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Fishing in Alaska

Fishing in Alaska

Kenai River yields big silver salmon
By — Gary Lewis / The Bulletin
Published: September 11. 2013 4:00AM PST


Emergency: too many fish. The Alaska Department of Fish and Game said it was raising the limit to three a day. That was the text I got from Paul Cahill on Wednesday. Friday morning we hit the Kenai.

We rented Paul’s house, the Kenai River Red Lodge, outside Soldotna, fished a couple of creeks and brought a couple of silvers, a steelhead and assorted Dolly Varden to hand. But Friday morning was the main event.

This is a city home to 4,100 year-round residents with a Walmart, a Sportsman’s Warehouse and a Fred Meyer because the population could easily hit 50,000 in June, July and August.

By the time the kids go back to school, a big part of the populace is ready for fall. In September, camouflage is as fashionable as chest waders. We saw moose, the smart ones, in the city limits and brown bear tracks along the creek. Ptarmigan, the waitress at Froso’s said, were predictable at the end of the pavement. If we had brought a shotgun…

We had not; instead we brought Hevi-Beads, Spey rods, spinning setups and bear spray.

Fueled by Sisters Coffee, we stepped aboard two boats, shook hands with our guides, Cory and Taylor, from Chet’s Guide Service (Chet was bear hunting), and pushed out into the milky current and the rain that blew in off the ocean.

Moments later, I made a mental note to never forget my rain pants again. I looked at my daughter, Jennifer — same deal. Our jeans were soaked through in minutes. My dad, Don Lewis, was stoic beneath a summer ball cap soon to be soaked with Kenai sunshine. Summer comes to a screeching halt in September in Soldotna.

We didn’t come all this way to not fish. Rain pounded down; the wind blew the boat upstream and back and forth on anchor.

Behind us, we pulled Kwikfish, wrapped with sardine fillets. Time seemed to stand still as the rhythm of the waves pounded the bow and water found its way inside our sleeves and soaked through to our socks. And unseen the salmon blasted up along the bank. The first one was a small silver, small by Kenai standards anyway, 6 pounds. It threw the hook before we could get the net under it….