Anglers gather along the banks of the Kenai River near Sportsman’s Landing in Cooper Landing in September 2018. (Peninsula Clarion file)

Anglers gather along the banks of the Kenai River near Sportsman’s Landing in Cooper Landing in September 2018. (Peninsula Clarion file)

Sockeye fishing slows in Russian River, still ‘fair’

Northern Kenai Fishing Report for June 29, 2023

A Northern Kenai Fishing report published by the Department of Fish and Game on Thursday says that fishing for sockeye is good on Russian River, fair on Kasilof River and “expected to improve” on Kenai River.

Freshwater Fishing

Kenai River

The report says that in the Lower Kenai River, fishing for sockeye salmon has been slow but is expected to improve over the next week. The department recommends fishing at Centennial park, Rotary Park, Donald E. Gilman River Center, the Soldotna Visitors Center, Moose Range Meadows or Soldotna Creek Park. The water conditions were reported as “turbid” last week, but are improving this week.

Fishing for rainbow trout in the middle Kenai River is “fair” but is also improving, the report says.

Kasilof River

In the Kasilof River, hatchery king salmon can be kept. The department says that the fishery is “slow.” Hatchery salmon do not have an adipose fin, and any naturally produced king salmon that do have an adipose fin may not be removed from the water and must be immediately released. Additionally, only one single unbaited hook may be used starting July 1. The department recommends trying to fish from the shore of the Crooked Creek State Recreation Site.

Sockeye salmon fishing on the Kasilof is described as “fair for anglers willing to put in the time.” The department recommends fishing from the shore at Crooked Creek State Recreation Site.

Russian River

Sockeye fishing on the Russian River is “good.”

The department warns of limited parking and long waits to access the Russian River Campground. Anglers should be cautious when driving and shouldn’t park on the Sterling Highway. The report also reminds anglers that fish carcasses need to be removed from Russian River clear water and taken to cleaning tables near the mainstem Kenai River.

“Please respect habitat and cultural resource protection sites that are fenced or roped off, stay on the established trails and boardwalks, and use public restroom facilities in the campgrounds and ferry areas,” the report reads.

Personal Use

Dipnetting on the Kasilof River is reportedly “fair.”

Dipnetting on the Kenai River will open on July 10 at 6 a.m.

Local Lakes

Fishing on local lakes for rainbow trout, Arctic char, Arctic grayling and land locked salmon “is good to excellent.” The report recommends fishing with dry or wet flies such as an egg sucking leech, bead head nymph, or mosquito pattern; small spoons and spinners size #0 or #2; or small bait under a bobber.

Johnson Lake is “fishing excellent,” and is a good choice for young anglers, the report says.

Island and Spirit Lakes were stocked with 5,400 arctic char on June 15, fishing is “good.”

Emergency Orders

Please review the emergency orders and advisory announcements below in their entirety before heading out on your next fishing trip.

Kenai River

Emergency Order 2-RS-1-29-23 increases the bag and possession limits for salmon, other than king salmon, to 9 fish per day and eighteen fish in possession in that area of the Kenai River upstream from Skilak Lake to ADF&G regulatory markers located approximately 300 yards upstream of the public boat launch at Sportsman’s Landing and the Russian River from its mouth upstream to an ADF&G marker located approximately 600 yards downstream from the Russian River Falls effective 12:01 a.m. Saturday, June 24, 2023 through 11:59 p.m. Friday, July 14, 2023.

Emergency Order 2-RS-1-27-23 increases the bag and possession limits for salmon, other than king salmon, to six fish per day and twelve fish in possession in that area of the Kenai River upstream from Skilak Lake to ADF&G regulatory markers located approximately 300 yards upstream of the public boat launch at Sportsman’s Landing and the Russian River from its mouth upstream to an ADF&G marker located approximately 600 yards downstream from the Russian River Falls 12:01 a.m. Sunday, June 18 through 11:59 p.m. Friday, July 14, 2023.

