Kenai, Alaska (KINY) - The Alaska Department of Fish and Game began counting the early run of king salmon for the Kenai River a couple of weeks ago.
According to KSRM in Kenai, as of last Wednesday, 343 chinooks had gone past sonar counters. The Department is anticipating an early-run return of a little more than 3,100 large fish, those that are 34 inches in length or more. That’s below the escapement goal of at least 3,900.
Back in February the ADF&G announced the sport fishing regulation restrictions for the early-run king salmon in the Kenai River to catch and release only.
Unbaited catch and release is the only angling allowed for kings until July when the lower river is expected to open to some targeted king fishing.
This includes the Kenai River drainage downstream of the outlet of Skilak Lake effective 12:01 a.m. Wednesday, May 1 through 11:59 p.m. Wednesday, July 31.
From May 1 through June 30, king salmon of any size may not be retained in the Kenai River from the mouth upstream to the outlet of Skilak Lake. That restriction will continue July 1 through July 31, in the 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.
Only one, unbaited, single-hook artificial lure may be used in the waters restricted to catch-and-release. King salmon caught may not be removed from the water and must be released immediately.
However, from July 1 through July 31, anglers will be able to retain king salmon in the Kenai River from the mouth upstream to the ADF&G markers 300 yards downstream from Slikok Creek. In this section, bait is allowed; however, only a single hook lure or fly may be used during this time.