The 2017 Alaska Fishing season is officially in full swing here on the Kenai Peninsula. Although it has been a colder than normal spring for us here in south central Alaska, the fishing for king salmon has been heating up nicely on the Kenai and Kasilof Rivers as well as in the salt water off Ninilchik.
On the Kasilof, the ratio of hatchery vs. naturally produced kings has been roughly 50/50 and the number of fish arriving each day has been steadily increasing. With no emergency restrictions on the Kenai this season, the Kasilof has started the season under normal regulations with the use of bait and multiple hooks beginning May 16 and a limit of two hatchery fish seven days a week and one hatchery / one wild fish on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays through the end of June. Fishing success has been very consistent with boats averaging one to four kings per trip. The fish have been very nice size with a number of kings going well over 25 lbs. This fishery should just continue to improve as it heads toward its season peak in the next two weeks.
The Kenai River is also off to a very positive start in 2017. With new regulations that only allow retention of fish under 36 inches river wide and new big fish goal which only records kings over 33.3 inches (75 cm from mid-eye to tail fork) passing through the sonar counter, the Kenai enters the season with some very positive management changes. As of May 27, over 650 larger kings have been recorded (http://www.adfg.alaska.gov/sf/FishCounts/index.cfm?ADFG=main.kenaiChinook#/fishCounts).
Fishing reports have been very positive thus far with a number of big kings being caught. The water is extremely low and areas accessible to powerboats are limited but as the water levels rise in the coming week to ten days we should start to see some great action for the giant kings the Kenai is famous for. We look forward to this incredible fishery regaining its legendary status and fully support the new regs, which will make release of all but the smaller kings mandatory.
The salt-water fishing in Cook Inlet has been very good with limit catches of halibut and great action for salt-water king salmon. This fishery has been significantly hampered by a windier than normal spring resulting in a number of blow off days but when the boats are able to get out and the seas cooperate, success rates have been extremely high.