King numbers give reason for optimism

  • Thursday, June 4, 2015 6:58pm
  • Opinion

Cautiously optimistic.

That’s how we’re feeling right now as we see sonar counts of king salmon headed up Kenai Peninsula rivers and streams.

The numbers might not qualify as spectacular, but they’re much better than they’ve been for the past few years, and we hope it’s a sign of better returns in years to come.

As of Monday, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game sonar estimate for kings salmon on the Kenai River was 960 fish, compared to just over 200 at the same point in the previous two years. Likewise, on the Anchor River, the sonar count stood at 1,948 kings as of Wednesday, compared to 610 at this point last year.

Biologists say it’s too soon to determine if the king salmon runs are indeed improving, or if the run timing is early this year. This early in the season, there is still a large margin of error in projecting the run strength, and there isn’t enough evidence to suggest that conservation measures for king salmon should be lifted.

In a recent interview, Fish and Game Sportfish Area Management Biologist Robert Begich told the Clarion that managers need to see kings returning in much greater numbers before restrictions can be lifted.

“A few hundred fish a day, that’s what we want to see rather than just dozens trickling in each day,” Begich said.

King salmon recovery is not going to happen in one season. Our hope is that after a few more seasons — maybe longer — runs will return to previous strengths.

In the mean time, the situation calls for continued patience. This year, there has been opportunity for anglers to harvest king salmon, even with restrictions in place. That’s certainly an improvement over recent years when, even during the brief time fisheries may have been open, there wasn’t much in the way of fish to catch. It’s a small step, but a step forward nonetheless.

And while many anglers dream of catching a Kenai king, there are still plenty of other fish in the sea. Red salmon are starting to show. Many are anticipating a good summer of fishing for grayling, rainbow trout and Dolly Varden. Halibut fishing is steady. For those who just want to catch a fish, there are plenty of options.

We’re grateful to have those options, and we hope that in the future, kings will continue to be a part of that list.

More in Opinion

Jodi Taylor is the board chair for Alaska Policy Forum. (Courtesy photo)
Private school, state reimbursement: family choice

By Jodi Taylor Alaskan parents have a legitimate right to choose the… Continue reading

t
Opinion: It’s time for bold action to protect our fisheries

Our fisheries feed the world and sustain our unique cultures and communities.

The logo for the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District is displayed inside the George A. Navarre Borough Admin Building on Thursday, July 22, 2021 in Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Voices of the Peninsula: Hard to fill positions?

Paying poverty wages to support staff, secretaries and custodians is unacceptable yet routine behavior by our district

A copy of the State of Alaska Official Ballot for the June 11, 2022, Special Primary Election is photographed on May 2, 2022. (Peninsula Clarion staff)
Choosing a candidate – Who will best represent us in D.C.?

Voters are encouraged to do homework before casting a vote

Tourists watch as one of two cubs belonging to an 18-year-old sow black bear crosses the path between groups of tourists visiting the Mendenhall Glacier Visitor Center on Wednesday, July 18, 2018. (Michael Penn / Juneau Empire File)
Opinion: Tourists have pushed us to critical mass in parts of Juneau

I don’t go to the glacier in the summer now to hike or watch bears.

Sens. Shelley Hughes, R-Palmer, left, and Robert Myers, R-North Pole, read through one of 41 amendments submitted to the state’s omnibus budget bill being debate on the floor of the Alaska State Senate on Monday, May 9, 2022. (Peter Segall / Juneau Empire)
Opinion: The Alaska Senate’s foolish gamble

“All these conservative people just spent all our money”

Mobilizing for Action through Planning and Partnerships. (logo provided)
Point of View: A few ideas for Mental Health Awareness Month

What are some things you can practice this month and subsequently apply to your life?

Smoke from the Swan Lake Fire impairs visibility on the Sterling Highway on Aug. 20, 2019. (Photo by Victoria Petersen/Peninsula Clarion)
Opinion: Alaskans should prepare for wildfire season

Several past large fire seasons followed snowy winters or unusually rainy springs

Alex Koplin is a founding member of Kenai Peninsula Votes. (courtesy photo)
Voices of the Peninsula: 1 candidate dined, 47 to go

By Alex Koplin Last month, I wrote a satirical piece for the… Continue reading

The logo of the Homer Trails Alliance.
Point of View: Connecting our community through trails

Homer is booming with housing development and the viability of long-standing trails is threatened