Division of Sport Fish
Tom Taube, Acting Director

Anchorage Headquarters Office
333 Raspberry Road
Anchorage, AK 99518

Alaska Department of Fish and Game
Doug Vincent-Lang, Commissioner

P.O. Box 115526
Juneau, AK 99811-5526

Advisory Announcement
(Released: March 02, 2023 - Expired: July 31, 2023)

CONTACT: Jenny Gates
Acting Area Management Biologist
(907) 262-9368

Kenai River Late-Run King Salmon Sport Fishery Closed

(Soldotna) – In order to conserve returning king salmon and increase fishing opportunities in the future, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADF&G) is closing the king salmon fishery throughout the Kenai River drainage and prohibiting the use of bait and multiple hooks in the Kenai River from its mouth upstream to ADF&G markers located at the outlet of Skilak Lake. These regulatory changes are effective 12:01 a.m. Saturday, July 1 through 11:59 p.m. Monday, July 31, 2023. Additionally, released on March 2, 2023 Emergency Order 2-KS-1-10-23 closes sport fishing for king salmon of all sizes in the Kenai River from the mouth upstream to the outlet of Skilak Lake from May 1 through June 30, 2023.

Anglers are advised this closure prohibits all sport fishing for king salmon, including catch-and-release fishing. King salmon may not be retained or possessed; king salmon caught while fishing for other species may not be removed from the water and must be released immediately. Anglers are also reminded that bait/scent and multiple hooks are prohibited on the entire Kenai River.

ADF&G manages Kenai River late-run king salmon under guidelines provided in the Kenai River Late-Run King Salmon Management Plan to achieve adequate escapement of late-run king salmon into the Kenai River system. The optimal escapement goal (OEG) for late-run king salmon is 15,000 to 30,000 king salmon 75 cm mid eye to tail fork and longer.

The 2023 forecast for the stock of large (> 75 cm mideye-to-tail-fork-length [METF] or approximately > 34 inches in total length) late-run king salmon in the Kenai River is 13,630 fish. This total run forecast is below the optimum escapement goal range of 15,000 to 30,000 fish.

Therefore, consistent with the management plan, it is warranted to close sport fishing for late-run king salmon in the Kenai River to achieve the OEG. ADF&G is also implementing restrictions to saltwater sport fisheries for king salmon in Cook Inlet waters north of Bluff Point (Emergency Order 2-KS-15-23), prohibiting retention of king salmon in the personal use dipnet fishery, and restricting the commercial Eastside Setnet fishery, and drift gillnet fishery.

“The 2023 forecast for Kenai River late-run of king salmon is significantly less than the lower end of the OEG. Without conservative measures, the goal may not to be achieved,” stated Acting Area Management Biologist Jenny Gates.

For additional information, please contact Acting Area Management Biologist Jenny Gates at (907) 262-9368 or Cook Inlet Management Coordinator Matt Miller at (907) 267-2415.