McKay Mills wrangles a sockeye salmon on the end of his fishing line on the banks of the Kenai River in Soldotna Creek Park on Wednesday, Aug. 16, 2017 in Soldotna, Alaska. (Photo by Elizabeth Earl/Peninsula Clarion, file)

McKay Mills wrangles a sockeye salmon on the end of his fishing line on the banks of the Kenai River in Soldotna Creek Park on Wednesday, Aug. 16, 2017 in Soldotna, Alaska. (Photo by Elizabeth Earl/Peninsula Clarion, file)

Kenai River to reopen to sockeye salmon fishing

Sockeye anglers can again hit the Kenai River this week.

The Alaska Department of Fish and Game issued an emergency order Tuesday reopening the Kenai River to sockeye salmon fishing effective Thursday at 12:01 a.m. The river has been completely closed to sockeye angling since Aug. 4, when Fish and Game closed the river to help the run meet the optimum escapement and inriver escapement goals.

Since then, returns have improved, meeting the inriver escapement goal of 900,000–1.1 million fish on Monday with 926,917 fish past the sonar. On Thursday, the river reopens with a bag limit of three fish per day with six in possession, according to a news release issued Tuesday.

“Sockeye salmon harvest that occurred prior to the closure August 1 and any additional harvest that may occur for the remainder of the season are not expected to result in escapement below the SEG,” the release states.

The announcement doesn’t apply to the Upper Kenai River and the Russian River, which closed to sockeye salmon retention Monday for the season.

Sockeye salmon runs across the Gulf of Alaska have come back weaker than managers forecast, leading to closures in personal use, sport, subsistence and commercial fisheries from Yakutat to Chignik.

Reach Elizabeth Earl at eearl@peninsulaclarion.com.

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