The Kenai River is open for bait.
Saying it's likely the early run of Kenai kings will exceed escapement goals, Alaska Department of Fish and Game biologists on Saturday issued an emergency order opening the Kenai to bait from the mouth upstream to a point 100 yards downstream of the confluence of the Moose and Kenai rivers.
"We can now confidently project a total return of early run king salmon of approximately 13,000 to 15,000 fish and a spawning escapement in excess of the upper range goal of 9,000 fish," the department said in a press release issued Friday.
The emergency order is in place through the end of the early run. The late run, which for regulatory purposes begins July 1, is regularly open to bait by law.
The press release said fishing on the Kenai has been quiet this year, and noted that angler effort has been "very low compared to past years."
Despite the lack of people fishing the Kenai, the department said anglers who have gone out have been finding good success. That's likely to improve even more now that bait is allowed.
Anglers are reminded that the slot limit for Kenai kings is still in place, meaning anglers may only retain kings that are less than 44 inches in length or 55 inches or longer. Fish that are released may not be removed from the water.
Anglers also should be sure to check all fishing regulations before venturing onto the water.
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