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Casting Call: Valley, Peninsula and Anchorage All Have Fish Ready to Audition As Dinner

July 3, 2008

By Kevin Klott, Anchorage Daily News, Alaska

Jul. 3–With less than 24 hours remaining until this long fishing weekend begins, anglers will be delighted to know they have plenty of time to catch an Alaska salmon or two.

The trick will be pin-pointing what kind of salmon you want — red or king — and knowing where to look.

That would mean avoiding offshore fisheries in the Cook Inlet and Resurrection Bay, where this weekend’s tides aren’t the greatest for sinking a baited line for halibut.

Clamming tides are excellent, but digging beach sand won’t bring you to the salmon.

If the long line at Three Rivers Fly & Tackle in Wasilla on Wednesday was any indication, the hottest place to fish this weekend could be up north.

“The store is packed,” said Scott McIntosh, a former Three River’s employee helping store owner Mike Hudson answer phone calls. “Mike is busy spooling fishing line onto reels. He’s three people deep.”

The Wasilla angler has already bagged his limit of five kings for the season, so he had no problem sharing the best of the best salmon streams. No skin off his back — he’ll be at home, barbecuing with his wife.

“All the Parks Highway streams have salmon,” McIntosh said. “The Little Su is average, but kings in Willow from now until it closes will be the best it has been all season.”

Farther north past the Willow are Montana and Sheep creeks, two Parks Highway streams the Alaska Department of Fish and Game will close after this weekend.

Though the king runs have passed their peak, these clear water streams are still producing some nice fish — especially last weekend, reports Bert Kleinenberg, manager of Montana Creek campground.

“Everyone was catching kings,” Kleinenberg wrote in an e-mail. “There is a large amount of kings rolling at the confluence of Montana Creek and the Big Susitna. Fishing for kings should be excellent.”

Don’t forget the Talkeetna River, McIntosh added. Given the Deshka River closure, he suggests that anglers should not to stop driving until they hit Talkeetna.

“You can never discount the Talkeetna,” he said.

Terri Studnicka of Fisherman’s Choice Charters, which moved its operations from the Deshka north to the Talkeetna, reports the crowds have been plentiful on weekends and tolerable on weekdays. But the salmon fishing is steady.

“There are days where we get ‘em and days where we thought we had ‘em,” Studnicka wrote in an e-mail. “The red salmon are running with the king salmon and the king salmon are still bright chrome.”

WHAT’S UP AT SHIP?

Anchorage anglers searching for a close-to-home holiday weekend should consider Ship Creek kings.

At least that’s what Brad Schierhorn might tell you.

A standout hockey player for South High, Schierhorn also knows a thing or two about catching kings on a rod meant for smaller fish.

He was fishing the high tide Wednesday morning at 6 a.m. along with Louis Ullrich, an assistant baseball coach for the Anchorage Bucs.

Though it was Schierhorn’s first time fishing all season, he didn’t waste much time writing his first king on his stamp. After casting a Vibrax into the deep murky water a few dozens times, a blush king struck Schierhorn’s line.

Most anglers Wednesday used eggs on a bobber. But using a Vibrax apparently worked, too. And so did Schierhorn’s gear: 20-pound-test line on an Ugly Stick Lite, a rod fit for fighting reds, silvers or even trout. But kings?

Most Ship Creek anglers prefer using heavy action rods, like the Ugly Stick Big.

“That’s a nice looking fish,” said Ullrich as he snapped a photo of Schierhorn, smiling as he displayed his catch. “His rod is for catching rainbows.”

SOCKEYES ARE SOUTH

Keith Graham, owner of World Wide Angler Outfitters in Anchorage, had a field day getting anglers lined out with gear for the weekend.

There wasn’t any particular hot spot anglers revealed to Graham. Most were heading to the usual spots — north for kings along roadside streams or south for reds on the Russian River.

“It’s kind of 50-50,” he said. “A lot of people still want to catch a sockeye. But it’s been kind of slow.”

Fish and Game’s weir count on the Russian has plummeted drastically over the last few days.

After nine consecutive days in which more than 1,000 reds were counted swimming past the weir at the outlet of Lower Russian Lake, about 800 fish were counted Monday and again on Tuesday. That means about 25,000 have passed the Russian weir this season, a little better than last year.

The sanctuary is open, giving anglers some elbow room. But Fish and Game reports the best fishing can be had in “both the clear waters of the Russian River and the Kenai River mainstem above and below the Russian River ferry.”

MAT-SU TROUT

While salmon continue to trickle up the Parks Highway streams, don’t forget your trout rod.

Not far from the Glenn and Parks highway interchange is Kepler-Bradley Lakes State Recreation Site, a day-use only area with an abundance of lakes stocked with trout.

Even if McIntosh said he’s caught his salmon limit and wants to be at home this weekend, it might be hard for him to stay away from this place.

“You can’t bypass trout on any Kepler-Bradley lakes,” he said.

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Find Kevin Klott online at adn.com/contact/kklott or call 257-4335.

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Copyright (c) 2008, Anchorage Daily News, Alaska

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