Sport fishing at Russian River Sanctuary opens early

Predictions for sockeye run ‘good-sized’, triggers month-early opening

Sport fishing for sockeye salmon in the Russian River Sanctuary Area opened a month early, on Wednesday, June 14 instead of July 15, but will still run until Aug. 20, the Department of Fish and Game announced Monday.

During the early opening period, from Wednesday until July 14, sockeye salmon can be caught with a bag limit of three per day and six in possession for those 16 inches or greater in length. For those fewer than 16 inches, the bag limit will be 10 per day, 10 in possession.

According to an advisory announcement from the department, the opening is motivated by strong projections for sockeye salmon. As of Sunday, around 1,300 sockeye have already passed the Russian River weir. Projections from the Kenai River mile 13.7 sonar and that weir lead the department to estimate that the biological escapement goal for sockeye salmon will be met.

The release says that the department will be closely monitoring the run, and that if the BEG is set to be exceeded, the bag limits may be raised.

“Given the projections of escapement at the Kenai River mile 13.7 sonar, the escapement goal will likely be achieved and opening the Sanctuary Area early will allow anglers more time and area to target these fish,” Acting Area Management Biologist Jenny Gates said in the release. “The Russian River early-run looks to be shaping up into a good-sized run and fishing will continue to improve through the week.”

The department in the release reminds anglers to remove fish carcasses from the waters of the Russian River. They say that anglers who intend to clean their catch at the river should do so at the mainstem Kenai River cleaning tables, where sockeye salmon carcasses can be cut into small pieces and thrown into deep flowing waters of the Kenai River.

For more information about fishing at the Russian River Sanctuary Area, check page 60 of the 2023 Southcentral Alaska Sport Fishing Regulations Summary booklet.

Reach reporter Jake Dye at