmon are available in decent numbers off Spring Creek and will begin peaking this weekend and next week. Pinks are becoming a more common catch and anglers can catch chrome specimens all around the bay, with best chances occurring near mouths of spawning streams or along the breakwater shoreline from the city boat harbor to Lowell Point and beyond; the mouth of Tonsina Creek is a good spot to intercept schools of fish moving through.
There are some sea-run Dolly Varden to be had in the salt around the bay but many fish are now heading into freshwater to feed on salmon byproducts; try upper Salmon Creek or the mouths and lower stretches of clearwater streams.
UPPER KENAI RIVER: The early run of red salmon is just about done here but some fish may still be encountered near the Russian River confluence. Reds bound for Quartz Creek and other Kenai Lake tributaries may also be taken on stretch of river between the lake and the Russian but success is generally fair at best. The late-run Kenai reds will begin arriving in another week.
Anglers targeting rainbow trout and Dolly Varden are reporting fair to good fishing throughout the length of the river between the lakes. A variety of offerings are effective at this time, including egg and flesh imitations as well as insect and forage patterns.
LOWER/MIDDLE KENAI RIVER: The late run of red salmon has started infiltrating the lower river in fishable numbers and anglers are experiencing slow to fair success; however, it is only a matter of days before a sizable slug of fish arrives bringing good or better action. By this time next week, fishing could be excellent. King salmon fishing is permitted and late-run fish are being caught in small numbers on the lower end in and just upstream of tidewater. As a reminder, this is a catch-and-release fishery for kings by emergency order.
On the middle river, anglers are seeing a trickle of red salmon coming through but more attention is on rainbows and Dollies at this time. Expect fair success.
KASILOF RIVER: A strong showing of red salmon has the bag and possession limits doubled by emergency order, with waves of fish numbering between 10,000 and over 20,000 arriving the last several days. Depending on the day, angler success has ranged from mediocre to outstanding with limits of reds quickly realized. A great spot to intercept fish heading upstream is at Crooked Creek; hit the river an hour before to two hours after peak high tide for best chances. Lots of fish are also being hit upstream of the highway crossing, around the rapids. Fishing for king salmon is closed through July 15 by emergency order; after that, it is catch-and-release only through July 31 and end of season.
Opportunities for rainbow trout and Dolly Varden is fair to good with fish distributed from tidewater to the outlet of Tustumena Lake.
COOK INLET: While the tides this weekend are relatively small, making surf-casting somewhat limited in scope and success, starting early next week the tides will be much larger and thus bringing substantial opportunity for anglers targeting species such as shark and skate along with the chance of hooking a halibut. The beaches and access points from Nikiski to Whiskey Gulch will provide fair to excellent action. Check the special regulation concerning the King Salmon Conservation Zones and areas open and closed to beach fishing.
HOMER/KACHEMAK BAY: Red and pink salmon are quite prolific around the bay and schools of fish are traveling along the beaches of the Homer Spit on the tides. Anglers are finding some success mainly for pinks casting spoons and spinners as well as streamer flies with occasional luck catching a red or two; snagging is not allowed. Many of the salmon are hatchery fish and bound for waters across the bay, others are wild and destined to streams at the head of the bay and south-side drainages. A few chums are in the mix too. Additionally, there are still a few bright and light blush kings present in the Dudiak Lagoon along with darker specimens; recently, anglers have also taken a number of fresh reds inside the lagoon.
There are a few sea-run Dolly Varden left in waters around the spit but most fish have entered rivers and streams in the bay area and the peninsula.
Surf-casting from Coal Point at the end of the Homer Spit Road is excellent with a combination of different species being caught, most notably codfishes, flounders, and sculpin. Proper surf gear along with long-distance casting will bring increased opportunity for halibut and skate as well as rockfish and larger Pacific cod.
Area Summary: As a rather disappointing or even disheartening king salmon season comes to pass, there is definitely much to look forward to in terms of fishing opportunities. Four species of salmon are starting to enter area waters and before long will fill many if not most rivers and streams with their presence. The Knik Arm drainages are seeing the first waves of salmon arriving, such as reds in Fish and Cottonwood creeks, and in another week to ten days there will be a solid return of pinks and chums to the Susitna River drainage. Although the Little Susitna River has experienced a small return of early-run red salmon since late May, anglers will find fishable numbers of pinks and chums any day now on the lower end of the river, shortly followed by the first silvers of the season. Wasilla and Jim creeks as well as the waters of the Matanuska River typically see abundant salmon runs arrive a little later in the summer.
As for resident species, fishing for trout, char, grayling, and landlocked salmon is generally best in lakes at higher and cooler elevations. The clearwater tributaries of Susitna and Chulitna rivers are doing very well for trout and grayling, especially, with char, whitefish, and burbot also available.
SUSITNA RIVER: The king salmon fishing closure continues and will not end this season; however, it will not be long before pink, chum, and silver salmon begin arriving in numbers at the mouth of clearwater tributaries, injecting much needed energy to the area. Willow and Little Willow should see fish arriving next week, although a few specimens are historically present at this time. Until then, anglers have their hands full of trout, grayling, and whitefish opportunities.
As kings move in and begin spawning from now on and for the next several weeks, the middle and upper reaches of Willow, Deception, Little Willow, Sheep, Goose, Montana, and Rabideux creeks offer fair to excellent fishing for rainbow trout and Arctic grayling with some decent success on Dolly Varden and round whitefish also to be had in a few spots. All of the locations listed above produce nice catches of trout and grayling, while the char right now are more common lower down and at the mouths. Whitefish are more common on Little Willow and Sheep this time of season. As bait becomes legal to use in these waters later this month, fishing for burbot at the Susitna confluences can be great at night.
CHULITNA RIVER: With king salmon arriving and being distributed throughout this drainage, anglers can expect the action for resident species to spark with rainbow trout and grayling becoming very active and aggressively striking egg imitation flies and lures; however, forage/insect imitations should not be ignored either and are at times just as effective if not even more so, especially in the upper reaches of clearwater tributaries. Popular spots include the Middle and East forks of the Chulitna River, and Honolulu, Byers, and Troublesome creeks. Other, smaller drainages, such as Sunny (Railroad) Creek, may be worth checking out as well. Dolly Varden are common in the latter location, especially when salmon are present. Red, pink, and chum salmon are still at least two weeks away in the Chulitna system.
EKLUTNA TAILRACE: This is the last holdout for retention of king salmon in this area. Success has been quite good the last couple of weeks but the run is showing signs of slowing down as more blush or red fish are being caught and fewer fresh specimens are showing up. Still, expect things to hold for this weekend before subsiding; try the low-light nighttime and very early morning hours for best chances of landing a king. Soaking roe on the bottom or drifting with a bobber is the most popular and effective way to catch salmon here right now. The first silver salmon may be caught here in another week or so.
FISH CREEK: Somewhat of a sleeper fishery for the early season opener; weekends only (Saturday-Sunday). Reds are arriving in small numbers at the time of this writing but things could really escalate quickly this weekend in the tidal zone and right above if the main run commits to the stream. Expect fair chances of hooking into fish, possibly good or better. The mid-season closure begins July 15 and lasts through August 13.
Copper Valley-Valdez Arm
Area Summary: This part of the Southcentral region has become a salmon magnet the last couple of weeks, starting with the unusually late arrival of red salmon to upper Copper River tributaries and now expanding with the almost unexpected strong returns of king salmon. The Gulkana and Klutina are producing great action for both species and there are some kings and reds to be had on the Tonsina as well; the latter location should really turn on with the arrival of large, late-run fish. But also good things will come to an end at some point as the numbers of salmon passing through the sonar unit at Miles Lake on the lower Copper River is recording a substantial decrease of fish heading upstream. In other words, enjoy the action right now. However, it is still a little early to validate what the late runs of kings and reds will look like a couple to three weeks away as most of those fish are moving into and through the tidewaters of the Copper River delta right now. As for Valdez, pink salmon are arriving in fishable numbers for the weekend and will only gain in numbers the next few weeks.
Resident species offer great opportunities throughout area lakes and streams. Grayling are the most prolific of the bunch, being found in fishable numbers in almost every waterway, from large glacial rivers and lakes to small clearwater creeks and ponds. Generally this time of season, the drainage at cooler and higher elevations will support the best opportunities, however. The same goes for rainbow trout, although they are not found in the same number of locations. Both wild and stocked populations exist. Dolly Varden are most common and active in the Klutina and Tonsina river drainages right now. Summit, Paxson, and Louise harbor very good to excellent action for lake trout with some trophies in the 20-pound range being caught, although a boat may be required to reach the deeper water where the fish are suspended. Some nice lakers are being caught from shore, such as at the outlet of Paxson Lake and along the east shoreline of Summit Lake.
GULKANA RIVER: The king salmon run here continues to produce some of the best action for the species anywhere in the region this year with most activity right now taking place upstream of Sourdough. Focus on the deeper holes and runs early morning or evening. Expect good to excellent success this weekend and into next week. Most fish are starting to blush one degree or another but there are also some nice, greenish bright specimens to be had as well. Red salmon fishing has picked up the last several days and anglers targeting them are reporting good catches from the highway bridge upstream through Sourdough and above; sight-fish to schools of salmon moving between holes. Use a variety of flies.
Superb fishing can be experienced for grayling from the outlet of Paxson Lake downstream through the rapids area to just upstream of Sourdough. Rainbow trout are striking offerings in the upper section, around the rapids. Paxson Lake outlet is also a hot spot for lake trout.
KLUTINA RIVER: Opening day for kings here proved very busy with anglers having very good success from boats or shore on the middle river. Some fish are also taken by anglers on the lower end near Copper Center but the fast current and lack of slack water makes landing a king difficult. These early fish are averaging 20-25 pounds with some larger specimens to 35 pounds taken; most fish being caught are blush in color to almost red but there are some semi-bright ones in the mix too. The larger, late-run kings will begin arriving about mid-month. Fishing for red salmon from the bank on the lower and middle river sections continues to be mostly excellent. Flipping flies or yarn flies near shore are taking limits of salmon ranging from bright to medium blush with most landed being very light blush or semi-bright. This run will likely continue for another week to ten days before slowing down.
Catches of rainbow trout, Dolly Varden, and grayling are possible on the upper and middle river using high-visibility lures and flies; expect fair to good success.
PORT VALDEZ: This is rapidly becoming a hot spot for pink salmon these days. Large schools of fish are starting to arrive on the tides at the head of the port and steadily moving towards and into the surf around Allison Point, the mouth of Solomon Gulch Creek, and the ferry dock. The run is not yet at a peak, with fair to good catches expected this weekend, but more than likely will hit stride sometime early next week and continue for another 2 or perhaps 3 weeks depending on run size. Medium sized spoons and spinners are very effective on the incoming and outgoing tides. There are also a few chums and reds in the port.
Targeting bottomfish off the city ferry dock is decent and getting better, with codfish, flounder, sablefish, and sculpins fairly abundant. Use herring bait or small jigs.
Updated Thursday, June 30
4TH OF JULY WEEKEND REPORT
HOT SPOTS: KLUTINA REDS; GULKANA KINGS, REDS, & GRAYLING; UPPER KENAI RAINBOWS & DOLLIES; KASILOF REDS; EKLUTNA KINGS; SUSITNA RAINBOWS & GRAYLING
Regional Summary: As the much anticipated 3-day holiday weekend is about to commence, anglers throughout Southcentral have a rich and varied menu of fisheries happening. Red salmon on the Kenai Peninsula are making a strong showing in the Kasilof and remain fairly prolific still on the Russian, while the Klutina in Copper Valley keeps pumping steady limits of fish as the neighboring Gulkana is seeing an increasing flow of kings as well as reds. Closer to Anchorage, the Eklutna Tailrace in Matanuska Valley has become a relative hot spot for kings the last several days. Additionally, reports of pinks and chums being caught in various saltwater areas and even coastal streams are coming in and will only pick up over the next couple of weeks. No word yet on the first freshwater silver being caught but could be any day now, usually from one of the hatchery-release sites.
Fishing for trout, char, grayling and other resident species is generally good throughout the region, particularly in the Susitna Valley drainages between Willow and Chulitna for rainbows and the Gulkana and other smaller streams in Copper Valley. Success for pike in select lakes is slowing down but can be quite good still in some locations. If inclined to target any of the whitefish species, the Susitna River tributaries and deeper lakes in Copper Valley have plenty of options; the latter also has lingering potential for lake trout and burbot.
While most halibut are moving into deeper, offshore waters this time of the season, it is still possible to have some decent catches off Cook Inlet, Kachemak Bay, and Resurrection Bay beaches through the summer months. Shark (spiny dogfish) and skate are abundant in spots along western Kenai Peninsula, as Pacific cod and rockfish are becoming more common in Homer and Seward. Passage Canal around Whittier even has limited opportunities to tie into lingcod from shore come July 1. General codfish species, flounders, greenling, and sculpins are abundant in many areas on the coast of Southcentral.
Anchorage Area-Turnagain Arm
Area Summary: The king salmon season is rapidly coming to an end in this area as the hatchery run to Ship Creek is waning; the season ends by regulation on July 13, although this date may change pending enough fish making it back to the hatchery to propagate future stockings. For now, a few kings are being caught, even some chrome fish on the tides. Expect pinks and first silvers to arrive any day if not already. A few pinks are confirmed to have arrived in streams down along Turnagain Arm and will only increase in numbers for the next few weeks; try Indian, Glacier, Portage, and Ingram on the tides. There should be a trickle of chums and silvers present starting this weekend.
Area streams are producing fair to good fishing for rainbow trout and/or Dolly Varden. Campbell and Chester creeks right in the city provide fair to good action for both species, while virtually any drainage flowing into Turnagain will yield good success for sea-run Dollies. Also Ship Creek has some decent fishing for Dollies at this time.
Lake fishing opportunities vary according to water temperature and species present. Trout and char are usually found in deeper, cooler waters during the summer months, this being especially the case with larger specimens; smaller fish, including landlocked salmon and grayling, are plentiful along the shoreline of these lakes and provide the best fishing at dawn and dusk.
Kenai Peninsula-Passage Canal
Area Summary: Although the early run of reds to the Upper Kenai and Russian rivers is slowing down, the Kasilof River has only become more productive the last several days. Down in Seward, the Resurrection River run is ending. King salmon opportunities are slim and currently relegated to the few hatchery-release sites, mainly Dudiak Lagoon in Homer and the mouth of Scheffler Creek in Seward. Ocean fresh pinks and chums are currently present in varying numbers in Resurrection Bay and at the head of Passage Canal in Whittier, while pinks (along with some reds and even silvers) should be showing along the beaches of Homer Spit on Kachemak Bay. This weekend and the following week would be a good time to prospect for a few early arriving pinks in tidewater of Resurrection Creek in Hope; good fishing is possible some years by the 4th.
Rainbow trout are being caught in decent numbers in the Kenai River and Swanson River drainages, as well as in area lakes. Resident Dolly Varden are found in the Upper Kenai River, while sea-run fish are still present in numbers along beaches in Homer, Seward, and Whittier, yet some char are starting to enter area streams and will only become more prolific as the season progresses.
