The Kenai River kings seem to have met their escapement goal after all, but it was still the lowest return on record.
Through Aug. 15, 17,028 kings were enumerated by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game’s DIDSON (duel identification sonar), slightly more than the bottom of the sustainable escapement goal range for Kenai River kings.
That’s still far fewer fish than in recent years, which have seen runs of 24,000 and 27,000 fish.
The Kenai king escapement goal is 15,000 to 30,000 fish.
The preliminary estimate for in-river mortality is 1,619 fish from sport caught and catch-and-release mortality, making the preliminary escapement estimate 15,409 fish.
Additional postseason work will be done this fall to confirm that the run count seems correct, and the goal was met.
While some Cook Inlet fishermen haven’t had as much commercial harvest opportunity as they hoped for, statewide the harvest has been strong, largely due to pink salmon catches.
Through Aug. 20, commercial fishermen had harvested 236 million salmon, more than the preseason forecast of 178 million fish, according to ADFG’s blue sheet estimate.
This is only the fifth year the total commercial harvest has exceeded 200 million salmon, and is more than the 221 million salmon harvest record, set in 2005.
Much of the state’s harvest has come from Southeast Alaska, where 84.2 million salmon were landed through Aug. 20.