• Sockeye returns continue to improve as Kenai dipnet fishery opens
By Sean Pearson
While all fishing for kings on the Kenai River is officially over, that doesn’t mean your summer angling adventures are finished. Reports trickling in from the Kenai indicate sockeyes have finally returned to the river, and counts are looking pretty good.
The Kasilof, lower rivers of the Peninsula and the offshore fishery north of Bluff Point are also closed to kings, so keep your hands off.
Any king salmon caught accidently must not even be brought to the surface before being immediately released. Yes, even catch and release is illegal at this point.
But take heed. Anglers have reported promising results downstream from the outlet of Skilak Lake, as well as the middle and lower Kenai, with a few 10-pound sockeyes pulled from the river this weekend. Fishing is reportedly improving, with bigger fish showing up in the late runs.
Offshore fishing at Anchor Point and Deep Creek is also reportedly producing some decent halibut. Many 50-plus pounders have been found between 220 and 350 feet, and most anglers are catching their limit.
Halibut anglers in Homer continue to fall just short of Pam Seward’s 219.6-pound leader in the Homer Jackpot Halibut Derby. Rumors of a released 300-pound flatfish have also been swimming around.
The Kenai River dipnet fishery is underway until one minute before midnight on Tuesday, July 31. The personal-use sockeye dipnet fishery will be open 24 hours a day, as opposed to usual hours of 6 a.m. to 11 p.m., following Fish and Game’s projections that the Kenai’s late-run sockeye numbers exceed 2.3 million.
In a press release, the department said the escapement goal of 700,000 to 1.4 million reds will be met.
On Friday, Gov. Sean Parnell announced he is establishing a team of top researchers and scientists to look at why decent king salmon returns continue to evade Alaska rivers again this summer.
Setnetters on the Kenai Peninsula have been prevented from casting their nets for fish. Some 200 of them protested the river closures last Friday in Kenai.
Many suggested the state’s management of Cook Inlet Fisheries is to blame, though experts say the decline in kings likely has to do with changes in the ocean’s environment.
Always be sure to check the ADF&G website for the latest regulations, restrictions and emergency orders before heading out to fish.
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