Surf-fishing is excellent these days with July being a month when a plethora of species may be encountered. Codfishes, flounders, greenling, smaller sablefish, rockfishes, sharks, and skates are all abundant in select locations. The highly productive spring/early summer halibut fishery has ended in Cook Inlet but a few fish will be available there as well as in Kachemak and Resurrection bays through summer and well into fall.
SEWARD/RESURRECTION BAY: There is a slight lull in the action for salmon in this location but some decent catches may still be had in spots. A few hatchery kings continue to be caught at the mouth of Scheffler Creek right in front of town and an ongoing youth-only fishery targeting these salmon in Seward Lagoon and the outfall stream is providing fair success too (check regulations for opening dates). Most specimens are turning color but some bright fish are still around. The red salmon run to Resurrection River is slowing down but persistent anglers are still managing several fish and a lucky few even limits of 12; the river is open to salmon fishing up to the Seward Highway crossing and the Nash Road crossing on Salmon Creek. A small number of chums are being caught along with reds at the mouth of Spring Creek. Pink salmon are showing in the bay too, albeit in very small numbers still.
Fishing for sea-run Dolly Varden is fair to good and anglers should try anywhere clearwater streams flow into the bay. The mouth of Tonsina Creek is productive right now, as is the Lowell Point area.
Excellent success may be had for bottomfish, particularly the stretch of water from the SeaLife Center south along Lowell Point Road. For larger or more popular game fish, Pacific cod and several species of rockfish are well within reach using surf-casting equipment and long casts. Halibut catches are sporadic but will become more prevalent as the season progresses. Lingcod are also present but the bay is closed year-round for this species.
UPPER KENAI RIVER: As the red salmon run to Russian River subsides, there are still fair to decent opportunities to be had, especially near the Russian River confluence. This run will end after next week. The daily bag limit is 6 fish by emergency order. Water conditions are high but relatively clear and sight-fishing to migrating salmon is possible.
Fishing for rainbow trout and Dolly Varden is fair to good along the entire stretch of river between the lakes. Forage-type pattern flies are effective; dry flies can be deadly at times this time of the season. Whitefish are starting to be caught with more frequency.
RUSSIAN RIVER: While full limits of 6 reds are still possible with some time and effort in the right spot, the early run is tapering off and likely will end in another week to ten days. Water levels are moderate and clarity fair although turbidity has been an issue this season; expect clearer water on cooler, cloudy days. The higher than normal water levels are helping the salmon move rapidly upstream to the lakes. The Sanctuary area is open to fishing until mid-July.
Anglers are reporting fair to good catches of rainbow trout, primarily on the lower river and the mouth, while Dolly Varden success is currently fair at best but some larger specimens are being caught. Use egg and flesh imitation flies.
KASILOF RIVER: Depending on the day and tide, anglers are experiencing fair to excellent success targeting red salmon. The Crooked Creek area has been most productive, particularly an hour before to a couple of hours after high tide, but fishing can be good most anywhere along the length of the river where current flow and depth is ideal for migrating fish. A few pinks should show up any day now. The river is closed to king salmon fishing until July 16 by emergency order.
Resident rainbow trout and Dolly Varden are present in fair numbers and may be caught on forage and attractor pattern flies.
COOK INLET: Fishing for shark and skate has been fair to excellent recently, depending on location. Generally, places north of Ninilchik has seen the most action, including Clam Gulch, Cohoe Beach, Kasilof River, Kenai River, and Nikiski Beach. A few halibut are also being caught but are slightly more common south of Clam Gulch; try there as well as the Ninilchik area down to Whiskey Gulch. Check the regulations for closed fishing areas within the King Salmon Conservation Zones.
HOMER/KACHEMAK BAY: The Dudiak Lagoon on the Homer Spit is open to snagging through July 1 and producing some fair catches of king salmon. There are still some dime bright kings being caught, yet most fish are turning color. Anglers should be able to find a few nice kings in this location up until mid-July. Look for the first few hatchery silvers to arrive at the lagoon within the next week or so. Red and pink salmon are showing up along the beaches of the spit but not in great numbers yet.
Surf-casting for bottomfish is excellent with codfish, flounder, and sculpin the most common kinds being taken right now—try the end of the spit at Coal Point. With proper gear and long distance casting, anglers have a greater chance at catching sizable halibut, Pacific cod, and rockfish; feeder king salmon is possible.
Area Summary: With king salmon closures in effect for the remainder of the season, anglers do have one option still where to legally harvest a king; the Eklutna Tailrace is finally producing some decent numbers of kings right off the Old Glenn Highway. As for other salmon species, the Little Susitna River is seeing early-run reds arriving but not in large enough numbers to sustain much angling effort. It is only a matter of days before reds begin arriving at the other and more productive salmon fisheries in this area, such as Fish, Cottonwood, and Wasilla creeks. Fish Creek can be a sleeper fishery for reds as there is a small window of time to target these salmon before the lower stream closes to all fishing in mid-July; some years it can be good, others slow depending on timing of arrival of fish. Pink and chum salmon and perhaps even an occasional silver will be making their way up area streams starting this weekend.
The stream fisheries targeting trout, char, and grayling are picking up as waters have finally dropped and cleared. The best locations will be in the Susitna River drainage for rainbows and grayling, although some fish are also available in tributaries of the Matanuska and Knik rivers, mainly Dolly Varden. Lake fishing has slowed down due to warm water temperatures in the shallows, forcing some species and larger fish to seek out cooler, deeper water. Landlocked salmon and grayling and smaller trout, however, will be found along shorelines and shallower areas at dawn and dusk.
EKLTUNA TAILRACE: Anglers are catching a respectful number of king salmon here, the only area stream where retention is allowed. The nighttime hours and very early morning has been best using salmon roe fished on the bottom with or without an attractor, but spinners and flies work well sometimes. Expect fair to good action for kings between 6 and 20 pounds; most fish are semi-bright with a few chrome and many blush specimens. This should continue to be a hot spot for another week or so before fish turn too dark.
SUSITNA RIVER: With king salmon closures in effect, anglers are taking advantage of the good fishing available for rainbow trout, Dolly Varden, Arctic grayling, and round whitefish. Willow, Deception, and Montana creeks are producing nice trout and grayling, while Little Willow and Sheep are good for trout, grayling, and whitefish. The upper sections of Rabideux and Sunshine creeks are decent locations to target trout. Forage flies and lures and dry flies are what works best.
There are king salmon present in all of these waters; do not target, including catch-and-release. Pinks and chums are expected to arrive in about two weeks.
Copper Valley-Valdez Arm
Area Summary: As lakes are warming up to summer temperatures and slowing the bite and rivers and streams continuing to drop and clear, anglers are adjusting strategies a bit to accommodate these changes. Resident species, like rainbow and lake trout, are seeking out cooler parts of lakes, generally closer to the bottom, thus limiting fishing success from the bank; however, Summit Lake is a consistent roadside destination for anglers seeking potentially big lakers near shore. For those with a boat or other watercraft, Louise and Paxson are yielding some excellent sport for lake trout still.
Early-run red salmon are arriving in large numbers to area rivers with the Klutina River leading the way but the Gulkana is improving as well. The presence of king salmon is building up and retention is legal in Copper Valley with a 2-fish season limit in place starting July 1; Gulkana, Klutina, and Tonsina rivers should all be contenders for some productive king fishing.
Port Valdez will soon be a hot spot as the pink salmon run has started and a few fish are being caught, mainly over at Allison Point and near the Solomon Gulch Creek hatchery site. Workers at the hatchery are reporting that the first group of pinks entered the facility a few days ago. Expect action to be slow this weekend but typically fair (at best) by the 4th; the following weekend could be excellent. Red salmon are present in the Robe River and there are likely a few pinks at the mouth as well.
KLUTINA RIVER: Anglers here are reporting good to excellent success for red salmon. Most activity is taking place around Copper Center but reds are available throughout the area open to salmon fishing. The daily bag limit is currently 3 reds. Fish are generally bright to semi-bright with some blush specimens mixed in. The run is expected to last for another two weeks before slowing down. Come July 1, king salmon fishing will be allowed; early-run fish are present and often provide some good or better action in the middle river section the first week of the month. What the opener brings this year remains to be seen.
The upper river supports a good fishery for Dolly Varden along with a smaller number of rainbow trout and grayling.
GULKANA RIVER: With water conditions slowly dropping and clearing, anglers here are hitting a large number of king salmon on the lower river where the bulk of the run is currently situated. This weekend and the following week should see the peak of the run in the stretch of water open to king fishing. Expect good to excellent results. In addition, early-run red salmon are moving upstream in increasing numbers and could see a peak starting next week as well; if water is clear, sight-fishing to schools of reds could be very good. For this weekend, however, look for fair success.
Fishing for trout and grayling is good to excellent on the upper river between the canyon and the outlet of Paxson Lake. Fish are hitting a variety of offerings, such as forage and insect imitation flies and small spinners. Anglers are also successful taking lake trout on lures and flies at the outlet of Paxson Lake.
Updated Thursday, June 23
HOT SPOTS: RUSSIAN REDS, UPPER KENAI REDS, RAINBOWS, & DOLLIES, KLUTINA REDS, SHIP KINGS, SEWARD REDS, KASILOF REDS, SUSITNA RAINBOWS & GRAYLING
Regional Summary: Despite a very disappointing season thus far for roadside king salmon fishing, there is definitely some very positive and hopeful developments shaping up for anglers in Southcentral Alaska. First, we may be seeing what eventually could become “The Season of the Red.” Within the last few days, emergency orders by the Alaska Department of Fish & Game (ADF&G) have included significant bag limit increases for a few of the most popular red salmon fisheries, namely the Resurrection River in Seward where the daily bag limit is now 12 (up from 6), and the Russian and Upper Kenai rivers in Cooper Landing that were just delivered a bag limit of 6 (up from 3). Not only that, the Kasilof just south of Soldotna is seeing a sharp increase of reds entering the river, as is the Copper River that typically notes a big reduction in numbers of salmon by this date—but not this year and fish are flooding in, creating a haven for dip netters in Chitina and for anglers on the Klutina River, especially, for weeks to come. Even the Little Susitna River northwest of Anchorage is experiencing a notable push of early reds, at least relatively speaking.
Second, there may be some opportunities yet for anglers wanting to target king salmon in the Copper Valley, which includes the roadside drainages of Gulkana, Klutina, and Tonsina. According to latest data by ADF&G, a late and healthy spike in numbers of kings entering the Copper River is apparently enough to allow for retention of fish on the above mentioned waters by emergency order, reversing an earlier order calling for catch-and-release only for kings. There are also decent numbers of kings passing the weirs on Anchor, Ninilchik, and Kenai rivers, but what the final numbers will look like a couple of weeks from now or at the end of the season for these waters has yet to be determined, of course. For now, however, it is looking better.
Third, during the course of the next week or two, anglers will start seeing other salmon species hitting their favorite streams. Pinks, chums, and silvers are already being caught in the salt waters around the Kenai Peninsula and Prince William Sound and a few of these salmon are undoubtedly finning their way up into freshwater right now and may be caught sometime this weekend and early next week.
In total, there may not be much of a break in fishing action in the first part of July as is usually the case. Stay tuned.
Anchorage Area-Turnagain Arm
Area Summary: Fishing is slow to mediocre in stocked lakes around the city but some better action may be had immediately after the stocking trucks have made their rounds—check the ADF&G website for more information. Lake temperatures are warm these days with the near-record highs the past week, a trend that is likely to continue through the summer. The bite is generally best in very early morning right before or at dawn.
King salmon are being caught in Ship Creek downtown, but not in big numbers, and rainbows and Dollies are active in Campbell and Chester creeks. Some of the most productive stream fishing will be down along Turnagain Arm where sea-run Dolly Varden are striking flies and lures imitating juvenile salmon. Salmon eggs always work great. Try the incoming and high tides at Indian, Glacier, Kern, Portage, and Ingram creeks. Expect a few pink and chum salmon to be available in these same locations starting any day now.
SHIP CREEK: Although the fishing may be on the slow side at times, hit the stream on a morning tide and chances of hooking a king or two are greatly enhanced. Chrome fish are entering Ship on every tide but the bright sunshine has kept things quiet. Spinners and attractors fished with roe are responsible for some nice kings just shy of the 30-pound mark. There could be a few pinks and even a silver showing up this weekend and during the course of next week.
Kenai Peninsula-Passage Canal
Area Summary: Things are really happening in this area; red salmon are making their presence felt in several key drainages, including the Kenai, Kasilof, and Russian rivers, and the Resurrection River is harboring some decent red fishing along with an increased bag limit. There are still some limited opportunities for king salmon to be had, most notably in Dudiak Lagoon on the Homer Spit and at the head of Resurrection Bay in Seward, which have small but steady runs of hatchery fish allowed for harvest. Pink salmon are trickling into Kachemak Bay and Resurrection Bay, as well as Passage Canal, and may be encountered in some freshwater locales too, such as Resurrection Creek in Hope. Waters with early chum runs are seeing fish being caught, such as Seward and Whittier.
Trout and char fishing is productive throughout central and northern peninsula drainages, particularly in salmon spawning streams such as those within the Kenai River and Swanson River systems. Sea-run char are available off beaches and stream mouths in Homer, Seward, and Whittier. The mouth of Resurrection Creek in Hope is a great place to connect with sea-run char.
Surf-casting for saltwater fish is good and the tides this weekend are optimal for connecting with them in several key locations. While halibut fishing has slowed down quite a bit, some fish are still being beached. Sharks and skates are abundant and readily caught, particularly in locations around northern Cook Inlet.
RESURRECTION RIVER: While the red salmon run here has definitely slowed down since just a week or two ago, anglers putting in the time and effort are getting their fish at the mouth of this river on Resurrection Bay. Along with the increase in bag limit (12), there may be some extra incentive to give this location another go before the run is done for the year. In addition, the river itself is now open to salmon fishing (except kings, snagging not allowed) up to the Seward Highway and in Salmon Creek downstream of Nash Road.
SEWARD/RESURRECTION BAY: Small schools of red salmon may be found throughout the bay but especially around the mouth of Spring Creek, where a few chum salmon have also started arriving. Snagging is the most popular harvest method for these fish.
The run of hatchery king salmon destined for Seward Lagoon has slowed but anglers are still managing to intercept a few fish at the mouth of Scheffler Creek, the outfall stream. Snaggers are taking most salmon but a few kings may be enticed to hit lures and bait. A handful of reds are being caught as well.
Although still very early, a few pinks are present around the head of the bay. Casting off the rocks along Lowell Point Road and searching the mouths of spawning streams may be worth it.
Sea-run char are present throughout the bay and can be targeted successfully at the mouth of most any clearwater salmon spawning stream. Tonsina Creek is probably the hot spot for this species but the stretch of water along Lowell Point is good too. Some of these fish are beginning to move into freshwater in pursuit of salmon and their byproducts but most are still found in the bay.
