Soldotna and Fishing for Reds on the Kenai River

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July 29th 2011
Published: July 30th 2011
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My first sockeyeMy first sockeyeMy first sockeye

This was the small one! (Yeh, I know, fish stories....)
It rained and rained and rained - Sat, Sun and Mon, so we looked around Kenai and Soldotna and got things done around the motorhome and watched a lot of TV. When the rain stopped, we decided to try our luck at "combat" fishing for reds along the river. (Combat fishing is shoulder-to-shoulder fishing with others casting right beside you). It was obvious that we didn't know what we were doing when we didn't catch any fish, even though those around us were catching plenty. Tommy, a friend from Georgia, arrived late Tuesday night and invited us to float the Lower Kenai on Wed. We put on our waders, hopped in the boat and started on another Alaska adventure. It was a gorgeous day and floating was peaceful and serene, passing by fisherman in the river, watching the seagulls dive-bomb into the water, and getting very close to a bald eagle sitting on a rock in the water. Soon, we got to the "hole," where we were stopping to fish. There were 8 of us (in two boats); 5 of us got to fish, there were 2 net men and a cutter. (all a new experience.) Reds don't bite a fly or lure. You hope that the line you toss out "flosses" into the open mouth of the salmon as it swims upstream. A "fair" hooking hooks the fish in the mouth. If the fish is "snagged" anywhere else, it has to be let go. Once any of us hooked a fish, we hollered "fish on," so the others wouldn't cast out over the fighting salmon on the line. Then, the net man rushed up to net the fish. Sometimes, the net man was busy drinking or talking, so he didn't rush to you at all. Those salmon really do fight to get upstream to the spawning grounds (they must not know their fate once they get there). The net man brings the fish over to the cutter who starts filleting the fish immediately, throwing the carcasses back into the current (this is a requirement, as fish carcasses thrown anywhere else (the bank or dumpsters) attract bears.)

Once we had enough (it started pouring rain while we were fishing), we hopped back into the boat and drifted on back to camp. Thankfully, the sun came out to dry our clothes and warm us up. We floated about 18 miles and,
Fishing really closeFishing really closeFishing really close

Imagine..... every one is casting into the river!
including the fishing, it lasted 8 hours. We were very tired!! Both boats got their limit of 6 reds per person per day.

Additional photos below
Photos: 13, Displayed: 13


The boat inches nearerThe boat inches nearer
The boat inches nearer

Getting closer to the eagle
Eagle in flightEagle in flight
Eagle in flight

This eagle had just finished its fish when we approached.
Busy Net ManBusy Net Man
Busy Net Man

At one time, we were catching fish so fast that the net man couldn't get back to the cutter before another one was hooked.
Chainsaw carvingChainsaw carving
Chainsaw carving

Thought the cowboy on a salmon would look good in our backyard at Ribera!
Dip NettersDip Netters
Dip Netters

Alaska residents can catch the reds in a big net. This is at the mouth of the Cook Inlet where it meets the Kenai River.
Dip Nets are hugeDip Nets are huge
Dip Nets are huge

and heavy I would think
King salmonKing salmon
King salmon

These folks could barely hold up their catch. This was the day before you couldn't keep the kings.
Fishing for kingsFishing for kings
Fishing for kings

Much more difficult than fishing for reds because the line has to be cast into the middle of the river. These guys weigh about 40-45 pounds, fight like crazy, and can't be kept right now.

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