Area Management Biologist
June 03, 2016
Sport fishing for king salmon in the Kenai River from its mouth up to an Alaska Department of Fish and Game regulatory marker at the outlet of Skilak Lake will be open Saturday, June 4 through Thursday, June 30. Anglers cannot retain king salmon of any size (catch-and-release only) and can fish for king salmon using only one, unbaited, barbless, single-hook, artificial fly or lure. Any king salmon caught may not be removed from the water and must be released immediately. From Friday, July 1 through Sunday, July 31, fishing but not harvest of king salmon will be open in the Kenai River from an ADF&G regulatory marker located approximately 300 yards downstream of Slikok Creek, upstream to the ADF&G marker at the outlet of Skilak Lake.
The Kenai River king salmon management plan requires the use of barbless hooks when sport fishing for king salmon is limited to catch-and-release. A barbless hook is a hook manufactured without a barb, or a hook with a barb that has been removed or compressed so the barb is in complete contact with the shaft of the hook.
Refer to page 71 of the Southcentral sport fishing regulation booklet for information on specific areas of the Kenai River that are closed to fishing for king salmon or that remain closed to all fishing May 2 through June 10.
“We’re seeing stronger numbers of early-run kings returning to the Kenai,” Robert Begich, the Area Management Biologist in Soldotna, said. “This has allowed us to ease pre-season restrictions, and provide opportunity for anglers to fish for early-run king salmon.”
Anglers are reminded that from Friday, July 1 through Sunday, July 31, retention of king salmon will be allowed from the mouth of the Kenai River upstream to the ADF&G regulatory marker approximately 300 yards downstream of Slikok Creek. The department will decide later this month whether or not the use of bait will be allowed at the beginning of the late-run king salmon fishery.
The 2016 preseason forecast for early-run Kenai River king salmon was for a total run of approximately 5,200 fish. As of June 1, the total estimated passage of early-run Kenai River king salmon at the river mile 14 sonar was 2,375 fish. Run timing models for early-run Kenai River king salmon are indicating a run that is likely returning earlier than observed historically and is projected to be larger than the forecast and within the Optimal Escapement Goal (OEG). The OEG for early-run Kenai River king salmon is 5,300 to 9,000 king salmon. Based on the inseason assessment, catch & release sport fishing opportunity can be afforded without jeopardizing achievement of the OEG. The department will continue to assess the run and additional actions may be forthcoming.
For more information, contact Robert Begich or Jason Pawluk at 907-262-9368.