Surf-casters are catching a good number of bottomfish, mainly codfish, flounders, greenling, and sculpin. A few halibut may be enticed near Spring Creek, Lowell Creek, and Lowell Beach (South Shore). The deep waters off Lowell Point Road occasionally yields larger flatfish in addition to rockfish and Pacific cod.
UPPER KENAI RIVER: Red salmon fishing has picked up quite a bit from last weekend as the bulk of the run is arriving. While the run is not particularly huge this year, it is strong enough to support good action with a daily bag limit of 6 and 12 in possession by emergency order (starting this Saturday). The order only includes that section of river from Sportsman’s Landing to the Skilak Lake inlet; the bag limit remains 3 upstream of this area.
Anglers targeting rainbow trout and Dolly Varden are finding fair to good opportunities. Although forage pattern flies work, do not neglect to give dry flies a chance with surprising results at times.
RUSSIAN RIVER: Water conditions are moderate flow and clear, perfect for sighting schools of red salmon moving upstream. Anglers have had good to excellent success at dawn the last several days. Over 17,000 fish had passed the weir as of Wednesday, well on the path to meet escapement objectives very shortly and still some three weeks left to do it. An emergency order going into effect this Saturday increase the bag limit from 3 to 6 fish and the possession limit from 6 to 12 fish. Expect the run to peak from now on and for the next week to perhaps ten days.
Fishing for rainbow trout is fair with anglers doing best trying less busy stretches of water or before dawn. Casting just downstream of fish cleaning stations can be worthwhile. A few Dolly Varden are also being landed.
KASILOF RIVER: The last few days have seen a marked increase of numbers of red salmon arriving, although the action should moderate pending commercial fishing activities in the area. Anglers have faired well with many limits being taken; expect fair to excellent success. Try fishing one hour before to two hours after high tide in the vicinity of Crooked Creek, or some 12 hours or more in places upstream of the highway crossing. The rapids are known hot spots. King salmon fishing remains closed by emergency order.
Rainbow trout and Dolly Varden offer fair to good opportunities on flies and corkies/beads.
COOK INLET: Tides this weekend and next week are moderate and often ideal for surf-casting for various saltwater species. Commercial set net fishing operations will be active on inlet beaches the coming days and weeks and anglers are asked to yield space as warranted; however, there is still some very productive action to be had in spots, such as the various beach locations from south of Deep Creek to the Anchor Point area if targeting halibut and cod. Note: Read regulations concerning the King Salmon Conservation Zones where all fishing is prohibited up until mid-July. The mouths of Kasilof and Kenai rivers are producing a lot of action, particularly sharks and skates, with halibut catches more rare these days.
HOMER/KACHEMAK BAY: Opportunities are still there for hatchery king salmon at the Dudiak Lagoon. Chrome kings continue to arrive on the tides, although most of the run milling within the lagoon is turning color. Use eggs; some fish will also strike lures and flies. Incoming and outgoing tides are best times. Expect slow to fair success.
Surf-casting from the spit is proving good to excellent for a range of bottomfish such as codfish, flounders, and sculpin. Anglers experienced with distance casting will have fair opportunity to hook Pacific cod, smaller halibut, rockfish, and skate; feeder king salmon is possible. Use herring or squid/octopus bait.
A few sea-run Dolly Varden remain along the west side beaches of the spit with most now being drawn to the mouths of salmon spawning streams to feed for the rest of the summer and on into fall.
Area Summary: Water conditions in rivers and streams have improved considerably in this area, with water levels low to moderate and clear. This has resulted in generally good catches of trout and grayling in waters between Willow and Chulitna. Lake fishing has slowed quite a bit due to warm water temperatures but locations at higher elevations are continuing to produce good opportunities. A few of the pike lakes are still providing good to excellent catches.
With king salmon fishing closed throughout the area, anglers have only one single option left—the Eklutna Tailrace. Due to a return of hatchery kings, this location remains open and is currently yielding a small number of fish. Salmon roe is getting the majority of kings but a few are falling for spinners and attractors. From this weekend on into the first week of July should yield some nice fish. The Little Susitna River has a small run of early reds right now but fishing for them is generally poor.
SUSITNA RIVER: The tributaries of Willow, Little Willow, Sheep, Goose, Montana, and Rabideux creeks are fair to good for rainbow trout and/or grayling with some anglers reporting excellent success at times in certain spots. Fish are distributed throughout the drainages with most found in the middle and upper reaches—or from the highway crossings on upstream. Forage pattern flies and lures, as well as dry flies, are working really well; try egg patterns when the salmon begin to show up, usually in July (a few kings are present in the lower streams and mouths now).
CHULITNA RIVER: Rainbow trout along with grayling and a few whitefish are moving into clearwater tributaries, such as Troublesome, Byers, East Fork Chulitna, Honolulu, and Middle Fork Chulitna. Byers and East Fork are typically better for trout; Troublesome and Middle Fork are more grayling territory. Honolulu has both species. Forage and dry pattern flies and lures are working very well.
Copper Valley-Valdez Arm
Area Summary: With the arrival of significant numbers of salmon in the area, anglers’ attention has shifted away from the lakes and to the main rivers where reds are available and limits being taken. A late spring resulted in the kings and reds holding in saltwater and lower reaches of the Copper River for a more extended period of time until favorable water conditions prevailed. While numbers of fish passing the Miles Lake sonar site peaked in early/mid-June, another large push of fish is currently working its way past the site at a tune of 20,000-35,000 per day, which should translate into several weeks of productive salmon fishing in the tributaries of the Upper Copper River drainage. Additionally, according to ADF&G, there is a sizable component of king salmon mixed in with the reds, which prompted a new emergency order allowing anglers yet again to harvest king salmon (the previous order allowed for catch-and-release only).
For anglers seeking non-salmon species, the larger area lakes are still providing good fishing for lake trout, grayling, burbot, and whitefish, but with warming water temperatures, expect fish to seek deeper, cooler waters for the remainder of the summer. The smaller lakes, such as the stocked locations, are yielding fair to excellent success for trout and grayling. The stream fisheries are holding up with upper Mendeltna, Tolsona, Indian, and Gunn creeks offering fair to very good grayling action.
In Valdez, fishing from shore within the port is spotty to descent. Codfish, flounders, and other bottomfish may be caught from the ferry dock using bait. Perhaps the better news is that a trickle of pink salmon is making its way into the port, a harbinger of what is to come within a couple of weeks. Fishable numbers of salmon should be available at Allison Point sometime during the first week of July.
KLUTINA RIVER: The definite hot spot in this area where anglers are handily catching their 3-fish limit of red salmon right around the highway and road crossings at Copper Center. Fish condition ranges from bright to light blush. These fish began hitting the river in fishable numbers about a week ago and the run is building in strength by each passing day; expect good to excellent fishing this weekend and next week. As always in fishing, there may be “quiet” periods during the day but schools will come around, sparking a flurry of activity and limits as well.
The river opens to king salmon fishing on July 1 by regulation and as allowed by the most recent emergency order. There are early-run kings in the river right now, with the later run usually arriving in mid-July. As far as what the action will look like on opening day, only time will tell.
Reds (and kings) are also moving up nearby Gulkana and Tonsina rivers.
Updated Thursday, June 16
HOT SPOTS: SEWARD REDS, SHIP KINGS, KENAI REDS, RAINBOWS, & DOLLIES, RUSSIAN REDS, COPPER LAKERS
Regional Summary: While much of the sport fishing community in the Southcentral region are still reeling from the back-to-back emergency orders closing nearly all of the most prominent king salmon fisheries, there are still a handful of locations to fish for kings and even opportunities to retain the catch. Apart from this season shaping up to be one of the worst for king salmon in recent memory, things can (and hopefully will) rebound at some point in the future provided strong and pro-active steps of true change are taken not only within the fold of anglers in the state but perhaps even more importantly on the state and federal levels as well, including (perhaps even especially) politically.
But as for fishing opportunities this coming weekend and the start of next week, there is much to be hopeful and thankful for and that is the seemingly strong return of red salmon to roadside waters. Starting with the early runs on the Kenai Peninsula a few weeks ago and now spreading to the Copper Valley area, anglers can expect good to excellent action to prevail in multiple prominent fisheries. Additionally, if really interested in harvesting a king salmon without the guilt, the hatchery-release sites in Homer, Seward, Whittier, Ship Creek in Anchorage, and the Eklutna Tailrace near Palmer provide ample chances to do exactly that. Albeit there are no great numbers of fish being caught, success has been fair and steady and enough to satisfy most, particularly taking into account the dismal season for “wild” kings thus far.
The trout, char, and grayling stream fisheries are shaping up very quickly as spring spawning closures fall away, opening up a plethora of opportunity throughout the region. And many lakes support a great early summer fishery for a range of species, including landlocked salmon, trout, char, grayling, whitefish, burbot, and pike.
Anchorage Area-Turnagain Arm
Area Summary: As the hooligan dip net season closed on June 16, anglers are busy these days pursuing king salmon in downtown Ship Creek or one of the stocked lakes within the city, while the more adventurous lot are eyeing the streams flowing into Turnagain Arm as the perfect destinations for sea-run Dolly Varden.
SHIP CREEK: The peak of the king salmon run is likely upon these waters and the action is fair to sometimes a bit better. Most fish being caught are in the 10- to 16-pound range as of late but there have been several noteworthy specimens between 20 ands 30 pounds landed too. A lot of the kings landed are still dime bright with only a very few showing any sings of color, lending credence to the belief that the run has perhaps another two or more weeks in it for some productive catches. Although conditions are high and turbid, the water levels are starting to drop and clarity is improving, which should help spark the overall quality of fishing.
Another reason to go here is the Slam’n Salm’n Derby with $1,000 cash and a gold nugget up for grabs for the biggest king salmon. The current leader is just over 29 pounds and the derby continues through Saturday, June 18.
Kenai Peninsula-Passage Canal
Area Summary: With the Kenai, Kasilof, Ninilchik, Deep, and Anchor closed to king salmon fishing for the the greater portion or remainder of the season, anglers wanting to retain fish can go ply the waters of Dudiak Lagoon in Homer, Resurrection Bay out of Seward, and the Passage Canal by Whittier, all of which have varying degrees of potential right now for nice kings. Red salmon have been running strong in the Resurrection River and the early runs are just starting to pick up steam in the Kenai, Russian, and Kasilof rivers; the latter three locations are likely to be in the Hot Spot positions very shortly as the bulk of the runs arrive, perhaps a few days late but at least they are coming.
The lake and/or stream fisheries centered around trout, char, and grayling are providing a lot of opportunity at this time. All of the Kenai River drainage opened on June 11 and action has been good; the Swanson River is open now as well with good catches reported. Both stocked and wild lakes are seeing good or better success. Decent fishing for sea-run char may be found in Kachemak Bay and Resurrection Bay.
The surf fisheries around the peninsula are seeing good to excellent catches of bottomfish, mainly flounder, codfish, spiny dog fish, and skate along with smaller numbers of halibut. As hooligan and herring runs are done for the season, anglers can expect a drop in shallow-water halibut catches until late August-September. But there are a couple of spots that typically see more flatfish action in mid-summer, described below.
RESURRECTION RIVER: It has been about a month since the first few red salmon were caught at the mouth of this river and anglers are still snagging a very respectable number of fish on each tide. Catch rates have varied between good and excellent this week and will likely continue through the weekend. However, the number of reds being intercepted by nets in the bay has started to drop and a large number of fish have shown up at the hatchery-release site at Bear Lake, so this run will likely slow down in another week to ten days. But since the run was a resounding success this year, it is within the realm of possibility that the bag and possession limits will be raised in the near future.
SEWARD/RESURRECTION BAY: Anglers targeting king salmon are having some fair results near the boat harbor at the mouth of Scheffler Creek, the outflow stream of Seward Lagoon. Most of the fish caught have been nice and bright with a few specimens being light blush. It is possible to intercept these fish in many locations throughout the bay, particularly the mouth of clearwater streams on a rising tide. Try Spring, Lowell, Spruce, and Tonsina creeks for a chance. While snagging is a popular method in Seward, these fish will respond to spinners, herring, and even salmon roe.
Apart from Resurrection River, reds are also being taken at the mouth of Spring Creek off Nash Road and this spot is typically a reliable one into the first week of July most years. Expect a few chums to be present here very soon too.
Sea-run Dolly Varden are available throughout the bay but usually encountered at the mouths and within the tidal area of salmon spawning streams. Spots currently producing fish include Spring, Spruce, Lowell Point, and Tonsina.
Codfish, flounder, greenling, and smaller rockfish are being caught in the bay; success is fair to excellent. Try the deeper sections near the SeaLife Center and along Lowell Point Road using bait and small jigs. Halibut are being taken in small numbers, primarily along the beach near Spring Creek and off Lowell Creek and the stretch of water to Lowell Point.
The hooligan run to Resurrection River, although ongoing, is now closed to fishing by regulation.
UPPER KENAI RIVER: The action for rainbow trout and Dolly Varden was good last weekend but has subsided slightly in intensity the last few days, as is typical in respect to angling pressure. Success will be in the fair to good range for the next few weeks.
The early run of red salmon had a slow start here but some anglers did manage limits after hours on the water last weekend; the fishing is picking up steadily every day and could be good in some spots by this weekend, certainly by mid-week next week if the run holds true to form. Focus on the stretch of river from near the Russian River confluence area to the inlet of Skilak Lake.
RUSSIAN RIVER: Plagued by high water and a general lack of numbers of salmon passing upstream last weekend, things are taking a different turn for this weekend as the red run is finally arriving and yielding some fair to good action. Those skilled at sight-fishing are walking away with limits while anglers casting blind are struggling to find their quarry–hit the water at dawn for best results. Water levels have come down several inches during the past week, making for much easier wading and river crossing. Groups of salmon can be observed headed upstream but not in very large numbers yet; this is likely to change come next week as the bulk of the run is expected.
Fishing for rainbow trout is fair to good as well with most action happening upstream of the campground.
LOWER/MIDDLE KENAI RIVER: Fishing for rainbow trout and Dolly Varden is fair to good from the outlet of Skilak Lake downstream to around Bing’s Landing in Sterling; the fish are building in numbers and beginning to spread out through the mainstem river.
Early-run red salmon are providing fair catches in all locations that generally produce fish later on in July as water levels are high; clarity is improving. Drifting and lining flies and beads are taking fish with some anglers limiting out in the right spot. Expect this run to last for another week before disappearing into the upper river.
KASILOF RIVER: Early red salmon are being caught with fair to sometimes good catches reported in the vicinity of Crooked Creek and just upstream of the Sterling Highway crossing. Flies and beads are responsible for most catches; limits are possible. The hot spot has been the bottom of the People Hole and immediately below about one hour before to one hour after high tide.
Rainbow trout and Dolly Varden are providing fair to good catches in the middle and upper river.
COOK INLET: Surf-casters are catching a good number of primarily sharks and skates these days with halibut becoming increasingly scarce as the season progresses. With baitfish such as hooligan and herring dying off or moving offshore, the halibut are migrating to deeper waters of the inlet; however, some fish will be around all summer. Still, anglers keep reporting fair to sometimes good results.
