The Alaska Department of Fish and Game began counting the early run a couple weeks ago and as of Wednesday, 343 chinook had gone past sonar counters. That number is on pace with two of the last three years. The early return was a little higher at this point last year.
The department is reporting clear and low water conditions and a few kings have been caught and released on the Kenai. Unbaited catch and release is the only angling allowed for kings until July, when the lower river is expected to open to some targeted king fishing.
The Department anticipated an early-run return of a little more than 3,100 large fish, those that are 34 inches in length or more. That’s below the escapement goal of at least 3,900.