Emergency Order 2-RS-1-25-23 opens the Russian River Sanctuary area to sport fishing for sockeye salmon.

Emergency Order 2-KS-1-10-23 closes sport fishing for king salmon of all sizes in the Kenai River from the mouth upstream to the outlet of Skilak Lake from 12:01 a.m. Monday, May 1 through 11:59 p.m. Friday, June 30, 2023. Fishing for king salmon will remain closed from 12:01 a.m. Saturday, July 1 through 11:59 p.m. Monday, July 31, 2023, in waters of the Kenai River drainage from an ADF&G regulatory marker located approximately 300 yards downstream from the mouth of Slikok Creek, upstream to the outlet of Skilak Lake. This closure prohibits all sport fishing for king salmon, including catch-and-release fishing. King salmon may not be retained or possessed; king salmon accidentally caught while fishing for other species may not be removed from the water and must be released immediately.

Emergency Order 2-KS-1-11-23 closes the Kenai River to fishing for king salmon and prohibits the use of bait and multiple hooks in the Kenai River from its mouth upstream to ADF&G markers located at the outlet of Skilak Lake from 12:01 a.m. Saturday, July 1 through 11:59 p.m. Monday, July 31, 2023. This closure prohibits all sport fishing for king salmon, including catch-and-release fishing. King salmon may not be retained or possessed; king salmon caught while fishing for other species may not be removed from the water and must be released immediately.

Kasilof River

Emergency Order 2-RS-1-32-23 increases the bag and possession limit for sockeye salmon, 16 inches or longer, to 6 fish per day and 12 in possession in all portions of the Kasilof River open to salmon fishing effective 12:01 a.m. Friday June 30, 2023. No more than 2 salmon per day and 2 in possession may be coho salmon.

Emergency Order 2-KS-1-33-23 prohibits the retention of naturally-produced king salmon while sport fishing in the Kasilof River downstream of the Sterling Highway Bridge. Only one unbaited, single-hook, artificial lure may be used when sport fishing in these waters effective 12:01 a.m. Saturday, July 1, 2023. Naturally-produced king salmon may not be retained or possessed, may not be removed from the water, and must be released immediately.

Emergency Order 2-KS-1-08-23 prohibits the retention of naturally produced king salmon beginning 12:01 a.m. Monday, May 1 through 11:59 p.m. Friday, June 30, 2023. Additionally, only one single hook either baited, unbaited, or on an artificial lure may be used beginning 12:01 a.m. Tuesday, May 16 through 11:59 p.m. Friday, June 30, 2023. Single-hook means a fishhook with only one point. Naturally produced king salmon have an adipose fin and may not be removed from the water and must be released immediately.

Personal Use

Emergency order 2-RS-1-28-23 expands the personal use salmon dipnet fishing area on the Kasilof River. Salmon may be harvested from the shore from ADF&G markers located on Cook Inlet beaches outside the terminus of the river upstream to the Sterling Highway Bridge. Salmon may be harvested from a boat from ADF&G markers located on Cook Inlet beaches outside the terminus of the river upstream to ADF&G markers placed at approximately river mile 3 effective 12:01 a.m. Sunday, June 25 through 11:59 p.m. Monday, August 7, 2023.

Cook Inlet Salt Waters

Emergency Order 2-KS-7-15-23 prohibits sport fishing for king salmon (including catch-and-release) in the salt waters of Cook Inlet north of the latitude of Bluff Point (59° 40.00’ N. lat.) effective 12:01 a.m. Monday, May 15 through Monday, July 31. King salmon incidentally caught while fishing for other fish may not be removed from the water and must be released immediately.

Local Lakes

Emergency Order 2-NP-1-04-23 prohibits the retention of any species of fish in East Mackey, West Mackey and Derks lakes for the 2023 season.

Emergency Order 2-DV-1-03-23 establishes a bag and possession limit of Arctic char/Dolly Varden in Stormy Lake of one fish, less than 16 inches in length for the 2023 season.

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