HOMER/KACHEMAK BAY: The early-season opportunity for sea-run Dolly Varden is slowing down as fish disburse throughout the bay and start moving towards salmon spawning streams to feed for the remainder of the summer. Some char will continue to be found around the beaches of the Homer Spit, particularly the west (ocean) side.
King salmon continue to enter the Dudiak Lagoon on every tide but the run appears small this year. Try inside the lagoon on the incoming using eggs; the bay side of the lagoon is best on the outgoing tide using eggs, flies, and spinners. Peak numbers of fish should be available with decent showing of bright specimens; a sizable portion of the run is starting to show at least some color.
Fishing for bottomfish is good to excellent off the tip of the spit, at Land’s End. Main quarry are codfish and flounders along with sculpins. Halibut are starting to show up and persistent anglers are getting a few on the tides using herring or squid/octopus.
Area Summary: With the Little Susitna River shut down for king salmon fishing by emergency order and the tributaries of the Susitna River on the fence for the time being, the only option for anglers to retain a king at this time is the Eklutna Tailrace. While some fish are being caught there and just downstream along the Knik River, the run appears to be weak and around another week to ten days from reaching peak numbers. Try this location at night and dawn hours using eggs. Anglers are having some luck catching and releasing a few kings from Willow Creek up north to Rabideux Creek; the Susitna confluence areas are seeing fish. Water levels are dropping and clearing and should substantially improve chances in another week or so, unless emergency closures or other restrictions are placed on these fisheries, which is a very real possibility this year.
Also, with water conditions improving, the fishing for rainbow trout and grayling will finally pick up. This weekend and early next week are likely to notch success from fair to good or better; Willow, Little Willow, Sheep, and Montana will be the spots to watch. A number or all of these locations could be potential Hot Spots by the next report.
Lake fishing opportunities are stable with fair to excellent catches reported, especially from waters at higher and cooler elevations. Landlocked salmon, trout, char, and grayling are plentiful and will strike a wide range of offerings; dawn and dusk are the peak times.
Copper Valley-Valdez Arm
Area Summary: Despite the latest king salmon restrictions for this area affecting the popular Gulkana, Klutina, and Tonsina rivers among other locations, anglers are starting to see catches of red salmon coming in from, foremost, the Klutina. While the action is spotty for the most part, limits have been reported by those willing to put in time and effort. Water conditions are still high and turbid but things are settling down and clarity is definitely improving. The Chitina area is experiencing the front part of the bulk of the run and these fish should hit the Klutina, followed by Gulkana, within the next several days. Next weekend could be good or better on the Klutina. As the runs are late this year, expect the action to continue through the month and well into July this year.
Small stream fishing for grayling is fair to good but the traditional and hectic spring action for spawn-bound fish was completely missed in many waters this year due to flooding. Tolsona, upper Mendeltna, Tulsona, and Indian are decent spots at this time.
Lake fishing is dominating the angling circuit now before the salmon arrive in force. Stocked lakes are producing a lot of fish such as trout, char, and grayling, while the larger and deeper bodies such as Louise, Paxson, and Summit are peaking in catches of lake trout, grayling, burbot, and whitefish. Trophy-sized fish are common during the month of June as big fish are located fairly shallow in the cool but warming water; things will begin to slow down in around ten days as fish disburse to deeper water.
Fishing in Port Valdez is generally slow but some anglers are having success connecting with sea-run char at the mouths of salmon spawning streams. Some bottomfish in the form of codfish and flounders are being caught off the ferry dock in front of town. A few red and pink salmon are cruising the waters of the port as well but are rarely hooked by anglers until numbers build towards the end of the month; a few reds are in the Lowe River drainage—try Robe River.
Updated Thursday, June 9
HOT SPOTS: SEWARD REDS & HOOLIGAN, UPPER KENAI RAINBOWS, NINILCHIK KINGS, COPPER LAKERS, SHIP KINGS, COOK INLET HALIBUT
Regional Summary: While there are plenty of great fishing opportunities around the Southcentral, undoubtedly one of the greater concerns so far this season are the lackluster numbers of king salmon returning to rivers and streams in the region. Most of the road-accessible king fisheries have seen restrictions in one form or another, even total closures. Looking at past statistics, the season is shaping up to be one of the leanest in many years yet a little too early to tell if the trend will continue through the month and into July when numbers of fish generally peak. But there are chances still to hook into kings, albeit catch-and-release restrictions will likely be in place for many spots, such as those up along the Susitna River drainage.
To harvest a king salmon, at this time, leaves anglers with a limited choice: Ship Creek, Kasilof River, Ninilchik River, Resurrection Bay, Dudiak Lagoon, and the Eklutna Tailrace. These are all waters that receive runs of hatchery fish and will be legal to target for the next several weeks or more. The Copper Valley fisheries of Klutina, Tonsina, and Gulkana are a big unknown right now as the respective runs have yet to arrive in force and late, although word is that they will likely face restrictions as well sometime during the next couple of weeks or so.
But on a positive note, the early red salmon runs on the Kenai Peninsula are peaking or soon will be and anglers have been scoring full bag limits for the past two weeks. The Upper Kenai River and Russian River open to fishing this coming Saturday, June 11, and will more than likely attract a decent crowd whether there are lots of fish or not. Apart from salmon, the trout and char action will more than likely be very good.
Fishing for trout, char, pike, grayling, whitefish, burbot, and landlocked salmon is very productive in many lakes right now and in several streams too. Additionally, the marine surf fisheries targeting halibut, shark, skate, and a variety of bottomfish are yielding good results. Even hooligan are up for grabs in at least one location.
Anchorage Area-Turnagain Arm
Area Summary: As the hooligan run at 20-Mile River is for all practical reasons done for the year and the season coming to an end on June 15, anglers can now focus on other local fisheries, such as Ship Creek and area lakes and streams. The kings are running in decent numbers at the downtown stream and a variety of resident fish are being taken in stocked waters, such as rainbows, Arctic char, landlocked salmon, and Arcic grayling. There is even opportunity for lake trout.
If interested in some small-stream action for sea-run Dolly Varden, the drainages down along Turnagain are worth a go using small lures and, flies, bait: Indian, Glacier, Kern, Portage, and Ingram all hold fish at this time—try the tides. Campbell and Chester creeks will open to fishing on June 15; Bird Creek opens July 14.
SHIP CREEK: The stream has been flowing high and turbid for the last ten days due to heavy snowmelt in the Chugach Mountains, but fish are absolutely being caught. Anglers casting spinners and bait are able to connect frequently, with the incoming and outgoing tides producing a fair number of king salmon. While technically perhaps not a true Hot Spot in respect to overall catch rates, due to the dismal runs elsewhere in the region, this is actually one of the better locations to go for kings. Most fish being landed are in the 10- to 18-pound range with some bigger specimens present.
On a side note, the annual Slam’n Salm’n Derby begins this Saturday, June 10, and runs through June 18.
Kenai Peninsula-Passage Canal
Area Summary: Red salmon reign supreme in this area, with the hatchery run in Seward taking the hot spot designation yet again this week, yet the early run destined for Russian River is surely going to be contenting this accolade very shortly if history proves correct. With all of the major king salmon fisheries facing restrictions and the Kenai River even being closed to king fishing by emergency order, there are still opportunities to be had and if playing it out correctly, chances are actually quite good in taking home a king.
There will be a big event this weekend as the 11th (Saturday) marks the season opener for the upper sections of the Kenai River, the Russian River, and all tributaries. However, many of these waters are flowing high and sometimes turbid due to rapid snowmelt in the Kenai Mountains, which will be a challenge for the uninitiated angler. The good news, though, is that water levels are slowly dropping and clarity improving.
The lower peninsula streams of Anchor River and Deep Creek have been closed to all fishing by emergency order to protect very low numbers of king salmon entering these streams; the Ninilchik River is still open for a third weekend. The Kasilof River is open to king fishing; only hatchery fish may be retained. Farther to the south, on the Homer Spit, the Dudiak Lagoon presents opportunities for hatchery kings as well and fish are being caught on every tide.
Area lakes are doing well but the best fishing is in the morning and evening at this time as water temperatures are rising and fish seeking deeper, cooler water during the day. Still, some of the stocked locations may produce plenty of action for smaller fish throughout the day.
In the briny, surf-casters targeting larger bottomfish such as halibut, shark, and skate are doing very well, albeit they are having to struggle a bit more to beach decent size flatfish these days. Other species, such as codfish, flounders, and greenling, are abundant in Homer and Seward. Sea-run Dolly Varden provide action in these locations too.
RESURRECTION RIVER: Snagging red salmon is excellent and success is expected to last for at least another week or two before slowing down. The run appears strong this year and most fish are being taken on the tides; some days when fish are on the move upstream, the incoming tide is best; outgoing tides have been hot recently. Try the various channels of the river in tidewater until mass of fish is located. Some anglers also report luck flipping flies or beads in the main current.
Hooligan are still abundant and easily caught using dip nets in the lower portion of the river and in tributary Salmon Creek off Nash Road. Expect excellent success.
RESURRECTION BAY: Surf-casting for sea-run Dolly Varden is still productive, although the fish are beginning to scatter throughout the bay and anglers are having to seek a variety of streams for consistent action. Tonsina Creek south of Lowell Point is perhaps the single best spot for this species, but luck may be had anywhere a clearwater salmon spawning stream flows into the bay.
Fishing for hatchery king salmon bound for Scheffler Creek is picking up and catches are steadily improving. Try casting spinners, herring, or even float eggs with a bobber on the tides. While the mouth of Scheffler is a relative hot spot for the snagging crowd, anglers seeking the bite are hitting the mouths of Spring, Spruce, and Tonsina; numbers of fish may be smaller but it only takes one fish to make the day. Expect a few red salmon in to be in these locations as well.
Casting off deepwater docks and points is proving worthwhile for cod, flounder, and greenling. The area from the SeaLife Center down along Lowell Point Road is good; the beach near the mouth Spring Creek can be productive too. Both of these areas yield catches of halibut to those with proper gear and setup, especially now that hooligan are in the bay.
KENAI RIVER: Early-run red salmon have arrived and anglers targeting them are doing well flipping flies in a variety of locations along the lower and middle river around Soldotna and Sterling. Water conditions are high and murky due to outwash from the Killey River but success has ranged from slow to very good the past week as the Russian-bound salmon are moving through in respectable numbers. Starting this Saturday, the upper Kenai will open to fishing and success for reds will likely be fair to good.
Fishing for king salmon is closed by emergency order; this past week has seen a slight improvement in numbers of fish moving up and hopefully the trend will continue.
Fishing for rainbow trout and Dolly Varden is expected to be good or better this weekend on the far upper end of the middle river upstream of the Killey confluence and in all of the upper river near Cooper Landing. These waters open to fishing this Saturday, June 11.
KASILOF RIVER: Another place where hatchery king salmon are present and being caught. Starting this weekend and continuing for the next ten days is typically the peak of the run and anglers will have decent chances of landing a fish on flies, attractors, and lures. Boaters are doing best but shore-bound anglers are seeing fair results. Wild kings must be released.
Early-run red salmon are being caught and fair or better action is being enjoyed by anglers drifting/flipping flies. On the lower river around Crooked Creek, try one hour before high tide to two hours after; at the highway crossing, schools of fish come through 9-12 hours later.
Fishing for rainbow trout and Dolly Varden is fair to good on the lower river. The steelhead run has just about ended for the spring season.
COOK INLET: This weekend and next week will see a very large high tide cycle, which means a multitude of beach access points are likely to experience catches of halibut in addition to shark and skate. Limits of halibut are possible in the right spot. However, as the local hooligan runs have more or less ended, the majority of larger-sized halibut will be moving into slightly deeper, off-shore waters for the summer, but there will be fair opportunities to catch smaller 10- to 15-pound specimens throughout the season. Try fishing the low-light hours, such as late night/very early morning or rainy days for best chances of landing fish. Herring, salmon parts, octopus, and squid all make perfect baits.
NINILCHIK RIVER: The last weekend-only opener for king salmon in this stream; starting June 15 the Ninilchik will be open daily for hatchery fish through the end of the season on October 31. Only hatchery kings may be retained; limit is two fish. The very early morning hours of last Saturday did see a good flurry of activity in the stretch of water upstream of tidewater and limits were common. With plenty of summer light available, expect the bite to peak from the midnight opening until the sun rises. Also try the harbor area on the outgoing tide all weekend long. Kings are averaging 8 to 16 pounds this year with some fish present between 20 and 30 pounds.
HOMER/KACHEMAK BAY: Targeting sea-run Dolly Varden is fair to good along the west-side beaches of the Homer Spit; use flies and lures resembling juvenile salmon or needlefish. Fish are more spread out in the bay now compared to earlier in the season.
A number of king salmon are being caught in the Dudiak Lagoon on the spit. The incoming and outgoing tides are best using spinners, herring, and salmon roe. Expect fair to mediocre results; limit is two fish.
Surf-casting for bottomfish such as codfish, flounder, and sculpin is good to excellent off the end of the spit at Coals Point near Land’s End. Low tide is typically best. Anglers can expect a few smaller halibut to start showing.
Area Summary: Despite catch-and-release restrictions for king salmon throughout much of the valley area, anglers do have at least one decent opportunity to bring home a fish, from the Knik River and Eklutna Tailrace where hatchery kings rule; fish are now starting to arrive at the roadside access point off the Old Glenn Highway. There are also kings (and reds) in the Little Susitna River but high and murky water conditions have made the fishing very slow recently, plus the king run appear to be very small this year reflecting the situation elsewhere around the region. Up along the Parks Highway, the east-side tributaries of Susitna River are seeing a few kings arriving at the mouths; the action has been slow to spotty due to ongoing high and muddy water but some locations that are lowland or lake-based, such as Caswell, Rabideux, Sunshine, and Trapper, are seeing better opportunities due to mostly low and clear water.
Anglers interested in stream fishing for rainbow trout, Dolly Varden, and Arctic grayling are finding action in the lake-based waters mentioned above. However, things will pick up shortly in Montana, Sheep, Goose, Little Willow, and Willow as water levels drop and clarity returns. As a reminder, fishing for rainbows is catch-and-release only until June 15. The streams within the Palmer-Wasilla Zone (Fish, Meadow, Cottonwood, Wasilla) are closed to all fishing until June 15; expect fair to very good success for mainly trout in addition to char once they open.
Lake fishing is very variable these days depending on location, water temperature, and species but often good or better in stocked waters, although indications are that fish are starting to move into deeper, cooler parts of lakes and that anglers need to focus efforts in morning and evenings for best chances. Some of the “wild” lakes may produce less hectic action but larger specimens. Fishing for pike continues to be good to excellent in spots around Nancy Lake Parkway, Willow, and in Nancy Lake; also try Big Lake.
