Average fish runs expected in lower Inlet

Posted: Friday, May 14, 2010

The Department of Fish and Game is expecting a mostly average season of fishing in Lower Cook Inlet this summer, according to a recently released forecast.

The outlook is for freshwater drainages on the west side of the Kenai Peninsula south of the Kasilof River drainage to Gore Point, the freshwater drainages on the west side of Cook Inlet from the south end of Chisik Island to Cape Douglas and the marine waters of Cook Inlet bounded by these landmarks.

This area encompasses popular fisheries including the Ninilchik River, Deep Creek, Anchor River and Nick Dudiak Fishing Lagoon on the Homer Spit, among others.

Forecasts of the king run for Deep Creek, the Anchor and Ninilchik rivers is not available due to insufficient information.

Since 2005, Fish and Game weir and sonar counts on the Anchor have showed a steady decline in returns for kings there.

A high was marked in 2005 of 11,156 fish, and a low last year of 3,504.

The Anchor is the first of the trio of southern Peninsula rivers with an opener at 12:01 a.m. May 22.

Halibut anglers should expect a season similar to last year in terms of the availability and sizes of fish, the department said.

The halibut growth rate continues to be in a low phase, resulting in an abundance of small fish, however, the population is expected to increase over the next few years as several strong year-classes mature.

Red salmon released by Cook Inlet Aquaculture Association for the commercial harvest are expected to arrive in early July to Tutka Bay Lagoon and China Poot Bay.

The Tutka Bay Lagoon run is expected to be 43,200 fish, with a return of 44,300 expected in China Poot.

The 2010 early runs of kings and silvers to the Nick Dudiak Fishing Lagoon are expected to be average at 3,000 and 8,000, respectively.

Kings begin returning to the lagoon in mid-May, early-run of silvers around July 15, peaking in early August.

Beginning in mid-August, 3,000 late-run silvers are expected to return to the lagoon.

Late-run silvers will not be stocked from 2010-2012 and no late-run silvers will return until 2014 when the first return of fish reared at the new Fish and Game hatchery are expected.

Early king runs begin returning to Halibut Cove Lagoon and Seldovia Harbor in mid-May and peak during the first half of June.

The runs are expected to be lower than average because the stocking rate was halved beginning in 2007, resulting in a smaller number of fish returning through 2012. Stocking levels will be back to full strength in 2010, and run strength should return to historical numbers in 2013.

On Ninilchik-area beaches the department said to expect to find thousands of small young razor clams 2 to 4 inches long from a recent large spawning event.

While large clams are still present they will be difficult to locate because the many small clams.

Fish and Game said clammers in the Clam Gulch area will be more successful.

All razor clams dug must be kept, regardless of size, per regulation.

Hardshell clam stocks in most of Kachemak Bay are healthy, but littleneck clam populations may be at lower than peak levels encountered earlier this decade.

For complete information on regulations and bag limits, check the Fish and Game 2010 Sport Fishing Regulations, available online at their website, http://www.adfg.state.ak.us/.

Dante Petri can be reached at dante.petri@peninsulaclarion.com

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