Sockeye fishing opens Friday

The run might be a little slow the first week.

Sockeye salmon. (Photo via Alaska Department of Fish and Game)

Sockeye salmon. (Photo via Alaska Department of Fish and Game)

Sockeye salmon are making their early run into the Kenai and Russian Rivers just in time for Friday’s opening day.

Colton Lipka, the sport fish area manager at the Department of Fish and Game in Soldotna, said that while he expects there will be a lot of people sport fishing in the upper Kenai and Russian Rivers on Friday, the run might be a little slow the first week.

“I’m expecting [an] average to slightly below average run,” Lipka said in an interview with the Clarion.

General regulations will be in place for sockeye sportfishing: The daily bag limit will be three per day and the daily possession limit is set at six sockeye salmon.

The daily bag refers to the total number of fish one is permitted to catch and keep per day, while the daily possession limit encompasses all unpreserved fish — including ones in a cooler or vacuum sealed.

For rainbow trout, people aren’t permitted to keep any over 16 inches. The daily bag and daily possession limits are one each per day.

Additionally, the sanctuary, which is the convergence where the Russian River flows into the Kenai, will be closed for opening day. This is to conserve the early-run sockeye who gather there before swimming up the Russian River.

Lipka said his top priority is everyone’s safety as fishing season gets underway.

“It gets a little crazy,” he said. “Slow down, drive safe in those congested areas. There’s going to be a lot of people.”

Early-run king salmon sportfishing is underway on the lower Kenai and Kasilof rivers. Commercial fishing in the lower Cook Inlet, as well as personal use fishing, will open in the coming weeks.

Fish and Game also announced last week that both Anchor River and Deep Creek are now closed to sport fishing through July 15 to protect returning king salmon. Similarly, the agency has also closed king salmon sport fishing within 1 mile offshore in the salt waters of Cook Inlet north of the latitude of Bluff Point.

In the Ninilchik River, Fish and Game has increased the bag and possession limits of hatchery salmon 20 inches or larger to two fish, and has removed the annual limit of hatchery king salmon to 20 inches or greater. These changes are effective through Oct. 31.

Reach reporter Camille Botello at camille.botello@peninsulaclarion.com.

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