Copper Valley-Valdez Arm
Area Summary: Water conditions are beginning to stabilize in this area as snowmelt is finally subsiding, leaving more manageable fishing opportunities in rivers and streams. Fishing for grayling is improving and could be good in the smaller tributaries of Tazlina, Gulkana, and Copper rivers after this weekend, although some traditional grayling waters where these fish spawn in spring may already be seeing the end of opportunity as fish return to summer feeding grounds in larger rivers and lakes.
The main angling efforts are currently in lakes. Smaller lakes have been stocked with trout, char, and grayling and the fishing is good to excellent but should start to slow a bit as water temperatures warm up, pushing fish deeper. The larger lakes, however, are seeing peak catches right now with lake trout, burbot, grayling, and whitefish actively feeding and hitting a range of lures and flies. The better waters right now are Louise, Paxson, and Summit, with success having been greatest on the former two spots recently but should move to the latter soon for shore-bound anglers as the ice finally disappears.
The salmon runs are late showing in this area due to water conditions and other factors. The Copper River and many of its tributaries have been or currently are flowing at flood levels accompanied by strong, swift currents, thus slowing the migrations from the lower river into the upper. Also, water temperatures have been far below normal due to the abundance of meltwater. Looking at the passage of salmon at the Miles Lake sonar location, a few kings and reds are almost certainly in the mouths of Gulkana, Klutina, and Tonsina already but the bulk of the runs are still another ten days or so away from reaching these locations. Anglers should expect the action to hit stride by the third and fourth weeks of June and lasting into July. Be forewarned that the king salmon fisheries may face restrictions again this year.
Fishing opportunities down around Valdez are slim right now. Some bottomfish are being taken off the ferry dock and sea-run Dolly Varden may be caught at the mouths of salmon spawning streams. Early-run red salmon may be found in Robe River. Although a few pink salmon specimens are typically in the port by this time, anglers generally do not begin to encounter them until the end of the month.
Updated Thursday, June 2
HOT SPOTS: SEWARD REDS & HOOLIGAN, NINILCHIK KINGS, COOK INLET HALIBUT, HOMER & SEWARD DOLLIES, COPPER LAKERS
Regional Summary: With temperatures ranging from the 60s and 70s—even 80s—in the Southcentral region, anglers have been enjoying some great fishing along with matching weather, albeit the unseasonably warm temperatures and high snowpack still present in some mountainous areas have created very difficult conditions and flooding, most notably, in the Copper Valley and in parts the upper section of the Susitna Valley. The lowland areas and around Anchorage and the Kenai Peninsula are experiencing more normal conditions. King and red salmon are running in an increasing list of rivers and streams and trout, char, grayling, and landlocked salmon are hitting offerings in lakes and ponds. Hooligan are still around and saltwater species such as halibut are readily available from shore.
Anchorage Area-Turnagain Arm
Area Summary: Hot weather has slowed the lake fisheries considerably, pushing resident lake species to deeper, cooler sections and effectively halted shore anglers from catching anything. However, those trying their luck in very early morning at dawn or using watercraft to access spots were fish are schooling are having some fair to sometimes quite good success. The streams of Chester and Campbell are still closed to all fishing for another couple of weeks but Ship is open. Bird remains closed until July 14. The hooligan run to 20-Mile River is ending yet some fish are still being netted, primarily in stretches right above tidewater accessed by boat. Turnagain Arm is now closed to dip netting for hooligan.
SHIP CREEK: Currently flowing high and somewhat turbid from snowmelt, the action for kings is decent but stream conditions have definitely impacted the success rate. There are a fair number of salmon present and it is advised to use bait or lures with a flash on the tides. As soon as the water settles and clears up a bit, this will be a hot spot for kings for sure. A few Dolly Varden are also being caught.
Kenai Peninsula-Passage Canal
Area Summary: This is an area that is absolutely providing results for anglers. While some waters are still under the spring/early summer trout spawning closure, many waters are open to fishing and fish are being caught. King salmon were moving up several key drainages over this past week, including the lower peninsula streams of Ninilchik, Deep, and Anchor, and the west coast drainages of Kenai and Kasilof. The lagoon in Homer is producing fish but not at a fast clip as of yet. Some kings are starting to be caught in Seward as well.
But the big news in this area is the strong push of red salmon at the head of Resurrection Bay, and some fish are being taken on the lower Kenai. The upper Kenai and Russian rivers will open to fishing on June 11 and a few fish have reportedly already made an appearance there.
The surf-casting fisheries are a mixed bag these days with halibut, shark, and skate domineering the larger game species followed by codfish, flounder, greenling, and other bottomfish. Cook Inlet waters is the top area for halibut but some fish are to be caught in Resurrection Bay too.
The hooligan run to the Kenai River is dissipating but the Resurrection River in Seward is at peak abundance right now.
RESURRECTION RIVER: The hatchery run of Bear Lake red salmon hit the beaches at the mouth of Resurrection River early and in big numbers this season with some limits caught over the Memorial Day weekend. The fishing right now is reported being top-notch with 6-fish limits commonplace and sometimes within 30 minutes. Expect this weekend and the next ten days or so to be excellent.
Hooligan are clogging up parts of the river and anglers targeting salmon are snagging a lot of them. Try it using a dip net from the river mouth upstream to Salmon Creek off Nash Road and the mainstem up to Seward Highway. These fish will likely be around for another week to ten days.
SEWARD/RESURRECTION BAY: Besides the intense snag fishery targeting reds at the head of the bay, anglers are finding fair numbers of fish off the mouth of Spring Creek as well. Sporadic catches can be had elsewhere too, such as Scheffler Creek in front of town and Tonsina Creek south of Lowell Point. Some kings are now being caught, mainly at Scheffler and the beach area next to the boat harbor. These fish can be intercepted most anywhere in the bay area, mainly at the mouths of clearwater streams.
With the hooligan run surging into Resurrection River, anglers can expect a few halibut and even feeder king salmon to be around. The beach area around Spring Creek sees a handful of catches of flatfish this time of year.
Fishing for Dolly Varden is good, especially at the mouth of Tonsina Creek but success can be had most anywhere a stream flows into the bay.
KENAI RIVER: An emergency order prohibiting the retention of king salmon is in effect through June 30; fishing is slow. But red salmon are showing up in decent numbers on the lower river with most of the fish bound for the Russian River. Anglers are successfully intercepting these fish in places adjacent to the main current. Success has ranged from very slow to quite good; try the Swiftwater Campground, Moose Meadows, and other locations in Soldotna, and Bing’s Landing in Sterling. These early-run fish should start peaking this weekend and throughout the next week to ten days.
Fishing for rainbow trout and Dolly Varden is fair. Remember, the upper river as well as the portion of the middle river upstream of Killey River to Skilak Lake is closed to all fishing through June 10.
The hooligan run has slowed down and near an end. Some fish are still present in the tidewater but most are spawning and dying off.
KASILOF RIVER: The run of king salmon is slow to materialize in strength but some fish are being caught near the Crooked Creek confluence and throughout tidewater. Boaters are having most success but shore anglers are getting an increasing number of fish by the day. As a note, only hatchery fish may be retained by emergency order, wild fish must be released.
Fishing for Dolly Varden and rainbow trout is fair to good. Most steelhead trout have vacated the mainstem river and now situated in spawning areas.
COOK INLET: Surf-casting for halibut is fair to good but some spots are reporting poor success as the hooligan runs are ending and fish are either moving to different locations or to deeper waters. Kenai Beach, Cohoe Beach, and Whiskey Gulch may be worth a try this weekend; as a note, tides will be going through a smaller cycle this weekend and next week.
Shark (spiny dogfish) and skate are moderately abundant in most all areas along the peninsula between Anchor Point and Kenai River and targeting them is good.
NINILCHIK RIVER: Last weekend saw sporadic catches for king salmon, ranging from dead slow to fairly decent, with most fish caught very early Saturday morning and on the tides. Smaller sized fish dominated with relatively few specimens surpassing 18 pounds. Only hatchery fish may be retained by emergency order. The action is expected to pick up this coming weekend and likely to be good at first light on Saturday.
Nearby Deep Creek and Anchor River have been flowing high and muddy but starting to clear. The Anchor is seeing promising numbers of kings through the weir/sonar unit; however, there are catch-and-release restrictions in place on these waters by emergency order; no fish may be retained. If this is not an issue, some fair to good action may be found, particularly on the tides and just upstream of tidewater.
HOMER/KACHEMAK BAY: Anglers casting off the beach at Coal Point are scoring good action on various species of bottomfish, mainly cod species, flounders, and sculpin. Dolly Varden fishing is good on the west side of the spit using small spoons and flies imitating juvenile salmon.
The lagoon is providing the best opportunity for king salmon. Some fish are being landed on the tides daily and fishing is expected to keep getting better as the run advances. Fair action may be had using herring, salmon roe, and spinners.
Area Summary: Salmon are arriving to the area and anglers are reporting numbers of fish being caught this week. Although emergency catch-and-release restrictions are in place concerning king salmon with all waters impacted, fish are being landed on the Little Susitna River and rumors of a few kings also caught on the Willow and streams immediately to the north; Caswell Creek flows clear and will have small number of kings passing through the mouth. The only exception to the emergency order is the Eklutna Tailrace and a section of the Knik River which is open to retention of king salmon and anglers are having some luck in these locations; expect slow action this weekend but could be fair by next week. The Little Susitna is currently receiving a small number of early-run red salmon.
Waters of the Palmer-Wasilla Zone are closed to all fishing until mid-June; other flowing waters have catch-and-release restrictions in place for rainbow trout—check the regulations. The streams flowing into Susitna River are producing some fish but high and turbid conditions have prevented anglers from enjoying greater success. Seek out lake-based drainages for clear water conditions, such as Caswell, Sunshine, and Birch creeks for trout, char, and grayling. Rabideux may be worth a try as well.
Lake fishing has slowed a bit due to high water temperatures but can be good at dawn, especially in stocked locations, and lakes at higher elevations, such as those along Glenn Highway north of Palmer. Fishing for pike is good to excellent in lakes around Willow and along Nancy Lakes Parkway.
The hooligan run up Susitna River is near the end but a few fish may be harvested from Susitna Landing down to mouth of Willow Creek.
Copper Valley-Valdez Arm
Area Summary: The ongoing area heatwave has helped speed along the ice melt on the deep lakes, like Louise, Paxson, and Summit. Plenty of open water is now present on Louise and Paxson with good action for lake trout, burbot, and whitefish available. Summit Lake still has some ice cover but edges are melting and fishing is possible in spots; look for prime conditions in another week to ten days.
Stocked lakes are yielding excellent catches of trout, char, and grayling with the best action occurring in very early morning and late evening.
Streams in the area are highly variable in water conditions with high and turbid flows the norm in many places due to mountain snowmelt; scout for much improved fishing in streams that are lake-based. Grayling will be abundant in some locations with the added opportunity for rainbow trout. The main rivers in the area are flowing high; Gulkana River is near flood stage. The first few salmon should be arriving at the mouth of Klutina and Gulkana any day now but relatively low fish counts at Miles Lake on the lower Copper River has numbers way down from average to date; wait another ten days to two weeks for productive king and red action.
Fishing is generally slow in Valdez. Some bottomfish are available from deep water docks in front of town, and sea-run Dolly Varden are present at the mouth of clearwater streams draining into the port. A few early-run red salmon are also available; try the Robe River.
Updated Thursday, May 26
MEMORIAL DAY WEEKEND REPORT
HOT SPOTS: SEWARD REDS, NINILCHIK KINGS, COOK INLET HALIBUT, HOMER & SEWARD DOLLIES
Regional Summary: With the summer heat arriving early this season with consistent highs in the 60s and spiking into the 70s, salmon runs around Southcentral are cranking up the tempo with very decent opportunities for both kings and reds in select locations. Multiple saltwater species, most notably halibut, continue to be prolific in key spots and providing consisting excitement. Sea-run Dolly Varden are relatively abundant in coastal areas as resident game fish such as trout, char, grayling, and landlocked salmon in lakes supply plenty of action. For those still wanting to dip net hooligan, there is still a chance of filling buckets but this opportunity is beginning to wane as runs will be ending soon. All in all, the Memorial Day weekend is proving to be a bonanza for anglers in the region looking for a variety of challenges along with probable good outcomes.
Anchorage Area-Turnagain Arm
Area Summary: The hooligan run in 20-Mile River and along Turnagain Arm is starting to slow down as most fish have entered freshwater and moving miles upstream of the road access points; however, some tides will continue to yield good catches for the time being. Note that the saltwaters of Turnagain Arm will close to dip netting on June 1.
The lakes stocked in and around Anchorage are seeing typical summer conditions take effect as waters warm up after a string of well above-average temperatures, meaning rainbow trout, Arctic char, landlocked salmon, and grayling are going deeper during the day and becoming more reluctant to strike. The best fishing now going forward will take place in early morning and late evening or on cool, cloudy days.
The streams of Chester and Campbell creeks are closed to all fishing until mid-June; Bird Creek opens to fishing on July 14.
SHIP CREEK: This downtown fishery is starting to turn on as several kings a day are now reported being caught and should be a true Hot Spot in the near future as more fish arrive. Bait and/or attractor combination are taking most fish thus far but spinners will become equally effective as the stream warms up.
Area Summary: Yet again, the waters of the peninsula are leading the best fishing opportunities in the region. Fishable numbers of both king and red salmon have arrived and stacking up more by each passing day. Bottomfish of all kinds are prolific in the shallows within range of surf-casters, and lakes are producing some great sport for trout, char, grayling, and landlocked salmon. Although the hooligan run in the Kenai is slowing down, it is just getting started in Seward. Sea-run char are peaking in numbers along the beaches of Kachemak Bay and Resurrection Bay.
Note that many flowing waters on the peninsula are closed to all fishing until mid-June by regulation to protect spawning rainbow trout—check the sport fishing regulations for details.
RESURRECTION RIVER: This glacial drainage in Seward began producing reds about a week ago and now picking up pace with 6-fish limits common on some tides. Only the lower end of the river is open to fishing, in tidewater and off the river mouth (see regulations). Snagging is the most effective harvest method here, yet a few fish may also be caught swinging bright yarn flies through current. Action could be good or better by this weekend. There are also hooligan and Dolly Varden in the river.
SEWARD/RESURRECTION BAY: Although the main highlight in this area is the red salmon fishing in Resurrection River (see above), there are still other worthwhile opportunities to be had. Sea-run Dolly Varden are yielding some good action off the mouths of clearwater streams using flies and lures imitating salmon fry and smolt. Any trickle of clear water is likely to hold fish but the main locations are Spring Creek off Nash Road, and Lowell Point, Spruce Creek, and Tonsina Creek off Lowell Point Road.
A few king salmon bound for the hatchery-release site of Seward Lagoon are reportedly around but remain elusive for the most part. Anglers should focus on the mouth of Scheffler Creek in front of town but these fish can be intercepted in many spots throughout the bay, including the mouths of most clearwater streams. There will also be red salmon present, particularly at Spring Creek.
Fishing for bottomfish is productive as flounders, codfish, and other species are providing good to excellent opportunities for surf-casters using bait. A few halibut are available and may be caught near Spring Creek and the deeper waters along Lowell Point Road (watch for road construction equipment here).
