Fishing has been consistent on the Kenai River, but I wouldn’t call it normal. It should be full on second run right now and instead we are seeing a mixture of everything: our first run of silvers is still here, our second run is coming in and there’s still sockeye in the system.
The water conditions are good, but our fish are late right now. Our second run just started and I’m still catching sockeye. We caught two sockeye today, which should tell you how late these fish are. I think it has to do with weather. It’s been the warmest summer on record and everything has been late.
However, silver fishing should really turn on in the next few days. We are getting 50-50 right now. Some first run fish and some second run fish. And, all the salmon are smaller this year for some reason. Not just the Kenai fish, but those throughout the state. My buddy got a 17 pounder yesterday, but we aren’t seeing the quantity of large fish we are used it. It’s up and down. We’ll catch a 12 pounder and then one that’s seven or eight. Normally, they are all over 10 this time of year.
On the other hand, this is the first year I’ve ever caught sockeye this late in September, and we are catching them everyday. There’s still quiet a few in the river and we are still seeing kings, too. The kings aren’t fresh, but they are there, which is a good sign because we have spawning fish. We’re focused on silvers right now. This silver run will go all the water into November.
Historically, a full peak would be from now through September 25. Then it gets a little slower, but there will be less water to cover and less people on the river. In fact, every day there’s fewer boats. In another week it will start getting real quiet around here.
Last week I was doing really good on sardine wrapped (soaked in Pautzke Red Nectar) plugs. Meanwhile, since I moved downriver I’ve been back bouncing eggs. I’ve been doing 50-50 with the Pink and Red Fire Cure and it’s been catching us a lot of fish. I’m using quarter size globs of roe. You don’t need to go too big because the silvers aren’t that big. Our water is silty so our fish aren’t line shy. Therefore, I can get away with 20-pound monofilament.
Right now the water is so low most of the silvers are hanging in 3.5 to 4.5 feet of water. You’ll find silvers in several places. Normally, a point that sticks out is a good place to start because the fish have to swim around it. But in the tidal water there are shelves that can offer good fishing, as well as inside corners. We’re looking for the slower, calmer, easier water because silvers are lazy.
Editor’s Note: Veteran Kenai guide Luke Haman operates Kenai River Guides. For more information on his fall Kenai River silver trips please visit http://www.alaskakenairiverguides.com.
Team Pautzke filmed Pautzke Outdoors with Haman last year. To view that episode please click on the following link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q52a5hVES14