Sabine Poux/KDLL

Two Kenai Peninsula cities are weighing in on a lawsuit over the closure of part of Cook Inlet to salmon fishing. 

Kenai and Homer both are submitting amicus briefs to a suit from the United Cook Inlet Drift Association that attempts to stop the closure before it takes hold next summer. The cities say the ramifications of the decision on their local economies could be intense.

Courtesy of Seth Kantner

Seth Kantner sees his life today as a continuation of the subsistence life he grew up with in northwest Alaska, with some new additions: commercial fishing in the summer, writing in the winter and photography in the spring and fall.

In the last several years, he’s gathered images and stories from the caribou herds that live near his home on the south side of the Brooks Range. His latest book, “A Thousand Trails Home,” recounts those tales, his own story and how they all intersect in a part of the country that’s experiencing climate change at a staggeringly rapid pace.

Photo: Sabine Poux/KDLL

There's a lot that needs to come off a boat when it docks. And it’s not uncommon that some of that waste ends up in the ocean instead of the trash.

Bristol Bay fisherman Tav Ammu wants to gather more data on how clean Alaska’s harbors are and how the people who use them think about harbor cleanliness. He’s interviewing and surveying harbor users for an Alaska SeaGrant project and is basing his study in Ninilchik.

Alaska Department of Fish and Game

If you’re looking for a less-rustic approach to rainbow trout fishing on the northern Kenai Peninsula, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game has a spot for you.

The department recently finished improving access to Barbara Lake, about 30 miles north of Kenia. Access is off Ballard Drive, off Halibouty Road.

Fish and Game has been stocking the lake since 1980. It’s not one of their highest-use fisheries, but this project might help hook some more interest.

“It’s more just improving the access and experience for anglers that either live out in Nikiski or choose to travel out there and go look for fish,” said Colton Lipka, area management biologist.

Sabine Poux/KDLL

To win the Kenai Silver Salmon Derby, you don’t have to catch the largest coho, or even the second largest.

The Kenai derby is all about hitting the magic weight. City Manager Paul Ostrander said that’s to limit the number of salmon injured by catch and release fishing.

Sabine Poux/KDLL

One minute, there are zero rainbow trout in John Hedberg Lake. 

Fewer than 30 seconds later, there are 700.

Redoubt Reporter file photo

Sport anglers can keep double the normal number of sockeye salmon in the Kenai River starting tomorrow as the run is ramping up.


The Alaska Department of Fish and Game announced the bag limit increase this afternoon. Starting tomorrow morning, anglers can keep up to six sockeye per day with twleve in possession. That applies to the river downstream of Skilak Lake.

Nikiski Community Council

The Alaska Department of Fish and Game is asking for public comment on a plan to add a community lake in Nikiski to its fish stocking program.

The department announced that it’s considering adding John Hedberg Lake to the stocking program, which would put about 700 catchable rainbow trout in the lake this year and 1,000 fingerlings annually after that. John Hedberg Lake is located in Nikiski Community Park near the Nikiski Community Recreation Center, about mile 23 of the Kenai Spur Highway.

Sabine Poux/KDLL

Anglers on the Kasilof River can now only catch hatchery-produced kings. The Alaska Department of Fish and Game is restricting fishing on the river through the rest of the month, effective Thursday.

Elizabeth Earl / KDLL

The Anchor River and Deep Creek will close to king salmon fishing through July 15 starting Saturday. Too few kings are coming back to the Anchor to justify a sportfishery there, according to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game.

Sabine Poux/KDLL

The hooligan fishery is small. So small that the Alaska Department of Fish and Game doesn’t even run projections for the fish.

But the peak of the hooligan run is this month. Alaskans can fish the personal-use hooligan fishery without a permit, as long as they have a resident sport fish license.

Alaska Department of Fish & Game

Two small commercial fisheries open soon in Upper Cook Inlet.

The commercial herring fishing season starts April 20 and closes May 31. The season for hooligan — a type of smelt — will be open between May 1 and June 30.

Alaska fisheries more than three miles offshore fall under the purview of the North Pacific Fishery Management Council, a group of 11 voting members that makes policy decisions about the federal fisheries off the Alaska coast.

One of those council members is Seward’s Andy Mezirow. He was just appointed to his third three-year term by Gov. Mike Dunelavy. It’ll be his last, due to term limits. 