KENAI RIVER: While the king salmon fishing is reported as slow, some fish are being caught in the lower river in or near tidewater. But the more reliable opportunity may be for red salmon as these Russian River-bound fish are now entering the drainage in fair numbers and may be intercepted in key locations such as Swiftwater and Moose Meadows in Soldotna, and Bing’s Landing in Sterling; look for swift, relatively deep water in or near the main current. Flipping and swinging flies or small beads works.
The hooligan run is waning here but fish may still be caught in the upper parts of tidewater with some being present as far upstream as Soldotna.
KASILOF RIVER: The action for king salmon is spotty from shore but some nice fish are being caught, primarily at dawn near the Crooked Creek confluence and downstream into tidewater. With big tides surging this weekend, expect a decent push of fish to arrive and anglers should focus on an hour before to two hours after peak high tide. A few early-run red salmon will also be in the mix. As a reminder, only hatchery king salmon are allowed to be harvested; wild fish must be released. See recent emergency order pertaining to this fishery.
Fishing for out-migrating Dolly Varden is fair to good on the lower river with salmon eggs being most effective. A few steelhead trout remain in the main river around the mouths of clearwater tributaries but most of these fish have gone upstream to spawning beds.
COOK INLET: Surf-casters targeting halibut along the beaches of the inlet between Nikiski and Anchor Point are continuing to do reasonably well, with fair to good success being reported. This weekend and into mid next week will see a series of large tides, which help promote better opportunities, especially in places with extensive tidal flats. Ninilchik Beach and the waters around Deep Creek will be open to fishing too this weekend and the next two weekends, providing additional chances of landing a nice flatfish or two. If wanting a really good shot at getting a halibut from shore, now is the time to go. The area hooligan runs are ending soon, prompting halibut to move back to deeper water for the summer; however, there will still be decent opportunities all season long in the right locations.
Spiny dogfish and skates are frequent catches these days and providing most of the action.
NINILCHIK RIVER: This is probably the best spot for weekend king salmon in Southcentral. Fish are arriving in numbers on every tide and are passing the upstream weir unit with greater frequency, indicating a fair presence of fish in the area that will open to fishing Saturday morning. Only hatchery kings are allowed for harvest; wild fish must be released. Bait is allowed with the limit being two hatchery fish per day. Water conditions are decent with moderate river volume and clarity. The harbor area may well be the most productive spot on the river. Expect fair to possibly good catches; try floating eggs. A small number of steelhead trout will likely be present as well.
Nearby Deep Creek and Anchor River are also open to king salmon fishing this weekend but are currently flowing high and murky due to ongoing snowmelt in the mountains at the headwaters. Look for improved fishing in slack-water areas using high-visibility lures and flies, such as around high tide near the mouths. As a reminder, retention of king salmon is not allowed; all fish must be released.
HOMER/KACHEMAK BAY: Anglers casting lures and flies imitating juvenile salmon are being rewarded with good catches of sea-run Dolly Varden along the beaches of the Homer Spit. Particularly, the western side of the spit is productive, anywhere between Bishop’s Beach in Homer and Coal Point at the end of the road at Land’s End. These fish are gorging themselves on prey along the surfline.
Flounders, codfish, and sculpin are quite abundant off Coal Point, with good fishing possible at low tide using pieces of bait. Some fish are also being caught on small spoons and jigs.
As for salmon, a few kings are being caught on the incoming and outgoing tides at Dudiak Lagoon and the action should improve over the weekend and into next week with the big tide series. Expect spotty to fair opportunities using herring and spinners.
Area Summary: The lake fisheries are still very hectic, now especially the waters of the highlands where ice is finally disappearing. The lowland lakes in and around Palmer and Wasilla are variable but more productive in early morning and late evening as water temperatures are quickly rising, helping drive fish deep and slowing the bite. Landlocked salmon, trout, char, and grayling are yielding fair to good action but may be excellent in higher-elevation waters along upper Glenn Highway and Parks Highway. Fishing for northern pike is now good to excellent, primarily in select lakes around Willow and off Nancy Lake Parkway.
Salmon fishing is slowly picking up in this area. The Little Susitna River is seeing a small but steady supply of kings arriving. A few fish have arrived at the mouth of the Knik River side channel just downstream of the Eklutna Tailrace. The tailrace itself remains very slow for kings but should become productive in another week to ten days. Some king salmon rollers have been observed at the mouths of Willow, Sheep, and Montana creeks but high and murky water conditions are keeping angling success to a minimal. Reminder: All waters of the Matanuska-Susitna valleys are closed to retaining king salmon this season by emergency order; only the Eklutna Tailrace is open for retention.
With the current hot weather situation, the snowmelt is significant and ongoing in the Talkeetna Mountains, negatively impacting many runoff streams and keeping angling for trout, char, and grayling fair at best. However, some better opportunities may be had in lake-based drainages, such as Caswell, Sunshine, and Rabideux creeks where water conditions are good and fish being caught regularly. The streams within the Palmer-Wasilla Zone are currently closed to all fishing, including Wasilla, Cottonwood, and Fish creeks.
Copper Valley-Valdez Arm
Area Summary: Relatively hot weather conditions combined with a very heavy snow load in the surrounding mountain areas is resulting in flooding in several drainages, including waters of the Tazlina, Gulkana, and Gakona rivers and tributaries. Streams that typically flow fairly low and clear this time of year are running high and dirty with runoff, resulting in less than ideal condition for fishing. Some good action for primarily grayling may still be found in smaller, lake-based streams, however.
Lake fishing opportunities are good to excellent as most waters are now ice free. Stocked lakes are productive for trout, grayling, and landlocked salmon. The larger and deeper area lakes, such as Louise, Paxson, and Summit, are in the process of breaking up with fishing possible is places along the shorelines where the ice has receded far enough to allow for effective casting. Lake trout and grayling along with a few whitefish are starting to be caught, but the action should pick up substantially over the next ten days as open water becomes more prevalent.
Down in Port Valdez, fishing continues to be low key as salmon have yet to appear in fishable numbers for anglers trying their luck from roadside access points. Some Dolly Varden are available off the mouths of clearwater streams emptying into the port; use small lures and flies imitating juvenile salmon. Some bottomfish are present in deepwater locations, such as the city ferry dock; use bait and jigs. Although very early, a trickle of red and pink salmon should be present in the port along with a few feeder kings.
Updated May 19, 2022
HOT SPOTS: COOK INLET HALIBUT, HOMER & SEWARD DOLLIES, 20-MILE RIVER HOOLIGAN, LOCAL TROUT LAKES
Regional Summary: As temperatures are now regularly rising into the 60s in many parts of the Southcentral region, waters are rapidly gaining in volume and warmth, promoting great opportunities for a range of resident species. While some places may still be reeling from the effects of high and dirty water due to snowmelt—such as rivers and streams of the Susitna and Copper valleys—it will not be long before they too settle down and become hosts of spring trout and grayling fisheries. Even some lakes of the northern Susitna and Matanuska along with Copper are ice bound, yet open water is not tough to find these days in the southern and more lowland areas. Additionally, the marine waters of Kenai Peninsula are relative hot spots for bottomfish and sea-run char. And, as expected for mid-May, both king and red salmon have begun returning to a small handful of locations, providing even more incentive for anglers to get out and enjoy the early season.
Anchorage Area-Turnagain Arm
Area Summary: With all lakes in this area ice free (except for alpine locations) and currently being stocked with an ample supply of landlocked salmon, trout, char, and grayling, the fishing is being reported as good to excellent. For those wanting to add more hooligan to the freezer, the inner section of Turnagain Arm offers plenty of opportunity to fill buckets and coolers.
The first king salmon was caught out of Ship Creek yesterday (Thursday); this weekend will have some nice tides to hit for the chance of hooking a king. Water conditions are good.
As a reminder, Campbell and Chester creeks are closed to all fishing until mid-June; Bird Creek is closed through July 13.
20-MILE RIVER/ TURNAGAIN ARM: Dip netting for hooligan continues to be good to excellent with the outgoing tide producing plenty of action in the arm east of Peterson Creek, while 20-Mile is seeing the peak of activity on both incoming and outgoing tides. Anglers bringing boats can motor up the river a few miles and enjoy very quick action all day long. This fishery will likely start slowing down within a week or so.
Area Summary: Spring has definitely put its mark on this area with the arrival of salmon. The Kasilof River is yielding some fish to persistent anglers and the big tides this week has helped push kings in from the briny. The Anchor and Ninilchik rivers, although currently closed to fishing by regulation, have both documented the first few kings through the weir/sonar units. The Resurrection River in Seward is seeing a very few reds now too as reported by anglers targeting Dolly Varden in area streams; by this coming weekend there should be confirmed catches made in the marine fishery in tidewater of this river. The Kenai River should have a few kings and reds in it as well. A few kings are also making it into the lagoon in Homer.
Area lakes are tops for action right now with plenty of catches of landlocked salmon, trout, char, and grayling. Besides the stocked fisheries around Kenai, Soldotna, and Seward, there is a myriad of other locations to go try, such as the waters off Swanson River Road containing wild fish populations and, in some instances, bigger fish.
Sea-run char are hitting the beaches around Homer and Seward and are present in some streams as well, such as the lower sections of Kenai and Kasilof rivers and upper Salmon Creek. There should also be a few of these fish showing up in Passage Canal in Whittier and the mouth of Resurrection Creek in Hope.
Surf-casters targeting halibut, shark, and skate off area beaches are seeing the peak of action these days as these fish are chasing herring and hooligan into the shallows.
SEWARD/RESURRECTION BAY: Sea-run Dolly Varden are available off the mouth of various salmon spawning streams flowing into the bay and successful anglers are hitting their fair share using flies and small lures resembling juvenile salmon. As public access becomes possible after the recent landslide crossing Lowell Point Road, the waters of Lowell Point and Tonsina Creek are hot for char in latter May and first part of June.
Although no confirmed catches of salmon from beaches in this area, a few kings are likely present at the head of the bay near the boat harbor. There are typically a remote opportunity for feeders this time of year but the hatchery fish are due back at Scheffler Creek very soon. A couple of reds have been spotted in clear waters of the Salmon Creek drainage, yet no word yet of much catching going on at the mouth of Resurrection River; a few fish should be snagged on the tides this weekend or next week, if not already.
Hooligan are starting to arrive at the head of the bay and there may be some opportunities for dip netting by next week at Resurrection River and lower Salmon Creek. Surf-casters may take this as a good omen to connect with shallow water halibut chasing these fish near the head of the bay, such as around Spring Creek or the waters off Lowell Point Road (when access becomes available).
KENAI RIVER: Hooligan are arriving on the tides and fishing is good throughout the tidewater portions using nets or dip nets. There could be fish available as far upstream as Soldotna by next week.
If water volume and depth continues to increase sufficiently, there should be enough incentive to spark an upstream migration of early-run red salmon bound for Russian River. In years of high flows in late May, red fishing can be productive by Memorial Day weekend on the lower Kenai from Sterling downstream to tidewater.
A small number of Dolly Varden are usually in the lower river by this time and fish may be caught on flies and small lures resembling juvenile salmon.
KASILOF RIVER: King salmon are present in fair numbers from near the Crooked Creek confluence down to the river mouth. Boaters have been having some success using plugs and attractors with or without bait, yet anglers casting from shore have struggled a bit in hooking up but a few fish have been landed. For best chance of catching a fish, try fishing at dawn around high tide; the bottom of The People Hole is a reliable early-season spot. Expect to see an occasional red salmon join the action any day now. Note: Remember to check Emergency Orders if targeting kings this year.
Fishing for Dolly Varden is good on the lower river with some spots in tidewater being superb if fishing bait on the bottom. A few steelhead trout are still around but most of these fish have vacated the river for spawning beds in Crooked Creek.
COOK INLET: Surf-casters are having some very productive days for halibut with fish being brought in on tides anywhere from the mouth of Kenai River to Anchor Point. Limits are being taken in spots. There is a smaller tide cycle starting early next week so anglers should focus on locations that afford sufficient depth in contrast to places with extensive low-gradient tidal flats; experience with distance-casting techniques will be of benefit too. In addition, spiny dogfish and skate are common catches.
HOMER/KACHEMAK BAY: Sea-run Dolly Varden are gathering along the surfline of Homer Spit these days and the catching is good. The section of water from the end of the spit (Coal Point) and northwest along the ocean side is best, although fish may be caught anywhere in the bay. Use flies and small lures imitating juvenile salmon.
Surf-casters are connecting with a good supply of flounders, codfish, and other bottomfish off the end of the spit. Bait fished on the bottom is likely to get attention, especially on low tide. Opportunities for halibut will increase as the season progresses.
The Dudiak Lagoon is seeing a small return of early kings but very few fish have been caught as of yet. Casting herring rigs or spinners on the outgoing tide is a proven way of getting kings; also try herring with a bobber inside the lagoon on an incoming tide.
Area Summary: With most lakes now completely ice-free save for some waters in the Willow-Talkeetna area on the Parks Highway and higher elevation along the Glenn Highway north of Palmer, anglers are scoring excellent catches of trout, char, grayling, and landlocked salmon. Stocked lakes are seeing the most attention (and action) but “wild” lakes have a way of producing some larger specimens with catches of rainbows and Arctic char up to 28 inches or more. Big Lake is now ice-free and wide open. The pike lakes have yet to hit stride due to cold water (some spots still have a degree of ice cover) and ongoing spawning period; wait another week to ten days and things should really get going.
While streams in the Palmer-Wasilla zone are closed to fishing until mid-June, the tributaries of the Susitna River are mostly open to fishing but with catch-and-release restrictions in place; see regulations. Water conditions have ranged from high and turbid (rapid runoff locations) to low and clear (lake-based streams). There is still a significant snow load in the Talkeetna Mountains so the snowmelt process is ongoing and impacting area streams; the fish are there but high and dirty water is making things difficult for anglers. As the water drops and clears, expect good action for trout and grayling.
All waters of the area are closed to retention of king salmon this season by emergency order; Eklutna Tailrace is the only exception. A few kings are likely present in the lower Little Susitna River near Knik-Goose Bay Road and as high as Willow Creek on the Parks Highway but runs are just starting. The tailrace offers some opportunity at the mouth of the Knik River side channel where clear water from the tailrace flows to the mainstem Knik; a few kings should pull into this location any day now, if not already.
Copper Valley-Valdez Arm
Area Summary: Like the neighboring waters of the Matanuska-Susitna Valleys, there is significant stream volume and turbidity throughout much of Copper Valley. While snow is largely gone in areas along the highways, the uplands still have substantial snow depth which is negatively impacting early-season grayling fisheries. But with warm temperatures and subsiding water levels, there should be some good action for grayling and even some trout in locations such as Startup, Cache, Tolsona, Moose, Sourdough, Haggard, Gillespie, and Tulsona creeks very shortly; the tributaries of the Gulkana are already seeing some promising opportunities.
