Kenai Opens To Catch-And-Release For Kings

Well, it’s better than nothing, right? The Kenai River’s king salmon season, which was delayed until at least June 30, will  have an opening day on Saturday. But there’s a catch (and a release), as the Peninsula Clarion reports:

The Alaska Department of Fish and Game issued an emergency order Friday that opens the Kenai River downstream from the outlet of Skilak Lake to catch-and-release only king salmon fishing. Unless altered by emergency order, the river will be open for king salmon fishing through June 30.

The early-run king salmon run has shown strong returns to the Kenai River so far this year, area management biologist Robert Begich wrote in the emergency order. As of June 1, 2,375 king salmon had passed the sonar in the Kenai River, according to Fish and Game’s sonar counts.

Anglers cannot retain king salmon of any size and can only use one unbaited, barbless, single-hook, artificial fly or lure. Fishing gear is limited to barbless hooks when fishing is catch-and-release only in the Kenai River King Salmon Management Plan.

That doesn’t mean that everywhere on the lower river is open to king fishing, though — there are still certain waters that are closed by regulation. For example, there is a total fishing closure in effect between the outlet of Skilak Lake and the mouth of the Lower Killey River, which will be closed until June 11 to protect spawning rainbow trout, said assistant area management biologist Jason Pawluk.

There are also closures to king salmon fishing at the confluence areas of the Funny and Killey rivers and Slikok Creek, as well as closures to all fishing from boats. The Moose River confluence is closed to all fishing from boats, as is the Soldotna Centennial Campground boat launch lagoon and Morgan’s Hole.

Take what you can get.