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

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

Kenai River dipnetting open; restrictions on king fishing continue

Northern Kenai fishing report

The Kenai River dipnet fishery was one of the latest to open this week but there are still restrictions in place for sport fisheries around the North Kenai area, according to this week’s fishing report from the Alaska State Department of Fish and Game.

Kenai River

The late run king salmon sport fishery is restricted to catch and release only from the mouth of the Kenai River upstream to a marker located around 300 yards downstream of Slikok Creek. From the marker upstream to Skilak Lake, fishing for king salmon is prohibited through July 31. In these waters, only one unbaited single-hook artificial lure may be used.

The department reported that king fishing in the lower Kenai River is slow, as water levels are high and clarity is poor. However, sockeye fishing has been fair and is expected to improve. Additionally, rainbow trout fishing in the middle Kenai River is fair.

Kasilof River

Waters in the Kasilof from the Sterling Highway Bridge upstream to the outlet of Tustumena Lake are closed to king salmon fishing through July 31, and anglers are only permitted to one unbaited single-hook artificial lure while fishing for other species.

Starting Saturday, the late-run king fishery will be open to catch and release fishing from the mouth of the Kasilof River upstream to the Sterling Highway Bridge. For catch and release, only one unbaited single-hook artificial lure may be used.

According to the report, sockeye salmon fishing in the Kasilof River is good. The department recommends anglers fish from the shore at the Crooked Creek State Recreation Site. Crooked Creek is closed to fishing, and bag and possession limits of sockeye are six per day and 12 in possession.

Russian River

The department reported that sockeye fishing on the Upper Kenai and Russian rivers is slow, but anglers are eventually catching limits in some areas. The Russian River Sanctuary area is open to sport fishing, and bag limits have decreased again to three per day and six in possession.

Personal use

The Kenai River personal use dipnet fishery opened Sunday, and fishing is reportedly fair to good. This fishery is open daily from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m.

The Kasilof River dipnet fishery opened on June 25, and fishing is good. This fishery is open 24 hours per day and seven days per week.

Dipnetting on the Kasilof also got expanded from the shore from ADF&G markers located on Cook Inlet beaches outside the terminus of the river upstream to the Sterling Highway Bridge. Harvesting salmon is also allowed from a boat from ADF&G markers located on Cook Inlet beaches outside the terminus of the river upstream to ADF&G markers placed at approximately River Mile 3.

Retention of king salmon, Dolly Varden and rainbow and steelhead trout is not allowed.

Local lakes

Fishing for rainbow trout, Arctic char, Arctic grayling and land-locked salmon in area lakes is between good and excellent, the department said. Anglers are recommended to fish with dry or wet flies such as an egg-sucking leech, bead head nymph or mosquito pattern, small spoons and spinners size zero or two, or small bait under a bobber.

John Hedberg Lake is reportedly yielding “excellent” fishing, and other local lakes — Johnson, Sport, and Island lakes — have been stocked with catchable sized fish, the department reported.

Emergency Orders

Kasilof River

Emergency order 2-RS-1-45-22 expands the personal use salmon dipnet fishing area on the Kasilof River. Salmon may be harvested from the shore from ADF&G markers located on Cook Inlet beaches outside the terminus of the river upstream to the Sterling Highway Bridge. Salmon may be harvested from a boat from ADF&G markers located on Cook Inlet beaches outside the terminus of the river upstream to ADF&G markers placed at approximately River Mile 3. This regulatory change is effective through 11:59 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 7, 2022.

Emergency Order 2-RS-1-44-22 increases the bag and possession limit for salmon, 16 inches or longer, to six fish per and 12 in possession in all portions of the Kasilof River open to salmon fishing. No more than two salmon per day and two in possession may be coho salmon. This regulatory change is effective through 11:59 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 31, 2022.

Emergency Order 2-KS-1-30-22 prohibits the retention of king salmon in the Kasilof River effective 12:01 a.m. Wednesday, June 15 through 11:59 p.m. Friday, July 15, 2022. Fishing for king salmon of any size, including hatchery-origin fish is prohibited. Effective 12:01 a.m. Saturday, July 16 through 11:59 p.m. Sunday, July 31, 2022, from its mouth upstream to the Sterling Highway Bridge will be open to catch and release. Waters from the Sterling Highway Bridge upstream to the outlet of Tustumena Lake, 12:01 a.m. Saturday, July 16 through 11:59 p.m. Sunday, July 31, 2022, will remain closed to king salmon fishing and anglers are limited to only one unbaited, single-hook, artificial lure while fishing for other species.

Kenai River and Russian River

Emergency Order 2-KS-1-46-22 prohibits the retention of king salmon in the Kenai River personal use dipnet fishery. Any king salmon caught incidentally may not be removed from the water and must be release immediately and returned to the water unharmed. This regulatory change is effective through 11 p.m. Sunday, July 31, 2022.

Emergency Order 2-RS-1-37-22 increases the bag and possession limits for salmon, other than king salmon, to six fish per day and 12 fish in possession in that area of the Kenai River upstream from Skilak Lake to ADF&G regulatory markers located approximately 300 yards upstream of the public boat launch at Sportsman’s Landing including the Russian River Sanctuary Area, and the Russian River from its mouth upstream to an ADF&G marker located approximately 600 yards downstream from the Russian River Falls through 11:59 p.m. Thursday, July 14, 2022.

Emergency Order 2-RS-1-35-22 opens the Russian River Sanctuary Area to sport fishing through 11:59 p.m. Thursday, July 14, 2022.

Emergency Order 2-KS-1-22-22 supersedes prior Emergency Orders and will prohibit the retention of king salmon of all sizes in the Kenai River from the mouth upstream to the outlet of Skilak effective 12:01 a.m. Wednesday, June 8 through 11:59 p.m. Thursday, June 30. Fishing for king salmon will remain closed from 12:01 a.m. Friday, July 1 through 11:59 p.m. Sunday, July 31, 2022, in waters of the Kenai River drainage from an ADF&G regulatory marker located approximately 300 yards downstream from the mouth of Slikok Creek, upstream to the outlet of Skilak Lake. This closure prohibits all sport fishing for king salmon, including catch and release fishing. King salmon may not be retained or possessed; king salmon accidentally caught while fishing for other species may not be removed from the water and must be released immediately. Additionally, in the Kenai River from its mouth upstream to an ADF&G regulatory marker located approximately 300 yards downstream from the mouth of Slikok Creek from 12:01 a.m. Friday July 1, through 11:59 p.m. Sunday, July 31, 2022, is restricted to the use of only one unbaited, single-hook artificial lure, and anglers may not retain king salmon of any size. King salmon may not be removed from the water and must be released immediately.

Local Lakes

Emergency Order 2-NP-1-04-22 prohibits the retention of any species of fish in East Mackey, West Mackey, Sevena, Union, and Derks lakes for the 2022 season.

Emergency Order 2-DV-1-03-22 establishes a bag and possession limit of Arctic char/Dolly Varden in Stormy Lake of one fish, less than 16 inches in length for the 2022 season.

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

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