Tight Lines: Kenai River dipnetting closes after strong season

Through July, over 1 million late-run sockeye were counted with sonar.

Photo courtesy of Robert Valadez                                A dipnetter fishes on a boat in the Kenai River in July.

Photo courtesy of Robert Valadez A dipnetter fishes on a boat in the Kenai River in July.

Kenai River personal use fishing closed last night, Wednesday, at 11:59 p.m., ending a good season for Alaska residents looking to fill their freezers with sockeyes.

In the final days, Alaska Department of Fish and Game allowed for round-the-clock dipnetting, with the fishery open 24 hours a day.

“The Upper Cook Inlet Personal Use Salmon Fishery Management Plan allows ADF&G to increase the hours open to dipnetting in the Kenai River personal use fishery to 24 hours per day if ADF&G determines that Kenai River late-run sockeye salmon numbers exceed 2.3 million fish,” according to a July 26 release from Alaska Department of Fish and Game. “Based on inseason indicators, ADF&G is projecting a run size in excess of 2.3 million late-run Kenai River sockeye salmon and anticipates the escapement goal (700,000 – 1,200,000 sockeye salmon) will be achieved.”

Through July, over 1 million late-run sockeye were counted with sonar, with numbers reaching nearly 100,000 a day in the final few days of dipnetting.

For those who haven’t gotten their fill of dipnetting, the Kasilof River dipnet is open until Aug. 7 and has been reported as good.

King salmon fishing on the Lower Kenai River also closed this Wednesday, ending on a slow note. Favorable water conditions brought anglers some success before the sport fishery closed.

Sockeye fishing on the Upper Kenai, Russian River and in the Russian River Sanctuary Area has slowed, with anglers finding some success.

Those looking for sockeye, though, should move toward the Lower Kenai River, where fishing has been good to excellent.

Fish and Game has increased the sport fishing bag and possession limit for salmon 16 inches or longer from six to 12, excluding king, pink and coho salmon. The liberalization is in effect at the Kenai River downstream of Skilak lake.

“Anglers should be advised that this action to liberalize bag and possession limits does not mean that fishing success will dramatically increase, stated Area Management Biologist Colton Lipka in the release. “Fish passage into the Kenai River fluctuates on a daily basis making some day’s better fishing than others.”

Coho salmon are slowly starting to show up in Seward, with anglers reporting success out near Caines Head but not much being reported in Resurrection Bay. For those fishing by boat, trolling with a small- to medium-sized herring and an oversized flasher may bring success.

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