This is a corrected and revised version of the article which originally ran today
The Alaska Department of Fish and Game has issued an emergency order significantly limiting king salmon fishing on the Kasilof River. As of 12:01 a.m. Friday, anglers may only keep hatchery-raised kings on the Kasilof.
Hatchery fish can be identified by the fact that they have no adipose fin. The adipose fin is a small, fleshy fin on the back of the fish, just ahead of the tail. Hatchery fish have a small scar where the fin was removed.
Additionally, anglers can only use single hooks; guides are prohibited from fishing while clients are present or under their control and anyone who catches a king on the Kasilof may not fish on any other Kenai Peninsula stream for king salmon for the rest of the day. Anglers may not fish on the Kasilof for the rest of the day for any species after catching a Kasilof king.
The new regulations will be in effect until the end of June.
The move was done in order to protect the wild run of Kasilof kings, which biologists say likely will not meet its escapement goal.
"We determined that the state would likely not make the escapement goal of 650 wild fish," said Mark Gamblin, Kenai area biologist with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game. He said the department arrived at that conclusion based on the fact that previous years' returns have come in below the minimum escapement goal and this year is shaping up to be much the same.
Gamblin said that several factors contributed to the order. He mentioned increased angler pressure on the Kasilof due to the closure of the Kenai River king fishery and the fact that the wild fish escapement goal has not been met in the three previous years as reasons for the action. He also noted that three years ago, the department cut in half the number of hatchery fish it releases into the Kasilof.
"All that taken together means the chance of the meeting minimum escapement goal is not good," he said.
The move will likely have a significant impact on the guided fishing and tourism industries.
"It's not gonna help, that's for sure," said fishing guide Greg Brush. Brush said he thinks the closure will have a major impact on area businesses.
"The sad part is it effects everyone. It's business owners. It's everyone from B and B owners to gas station attendants to waitresses," he said.
Brush said he would like to see the state increase the number of hatchery raised fish released into the Kasilof. That way, anglers would have the opportunity to catch and keep a king salmon, while pressure on wild salmon stocks would be reduced.
"What the public needs to do is say, 'we need a fishery where we can harvest some fish," he said.
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