Shelby Harris shows off a sockeye caught on the Upper Kenai River on Saturday, June 15, 2019. (Photo submitted by Shelby Harris)

Shelby Harris shows off a sockeye caught on the Upper Kenai River on Saturday, June 15, 2019. (Photo submitted by Shelby Harris)

Sockeye return continues to impress anglers

The bag limit on the Russian River and Upper Kenai is nine fish per day with 18 fish in possession.

Sockeye salmon are returning in full force.

Anglers from the Russian River to Resurrection Bay are enjoying a large return of sockeye salmon and the Alaska Department of Fish and Game are responding accordingly.

As of Wednesday, the bag limit on the Russian River and Upper Kenai will become nine fish per day with 18 fish in possession. This Fish and Game emergency order will be in effect until July 7.

“It is exciting to see the number of sockeye salmon that have passed through the Russian River weir and been observed inriver,” stated Area Management Biologist Colton Lipka in a press release. “Increasing the (limits) will allow anglers to hit the river and harvest some fresh sockeye.”

As of June 17, 50,641 sockeye have been counted at the Russian River weir for the early sockeye run. In comparison, last year on June 17, only 7,759 sockeyes were counted at the same weir.

These numbers already exceed the early-run Russian River sockeye salmon escapement goal of 22,000 to 42,000.

“The Russian River and the Upper Kenai are absolutely amazing right now,” said angler Shelby Harris. “It’s everything I’ve dreamed of.”

Harris fished the Upper Kenai this past weekend, leaving the river with her limit of fish.

According to Fish and Game, the fishing will continue to be good to excellent at the Upper Kenai, Russian River and Russian River Sanctuary Area, which was opened by emergency order early last week.

“We opened the waters of the sanctuary and increased the bag limit from three to six last week and sockeye salmon keep pouring into the Russian River,” said Lipka in a press release. “With these numbers, it is appropriate to increase the limits and allow anglers an opportunity to harvest more sockeye salmon.”

Anglers should remember, though, that if a Russian River angler has more than six sockeye salmon in possession, they cannot fish in waters with a possession limit of six.

Fish and Game has also doubled the limit for sockeye salmon caught in the the northern salt waters of Resurrection Bay and part of the freshwaters of Resurrection River. The new limit, 12 fish per day and 12 in possession, is effective as of last week.

For those not looking to drive to the Russian River or Upper Kenai, sockeye fishing on the Lower Kenai River is also good, according to Fish and Game, with anglers catching limits within a few hours.

King salmon fishing on the Lower Kenai continues to be slow with turbid water conditions. There is good king salmon fishing further south on the Kasilof River, though, and it is expected to improve over the next week or two.

When it comes to trout fishing, the middle Kenai River is seeing good rainbow trout. Sport Lake has also been producing nice-sized rainbow trout.

Fish and Game recommends fishing with wet or dry flies, like egg sucking leech, bead head nymph or mosquito pattern, small spoons and spinners size 0 or 2 or some small bait under a bobber.

Elephant Lake, also known as Spirit Lake, was stocked on Monday, June 17 with 5,000 catchable Arctic char.

A fly fisherman casts for sockeye salmon near the Upper Kenai River on Saturday, June 15. (Photo courtesy of Shelby Harris)

A fly fisherman casts for sockeye salmon near the Upper Kenai River on Saturday, June 15. (Photo courtesy of Shelby Harris)

Shelby Harris shows off a sockeye caught on the Upper Kenai River on Saturday. (Photo submitted by Shelby Harris)

Shelby Harris shows off a sockeye caught on the Upper Kenai River on Saturday. (Photo submitted by Shelby Harris)

More in News

Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion
Alexis Alamillo, of Anchorage, carries a sockeye salmon caught in a dipnet from the mouth of the Kenai River on Wednesday.
Kenai River dipnetting now open 24 hours a day

The liberalization of fishing regulation was effective starting Thursday evening

A drone rises into the air while kicking up dust, departing on a test flight for the use of beyond visual line of sight drone aircraft, at Furie Operating Alaska’s central processing facility in Nikiski, Alaska, on Wednesday, July 10, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Drone test flight operates beyond visual line of sight between Nikiski and a Cook Inlet platform

The drone could perform deliveries to and from Cook Inlet platforms

A map of Lower Skilak Campground shows the areas that will be closed in July and August 2024. (Graphic provided by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service)
Areas of Lower Skilak Campground to close for repair starting Monday

The East Loop will be closed — projected to be reopened at noon on Aug. 4

Kenai Courthouse is photographed on Feb. 26, 2019, in Kenai, Alaska. (Clarion file)
Sterling resident sentenced to 30 years in prison for sexual abuse of minors

Additionally, Crane will face 15 years of supervised probation as well as sex offender registration and treatment

Shrubs grow outside of the Kenai Courthouse on Monday, July 3, 2023 in Kenai, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Former Soldotna police officer acquitted of 2023 assault allegations

He was found not guilty following a five-day trial in late June

A parade of cars and trucks flying flags in support of former President Donald Trump proceed down the Kenai Spur Highway in Kenai, Alaska, on Sunday, July 14, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Residents caravan across central peninsula in support of Trump

The parade came a day after an attempted assassination of the former president

Drummers perform during a celebration of the 10th anniversary of the Dena’ina Wellness Center in Kenai, Alaska, on Friday, July 12, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Kenaitze tribe celebrates 10 years of ‘far-fetched dream’ at wellness center

Community members recognized the work done at the Dena’ina Wellness Center over the past decade

The Kenai Safeway is seen on Wednesday, July 20, 2022. (Camille Botello/Peninsula Clarion)
Kenai and Soldotna Safeways may be sold under proposed Kroger-Albertsons merger

The local stores will be sold to CS Wholesale Grocers only if the merger overcomes suit from the FTC

Sockeye salmon caught in a set gillnet are dragged up onto the beach at a test site for selective harvest setnet gear in Kenai, Alaska, on Tuesday, July 25, 2023. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Draft plan published for disbursement of $11.5 million in 2021 and 2022 ESSN disasters

Public comment will be accepted for the draft spend plan until July 24

Most Read