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Area Sport Fishing Reports
Northern Kenai

fish Scales fish Scales
Northern Kenai Sport Fish Management Area
King Salmon
Kenai River Early Run

The 2018 preseason forecast of 5,499 large (> 750 mm) early-run salmon fell within the Optimum Escapement Goal (OEG) of 3,900 to 6,600 fish allowing the fishery to begin without any restrictions. The run-timing to the river mile 14 sonar for large king salmon was one day early at the quarter point (June 3) and one day early (June 10) at the average mid-point of June 11. The estimated preliminary total in-river run of 3,031 fish was significantly smaller than the forecast and remained well below the 30-year average.

Management Actions

On June 13, 2018, the early-run sport fishery was restricted and harvest of king salmon any size in the Kenai River from its mouth upstream to an ADF&G marker at the outlet of Skilak Lake was prohibited.

On June 20, 2018, the early-run sport fishery for king salmon was closed.

Age Structure

Netting

Approximately 56% were ≥ 750 mm in total length.

Sex ratio all-sized king salmon was 53% male and 47% female.

About 89% of king salmon sampled were two to five ocean fish (38% 700 mm to 899 mm, and 18% 900 mm to 1,099 mm), while 30% were smaller younger two ocean fish (500 mm to 699 mm).

Harvest

56% of the harvest was comprised of large (≥ 750 mm) king salmon.

48% of the king salmon ≥ 750 mm harvested were female.

Table 1. Summary of preliminary catch, harvest, and escapement, Kenai River early-run king salmon (≥ 750 mm) fishery, 2018
Escapement Goal Range 3,900 to 6,600 large king salmon (≥ 750 mm)
Total Catcha 341
Total Harvesta Below sonar = 25; Above sonar = 79; Total = 104
Sonar Estimate In-River 7,237
Preliminary Escapement Approximately 2,859
aLower river (below Soldotna Bridge).
Kenai River Late Run

The late-run forecast of 21,503 large (≥ 750 mm) king salmon was less than the 2017 forecast of 33,613 fish, and below the historic average of approximately 40,000 large salmon. The new escapement goal for late-run salmon, based on large fish is a Sustainable Escapement Goal (SEG) of 13,500 to 27,000. Based on the estimated mean of the mid-point for 2013 to 2017 runs of July 27, the 2018 run was one day late. The preliminary inseason estimate of the total run of large king salmon is 18,506.

Management Actions

On June 18, 2018, anglers were prohibited from fishing for king salmon of any size in the Kenai River from that portion of the Kenai River form an ADF&G marker located approximately 300 yards downstream from the mouth of Slikok Creek, upstream to an ADF&G regulatory marker at the outlet of Skilak Lake beginning July 1.

On July 1, 2018, the late-run sport fishery was restricted to no bait on the Kenai River.

On July 18, 2018, the retention of king salmon was prohibited while sport fishing 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.

Age Structure

Netting

Approximately 66% were ≥ 750 mm in total length.

Sex ratios for fish ≥ 500 mm was 45% female and 55% male.

About 98% of king salmon sampled were two to five ocean fish (26% 700 mm - 899 mm, 45% 900 mm - 1,099 mm, and 8% ≥ 1100 mm), although just 16% were three-ocean fish (700 mm to 899 mm).

Harvest

17% of the harvest was comprised of large (≥ 750 mm) king salmon.

33% of the king salmon ≥ 750 mm harvested were female.

Table 1. Summary of preliminary catch, harvest, and escapement, Kenai River late-run king salmon (≥ 750 mm) fishery, 2018
Escapement Goal Range 13,700 to 27,000 large king salmon (≥ 750 mm)
Total Catcha 2,365
Total Harvesta Below sonar = 0; Above sonar = 101; Total = 101
Sonar Estimate In-River 22,133
Preliminary Escapement Approximately 17,343
aLower river (below Soldotna Bridge).
Kasilof River

This spring, approximately 149,622 king salmon smolt were successfully stocked into Crooked Creek to augment natural production and enhance recreational fishing opportunity in the Kasilof River. The natural component of the Crooked Creek early-run king salmon return is managed to achieve SEG of 650 to 1,700 salmon. The estimated escapement of wild king salmon was 714. The egg take goal for future stocking of Crooked Creek was 32 pairs of naturally-produced king salmon of which 27 pairs were spawned in 2018.