The lake thaw continues with some smaller ponds and lakes mostly ice free yet many spots in higher elevations are still locked up, especially the larger waters such as Louise, Paxson, and Summit. Stocked lakes will turn on in another week to ten days for landlocked salmon, trout, and char, followed by the deeper, “wild” lakes mentioned above around the first week of June. In any case, lake ice these days, wherever present, should be considered unsafe for travel.
To the south, in Valdez, fishing is spotty. Some bottomfish may be caught off the ferry dock using bait and a few sea-run Dolly Varden are available in the port, primarily around the mouths of salmon spawning streams. Flies and small lures imitating juvenile salmon will attract a strike.
Updated May 13, 2022
HOT SPOTS: TURNAGAIN HOOLIGAN, COOK INLET HALIBUT, HOMER/SEWARD DOLLIES, LOCAL TROUT LAKES
Regional Summary: Finding fishing opportunities in open, ice-free waters is quickly accelerating now throughout Southcentral. Lakes and ponds of all sizes are shedding indications of winter, leaving great angling to be had. The briny has some of the best beach halibut action of the year happening right now. In addition to the usual resident freshwater species such as trout and char, there are now a few king (and even red) salmon beginning to show up in area fisheries, albeit chiefly on the Kenai Peninsula. And the hooligan dip net fisheries are at a peak and will likely continue to entertain throughout the month and into the first part of June. Fishing on the road system is really shaping up.
Anchorage Area-Turnagain Arm
Area Summary: The biggest attraction without a doubt in this area is the strong hooligan run down south along Turnagain Arm with participants getting all the fish they need for the year. There is also very good opportunities to be had in local stocked lakes, from the Anchorage Bowl to Portage, where trout, char, landlocked salmon, and grayling are providing quick action on ultra-light gear, bait, small lures, and flies.
No word yet of any king salmon being caught at Ship Creek so the grand prize for whoever catches the first salmon of the year is still up for grabs and will likely be claimed sometime between this weekend and the next.
Campbell and Chester creeks are closed to all fishing until mid-June; Bird Creek opens on July 14.
TURNAGAIN ARM/20-MILE RIVER: The hooligan return to the inner arm and the 20-Mile is peaking with good to excellent success reported. Dip netters are generally loading up 5-gallon buckets and large coolers without any problems fishing the outgoing tide on the shores of Turnagain east of Peterson Creek, and the incoming and outgoing tide on the river. Fish densities may reach or exceed several dozen fish in a scoop at certain times in the right spot. Expect the action to continue for at least another week, depending on run stamina and size this year, which remains to be seen.
Area Summary: There are some huge tides this weekend, some of the biggest of the year, that should help stir things up a bit along area beaches and river estuaries. It will help halibut and other bottomfish transcend the shallowest parts of Cook Inlet and Resurrection Bay, putting fish well within reach of surf-casters. King salmon often use these large tides to sometimes push them miles inland so there should be opportunities coming up for the Kasilof River; the lagoon in Homer should see a trickle of kings arriving too if not already. Hooligan are moving up the lower Kenai River in good numbers with each tide and are starting into Seward waters. While still very early, typically the first few red salmon enter the lower Kenai River and Resurrection River (Seward area) about this time. And the swift current of these big tidal swings often have a positive effect on sea-run char feeding near shore in Kachemak Bay and Resurrection Bay.
Apart from the marine environment and associated fisheries, the lake systems throughout—in particular the northern and central peninsula—are producing some great catches of multiple game species, including rainbow trout, Arctic char, Dolly Varden, landlocked salmon, and Arctic grayling. Stocked lakes around Kenai and Soldotna are hot.
As a side note, anglers need to pay particular attention to the seasonal closures of flowing waters on the peninsula, such as a portion of the Middle Kenai River, all of Upper Kenai River, and all tributary streams of the Kenai drainage. Additionally, there are several emergency orders out this year, especially concerning king salmon.
SEWARD/RESURRECTION BAY: Sea-run Dolly Varden are present in the bay and being caught along the shoreline, usually around exposed beaches, points, and the mouths of clearwater streams; expect fair to good fishing using fry and smelt imitation flies and lures.
Surf-casting for a variety of bottomfish is good or better, with most fish being taken on cut bait from deeper parts of the bay. Codfish, flounder, sole, greenling, and sculpin are but some of the more common catches right now. Halibut are possible in the area, with the beach front north of Spring Creek recommended as these fish will be chasing the hooligan run destined for Resurrection River; fair opportunity is to be had shortly.
There are likely a few king salmon cruising around in the area within casting distance from the bank but no report yet of any fish actually being hooked or landed. A few red salmon have arrived at the head of the bay and should be entering the Resurrection River at this time. Be prepared to put in a lot of time and effort if attempting to get one or two of these early reds.
**NOTE: Lowell Creek Road is being worked on after the persistent landslide activity there which has isolated the community of Lowell Point from the city of Seward. Anglers and other visitors are recommended to avoid this area of the bay until matters are resolved.
KASILOF RIVER: Action for steelhead trout is fair as the fish are starting to enter Crooked Creek in preparation for spawning, but there are still some nice, bright specimens to be picked up on small plugs and egg imitation flies. A small number of king salmon are now in the river but fishing for them has been slow; no confirmed catches of fish off the shore yet but it will happen any day now. As bait becomes legal on May 16, things should pick up nicely. As a reminder, only hatchery fish may be retained by emergency order. Targeting Dolly Varden is good in the tidewater section of the river.
COOK INLET: The tides are big this weekend and all next week and should provide for ample opportunities to catch halibut off the beaches of the inlet. Herring is the top bait but anglers are also getting their fish on squid, octopus, and hooligan. Salmon parts can be very effective if all else fails. Nikiski, Kenai Beach, Kasilof, Cohoe, Clam Gulch, Ninilchik area, Whiskey Gulch, and Anchor Point area will have fish available with good success reported as this spring halibut fishery is peaking. Decent numbers of shark (spiny dogfish) and skate are being landed as well. Expect halibut fishing at the beach access points south of Kasilof and north of Kenai to start slowing down as soon as the hooligan empty out of the inlet as they enter the Kenai River and Turnagain Arm, which usually happens by the first week of June.
HOMER/KACHEMAK BAY: The best angling opportunities here are for sea-run char that are currently feeding in the surf off the beaches of the Homer Spit with good catches possible using small lures and flies imitating juvenile salmon. Bottomfish, such as flounder, codfish, sculpin, and other species, are providing good to excellent fishing off the end of the spit at Coal Point next to Land’s End. A few smaller halibut are also possible but these fish are generally more readily available later on in summer.
A couple of kings have reportedly made it into Dudiak Lagoon on the tides, although effort has been very low thus far. Casting herring or lures on an incoming or outgoing tide is a successful plan here if there are fish present.
Area Summary: With largely ice free lakes and open water, fishing has been good to excellent in this area; however, a few of the larger waters, such as Big Lake and parts of Nancy Lake, are mostly ice covered still but are definitely softening and not recommended to access. The only other option on these locations are near the inlets and outlets where open water is present and fish are being caught. Also, lakes at higher elevations up the Parks Highway and Glenn Highway are frozen over. So, for the most consistent open-water opportunities, stick to the lowland lakes and ponds along or near Knik Arm and the communities of Palmer, Wasilla, and Knik. The state has been stocking many of these lakes very recently so they are absolutely productive and will yield a mixed bag of trout, char, landlocked salmon, and grayling. Pike will become very active shortly as soon as the spawn is done, generally by late May.
As for stream fishing opportunities, many of the tributaries of the Susitna River are flowing high and turbid, yet will begin to drop and clear up very soon if not already as the snowpack in the area clears completely. Montana, Sheep, Kashwitna, Little Willow, and Willow are all good early-season candidates when water conditions cooperate. That said, a handful of rainbows along with a few grayling and Dollies have been caught already by entrepreneuring anglers and the action should only improve as spring progresses.
There are likely a few king salmon in the Little Susitna River and Knik River at this time but finding them is a challenge this early in the season. While the Little Su is under catch-and-release emergency order restrictions, the Knik at the Eklutna Tailrace area has no restrictions and kings may be retained. No fish have been sighted in the tailrace yet around the Old Glenn Highway access point and anglers wanting the best chance possible should look for fish where the Knik side channel meets the main channel.
Copper Valley-Valdez Arm
Area Summary: The recent warmup and subsequent heavy snowmelt has helped nix the ice fishing season in this area, with flooding or high water reported in many drainages. While the larger, deeper lakes are still ice covered for the most part, open water is starting to appear along the edges and around inlets and outlets, creating for a very unsafe environment for ice anglers to venture out on. It is certainly up to the individual angler to make their own decision regarding what they deem safe enough but for all practical intent and purposes and safety reasons, it is time to scout out open water opportunities instead. The smaller lakes are opening up nicely and shedding more ice by the day; a few of them are mostly ice free with good fishing for trout and grayling underway.
As for flowing waters, there is a mixed bag. That is, many of the smaller tributaries of the Copper, Tazlina, Chitina, and Gulkana are flowing high and silty due to all the melting snow with a few of them overflowing banks and not at all conducive to fishing at this point. Focus efforts on streams that have lakes at the headwaters, which will lessen some of the turbidity, avoiding runoff streams that do not have these natural mitigation processes. Conditions are changing quickly and daily depending on air temperature and surrounding snowpack levels. Things are expected to start settling down a bit in another week to ten days and bring on some excellent grayling opportunities in select waters.
The fishing around Valdez is more hit and miss these days as Dolly Varden exit the Lowe River and begin prowling the beaches around Port Valdez. The mouths of clearwater salmon spawning streams are good spots to check for these sea-run char. Some bottomfish are being caught from the ferry dock in front of town. No indication of any mature spawn-bound salmon showing up yet; a few feeder kings are present in the bay.
Updated May 5, 2022
HOT SPOTS: KASILOF STEELHEAD, TURNAGAIN HOOLIGAN, COOK INLET HALIBUT
Regional Summary: Without a doubt, the intense open water fishing season is starting to unfold as hooligan are arriving alongside the associated halibut shore fisheries, the first few sightings of king salmon in freshwater has been made, and trout, char, grayling, and landlocked salmon are hitting offerings with abandon in ice-free lakes. With each week through the rest of May and into June, fishing opportunities will increase exponentially until each and every area of Southcentral has excellent action for several key game species. The long, cold Alaska winter is very soon a distant memory.
Anchorage Area-Turnagain Arm
Area Summary: There are two popular and productive fisheries occurring in this area at this time. First, lakes in and around Anchorage are ice free and the ADF&G has started their seasonal stocking efforts, which typically results in some fast-paced action for the next few weeks. Landlocked salmon, trout, char, and grayling are the main species available and will strike bait, flies, and lures. Second, the hooligan are swimming through the silty waters of Turnagain Arm and dip netters are scoring nice catches of fish as the run builds toward a mid-month peak.
Something else to be mindful of is the annual First Ship Creek King contest being held now by The Bait Shack, featuring a range of prizes for the lucky angler to land the first king salmon of the season in this downtown stream. Water conditions are currently low and clear but still cold. Although an occasional fish may be present right now, historically speaking, sightings of fish increase after May 10 with the first fish landed sometime between the 15th and 22nd most years.
TURNAGAIN ARM: Hooligan are arriving in good numbers in the upper part of the arm and now ascending the 20-Mile River as well. The “hot spot” for dip netters has been the stretch of shoreline from approximately Peterson Creek to the area near the mouth of 20-Mile, with typical scoops snaring between 2 or 3 up to a dozen fish or more. Filling a 5-gallon bucket in a relatively short period of time is absolutely doable; spend a couple of hours at peak of tide should produce a cooler or two brimming with smelt. Participation in this fishery has been low thus far but likely to increase significantly over this coming weekend.
The small tide series the next several days should only help dip netters as the schools of fish coming in are slowed down or “trapped” through the roadside spots mentioned above. Try the outgoing and low tides for best results.
Area Summary: Things are humming along nicely as spring continues to unfold, with a few fisheries producing some nice and consistent catches of fish. The Kasilof River is at its peak for steelhead and the beaches of Cook Inlet are cranking out nice flatfish. Kenai River, although closed to fishing in upper sections, is open to trout and char in parts of the middle and lower areas with fair catches reported; hooligan are arriving in the tidal area. Lakes in and around Kenai, Soldotna, Cooper Landing, Moose Pass, and Seward are largely ice free and will be stocked with landlocked salmon, trout, char, and grayling shortly, if not already. Wild rainbows and char are available in many lakes, especially in the Swanson and Moose river drainages. Hidden Lake usually has some good lake trout fishing as soon as the ice goes out and the following few weeks. Sea-run Dollies are present in a couple of smaller lakes in Seward and a few of these fish have already made it into the briny of Resurrection Bay. Fishing for sea-run char is picking up at the Homer Spit and should start peaking very soon.
KASILOF RIVER: Anglers targeting steelhead trout are doing quite well in this location, with fish succumbing to a range of offerings from corkies and large beads to small plugs to egg imitation and forage pattern flies. The best spot on the river appears to be in the vicinity of the mouth of Crooked Creek, from a few hundred yards upstream to the bottom of the People Hole. Boaters are reporting good catches and shore anglers fair to good action. Most fish are seemingly bright with some darker specimens in the mix. Contrary to some information, these fish are not in the process of spawning nor “spawned-out” and still weeks away from that stage of their life cycle.
While there are no solid reports of king salmon being hooked or caught yet, word is that a few fish have entered the lower river (which is typical for this time of the season) and “rollers” have been spotted in tidewater holes. Please be aware of current emergency orders for this fishery.
COOK INLET: As hooligan are streaming along the beaches of the inlet destined for the Kenai River and beyond, it has drawn the attention of halibut to come into the shallows in search of easy prey. Surf-casters are experiencing fair to good fishing in a number of locations with some anglers managing their two-fish limit in spots. Although the fish being caught are generally not very large (5-20 lbs.), there have been a few exceptional specimens between 30 and 50 pounds landed so far this season. Fish over 100 pounds are very rare but a 135-pound halibut was beached several years ago, which made the headlines of the local newspaper. Try fresh herring for bait; the beaches of Nikiski, Kenai, Kasilof, Cohoe, Clam Gulch, and Whiskey Gulch are producing some nice fish right now.
This weekend will see small tides and perhaps not the best conditions for shore-based anglers in some places but things will improve again starting next week. Sharks (spiny dogfish) are also being hauled in.
HOMER/KACHEMAK BAY: Fishing for sea-run Dolly Varden off the spit is fair to good and should get better as more fish arrive from area streams to feed for the spring and early summer. As the fish are feeding in and around the surf for juvenile salmon and other baitfish, small spoons and flies resembling these prey works best. Surf-casting for bottomfish is fair for a range of species, including codfish, flounders, and sculpin; no reports of halibut being caught. A few king salmon bound for the Dudiak Lagoon are likely in the immediate area but will remain elusive until more fish arrive later on this month. As for the lagoon itself, no word of kings sighted nor caught yet but a few Dollies are present; expect first salmon any day.
