Sanctuary opens for sockeye sport fishing

The sanctuary opening is effective Thursday, June 24 through 11:59 p.m. on Wednesday on July 14.

The Russian River Sanctuary Area is opening to sockeye salmon fishing for sport fish anglers starting 12:01 a.m. on Thursday, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game announced in a press release.

The sanctuary refers to the convergence of the Russian River into the Kenai, and is often a gathering point for early-run sockeye before they make their way up the Russian River.

The sanctuary opening is effective Thursday, June 24 through 11:59 p.m. on Wednesday on July 14, the release said.

During this time period, anglers are limited to a three-sockeye bag limit and six-sockeye possession limit for fish 16 inches or greater in length. For those sockeye smaller than 16 inches, the bag limit is 10 and the possession limit is 10.

The bag limit refers to fish caught per day, while the possession limit includes all unpreserved fish in an angler’s possession.

From July 15 through Aug. 20, the ADF&G will only allow fly fishing in the sanctuary area.

Additionally, the agency has set limits for both sockeye and coho salmon during this time frame. The bag is three per day, six in possession in combination, of which only one per day, one in possession may be a coho salmon for fish 16 inches or longer. For those less than 16 inches in length, both the bag and possession limits are 10 per day.

ADF&G conducted a stream survey on Monday and estimated that 3,500 fish were currently in the sanctuary area.

“The Russian River early-run looks to be shaping up into an average-sized run and it is likely the escapement goal will be achieved while allowing anglers a little more time to target these fish,” Area Management Biologist Colton Lipka said in the release. “Fishing should improve towards the weekend.”

The ADF&G also reminds anglers of proper fish filleting practices. Carcasses should be removed from clear waters; fish should be cleaned at proper tables at the confluence and ferry crossing; and small fish pieces should be thrown into deep, flowing waters.

For more information, Lipka can be reached at 907-262-9368.

Reach reporter Camille Botello at