Division of Sport Fish
Dave Rutz, 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: July 19, 2021 - Expired: July 31, 2021)

CONTACT: Colton Lipka
Area Management Biologist
(907) 262-9368

Kenai River Closed to King Salmon Fishing

(Soldotna) – In favor of protecting returning king salmon and increasing fishing opportunities in the future, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADF&G) is closing the king salmon fishery throughout the entire 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. Wednesday, July 21 through 11:59 p.m. Saturday, July 31, 2021.

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 ensure 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.

Through July 18, 2021, approximately 2,872 king salmon 75 cm mid eye to tail fork and longer have passed the river mile 13.7 king salmon sonar. Inseason projections estimate an escapement of approximately 10,068 large king salmon under the current management strategy. Therefore, consistent with the management plan, it is warranted to close sport fishing for late-run king salmon in the Kenai River. ADF&G is also implementing restrictions and closures to the commercial fisheries.

“The 2021 king salmon late-run to the Kenai River is significantly below preseason expectations, without further restrictions the escapement goal for Kenai River late-run king salmon is not expected to be achieved” stated Area Management Biologist Colton Lipka.

As a reminder, retention of king salmon is prohibited in the Kenai River personal use dipnet fishery for 2021. In conjunction with this restriction, an emergency order was issued closing sport fishing for king salmon, including catch-and-release, in all Cook Inlet saltwaters north of the latitude of Bluff Point (59° 40.00' N. lat.). In addition, an emergency order was issued closing king salmon sport fishing on the Kasilof River. Only one unbaited, single-hook, artificial lure may be used when sport fishing for other species in the Kasilof River.

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