• In Alaska, we take our fishing very seriously
By Sean Pearson
Some things, you just don’t mess around with.
If you’ve learned anything about Alaska angling, you should know by now that we take our fish very seriously. Plenty of fishing changes are popping up all over the Kenai Peninsula to protect future runs, so now is a good time to stay on top of just what regulations are currently in effect.
The federal subsistence fishery for Chinook salmon in the Kenai River downstream from the outlet of Skilak Lake will remain closed through 11:59 p.m., Aug. 15. This extends the current closure and prohibits all subsistence fishing for Chinook salmon, including both dip net and rod and reel fisheries. Chinooks may not be retained or possessed, and any accidentally caught while fishing for other species may not be removed from the water, and must be released immediately.
Immediately does not mean you pull the fish out for a few quick pics with Uncle Arnold — and everyone else on the boat — and then toss it back. Immediately means you don’t even take that puppy out of the water. It’s not like you can tell a salmon to hold its breath.
The early run Chinook salmon management plan identifies an optimal escapement goal of 5,300 to 9,000 Chinooks. The final in-season sonar estimate of Chinook passage into the Kenai River was 2,038 kings.
In a continued effort to conserve early run kings that may still be transiting the fishing area, as well as meet late-run king minimum escapement numbers, ADF&G also extended a king salmon closure already in effect.
The Kenai River closure upstream from ADF&G regulatory markers located 300 yards downstream from the mouth of Slikok Creek, upstream to Skilak Lake, is extended through July 31. Fishing for other species is allowed, but any king caught may not be removed from the water and must be released immediately.
Bait/scent is prohibited on the Kenai until Aug. 1.
The news is much of the same for Ninilchik River anglers hoping for a shot at a king. The river is closed to sport fishing for kings through 11:59 p.m., Oct. 31.
Recent poor king salmon runs in Lower Cook Inlet streams, uncertainty over how quickly the runs may rebound and early indicators of run strength in the Ninilchik River justify continuing the current closure through the remainder of the season.
An emergency order that increases the daily bag limit for salmon 16 inches or longer, other than kings, from three per day, three in possession to six per day, 12 in possession in all portions of the Kasilof River open to salmon fishing is effective through 11:59 p.m., Aug. 7. No more than two salmon per day and two in possession may be coho salmon.
Thanks to a strong return of sockeye salmon into the Kasilof River, emergency orders have been issued to liberalize the river’s personal-use and sport fisheries, effective until 11:59 p.m., Aug. 7.
Personal-use dipnetting from the shoreline is allowed in an expanded area from ADF&G markers on the Cook Inlet beaches, upstream to the Sterling Highway Bridge. Dipnetting from a boat is allowed from markers on Cook Inlet beaches upstream to markers around river mile 3.
Any king salmon, Dolly Varden, or rainbow/steelhead trout caught while dipnetting must be released immediately. Only Alaska residents may participate in personal-use fisheries.
Bag and possession limits in the Kasilof River sockeye salmon sport fishery are increased to six per day, and 12 in possession, effective through 11:59 p.m., Aug. 7.
The optimal escapement goal on the Kasilof River is 160,000-390,000 sockeyes. As of July 11, a total of 222,974 sockeye salmon have passed the Kasilof River sonar site. The current escapement level of sockeyes into the Kasilof River is proceeding at a rate that is projected to exceed the optimal escapement goal.
For additional information on the Kasilof River personal-use fishery, consult pages 13-15 of the Southcentral Alaska Sport Fishing Regulation Summary, or call the Anchorage dipnetting hotline at (907) 267-2512.
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