Management Actions

On June 13, 2018, bag limit restrictions on the early-run king salmon fishery on the Kasilof River were implemented. The retention of naturally-produced king salmon was prohibited, and the bag and possession limit of hatchery-produced salmon was reduced to one fish. Additionally, sport fishing gear was limited to one unbaited, single-hook, artificial lure on the Kasilof River.

On July 18, 2018, the retention of salmon was prohibited while sport fishing on the Kasilof River downstream of the Sterling Highway Bridge. Additionally, only one unbaited, single-hook, artificial lure may be used when fishing for king salmon in these waters.

Sockeye Salmon
Kenai River

Upper Cook Inlet sockeye salmon forecast of 4.6 million total run, 2.5 million Kenai River, 866,000 Kasilof River, remaining 1.0 million Susitna River, and unmonitored systems. Based on preseason forecast the sockeye salmon run was managed on the middle tier for runs of 2.3 to 4.6 million with an inriver goal of 1 to 1.3 million sockeye salmon. On July 24, 2018, ADF&G determined the run was weaker than forecast and projected the run would be less than 2.3 million fish to the Kenai River. This resulted in changing management to the lowest tier with an inriver goal of 900,000 to 1.1 million salmon. The preliminary inriver sonar passage estimate was 1,034,771 Kenai River sockeye salmon.

Management Actions

On July 30, 2018, the bag and possession limits for sockeye salmon, 16 inches or greater in length, were reduced from three per day and six in possession, to one per day, two in possession from the mouth of the Kenai River to Skilak Lake.

On August 4, 2018, the Kenai River closed to fishing for sockeye salmon from its mouth upstream to the Sterling Highway Bridge at the outlet of Kenai Lake, except those waters of the Upper Kenai River, Russian River, and Russian River confluence areas remained open.

On August 23, 2018, the Kenai River reopened to sport fishing for sockeye salmon.

Russian River - Early Run

The escapement goal for Russian River early-run sockeye salmon is a Biological Escapement Goal (BEG) of 22,000 to 44,000 fish. The weir count on July 14, 2018, was 44,110 sockeye salmon, slightly above the mid-point of the goal range.

Management Actions

On June 19, 2018, the Russian River Sanctuary area opened.

On July 3, 2018, the sockeye salmon bag and possession limits were increased to six per day and twelve in possession for the Russian River and a section of the mainstem Upper Kenai River.

Russian River - Late Run

The escapement goal for Russian River late-run sockeye salmon is a SEG of 30,000 to 110,000 fish. The weir count on September 6, 2018, was 71,052 sockeye salmon.

Management Actions

No management actions were implemented during the 2018 sport fishery.

Kasilof River

The forecast for Kasilof River sockeye salmon was 866,000 fish. Kasilof sockeye salmon are managed for a BEG of 160,000 to 340,000 salmon, and an OEG of 160,000 to 390,000 fish. The sockeye salmon sonar quit enumerating salmon passage on August 15, 2018, with a preliminary estimate of 394,288 fish.

Management Actions

On August 4, 2018, the bag and possession limits for sockeye salmon were increased to six fish per day and twelve fish in possession.

Coho Salmon
Kenai River

Inseason freshwater guide logbook reports indicate the 2018 Kenai River coho salmon sport catch appears higher than in recent years. Angler reports indicate that coho salmon were showing up in the harvest during the last week of July and catches were reported as very good from mid-August throughout the season.

Management Actions

No management actions were implemented during the 2018 sport fishery.

Personal Use Dip Net Fisheries
Kasilof River and Kenai River
Harvest Reports

The total number of Upper Cook Inlet Personal Use permits issued for the 2017 season is not yet known. Nonetheless, 8,896 Upper Cook Inlet Personal Use permits have been returned to date via online reporting, an initial return rate of 61%. 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 83%. harvest data will be keypunched by the end of October and estimates of total harvest will be available in January.

Management Actions

On July 5, 2018, the Kenai River personal use fishery was restricted, and the retention of king salmon was prohibited.

On July 30, 2018, the Kenai River personal use fishery was closed by emergency order.

See the printable PDF version, which includes a table of Region II Escapement Goals and Escapements (2008-2018).