Set gillnetters in the Kasilof Section of the east side setnet fishery will try a new way of fishing Wednesday as Alaska Department of Fish and Game managers experiment with ways to control the Kasilof red salmon run.
The section will open to fishing within 600 feet of the mean high tide mark on the Kenai Peninsula shoreline for a 12-hour period beginning at 11 a.m., according to a Tuesday media release.
At least 245,000 sockeye salmon have been counted in the Kasilof River at a time when less than half of the total run has typically made it upriver, according to the media release.
If the run continues at present strength, managers estimate that more than 582,000 sockeye salmon could escape into the river. That number would exceed both the river’s biological escapement goal of 160,000-340,000 fish and its optimal escapement goal of 160,000-390,000 fish.
Currently the commercial set gillnet fishery is operating under a 36-hour a week time restriction on the east side of the inlet as part of a regime of restricted fishing it shares with Kenai River king salmon sport anglers.
According to the media release, fishing in the Kasilof River Special Harvest area, which is exempted from the hourly restriction, has yet to sufficiently control escapement up the river. The special harvest area concentrates commercial set and drift gillnet fishermen at the mouth of the Kasilof River.
— Staff report