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Kenai River restrictions continue after king season

Over, but not out

Posted: July 30, 2013 - 8:14pm  |  Updated: July 31, 2013 - 10:29am

While the Kenai River king salmon season officially ends Wednesday, certain fishing restrictions will be in place into August as the Alaska Department of Fish and Game attempts to protect fish still entering the river and those spawning during the next few weeks.

Beginning Thursday and extending through August 15, anglers are prohibited from using bait or multiple hooks while fishing in the lower Kenai River sport fishery.

As of July 29, the DIDSON sonar estimate of king salmon passage was just over 11,700 fish, well below the river’s sustainable escapement goal of 15,000 to 30,000 according to Fish and Game data.

Assistant Area Management Biologist Jason Pawluk said restricting the river in August to protect a run that ends by regulation in July was not normal, but had been put into place before.

“Last year, I believe, was the first year we had ever done anything in August regulation-wise to help protect king salmon,” he said.

In 2012, king salmon run was slow enough that the river was closed to targeted king fishing on July 19, however, managers said post-season that more than a quarter of king salmon run entered the river after the season officially closed.

According to fish and game data, the chinook salmon escapement estimate for last year was 25,587 fish, well within the escapement goal.

Pawluk said there were not yet any strong indications that the 2013 chinook salmon run could be coming in late.

“We just got off some really big tides that ended around this weekend and since then our netting numbers have picked up a little,” he said. “Our mixture model DIDSON sonar estimates haven’t been on the same level as they were last year at this time so, we’re seeing a little bit more fish right now (compared) to what we saw for the month of July so far, but is it on the same level as last year? No, and we’re not sure it will be. Time will tell.”

Many anglers will be targeting silver, or coho, salmon in August and while that type of fishing is different than targeting king salmon — coho can be fished from shore or an anchored boat, versus the back trolling typically required to successfully target kings — Pawluk said all any incidental harvest would be unacceptable.

“We’re still not projecting to meet the minimum escapement goal of king salmon so, therefore, every king salmon at this point in time is of importance to make it to the spawning beds and be able to spawn,” he said.

According to the media release, Fish and Game encourages anglers to practice “good sportsmanship” by avoiding fishing for coho salmon in areas of the river where king salmon are concentrated.

 

Rashah McChesney can be reached at rashah.mcchesney@peninsulaclarion.com.

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bigfish4all
5
Points
bigfish4all 07/31/13 - 04:03 pm
1
1
what a boondoggle

So no kings need to be protected in the middle river above Soldotna bridge? This decision speaks volumes about the apparent lack of understanding the general public perceives our leaders at F%G to have regarding in river fish management. Usually the actions of fish and game can be understood by looking at the impact in river management decisions have on set net fishing time. I know its a balancing act, but this one defies all logic!

19581958
77
Points
19581958 08/01/13 - 02:28 pm
2
0
The Roll Has Gone Away

I remember a time when the Kings rolled on top of the water just as much as the Sockeyes do today. That was a time when most locals were scared to navigate the river by boat. Very few boaters could be seen from the shore line navigating this river. It was always cool to see a boater running the river. These days its so uncool to see all the boats, and the screaming of outboard motors going up and down this majestic river. I'm afraid that our politicians, and our Alaska F&G have given in to the pressure from buisness owners to fish it out untill its gone. I for one would like to see the river like god wanted it to be. His son was a commercial fisherman ya know.

WRO
116
Points
WRO 08/01/13 - 06:18 am
0
0
Bigger problems

Is anyone else worried that about half the run is less than 30"? Those fish are nearly all males and don't bring much if any additive value to the overall fecundity of the run.

It signifies some possibilities.. One we are in for a great season in 2015-2017. Two, there is something seriously wrong in the ocean and these fish are returning early due to lack of food. Three, all of our big fish 5-7 year old fish, are being caught in Trawl fisheries. Typically the older the fish, the higher the chances it will be intercepted in an ocean fishery.

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