King angling shut down on Kenai

Jun 18, 2018

Credit ADF&G

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 But that restriction was superseded today (Monday) in an emergency order when the Department banned all angling for king salmon the Kenai River, even catch-and-release.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 move, called “not an easy decision” by Cook Inlet Management Coordinator Matt Miller, was forced after only an estimated 2,116 large king salmon have passed the department’s sonar at river mile 13.7. 

The lower end of the early-run Kenai River king salmon escapement goal is 3,900 fish, which managers no longer think is achievable.

The closure takes effect at 12:01 a.m. Wednesday.

Anglers will get some increased opportunity at the Russian River however, as the Department has opened the “Sanctuary” early. Starting tomorrow (Tuesday) morning, fishermen may take three reds per day, with six in possession of fish 16-inches or longer. For sockeye smaller, the bag limit is 10 per day and 10 in possession. 

The bag limit for king salmon on the Kasilof River was reduced. Fishermen may now retain only one hatchery-produced king salmon over 20-inches in length. Anglers were also restricted to one unbaited, single-hook, artificial lure.

An emergency order also reduced the hours participants in the Upper Cook Inlet Personal Use set gillnet fishery at the mouth of the Kasilof may have a net in the water from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. to 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.

Turning to fresh water, emergency orders prohibited the retention of arctic char and Dolly varden in Stormy Lake as the native fish continue to rebuild after the invasive pike were eradicated.

Retention of all species caught in the Soldotna Creek drainage lakes is prohibited, though fishing is allowed in the East and West Mackey, Sevena, Union, and Derks lakes.

The Upper Kenai River and the Russian River have opened for sockeye salmon angling last Monday (June 11) and fishing has been reported as fair on both. Trout fishing in the same waters is has been good since their spawning closures ended on June 11.

Early-run king salmon fishing on the Kenai River has been described as very slow, with poor water conditions as well.

Fishing on the Kasilof River for early kings has become slow, though it is the only place to keep a Chinook, as long as it's as hatchery fish over 20-inches.