Cook Inlet Fishing Regulation Changes Include Susitna River Pink Limits, Extended King Season In Ship Creek

The following press release is courtesy of the Alaska Department of Fish and Game:

Cook Inlet Sport Fishing Regulation Changes

(Anchorage) – The Alaska Board of Fisheries (BOF) adopted several proposals establishing new sport fishing regulations for Cook Inlet fisheries. Regulatory changes are summarized below as a service to anglers, and not a complete digest of all sport fishing regulations. The new regulations will take effect with the release of the 2024 Southcentral Alaska Sport Fishing Regulations Summary booklet when it is issued in April of 2024.

New for 2024

Susitna River and Knik Arm Drainages

  • The bag and possession limit for pink salmon in the Susitna River drainage was increased to six fish.
  • In the Susitna River Personal Use dipnet fishery, dip netting in and around the mouth of Anderson Creek is prohibited.
  • The boundary between the Knik Arm Drainages Area and Palmer-Wasilla Zone flowing waters sport fishery was changed, the 2024 regulation book will have a new map for the Palmer-Wasilla Zone flowing waters.
  • Waters north and west of the Little Susitna River, closed to the retention of rainbow trout April 15 – June 14.
  • Northern pike and Alaska blackfish may be harvested by bow and arrow or spear in the Palmer-Wasilla Zone flowing waters sport fishery.
  • The mouth of Fish Creek in the Knik Arm Drainages Area was defined with GPS coordinates for the sport fishery.
  • Fish Creek sport fishery increased to seven days per week during open season.
  • Updated the lists of freshwater systems and lakes where anglers may use up to five lines while fishing for northern pike through the ice.
  • Added Mirror and Flat Lake to special provisions for sport fishing from November 1 – April 30 in the Knik Arm Drainages Area.
  • Prohibited the use of scent attractants, chumming and bait in Big, Mirror and Flat Lake.
  • Arctic char was restricted to catch-and-release only in Big Lake of the Fish Creek drainage.


  • Extended the king salmon sport fish season in Ship Creek and allowed for year-round retention of king salmon in the sport fishery.
  • If a person retains a king salmon 20 inches or greater in length in Ship Creek after July 13, they may continue to sport fish for other species.
  • Closed the Eklutna River drainage to the retention of coho and sockeye salmon.

Kenai River

  • Kenai River late-run king salmon were designated a Stock of Concern and a Stock of Concern Management Plan was created to help the stock recover. Elements of the plan affecting sport fisheries are:
    • The department shall manage the late run of Kenai River king salmon to achieve a recovery goal of 14,250 – 30,000 king salmon 75 cm mid eye to tail fork and longer.
      • If the recovery goal is projected to be achieved, the commissioner may allow catch-and-release of king salmon in the sport fishery or allow retention of king salmon 34 inches or greater in length
      • If the recovery goal is projected to not be achieved, the Kenai River is closed to sport fishing for king salmon; a king salmon that is caught must be released immediately; a person may not remove a king salmon from the water before releasing the fish;
    • from July 1 through August 15, a person may not use more than one unbaited, single-hook, artificial lure in the Kenai River downstream from the outlet of Skilak Lake;
    • from June 20 through August 15, from the mouth of the Kenai River upstream to Skilak Lake the bag limit for sockeye salmon is six per day, 12 in possession;
  • The sport fisheries in the salt waters of Cook Inlet north of the latitude of Bluff Point at 59° 40.00′ N. lat., are closed to the taking of king salmon from June 20 through August 15.

In addition to the Stock of Concern Management Plan, the board took actions on other aspects of Kenai River sport fisheries: 

  • The area limited to sport fishing with one unbaited, single-hook, artificial lure in the Lower Section of the Kenai River was extended and effective dates were increased from two months to year-round.
  • Closed Hidden Lake to all sport fishing between September 15 – November 30
  • A king salmon that is released, may not be removed from the water in the personal use dip net fishery in the Kenai and Kasilof Rivers.

Kasilof, Anchor, Deep and Ninilchik Rivers

  • In the Kasilof River above the Sterling Highway bridge, only one unbaited, single-hook, artificial lure may be used from January 1 – August 15.
  • Adopted a plan to align management actions for Anchor River and Deep Creek. For these two streams, no harvest will be allowed unless the Anchor River forecast or projection indicates that the run will be greater than the midpoint of the sustainable escapement goal (SEG). Both streams will be closed if projections are less than the lower end of the SEG, and both streams will be open to catch-and-release and only unbaited, single-hook, artificial lures if the projection is between the lower end of the SEG and the midpoint.
  • The Kasilof and Ninilchik rivers were separated to provide opportunity to harvest hatchery king salmon. The following was put in place by emergency orders issued March 14, 2024.
    • The retention of wild king salmon on the Kasilof and Ninilchik rivers was closed. The bag limit for hatchery king salmon was increased to 2, and gear for king salmon fishing was restricted to one single-hook or single-hook, artificial lure, and bait is allowed.
  • The area open for the youth-only fishery on the Ninilchik River was extended to be open from the mouth of the river to the 2-mile markers located near the Garrison Ridge Road bridge.
  • The Kasilof personal use set gillnet fishery allowable gear was restricted to one net per household, not to exceed 10 fathoms in length, 4.75 inches in stretched mesh, and a maximum of 29 meshes in depth.
  • In the Kasilof River, the allowed area for motors (10hp or less) to be used was extended to downstream of approximately river mile 4, only after fishing from the boat has stopped for the day.

Cook Inlet and North Gulf Coast Salt Waters (all Cook Inlet salt waters and salt waters east to Cape Fairfield including Seward)

  • Rockfish bag limit was reduced to 3 per day, 6 in possession, of which only 1 per day, 2 in possession may be a nonpelagic rockfish.

Cook Inlet salt waters (all Cook Inlet salt waters east to Gore Point)

  • Lingcod bag limit was reduced to 1 per day, 2 in possession.
  • Increased the guideline harvest level (GHL) in the Winter Fishery to 5,500 king salmon. If the GHL is expected to be exceeded, the retention of king salmon less than 20 inches in length will not be allowed.
  • Fishing from shore for species other than king salmon is allowed within the Conservation Zones surrounding the lower Kenai Peninsula roadside stream mouths. From April 1 through July 15, the Conservation Zones remain closed to fishing for king salmon and are closed to all sport fishing from a boat.

Lower Cook Inlet Saltwaters (south of Bluff Point)

  • A management plan and guideline harvest level (GHL) of 8,500 king salmon was adopted for the Lower Cook Inlet Summer Salt Water King Salmon fishery.
  • Snagging and spear fishing in the waters of the Seldovia Harbor, Slough, and Lagoon was closed from January 1 through June 23.
  • The season for the China Poot dip net fishery was extended to begin on June 15 and end August 15.

For additional information please contact:

Lower Cook Inlet: Area Management Biologist Mike Booz at (907) 235-8191 or or Assistant Area Management Biologist Holly Dickson at

North Gulf Coast: Area Management Biologist Brittany Blain-Roth at (907) 267-2186 or or Assistant Area Management Biologist Donald Arthur at

Northern Cook Inlet: Acting Area Management Biologist Samantha Oslund at (907) 746-6300 or

Kenai: Area Management Biologist Phillip Stacey at (907) 267- 2324, or