Bait authorized for lower Kenai kings

Bait is now legal for king salmon on the Kenai River below Slikok Creek.

Effective 12:01 a.m. Wednesday, anglers can use bait to target kings on the lower Kenai, defined as the river below a marker at the mouth of Slikok Creek. The Alaska Department of Fish and Game issued an emergency order Tuesday afternoon liberalizing the fishing restrictions, saying the run was large enough to meet the escapement goal of 3,900–6,600 large king salmon and on target to exceed the upper bound of the goal, as of Monday.

Approximately 6,050 large kings had passed the sonar as of Monday. The run is about 74 percent complete, based on recent averages, and the managers have revised the run outlook to approximately 8,240 large kings, significantly more than the upper end of the goal, according to the emergency order.

“Accounting for current harvest levels, the projected escapement on June 30 is 7,700 king salmon, over 1,000 fish above the goal,” the emergency order states. “Therefore, it is warranted to liberalize this fishery by allowing the use of bait to help achieve the escapement goal.”

Last week, Fish and Game increased the maximum size limit allowed for retention from less than 36 inches to less than 46 inches on kings caught in the lower Kenai River, also citing the need to control escapement.

The no-bait and 36-inch size limit still apply to fish caught between Slikok Creek and Skilak Lake.

Reach Elizabeth Earl at elizabeth.earl@peninsulaclarion.com.

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