Redoubt Reporter

Upper Cook Inlet fishermen should expect another below-average sockeye salmon run this year.

The Alaska Department of Fish and Game forecasts a return of 4,370,000 sockeye to Upper Cook Inlet in 2021, according to a report released Friday

Kenai Peninsula College hosted a two-part series of presentations on the possible effects of climate change on the future of fishing and hunting on the Kenai Peninsula. Part one, on fish populations and the Cook Inlet watershed, featured Dr. Erik Shane, fisheries biologist with the University of Alaska Fairbanks, and Sue Mauger, Science and executive director with Cook Inletkeeper.

Redoubt Reporter

Federal managers voted Monday to close a huge swath of Upper Cook Inlet to commercial salmon fishing, capping a two-year fight over the fate of the fishery and its 500 permit-holders.

Those fishermen and representatives from the Kenai Peninsula turned out in droves to the North Pacific Fisheries Management Council meeting to oppose the closure and advocate for lighter conservation measures.

But when representatives from Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s administration said the state was unwilling to manage the area alongside the federal government, the council voted unanimously for the closure.


The southern half of Cook Inlet will have a new fishery management plan in under a month. Commercial fishermen are organizing with the help of their city councils to make sure that plan is not the proposed “Alternative 4,” which would close off federal waters south of Kalgin Island to commercial salmon fishing.

Kenai Mayor Brian Gabriel is bringing forth a resolution to oppose such a closure at a special Kenai City Council meeting tonight.

“I hate to be overdramatic in a lot of cases, but you could almost call it a deathknell for drift fishing in Cook Inlet,” he said.

Redoubt Reporter file photo

July and August are the height of the Kenai River sportfishing season, but fishermen are going to have to work a little harder for their catches for the first couple weeks of August.

The Alaska Department of Fish and Game announced that bait and multiple hooks will be prohibited on the Kenai River from the mouth to the outlet of Skilak Lake starting Saturday at midnight. The change lasts through August 15.

Jenny Neyman/KDLL

The Kenai Peninsula is seeing some of its most beautiful weather of the year right around now, which is getting a lot of people outside. But it’s also getting the bears out, and where they overlap with people, there can be trouble.

On Sunday, a brown bear was reported to have bluff charged a hiker on the Skilak Lookout trail off Skilak Lake Road. No one was reportedly hurt, but running into a bear can be scary. Kenai National Wildlife Refuge Park Ranger Leah Eskelin says some are taking actions like firing warning shots into the air to scare off bears, but that’s not the best way to go.

Seward Chamber of Commerce

Seward is going ahead with a version of its annual silver salmon derby this August.

Starting August 8 and running through the 16th, fishermen with an itch for silvers will get a chance to win some prizes from the Seward Chamber of Commerce. But in light of the pandemic and outbreaks in Seward and surrounding communities, the chamber is announcing some changes as well.

Alaska Department of Fish and Game

King salmon fishing on the Kenai River will open with no bait, with retention of kings less than 34 inches long. The Kasilof River will also start July with no bait.

Both rivers have seen low king salmon runs so far this season, with the Kenai River going to no fishing for June. Starting July 1, king salmon fishing will open, but only from a marker just downstream of Slikok Creek down to the mouth. Upstream of Slikok Creek all the way to Skilak Lake will stay closed through July 31, according to an emergency order issued Monday from the Alaska Department of Fish and Game. The department will continue to monitor the run as the season goes on.

National Marine Fisheries Service / National Marine Fisheries Service

Temperatures in the Gulf of Alaska are on the upswing again, which could be bad news for fish and other marine animals.

Last summer saw scorching temperatures across Alaska, including breaking the 90-degree mark on the Fourth of July in Southcentral. The ocean hangs onto abnormal temperatures for some time, leading to sea surface temperature anomalies and can have negative impacts on fish populations.

Elizabeth Earl / KDLL

 The Anchor River and Deep Creek will officially off-limits to sport fishing starting Wednesday. Too few king salmon are coming back to those rivers to allow for it, according to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game.

The rivers, which run alongside the Sterling Highway on the way to Homer, are popular sportfishing streams throughout the summer. But for the past few years, the king salmon runs there have been struggling. As of Monday, 164 kings had passed the weir on Deep Creek, compared to 282 last year, and 201 fish had passed the weir on the Anchor River, compared to 938 by the same day last year. Based on past run timing, that means a run of about 2,000 kings for the Anchor in 2020, a little more than half of the lower end of the escapement goal.

