Area Management Biologist
Phone: (907) 262-9368
June 26, 2014
The Kenai River late-run king salmon fishery opens July 1. Harvest will be allowed in a portion of the lower Kenai River from ADF&G regulatory markers located approximately 300 yards downstream from the mouth of Slikok Creek under existing regulations. However, the use of bait is prohibited in the Kenai River upstream to Skilak Lake during the month of July. Anglers are reminded that they may use only one unbaited, single-hook, artificial lure; multiple hooks are prohibited by regulation in the Kenai River. “Single hook” means a fishhook with only one point (with or without a barb).
Anglers are also reminded that an emergency order issued Thursday, February 27, 2014 which closed a portion of the Kenai River Drainage to sport fishing for king salmon through July 31, 2014, remains in effect. Sport fishing for king salmon, including catch and release fishing, is closed from ADF&G regulatory markers located approximately 300 yards downstream from the mouth of Slikok Creek, upstream to an ADF&G marker at the outlet of Skilak Lake. In this portion of the river, no king salmon of any size may be retained. King salmon may not be targeted and any king salmon caught while fishing for other species may not be removed from the water and must be released immediately.
Kenai River king salmon and other king salmon stocks throughout Cook Inlet are experiencing a period of low productivity and below average run strength since 2009. That trend has continued during 2014. The 2014 preseason forecast for late-run Kenai River king salmon is for a total run of approximately 19,700 fish. This is less than one-half of the 1986–2013 average total run of approximately 57,000 fish and is insufficient to provide for harvest in an unrestricted fishery without jeopardizing attainment of the sustainable escapement goal. Considering the small run forecast and direction provided in the management plan, prohibiting bait in the sport fishery is warranted.
Additionally, in January 2014, the Alaska Board of Fisheries created a regulation prohibiting the retention of king salmon in the personal use fishery and restrictions to the commercial fisheries if bait was prohibited in the Kenai River sport fishery.