A king salmon during the 67th annual Golden North Salmon Derby at the Don D. Statter Memorial Boat Harbor in August 2013. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire

A king salmon during the 67th annual Golden North Salmon Derby at the Don D. Statter Memorial Boat Harbor in August 2013. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire

Low king counts result in closures on southern Kenai Peninsula

As of Sunday, video weirs and sonar had counted 184 king salmon at the Anchor River.

As of Wednesday, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game closed sport fishing on Anchor River and Deep Creek, and also closed sport fishing for king salmon in Cook Inlet north of Bluff Point, just north of Homer, and within 1 mile of shore.

According to a press release from Fish and Game, the closures come due to low salmon returns in Anchor River and Deep Creek.

As of Sunday, video weirs and sonar had counted 184 king salmon at the Anchor River. Sonar had counted 138 king salmon at Deep Creek.

The Anchor River sustainable escapement goal is 3,800 to 7,600 king salmon. In years when the Anchor River did not reach escapement, an average of 420 king salmon had been counted by this time.

The Fish and Game press release said that based on Anchor River king run timing in 2017 to 2019, this year’s escapement is projected to be less than 2,000.

“Although run timing has been variable in recent years, runs that start out with low counts like these have resulted in escapements that fall below the goal,” said Mike Booz, area management biologist with Fish and Game, in a released statement. “Closing these streams to sport fishing, along with the nearshore closure in the Upper Cook Inlet saltwaters, will give us the best chance of achieving the escapement goals.”

The sport fishing closure at Anchor River, Deep Creek and the designated area in Cook Inlet is effective through July 15. The saltwater closure also includes catch-and-release fishing.

“Anglers will still be able to target king salmon in lower Cook Inlet since there are no restrictions to the summer saltwater fishery south of Bluff Point, which is mostly composed of nonlocal feeder king salmon stocks,” Booz said in a released statement.

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