Early sockeye run greets combat fishermen on Russian River opener

An angler lands a sockeye salmon on the Russian River. (KTUU)

COOPER LANDING, Alaska (KTUU) - In the three days leading up to the opening of the Kenai and Russian River, close to 8,000 salmon passed the Department of Fish and Games fish counter in the Russian River.

During the same period leading up to the opening date last season, fewer than 200 fish had been tallied at the same spot.

Many anglers who scouted spots late Monday night were able to quickly catch their limit of three sockeye shortly after midnight, and the good fishing continued through Tuesday morning.

By early Tuesday afternoon, crowds at on the river thinned as many anglers caught their limit in a short period. However, sections of the river near parking areas would still be best described as 'combat fishing'.

"It's a lot of fish coming up a little river, so it really increases people's chances," said Russell Pate of Nikiski.

On Tuesday it was not setting a hook in a sockeye, but landing the fish that proved the most challenging.

"I've seen it where the river just goes black with fish coming up. It's a neat experience and you can't experience it unless you're here," Pate said.

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