Kenai River late-run kings stronger than recent years

A dreary chinook run has plagued the Kenai River for the past few years, but numbers for 2015 shine a somewhat bright light on the state’s most heavily fished river and most iconic species.

“We’re seeing things better than the previous two years,” said Jason Pawluk, assistant Kenai area biologist for the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, or ADFG. “That’s encouraging; that’s good. We’re seeing an increase in abundance. We’re seeing an improvement in the age structure of the run, larger, older fish than the previous two years. It’s not a great run, I’m going to stress that, but it’s a little better than the previous two runs.”

As of July 20, ADFG’s sonar counter at the Mile 14 mark on the Kenai River has counted 9,722 late run chinook. The escapement goal is 15,000 to 30,000 fish. The sonar only counted 6,081 kings by July 20, 2013, and counted only 4,363 for the same date in 2014.

This year, ADFG moved the counter from a lower mark on the river at Mile 8.6.