Spring Chinook Salmon. Photo courtesy Michael Humling, US Fish & Wildlife Service

Spring Chinook Salmon. Photo courtesy Michael Humling, US Fish & Wildlife Service

Fish and Game announces more restrictions on king fishing

The restrictions are out of concern for Kenai River and the Kasilof River king salmon populations.

Alaska’s Department of Fish and Game has implemented additional bait and size restrictions for the late-run king salmon sport fisheries on the Kenai River and the Kasilof River due to concerns about king salmon populations, according to two Monday advisories from the department.

Kenai River late-run king salmon

“In order to achieve the Kenai River late-run king salmon escapement goal, we are starting the July fishery without bait and anglers may only keep king salmon that are less than 34 inches in length,” area management biologist Colton Lipka said in the advisory. “Based upon the preseason forecast and recent king salmon performance in the early-run and around Cook Inlet, restrictions are warranted in order to meet the escapement goal and still provide fishing opportunity for late-run king salmon.”

Effective July 1 through July 31, the use of bait is prohibited, and the bag and possession limit is restricted to per day one king salmon less than 34 inches. This restriction will be in effect from the ADF&G regulatory marker at the mouth of Slikok Creek downstream to the mouth of the Kenai River.

Sport fishing for king salmon of any size is prohibited from Slikok Creek upstream to the outlet of Skilak Lake through July 31 due to a restriction issued by ADF&G on June 8.

The optimal escapement goal for late-run Kenai River king salmon is between 15,000 to 30,000 fish that are at least 75 cm in length from mid-eye to tail fork. Further actions may be taken depending on this year’s run strength.

Kasilof River late-run king salmon

From July 1 through July 31, anglers fishing for king salmon in the Kasilof River sport fishery will be prohibited from using bait and limited to a single-hook artificial lure, according to a Monday advisory from ADF&G. “Single-hook” is defined as a fishhook with only one point.

“In order to achieve the Crooked Creek king salmon escapement goal, reduce mortality of Kasilof wild king salmon and meet brood stock collection needs in 2020, ADF&G has determined restricting the late-run king salmon sport fishery in the Kasilof River will provide the best chance to achieve these goals,” Lipka said in the advisory. “It’s important to our staff and anglers that we continue our efforts to protect and rebuild our wild king salmon stocks. ADF&G does anticipate an increase in angler effort on the Kasilof River due to late-run king salmon restrictions on the Kenai River.”

The bag and possession limit for the Kasilof River from its mouth upstream to the Sterling Highway Bridge is either one naturally produced or one hatchery-produced king salmon per day. Hatchery-produced king salmon can be identified by a healed scar where the adipose fin was clipped, just above the tail.

In all waters open to king salmon fishing, there is a bag and possession limit of 10 fish less than 20 inches in length.

Reach reporter Brian Mazurek at bmazurek@peninsulaclarion.com.

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