Good news for Kenai River-area anglers: for the first time in a year, starting today, you can keep a coveted king from the river.
From the Anchorage Daily News :
King salmon returns to the Kenai have plummeted since 2009, bottoming out last year. With king salmon angling banned during the entire first run, “it’s been really quiet here,” Gease said. “It’s critical for the Peninsula economy, and when it’s closed, that’s a big hit.”
Perhaps no group was hit as hard as fishing guides. Gease estimated that five years ago about 400 fishing and sightseeing guides worked on the Kenai River. That went down to 280 after restrictions to Kenai fishing began, Gease said, and so far this year, most guides who once fished the Kenai have had to find other work — or pursue other fish in other places.
While not strong, this year’s early run lit a flicker of hope for a king turnaround on the Kenai. As of Monday, 4,585 of the prized salmon have been detected in the river, according to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game’s sonar estimate, putting the department’s minimum escapement goal of 5,300 kings within reach. The early run ends Monday night.
At the same time last year, only 1,343 kings had been counted. This year’s return was running ahead of 2012, too.