Redoubt Reporter file photo

State officials say they are working with commercial, sport and personal-use fishery user groups to figure out a way to conduct fishing season in light of COVID-19.

In a press conference Friday, Alaska Department of Health and Social Services Commissioner Adam Crum said working groups have been set up to get recommendations on how to keep people safe while still having a fishing season. Crum said there’s a specific group just for coastal communities on the road system.

“There is a group that has actually been started, as well, that (includes) Cook Inlet fisheries trying to figure out this, ‘How are we going to deal with working with coastal communities?’” Crum said. “You know, Homer and Kasilof and Kenai where these boats launch out of to go out for some of those salmon fisheries. And so, yes, that’s an ongoing concern and conversation, talking with the city managers and leadership about those groups.” 

Redoubt Reporter file photo

The COVID-19 pandemic will not prevent Alaskans from fishing this summer. 

But, residents are being asked to take precautions to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

“We’re not closing anything. Every fishery out there is going to run as they would normally,” said Rick Green, special assistant to the commissioner of the Alaska Department of Fish and Game.

On April 13, Fish and Game released guidelines aimed at allowing Alaskans to participate in sport and personal-use fisheries, while following state health mandates. 

“We came up with the guidelines of how, basically, you can get through a community without interacting with the locals to stave off any possibility of spreading of COVID,” Green said.

Redoubt Reporter

The Alaska Board of Fisheries heard two days of public comments over the weekend, weighing in on the 171 Upper Cook Inlet fisheries proposals it is considering this week and next in Anchorage.

As usual, it’s a tug-of-war over fish allocation, not only between commercial, sport and personal-use fisheries, but between regions, as well. The Matanuska-Susitna area is making a concerted effort to convince the board to regulate for more fish to get past mid-inlet commercial fisheries to upper-inlet streams.

Peter Matisse, of the Susitna Valley Fish and Game Advisory Committee, advocated for a conservation corridor, which would keep commercial drift-net fishing closer to shore, the thought being that this would allow passage of salmon heading to northern streams.

“Biologists are just beginning to understand that many of these fish travel through these corridors to great harvesting press and struggle to make it to the last destination, of the Su,” Matisse sai

Alaska Department of Fish and Game

Forecasts for the 2020 early and late runs of king salmon to the Kenai River are a mixed bag.

According to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, the Kenai early run of kings is expected to be below average, with a forecast of 4,794 fish. If that forecast proves true, it will be less than the recent five-year average of 5,110 fish, and would rank as the eighth lowest run of the last 35 years. However, the forecast is within the optimum escapement goal of 3,900 to 6,600 fish. An optimum escapement goal is set by the Alaska Board of Fisheries and is meant to safeguard the biological needs of the stock while providing for harvest opportunity.

The 2020 early run forecast is higher than last year’s early run forecast of 3,167 fish and last year’s observed return of 4,216 fish.

Board of Fisheries rejects hatchery proposals

Dec 17, 2019
Cook Inlet Aquaculture Association


The state Board of Fisheries wrapped up three days of meetings focused on Lower Cook Inlet issues on Friday. Hatchery operations were one of the more debated topics, with a number of proposals before the board aimed at limiting hatchery operations.



ECON 919 - Fishing fallout from the Swan Lake fire

Nov 15, 2019


This week, continuing to unpack the full costs of the Swan Lake Fire. Senator Peter Micciche got a meeting together this week with officials from an alphabet soup of local, state and federal agencies. They talked about how the plan to fight, or not fight the fire, unfolded and how those plans changed as conditions on the ground changed, or, didn’t change. It took months for fire dousing rains to return to the Kenai this fall. And until they did, a number of businesses that rely on access to the Kenai river, either directly or indirectly, suffered.



Board of Fish reverses decision to hold Kenai meeting

Oct 28, 2019

The state Board of Fish voted last week to hold its 2020 Upper Cook Inlet meetings in Anchorage. This reverses a decision the board made earlier this year to not just hold that meeting in Kenai for the first time since 1999, but to begin rotating the triennial, two week long meetings between the Peninsula, Anchorage and the Mat-Su Valley.