By ELIZABETH EARL-KDLL-Kenai
Starting Wednesday, king salmon fishing on the Kenai River will be closed entirely through the end of June.
So far, only 583 large kings have come back to the river, according to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game. That’s a little more than a third of the number that had passed the sonar on the same day last year, and well below the preseason forecast.
Fish and Game is forecasting the run to be about 1,475 large fish if it’s on time and up to 2,193 if it’s three days late. Both of those are well below the lower end of the escapement goal. Fish and Game is closing the run until July 1, when the late run officially begins.
Anglers who want a chance for a king salmon can still go to the Kasilof River for now, but wild fish are off limits starting Wednesday as well. Any wild king salmon that are caught have to be released immediately, though hatchery fish are still fair game. Gear is restricted to single hook only and no bait.
It’s not all bad news in the fishing world, though. The Russian River sanctuary, which is the section of the confluence of the Kenai and Russian rivers usually closed at the beginning of the season, will open early for sport fishing. Foot surveys by Fish and Game staff show a good number of sockeye headed that way, enough to meet the escapement, according to an announcement released Monday.
The fishery there opens Thursday. Anglers are reminded to keep your gear close, make sure not to leave fish carcasses on the banks, and respect areas that are roped off. For more infomation, visit the Alaska Department of Fish and Game’s website.