The Russian River Sanctuary Area is seen in the area labeled B in this map provided by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game. (courtesy)

The Russian River Sanctuary Area is seen in the area labeled B in this map provided by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game. (courtesy)

Russian River Sanctuary opens early for sockeye fishing

The area will be open for fishing through July 14

Sport fishing for sockeye salmon in the Russian River Sanctuary will open two weeks early this year, the State Department of Fish and Game announced Tuesday.

An emergency order says that the area, a section of the Kenai River located roughly between its junction with the Russian River and Sportsman’s Landing, will be open for fishing starting Wednesday and between July 3 and July 14. The emergency order is effective until the area is opened by regulation from July 15 to Aug. 20.

During the early opening period, from Wednesday until July 14, sockeye salmon can be caught with a bag limit of three per day and six in possession for those 16 inches or greater in length. For those fewer than 16 inches, the bag limit will be 10 per day, 10 in possession.

The move is motivated by strong escapement of sockeye salmon counted at the Russian River weir, which this week achieved the biological escapement goal for the species on the river of 22,000-44,000 sockeye.

Fish counts available from the department say around 29,000 fish have been counted as of Monday, which is fewer than were counted in each of the last three years.

“Given the current level of escapement at the Russian River weir, opening the Sanctuary Area early will allow anglers more time and area to target these fish,” says Area Management Biologist Phill Stacey in an advisory announcement. “The Russian River early-run took a while to materialize, but now that we have met the goal we are comfortable providing more area for anglers to target sockeye in this run.”

The department in the announcement reminds anglers to remove fish carcasses from the waters of the Russian River. They say that anglers who intend to clean their catch at the river should do so at the mainstem Kenai River cleaning tables, where sockeye salmon carcasses can be cut into small pieces and thrown into deep flowing waters of the Kenai River.

For more information about fishing regulations and opportunity, visit adfg.alaska.gov. Additional information about the Middle Kenai River and Russian River Confluence Area is on page 54 of the 2024 Southcentral Alaska Sport Fishing Regulations Summary Booklet.

Reach reporter Jake Dye at jacob.dye@peninsulaclarion.com.

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