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

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

Kings fishing further restricted

Officials say king salmon runs have significantly underperformed preseason expectations.

Alaska’s Department of Fish and Game have further restricted king salmon fishing on the Kasilof River and the Lower Kenai River, now limiting the fishing to catch and release only in both fisheries in an attempt to protect future king salmon runs.

“The 2020 king salmon runs across the Kenai Peninsula consistently and significantly underperformed preseason expectations resulting in restrictions and closures of inriver and marine sport fisheries,” ADF&G area management biologist Colton Lipka said in a Monday release. “Through July 12, 2020, approximately 1,699 large king salmon have passed the river mile 13.7 king salmon sonar. Without further restrictions to harvest, the goal for Kenai River late-run king salmon is not expected to be achieved.”

Kenai River

Effective July 15 through July 31, the retention of king salmon is prohibited while sport fishing on the Kenai River from its mouth upstream to the ADF&G regulatory marker located 300 yards downstream from the mouth of Slikok Creek.

In addition, only one unbaited, single-hook, artificial lure is allowed when sport fishing in these waters. King salmon cannot be retained or possessed, cannot be removed from the water and must be released immediately.

Sport fishing for king salmon also remains closed from the ADF&G regulatory marker upstream to Skilak Lake.

The Kenai-Soldotna Fish and Game Advisory Committee will be meeting tonight to consider requesting an emergency closure of all king salmon fishing on the Kenai River in response to low king salmon counts. The meeting will take place at the Soldotna Regional Sports Complex at 8 p.m.

Kasilof River

Effective July 15 through July 31, the retention of king salmon is prohibited while sport fishing on the Kasilof River downstream of the Sterling Highway Bridge. Only one unbaited, single-hook, artificial lure may be used when fishing for king salmon, and any king salmon caught must be released immediately.

While king salmon counts on the Kenai and Kasilof Rivers continue to be below expectations, the sockeye salmon run on the Kasilof River has been strong enough to warrant an increase in bag and possession limits for these fish, according to a separate Monday release.

As of July 12, 188,596 sockeye salmon were recorded passing the Kasilof River sonar site. Because this number falls within the river’s biological escapement goal of between 140,000 and 320,000 sockeye salmon, ADF&G is increasing the bag limits to allow more opportunities for fishing.

From July 15 through Dec. 31 of this year, the bag and possession limit for sockeye salmon caught on the Kasilof River will be increased to six fish per day and 12 in possession. For every part of the Kasilof River, the coho salmon limit is still limited to two per day and two in possession.

In addition, the area open to personal use dipnetting on the Kasilof River was expanded through Aug. 7.

For more information on these management actions, contact Lipka at 907-262-9368 or visit adfg.alaska.gov.’

^Reach reporter Brian Mazurek at bmazurek@peninsulaclarion.com.

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