While many river systems statewide are struggling to achieve their respective salmon escapement goals, there’s one on the Kenai Peninsula that is set to exceed its goal, and as a result, managers have liberalized the catch and possession limit.
In an announcement Monday, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game increased the sport-caught sockeye salmon limits for the Russian River and a section of the main stem of the Kenai River to six per day and 12 in possession.
With about 70 percent of the run estimated to have passed, over 32,700 sockeye have crossed the Russian River weir, located upstream of the Russian River Falls. That’s smack in the middle of the biological escapement range of 22,000-to-42,000 sockeye.
Cook Inlet Management Coordinator Matt Miller said that based on those numbers that it was “appropriate to increase the limits and allow anglers an opportunity to harvest six sockeye salmon per day in the Russian and Upper Kenai River.”
The section of the main-stem Upper Kenai River affected extends from Skilak Lake upstream to the ADF&G regulatory markers located approximately 300 yards upstream of the public boat launch at Sportsman’s Landing and the Russian River from its mouth upstream to an ADF&G marker located approximately 600 yards downstream from the Russian River Falls.
Because of the increase bag limit, the department is reminding anglers that they may possess only the limit allowed for the waters they are actively fishing. So for example: If a Russian River angler has more than six sockeye salmon in possession, then that angler may not fish in waters with a possession limit of six.
This regulatory change is effective 12:01 a.m. Tuesday morning, (July 3) and lasts through 11:59 p.m. Saturday, July 14.
Meanwhile, downriver, the king salmon fishery is the polar opposite. A few weeks ago all fishing on the Kenai for the mighty chinook was shut down until the end of June. King fishing is still prohibited from just below Slikok Creek up to Skilak Lake, but on July 1 it opened from the mouth of the Kenai River to the Slikok Creek marker. No bait is allowed.