Anglers fish on the Kenai River on Tuesday, June 29, 2021, in Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)

Anglers fish on the Kenai River on Tuesday, June 29, 2021, in Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)

Low early-run king numbers prompt restrictions

The cumulative sonar estimate is 72 large king salmon through May 29

The Alaska Department of Fish and Game is restricting king salmon sport fishing to catch and release only in the Kenai River, in an effort to protect kings returning to the watershed, according to a press release from the department.

Effective June 1-30, anglers may not retain any early-run king salmon of any size in the fishery in the Kenai River drainage downstream of the outlet of Skilak Lake. According to ADF&G, the restriction will continue July 1-31 as well, in the waters from the regulatory marker about 300 yards downstream from the mouth of Slikok Creek upstream to the outlet of Skilak Lake.

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Additionally, only one unbaited single-hook artificial lure may be used in the waters restricted to catch and release, however, kings caught may not be removed from the water and must be released immediately.

“The 2022 run is off to a very slow start with the cumulative sonar estimate of 72 large king salmon through May 29 being the lowest estimate for this date in the large king salmon dataset,” Area Management Biologist Colton Lipka said in the release.

For more information, access the 2022 Kenai River King Salmon Early-Run Forecast on the ADF&G website or call Lipka at 907-262-9368.

Reach reporter Camille Botello at camille.botello@peninsulaclarion.com.

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