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Advisory panel tweaks Kenai king proposals

Posted: Sunday, February 23, 2003

KENAI -- After nearly five more hours of discussion, the Kenai-Soldotna Fish and Game Advisory Committee made a few minor adjustments to its recommendations for early-run Kenai and Kasilof River king salmon fishing. The Alaska Board of Fisheries will make the final decision on the rules.

The committee's recommendations, approved Wednesday, still contain the following provisions adopted earlier:

-- Regulate the Kenai as a single-hook, no bait fishery to begin the king season. Liberalization of the rules could be allowed if the upper end of the escapement (14,400 fish) would be met.

-- Allow guided anglers to fish on the Kenai only between 6 a.m. and 2 p.m.

-- Avoid mandating catch-and-release fishing when a harvestable surplus is available.

-- Limit anglers to one king salmon from the Kenai before June 30.

-- Limit anglers upstream of markers below Slikok Creek to a single hook with no bait from July 1 through Aug. 1 unless the projected return of the early run is over 14,400 fish. If the projected early run escapement is below 14,400 kings, river sanctuary closures would be extended through July 20.

In addition to the above, prior regulations pertaining to the Kenai on Sunday and Monday would remain in effect.

The committee did change a recommendation to allow the Department of Fish and Game a ''step down'' tool when the projected escapement falls between the minimum and maximum escapement goals (7,200 to 14,400 fish).

The committee previously recommended that in such an event, the department allow retention of fish longer than 55 inches. That provision was changed to allow the department to implement measures to let anglers only keep fish measuring less than 45 inches.

Committee vice president Porter Pollard recommended the change. He said the step down measure would allow local anglers the chance to harvest fish, while giving the department a chance to ''slow it down.''

Committee member John Nelson agreed.

''This gives the department the lower-end limit they asked for,'' Nelson said.

The change passed by a vote of 7 to 6.

The committee also made changes to its recommendations for the Kasilof River. The committee had previously said resident anglers should be allowed to keep no more than three kings from the Kasilof, with only two of those coming before July 1.

The committee changed the wording of that proposal to suggest resident anglers could take up to five Kasilof kings, with only two taken after July 1. Only fish with a clipped adipose fin (denoting hatchery-raised fish) could be harvested from the Kasilof before July 1 under the proposal.

Unchanged were Kasilof recommendations to allow just two kings to be harvested by nonresidents, with only one of those coming before July 1. The committee also recommended the Kasilof be regulated as a single-hook, no bait fishery.

The committee also voted to recommend that an area located in the Crooked Creek State Park be limited to bank fishing only to reduce conflict between bank and boat anglers.

The recommendations now go to the Alaska Board of Fisheries, which meets in Anchorage starting March 17. The board does not have to follow any of the committee's recommendations.



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