A king salmon during the 67th annual Golden North Salmon Derby at the Don D. Statter Memorial Boat Harbor in August 2013. (Michael Penn/Juneau Empire)

A king salmon during the 67th annual Golden North Salmon Derby at the Don D. Statter Memorial Boat Harbor in August 2013. (Michael Penn/Juneau Empire)

Fish & Game puts restrictions on early run kings

If projections are realized, this year’s run would rank as the fourth lowest across 34 years.

Anglers looking to catch king salmon this May will be facing restrictions on both the Kenai and Kasilof Rivers, according to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game.

The department announced Thursday that Kenai River early run king salmon will be catch and release only. On the Kasilof River, anglers will only be able to retain one hatchery king salmon 20 inches or greater in length.

The department said that the restrictions are being implemented in hopes of protecting returning king salmon and ensuring fishing opportunities in the future.

Restrictons in the Kenai River drainage downstream of the Skilak Lake outlet will run from May 1 to July 31.

From May 1 to June 30, no king salmon of any size can be retained from the mouth of the Kenai River upstream to the outlet of Skilak Lake.

Starting July 1, anglers will be able to retain king salmon from the mouth of the Kenai River up to a Fish & Game marker located about 300 yards downstream from Slikok Creek. Anglers may also use bait in this section, but only on a single hook lure or fly. Fishing will remain catch and release from the marker up to the Skilak Lake outlet.

“In an effort to protect our king salmon fishery resources, which are important to anglers and our fishery managers, and ensure our fishery management is consistent with the regulatory management plan, the early king salmon run on the Kenai River is restricted to non-retention in an effort to meet our 2019 early run escapement goal,” stated Area Management Biologist Colton Lipka. “Anglers have noticed that the Kenai River king salmon and other king salmon stocks throughout Cook Inlet are experiencing an extended period of low productivity and restricting the fishery preseason is warranted.”

On the Kasilof River from May 1 to June 30, anglers are only allowed to retain one hatchery king salmon 20 inches or greater. A hatchery fish is recognizable by the healed adipose fin-clip scar. The adipose fin is the small, fleshy fin located just ahead of the fish’s tail. Naturally produced king salmon have an intact adipose fin and may not be kept. Naturally produced king salmon that are caught cannot be removed from the water and must be released immediately.

The Kasilof River will also see bait restrictions, limiting anglers to one unbaited, single-hook artificial lure from the mouth of the Kasilof to the Sterling Highway bridge.

“It’s important to our staff and anglers that we continue our efforts to protect and rebuild our wild king salmon stocks,” Lipka said. “ADF&G does anticipate an increase in angler effort on the Kasilof River due to early run king salmon restrictions on the Kenai River and we have to manage accordingly with restrictions only allowing hatchery king salmon to be retained on the Kasilof River.”

Fish & Game is forecasting 3,168 early-run Kenai River king salmon equal or greater than 34 inches, which is less than the optimum escapement goal of 3,900 to 6,600 fish. If realized, this year’s run would rank as the fourth lowest across 34 years.

Reach Kat Sorensen at ksorensen@peninsulaclarion.com.

More in News

Alaska State Troopers logo.
Anchor Point house fire leaves one dead, one in serious condition

The cause of the fire is under investigation.

Snow and debris from an avalanche can be seen near Mile 45 on the Seward Highway on Monday, March 29, 2021. (Photo courtesy Goldie Shealy)
Center promotes avalanche awareness

The Chugach Avalanche Center in Girdwood will begin its daily forecasts Saturday.

Commercial fishing and other boats are moored in the Homer Harbor in this file photo. (Photo by Michael Armstrong/Homer News)
Seawatch: Historic sockeye run predicted for Bristol Bay

ADF&G says 2022 run could break this year’s record

The entrance to the Mendenhall Glacier Recreation Area in the Tongass National Forest was covered in snow on Friday, Nov. 19, 2021, a day after federal authorities announced the next step in restoring the 2001 Roadless Rule on the forest. (Peter Segall / Juneau Empire)
Feds put freeze on Roadless Rule rollback

On the Roadless Rule again.

tease
Alaska man pleads not guilty to threatening 2 US senators

If convicted, he could face a maximum sentence of 50 years in prison.

Commercial fishing vessels are seen here on the Kenai River on July 10, 2020. (Photo by Brian Mazurek/Peninsula Clarion)
Fishing industry takes a hit during pandemic

Overall fish harvesting jobs in Alaska dropped by the widest margin since 2000 — 14.1% — in 2020.

FILE - The Olympic rings stand atop a sign at the entrance to the Squaw Valley Ski Resort in Olympic Valley, Calif., on July 8, 2020. U.S. Interior Secretary Deb Haaland on Friday, Nov. 19, 2021, declared "squaw" to be a derogatory term and said she is taking steps to remove the term from federal government use and to replace other derogatory place names. The popular California ski resort changed its name to Palisades Tahoe earlier this year. (AP Photo/Haven Daley, File)
Interior secretary seeks to rid U.S. of derogatory place names

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — U.S. Interior Secretary Deb Haaland on Friday formally declared… Continue reading

Most Read