Bag limits double on Russian River, upper Kenai sockeye

Sockeye bag limits will double in the Russian River and parts of the upper Kenai River from Tuesday until 11:59 p.m on July 14, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game announced Monday.

The new harvest limits of six per day, with twelve in possession, will be in effect on the Russian River downstream of Fish and Game’s regulatory marker about 600 yards downstream of the Russian River Falls, and on the upper Kenai upstream of Skilak Lake to the marker about 200 yards upstream of the the Sportsman’s Landing public boat launch.

The previous harvest limits in these areas were three sockeye per day with six in possession.

While dismal king salmon runs have closed the Kenai River to king sportfishing until August and restricted the Kasilof River to catch and release, sockeye returns have produced a “surplus” in the Russian River, according to Monday’s announcement from Fish and Game. As of Sunday, 32,700 sockeye had passed the weir upstream of Russian River Falls, leading Fish and Game to estimate escapement will exceed the early-run sockeye goal of 22,000 to 42,000 sockeye.

The strong sockeye run had previously prompted Fish and Game to open the Russian River Sanctuary — the area around the Russian’s confluence with the Kenai — on June 19 rather than its normal opening day of July 15. On June 17, approximately 7,759 sockeye had passed the Russian River weir.

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