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ADFG closes early run Kenai king salmon fishing

Posted: February 27, 2014 - 9:27pm  |  Updated: February 27, 2014 - 9:43pm

For the first time since 1965 the Alaska Department of Fish and Game has announced a preseason closure of fishing for Kenai River early run king salmon.

A preseason forecast for the run estimated 2,230 fish to make a run on the river, less than half of what is needed to reach the lower end of the ADFG optimum escapement goal of 5,300 fish.

The early run sport fishery for kings will be closed beginning May 1 through June 30 from the Kenai River mouth upstream to Skilak Lake and the Moose River from its confluence with the Kenai river upstream to the northern edge of the Sterling Highway bridge.

Kings may not be targeted or retained.

Initially, area managers said they would likely start the 2014 king salmon fishing season on catch-and-release fishing — similar to the 2013 season.

Currently ADFG estimates about an 8.25 percent mortality rate on kings caught and released.

Last year, catch-and-release fishing on the early run of king salmon resulted in a catch of fewer than 80 fish and ADFG managers estimate a mortality of about five fish, said Robert Begich, ADFG area management biologist, during a February presentation to Alaska’s Board of Fisheries.

“It provides opportunity and it doesn’t kill a lot of fish,” said assistant area management biologist Jason Pawluk.

Managers can also use inseason creel data, or angler surveys, as a tool to corroborate data coming from the inriver sonar used to count the kings by comparing it to reports coming from fishers on the river.

However, the idea of any kind of fishing on the ailing early run did not sit well with some members of the Board of Fisheries.

Chairman Karl Johnstone said he had a “hard time understanding” how any mortality was acceptable to area managers.

“Why would you do that? Why would you consider having any fish killed at the beginning of this season?” Johnstone said to Begich after the biologist’s presentation.

In 2013, the preseason forecast for early run kings was 5,300 fish, but the final escapement estimate was 2,032 fish according to ADFG data.

“You have an estimate, a forecast of 2,230 king salmon which is about two-fifths of the required minimum escapement and if you’re close to what you did last year, you could be off again,” Johnstone said the meeting.

Pawluk said ultimately area managers decided to be more conservative in their approach to the early run.

“We’ve kind of changed our approach this year and we’re going to start closed,” he said.

The emergency order announcing the king fishing closure was released Thursday — well in advance of mid-May when angler pressure begins to pick up on the king salmon.

In 2013 the early run was restricted to catch-and-release via an emergency order released May 9, just a week before ADFG managers typically put their sonar into the river and king fishing begins to pick up.

Pawluk said the early announcement was, in part, a response to criticism on how late ADFG managers restricted the river last year. “It affects a lot of people and users and businesses who plan for these fisheries,” Pawluk said. “So these restrictions are being released right now to give people time who would maybe be making plans right now for these fisheries — to have time to change their plans or adjust them to take part in other fisheries in the area that are not restricted.”

Restrictions on the early run of king salmon the Kasilof River were also announced Thursday — from May 1 through June 30 anglers will only be allowed to harvest hatchery kings, those which are missing their adipose fin. Bait and multiple hooks is also prohibited on the Kasilof River.

“We typically restrict the Kasilof whenever we restrict the Kenai for king salmon fishing to try and prevent an ballooning effect of anglers shifting their effort,” Pawluk said.

Additionally, in the Lower Cook Inlet streams and marine waters, several areas are being restricted to conserve king salmon runs. The Anchor River is closed to sport fishing on Wednesdays and closed to sport fishing upstream of the Old Sterling Highway Bridge. The combined annual limit for kings on the Anchor River, Deep Creek, Ninilchik River and marine waters south of the mouth of the Ninilchik River to Bluff Point is two, anglers can use just one unbaited, single hook with an artificial lure in the Anchor and Ninilchik rivers and Deep Creek.

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pengy
258
Points
pengy 02/28/14 - 05:36 am
1
0
Good move.

Good move.

Suss
4043
Points
Suss 02/28/14 - 07:03 am
5
0
July King Fishing?

What happens when the late run numbers show the same type of low return? Historically, only after the Kenai Classic did ADFG call for hook and release. Stop fishing the Kings. Main stem spawners were doomed, thanks KRSA for all your effort and money grubbing grandstanding ways.

kenaiduo
22
Points
kenaiduo 03/01/14 - 05:45 am
0
1
Good decision!

Good for ADF&G! Everyone wants to blame someone but nobody wants to be part of the solution. I haven't fished for kings for 5 years and think it is about time that ADF&G took this action for the early run. I hope the early run Kenai kings recover, just as they did in the 40's and again in the 70's, but until then they should not be fished - by sport OR commercial fishermen.

