The Kenai River, from its mouth upstream to Skilak Lake, will be closed to king salmon fishing beginning Friday through the end of the early run on June 30 as the Alaska Department of Fish and game tries to meet its minimum escapement goal.
According to Fish and Game, preliminary indicators of the run show that it may be the lowest on record for the department.
When the king salmon late run begins July 1, bait and scent will be prohibited.
According to a media release, the department cannot justify "additional mortality associated with catch-and-release fishing" given the low abundance of kings.
The emergency order also prohibits all targeted sport fishing for king salmon, including catch-and-release fishing, in the waters of the Kenai River from the Fish and Game marker about 300 yards downstream of the mouth of Slikok creek, upstream to the outlet of Skilak Lake, and in the Moose River from its confluence with the Kenai River upstream to the northernmost edge of the Sterling Highway Bridge beginning July 1 through July 14. King salmon may not be removed from the water and must be released immediately.
The use of bait is prohibited during the late run, beginning July 1 from the mouth of the Kenai River to the Fish and Game marker located at the outlet of Skilak Lake and in the Moose River from its junction with the Kenai River upstream to the northernmost edge of the Sterling Highway Bridge. Only one, unbaited single-hook, artificial lure may be used.
These restrictions supercede the emergency orders issued last week which restricted the Kenai River to catch-and-release and trophy king salmon fishing.
In addition, the Kasilof River fishery is still restricted to the hatchery-reared king harvest only and an additional ban on the use of bait and multiple hooks will go into effect on Friday through June 30.
According to the media release the restriction is "to minimize effects of conservation actions for the Kenai River on the department's ability to achieve adequate escapement into Crooked Creek."
Editors Note: This article was corrected to add the entire geographic area on the Kenai river that are prohibited to king salmon fishing.