King salmon fishing on both the Kenai and Kasilof rivers will have restrictions placed on them starting June 13, both due to the below average run strength. The Alaska Department of Fish and Game announced the restrictions Monday afternoon.
On the Kenai River, sports fishing will be limited to catch-and-release only, effective June 13 through July 15. Anglers may fish for king salmon with a single, unbaited, artificial lure, but may not remove the fish from the water before releasing it.
Different areas of the river are in play on different dates, so check with Fish and Game for specifics.
The move was required, according to Cook Inlet Management Coordinator Matt Miller, because the number of large kings that have passed the river mile 13.7 sonar totaled only 1,609 through June 10.
The optimal escapement goal of the early run is between 3,900 and 6,600 large kinds. The in-season in-river run projection is currently indicating a run between 3,500 and 4,700 depending on whether it’s on time or three days late.
And in a local example of the Domino Effect, the department moved to protect the Kasilof River’s resident king run, due to an expected increase in the fishing effort because of the catch-and-release restrictions on the Kenai River.
On the Kasilof, the department is prohibiting the retention of naturally-produced, or wild-run, king salmon, and reducing the bag and possession limit of hatchery-produced kings 20 inches or greater to one fish.
Anglers are also restricted to a single, unbaited, artificial lure.
Naturally-produced kings can be identified by an intact adipose fin.