I am not sure if Suss was actually trying to blame the Kenai Classic for the poor early run king returns, but if that is the accusation shame on them. The Kenai Classic became catch and release before any other tournament or ADF&G decision. Then the Kenai Classic was moved to August specifically to protect the king runs. It didn't take an ADF&G decision - it was just good stewardship.

Suss
4043
Points
Suss 03/01/14 - 07:59 am
6
0
Bait, no Bait.

The Kenai Classic was allowed to fish with bait, keep their kings, specifically targeting the largest kings including the early run spawners, all the while awarding prizes for the effort. The late run king fishing was never restricted to no bait, hook and release until after Kenai Classic had their politico party. Same for set netters not being allowed to fish until after the Classic. It was always about money and influence, greed and power players. Uncle Ted dies and so did the reason for the Classic's success. The release a hog propaganda did not do a damn thing to help. To have put prizes, cash, and make a derby out of a terminal in river fishery was and still remains obscene. The restrictions that followed the Classic showed how much influence and disregard KRSA had for the health of the king salmon. Magically July 1 st was the date for bait, only after the Classic, restrictions would be implemented. Party on KRSA, only now you have Silvers to pretend to save.

Seafarer
1147
Points
Seafarer 03/01/14 - 09:59 am
6
0
C&R and The Classic

Catch and release kills more fish than is tolerable. Catch and release fishing is cruel and does nothing to help the recovery.

The Kenai Classic is illegal. You cannot shut down a whole river just for special interest groups. Read KRSA. This must stop and those who allow it fired. Read our constitution and weep, Penney. Your fun is nearly over. I'm calling out the Classic....

kenaiduo
22
Points
kenaiduo 03/01/14 - 12:56 pm
0
4
Wow!

What a shame that people insist on pointing fingers rather than getting involved to solve the problem. As long as you continue to claim it is everyone else's fault, you never have to be responsible. This solves nothing! This is not the first time in the history of Cook Inlet that the kenai king stocks have fluctuated and I am sure it won't be the last.

It is also important to remember that the Kenai River kings spend many years outside of the river - they don't just magically appear at the mouth of the Kenai. During those years, they encounter a large number of threats including radiation from Fukushima, illegal foreign fishing fleets, ocean warming, decadal oscillation, acidification, pollock trawlers, and Kodiak commercial fishermen. There are many, many reasons in addition to the narrow minded focus of the commenters referenced above.

Rather than slinging mud and bullying those who wish to express their opinions, I praise ADF&G for doing their best to balance all of the competing interests while preserving the runs for years to come.

Suss
4043
Points
Suss 03/01/14 - 07:00 pm
6
0
Wowee!

Been involved, tired of the deceit. Please take your own advice and "As long as you continue to claim it is everyone else's fault, you never have to be responsible. This solves nothing! "...apply this standard to your entire second paragraph.

The party of big money, big politics and playing with big kings for big profits is over. Say goodnight, KRSA, the lies and the money won't last.

kenaiduo
22
Points
kenaiduo 03/02/14 - 04:18 am
0
0
hmmmm….

So, if the Kenai Classic caused the demise of the early run Kenai Kings, what caused the decimated kings runs on the Kasilof and the Yukon?

Suss
4043
Points
Suss 03/02/14 - 05:37 am
5
0
Overfished

Short answer is overfishing returning spawners. Back on the Kenai river topic, the way the Kenai has been treated reminds me of when the law was passed regarding the illegal guiding and having the paying customers be prosecuted. They borrowed the language from the prostitution statutes for the customer to be prosecuted. (Punish the "John" law). How did they ever draw that analogy and who would be their money making Pimp for the legal guides?

pengy
258
Points
pengy 03/02/14 - 06:15 am
0
0
Suss, Good point. But let me

Suss,

Good point. But let me ask you this about guides. Who do you blame, the person selling the service or the person buying the service?

Suss
4043
Points
Suss 03/02/14 - 07:09 am
2
0
No blaming sex or fish

Needing to or wanting to pay for sex is sadder than paying for fishing. I do not place blame for the action of either, seller or buyer. It is just sad.

leewaytooo
2085
Points
leewaytooo 03/02/14 - 03:25 pm
3
1
adfg punishes people for

adfg punishes people for wasting game......

time for adfg to start wasting people that waste our

food.......stop the catch and release.......

unless by hand only..............and then only one per season...

guides and pimps are no where near each other in terms

of value to society... one is sucking the life out of the river...

and the other just sucks forever..... so they don't equate....

Suss
4043
Points
Suss 03/03/14 - 07:03 pm
3
0
Best "think about it" ever

Catie Quinn nailed it for a new voice try this ....

http://radiokenai.net/february-12th-2014/#comments

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