• Sports fishermen help stem flood of reds
By Randi Somers
In response to a record number of red salmon headed for the spawning grounds in the Kenai and Kasilof Rivers, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game has opened the dipnet personal use fishery at the mouth of the Kenai and Kasilof Rivers 24 hours a day, seven days a week through July 31 unless superseded by a subsequent order.
Sonar counters and test fisheries have alerted the fisheries managers that the escapement of the late run into the Kenai will exceed 2.3 million sockeye and they anticipate that the optimal esapement goal of 700,000 to 1,400,000 will be reached before the run is over.
The area of the Kenai River open to personal use dipnetting remains the same. A complete description of the area open to dipnetting, along with harvest limits and permit requirements, is found on pages 16 through 18 of the 2011 Southcentral Alaska Sport Fishing Regulation Summary booklet available at the Alaska Department of Fish and Game.
The Upper Cook Inlet Personal Use Salmon Fishery Management Plan allows for increasing personal use fishing control escapement.
They have also thrown the fishery almost wide open for commercial fishermen who are watching the price fluxuate as they deliver the thousands of reds to the processors. The price at the start of the season was $1.85 per pound and the base price now is $1.15 with a .30 cent bonus for fish that have been iced, bled and slush iced.
To further stem the flow, managers have altered the coridors to give the drift fishermen more fishing room. It was three miles from shore between the North Forelands and Ninilchik and now it is a straight line between those points, expanding the area considerably.
Fisheries managers advise that fishers should expect to see variability in catch rates as the large pulse of fish that entered the river earlier this month has already passed through the lower river.
They are reminded to respect private property adjacent to public beaches and to follow applicable rules and regulations when on lands owned by the City of Kenai.
For more information, contact the Sodotna Department of Fish and Game office, 262 9368.
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