Raymond Bradbury preserves his salmon while dipnetting in the mouth of the Kenai River on Saturday, July 10, 2021. (Camille Botello / Peninsula Clarion)

Fish and Game closes king salmon sport fishing

The Alaska Department of Fish and Game issued an emergency order closing both the Kenai and Kasilof Rivers, as well as Cook Inlet north of Bluff Point, to king salmon sport fishing. The order takes effect 12:01 a.m. Wednesday and lasts through 11:59 p.m. on July 31.

“It’s got serious consequences,” said Matt Miller, the Cook Inlet sport fish management coordinator with the Fish and Game. “This is a big deal.”

He said the reason for the closure is because at the current harvest levels, the late-run king salmon are in danger of not meeting their escapement goals.

According to the Fish and Game estimate, the optimal escapement goal for Kenai River kings 75 centimeters mid eye to tail fork and longer is between 15,000 and 30,000 fish. Miller said the current projections suggest that at this rate, only slightly more than 10,000 king salmon would reach escapement.

“We haven’t had to go to full closure … it’s been several years,” he said, about the emergency orders in the Cook Inlet and on the Kenai and Kasilof Rivers.

Fish and Game has been analyzing the late king salmon run throughout the month, and data showed a slow rate of return. Originally the agency restricted king fishing to catch-and-release, but then decided to implement a full closure in an effort to protect the salmon and increase fishing opportunities in the future, according to the emergency order.

Additionally, the order states Fish and Game is also implementing restrictions and closures to the commercial fisheries.

“It impacts everyone really, in this community,” Miller said, adding some of those affected are sport fishing anglers, guides, commercial fisherpeople and seafood processors.

In particular, Miller said the closure “really shortens” the eastside setnet fishery season, as those anglers have had few opportunities for harvest this summer.

If there’s a late push of king salmon, Fish and Game can reopen the sport fisheries, Miller said. But until then, people will most likely be looking to bag sockeye.

Kenai River

On the Kenai River, the Fish and Game is closing the king salmon fishery for sport fishing anglers through the month of July.

Additionally, the use of bait/scent and multiple hooks in the river upstream to the markers located at the outlet of Skilak Lake is prohibited. However, only one unbaited, single-hook, artificial lure may be used when sport fishing for other species in this area. Retention of king salmon is also prohibited in the Kenai River personal use dipnet fishery for 2021.

Kasilof River

King salmon sport fishing is closed on the Kasilof River downstream of the Sterling Highway Bridge through the month of July. Only one unbaited, single-hook, artificial lure may be used when sport fishing for other species in this area. Downstream of the Sterling Highway Bridge, bait/scent and multiple hooks are prohibited.

Cook Inlet saltwaters

Fish and Game is closing sport fishing for king salmon on the Cook Inlet saltwaters north of the latitude of Bluff Point through the month of July. Anglers may still sport fish for king salmon in the lower Cook Inlet.

For more information, Miller can be reached at 907-267-2415.

Additionally, the area management biologist in Soldotna, Colton Lipka, can be reached at 907-262-9368 and the area management biologist for the Cook Inlet area in Homer, Mike Booz, at 907-235-8191.

Reach reporter Camille Botello at camille.botello@peninsulaclarion.com.

More in News

Photo by Erin Thompson/Peninsula Clarion 
The Kenai River can be seen from the Funny River Campground on Sunday, June 23, 2019, in Funny River, Alaska.
State seeks funding for Funny River boat launch

The Alaska Department of Natural Resources is working to secure funding for… Continue reading

.
COVID-19 cases remain high in area

Every region of Alaska was considered to be at “intermediate” or “high”… Continue reading

Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion 
The entrance to Soldotna Public Library is seen on Thursday, March 25, 2021 in Soldotna, Alaska.
Soldotna library seeks to beef up reading programs

The Soldotna Public Library will use a $2,200 donation from the Soldotna… Continue reading

Characters from the "Little Mermaid" wave to the crowd from the Triumvirate Theatre float during the Soldotna Progress Days parade on Saturday, July 24, 2021, in Soldotna, Alaska. (Camille Botello / Peninsula Clarion)
Progress on parade

The Progress Days Parade was held Saturday in Soldotna.… Continue reading

Scaffolding is erected around the Holy Assumption of the Virgin Mary Russian Orthodox Church in Kenai, Alaska, on Monday, July 20, 2020. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)
Parishioners largely welcomed back to in-person church services

One serious point of contention during the coronavirus pandemic, amid many, has… Continue reading

Kenai Courthouse is photographed on February 26, 2019 in Kenai, Alaska. (Clarion file)
Court reports, July 25

The following dismissals were recently handed down in Kenai District Court: Dalton… Continue reading

Alaska State Troopers logo.
Police Reports, July 25, 2021

Information for this report was taken from publicly available law enforcement records… Continue reading

Clayton Holland stands in his office at the George A. Navarre Borough Admin Building on Thursday, July 22, 2021 in Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O'Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
New superintendent discusses upcoming school year

Clayton Holland is ready to get to work. That’s what the new… Continue reading

South Peninsula Hospital registered nurse Anne Garay gives Jessica Entsminger her second COVID-19 vaccine on Friday, May 7, 2021, at a pop-up vaccination clinic at the Boathouse Pavillion on the Homer Spit in Homer, Alaska. About 25 people received vaccines in the first 3.5 hours of the 4-hour clinic. (Photo by Michael Armstrong/Homer News)
As COVID cases increase, officials think we’re not yet at the fourth peak

Department of Health and Social Services officials said during a Thursday press… Continue reading

Most Read