Area Summary: As with all areas in the Southcentral region, the majority of lowland lakes are ice free and fishing well for a variety of species, including landlocked salmon, rainbow trout, Arctic char, and grayling. ADF&G is in the process of stocking dozens of lakes and anglers can expect fast action now and for the next few weeks. A few of the larger lakes, such as Big Lake, and those at higher elevations, there are varying degrees of open water with some residual ice to be expected still. Northern pike are currently breeding and will hit lures, bait, and flies but may be hesitant to strike right now until after the spawn is completed; late May and first part of June is typically the best time for this species in this area. The pike lakes around Willow and Nancy Lake Parkway are good bets.
As for stream opportunities, the Susitna River is open and flowing as are the main tributaries but action can be spotty due to high and turbid water from the snowmelt. As turbidity is closely tied to air temperature and snowpack, be prepared to move around a bit until a stream with good water conditions (low and clear) is located. As a note, some places along the drainages of the Susitna there is still a fair amount of snow on the ground after a big snow winter but it is rapidly melting. A few rainbows have been caught at the mouth of Willow Creek and there should be fish available in other streams as well, including char and grayling. As the water clears up and drops, expect good fishing to occur.
Productive king salmon fishing is several weeks away yet with the only location open to retention of fish being the Eklutna Tailrace; all other Susitna Valley streams and Little Susitna River are catch-and-release only by emergency order. The confluence area of the tailrace and the Knik River is a fairly reliable bet for early kings starting in about two weeks or so; that portion of the tailrace right off Old Glenn Highway is usually void of kings until the final days of May or first of June.
Copper Valley-Valdez Arm
Area Summary: Many rivers and stream are opening up and flowing these days as spring conditions advance, which should bring a flow of grayling in a matter of a couple of weeks. The clearwater tributaries of the Copper, Gulkana, and Tazlina are all productive later on this month. Expect catches of char and trout a real possibility too. The larger lakes in the valley are still covered with ice but pockets of open water is becoming increasingly prevalent, especially where inlet streams are located. Typically, Louise, Paxson, and Summit (and nearby Fielding) provide open water opportunities by the last week of May or first week of June. Although ice conditions will be deteriorating each passing day, ice fishing is possible yet and burbot and whitefish are actively biting; please exercise extreme caution. Better bet is to focus on the smaller stocked lakes along the Glenn, Richardson, and Edgerton highways for now, although many of them still have ice to one degree or another and will not be completely open until mid-month.
To the south, around Valdez, the Lowe River is flowing but some silt is beginning to mix in with the clear water as air temperatures rise and snowmelt increases. For now, anglers are catching a fair number of Dolly Varden from Keystone Canyon downstream to the mouth of Robe River; the opportunity will diminish in another couple of weeks as turbidity takes hold and fish enter Port Valdez for the summer. Anglers casting from the ferry dock in front of town may tie into some bottomfish if using bait; codfish, flounders, and sculpins are present. There could be feeder king salmon in the area.
Updated April 28, 2022
HOT SPOTS: COOK INLET HALIBUT, KENAI RAINBOWS, KASILOF STEELHEAD
Regional Summary: Things are finally beginning to stir in earnest around Southcentral. The seasonal arrival of smelt and herring in coastal marine waters is sparking opportunities for bottomfish, and trout are becoming more numerous in rivers of the peninsula and elsewhere. Hooligan are starting to show up in the normal spots and will only increase in numbers from here on out. While some lakes still carry a layer of ice, many are partially to completely ice free. If still interested in ice fishing, try highland and alpine locations in Susitna-Matanuska Valleys and Copper Valley; exercise extreme caution venturing out. But fishing for trout, char, burbot, and whitefish is quite good yet. Just remember, a foot of rotten spring ice may only sustain weight comparable to one or two inches of clear winter ice.
Anchorage Area-Turnagain Arm
Area Summary: There are some hooligan in Turnagain Arm right now as Beluga whales and eagles are becoming active in the area. The stretch of water between Girdwood and Portage is best this early in the season, particularly around the PetersonCreek/Kern Creek area, with an outgoing or low tide recommended. There is still quite a bit of snow at the headwaters of 20-Mile River keeping water temperatures cold so it may be a while yet before any solid numbers of hooligan show up there. If hoping for easy coolers full of smelt, hold off at least another week or so. Ice fishing is no longer an option in and around Anchorage; open water is more commonplace so there could be some action for trout and other stocked species as ice recedes. Chester and Campbell creeks are closed to fishing right now during the spring trout spawn but the lower end of Ship Creek is open. While the first few kings nose into Ship the first week or two in May, anglers usually do not connect until around the end of the second or third week.
Area Summary: Hooligan are moving up Cook Inlet headed to Kenai River and Turnagain Arm and halibut are right on their tails. The Kenai River is also seeing an uptick in rainbow trout as spring spawners and summer feeders arrive and steelhead are now active in the Kasilof River. There should be opportunities soon around Resurrection Bay with herring hitting the head of the bay. The hooligan run in Seward is typically a little later on in May. Casting into the briny for bottomfish is picking up steadily in all ports. As for ice fishing, most lakes are ice free or soon will be around Kenai and Soldotna with the only viable opportunities being the waters at higher elevations near Cooper Landing and Seward, but even there anglers must be very cautious.
KENAI RIVER: The upper and middle sections of the river are producing some decent early spring action for rainbow trout, although these waters will shut down by regulation on May 1 and will not open back up until June 11. As the winter run of silver salmon is history (at least for the most part; a bright silver specimen was caught last week by an angler targeting trout), the rainbows are primarily scavenging the early insect hatches with midge patterns working well. The fish are now spreading throughout the drainage with a good chance of hooking some larger specimens up to 25 or 30 inches. Many of the larger, darker ‘bows will be headed to spawning areas, yet there will be a good supply of brighter non-spawners as well. An occasional steelhead may be encountered on the middle and lower river, primarily in the vicinity of Funny River and Slikok Creek. Hooligan are arriving in small numbers in the tidewater section but success is generally slow right now.
Water conditions throughout the drainage are very low and clear with some shelf ice present, especially on the middle and lower river.
As for the Russian River, a few nice rainbows are available in the lower and sanctuary area; the road in to the campground is currently closed to access due to mitigation issues concerning dead spruce trees—plan on accessing by boat instead.
KASILOF RIVER: Anglers here have been doing reasonably good on steelhead trout the last several days with fish being caught throughout the river from the lake outlet to tidewater. Most catches, however, are being made from the highway crossing down to The People Hole area, with larger, brighter egg pattern flies, corkies, and beads doing best, although darker pattern forage flies do well at times when fish appear finicky. Expect a few rainbows and Dollies to be present.
No word yet of king salmon entering the river but the first few fish should show in tidewater any day now. Make sure to check emergency orders pertaining to this fishery.
COOK INLET: With hooligan finning their way along the beaches headed to spawning areas, the annual surf-casting fishery targeting halibut has started. The first few catches were made some 2-3 weeks ago with action being fair to good at this time. Generally, two hours before to around two hours after peak high tide is best. Some anglers are reporting limits of two fish after a few hours effort, the average size being 5 to 20 pounds with occasional specimens to 30 pounds or more. Herring is the bait of choice but success may be had on salmon scraps and squid as well. Spiny dogfish, more popularly known as sand sharks, are showing up too.
Fish may be caught anywhere from Nikiski Beach down the coast to Anchor Point, with the Kenai, Kasilof, Cohoe, Clam Gulch, Ninilchik, and Whiskey Gulch areas being favored. As always, make sure to check regulations which beach areas are closed to all fishing, such as within the king salmon Conservation Zones around the mouths of Ninilchik River, Deep Creek, Stariski Creek, and Anchor River.
Area Summary: Recent warm temperatures have completely nixed the ice fishing season in this area, although a few opportunities persist in the more northern sections of both Susitna and Matanuska valleys, up in the highlands. However, what is attracting anglers’ attention this time of the season are the open water opportunities of area lakes which are teeming with a variety of game species, including trout, char, pike, and landlocked salmon. Success has been described as good to excellent with some large specimens available.
Stream fishing is somewhat limited due to a couple of factors. One, all flowing waters in the Palmer-Wasilla zone, which includes Cottonwood, Fish, and Wasilla creeks, are closed to fishing during the trout spawning period. Two, high and turbid water is prevalent in many rivers and streams due to high snowpack and rapid warming. But as conditions stabilize, the mouths of tributaries flowing into the Susitna River will be yielding great opportunities as trout, char, and grayling ascend waters bound for spring spawning and summer feeding grounds.
The salmon season is probably a month away still, although there could be a few king salmon scouts showing up at the mouth of Eklutna Tailrace on the Knik River within the next couple of weeks.
Copper Valley-Valdez Arm
Area Summary: There is a medley of opportunities for the weekend and the coming couple of weeks in this area. Ice fishing is very much a possibility on the larger, deeper lakes around here, such as Louise, Paxson, and Summit, although caution must be exercised in spots, such as near inlet and outlet streams and in shallower water where springs are present. If safe to get out on the ice, action is good for burbot and whitefish and mediocre for lake trout. Anglers are advised to avoid the smaller lakes and ponds as they are the first waters to shed ice; look for open water areas on stocked lakes to provide excellent fishing for rainbows and grayling.
Area streams are not quite fishable yet, in general, but there could be early chances for success in stretches of ice-free water in larger rivers that are flowing relatively clear. The grayling spawning migrations typically commence in earnest by mid-May most years.
Valdez is seeing Dolly Varden being caught in the Lowe River from the Keystone Canyon area downstream a few miles and success is fair. Ice fishing is possible in stocked lakes up around Thompson Pass with decent trout action available. Casting from deep water docks and other locations in the port may yield a few bottomfish.
Updated March 28, 2022
EARLY SPRING REPORT
Welcome to the first Roadside Angler open water fishing report of the season.
After a long, cold, dark winter, things are starting to perk up a bit regarding angling opportunities in Southcentral Alaska. While ice fishing is still the focal point for most, the increase of daylight and mild temperatures have many anglers itching to get out and enjoy the liquid form of water in area rivers, streams, and briny. Following is a synopsis of happenings throughout the region with a more specific report on the Kenai River, a seasonal favorite in these parts of the state.
Anchorage Area-Turnagain Arm
Summary: Fishing for trout, char, and landlocked salmon has been fair to good recently in area stocked lakes and should continue to be productive until the ice becomes unsafe for travel, which should be in another ten days or so most locations. Campbell and Chester creeks are open to fishing until the spring closure on April 15. Although early, there are a few Dolly Varden available in these streams and will hit forage pattern flies as well as small spoons and spinners; try deeper holes in upper reaches . The stocked lakes down in Portage should be given extreme caution or simply avoided right now as ice conditions are rapidly deteriorating due to a relatively warmer temperature regime compared to the Anchorage Bowl. Turnagain Arm is shedding ice with most parts open water and before long will fill up with hooligan bound for 20-Mile River. According to the seasonal trajectory, dip netters will likely find the first few fish by the last week of April.
Summary: The lake ice fisheries around here are producing quite good catches of trout, char, and landlocked salmon; however, the melt has started in the lowlands and travel may not be safe in another week to ten days, yet some shaded or higher elevation locations typically have solid ice through most of April. Open water opportunities are still scant, with the popular lower peninsula streams of Anchor, Deep, and Ninilchik closed to all fishing until king salmon season begins in late May. Other streams are open to fishing but currently still locked up in ice or simply unproductive. The lower Kenai as well as Kasilof rivers do have open leads in various spots but are generally ice covered; give these spots another 2-3 weeks before any worthwhile fishing may be found. The upper Kenai between Kenai and Skilak lakes is the top destination for winter/early spring anglers seeking open water and at least a reasonable chance of hooking fish (see more details below). The saltwater fisheries of Resurrection Bay, Cook Inlet, and Kachemak Bay do harbor limited opportunities this time of year for surf-casters targeting bottomfish with species of codfish and flounder generally the catch of the day. Feeder king salmon is a remote possibility off Homer Spit. Halibut are very rare at this time but will start moving along the beaches of Cook Inlet in more numbers shortly as they anticipate the arrival of hooligan and spawning herring; give it another two weeks for a decent shot.
KENAI RIVER: The brunt of the winter run of silver salmon has wrapped up spawning on the upper sections of the Middle above Bing’s Landing and Upper river the first several miles below Kenai Lake but there will be a few fish hanging on well into next month until the river closes to all fishing on May 1. While these fish are protected by regulation, it is the byproducts of this spawn and consequent fish die-off that promotes a slow but steady opportunity for rainbow trout and Dolly Varden all winter long and early spring as well. Washed-out beads in 8mm size and flesh flies are worth an earnest attempt for the remainder of the season. Do not neglect forage patterns to mix things up a bit to hopefully spark more interest if the bite is dead; chironomid imitation flies can be great in April. Smaller plugs work very well. The most productive section of water is from the outlet of Kenai Lake to approximately Princess Rapids but there will be a few fish scattered throughout the river. Spin-casters should focus on using small smolt imitation lures right up into the outlet of the lake. There is still shelf ice in many stretches of the river but gravel bars are becoming more common every day as spring unfolds. Boats can be launched at both Cooper Landing and Sportsman’s Landing with take-out at Jims’ Landing. It is not advised to go beyond Jims’ down the canyon as Skilak Lake is still frozen. Nearby, the Russian River is largely frozen but starting to open up and will have some opportunity for rainbows starting around mid-April until the May 1 closure.
Summary: Good late-season ice fishing in these parts with trout, char, pike, burbot, and landlocked salmon keeping anglers busy from the twin cities of Palmer and Wasilla all the way up to Talkeetna. Recent warmer weather has created overflow and thinning ice but most locations should have safe travel for another week to ten days or so. Lakes at higher elevations have good ice through April most years. Open water opportunities are scant still with real possibilities for hitting fish consistently still weeks away. The Susitna drainage tributaries are firmly locked in ice as are other streams in the area, including the larger rivers such as Susitna and Talkeetna (although there are some open leads here and there). While the Eklutna Tailrace is wide open and fishable, the catching is very slow. Sections of Cottonwood and Fish creeks typically have open water as April arrives but action will be spotty at best for rainbows until the spring closure on April 15.
Copper Valley-Valdez Arm
Summary: With a generally colder climate this time of year, ice fishing here is good and safe for at least another two to three weeks with many locations seeing safe ice conditions lasting into early May. Lake trout action has been productive this winter with some catches in the 20-pound range but things have slowed down recently, as is typical this time of the season. Burbot and whitefish, however, are doing well and providing plenty of opportunity. Lake Louise, Summit Lake, and Paxson Lake are all solid bets now and into April. The smaller lakes, especially the stocked ones, are yielding trout and char too. Open water is hard to find and it will be another few weeks before grayling begin appearing at the mouth of spawning streams in the valley area. The fishing is slow down around Valdez but at least the port has opportunity for surf-casting into deeper water off the city dock. While feeder kings do come up the arm and even nose into the port right in front of town, the chance of getting one from shore is slim but not impossible and has been done before in the area around the boat harbor. The Lowe River is for the most part frozen solid but leads are opening up and should be fishable in another couple of weeks around the Keystone Canyon area.