The end of one season means the approach of another -- Monday is the beginning of Dolly Varden season -- which means it's time to dust off the light tackle and celebrate a little elbow room.
That beautiful, clown-painted migratory char, which makes its summer residence in so many of Southcentral's salmon streams, offers a welcome change of pace from the hustle and bustle of king salmon season.
Go fishing when you feel like it, there are no weekend openings to worry about. And, as you scout for a promising hole, you're unlikely to be reminded of some childhood visit to Grand Central Station.
When you find yourself on a secluded stretch of river, casting a tiny glass bead or wet fly, or -- if you're lucky enough to find a riser -- a dry fly, you'll know you've found the answer to combat fishing.
Dollies in the neighborhood of 5 pounds are not unheard of on the Anchor River, which typically has a healthy run of the char. Only the lower river, downstream of the North Fork confluence, is open for fishing. The upper river will open August 1.
Also opening on Monday, the Ninilchik River and Deep Creek can offer good fishing Dollies.
And best of all, while the king is a relatively elusive fish, a Dolly Varden is not.
But, if you've still got the king bug, there's always the Fishing Hole on the Spit, where anglers are still pulling out a few bright fish. (Pssst, snagging for king salmon in Kachemak Bay waters is open and the Fishing Hole will be snagger-friendly starting Friday and continuing through July 7.)
Anglers can also take a shot at the early-run stragglers in the Kasilof River. This river is also home to a great run of sockeye salmon, and anglers are catching plenty of feisty reds as sonar counters have clicked off some 40,000 sockeye in the river.
The Kenai River below the Sterling Highway Bridge will open for kings on Monday, though no bait is allowed and the fishing is likely to be slow as the late run of kings continues to stage in the salt waters of Cook Inlet. The Alaska Department of Fish and Game has ordered the water upstream of the Sterling Highway Bridge closed to fishing for kings in order to give a record low run a chance.
But fishing on the middle river is open for rainbow trout, which can exceed 10 pounds both below and above Skilak Lake.
A friendly reminder: over the past several weekends, Fish and Wildlife Protection Troopers, working undercover, have handed out dozens of tickets at area rivers and beaches for violations of the state sport fishing regulations.
The offenses were often simple ones. Most often, anglers got nabbed for failing to record a king on their king stamp, or for clamming without a fishing license and the free shellfish permit.