Photo submitted by Jason Foster                                An angler shows off his early run sockeye on the Kenai River in June near Kenai. Kenai River early run had a below average outlook this year.                                An angler shows off his early run sockeye on the Kenai River in June 2019 near Kenai, Alaska. Kenai River early run had a below average outlook this year. (Photo submitted by Jason Foster)

Photo submitted by Jason Foster An angler shows off his early run sockeye on the Kenai River in June near Kenai. Kenai River early run had a below average outlook this year. An angler shows off his early run sockeye on the Kenai River in June 2019 near Kenai, Alaska. Kenai River early run had a below average outlook this year. (Photo submitted by Jason Foster)

2019 large sockeye return surprises

Fish and Game releases 2019 summary

There were no surprises with the low return on king salmon this summer, but the large sockeye return was unexpected, according to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game 2019 sport fish management area summary.

The report highlights each species and run around the Northern Kenai Peninsula, starting with the Kenai River early run, which had a below average outlook this year of 3,168 large fish (over 34 inches in length).

The low forecast caused the season to start with an emergency order prohibiting the retention of early-run king salmon, which continued through July 31, and allowed only one unbaited, single-hook, artificial lure.

“The estimated preliminary total in-river run of 4,188 fish was larger than the forecast but remained well below the historical average,” according to the report.

The outlook for the late run was also well below average, with a forecast of about 22,000 fish. The data showed that the escapement goal of 13,500 to 27,000 would not be met without restrictions, so on July 1 bate was restricted. Anglers were only allowed to harvest king salmon on the Kenai River from its mouth upstream to a marker about 300 yards from the mouth of Slikok Creek. This acted in conjunction with the early-run catch and release regulation.

Fish and game is approximating escapement at about 12,000.

Of the king salmon harvested from the late run, 47% were considered large fish and 49% were female.

The Kenai River sockeye salmon forecasted 3.8 million fish in the Kenai River this summer, with an escapement goal of 1.0 to 1.3 million. The preliminary sonar passage estimates 1.9 million sockeye passed through.

On the Russian River, the early-run escapement goal was set at 22,000 to 44,000 fish. On July 14, the weir count was 125,942 salmon, significantly exceeding the upper end of the escapement goal, according to the 2019 summary.

In response to the high numbers, Fish and Game opened the Russian River Sanctuary to sport fishing, increased to six fish per day and 12 in possession and then, five days later, subsequently increased to nine fish per day and 18 in possession.

The late-run escapement goal was between 30,000 and 110,000 fish. The Swan Lake Fire forced the evacuation of the Russian River field camp and weir, which was pulled on Aug. 18. At noon on Aug. 18 the weir had counted 64,585 salmon so far.

More in News

Alaska State Troopers logo.
Soldotna man found dead in lake, troopers report

State Troopers were notified of a deceased person floating in Browns Lake

COVID-19. (Image courtesy CDC)
COVID hospitalizations, cases down from last week

The state reported no new resident deaths from COVID-19 this week

Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire
The Alaska Permanent Fund Corp. building in Juneau is scheduled to be the site where the board of trustees will select a new executive director on Monday, following the investigation into the firing of former CEO Angela Rodell last December being presented to state lawmakers on Wednesday.
Investigators: Permanent Fund CEO’s firing legal but departed from policy

Trustees acted legally, despite not following official policy, and governor didn’t influence decision

A fishing boat passes the Silversea cruise ship Silver Wind as the boat enters the Homer Harbor on Sunday, Sept. 25, 2022, in Homer, Alaska. (Photo by Michael Armstrong/Homer News)
Finding refuge

Silver Wind is one of two cruise ships to visit since pandemic.

Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly candidates Dil Uhlin, left, and Jesse Bjorkman participate in a candidate forum at the Soldotna Public Library on Monday, Sept. 26, 2022, in Soldotna, Alaska. Both candidates are running for the assembly’s Nikiski seat. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Nikiski assembly candidates talk borough issues at final municipal election forum

There are three candidates running for the assembly’s District 3 - Nikiski seat

Kenai Middle School Principal Vaughn Dosko gestures toward a cart used to provide school lunch services on Wednesday, Sept. 21, 2022, in Kenai, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
‘Critical needs’: Security concerns and lunch lines

Safety upgrades, more space sought at Kenai Middle

Soldotna Montessori Charter School Principal John DeVolld explains Montessori materials in a classroom at Soldotna Montessori Charter School on Tuesday, Sept. 20, 2022, in Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
‘Critical needs’: Soldotna Montessori maxes out

The relocation of Soldotna Montessori is included in a bond package on the Oct. 4 municipal election ballot

Engineer Lake Cabin can be seen in the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge on Nov. 21, 2021. The United States Department of Agriculture’s Forest Service announced Friday, Sept. 23, 2022, that $14.4 million of a larger $37 million package will be used to build cabins in the Chugach and Tongass National Forests. (Photo by Erin Thompson/Peninsula Clarion)
Millions designated for cabins in Tongass, Chugach

$18 million is allocated to the construction and maintenance of cabins and historic buildings — of which $14.4 million is destined for Alaska

Puffin sits by a scratching tower in front of his main pad of buttons on Friday, Sept. 23, 2022, in Nikiski, Alaska. Owner Geri Litzen says Puffin can communicate by pressing different buttons on the pad to form sentences. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Puffin with the buttons

Verbose Nikiski cat earns TikTok followers

Most Read