king salmon

Redoubt Reporter

The Board of Fisheries has denied two emergency petitions from Kenai Peninsula setnetters asking to reopen a limited fishery for what is left of the sockeye run.

 

The east side setnet commercial fishery has been closed since July 20 after the Alaska Department of Fish and game closed the Kenai River king salmon sportfishery. The setnets are tied to the restrictions in the sportfishery, and came out of the water entirely when the sportfishery closed. The late run of king salmon has been depressed this year—only 6,420 large kings have passed the sonar on the Kenai, and Fish and Game is projecting that the run won’t make the lower end of the escapement goal, even without harvest.

Redoubt Reporter

Commercial setnet fishermen in Cook Inlet had their season cut short last week. When the Alaska Department of Fish and Game closed the Kenai River to sportfishing for king salmon, it closed the east setnet fishery completely. Some of them had only had a handful of openers.

Alaska Department of Fish and Game

The Kenai River will close entirely to king salmon fishing starting Wednesday.

The Alaska Department of Fish and Game announced the closure Monday afternoon after nearly three weeks of watching the late-run king salmon fail to return to the Kenai River in large enough numbers. The lower river started July with a king fishery open to retention, but no bait allowed; the department moved to catch-and-release only, with a note that further action might be necessary. Even with the closure, biologists don’t think the run will make the minimum escapement goal.

Elizabeth Earl / KDLL

Commercial fishing is underway across Upper Cook Inlet. Some fishermen to the north of Kenai have had their nets in the water since May, but permit holders in the setnet and drift gillnet fisheries are just getting into the heat of the season as the Kenai and Kasilof sockeye runs pick up. That’s where the majority of the harvest is.

Redoubt Reporter

Kenai River anglers are allowed to catch and keep kings of any size this month, as long as they do it with a single unbaited hook. The Alaska Department of Fish and Game made that decision after analyzing the projections for the run and the outcome of the early Kenai king run last month.

But sport fishing guides worry that taking big kings out of the river will hurt the population long term. They’re asking anglers to release the large kings they catch anyway.

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.

Redoubt Reporter

Kenai River sport fishermen can start the season under general regulations.

The Alaska Department of Fish and Game is projecting an early run of about 4,400 large king salmon, longer than 34 inches. That’s just below the recent five-year average of 4,700 fish, and about half of the 35-year average of 9,000 fish.

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.

Redoubt Reporter file photo

The Kenai River drainage will officially close to king salmon fishing Friday due to low numbers.

The Alaska Department of Fish and Game announced the closure on Wednesday, set to last through July 31, which would be the end of the king salmon fishing season on the Kenai anyway. The river was already restricted to catch-and-release only due to low returns, but the closure goes a step further and prohibits bait everywhere in the river from the mouth upstream to Skilak Lake.

Alaska Department of Fish and Game

Alaskans pretty well know at this point that king salmon are in trouble. Biologists been looking into why for about a decade now, without a single smoking gun. And that seems to the way it’s going to be—no single answer.

A group of researchers led through the University of Alaska published a study this week probing a little more into the freshwater part of the lives of king salmon, also known as chinook. They focused on fifteen streams in the Cook Inlet basin, from the Chulitna in the north to the Anchor River in the south, to find some answers about how what happens in the freshwater affects king salmon survival. And, like other studies have shown, it’s complicated.

Redoubt Reporter

Commercial fishermen in Upper Cook Inlet are having a somewhat slow fishing season so far.

So far, only 361,000 salmon have been landed, which is only a little bit ahead of last year, when they ended the season with about a third less than the recent averages. Fish tickets are coming in on Wednesday, but they’re not event quite halfway to the average harvest by this time, said commercial fisheries management biologist Brian Marston. Average right now would be about 800,000.

Alaska Department of Fish and Game

Fishing for king salmon the Kenai and Kasilof rivers will be catch-and-release only starting Wednesday.

The Alaska Department of Fish and Game announced the restriction on Monday. Not enough large kings are coming back to the river to meet the escapement goal, so the restriction is to help preserve more of the fish, according to the department. As of Sunday, 1,699 large kings—that’s kings 75 centimeters or greater from mid-eye to tail fork, the only ones that the department counts toward escapement—had passed the sonar on the Kenai River. Under current projections, there won’t be enough to meet the escapement goal.

Redoubt Reporter

The Kenai River personal use dipnet fishery opens on Friday at 6 a.m. This year, though, dipnetters are not allowed to keep any king salmon they net. They have to let those go immediately.

