Area Sport Fishing Reports
The outlook for the early-run of Kenai River king salmon in 2020 was below average, with a large fish (>75 cm mid eye to tail fork length or approximately >34 inches in total length) forecast of 4,794 fish. The 2020 forecasted total run of large king salmon was within the Optimal Escapement Goal (OEG) of 3,900-6,600 fish which allows the fishery to be opened under general regulation. The run- timing to the river mile 14 sonar for large king salmon was 5-days late at the midpoint of the run on June 16 from the average of June 11. The estimated preliminary total in-river run of 2,459 large fish was less than the forecast and the second smallest on record.
On June 10, 2020, king salmon fishing was closed from the Kenai River mouth upstream to the outlet of Skilak Lake until June 30. The king salmon fishing closure continued until July 31, in waters from an ADF&G regulatory marker located approximately 300 yards downstream from the mouth of Slikok Creek upstream to the outlet of Skilak Lake.
Approximately 51% were large fish or ≥750 mm in total length.
Sex ratio of large fish >750 mm was 30% male and 70% female.
King salmon sampled were predominately ocean-age 3 fish (40%) followed by ocean-age 4 fish (39%) and ocean-age 2 fish (17%).
32 large king salmon were harvested in the early-run sport fishery (includes catch-and-release mortality).
|Escapement Goal Range||3,900 to 6,600 large king salmon (≥750 mm)|
|Total Harvesta||Below sonar = 17; Above sonar = 15; Total = 32|
|Sonar Estimate In-River||2,444|
|Preliminary Escapement||Approximately 2,427|
|aLower river (below Soldotna Bridge).|
The outlook for the late-run of Kenai River king salmon in 2020 was well below average, with a large king salmon (>75 cm mid eye to tail fork length) forecast of approximately 22,700 fish. Although the forecasted total run of large fish approximated the mid-point of the large fish OEG of 15,000- 30,000 fish, historical harvest data indicated the OEG would not be met without restricting fisheries. Run timing was average with the midpoint occurring on July 26, 2020. The preliminary inseason estimate of the total run of large king salmon is 12,132 fish. The preliminary escapement estimate is 11,908 large king salmon.
On July 1, 2020, bait and retention of king salmon 34 inches and greater was prohibited on the Kenai River from its mouth upstream to an ADF&G regulatory marker located approximately 300 yards downstream from the mouth of Slikok Creek. This restriction was in conjunction with the Kenai River early-run king salmon sport fishing closure that remained in effect from ADF&G regulatory marker located approximately 300 yards downstream from the mouth of Slikok Creek, upstream to the outlet of Skilak Lake.
On July 15, 2020, retention of king salmon of all sizes was prohibited from the mouth of the Kenai River upstream to an ADF&G regulatory marker located approximately 300 yards downstream from the mouth of Slikok Creek. In addition, only one unbaited, single-hook, artificial lure was allowed.
On July 24, 2020, king salmon fishing was closed from the Kenai River mouth upstream to the outlet of Skilak Lake until July 31. The use of bait was also prohibited.
On August 1, 2020, bait and multiple hooks were prohibited from the mouth of the Kenai River upstream to the outlet of Skilak Lake until August 15 to reduce incidental catch of king salmon.
Approximately 64% were ≥750 mm in total length.
Sex ratios for fish ≥500 mm was 45% female and 55% male.
King salmon sampled were predominately ocean-age 4 fish (48%) followed by ocean-age 3 fish (30%), ocean-age 2 fish (13%) and ocean-age 5 fish (2%).
99 large king salmon were harvested (includes catch-and-release mortality).
|Escapement Goal Range||15,000 to 30,000 large king salmon (≥750 mm)|
|Total Harvesta||Below sonar = 32; Above sonar = 67; Total = 99|
|Sonar Estimate In-River||11,499|
|Preliminary Escapement||Approximately 11,908|
|aLower river (below Soldotna Bridge).
bIncludes estimate of kings that spawn downstream of sonar.
This spring, approximately 141,331 king salmon smolt were successfully stocked into Crooked Creek to augment natural production and enhance recreational sport fishing opportunity in the Kasilof River. The natural component of the Crooked Creek early-run king salmon return is managed to achieve a Sustainable Escapement Goal (SEG) of 700-1,400 king salmon. The estimated escapement of wild (naturally-produced) king salmon was 830 fish. The egg take goal for future stocking of Crooked Creek was 33 pairs of naturally-produced king salmon of which 35 pairs were spawned in 2020.
