By Lee Leschper
Defining recent trends, this year’s early Russian River run of sockeye salmon continues strong and steady, blessing eager anglers with limits now up to six fish a day.
ADF&G raised the daily bag limit on the Russian and the Upper Kenai to six per day and 12 in possession on Saturday, as well as opening the Russian Sanctuary to fishing.
Through Saturday the department had counted 17,989 red salmon at the counter above the Russian, about three thousand fish more than last year. But more impressive, both Friday’s and Saturday’s counts had exceeded 1,500 fish, reflecting a two-week trend of 1,000 or more fish every day. That’s the kind of steady run that fishermen love, instead of the surges and lulls that we’ve become used to.
That bodes well for another week or so of great red salmon fishing on the Rusian and Upper Kenai.
Denny Wood and I fished the Kenai below the ferry crossing Friday and Saturday and most anglers had limits or near limits of fish, which makes for lots of happy fishermen. In popular spots downstream, there were regular pulses of big schools of bright fish moving upstream, instead of the small pockets of holding fish we often see. We got limits before midnight and could have done the same early Saturday, but tired of catching and cleaning fish.
The Sanctuary opened at 8 a.m. Saturday and was the usual blood bath for a few hours before those resting fish scattered and sprinted up the Russian. It will continue to hold fish, but if the fishing moving upstream continues at the same steady pace this week, there should be very few bad spots to fish.
No one has predicted yet whether this is an extra good run, or just an early one, that will decline quickly. The only sure thing is that this run will start to decline, perhaps later this week or perhaps through the July 4 Holiday weekend. With the six-fish limit, expect lots of fishing company, but it promises to be a great start to this summer on the Kenai.