The Alaska Department of Fish and Game announced the restriction on Monday. The department is concerned about enough king salmon making it up the river for escapement, so dipnetters are restricted from keeping them. Sportfishermen are not allowed to use bait, either, and are restricted as to where they can fish and how many big fish they can keep.

Elizabeth Earl / KDLL

 There’s just under a week until the Kenai River dipnet opens on July 10. But if you want to get out and get some dipnetting done this weekend, there’s a little more space at the Kasilof River to do it.

The Alaska Department of Fish and Game announced that the Kasilof dipnet is open to shore fishing all the way from the mouth upstream to the Sterling Highway Bridge. Dipnetting from a boat is allowed, too, but only up to a marker around mile 3 of the river. No king salmon can be kept, though.

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.

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

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.

Kings and Reds see divergent returns in 2019

Oct 15, 2019

A couple of systems over-escaped their sockeye salmon returns in the Central Kenai Peninsula this summer, as the Swan Lake Fire hampered both catching and managing fish on the Upper Kenai River. The Alaska Department of Fish and Game released the figures in its 2019 summary of the fisheries last week
    The escapement goal for Russian River early-run sockeye salmon is a range of between 22,000-44,000 fish. The weir count on July 14 was 125,942 sockeye salmon, significantly exceeding the upper end of the biologic escapement goal.

Kenai sockeye continue strong late run

Aug 5, 2019

        It's been a week since king salmon fishing closed by regulation on the Kenai River. It was characteristically slow at the end, though the 2019 run kept pace with 2018 until the last week of July.

Fish and Game records show the run peaked on July 21st when 546 kings passed the sonar. Through Saturday, the run stood at 9,586, about 2,000 less than last year, and 6,000 less than 2017.

Kenai king angling, dip-netting wrapping up

Jul 30, 2019

There’s little more than one day left in the Kenai River king salmon sports fishery for the 2019 season. It closes late Wednesday night when the calendar turns to August.Fish and Game reports that king angling on the Lower Kenai has slowed, but still considered fair, and that water conditions are favorable. Gear is still limited to one, un-baited single-tool artificial fly or lure.

NOAA

          The Alaska Department of Fish and Game says king salmon are present in good numbers in the Ninilchik River, though anglers need to double-check their catch before taking it out of the water.

The Department says both hatchery and wild run fish are abundant, but that it is only the hatchery kings that can be kept. They can be identified by the absence of the adipose fin, which should be checked before taking the fish out of the water.

Early run sockeye strong on Kenai

Jun 7, 2019

Kings and sockeye are running on the main stem of the Kenai River, and soon tributary streams will open for rainbow trout fishing.

The latest report from the Alaska Department of Fish and Game indicates fishing is expected to be good.

The confluence of the Upper Kenai and Russian rivers will open for early run sockeye fishing on Tuesday.

Kasilof River king salmon fishing is good and should continue to improve over the next week or two.

Early king run trickling back to Kenai river

May 30, 2019
Alaska Department of Fish and Game

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.

Andy Seitz, University of Alaska Fairbanks

 

Researchers now have a better idea of what’s eating king salmon in the open ocean. A new study from the University of Alaska Fairbanks College of Fisheries and Ocean Science found kings filling the bellies of salmon sharks, but that wasn’t the information they were after.

 

 


The Alaska Department of Fish and Game is implementing sport fishing restrictions in the Anchor River, Deep Creek, and Ninilchik River drainages effective April 1 through July 15, 2019. Sport fishing gear is restricted to only one unbaited, single-hook, artificial lure in the three drainages.

A combined annual limit has been established to two king salmon 20 inches or greater in length for fish harvested in the Anchor River, Deep Creek, Ninilchik River, and all marine waters south of the latitude of the mouth of the Ninilchik River.

King angling will open under restrictions

Feb 15, 2019

King salmon sports fishing on the Kenai Peninsula’s two main rivers will open again this year with restrictions.

 

In two announcements from the Alaska Department of Fish and Game in Soldotna this week, the Kenai River early run of kings will be restricted to catch-and-release only, while on the Kasilof River anglers may only keep one hatchery-bred king salmon longer than 20 inches in length.

 

Here’s something we haven’t shared in the Central Kenai Peninsula sportsfishing report before. Angling for salmon on the Kenai River is exclusively fly fishing at the moment. The vast majority of the river is still closed from end-to-end, but, in that portion around the confluence of the Russian River, you can try your hand at fly casting.

Both Areas A and B are fly-fishing only. They are bounded by the power line crossing the river on the west end and ADF&G markers on the east. Sportsman’s Landing at Mile 55 is about in the middle.

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.

Russian River Reds bucking the trend

Jul 3, 2018

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.

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