sockeye salmon

Sabine Poux/KDLL

Nearly 2.5 million late-run sockeye are projected to pass through the Kenai River by the end of the month, overescaping the river by over one million fish.

Those numbers concern fishermen like Joe Dragseth, a drift-netter in Kenai. He said he worries about the health of the river. And he said it’s unfair commercial fishermen have been restricted while so many fish have made it up the river.

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.

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

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

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.

Elizabeth Earl / KDLL

It’s a relatively calm day on the Kenai beach for the opening day of dipnet. Weather is supposed to move in this weekend, bringing some increased winds and rain, but for now, the slack tide in the mouth of the Kenai River is almost glassy.

The beach is actually fairly quiet as well, though it’s still noon on a Friday. At the peak of the fishery, there can be hundreds of people lining every inch of the shore, each with a dipnet and a cooler to fill.

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.

Where there are masses of fish, there’s likely to be masses of people. And where there are masses of people, there are likely businesses attempting to make some money.

That’s the case with the Kenai personal-use, dip-net fishery. All sorts of businesses have sprouted up along the mouth of the Kenai River, trying to net revenue off the fishermen trying to net fish.

One of those types of businesses came under fire at the Alaska Board of Fisheries this week. The board is meeting in Anchorage to review Upper Cook Inlet fishery proposals through next Wednesday. On Thursday, they voted on a proposal that would ban a relatively new practice — guiding for dip-netters.

Glen Trombley, of Chugiak, owns Expeditions North LLC guiding service. During July, when the reds are running, he runs the Dip Ship in the mouth of the Kenai River, taking dip-netters out to get their personal-use sockeye.

“Some, for whatever reason, cannot physically access this particular fishery without some type of assistance. Not to mention families with small children that would normally not be able to participate from shore due to safety issues,” Trombley said.

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.

Late run reds outpace recent years

Aug 27, 2019

The 2019 late Kenai River sockeye salmon run is officially twice as good as last year. Through August 19, the most recent date ADF-and-G has data for, 1.85 million sockeye have crossed the sonar at river mile 19, which is double the 900,000 the run stood at on the same date in 2018
The run has been steadily declining since its second peak on August 6th, when the daily count was over 76,000. The run’s first peak, on July 28th, was over 99,000.
Just over 10,000 reds were counted on the 19th, 16,000 on the 18th, and 18,000 the day before that.

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.

Late run reds returning strong

Jul 29, 2019

        The late run of sockeye salmon to the Kenai River has returned surprisingly strong this summer, prompting the Alaska Department of Fish and Game to liberalize fishing time and limits for several fisheries.

The Kenai River personal use dip net fishery has been thrown wide open and will remain open 24 hours per day through 11:59 p.m. Wednesday(July 31, 2019) when the fishery closes by regulation.

ADF&G

  The early run of sockeye salmon on the Kenai River is off to a strong enough start that Fish and Game is going to give anglers an early opportunity to land some in the Russian River Sanctuary.

In opening the sanctuary early, Area Management Biologist Colton Lipka said in an announcement that the system, “hasn’t seen numbers like this for several years.”

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.

Sockeye available to anglers again on Kenai River

Aug 22, 2018

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.

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.

In what is one of the few bright spots in an otherwise dismal sportsfishing season, the bag and possession limits on the Kasilof River has been liberalized in an effort to minimize what is now expected to be an over-escapement of sockeye salmon.

In an emergency order, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game increased the bag and possession limits to six fish per day and 12 fish in possession; however, no more than two salmon per day and two in possession may be coho salmon, in all portions of the Kasilof River open to salmon fishing.

Managers closing sockeye angling on Kenai River

Aug 1, 2018

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.

 

Thursday was a slightly better day for sockeye returns to the Kenai river. But some of those fish coming back have raised a little curiosity.

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.