On June 10, 2020, the early-run king salmon limits were restricted to two hatchery-produced fish, 20 inches or greater in length in the Kasilof River drainage. The retention of naturally-produced king salmon was prohibited. In addition, only one unbaited, single-hook artificial lure was allowed.
On July 1, 2020, bait and multiple hooks were prohibited in the Kasilof River drainage.
On July 15, 2020, retention of king salmon was prohibited while sport fishing in the Kasilof River downstream of the Sterling Highway Bridge. Bait and multiple hooks continued to be prohibited.
The Upper Cook Inlet sockeye salmon forecast projected a total run of 4.3 million fish: 2.2 million fish in the Kenai River, 723,000 fish in the Kasilof River, with the remaining 1.3 million fish comprised of Susitna River, Fish Creek and unmonitored systems. Based on the preseason forecast, the sockeye salmon run was managed on the lower tier for runs of less than 2.3 million Kenai River sockeye salmon, with an inriver goal of 1.0-1.2 million sockeye salmon. The preliminary inriver Kenai River sonar passage estimate was 1,813,386 sockeye salmon. Subtracting the recent 10-average harvest upstream of the sonar produces an preliminary escapement estimate of 1,516,386 sockeye salmon. Final estimates will be available when the 2020 SWHS is completed in the fall of 2021.
No management actions were implemented during the 2020 sport fishery season.
The escapement goal for Russian River early-run sockeye salmon is a Biological Escapement Goal (BEG) of 22,000-42,000 fish. The weir count on July 14, 2020, was 27,103 sockeye salmon and achieved the BEG.
On June 11, 2020, the Russian River Sanctuary Area opened early for sport fishing.
On July 3, 2020, the Russian River Sanctuary Area closed to sport fishing.
The escapement goal for Russian River late-run sockeye salmon is a Sustainable Escapement Goal (SEG) of 44,000-85,000 fish. The final Russian River weir count on September 08, 2020 was 78,832 and achieved the SEG.
No management actions were implemented during the 2020 sport fishery.
The forecast for Kasilof River sockeye salmon was 723,000 fish. Kasilof River sockeye salmon are managed for a Biological Escapement Goal (BEG) of 140,000-320,000 salmon, and an OEG of 140,000-370,000 fish. The sockeye salmon sonar quit enumerating salmon passage on August 22, 2020, with a preliminary estimate of 545,651 fish.
On July 15, 2020, sockeye salmon limits were increased to six per day, twelve in possession; however, no more than two per day and in possession could be coho salmon, in all portions of the Kasilof River open to salmon fishing.
Freshwater guide logbook reports were discontinued in 2019. These guide logbook reports were used in the past to gauge Kenai River coho salmon sport catch, harvest, and angler effort. Angler reports indicate that coho salmon were showing up in the harvest during the last week of July and catches were reported as good through August and slowed in September.
On August 1, 2020, bait and multiple hooks were prohibited in the Kenai River from its mouth upstream to Skilak Lake to minimize incidental catch of late-run king salmon.
Final results from the 2020 season have not been compiled, but preliminary information indicates 25,441 Upper Cook Inlet Personal Use permits were issued electronically. The number of paper permits and total permits issued is not yet known. Typically, about 86% of the Upper Cook Inlet Personal Use permits have some Kenai River harvest reported on them. The Kasilof River dipnet fishery opened by regulation June 25-August 7, 2020 with expanded fishing area allowed on July 3, 2020. The Kenai River dipnet fishery opened by regulation on July 10-July 31, with no retention of king salmon.
The total number of Upper Cook Inlet Personal Use permits issued for the 2020 season is not yet known. Nonetheless, 12,966 Upper Cook Inlet Personal Use permits have been returned to date via online reporting, an initial return rate of 51%. A reminder letter will be mailed to permit holders who have not yet returned their harvest record. Typically, permit returns from the reminder letters brings the total permit returns to approximately 82%. Harvest data will be keypunched by the end of October and estimates of total harvest will be available in January 2021.
On July 3, 2020, the Kasilof River dipnetting area was expanded. Dipnetting from the shore was allowed from ADF&G markers on Cook Inlet beaches upstream to the Sterling Highway Bridge and boat dipnetting was allowed from ADF&G markers located on Cook Inlet beaches upstream to ADF&G markers at approximately river mile 3 of the Kasilof River.
On July 10, 2020, the retention of king salmon in the Kenai River personal use fishery was prohibited.