Last week of July means reds, kings

It’s the final week of July, and on the central Kenai Peninsula, that means sockeye and king salmon.

The Alaska Department of Fish and Game on Tuesday issued an emergency order increasing the sport bag and possession limits for sockeye salmon 16 inches or longer in the Kenai River to six per day, 12 in possession. The emergency order is effective for the Kenai River downstream from Skilak Lake.

While Fish and Game notes in the press release accompanying the emergency order that the action does not necessarily mean that fishing success will dramatically increase, there has been a steady stream of sockeye salmon moving past the sonar over the past several days, and fishing should continue to be good.

“Daily sonar estimates have been pretty steady, which is good for fishing in-river, and good for dipnetting in-river,” said Jason Pawluk, assistant area management biologist for Fish and Game.

From Saturday through Tuesday, the department’s sockeye salmon sonar estimates have averaged more than 61,645 fish per day.

In the Kenai River king salmon fishery, managers lifted the restriction on bait, though king salmon fishing is still restricted to the area downstream of markers downstream of Slikok Creek.

Pawluk said that Saturday, the first day of fishing with bait, was, “in a word, spectacular,” with plenty of boats catching fish, as well as many anglers releasing kings. Since then, the fishing has cooled off just a bit, but remains good.

Anglers hoping to catch a king salmon on the Kenai or the Kasilof River, where bait and hook restrictions have been lifted, have until 11:59 p.m. on Friday to do so.

The personal-use dipnet fishery on the Kenai, which has been opened to 24 hours per day, also closes Friday. Dipnetters should remember to return their permits to Fish and Game. This year, there is also an online option for reporting personal-use catches, accessible at www.fish.alaska.gov/PU.

For personal-use fishers who don’t get quite what they want from the Kenai River by Friday, the Kasilof River remains open to dipnetting through Aug. 7. An emergency order expanding the area open to dipnetting from shore on the Kasilof from the mouth upstream to the Sterling Highway remains in effect through Aug. 7. Also in effect on the Kasilof through Aug. 7 is an emergency order increasing the bag limits to six per day, 12 in possession.

On the southern Kenai Peninsula, there will be a youth fishing day at the Nick Dudiak Fishing Lagoon on the Homer Spit on Saturday. A portion of the lagoon will be open only to anglers 15 and younger for the day, and Fish and Game staff will be available from 1-4 p.m. to offer fishing tips.

According to Fish and Game, early run coho salmon are beginning to arrive in the fishing lagoon, and anglers are having success with salmon eggs, herring, and Vibrax spinners.

Also Saturday, the Anchor and Ninilchik rivers and Deep and Stariski Creeks open to fishing for Dolly Varden and steelhead/rainbow trout upstream from the Fish and Game regulatory markers, but remain closed for salmon upstream of these markers.

Have a fishing photo or story to share? Email tightlines@peninsulaclarion.com.

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