Kenai River Shutting Down For King Salmon Fishing

From Alaska Department of Fish and Game:

Kenai River Closed To King Salmon Fishing

(Soldotna) – In favor of protecting returning king salmon and increased fishing opportunities in the future, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADF&G) is closing the king salmon fishery on the entire Kenai River drainage and prohibiting the use of bait in the Kenai River from its mouth upstream to ADF&G markers located at the outlet of Skilak Lake. These regulatory changes are effective 12:01 a.m. Friday, July 24 through 11:59 p.m. Friday, July 31, 2020.

Anglers are advised this closure prohibits all sport fishing for king salmon, including catch-and-release fishing. King salmon may not be retained or possessed; king salmon caught while fishing for other species may not be removed from the water and must be released immediately. Anglers are also reminded that bait/scent is prohibited on the entire Kenai River.

ADF&G manages the Kenai River late-run king salmon under guidelines provided in the Kenai River Late-Run King Salmon Management Plan to ensure adequate escapement of late-run king salmon into the Kenai River system. The optimal escapement goal (OEG) for late-run king salmon is 15,000 to 30,000 king salmon 75 cm mid eye to tail fork and longer.

Through July 21, 2020, approximately 4,520 king salmon 75 cm mid eye to tail fork and longer have passed the river mile 13.7 king salmon sonar. Inseason projections estimate an escapement of approximately 12,700 large king salmon under the current management strategy. Therefore, consistent with the management plan, it is warranted to close sport fishing for late-run king salmon in the Kenai River.

“The 2020 king salmon runs across the Kenai Peninsula are significantly below preseason expectations resulting in restrictions and closures of inriver and marine sport fisheries,” stated Area Management Biologist Colton Lipka. “Without further restrictions the goal for Kenai River late-run king salmon is not expected to be achieved.”

For additional information, please contact Colton Lipka, Area Management Biologist (907) 262-9368 or Cook Inlet Management Coordinator Matt Miller at (907) 267-2415.