Biologists with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game are forecasting a moderate to good return of sockeye salmon to upper Cook Inlet in 2005.
In its preseason forecast report, Fish and Game estimates a total return of 5.6 million sockeye this summer. That number is roughly midway between a forecast range of between 2.2 million and 8.9 million fish.
The department is estimating that 4.1 million of those sockeye will be harvested, with the vast majority to be taken by inlet commercial fishers.
The estimated harvest in the upper inlet is slightly above the area's 20-year average of 3.9 million sockeye.
Last year's commercial harvest was 4.9 million sockeye more than a million above the department's preseason forecast of 3.7 million.
When broken out into individual river systems, it appears as if the Kenai and Kasilof rivers will experience solid returns this summer.
The bulk of Cook Inlet fish head for the Kenai, and the department is expecting this year to be no exception, with an estimated 3.3 million sockeye forecast for the river.
The Kasilof River also is looking strong, with just under 1 million fish expected back.
The department's full report can be viewed online at www.cf.adfg.state.ak.us/region2/finfish/salmon/uci/ucifor05.php.
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