Recreational fishing for king salmon prohibited in Cook Inlet federal water

National Marine Fisheries Service issued a notice last week

The National Marine Fisheries Service is prohibiting recreational fishing for chinook salmon in the Cook Inlet economic exclusive zone until Aug. 15, according to a Thursday, May 30 National Ocean and Atmospheric Administration Fisheries information bulletin.

The EEZ is federal marine water not managed by state agencies.

“This action is necessary considering the following factors: low proposed Chinook salmon acceptable biological catch, anticipated harvest rates, expected mortality and the potential number of participants,” the bulletin says.

Adam Zaleski, fishery management specialist with NOAA Fisheries, Alaska Region, said in a phone call that the notice is a precautionary measure and reflects on an emergency sport fishing order issued on March 14 by the Homer Alaska Department of Fish and Game office.

Effective May 2, the emergency order prohibits sport fishing for king salmon — including catch and release — in the saltwaters of Cook Inlet north of the latitude of Bluff Point. “King salmon incidentally caught while fishing for other fish may not be removed from the water and much be released immediately,” according to the order.

Justification for the emergency order notes that king salmon harvest in this region is a mixture of early- and late-run king salmon and feeder king stocks from outside of Cook Inlet. Given the uncertainty of 2024 king salmon stocks as well failed escapement goals for the Anchor River, Kenai River and Deshka River, it is necessary to impose harvest restrictions for the summer.

Mike Booz, Lower Cook Inlet sport fish area manager, noted that the federal closure is a reflection of the state closure and that most anglers fishing more than 3 miles off shore, in federally managed water, would not likely be targeting salmon for harvest. The recreational fishing isn’t something that will impact most anglers, he said.