Cook Inlet, West Cook Inlet Waters Closed To King Salmon Fishing

The following press releases are courtesy of the Alaska Department of Fish and Game:

Sport Fishing for King Salmon Closed in Cook Inlet Salt Waters

(Homer) – In favor of protecting early-run and late-run Cook Inlet king salmon and ensuring sport fishing opportunities in the future, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADF&G) is closing sport fishing for king salmon, including catch-and-release, in all Cook Inlet salt waters north of the latitude of Bluff Point (59° 40.00′ N. lat.). King salmon incidentally caught while fishing for other fish species may not be removed from the water and must be released immediately. This regulatory change is effective 12:01 a.m. Wednesday, May 1 through 11:59 p.m. Thursday, August 15, 2024. This change does not affect fishing for other species, including halibut, and new regulations in the Conservation Zones. Please review the current Southcentral Sport Fishing Regulation Summary booklet for those regulations.

Based on the recent early-run and late-run king salmon escapement monitoring in the Kenai, Anchor, and Deshka Rivers, this year’s king salmon runs are forecasted to be below the lower end of their escapement goals, which has triggered inriver sport fishery preseason closures in these streams. Additionally, all of these stocks failed to achieve their escapement goals in 2022 and 2023.The Alaska Board of Fisheries recently adopted a stock of concern management plan to rebuild Kenai River late-run king salmon which includes a closure to sport fishing for king salmon north of Bluff Point. This restriction will be in place annually until the Kenai River late-run king salmon meets the criteria to be removed from stock of concern status outlined in the action plan.

This emergency order action in Cook Inlet salt waters is in combination with sport fishery restrictions throughout Cook Inlet. Emergency Order 2-KS-7-12-24 reduces the king salmon bag and possession limit to one fish in salt waters south of Bluff Point. Emergency Order 2-KS-1-08-24 and Emergency Order 2-KS-1-09-24 close the early-run and late-run king salmon sport fisheries in the Kenai River. Emergency Order 2-KS-7-10-24 closed the Anchor River and Deep Creek to all sport fishing through July 15. Emergency Order 2-KS-2-05-24 closed the Deshka River to king salmon sport fishing. Additional preseason emergency order restrictions also affect the sport fishing in other streams on the Kenai Peninsula, Northern Cook Inlet, and West Cook Inlet areas.

“Unfortunately, we did not see any improvement in king salmon escapements throughout Cook Inlet in 2023” stated Area Management Biologist Mike Booz. “This preseason closure to Cook Inlet salt waters is necessary to maximize escapements and allow Cook Inlet king salmon stocks to rebuild during this prolonged period of poor productivity.”

For more information, please contact Area Management Biologist Mike Booz or Assistant Area Management Biologist Holly Dickson at 907-235-8191.

West Cook Inlet Fresh Waters Closed to King Salmon Fishing

(Palmer) – In favor of protecting returning king salmon and ensuring sport fishing opportunities in the future, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADF&G) is closing all drainages in the West Cook Inlet Area to sport fishing for king salmon effective 12:01 a.m. Wednesday, May 1 through 11:59 p.m. Sunday, June 30, 2024. King salmon fishing in West Cook Inlet area streams is closed in regulation from July 1 through the remainder of the year.

“King salmon runs in Cook Inlet are anticipated to be especially poor in 2024,” stated Acting Area Management Biologist Samantha Oslund. “Major king salmon fisheries in this area of Cook Inlet have been closed in regulation since 2011. Several small stocks that remain open to king salmon fishing in this area are likely in jeopardy of overexploitation if left open this season.”

In conjunction with this closure, Emergency Order 2-KS-7-07-24 closes Upper Cook Inlet salt waters to king salmon fishing, Emergency Order 2-KS-1-08-24 closes the Kenai River early-run king salmon fishery, Emergency Order 2-KS-7-10-24 closes the Anchor River and Deep Creek to sport fishing, Emergency Order 2-KS-2-05-24 closes the Susitna River drainage (including the Deshka River) to king salmon fishing, and Emergency Order 2-KS-2-06-24 closes the Little Susitna River to king salmon fishing. Additionally, emergency orders prohibit the retention of wild (naturally-produced) king salmon in the Ninilchik and Kasilof Rivers. Please review these emergency orders and advisory announcements in their entirety for the specific regulatory changes.

For additional information, please contact Acting Area Management Biologists Samantha Oslund in Palmer at (907) 746-6300 and Area Manager Mike Booz in Homer at (907) 235-8191.