Forecast shows both Kenai king runs within escapement goals

This June 2016 photo shows a king salmon caught in a personal-use set gillnet on the beach north of the mouth of the Kasilof River near Kasilof, Alaska. (Photo by Elizabeth Earl/Peninsula Clarion) In this July 24, 2016 file photo, a guide boat motors upstream on the Kenai River near Kenai, Alaska. (Photo courtesy Rashah McChesney, file)

The early and late runs of Kenai River king salmon are projected to be within the escapement goals for 2018, according to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game’s forecasts.

The forecasts, released Monday, estimate 5,499 large kings in the early run — defined as king salmon that enter the river before June 30 — and 21,503 kings in the late run. Both are within their optimum escapement goals, though significantly lower than the actual run numbers observed in 2017. Because they’re within the escapement goals, both runs will open under general fishing regulations, according to the announcement.

The projection for the early run falls close to the mid-point of the optimum escapement goal of 3,900–6,600 king salmon larger than 34 inches, a counting change Fish and Game implemented in 2017. Though the fishery management plan states that if the projection is within the escapement goal, the fishery will open with general regulations, managers can change the rules based on in-season data by emergency order, depending on how many fish actually show up.

The late run is also around the midpoint of the optimum escapement goal of 13,500–27,000 large kings. The late run starts after July 1 each year.

Both projections are less than the total runs counted in 2017. Final counts showed 6,561 large kings in the early run final escapement. Managers estimated a total of 7,500 kings entered the river, more than the preseason forecast of 6,500, according to Fish and Game’s final inseason run summary for early run Kenai River kings. Managers estimated that approximately 28,000 large kings returned in the late run, below the preseason forecast of 33,000 fish but still within the escapement goals.

Both runs were significantly greater than in the past five years, and fishermen were allowed to retain king salmon throughout both seasons.

King salmon projections and regulations hold implications for the inriver sportfishery as well as the commercial set gillnet fishery along the eastern side of Cook Inlet. When managers restrict the gear and harvest rules for sportfishing for king salmon, setnetters are not allowed to fish as many hours as they would under regular conditions.

Reach Elizabeth Earl at eearl@peninsulaclarion.com.

More in News

Signs protesting the annexation petition proposed by the City of Soldotna are seen along the Kenai Spur Highway, in Soldotna, on Tuesday, Oct. 21. (Photo by Brian Mazurek/Peninsula Clarion)
Annexation decision could go to voters

Boundary commission opens 7-day comment period on whether or not to send annexation to ballot box

COVID-19. (Image via CDC)
State reports more than 200 new cases, again

DHSS announced 215 new COVID-19 cases in Alaska on Wednesday.

Emergency worker Melanie Chavez takes a COVID-19 test sample at the Juneau International Airport screening site on Monday, Oct. 12, 2020. The City and Borough of Juneau raised its health alert level Tuesday as the number of cases grows locally and statewide. (Peter Segall / Juneau Empire)
Increase in COVID cases could overwhelm hospitals, experts warn

Mask now so businesses stay open later, they say.

This graphic shows the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District risk levels associated with different numbers of new COVID-19 cases. (Image courtesy Kenai Peninsula Borough School District)
With COVID cases rising, district focusing on flexibility

Central, eastern and southern peninsula schools are now all at high-risk levels.

Alyse Galvin (courtesy photo)
Election 2020: A conversation with Alyse Galvin

Galvin is challening Rep. Don Young for Alaska’s seat in the U.S. House of Representatives.

COVID-19.
11 new cases on the peninsula, borough’s positivity rate passes 7%

DHSS announced 200 new COVID-19 cases in Alaska on Monday.

A screenshot from the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District’s COVID-19 dashboard shows current case trends and threat levels as of Monday, Oct. 19, 2020. (Screenshot courtesy Kenai Peninsula Borough School District)
Southern peninsula schools go to remote learning after increase in COVID-19 cases

Increase in COVID-19 cases pushes Southern Kenai Peninsula into high-risk category

The sign outside Soldotna City Hall is seen here on July 16, 2020. (Photo by Brian Mazurek/Peninsula Clarion)
Soldotna’s disaster declaration extended to Dec. 31

The resolution originally extended the declaration by 90 days.

A biker leads a line of cars driving off the Homer Spit at about 1:30 p.m. Monday, in Homer after a tsunami evacuation order was issued for low-lying areas in Homer. (Photo by Michael Armstrong/Homer New)
Large quake prompts tsunami warning

A tsunami warning was issued at about 12:55 p.m. for low-lying areas in Homer and Kachemak Bay.

Most Read