Alaska Outdoor Digest

The source for important, timely news on hunting, fishing and the outdoors in Alaska.

Good start to summer fishing season Good start to summer fishing season
It’s the first week in June and if you’re not fishing, you’re probably planning on fishing. Here are a couple of things to mull... Good start to summer fishing season

It’s the first week in June and if you’re not fishing, you’re probably planning on fishing.

Here are a couple of things to mull over while packing your gear.

Whether by luck or design, he Kenai early king run is the strongest in several years.  As of Thursday, almost 1500 big kings had entered the river, a little better than last year when all sizes of kings were counted and far ahead of 2015 and 2016.

Because only kings 34 inches or less can be kept, more of those big fish should survive to spawn. There seems to be less fishing pressure, but water and fishing conditions have been excellent. It’s single hook artificial lures and no bait, but guides on the lower river are catching and releasing big kings regularly.  If the run continues strong, bait may be allowed sooner rather than later.

No adding bait to the option would be the conservative approach most sport anglers seem to support right now.  While the river remains low and clear, bait is not necessary for backtrollers to catch kings it seems.  That could change with warm weather and snow melt adding to the river flow.

The Russian and upper Kenai opens at one minute after midnight June 11 and although the Russian fish counter won’t start until June 4, the counts on the lower Kenai including Russian sockeye suggest a good start to the run.  The water level is also lower than in the past couple of years, when high water in the Upper Kenai made wading and fishing difficult.

The Copper River king run continues to boom along far ahead of predictions and ADF&G removed early season restrictions for subsistence and sport anglers Friday, after the commercial fleet has taken more than 9,000 kings—nearing twice the 5,000 total harvest the department had set when the run was forecast to be very low and in danger of missing the escapement goal.

It’s a windfall for the commercial fishermen, unless the king run suddenly dwindles and the department goes back into conservation made and adds restrictions on the remaining sockeye fishery. Not likely at this point.

Early sockeye runs are looking promising on the from the Klutina to the Kenai to Resurrection Bay’s terminal sockeye fishery.

The Ship Creek king run continues to strengthen, with more bright kings coming on every incoming tide. We haven’t seen a fish over 33 pounds, but good kings caught by both flippers and bait fishermen on every tide.  Or more correctly, the experienced anglers hitting the right tides are catching fish.  There are lots of anglers there too, still waiting to catch their first fish.  The annual derby opens June 9.

This year there’ll be a Ship Creek Youth-only king salmon fishing day June 17 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. The area from the C Street Bridge upstream to the Bridge Restaurant is open to kids 15 and younger only. Adults can help. Should be a fun day.

If you’re taste runs to saltwater and halibut, the catching has been good and halibut from Seward to Homer to Valdez are running fat and healthy.  No report of mushy halibut so far and the good charters, when the weather doesn’t restrict them to inshore waters, are bringing in limits of solid 40- to 100-pound flatfish.

The lingcod season doesn’t open until July 1, so be careful to release gently any lingcod that you catch.

We’re in the field every day for the rest of the summer but always welcome updates by email at or Facebook at

See you on the water.

Lee Leschper