ADF&G

From the ‘Better Late than Never’ files we have this item: sockeye salmon fishing on the Kenai River will open once again this year.

The announcement came Tuesday afternoon from the Alaska Department of Fish and Game after the escapement exceeded 900,000 late run red salmon passing the river mile 19 sonar.

Sports Fish Cook Inlet Management Coordinator Matt Miller said the department was glad to be able to offer another opportunity for folks to fish for sockeye as the season winds down.

With all the closures and restrictions lately, one wouldn’t be blamed if they thought there were no more angling opportunities in the central Kenai Peninsula. But they'd be wrong.

First of all, dip-netting is still open at the mouth of the Kasilof River, with just a couple caveats: One, any king salmon caught must be immediately returned to the water, and two, the fishery is for Alaska residents only. Other than that, Fish and Game says dip-netting success on the Kasilof remains good.

The disastrous 2018 sockeye salmon run continues to claim its victims. First, Cook Inlet commercial fishermen were ordered to take their nets from the water, and then on Sunday it was the Kenai River dipnetters. 

Now, in an emergency order from Fish and Game, sports fishing for sockeye salmon is closed on the Kenai River from its mouth to Kenai Lake, starting at 12:01 a.m. Saturday.

There is still an exception around the confluence of the Russian River to fish that river’s late run sockeye, which looks good with an escapement of 70,000.

This week’s sport fishing report is dominated by news of new catch-and-release only regulations for king salmon on the very lowest portions of the Kenai River. 

The regulations went into effect on Wednesday morning in that section from the Kenai River mouth to the regulatory marker approximately 300 yards downriver of Slikok Creek.

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The annual personal use dipnet fishery at the mouth of the Kenai River begins Tuesday. But amid expectations of an underperforming salmon return, the City of Kenai, which is host to the fishery, is ready, according to City Manager Paul Ostrander.

Late run king salmon fishing reopened on the lower Kenai River on July 1st, however no bait is allowed. King fishing above the ADF&G markers at Slikok Creek is still prohibited.

The Department sonar shows 598 kings have escaped this season. That compares to 820 at this time last year, 1,066 in 2016 and 498 in 2015.

Meanwhile, fishing for king salmon on the Kasilof River has been fair, according to Fish and Game's weekly fishing report.

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.

Citing the continued lack of salmon making their way to the spawning grounds, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game has taken drastic steps to help boost the escapement. 

In two emergency orders released Friday, the department first cancelled Monday’s scheduled 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. commercial fishing period. Then it took the restrictions a step further, as we hear on the Department’s recorded commercial fishing update: 

Commercial salmon fishermen in Upper Cook Inlet will finally get a chance to put their nets in the water on Thursday. It is the first of the fleet’s regular 12-hour Monday-and-Thursday scheduled fishing openings.

Brian Marston, Fish and Game’s area manager for Upper Cook Inlet commercial fisheries, says this opening will be district-wide.

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A half-dozen reminders of recent emergency orders led off this week's Northern Kenai Fishing Report from the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, including a catch-and-release restriction on the Kenai River. But that restriction was superseded today (Monday) in an emergency order when the Department banned all angling for king salmon the Kenai River, even catch-and-release.

  The last series of lakes in the central peninsula to be treated for invasive northern pike is the subject of a public meeting Thursday night. The Alaska Department of Fish and Game will have on hand the project biologist, the area sport fishery manager, and the area research supervisor will be in attendance to answer questions. 

The public meeting will be from 5:30 to 7:30 Thursday evening at the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge Visitor Center.

 Anglers on the North Road will have to continue the practice of returning any Arctic Char or Dolly Varden to the waters of Stormy Lake for at least another year. Effective at 12:01 a.m. on New Year's Day, the restriction on fish retention was extended by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game.

The ban on taking Char or a Dolly in the lake stems from efforts started in 2012 to eradicate invasive, nonnative northern pike from Stormy Lake. That required poisoning the fish with a chemical called Rotenone.

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  Waterfowl hunting season kicked off Friday morning on the Kenai Peninsula and in several other areas of the state. Jason Schamber, the statewide waterfowl program coordinator for the Alaska Department of Fish and Game in Anchorage.

It's still largely a Lower 48 problem, but being bitten by a tick can have serious health consequences.

The Kenai River king salmon season closed at the end of July, and by all accounts, both the early and late runs were successful for both anglers and escapement.