Story last updated at 3:34 p.m. Thursday, May 16, 2002

King anglers gearing up
By Sepp Jannotta
Staff Writer

photo: sports
  Photo by Sepp Jannotta, Homer News
Bob Raui gets in some reading time  
Each spring residents of the southern Kenai Peninsula check a series of firsts off their seasonal list.

First sprout of green. First sight of a garden bed emerging from a winter's slumber. First song bird. First vehicle stuck axle deep in a mud hole. First mosquito. First tourist.

And perhaps most momentous of all, the first king salmon pulled from the Fishing Hole, where eventually thousands of kings will be caught.

People hoping to be the first lucky angler to sign a Fishing Lagoon king onto their king stamp have begun casting their gear into the waters of the high tide.

Bob Rauzi of Raytown, Mo., claims he was that season-opening angler a few years back, when he caught a king on May 15. In an effort to repeat his former glory, Rauzi has been putting in time at the lagoon like it was his job since arriving back in Homer for an annual summer of fishing.

Last year's first fish was taken on May 9 and some kings are usually swimming into the lagoon by the middle of the month.

Alaska Department of Fish and Game area biologist Nicky Szarzi said she expects between 2,000 and 3,000 kings to come calling in the lagoon.

After the kings, Szarzi said the Spit can expect some 7,000 silvers to return to the Fishing Hole.

As for whether Kenai Peninsula salmon will be running late because of the unusually cold spring weather, Szarzi hedged her bets.

"It could make things late. They've been seeing less herring at Kamishak," she said, before noting that anglers have reported good catches of kings in the troll fishery between Bluff and Stariski points, a sign that fish are in their pre-spawn staging grounds.

Szarzi expects between 1,000 and 1,500 kings to return to each of the fisheries across the Bay, though she thought there might be a slight boost in the Seldovia run because this is the first year Seldovia will see returns of kings that were stocked below the reservoir rather than in the harbor.

Currently, there are Dolly Varden char are running off the end of the Spit. And Kachemak Bay and lower Cook Inlet will get a series of excellent clam tides beginning next week. Alaska residents are required to obtain a shellfish permit to collect clams.